New interview center aims to help child abuse prosecutions in the region
by Danielle Rivard
PETERBOROUGH — A new child advocacy center to reach child-abuse victims living between Keene and Manchester opened this month in Peterborough.
The center, run by the Granite State Children's Alliance, is a child-friendly setting where children who may be victims of abuse can be interviewed while investigators observe the interviews on a video monitor in another room.
The benefit is that a child only has to be interviewed once about possible abuse, because people from all agencies involved in the case are there at the same time.
In Cheshire County, there is a child advocacy center in Keene, and in Hillsborough County there are two, in Nashua and Manchester. The distance between the three has been a complication for those who live in the Peterborough area, said Kristie Palestino, executive director of the children's alliance. The alliance works with the child advocacy centers in Cheshire, Hillsborough and Belknap counties.
Palestino said it's not necessarily an increase in reported child abuse that prompted the creation of the new center, but rather an accessibility issue for victims.
The new center, which opened April 1, is aimed at those who live in surrounding towns including Dublin, Greenfield, Jaffrey, Marlborough, New Ipswich, Sharon, Temple and Troy, Palestino said. Since the center opened, about 10 children have been interviewed there.
The center was paid for by grants from Robert and Karin Finlay of Peterborough and Mark and Julie Ledoux of Hollis. The Ledouxs matched the Finlays' donation. Together, the Peterborough facility and the Keene facility cost about $170,000 to run per year, Palestino said. The Peterborough center is managed by Katrina Lee, the program director for Keene's center.
Prosecutors and victim advocates say the centers are a helpful resource.
“It's great to be able to bring a child in and essentially do one forensic interview with them,” Cheshire County Attorney D. Chris McLaughlin said. Before the center, McLaughlin said, authorities had to conduct multiple interviews with a child to get the same information.
“It certainly makes the case better at the beginning,” he said.
No statistics were available for how many children are seen at the Keene center.
Advocates from the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention, who assist the child's caregiver, say the center helps them reach more people.
Center Executive Director Robin Christopherson said advocates make sure the caregiver is educated and knows what it means for a child to go through a traumatic event. Also, advocates provide support for the caregiver so he or she can stay strong and protect the child, Christopherson said.
Palestino hopes the new center will reach more victims.
The three-room facility in Peterborough, made up of a waiting room, interview room and a room where investigators can watch the interview, is open two days a week, but is also available on an as-needed basis, Palestino said.
Typically, when a child needs to be interviewed, police, a representative from the N.H. Division of Children, Youth and Families, members from the county attorney's office and victim advocates gather in the video room, where they will watch a broadcast of the child's interview on a TV screen. The interviewer is wired with an earpiece so investigators can instruct the interviewer to ask the child specific questions.
The Peterborough center is designed like a living room to make a child feel at ease when he or she first walks into the building, Palestino said. On the waiting room wall there are brightly colored hand prints of children who have used the center, designed to point out to children that they're not alone.
Professionals improve the legal processes in child abuse cases
by Charles Winokoor
TAUNTON — The lessons learned from high-profile child abuse cases of the 1980s and ‘90s have helped professionals hone their interviewing skills so that children are less prone to provide false information.
“They used to do multiple interviews. Now they do one or two at the most if possible,” said Richard Wright, associate professor and chair of Bridgewater State University's criminal justice department.
Wright points to the three-year McMartin preschool trial in California and the Malden Fells Acres Day Care Center sex abuse trial as examples of interviewing techniques that ultimately proved unreliable.
In the California case, members of the McMartin family were tried and ultimately acquitted of charges involving Satanic ritual abuse and sexual abuse of hundreds of children in their care.
The jury in the Fells Acres trial sentenced Gerald Amirault to 30 to 40 years in prison; his mother and sister were convicted in a separate trial and sentenced to shorter jail terms. A Superior Court judge, who at the time was considering whether to grant the women new trials, noted “grave errors” in the manner in which interviews had been conducted with children claiming to have been raped and forced to drink urine.
Wright, who has taught at Bridgewater for eight years, said those high-profile cases resulted in a “lasting legacy” in how police, nurses and therapists deal with all forms of alleged physical abuse against children.
“Children are predisposed to want to please adults, and a lot of times they say what they think adults want to hear,” he said.
Wright said interviewing skills have been honed during the past two decades resulting in a more “corroborative approach” that takes into account “multiple points of confirmation.”
“Kids by nature are trusting,” Wright said, adding that trained professionals nowadays avoid leading questions that can produce either positive or negative reinforcement that ultimately is not reliable.
Minors who are alleged sexual victims of adult abuse typically undergo a “forensic interview” conducted by a sexual assault nurse examiner.
Walter “Bud” Craddock has noticed “a marked change” in how child-abuse cases are handled today compared to the nearly 27 years he spent with the Cranston, R.I. Police Department.
Craddock, who is both a criminal justice instructor at Fall River's Bristol Community College and a lawyer, says contemporay interviewing techniques emphasize establishing rapport with the victim.
Too often, he said, young children in particular have a tendency to blame themselves when they've been abused by an adult, be it a relative or family friend.
“They feel afraid and stigmatized as if they've done something wrong,” he said.
Craddock, who served as Cranston's police chief during his final 15 months with the department, says law environment, in general, is now more “proactive” when it comes to child abuse.
He also credits school teachers and emergency room staff at hospitals for heightened attentiveness in spotting telltale signs of physical abuse and emotional stress, and said “there's a lot more coordination” between social agencies and medical professionals.
“If a kid comes to school with a broken arm the question can be asked if it's consistent with a fall or something else,” he said.
Craddock said the role of courts, in tandem with social services, can't be underplayed. He said their efforts often aid children by removing them from hostile, dysfunctional homes that often include adults engaged in substance abuse.
But Craddock said it's not uncommon for some children to occasionally feign distress and accuse an adult of abuse where there has been none.
He cities an example he's used in his class going back to his days as a cop in the late 1980s, when an older man was accused by more than one child of offering candy and favors as a prelude to sexual molestation.
“They were making him out as the typical child molester, and it turns out he was innocent,” Craddock said.
Craddock says the accused had been the landlord of his accusers' parents who were angry after the man raised the rent.
“It turned his life upside down. That's why you have to investigate.”
He said the parents were charged with filing a false police report.
But Craddock also says there have been unintended consequences of changing mores that, at least initially, tend to favor the credibility of children over adults.
With corporal punishment having fallen out of favor as a means of parental discipline, he said some kids capitalize on prevailing attitudes in order to get away with misbehavior.
Craddock recounted an incident in a Rhode Island store when he saw a woman grab her son's arm to get him to stop misbehaving.
“The kid says, ‘I'll call DCYF (Department of Child Youth and Families),' and I'm thinking: ‘Where is this kid getting that from?'”
Child porn: One image sent to one person can reach millions online
by AMBER SOUTH
Residents of Franklin County were left shaking their heads last month when a local high-school teacher was arrested for allegedly using computer software to apply students' faces to images of naked bodies.
He was charged with distribution and receipt of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors. In a nutshell, that means child pornography. But this story is not about the man or his case, so his name won't be mentioned. Rather, it is about the trend it reflects: Why would an adult want to imagine or look at a naked child? What type of person would do such a thing? How could such activities be discovered? What passes as child pornography? What does it mean for the children sexually exploited in pictures and videos?
The first two questions can't be answered definitively, for there really is no trend for either, said Kristen Houser, a spokesperson for the PA Coalition Against Rape.
While many people consider these offenders to be pedophiles, Houser said that's really not the case. Pedophilia is a psychiatric diagnosis for people who are sexually attracted to children, but most people who sexually abuse children are "not first and foremost sexually attracted to kids," she said. A person could be into humiliation or dominance. Perhaps they have fantasized about a sexual interaction with a child, and looking at child pornography is how they satisfy that, Houser said.
Even child molesters themselves don't have definite answers, only possibilities. A group of
child molesters in treatment at the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Beaverton, Ore., shared their views in advice prepared last year to help children protect themselves from sexual abuse.
A typical child molester can be any age, even a child themselves; a man or woman, married or single; any race, any religion, and have any sexual preference; and hold any amount of education, according to the prepared advice.
Most often a child molester is someone the child and his or her parent knows well, like a relative, family friend or neighbor; and he or she is likely a stable, employed and respected member of the community.
What is child pornography?
Child pornography develops in two different ways, said Trooper Robert Hicks, public information officer for Troop H of Pennsylvania State Police. His information comes from an officer in the Criminal Investigations Unit of PSP, Chambersburg, who has experience working on child pornography cases, but Hicks would not give the officer's name.
The production, distribution and/or possession of photos and video depicting the sexual exploitation of minors is what most people think of in terms of child pornography, Hicks said. An individual may be involved in all steps or single steps.
Possession is the most common child pornography offense in the county, according to Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal.
"Most of the cases aren't just one or two images, but usually a higher volume of images," he said.
State police in Chambersburg see about two cases a year involving production, distribution and/or possession, but that number can vary, Hicks said. Sexting has become the more common form by far, with about two cases reported each month, Hicks said.
The act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or images through text messaging or online instant messaging, sexting emerged with the rise of cell phones and other Internet-based communication. Though not all sexting is child porn, cell phone use by people under the magic age of 18 gives it prominence.
Teenage thoughtlessness and lust are the start of sexting mishaps, according to Hicks.
Whether done willingly or under pressure, a teen girl's decision to expose herself and take a picture can easily turn into not only a high-school scandal, but a criminal child porn case.
All it takes is a couple seconds for her to develop a picture message and send it to her boyfriend. Now, the sexually exploitive image of a minor is on his phone and it's even simpler for him to distribute it -- especially if the couple breaks up and the ex-boyfriend's ego is craving recognition. Before their friends have even heard of the relationship's end, the ex-boyfriend may have sent the picture to every person on his phone's contact list.
"You lose control over it the moment it leaves your device," Houser said.
That loss of control is the most important rule Fogal taught in the few years he spent talking to middle school students about the dangers of sexting. Once a photo or message enters cyberspace it will be there forever, always subject to interception and distribution, said Lt. Dave Peifer, special agent in charge of bureau of investigative services with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and commander of the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
"Kids have to know anything they post online or share online is going to end up going out on the Internet," he said.
There is always the possibility that a photo sent via text or email and stored in a cyberspace filing cabinet can be compromised, Peifer said. That means the ex-girlfriend's nude picture could certainly be intercepted from the circle of cell phones it was sent to.
"You don't want to be transmitting anything you wouldn't want your parents to see," Houser said.
Technology's huge impact on the distribution of sexually explicit images has been demonstrated again and again in recent years.
Though it involves images of adults, the FBI's "Operation Hackerazzi" from 2011 illustrates how basic knowledge of email protocol and putting effort into learning about a person's personal life can allow someone to turn private photographs into public spectacles.
Entertainment news media widely reported the scandal in which a man hacked the email accounts of about 50 celebrities including Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis, stole naked photos and other personal information and sold them to celebrity tabloid websites.
According to a CNN story about the man's subsequent 10-year federal prison sentence, he accessed the accounts by resetting passwords using the "forgot password" feature and correctly answering security questions using research he did on the celebrities' personal lives.
It's not always that simple though. According to a 2011 Yahoo! article, "Sexting: What you should know before you send that naked picture of yourself," by Michael Gregory, data is accessible regardless of the device or security level.
Though there are effective encryption methods that can improve the odds that an image will never be intercepted, Gregory claims in the article that nothing is foolproof.
And, technology is universal. The bottom line, Houser said, is that perpetrators live in the same culture as everyone else.
Discovery and investigation
Law enforcement lives in that culture too. Just as child porn perpetrators use improved technology to increase the scope of their own agendas, investigators and the computer forensic scientists they employ use it to track down suspects and reveal their activities, Peifer said.
And that technology means law enforcement is always watching, he added.
Proactive investigation is a grand tool in the arsenal of PSP's Child Predator Unit. Investigators enter chat rooms, monitor website activity and take other steps in the active pursuit of persons sexually exploiting children through photos and video, Peifer said.
Reactive investigations are the result of tips from the public as well as suspicious activity reported by Internet service providers, Peifer said.
Perhaps the chief reactive investigation tool is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The agency receives reports through its CyberTip Line -- operated in cooperation with many federal, state and local agencies -- and forwards the information to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
The NCMEC also operates the Child Victim Identification Program, a database of millions of pornographic images of minors that analysts use to determine whether children pictured in images seized by law enforcement are previously identified victims or new victims, according to the NCMEC website. It was estimated in November that over its 10-year existence, analysts reviewed more than 77 million photos. In 2011 alone, 17.3 million were reviewed -- four times the amount of 2007.
Fogal said he uses the database when prosecuting child porn cases in Franklin County.
The perpetrator goes to jail, pays fines and will likely have to register with Megan's Law, a database that keeps track of sex offenders. But for the person whose naked body is splashed across the Internet for all time, the outcome may seem worse.
According to NCMEC, victims can experience severe and lasting effects due to the permanent depictions of the abuse they endured. Depression, withdrawal, anger, betrayal, guilt, powerlessness and low self-esteem are just some of the common outcomes that could hurt a victim for life.
"There's no way to know how many copies of the images of your own abuse are out there," Houser said. "That means for some survivors that may mean for the rest of your life you worry about it."
Houser pointed to a January New York Times Magazine article about a 20-something woman whose sexual abuse by her father, starting at age 9, was recorded and became some of the most widely circulated child porn on the Internet. She knew he had taken photos and video, but he had told her he kept them to himself.
Learning years later that many men considered her the superstar of the child porn industry created a whole new layer of anxiety. Did the random man staring at her see the 9-year-old girl from the images on his computer? The possibility haunts her.
For convicted criminals, legal punishments can range from several months in jail for felony possession to years in federal prison for production or distribution.
Think back to the sexting incident mentioned before. The girl who willingly took the photo herself could regret the decision more as time goes by. "You have no way of knowing where it is, where it will end up, how it's being used, who's looking at it -- and it can come back to haunt you," Houser said.
If the ex-boyfriend is 18 or older, he could face felony charges for distributing child porn and be forced to register as a sex offender.
That used to be the across-the-board standard regardless of age. But lawmakers recognized that the use of cell phones by minors meant that sexting could turn tons of teens into sex offenders, so new laws were written to protect minors possessing sexually explicit images of another minor from that fate, Fogal said.
"The law was originally intended for the dirty old man who had a bunch of child pornography, it was not necessarily intended for the technology of today," Fogal said.
It is important that victims of sexual abuse and child pornography get support, Houser said.
"How do you deal with that loss of control, the loss of safety? How do you learn to accept what can't be changed, yet regain the ability to move forward? These are all complex questions," she said.
Houser urged anyone who is a victim of sexual abuse, whether involving pornography or not, to address his or her issues by calling the state's rape crisis hotline, 1-888-772-7227.
Sexting has become the most common form of child pornography in the local area. Common among teens, sending sexually explicit photos and video over text message and email can end up on the international Internet stage. According to a study conducted in September by the Internet Watch Foundation, 88 percent of photos and videos that young people created themselves were taken from their original location and uploaded onto pornographic websites.
- The study was conducted over 48 hours over 4 weeks
- 12,224 images/videos discovered on 68 websites
- 10,776 of them were on websites other than ones they were originally uploaded to
- Overall, there were 7,147 images and 5,077 videos
- 5,001 were both image and video
Source: Internet Watch Foundation
Horace Mann School in New Yok subject of 'systemic' sex abuse
A pattern of suspected abuse at elite prep school Horace Mann existed for almost four decades- but authorities are powerless to prosecute any of the alleged crimes because they happened too long ago, the Bronx District Attorney said Friday.
The extent of alleged abuse uncovered by the Bronx DA and the NYPD over an 11-month probe was well beyond what had previously been reported, DA Robert Johnson said in a statement.
But the investigation has been closed because "criminally, there's nothing to be done," said his spokesman Steven Reed.
It's the latest blow to as many as 32 victims - now adults mostly in their 40s and 50s - who have come forward over the last year with compelling stories of decades of pervasive, predatory behavior by some teachers and staffers at the upscale Bronx institution. They also claim some administrators knew of abusive teachers - and colluded to keep it hush-hush.
Their allegations - sparked by a blockbuster June 2012 expose in the New York Times - rocked the otherwise stellar reputation of the ivy-covered, upper-crust institution that's been catering to New York's wealthiest families since 1887.
Famous Horace Mann alums include former Governor Eliot Spitzer, Hillary Clinton campaign pollster Mark Penn, Robert Tishman of Tishman Realty, newspaper publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger and Food Network Star Alexandra Guarnaschelli, to name but a few.
The Bronx DA said it sent detectives to California, Colorado and other states to dig into the sordid stories emerging from its Horace Mann hotline, which got 30 calls.
The 60 interviews they conducted revealed a suspected pattern of abuse far greater in scope, duration and horror than previously known, the Bronx DA said.
"In total, we received direct information regarding at least 12 separate alleged abusers," the DA's office said in its statement.
That's double the number who have already been named by survivors. Among them is acclaimed music teacher Johannes Somary, a serial abuser who preyed upon dozens of young teens, his alleged victims say. Somary is named in a lawsuit filed in New Jersey by "M," who says the teacher abused him 450 times while he was a young boy.
According to the Bronx DA, the earliest reported instance of sexual abuse was in 1962 - and the most recent nearly 40 years later, in 1996. The majority of the abuse was in the 1970s, but some occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.
The victims can't press criminal charges because the alleged crimes happened too long ago under New York State Law. New York has a five-year cap on child sex abuse claims, and the clock starts at the child's 18th birthday or when first reported to law enforcement, whichever comes first.
Approximately 27 of the 32 known Horace Mann survivors inked settlement deals last month with the deep-pocketed school, whose board of trustees is a who's-who of the city's most powerful. Another five have refused to sign, said attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 25 of the victims.
Sex abuse survivor Jon Seiger, 51, who claims he was abused by as many as eight Horace Mann staffers as a teen, wasn't surprised by the Bronx DA's decision. But it isn't the end of the story, he said.
"We are going to keep spreading the word about what really happened. Privately, among the survivors, we know there were at least 20 abusers at the same time at Horace Mann," Seiger told the Daily News. Seiger and others have called upon the school to cooperate with an independent investigation that will pin down what administrators knew and when. The school has refused so far, said Seiger, who has named former headmaster Inslee Clark as one of his rapists.
"They are refusing because it would show that at least several board members still serving now were there when abuse allegations were brought to trustees and they brushed them aside," Seiger said. "They found various ways to quiet the complaints, and they didn't report it to authorities."
According to Allred, the victims include four women, one of whom was raped every year she was in high school by a teacher.
Horace Mann's president did not respond to a request for comment. NY Daily News
Newark archbishop allows priest who admitted groping boy to continue working with children
by Mark Mueller
Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.
Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.
But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary's Parish in Colts Neck, The Star-Ledger found.
He has attended weekend youth retreats in Marlboro and on the shores of Lake Hopatcong in Mount Arlington, parishioners say. Fugee also has traveled with members of the St. Mary's youth group on an annual pilgrimage to Canada. At all three locations, he has heard confessions from minors behind closed doors.
What's more, he has done so with the approval of New Jersey's highest-ranking Catholic official, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.
Advocates for victims of sexual abuse uniformly denounced Fugee and Myers, calling the priest's involvement with children a blatant violation of both the agreement with law enforcement and the landmark Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted at a Dallas meeting of the nation's bishops in 2002 after the eruption of the clergy sex abuse crisis.
"This shows a terrible lack of responsibility on the part of the archbishop," said Theresa Padovano, the New Jersey coordinator for Voice of the Faithful, a lay reform group. "You just want to throw your hands up. What are they thinking?"
In a rare breach of unity, two of Myers' fellow bishops appeared to distance themselves from his stance, saying through aides that Fugee's attendance at youth retreats in their dioceses was without their knowledge or permission.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, unaware of Fugee's interaction with the youth group until contacted by The Star-Ledger, immediately launched an investigation and appealed to anyone with information to come forward.
Fugee, 52, could face civil penalties, criminal charges or both if he is found to have violated the agreement, said Assistant Prosecutor Demetra Maurice, assistant chief of the special victims unit.
It was not immediately clear whether Myers individually or the archdiocese in general could face consequences.
In addition to Fugee and Prosecutor John Molinelli, the archdiocese's vicar general signed the agreement on behalf of Myers, pledging to abide by the restrictions on Fugee's ministry.
The document — which can be found on NJ.com, the online home of The Star-Ledger — states explicitly that Fugee may not have unsupervised contact with children, minister to children or work in any position in which children are involved.
"This includes, but is not limited to, presiding over a parish, involvement with a youth group, religious education/parochial school, CCD (or Sunday school), confessions of children, youth choir, youth retreats and day care," the agreement says.
Myers' spokesman, Jim Goodness, said the archbishop and Fugee were unavailable for comment.
But Goodness denied the agreement had been breached, saying the archdiocese has interpreted the document to mean Fugee could work with minors as long as he is under the supervision of priests or lay ministers who have knowledge of his past and of the conditions in the agreement.
"We believe that the archdiocese and Father Fugee have adhered to the stipulations in all of his activities, and will continue to do so," Goodness said.
Even if Fugee heard private confessions from minors, those supervising Fugee were always nearby, Goodness said.
"The fact is, he has done nothing wrong," the spokesman said. "Nobody has reported any activity that is inappropriate, and I think that's important to know, especially given that he's a figure whose name is public and whose past is public."
Fugee was charged with criminal sexual contact in 2001 after he was accused of fondling the genitals of a 14-year-old boy during wrestling matches on two occasions. At the time, the priest served as assistant pastor at the Church of St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff.
Under questioning by police, Fugee confessed to touching the boy, acknowledging it was a "violation" and offering that it sexually excited him, a transcript of the confession shows. A jury convicted him two years later, and he was sentenced to five years' probation.
In 2006, an appellate panel vacated the verdict, ruling that a portion of the confession — in which Fugee described himself as bisexual or homosexual — should have been withheld from jurors because they might have drawn "an unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia."
The rest of the confession was not called into question.
The next year, Fugee was permitted to enter pretrial intervention, a rehabilitation program for first-time offenders, on the condition he sign the agreement with the prosecutor's office.
Goodness, speaking for the archdiocese, has characterized Fugee in the past as a victim in the case, and Myers has repeatedly drawn criticism from advocates for his handling of the priest's case.
In 2009, Myers placed Fugee at St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark as a chaplain without informing hospital officials of the criminal case. After inquiries from The Star-Ledger, the hospital swiftly requested his removal.
Then late last year, Myers named Fugee co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests, igniting a new firestorm.
Goodness likens the post to a pencil-pushing job in which Fugee simply alerts other priests to seminars and educational opportunities. Advocates for clergy sex abuse victims call it a far more influential position, with responsibility for the molding of priests.
Days after The Star-Ledger disclosed the promotion in February, Fugee was removed from the Rochelle Park parish, Church of the Sacred Heart, where he had been living amid claims by parishioners they had never been told of his past. Goodness again maintained it was a matter of public record.
The pattern appears to have been repeated at St. Mary's Parish in Colts Neck, part of the Diocese of Trenton.
Goodness and parishioners at St. Mary's say Fugee became involved with the church through its youth ministers, Michael and Amy Lenehan, who are longtime friends with the priest. Indeed, Fugee publicly thanked them by name for their support in his first homily when he was reinstated to ministry in 2009, a transcript shows.
Amy Lenehan, a teacher in Colts Neck, once worked as a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Goodness confirmed. Michael Lenehan works for the state Department of Children and Families, records show.
Goodness said the Lenehans and the church's pastor, the Rev. Thomas Triggs, knew the terms of Fugee's agreement with the prosecutor's office and monitored him accordingly.
Asked whether there was a conflict or an appearance of a conflict for Fugee's friends to monitor his behavior, Goodness called the notion "ridiculous."
"To make the assumption that lay people in authority or priests who know and are friendly with Father Fugee would be less professional or diligent in terms of ensuring the safety of the children they serve seems like an outright attack on the integrity of these individuals," he said.
The Lenehans and Triggs did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
If they knew details of Fugee's background, they did not share all of that information with other parishioners.
Parishioner Paul Franklin, a deacon whose children have long been associated with the youth group, once met Fugee on an adult retreat. Franklin said he knew the priest had been convicted of criminal sexual contact and that the verdict had been subsequently overturned. He thought that was the end of it.
And, he said, neither the pastor nor the Lenehans informed him otherwise — that Fugee had gone through pretrial intervention or counseling for sex offenders. Or that he had pledged in writing to limit his contact with minors.
Franklin called it "deeply troubling."
"Finding this out later has left me completely flabbergasted," he said. "If I had known, I would have objected immediately. The fact that he is apparently violating this agreement makes me wonder if he was going to honor other agreements. It creates a suspicion."
The deacon said Fugee has been unofficially associated with the parish for years.
In spring 2010, Franklin and his wife attended a youth retreat with their daughter at a retreat house along Lake Hopatcong. The couple served as cooks.
Fugee, Paul Franklin said, was there for much of the weekend and heard confessions from children in a private room.
At a separate retreat in 2012, one of Franklin's teenage daughters and other minors gave confessions to Fugee, also in a private room, the deacon said. A Facebook photo of the retreat, held at the Kateri Environmental Center in Marlboro, shows a smiling Fugee with his arm around a teenage girl.
Many other Facebook photos show Fugee on the trips to Canada. The annual trips, to a shrine in Quebec, are not sponsored by the youth group, but many of the teens attend, Franklin said.
The deacon said Fugee also has attended at least two youth group meetings at St. Mary's.
Franklin stressed he has never witnessed or heard of Fugee engaging in inappropriate behavior.
Goodness said that Fugee never slept over on the retreats and that he attended them only as a last-minute fill-in when other priests were not available to say Mass or hear confessions. He said Fugee's involvement lasted only a few hours, a contention Franklin disputes.
Fugee's very presence, however, has since raised flags with the bishops of Trenton and Paterson. The Lake Hopatcong retreat house is in the Diocese of Paterson.
In a statement issued late last week, a spokesman for Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli flatly stated that Fugee attended the retreat without permission.
"In such situations, the participation of any priest not from the Paterson Diocese can only be permitted after our chancery office investigates the status of the priest in question and determines that the priest has done nothing inappropriate with minors," said the spokesman, Richard Sokerka. "Even if a priest's diocese or archdiocese maintains that the priest is in good standing, the permission to be involved in ministry in the Paterson Diocese is not automatically given."
Rayanne Bennett, a spokeswoman for Trenton Bishop David M. O'Connell, likewise said Fugee's work with St. Mary's took place without the diocese's knowledge or permission.
"Upon learning of this, the diocese has addressed this matter with the parish and reached out to the archdiocese," Bennett said in a statement. "The Archdiocese has reported that Father Fugee is a priest in good standing and free to minister in another diocese."
Bennett declined to say how the issue was addressed with St. Mary's.
To Mark Crawford, New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a national advocacy and support group, Fugee's contact with children shows he can not be trusted.
"If you can take such liberties with an agreement you signed with the prosecutor's office, then how can we trust his commitment not to harm children?" Crawford asked. "Frankly, he shows no fear of the law and a clear disregard for the law."
Crawford and other advocates were equally critical of Myers.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a watchdog group that tracks abuse allegations against priests across the nation, called Myers' thinking "incomprehensible."
"There have been other violations of the zero-tolerance rule adopted by the bishops in Dallas, but this is one of the most egregious violations of that policy that I have seen," Barrett Doyle said. "The recklessness is alarming."
New OCDA HEAT unit to target human trafficking in Orange County
The following information was released by the Orange County District Attorney.
Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas announced today at the Victims' Rights March and Rally a new unit to prosecute Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) cases. Orange County is a diverse melting-pot with a large ethnic population, multiple tourist attractions, and is surrounded by large, urban counties, which has made it susceptible to human traffickers. Human trafficking cases have recently increased in Orange County, with many cases involving underage victims and/or brothels. The new Unit was created to deal with this increasing problem.
The new vertical prosecution HEAT Unit will be coordinated and supervised by Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder and Assistant District Attorney Ted Burnett, and will be composed of two assigned deputy district attorneys, a District Attorney Investigator, and support staff who will dedicate their time to aggressively prosecute these unique and complex cases. The team will work with law enforcement to target perpetrators of human exploitation and trafficking, while taking a comprehensive approach to solve the problem and bring community stakeholders together.
The HEAT Unit will use a tactical plan called PERP – Prosecution, Education, Resources, and Publicity. In addition to prosecuting cases, the Unit will provide law enforcement training to properly handle human trafficking and pandering investigations and prosecutions. The team will seek resources through public-private partnerships to raise public awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking and provide assistance to the victims seeking an alternative to the streets and their abusers. The OCDA will publicize HEAT cases to send a message to human traffickers and sex purchasers that they can no longer perpetuate this problem without suffering severe consequences.
This is what District Attorney Rackauckas stated at the Victims' Rights March and Rally today:
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said in his Emancipation Proclamation that “all persons held as slaves. henceforward shall be free.” Today, 150 years later, we have been given a new mandate – to abolish the modern-slavery that is commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. I want to share with you the Orange County District Attorney's office's plans to meet that mandate.
Author and economist Kevin Bales described, “Slavery is about one person controlling another person using violence and then exploiting them economically, paying them nothing.”
Human exploitation and trafficking generally come in two forms – first in the form of forced labor, and the majority in the form of commercial sexual exploitation. Unfortunately, California is a major hub for human trafficking in the United States based on its geography and demographics.
The scope of the problem is huge. In the United States, approximately 17,500 adults and children are trafficked annually. It's a $9 billion business . that's billion with a “B.” Children are being prostituted on the streets and the Internet, in strip clubs and brothels, and child pornography is being produced and traded like baseball cards. The majority of these American children are between the ages 13 and 15, some are as young as 11.
Like the slaves of the past before they were emancipated, modern-day sex slaves are branded with tattoos of their owner's names. They are being bullied and beaten into selling their bodies. For many of these victims, the slave owner is the only family they have, calling these men “daddy.” Some of these victims are foreign women who are lured with the offer of a lot of cash to work a legitimate job and then they are stripped of their passports and forced instead to work in brothels.
Career criminals and gang members have decided that exploiting humans, especially children, for commercial sex is hugely profitable and carries less risk of being apprehended and punished. It is the second most profitable criminal enterprise behind drug trafficking. These perpetrators are using new tools to turn new tricks, using technology to recruit desperate and vulnerable adults and prey on our children. No child grows up hoping that they will one day be sold for sex. These victims are not throwaways. They are some of the most “tired, the poor” of our people.
In 2012, the Obama Administration held the first-ever cabinet meeting convened solely to discuss the issue of human trafficking. Currently, there is bi-partisan support, led by a Democrat and Republican senator, to reorganize and improve the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act of 2008. This act provides important funding and law enforcement provisions that assist victims and catch traffickers. These improvements are projected to be law by the end of this year.
Last November, Californians passed by 81 percent of the vote, and by 83 percent in Orange County, the anti-human exploitation and trafficking initiative Proposition 35, known as the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act.
Look on this stage and at the people around you. This is not a conservative or liberal issue – it's a human rights issue.
Californians and the People of Orange County have spoken – loudly – and you deserve to have the toughest laws and standards in this field. I pledge to you that my office will do all it can to fight these perpetrators. Through the years, we in the Orange County District Attorney's Office have handled these cases in various units and have achieved good results. And for the last several months we have been researching the best methods to answer the mandate to end trafficking and exploitation, to focus and to formalize our efforts to respond to this crime.
As a result, my Office launched a new vertical prosecution unit this week called HEAT, which stands for Human Exploitation And Trafficking. The team will work with all law enforcement to go after perpetrators of human trafficking and exploitation with vigor, while taking a comprehensive approach to solve the problem and bring community stakeholders together.
The HEAT Unit will use a tactical plan called PERP – Prosecution, Education, Resources, and Publicity. First and foremost, my Office will PROSECUTE the heck out of these guys. With the new weapons provided by Prop 35, many of these defendants will be going away to state prison for multiple years, and some even for life. The slave owners will be recognized and treated like the predators that they are.
Second, we have to do more than prosecute these defendants. A major tactic in this battle will be EDUCATION. My Office will be educating police officers, prosecutors, and front-line professionals such as nurses and teachers. We will even be producing webinars and videos to take the message directly to parents and children, and to warn them how to stay away from these predators. We want to educate the public to bust the myth that the victims are voluntary participants who are getting a fair share of the profits. This is not like the movies, with willing women meeting millionaires on the street, staying in swanky Beverly Hills hotels, and taken on shopping sprees. These women and children are being paid hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a day for sex, and every penny is being taken by their traffickers. The victims are paid instead with occasional compliments, a feeling of belonging to someone, gifts, food and shelter. But only if they produce enough.
Folks, we have seen cases where girls are denied a burger at McDonald's for failing to “earn” enough money for their modern-day slave owners. Who could be so callous to refuse to get medical help for a young woman when she complains that her vaginal area is burning and that she is in pain? What kind of monster wouldn't allow a young girl to come in from the cold when she is shivering outside in her skimpy clothes? Can we ask Hollywood and the music industry to stop glorifying the title “pimp?” Isn't “pimp” just a euphemism for predator?
Third, we can't fight this war without proper RESOURCES. These victims often have no place to go. We need to work together as a community to find them other options so that they have an alternative to the streets and don't go back to their abusers. One of these young girls said after we arrested her slave owner that she wants to grow up to be a victim advocate. We need to be able to find a way to rescue her off the streets and educate her. Private businesses and faith-based groups have worked together with law enforcement in Orange County to help at-risk youths from joining gangs. Let's now have a public-private partnership work together to also save these children from danger.
Finally, we are going to PUBLICIZE our work so the bad guys know the consequences of their actions. These types of defendants are already complaining while sitting in jail that Orange County takes these types of cases too seriously and, that if they had violated these crimes in another jurisdiction, they would already be out of jail.
As for the sex purchasers, let's stop calling them “Johns.” I don't know about you, but I know a lot of really great “Johns!” My Office will soon be sending out a press release on all defendants convicted of purchasing sex. At the very least, their partners and wives ought to know these sex purchasers are possibly endangering their health.
The OCDA's HEAT will be on these PERPS, and we need to work together as a community to say, “No more.” Enough is enough. We're not going to take it anymore.
Dr. Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” It's time for us to answer the bell and do better than we ever have before.
In November 2012, California's anti-human trafficking Proposition 35 (Prop 35) was passed. Under the law, human trafficking is described as depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person with the intent to effect a violation of pimping or pandering. Deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another includes substantial and sustained restriction of another's liberty accomplished through force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to the victim or to another person, under circumstances where the person receiving or apprehending the threat reasonably believes that it is likely to be carried out.
Prop 35 was enacted in California with 81 percent of the vote, and received over 82 percent of the vote in Orange County. It increases the penalty for human trafficking, particularly in cases involving the trafficking of a minor by force. Prior to Prop 35, a conviction for human trafficking of an adult carried a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. Defendants convicted of the same crime under Prop 35 now face a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison.
Two examples of pending HEAT cases
Chuncey Tarae Garcia, 33, is charged with one felony count each of human trafficking of a minor by force or fear, pimping a minor, and forcible rape, with sentencing enhancement allegations for forcible rape of a minor 14 years of age and prior prison convictions for possession for sale of cocaine in 2007 and transportation of cocaine in 2009. If convicted, Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 28 years to life in state prison. He is being held on $1 million bail. Garcia's co-defendant Cierra Melissa Robinson, 27, is charged with one felony count each of human trafficking of a minor and pandering of a minor under 16 years old by procuring, and one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in state prison. She is being held on $1 million bail.
Mark Wesley Anderson, 27, Seattle, WA, and Jaeleesa Jaemika Smith, 25, Salem, OR, are both charged with one felony count each of human trafficking of an adult, pimping, and pandering by procuring. Anderson is also charged with one felony count of possession for sale of a controlled substance. If convicted, Anderson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years and eight months in state prison and Smith faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison.
To read the circumstances in both cases, please visit www.orangecounty.com and select the March 2013 press releases titled, “Pimp To Be Arraigned For Forcible Sex Trafficking Of 14-Year-Old Girl In First Orange County Proposition 35 Case,” for the case against Garcia and Robinson, and, “Male And Female Arraigned On Charges Of Human Trafficking For Pimping Woman After Bringing Her To Orange County From Out Of State,” for the case against Anderson and Smith, from Press Releases/Media Advisories on the homepage.
Deputy District Attorney Bradley Schoenleben and Daniel Varon will be prosecuting HEAT Unit cases.
Homeland Security Department Speaks Out on Human Trafficking in VA
The Department of Homeland Security wants to spread awareness about a hidden crime. Wednesday, one of its agents spoke out about human trafficking in Virginia.
Special agent John Torres was in Charlottesville participating in an event to honor victims of all crimes. But he was also there to help spread awareness about human trafficking and how common it is in the state.
Torres says the biggest misconception about this crime is that people think it only happens in other countries, when it's actually something happening in their backyard - and Charlottesville is no exception.
Torres also says people from all economic backgrounds and ages are targets. He says it only takes one vulnerable moment for someone to be lured into sex trafficking.
"Maybe they get in an argument with mom and dad and next day they're out with their friends and they get taken advantage of by people who see them as being vulnerable and force them right into the sex trade within 24 hours," Torres said.
Nearly 30 children have been rescued in Virginia as victims of sex trafficking. There are also a number of current active cases in Charlottesville.
Homeland security has partnered with the U.S. attorney in Charlottesville to form a human trafficking taskforce.
The U.S. attorney's office also provides training sessions. For more information, click here.
Sex traffickers could have to register in NC
by Lucinda Shen
An N.C. Senate bill requiring convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders in North Carolina awaits Gov. Pat McCrory's approval — a proposal proponents say is the first step to addressing a crime that often remains hidden.
Senate Bill 122 requires those convicted of sex trafficking or trafficking minors to register as sex offenders and wear GPS trackers.
The bill, which passed unanimously through the N.C. House and Senate, will probably be signed into law this week, said the bill's primary sponsor, Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover.
“We hope the bill helps potential victims by identifying perpetrators on the registry with the crime they committed, creating awareness of any danger they may pose,” he said.
The Polaris Project, a national organization that raises awareness about human trafficking, ranks North Carolina as a top-10 state for the crime. The bill will address some of the state's shortcomings regarding the issue, said Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange.
The state tends to attract sex trafficking because it hosts a large agricultural industry, military base and extensive transportation veins, said Caitlyn Dixon, co-chairwoman of Carolina Against Slavery and Trafficking, a Campus Y group.
The bill is a significant step in the right direction, Dixon said, increasing awareness about human trafficking by publicizing the personal information of offenders.
“It is progress because we are finally getting people aware of it on the local level, and it is one more tool to dampen down this difficult situation,” she said.
Senate Bill 683 — also known as the Safe Harbor bill — is another measure proposed by lawmakers to combat sex trafficking.
Goolsby said the bill is more comprehensive and stiffens penalties for participants in sex trafficking. A minor involved in sex trafficking would not be held liable for prostitution.
Similar to domestic violence cases, most traffickers, often the victim's lover or relative, are not convicted because the victims decline to testify, Goolsby said.
And similar to domestic violence laws, the Safe Harbor bill is designed to encourage victims to testify.
“The Safe Harbor bill seeks to address this trend with new mandates on law enforcement and the court system to properly address the crime,” Goolsby said.
“The same prosecutorial aggression is required in sex trafficking of minors to ensure pimps don't get off by convincing victims not to testify or scaring them away from pursuing prosecution.”
The bill will be passed to the Senate judiciary committee this week, he said.
Dixon said the state also needs to educate people about the signs of sex trafficking because victims often cannot help themselves.
“We need to educate our friends on the issue and let victims know that someone out there is looking out for them,” she said. “They are not alone.”
Child abuse survivor turned filmmaker documents life, praises Montgomery County's Mission Kids
by JENNY DeHUFF
UPPER MERION — More than 400 people attended Mission Kids' fifth annual fundraiser at the Radisson Hotel at Valley Forge Thursday night, and a special guest shared a story not many are willing or able to tell.
Dubbed “Mission Possible,” the event raised money for the programs and services offered by Mission Kids, the child advocacy nonprofit founded by Montgomery County's District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.
The evening's keynote speaker, Sasha Joseph Neulinger, a director with Step1films, based in Montana, is a survivor of child sexual abuse who has turned his life toward helping others cope with similar ordeals. He plans to exemplify this through an independent documentary film he calls “Rewind to Fastforward,” he said.
The film is still in the making, and Neulinger told The Times Herald he has more than 200 hours of home video from before, during and after his years of child abuse. He even plans to interview his abusers, he said.
“What you see is a beautiful, wide-eyed, innocent child, and then you see the shift that something's wrong, and then you see the whole journey,” he said. “I want my film to express what child sexual abuse is from a child abuse victim. Ultimately, you can't control what happens around you, you can only control how you (react). After all the pain that I've been through, I believe that every human being is born with a clean slate.”
Neulinger is the nephew of renowned former New York City cantor Howard Nevison, who pleaded guilty to indecent assault in 2006. Neulinger lived in Lower Merion during the time of the abuse in the mid-1990s, between the ages of 4 and 7. Nevison would go to Lower Merion for family events and occasions, where he would see Neulinger.
Having lived in Montana for the past five years, Neulinger said he looks back at his experience dealing with the Montgomery County criminal justice system and wonders what could have been done differently.s
Remains ID'd as 13-year-old Hailey Dunn, Texas cheerleader missing since 2010
The remains of a 13-year-old Texas cheerleader Hailey Dunn have been found more than two years after she was reported missing.
An unidentified person contacted authorities after finding the remains near Lake J.B. Thomas in Scurry County on March 16, more than two years after Dunn's mother reported her daughter missing.
The girl's disappearance and the cause of her death remain under investigation, Scurry County Sheriff Trey Wilson said at a news conference Friday. The Scurry County District Attorney's Office received written confirmation of the identity of the remains on Friday, he said.
Texas Rangers informed the girl's mother, Billie Jean Dunn, on Friday afternoon at her Austin home, said her attorney, John Young. Dunn will be driving to West Texas to arrange her daughter's funeral, he said.
The body was found about 20 miles northwest of the girl's hometown of Colorado City. The girl had been the subject of months of intensive searches in and around Colorado City and surrounding fields and landfills after her mother reported her missing on Dec. 28, 2010. More than 100 billboards featuring her picture and information about the case were set up along interstates in Texas and other states.
Shawn Adkins, who was Billie Dunn's boyfriend when Hailey went missing, has said the girl told him on Dec. 27, 2010, that she was going to her father's home nearby and then on to spend the night at a friend's home. She did neither.
Authorities had named Adkins as a person of interest in the girl's disappearance, but he has not been charged. Authorities later accused the girl's mother of lying about the whereabouts of Adkins, who was found at her home. Billie Dunn pleaded no contest in June 2011 to making a false report to law enforcement and received a suspended 90-day jail term with probation.
The mother and Adkins have denied involvement in Hailey's disappearance. Billie Dunn broke off her relationship with Adkins last year, Young said.
Freda Radcliff, who led Hailey's Angels, an organization dedicated to finding the girl, attended Friday's news conference.
"We've been searching for her for two years, and it's like losing a child of your own. I hate it. I wish we could have brought her back," Radcliff said.
Hailey's paternal grandmother, Connie Jones, said that "At least now we can get some closure."
"We can bury her. She can go home to her maker. She can be at peace."
Hailey's paternal grandfather, Bill Dunn, died in 2011, six months after the girl went missing. His widow, Spicy Dunn of Ponca City, Okla., said her husband spent much of the last months of his life trying to learn what became of his granddaughter.
"He was very, very hurt, and was on the computer all the time looking and trying to find anything that had to do with Hailey," she said Friday. "Anything."
She said family members made a point not to change their phone numbers so that law enforcement officials could reach them in case of any developments, even years later.
"It is a relief to know that she's at peace," Spicy Dunn said. "She doesn't have any more suffering."
She later added, "I hope the family comes to a closure. I know it's very hard."
Training will focus on child abuse awareness
Two Linn County agencies that support children will host Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children training sessions in May.
CASA of Linn County will host the training from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at the CASA office, 1005 Hill St. S.E., Albany.
The ABC House event will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at 1054 29th Ave S.W., Albany.
This training is designed to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse. Participants will learn the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of sexual abuse of children.
Both sessions are free, although $10 donations to cover materials are encouraged.
Pre-registration is required. Contact Lené Gerrett at email@example.com or 541-926-2651 to reserve a spot at the May 9 session, or Maria Schauble at 541-926-2203 or firstname.lastname@example.org for May 14.
New Book Shows Why Childhood Abuse can Lead to Chronic Illness and Premature Death in Adults, and How Abuse Survivors can Heal.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Adults who have been abused or neglected as children have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and are more likely to die at younger ages. New book by Praeclarus Press Editor, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Treating the Lifetime Health Effects of Childhood Abuse, 2nd Edition, describes why child abuse survivors are more likely to get sick--and more importantly, what they can do to heal.
Childhood abuse increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other leading causes of premature mortality in adults.
Research over the last two decades has clearly shown that men and women who were abused as children are more likely to suffer from serious diseases, such heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and die at younger ages than their non-abused counterparts. Abuse survivors are also more likely to have chronic conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic headaches.
A key question is why does child abuse make people sick?
In her new book, Treating the Lifetime Health Effects of Childhood Abuse,2nd Edition, health psychologist and Praeclarus Press's Editor-in-Chief, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett synthesizes 20 years of research to describe why child abuse increases the risk of health problems in adults. Dr. Kendall-Tackett describes five ways by which abuse can impact health.
Physiological changes. Childhood trauma can change the body. Abuse survivors become more vulnerable to stress, may not sleep well, and often have a lowered pain threshold, which means higher rates of chronic pain syndromes.
Harmful behaviors. Abuse survivors are more likely to engage in harmful behaviors, such as smoking, substance abuse, and high-risk sexual behavior.
Negative beliefs about themselves or others. Childhood abuse changes the way abuse survivors see the world. They are more likely to have poor self-esteem, blame themselves for the abuse, or feel shame. They are less likely to trust others and more likely to believe that others want to harm them.
Dysfunctional social relationships. Abuse survivors also have higher rates of revictimization in current partnerships. Even if there is no abuse in the relationship, abuse survivors are more likely to get divorced or report lower satisfaction with their current partners than people who have not been abused. They may be very socially isolated, or they may be caregivers to many without receiving any care in return.
Poor emotional health. Abuse survivors are more likely to be depressed, or have posttraumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders.
Each of these pathways by themselves can negatively impact health the health of abuse survivors. Unfortunately, abuse survivors usually have more than one of these factors present. The more types of abuse that someone has experienced as a child, the higher the risk of serious health problems for adults.
Fortunately, there is much abuse survivors can do to improve their health. By understanding all of the factors that are involved, interventions can be targeted to specifically address the issues abuse survivors face. A key intervention is helping abuse survivors become less vulnerable to stress. Some ways to help with stress include Omega-3 fatty acids, exercise, cognitive therapy, sleep interventions, and for women, breastfeeding.
"In this remarkable text Kendall-Tackett synthesizes theory and empirical data to arrive at a fascinating review of the impact of child abuse. Examining multiple pathways across physiology, cognition, emotion, behavior, and social variables, she assembles a volume that is simply a tour de force for scientists, clinicians, and students of trauma."—Terence M. Keane, Ph.D., VA National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorders & Boston University School of Medicine
“This book is the most comprehensive and up-to-date available on the impact of childhood trauma and adversity. It has a clear and compelling model, a thorough review of the research, and a frank grasp of the complexity of the problem. Throughout it is infused with a sense of compassion for survivors and a vision of how to heal.” --David Finkelhor, Ph.D., Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire
Treating the Lifetime Health Effects of Childhood Abuse, 2nd Edition, is published by Civic Research Institute. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., is Editor-in-Chief of Praeclarus Press, a small press specializing in women's health.
Heart of darkness: the minds of rapists
by Sutapa Deb
April 15, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi: A five-year-old girl is raped by two sexual predators, both young adults
The shocking gang-rape has raised many questions. Where are the perpetrators of rape coming from? What makes them commit rape?
To prevent sexual abuse and sexual violence against children, understanding the minds of the sex offenders is of utmost importance.
Experts in the field of mental health and child abuse say perpetrators are like any of us and they are living in our homes.
"If I have to say who is the person, I will say anyone. There is no mark or visible signs written on someone's face that he or she is a rapist or an abuser of small children. I think a lot of incest, rape and violence happens within respectable families. A lot of it is unreported, a lot of people don't talk about it," Vikramjeet Sinha, Art, Drama Therapist and Development Worker, said.
Monica Kumar, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of Manas Foundation, says, "Of late, the kind of sexual violence and brutality and the dangerous kind of behaviour which we see, it seems like that every second person is a psychopath. While the survivor or the family needs support, the perpetrator needs to be understood. Where are they coming from? Is it a systemic failure?"
Anuja Gupta, whose Rahi Foundation counsels survivors of child abuse, said, "Sex offending of children is a compulsive activity. If a perpetrator abuses one child, there are very high chances of him continuing to perpetrate against other children. So even if you want to stop sexual abuse from happening, you need to actually intercept this and may be even, I would say, have treatment facility for offenders rather than just punishment in jails."
NDTV travelled to the villages of the two accused in the gang-rape of a five-year-old girl in Delhi on April 15. Both perpetrators belonged to a specific socio-economic group. One worked as a mason, the other in a clothes shop.
But the common feature they shared with most sex offenders is a history of violence - small acts that, over a period of time, escalated into deviant behaviour.
One of the accused, Manoj, belongs to Bharthua village of Muzaffarpur district in Bihar. There are pointers to a dysfunctional family. For instance, the reports surrounding Manoj's marriage, suggesting coercion and misdemeanour, and the grandparents deserted by the family.
"We are staying separately for 20 years. My wife is old and we earn our livelihood by working for people here. Sometimes we eat two times a day. Sometimes, just once," said Manoj's grandfather, Dheera Saha.
Two years ago, Manoj stabbed his schoolmate, Uttam Kumar, in Delhi. "He stabbed me from behind. He was angry because I had asked him to stop going through my bag," Uttam said.
Uttam and Manoj's families arrived at a settlement then and the police case was withdrawn. But it was just one of many disturbing incidents.
The second accused, Pradeep, has been a persona non grata in his own village, Ahayipur in Sheikhpura district of Bihar.
"He used to steal mobiles, purses from his own house and from others. A number of people had complained against him. Fed up, we asked him to leave the village," said Pappu Rajak, Pradeep's neighbour.
Mohammad Shahwaz, the sarpanch of Ahiyapur, added, "He was a bad character. When he was in Patna working in a hotel for some time, he was sent to jail for stealing."
But Manoj and Pradeep's abnormal pattern of behaviour was disregarded by the family and the community. The two men were out of control.
"In societies that have good social control mechanisms and/or legal framework, these tendencies are contained. I think the major trouble which we need to recognise about our society and the nation is that we are in this rapid transition phase in which we are going from traditional to the post-modern almost overnight. And so that individual susceptibility of the criminal behaviour finds easy vent in people who are prone to it because one there is disappearing social mechanisms, there is such anonymity in the urban megapolis living. There is very little fear, certainty of the criminal justice system. And there is very little pro-active preventing policing," says Dr Nimish G. Desai, Director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).
To understand sexual violence by any rapist or molester, one needs to look at it from the point of view of individual pathology and other sociological factors.
"You can't look at individual pathology in isolation. You know we are living in a culture where women and girls are sexualised. We are living in what we called very high tolerance up till now at least of sexual violence or sexual innuendos. There is a collusion with something like this. So that is what you call as forming the rape culture which allows people to actually rape girls. Also men who are sexual with children are turned on by being sexual with children. Its the total helplessness of the child, the complete lack of agency that the child has," said Anuja Gupta.
There is a view that the predator's relationship with power is often accompanied by emptiness.
Every predator has been a prey in some ways or the other. It may not be a sexualised prey.
"I am not saying that every rapist has been raped. But what I can is that everyone who gets into the space of sexual violence has probably had a history of violence somewhere or the other where he has either witnessed someone close to him becoming a prey or has been a prey himself or herself. It's not just man versus woman. If you look at the history of boys who run away, who I have worked with, all of them have had some violence at home and many of them from their mothers. And the mothers have their share of violence from their fathers, from husbands. So it sort of transmits itself. So the nature of power is or the nature of violence is transmitive. And I think it's difficult to pinpoint as to is it a person who is perverted or is it a structure that is perverted? And I think both men and women are prey to patriarchy that the perverted structure brings about," said Vikramjeet Sinha.
There is violence on the streets and within the family. The family is a locked-up space, from where there is no escape.
Vikramjeet Sinha adds, "So this boy watches his mother get beaten and a sudden emptiness gets created. And this emptiness is like a black hole. So what the boy would often do is would look at things which can fullfill him; rise in adolescent hormones raging, sexuality power interfaced - at some point it either needs to feed on something. There are a lot of boys who have sex with each other as power relations, older and younger which happens in institutions, villages. And who is a prey then? The prey would either become a prey for the rest of his life, or become a predator because he thinks this is the norm. So he feeds on women who he thinks are weak, or younger boys who are pre-pubescent. Sex operated in these contexts is a power tool, not necessarily a lust tool. I always say ' yeh hawas nahi hai, yeh chaahat nahi hai, yeh satta ka khel hai '"
A study of juveniles in conflict with the law also found that many of them lacked engagement with work or family.
Naveen Kumar, a psychologist at Manas Foundation, said: "They are not part of an educational system. They are not part of any vocational system. Their families mostly are either dysfunctional or broken families. The very distinctive feature of Indian society that is, relatives and everything, is missing. You would find that these people have either come from somewhere or have moved to some other place. If this child or this juvenile or this adult is missing for four days or four hours, nobody's going to ask a question. He will not be identified if he's not there."
"The problem is one of mental depravity, one of dealing with psychopaths, of mental sickness, and that is not going to be sorted out by anyone resigning," was Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar's reaction on the recent gang-rape of the five-year-old girl.
Psychiatrists like Professor Nimish Desai, however, caution against labelling rapists as mentally sick.
It contributes to the negative attitudes towards the mentally ill since there is a distinction between mental illness and the rapists' sexual perversions or psychopathic behaviour.
Ashwini Ailawadi, Director of Rahi Foundation, said, "You put them into a slot, you give them a label and say this is who has done it. So, therefore, if he is mentally unstable, that's not my responsibility. What can I do? He is mentally unstable. If the police commissioner uses the term mentally unstable, psychotic, I would like to know is there a clinical diagnosis for him? You have this person in custody. Here is an opportunity for you to study and examine this person's behaviour rather than tossing these terms around."
While the police have a role to play in preventing sexual violence, in the ultimate analysis, we need a multi-sectoral approach.
From institutionalising gender studies, to identifying individuals at risk of developing feelings of emptiness and disengagement from society, these persons have to be provided support and positive supervision.
Predatory nature of sexually violent offenders
by Malinda Williams
We often use the phrase “sexual assault” to help expand the understanding that sexual offenses include more than the common myth of a stranger forcing intercourse onto a victim. Yet in using this phrase, we may have watered down the facts about the calculated crime of rape and those committing it.
Few crimes raise more public discomfort, anger and fear than rape or incest and can lead to its increase. Renowned forensic consultant Dr. David Lisak challenges common myths of sexual violence. He has interviewed many rapists and researched the ways we fail to hold them accountable.
Between two-thirds and three-quarters of all rapes are never reported to the criminal justice system. Only a tiny handful of rapists ever serve time for rape.
Since rape involves sexual behavior, it was erroneously long believed to be primarily motivated by deviant sexual impulse.
Dr. Nicholas Groth corrected this myth with his 1970s study of incarcerated rapists, identifying three distinct types or motivations: the “power” rapist who seeks to control and dominate his victim and to avoid being controlled by her. The “anger” rapist is fueled by resentment and hostility towards women and is likely to inflict physical harm in the course of a rape.
Fewer cases involve the “sadistic” rapist who gains his sexual gratification by deliberately inflicting pain.
A consistent theme in what causes someone to become a rapist is child abuse. Sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect are all significantly more prevalent in the backgrounds of rapists than in the backgrounds of non-offending men.
Of the offenders who have been captured, prosecuted and convicted, most have been found guilty on a single count of rape. However Lisak's research conducted on those offenders who were granted immunity from further prosecution for their sexual crimes shows that in the identified categories of rapists, most have very lengthy careers beginning in adolescence and often spanning several decades.
One study placed the average number of victims at seven and another as many as 11.
Lisak spent decades interviewing these so called “undetected rapists” and in his paper “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence” has come up with this list of common characteristics of rapists who:
• Identify their victims and test their boundaries;
• Plan their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
• Exhibit strong impulse control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
• Almost never use guns or knives, preferring psychological weapons such as power, control, manipulation, and threats;
• Frequently use alcohol to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.
Knowing this, how do we go forward in ending sexual violence? A strong first step is recognizing the percentage of good men in our communities is far greater than the few who repeatedly commit the majority of violence.
A second step is to get involved and encourage men in our lives to step forward in ending sexualized violence.
This Saturday (April 27) at 5 p.m. on the Taos Plaza join your community's men and young men for the national event of “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” where they will literally put on a pair of women's shoes and walk together to show support for ending rape and all gender-based violence.
Call Sara Martinez at (575) 758-8082 to register in advance. Your $10 registration fee includes a T-shirt and Sara can even help you find the right shoes for your walk.
Malinda Williams is the executive director of Community Against Violence, Inc. (CAV) which offers free confidential support and assistance for adult and child survivors of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking; re-education groups for domestic violence offenders; and male involvement and community and school violence prevention programs. To talk with someone, call the crisis line at (575) 758-9888, or office 575-758-8082. www.taoscav.org and on Facebook.
Russian chamber approves pact to protect against child abuse
MOSCOW, April 26 (UPI) -- An international pact designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse was approved Friday by the lower chamber of Russia's legislature.
The State Duma approved the Council of Europe's Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, which Russia had signed in 2012, RIA Novosti reported.
Legislators also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
The documents require signatory countries to pass laws or regulations creating punishments for selling children for sexual exploitation, organ transfers for profit or forced labor and for improperly inducing consent for a child's adoption.
Cambridge resident sexually abused 33 years ago supports Minnesota Child Victims Act
by Howard Lestrud
The statute of limitations expired on Cambridge resident Joel Juers, who at age 47, was trying to gain justice against an alleged sex abuser.
Last November, former Faribault Shattuck-St. Mary's teacher Joseph Machlitt was arrested and charged with sexually abusing Juers when Juers was 14, 33 years ago. Just weeks ago, those criminal charges were dropped because of the statute of limitations.
Juers is now speaking publicly about the abuse and is strongly in support of the Minnesota Child Victims Act, legislation that would allow anyone who was sexually abused as a child to bring a civil lawsuit at any time in the future against his or her abuser or against the institution facilitating the abuse.
Under current law, if an individual was offended as a child and becomes 18, that individual has until age 24 to bring suit. The new legislation encourages victims of child sex abuse to come forward, potentially identifying abusers who have never been caught and may still be abusing children.
“This legislation will protect children, empower survivors and help stop child abuse from happening in the future,” Juers said.
Legislation has passed its votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee and in the House Civil Law Committee and is expected to be soon heard on the floors of the House and Senate. Author of the Senate bill 534, Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, said the bill procedurally is at the floor of the Senate.
Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins, is the House author of House File 681. The bill is also on the House floor and ready to be heard, Rep. Simon said.
Simon carried a different version of the legislation six years ago. He said he has gotten to know some of the survivors of child sexual abuse.
“The bottom line is, under current Minnesota law, the courthouse doors have been shut in the face of survivors at age 24,” Simon said. He added that many of these victims don't connect the dots to what happened to them until later in life.
The House Civil Law Committee amended the bill in hopes to seek a compromise with opponents.
Chief opponents are the Minnesota Religious Council and the Minnesota School Boards Association. Both have expressed concern about the institution being opened for liability in perpetuity. Major concern of the opposition is the financial impact on defendants associated with the crime, but who didn't commit it, like schools, counties or cities. Those opposed to the change contend costly settlements could ultimately cost taxpayers.
The House version of the bill gives victims an opportunity to bring cases after the statute of limitations during a three-year window, while repealing the statute of limitations for all future incidents. The Senate version has no window; it is unlimited.
Simon said through negotiations, a number of significant concessions have been made to the institutions opposing the House bill.
“I listened, heard and met numerous times with stakeholders,” he said.
Nearly a dozen victim advocate organizations, including the Minnesota Alliance on Crime and the National Child Protection Training Center, support the Minnesota Child Victims Act. Other supporters of the legislation include numerous county attorneys and sheriffs across Minnesota. Kathleen Blatz, past chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, also supports this legislation.
“The question for those opposing this bill is, whom are they protecting,” Juers said. He said helping victims seek justice and protecting children from sexual abuse is not a partisan issue, it is a moral issue “that should unite us all.”
Juers, Rep. Simon and Sen. Latz believe if the legislation is passed into law, Gov. Mark Dayton will sign it.
If the bill becomes law, Juers has the chance to bring his allegations forward. He said he is uncertain as to how he would proceed.
“I am Christian and have to weigh the questions of justice, vengeance and grace,” he said.
“I have to live with myself. Do I forgive? Or, do I exact some form of vengeance myself? Do I cause someone else to suffer? Do I cause this man, who is now 63, to suffer monetarily or publicly?”
At the time of the alleged abuse of Juers, Machlitt was a faculty member at Shattuck-St. Mary's, teaching art and photography. Juers said two incidents of abuse occurred.
Juers said he needs more time to decide and points out that is why the legislation is needed. Many victims need more time than what is restricted now by the statute of limitations, he said. A statute of limitations for setting time constraints for sex abuse victims to come forward are truly arbitrary, Juers contended.
“This is a special type of crime and we all heal at different rates. We are willing to tell our stories but at different times.”
Juers said that laws should reflect societal values, rather than laws dictating societal values.
“There's something backwards there,” he said.
“I've personally seen the consequences of the arbitrary deadline in current law,” Juers said. “This new legislation would have helped me. I don't want to see others denied justice the way I was. That's why I support the Minnesota Child Victims Act.”
Juers is employed by the Elim Home & Rehabilitation Center in Princeton, and he is a full-time nursing student at Bethel University in St. Paul.
Sen. Latz said victims of child sexual abuse have suffered a unique injury. It justifies unique treatment in terms of the statute of limitations, he said. The abuse has left “deep, emotional scars” and the statute of limitations closes down a person's ability to recognize the harm, sometimes recall the harm, to admit it happened and to talk about it with family and the public, Latz said.
The ability to start a lawsuit should be protected, Latz said, to hold the individuals or institutions accountable. He called this crime “horrendous” and a crime that is life changing and devastating for the victim.
Child Abuse Increasing Shasta Health Risks
(Video on site)
An alarming study shows Shasta County children are far more likely to experience child abuse, neglect, and other adverse experiences than kids in most other parts of the country.
Even worse, we now know these experiences have a negative physical and mental impact later in life
Growing up in Shasta County, you're more likely experience abuse, witness domestic violence, and live in a house with mental illness; according to a new report.
“We have more people with higher numbers of adverse childhood experiences and fewer people who have experienced 0 of the 10 experiences,” Said Robin Schurig of the Strengthening Families Cooperative.
Shasta's rates are higher across the board. Notably, 54% of children experience verbal abuse compared to 25% nationwide. 57% of Shasta households have substance abuse compared to 29% nationwide.
“It really does persist throughout all socio-economic levels, people from all walks of life can experience child maltreatment,” said Schurig.
The rates are shocking enough, but what's worse is how these experiences are shown to cause real issues later in life.
“These people with these severe health issues had an increased amount of these adverse childhood experiences,” said Rachelle Modena of the Shasta County Child Abuse Coordinating Council.
Affected children are at higher risk of stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, suicide, and a long list of other complications.
“There are a lot of things parents can do to build resilience in their children,” said Modena.
“There is a set of five protective factors that have been shown to not only protect against child abuse, but also to promote healthy childhood development,” said Schurig.
The protective factors are the ability to handle the stress of being a parent, knowing when to rely on others for help, getting support in times of need, knowing how your child should be developing, and encouraging your child to interact positively with others
“We're really focusing here in our community of what we can do to strengthen families and to prevent those adverse childhood experiences,” said Modena.
One reason Shasta County's rates are inflated in part to the fact that child abuse increases with unemployment, poverty, and substance abuse.
2 child abuse detectives hired in March already have a dozen cases each
by Holly Herman
Berks County's two new child abuse detectives started the job with a ready-made case load as child abuse complaints have increased by nearly 40 percent in the last two years in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky case.
Detectives Christopher L. Santoro and Anthony G. Garipoli, who were hired in March, said investigating child abuse cases gives them a great deal of satisfaction. They already are working on a dozen cases each.
"This job is very gratifying because we are protecting the children," Garipoli said.
"Children are the most innocent people," Santoro added. "These are the cases that really stick with you."
Chief County Detective Michael J. Gombar said he is grateful the county commissioners agreed to a request from District Attorney John T. Adams to add two child abuse detectives - each is paid $65,104 - because the caseload is rising rapidly.
"The law requires that we investigate child abuse complaints immediately," Gombar said. "Child abuse cases are our priority."
Because of the increased number of abuse complaints, Gombar said he was forced to use detectives that had been assigned to financial crimes to investigate child abuse.
Sandusky, a former Penn State football defensive coordinator, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in state prison after he was convicted of molesting 10 boys he met through The Second Mile, a nonprofit charity he founded.
Gombar has assigned seven detectives full time to investigate child abuse cases.
As a city detective, Santoro investigated the October 2000 kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Erica Martes.
"This case really got to me," he said. "I can remember all of the facts as if it were yesterday."
Martes was kidnapped from the Riverside Elementary School by Marcial P. Sosa, who was upset the girl's mother had broken up with him, according to court records.
He strangled the child and buried her on the banks of the Schuylkill River, police said.
Police arrested Sosa on Nov. 7, 2000, and found her body two days later. Sosa pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence in state prison.
Santoro said child abuse investigations are the most rewarding.
"I look at this job like the glass is half full," he said. "It's challenging and you have to stay positive. It really hits home when you have a child who is hurt."
Garipoli feels the same way.
"This is a great opportunity to help the children," he said. "It's very time-consuming. We have to dot our I's and cross our T's."
Both detectives said they are grateful for the opportunity to work in the child abuse unit with other experienced detectives.
"These detectives are very well-respected in the law enforcement community," Gombar said.
Adams said the new detectives will do a great job.
"Now we have the personnel to take on this onslaught of child cases," Adams said. "I am proud of the commissioners for realizing the need for the new detectives during tight fiscal times."
Sugar Ray Leonard fundraises for San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center
by Cheryl Jennings
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard was the keynote speaker Friday at the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center fundraiser, but he didn't talk about boxing. He spoke about the new battle he is taking on to prevent child sexual abuse.
"It happened so quick," he told a sold-out crowd. Sugar Ray spoke to more than 500 attendees about the people he trusted, who molested him when he was a young teenager, an aspiring Olympic champion. "The only problem was I told no one because I was ashamed," he said.
The 56-year-old shared a powerful and emotional story that had the audience in tears about how he turned to drugs and alcohol, and wrecked a marriage. He also explained why he finally decided to go public with his story after 40 something years.
"I'm here because I want to speak up. I want to speak out. I'm here as a parent, as a father, as a husband, and yes, as a fighter," he told ABC7 News. "I wish there was prevention center for me that I could have been a part of, that could help me during my time."
Sugar Ray's support for the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center raised some big money including the surprise auction package of his autographed boxing gloves and lunch at his Southern California home.
The overall total for the luncheon, thanks to Sugar Ray Leonard, was $450,000.
Click here for more information about the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center's Services.
Marchers take back the night in Herkimer
by Donna Thompson
Herkimer, N.Y. — “Yes means yes. No means no.
“Whatever we wear. Wherever we go.”
This and other chants could be heard Thursday evening as the YWCA Mohawk Valley conducted its annual Take Back the Night rally, march and speak-out against sexual violence.
The event began and ended in Myers Park, where participants could view the YWCA's Clothesline Project, which consists of T-shirts created by survivors of domestic and sexual violence as part of their healing process. There was also a pinwheel display to represent the 22 adults and 291 children who received services from the YWCA during 2012 as a result of sexual assault.
“That's 291 children just last year,” said Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter. He said the good news is those children spoke up and received services, but he added, “That number is entirely too large.”
Keynote speaker David Wolfanger spoke about the rape and torture of children in church-run schools.
“I was one of them,” he said. “For 40 years I buried it. I did what I was supposed to do. I shut up. I didn't tell my parents who loved me.”
He urged his listeners to speak out about such crimes and about the dogma that allows the abuse of children, especially girls, to continue in many parts of the world. “I shut up and more kids were molested because I didn't have the courage to speak out,” said Wolfanger.
A large crowd of participants, led by YWCA staff members, marched out of Myers Park and around the village of Herkimer, stopping at Frank J. Basloe Public Library to lay flowers in honor of those killed in the March 13 shootings. The group also stopped in front of the YWCA office on North Washington Street to leave flowers in honor of those who came to receive services because of rape or sexual abuse. The third stop was in front of the police station in recognition of the role the police play, as they are often the first person a victim comes in contract with following a sexual assault. The manner in which they respond can make a big difference in the victim's experience. The procession then returned to Myers Park for the speak-out portion of the program.
A woman who introduced herself as Wanda said she was raped as a child and began a long journey of self-destructive behavior, including dropping out of school. “I had a grandmother who prayed for me, although she didn't live to see me turn my life around.”
At age 25, she decided it was time to get her life together, but she didn't seek counseling until she was 33. Counselors had to tell her that being gang-raped was not a normal part of growing up, she said.
“Forgiveness is not easy,” she said, “but it's better than destroying yourself.”
She said it took three tries, but she obtained her GED and is currently on the way to earning a doctorate in theology.
“I'm on a good journey now,” she said.
Another speaker said a friend of her father's had raped her during a camping trip. He was placed on probation for 10 years, but is still free and in the Utica area, she said.
“As a victim, I encourage anyone here don't be ashamed or embarrassed. Don't be quiet,” said another woman.
A fourth participant talked about growing up in a dysfunctional family and being molested as a young child and later being abused by a sibling who became a police officer. She attempted suicide and engaged in other self-destructive behaviors for a time.
“No perpetrator can erase the soul's potential,” she said. “Today is a good day for healing.”
Another survivor said a family member molested her, leaving her dealing with fear and shame. “I started smoking at 13 and by the time I was 16 I was smoking a pack a day and was considered an alcoholic,” she said.
When she finally reported the incident, the perpetrator took and passed a lie detector test. She was accused of lying.
“I vowed never to speak out again,” she said. Eventually, though, she decided it was time to get her life together. She quit using drugs and alcohol and stopped smoking. She graduated tenth in her high school class and is currently attending college and playing sports. “I'm doing everything people said I could never do,” she said, adding she is doing these things with the support of her friends. “Reach out and you will find people ready to listen,” she said.
Victims of sexual violence can find help 24 hours a day by calling 797-7740 or 866-4120. All services are free and confidential. For more information, visit www.ywcamv.org
Uniting Against Sex Trafficking
by Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin -- Spiritual Leader, Israel Center of Conservative Judaism
On April 22 I attended the "We Were Slaves: The Jewish Community Unites against Sex Trafficking" conference at the UJA Federation of New York offices. Those in attendance heard from a girl who used the pseudonym Sarah. Sarah is a young 20-something, herself a Jewish victim of sex trafficking.
After Sarah's testimony, we were left with a face and a voice of an urban girl who was used in the sex industry. Sarah said that at times she would play mind games with herself and pretend that she liked it, or that it was a game -- but then her pimp would beat her and she would remember that in fact, her life was not a game. What stayed with me from her testimony -- to a room full of, rabbis, educators, therapists, government workers and students -- was that she said she did not ask to be raped and beaten. She did not know she was a victim of sex trafficking or that she could get out.
Susan Stern, who chaired the President's Advisory on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships reminded us that being trafficked happens to you -- it is not who you are. She also said that behind every victim there is a person with hopes and dreams.
The survivor we met concluded her remarks with "now that I am out of prostitution I set the boundaries for my body" and "no one is born a prostitute." Becoming a prostitute is rarely a choice. When a prostitute is "working" someone else owns or rents her for the hour that she is "working." Listen to the language. That is human trafficking and human slavery.
A sex worker's pimp does own her, taking away all of her liberties and power. Unless they are born into it, being raised in a shanty town, most girls are lured or seduced into the life because of a serious vulnerability, or because they were raised with abuse and have negligible self worth or self esteem.
With that in mind, I have so much trouble with the text of this week's Torah portion, especially looking at it with 2013 eyes. Emor 's target audience is the priests and their families, but I still am left troubled by the ramification and the thought behind it.
According to Leviticus 21:9, when the daughter of a priest defiles herself through harlotry, it is her father whom she defiles; she shall be put to the fire. All of the translations that I read seem to imply that if a woman makes herself a whore or a harlot, then she cannot marry a priest. In addition, she defiles her father in the process. From everything I learned on Monday, it is very rare that a woman makes herself a whore or a harlot. Something happens or someone lures her into it.
In the Holiness Code of Leviticus we read " Do not degrade your daughter and make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry." Our Torah clearly states that fathers are prohibited from using their daughters as prostitutes. Yet, Rashi writes that it is the daughters who shame the father. What about the shame and fear they face every day when they get up due to powerlessness and abuse?
Further, in Leviticus 25:55 God says " The children of Israel are My servants." Human beings are not designed to be chattel or slaves, or even the unwilling servants, of other human beings. As Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: " man's sin is in his failure to live what he is. Being the master of the earth, man forgets that he is the servant of God." All of humanity is created in the image of God. There are no exceptions to that rule.
Yet, today, approximately 27 million people around the globe are forced into slavery-two thirds into sex slavery. And as I learned from Sarah, Jews are not exempt from this.
According to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships April 2013, which was shared with us on Monday:
There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history...
Every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of human trafficking. Trafficking in persons, or modern-day slavery, mars every corner of the globe and manifests itself in a debasement of our common humanity that is completely at odds with religious and ethical teachings alike. This heinous crime robs tens of millions of people of their basic freedom and dignity. Victims of modern-day slavery include U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, children and adults, who are trapped in forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation, with little hope of escape.
Trafficking in persons is estimated to be one of the top-grossing criminal industries in the world, with traffickers profiting an estimated $32 billion every year.
Monday's conference had a purpose. It was to raise awareness of this $32 billion annual problem. The ultimate goal is to of course get rid of sex trafficking completely, but that, I am afraid is some ways off.
Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin is the spiritual leader of the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism in Queens, NY, and a supporter of T'ruah: The Rabbinical Call for Human Rights.
To protect our children, we must talk to them about rape
Yes, governments should step up, but so should we. We must not be squeamish about bringing this issue to the dinner table
What will you discuss with your children this evening? Sports, the weather, celebrity gossip, rape?
We are from three generations (aged 81, 50 and 36), three faiths (Christian, Muslim, Jewish) and three continents (Africa, Asia, North America). One of us is a religious leader, one a writer and rape survivor and one the CEO of a non-profit organisation. We come together in the wake of the recent upheaval around rape in India, South Africa, the US and the UK, because we share a passionate conviction: we must bring the discourse home to the next generation on every continent.
Why did the men in the recent India and South Africa crimes rape, torture, and murder their victims? How could Jimmy Savile of the BBC molest hundreds of people and still die a hero? Why did the gang rapists in Ohio feel safe boasting on camera about what they had done? Why do too many Indians dehumanise women, and too many South Africans believe that men are just intrinsically badly behaved and programmed to rape? Who do we think these sub-human women and out-of-control men are?
They are us and, if we are not careful, they will be our children. We do not have the answers, but we should all be asking the questions, and we should include our sons, daughters and all the young people in our lives in our discussions. We need to stop behaving as if it's all a terrible problem out there, and start talking about it with each other and with our children.
So much ink has been spilt in the media over the past few weeks. Rape has become a ubiquitous global topic, and that is encouraging since it is a global blot on our collective humanity. But hardly anyone has paid attention to how this affects the most important group of all: the next generation, which is poised to inherit our poisonous baggage.
The fact is, rape is utterly commonplace in all our cultures. It is part of the fabric of everyday life, yet we all act as if it's something shocking and extraordinary whenever it hits the headlines. We remain silent, and so we condone it. The three of us deal with this issue in different ways every day of our lives, yet we too are guilty of protesting articulately outside but leaving it on the other side of the door when we sit down to dinner with our families. Until rape, and the structures – sexism, inequality, tradition – that make it possible, are part of our dinner-table conversation with the next generation, it will continue. Is it polite and comfortable to talk about it? No. Must we anyway? Yes.
It seems daunting. But which is more painful: talking sensibly with young people about this issue, the same way we might talk with them about drugs, guns or bullying, or waiting for something terrible to happen so close to home that you have to address it in a time of turmoil?
Children can seem fragile, and adults often have the mistaken notion that telling children about harsh realities will destroy their innocence. But you do not lose innocence when you learn about terrible acts; you lose your innocence when you commit them. An open culture of tolerance, honesty and discussion is the best way to safeguard innocence, not destroy it.
Changing rape culture is family work, but it cannot be only family work. It is a public health issue of gravest concern. The statistics are everywhere, but the evidence is weirdly shadowy: like the one in four girls abused in South Africa, by the one in four men who admit to having raped someone. (But who are these girls, and where are these men? Hardly anyone is talking.) The cost in human suffering, lives decimated, families destroyed, mental anguish, physical trauma … the cost of rape is probably bigger than any of us can comprehend. Rape is expensive. Not just families from China to Canada, but also all the important institutions in young people's lives everywhere – schools from Finland to the Philippines, youth programmes from London to Laos – should spend less energy ignoring the issue and more energy helping children understand the basic concepts of respect and choice.
Yes, governments must step up. But so should we all. Why shouldn't rape be dinner-table conversation? We talk about war, we talk about death, we discuss values with our children. But on the subject of sexual assault, we remain silent and squeamish. We leave them ill-prepared, with whispers of untold horrors and no guidance for our sons on how they should behave if one day they should find themselves in a group of boys with a girl in their power.
Rape does not exist in a vacuum, and we cannot talk about it as if it is removed from the rest of our lives. Let's teach our children that they don't need to live in little boxes defined by their gender or culture. Let's teach them that they are all of equal worth. Let's not favour our boys over our girls. Let's not tolerate bullying or stereotyping. Let's reject utterly the notion that boys will be boys and girls must work around this assumption or pay the price.
Yes, policies should change, laws should be just. But if we want to make a fundamental difference, all of us must bring the conversation home. It is our opportunity to start to create true change. It might not be polite and comfortable, but it is essential. We owe it to our children.
Survivors share cautionary tales of sexual exploitation
by Clara Ho
She was 12 years old, struggling to fit in with her Grade 7 classmates, and experimenting with pot and alcohol.
He was nearly three times her age, became her “boyfriend” and showered her with gifts. But one day, he took her to a house party and everything changed.
“He said all the things he had done for me to that point, clothing and money, that wasn't free,” said Tammy, who did not want her last name published for privacy reasons. “That help was to sleep with his friends for money.”
After that day, Tammy got hooked on crack cocaine, became an intravenous drug user and sold her body — first in houses and pool halls, then on the streets — for 12 years before she sought help for herself and for the child she bore at 14.
Now 35 years old and 12 years out of the sex trade, Tammy said she never thought she would turn out the way she is today — married, educated, employed with the same company for five years, and enjoying a happy relationship with her family and her son.
She shared her story Wednesday at an event marking Calgary's first sexual exploitation awareness day in hopes of shining a light on the issue.
“The sex trade is a secret. I don't think the general public pays attention to what's happening, or might be scared to spark the conversation,” she said.
“I feel not only a responsibility to my community and to the women who come after me, but it's an honour to have made something of my life. And I can show women that's possible and they can do it too.”
Marina Giacomin, executive director of Servants Anonymous Society Calgary, said the sex trade still exists in the city despite less activity “out on the streets, in the strolls.”
“That gives us this false impression — perhaps prostitution, sexual exploitation and sex trafficking has somehow decreased,” she said. “What's happened instead is it's gone online.”
She said young people are particularly susceptible to being groomed and lured into sexual exploitative situations.
The average age of someone entering prostitution is 13.5 years old, said Giacomin, adding many who work in the sex trade experienced sexual abuse as a child.
Her organization — which supports and helps victims of sexual exploitation — served 176 women and children last year.
According to the Calgary Police Service, nearly 450 new child-exploitation cases were investigated and close to 300 charges were laid in Alberta in 2012.
Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson said these cases happen in every community, in every socio-economic group, to both males and females, children and adults. And, in many cases, a trusted adult or close relative is committing the offences.
“It's so important that comes out, so people can realize they've got to be vigilant and what they can do,” he said, adding agencies and communities also need to work together to prevent the issue early on.
Like Tammy, fellow survivor Myja Willis wants to get involved and help other victims, using her music to send messages of hope. For the 18-year-old, drug and alcohol addiction — stemming from an unstable family life — led to her ordeal of sexual exploitation.
“I ended up getting so far down to my lowest low, I tried to kill myself on the train tracks of downtown Calgary. After that, everyone noticed it was a cry for help,” said the 18-year-old.
Her song Choices, which she performed Wednesday, tells the world the choices she makes will “make or break” her, so she needs to make the right ones, she said.
“I'm 18, I'm still a teen, I still make bad decisions. But it doesn't mean I can't get back on the horse,” she said. “No matter how low you get, you can always go higher. There will always be something that can help you.”
Kentucky Supreme Court upholds ruling to release child abuse records
Files in deaths, bad injuries must be open
by Jessie Halladay
The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday required Kentucky officials to publicly release records of child abuse cases resulting in death or serious injuries.
The justices voted 3-3 on whether to grant a stay of a lower court's order that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services open the cases. Because the court was evenly split, a previous decision by the appeals court denying the stay was upheld.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd had ruled that The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader should be allowed access to internal reviews of cases in which children died or were seriously injured from abuse or neglect.
That means the cabinet must provide case files following a protocol set out by Shepherd spelling out what information can be redacted by the cabinet and ordering the cabinet to explain each redaction. Shepherd had ruled that previous redactions were overly broad, making it impossible to assess how effectively the cabinet did its job protecting children.
Despite asking for the stay, cabinet officials have released some case files with redactions that officials describe as “minimal.”
Cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff responded to the Supreme Court decision, saying Thursday that the cabinet has never attempted to protect the names of social workers involved in the cases and has only made redactions to protect the privacy of some parties involved.
The Supreme Court's tie vote “demonstrates that the cabinet made strong arguments to protect the privacy of innocent siblings and the identity of all individuals who report suspected abuse,” she said.
Attorney Jon Fleischaker, who represents the newspapers, said the cabinet has failed to comply with Shepherd's order. Not only have cabinet officials not turned over every case requested, Fleischaker said they have failed to fully explain why each redaction is made.
For example, the records indicate that names of adults who were not involved in the neglect were withheld, but do not provide a reason. Or, in some cases, reports where neglect wasn't substantiated have been withheld from the files without explanation.
Fleischaker said those are key details that must be seen for a full assessment of whether the information was withheld in keeping with Shepherd's order.
In more recent case files that have been released, the cabinet has indicated documents were removed, including family and juvenile court documents and medical documents.
Fleischaker said he questions whether those files are simply being left out to avoid releasing them at all. “They play games,” he said of the cabinet.
Midkiff said the redactions are intended to ensure that people can report abuse without fear of retaliation.
“Because the courts' actions preclude the cabinet from protecting the confidentiality and privacy of all citizens and family members who report suspected abuse, we fear this may have a chilling effect on the voluntary reporting of child abuse or neglect and lead to needless injuries and deaths of children,” Midkiff said.
Thursday's ruling only deals with the requested stay on releasing information and Fleischaker said it will enable the case to move forward. There are still issues pending on the merits of the case regarding public access to information.
This is the latest round in the lengthy court fight by the state's two largest newspapers to get records after several high-profile child-death cases. Shepherd has ruled multiple times that there is “no legal basis” for withholding the records.
Fleischaker said he expects to file a motion soon seeking release of the rest of the records. He said he may also ask that the cabinet be held in contempt for failing to comply with Shepherd's original order in the first place.
“We're going to go back to court and hold their feet to the fire,” he said.
Ellsworth programs work to prevent child abuse
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D . | Countless professionals on base help keep child abuse cases to a minimum - when it comes to children, however, any case is one too many.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to reflect on the many ways the Ellsworth community can help identify and help resolve child abuse.
There are several ways to prevent, identify and help resolve child maltreatment.
"The most common factor I've seen contributing to child abuse is overwhelmed parents under a lot of stress," said Lee Sasse, 28th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy Program outreach manager. "The best way to help with that stress is to establish a healthy support network and be prepared before we become parents."
There are a variety of programs and classes offered on base, that can help anyone deal with the stress of adding children to a family. One program that is recommended by the FAP and great for families expecting or who already have young children is the New Parent Support Program.
"I'm here to help military parents be the best parents possible," said Helen Romeyn, 28th Medical Group FAP nurse and New Parent Support Program manager.
The NPSP allows Romeyn to visit homes, on a volunteer basis, where families are expecting babies or have children under 3. Romeyn is a registered nurse, certified lactation consultant and has been involved with the military for 30 years, making her well equipped to answer questions parents may have about their child's behavior, development or routines, as well as calming and de-stressing techniques. The NPSP must be volunteered for, and is not mandated by any agency that focuses on suspected or known child maltreatment.
"It's a total privilege to be invited into someone's home," Romeyn said. "I want the family to feel complete joy with their children, not stress."
Programs like this exist at almost every Air Force base and at installations across the Department of Defense. The NPSP provides education to families that has proven to effectively reduce the stressors that commonly lead to child maltreatment.
Romeyn added that a common stressor she's seen is that military families are often separated from their other family members that could otherwise provide a much needed support system, especially when stationed overseas.
"My best advice: do not isolate," Romeyn said. "Do not isolate yourself and, whether you have children or not, get to know your neighbors."
Sasse said that most of the parents referred for child abuse never had any intention of harming anyone they just wanted their child to listen, follow directions or stop misbehaving. Having a good support network of neighbors, friends, and fellow parents can help us through the tough spots, give us break, and provide us with parenting tools and ideas.
"If you walk into your neighbor's house or yard and the way children are being treated makes you uncomfortable, try to help or report it," Romeyn said.
There are obvious signs of abuse like ongoing patterns of unexplained or poorly explained injuries to a child such as bumps, bruises, and/or burns to areas of the body that normally wouldn't get injured during typical play and exploration. Neglect and emotional abuse however, can be harder to identify. There is no shame in reporting suspected child maltreatment.
"When law enforcement responds to a child abuse call, we're not there to make parents look like bad parents or blame them immediately for an incident," said Robert O'Brien, 28th Security Forces Squadron detective. "Our first concern is the child or children."
The Ellsworth community has done well at teaming up to make on-base cases so rare.
"In the nine years I've been at Ellsworth, I have experienced very few cases case where families have completed my program and were later suspected of child abuse," Romeyn said.
But as everyone knows, any case is one too many.
If you suspect or know of any child maltreatment call the FAP at (605) 385-3660, or the 28th SFS at (605) 385-4001. If you suspect or witness an emergency, call 911 immediately.
For more information on classes and programs to help families cope with stress or network with other families, call the Airman and Family Readiness Center at (605) 385-4663. For more information on what constitutes child abuse or neglect contact the 28th SFS, local law enforcement, or your first sergeant.
Bill would extend statute of limitations for child sex crimes
A bill introduced by Sen. Richard Sears would extend the age at which Vermonters who were sexually abused as children could report the allegations for possible prosecution.
But the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said he doesn't believe the bill will be taken up in the House until the next legislative session.
Sears, a Democrat from Bennington County, said the bill, which would extend the statute of limitations for certain sex crimes involving child victims, was written after he spoke with prosecutors at the Bennington County state's attorney's office, including Christina Rainville, the chief deputy.
Sears said one of the arguments he found most effective involved the prosecution of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky last year. Based on the ages of the victims who came forward, authorities would only have been able to file charges on behalf of six of the eight men who testified if the incidents had happened in Vermont,
Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and sentenced to serve 30 to 60 years.
The bill that Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, created would amend the laws for sexual assault, lewd and lascivious conduct, sexual exploitation of a minor and lewd or lascivious conduct with a child in cases where the victim was younger than 18 so they can be reported anytime until the victim is 40. As the laws are now written, the reporting must be before the victim reaches 24 or within 10 years of the time the incident is reported.
“We went with 40 because we felt that if you hadn't reported it by then, it would be difficult to prosecute at any rate,” Sears said.
While the bill was passed unanimously by the Senate, it has been in the House Judiciary Committee since March 26.
Rep. William Lippert, a Democrat from Chittenden County who is chairman of the committee, said he didn't expect the bill would be taken up until the first half of the next legislative session in 2014. This term, the committee has been busy with the end-of-life law, the genetically modified organism issue and other complicated issues.
“We have not had a chance to take (S.20) up yet. That's not, however, necessarily a reflection of either my own position or (the positions of other) committee members, but it's really a matter of workload. We have a great deal on our plate,” he said.
Rainville, who has prosecuted many cases of sexual abuse with child victims, said the bill was important because it would allow law-enforcement to protect today's children.
“If we know that someone had committed crimes against children 15, 20 years ago and we see that person hanging out with children (now) we can do nothing to protect those children,” she said.
Rainville said that many young victims of sexual abuse never come forward. Others come forward only when they themselves have children or when they learn that their abuser is still having contact with children.
As a result, Rainville said it was important to protect the rights of a person to bring forward an accusation that can be investigated and prosecuted because late reporting is very common.
Sears said he didn't think the bill would take long to support if it's brought forward.
“We always say, ‘You should never say it's a simple bill,' but it really is a pretty simple concept: What should be the statute of limitations for reporting child sexual abuse,” he said.
Va. State Crime Commission to study child sexual abuse, forced prostitution
RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia State Crime Commission will spend a lot of time talking about sex crimes this year.
Among the assignments the 2013 General Assembly gave the commission is to conduct a comprehensive review of the reporting, investigation and tracking of child sexual abuse cases. According to the resolution mandating the study, there are agency-to-agency inconsistences in the way the more than 5,000 annual reports of child sexual abuse are handled.
The resolution says that “these differences may result in opportunities for individuals who are alleged to have committed child sexual abuse and who are the subjects of investigations to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, or otherwise interfere with the conduct of such investigations.”
A work group of social services and law enforcement officials will be tasked with helping the commission's staff compile a report and make recommendations for next year's legislative session. Kristen Howard, the commission's executive director, said the work group likely will start meeting in June.
One specific issue that will be part of the study is sex between teachers and high school students who have turned 18. Under current law, taking indecent liberties with a minor by a person in a “custodial or supervisory relationship” is a felony. However, it's not a crime once the younger person reaches age 18. The study will examine whether that should be changed.
The commission also will examine proposals to toss out prostitution charges or convictions of defendants who were forced into prostitution, and to allow prior sex crime convictions to be introduced as evidence in sexual abuse cases.
Commission officials said it's just a coincidence that sex crimes dominate the agenda.
“There's no master plan,” said Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle County and chairman of the commission. “Each of these issues seems to be something we can study and do something about to improve the criminal justice system.”
Howard said it's not the first time a single area of crime has received the bulk of the attention. A few years ago, she said, the commission focused heavily on domestic violence and protective orders.
Several of the sex crime measures were introduced in the last legislative session but were held over for further review. The crime commission's endorsement doesn't guarantee passage, but it does carry significant weight with lawmakers.
House and Senate versions of bills allowing the introduction of prior sexual abuse convictions into evidence sailed through their originating chambers before prosecutors raised some concerns that put the measures on hold until next year, Bell said.
“If someone committed a crime like this in the past, he's more likely to commit one in the future,” said Bell, who sponsored the House version of the bill. “It's something the jury would find helpful in a he-said, she-said case.”
The Senate unanimously passed the forced-prostitution legislation, but it bogged down in a House committee amid debate over how to define the level of coercion that would justify expunging a charge or conviction.
“There are those who are forced through physical threat,” Bell said. “There are those who are deliberately isolated from friends and parents. There are issues where drugs are involved. The current legal doctrines of duress don't apply to all of that very cleanly.”
Bell said lawmakers also want to make sure that in providing relief for women forced into prostitution, they don't unwittingly make it more difficult to prosecute the sex traffickers.
The commission also will study legislation allowing a prosecutor to join a defense attorney in a petition to exonerate a person they believe was wrongly convicted. The inmate could then be released on bail pending an appellate court ruling on a petition for exoneration.
That bill was prompted by the case of Johnathan Montgomery, who spent four years in prison before a woman recanted her story that he had molested her when she was 10. A circuit court judge, with the support of the local prosecutor, exonerated Montgomery and ordered him freed. But the order was blocked by Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, who said only an appellate court could toss out the conviction.
Montgomery spent 12 more days in prison before Gov. Bob McDonnell granted a conditional pardon. However, the Virginia Court of Appeals still has not fully exonerated Montgomery.
LAUSD reassigns Valley superindentent, 3 other administrators in 'personnel investigation'
by Barbara Jones
Four senior Los Angeles Unified officials, including the San Fernando Valley's local superintendent, have been removed from their positions pending an internal investigation into "a confidential personnel matter," a district spokesman said Thursday.
Linda Del Cueto, the instructional leader for the North Educational Service Center, and Michael Romero, who oversees LAUSD's Adult Education Division, were removed from their posts last Friday, according to district spokesman Tom Waldman. They have been assigned to remain at home and continue to receive their $171,200-a-year salaries.
Principals David Kooper and Valerie Moses also were removed from their jobs at Gulf Avenue and Los Angeles Elementary schools, respectively.
Superintendent John Deasy said all four reassignments were related to the same investigation, but he declined to elaborate.
However, Del Cueto's name has emerged in a case involving Robert Pimentel, a teacher charged with molestation and Irene Hinojosa, a veteran principal who retired after being accused of not reporting the suspected abuse.
According to a lawsuit filed against LAUSD, Hinojosa and Del Cueto were among several administrators who attended an October 2009 meeting at which parents said Pimentel, a fourth-grader teacher at George De La Torre Elementary School in Wilmington, had molested their daughters. The suit, which was filed on behalf of three alleged victims of Pimentel, said the administrators failed to report the alleged abuse to authorities as required by law.
The suit, filed by attorney Luis Carrillo, claims that district officials "buried" reports related to the 2009 meeting. He has filed a California Public Records Act request for the documents, which the district has denied.
In 2009, Del Cueto was the superintendent for the local district that included Wilmington, while Romero and Moses oversaw clusters of elementary schools in the region. Those schools are in the district of South Bay school board member Richard Vladovic. At the time, Kooper was Vladovic's chief of staff. (Also, before he joined the school board, Vladovic had served as local superintendent for that district from 2000 to 2003.)
The district received complaints in February 2012 that Pimentel had molested students beginning in 2008. LAUSD officials notified authorities who opened an investigation.
Pimentel, 57, was arrested in January 2013 on charges of molesting a dozen students. He has pleaded not guilty, and remains jailed on $12 million bail.
Deasy has said that when the allegations surfaced last year, he reviewed files and learned that Pimentel had been accused in 2002 of molesting students at Dominguez Elementary in Carson. Pimentel was transferred to De La Torre in 2007, and Deasy said parents there complained the following year that he was inappropriately touching students.
Hinojosa had been Pimentel's principal at both Dominguez and De La Torre.
Deasy suspended her in March 2012 - about the same time Pimentel was pulled from the classroom - after a review of personnel files shows Hinojosa had failed to act on the 2002 allegations. Pimentel and Hinojosa both retired on the same day last April, as Deasy was moving to fire them.
On Friday, Deasy sent a letter to principals in ESC North, saying that Del Cueto had been "temporarily reassigned pending the conclusion of an internal investigation into a confidential personnel matter." In the interim, her position has been filled by Bryan Maltez.
A similar letter was sent to Adult School personnel about Romero, who has been temporarily replaced by Alma Pena Sanchez.
School board member Tamar Galatzan, who represents the San Fernando Valley, had no comment on Del Cueto.
A spokeswoman for Vladovic referred requests for comment about Kooper to the school district's attorneys.
District general counsel David Holmquist did not return phone calls seeking comment.
However, in a June 2011 letter, Vladovic lauded Kooper for his work on behalf of Local District 7.
"The end of my 4th year on the Board is also met with sadness, as my Chief of Staff David Kooper leaves my office to take over as Principal at Gulf Avenue Elementary School in Wilmington," Vladovic wrote. "He has helped the Board of Education develop innovative District policies and procedures as well as been a great friend to the schools and communities of Board District 7. Although I am excited for David, I am sad to see him go as he was truly a wonderful asset for my Board District."
In published reports in 2010, when Del Cueto was reassigned to the Valley, Vladovic also praised her work and that of Romero, who succeeded her as local superintendent.
Sexual Assault Survivor Spreads Awareness in Danville
by Whitney Delbridge
Danville, VA - April is sexual assault awareness month, but one Southside woman is dedicated to spreading that message year-round.
Her commitment to the cause stems from personal experience.
Sue Fowler was sexually abused as a child, but as an adult, she began telling her story to help other victims become survivors.
"He was my very best friend. I had the daddy that I always wanted, that I had never had...it seemed like, " Fowler said.
Sue Fowler was adopted as a toddler, but after reuniting with her birth parents at age 12 and developing a bond with her father, the relationship soon took a dark turn.
"My father decides to pull down a dirt road and he held a knife to my throat and told me that if I ever told anybody that I knew what would happen, " she said.
Fowler lived through the horror of abuse until she escaped from her home at 18.
"I was just so tired of all of it. I was so tired and fed up of being betrayed, " she said.
As an adult, she became an advocate for other victims.
She says the harsh reality is that 1 in 3 girls will be sexually abused before they reach adulthood.
"If you do those numbers, it's astonishing, " she said.
Earlier this month, Fowler shared her story at a downtown rally attended by officials and friends.
Soon after, local law enforcement officers placed blue support ribbons on their cars.
As she continues this mission through her "Finding Your Voice, Speaking Your Truth" Facebook page, Fowler hopes to send this message to other victims who feel like they are suffering alone.
"It's not your fault. You're not to blame. Find the courage, the strength, the wisdom to find your voice and speak your truth, " she said.
Fowler has created a magazine that features tips on prevention, support and healing.
It will be available April 30th at the following locations: Centra Mental Health, Piedmont Credit Union, Danville Pittsylvania Community Services, Danville Area Humane Society, Caldwell Banker Johnson Realty - Candy Lewis and Marybeth's Salon.
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/FindingYourVoiceSpeakingYourTruth
Victims rights continues to make progress
by Valerie Boateng
COSHOCTON — For 40 years, Don Bartlette has been moving groups large and small with his story of abuse. It's the belief he is making a difference that keeps him traveling across the country giving audiences a glimpse into his childhood which is also told in his book, “Macaroni at Midnight.”
“I've been told by many legislative body, national body, prosecutors that by hearing ‘Macaroni at Midnight' it motivates them to go back to their office and come up with legislation or laws to protect victims,” Bartlette said. “I've gotten letters from victims, victims rights organizations telling me my story initiated efforts in local communities to provide adequate programming for victims.”
Bartlette was the guest speaker at the annual Victims' Rights Week Luncheon on Tuesday at Grace United Methodist Church. Hosted by the Coshocton County Prosecutor's Office and First Step Family Violence and Intervention Services, the event brought together local victim service providers to hear Bartlette's story and to recognize several providers for their dedication to victims of crime.
Born in 1939 with a severe facial deformity that left him with only half a nose, no upper lip and an opening at the roof of his mouth, Bartlette instantly was a victim of hunger, poverty and loneliness when his Native American father could not accept a handicapped son and abandoned the family.
Living in the hills of North Dakota, doctors said Bartlette never would talk or learn. He eventually had a surgery that stretched his nose across his face to cover the gap and his upper lip was repaired. The hole in his mouth was left open. For nine years he was not allowed in the white community just down from the hill from his home. He never went to church, attended school or had playmates.
“(I spent) nine years in a world of loneliness, poverty and malnutrition,” he said.
During the next few years of his life, Bartlette became a victim of child abuse when he was repeatedly tormented by others. A period of being a victim of family violence led him on a rampage and he was labeled as a juvenile delinquent. During a stay in a jail cell, he was sexually abused, he said.
At the age of 12, a white woman was overwhelmed when she learned no one was protecting Bartlette. Her compassion motivated her to make people help.
“She became the first person ever, unlike my teachers, unlike the welfare workers, she put her hand on mine and the white woman told me then ‘Don't be afraid of me, I know you're hurt, I know you're angry, but I want to help you. I think you can learn,'” he said. “As I felt the touch of that white woman believing in me, caring about me, showing me compassion, my life began changing.”
The woman became everything Bartlette needed. She believed he had rights and should be treated with dignity. She taught him how to groom himself, she fed him and took him to a hospital to have the hole in his mouth repaired and a new nose and upper lip made. She took him to a special residential treatment center where in six years he learned to speak.
The woman took Bartlette back to the school where he was abused by his classmates; he graduated as valedictorian. The woman challenged him to go onto higher education and he went to three universities to become a social worker, a counselor and an educator. The woman told him she believed he could be a doctor, so he became one in special education.
As an adult, Bartlette met another white woman, whom he married. She challenged him to begin speaking about his abuse to make a difference. She also helped him become a man of faith and to forgive all of his perpetrators in his life.
The first Victims Rights Week was declared by President Ronald Reagan, who in 1984 signed the Justice Assistance Act to establish financial support and assistance to state and local governments. The Victims of Crime Act established the Crime Victims Fund, which is supported by federal criminal fines and penalties and provides for state victim compensation and service programs.
“We have many more programs — federal, state, local programs — providing advocates, providing civil rights, providing legal rights, providing community programs for victims. If all these programs we have today would have been there in the 1940s and '50s, I may not have had to go through the horrendous trial of being a minority person, a child of abuse, a victim,” he said. “We've come a long way but that doesn't mean we don't have more to do.”
Thoughtful Parenting: Help prevent child abuse
by Beth Watson
It's lunchtime in the family kitchen: A parent offers a spoonful of pureed squash to the baby who is sitting in a high chair, and the baby begins to arch his back, throw his head back and cry. His arms and legs are moving vigorously, and the bowl bounces off the tray to the floor, splattering squash everywhere. How does the parent feel at this moment?
Looking at the mess could bring a feeling of exhaustion, but a parent who isn't receiving support or encouragement could start to have a variety of concerns, such as, “I'm worried the baby won't grow if he doesn't eat” or “The baby is angry with me, has a demanding temperament, will never like vegetables and did this on purpose.”
However, the baby is more likely thinking, “I'm uncomfortable somewhere in my body, but I don't know where,” “I don't feel hungry,” “I need a break” or “I don't know how to calm myself down.”
It can be hard for an overwhelmed parent who doesn't have information about baby development to read a baby's cues.
The burdens, conflicts and worries of life can bring a high level of stress to a parent and spill over into family life, even affecting a baby.
As part of Month of the Young Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, consider the following family protective factors from Colorado's violence and injury prevention network and share this information with other adults to keep children safe from abuse.
Be a bounce-back family. Challenging times impact every family. Recognize stressful situations and ask for help to keep a sense of hope.
Make parent growth a priority. As your child grows, take time to learn what is age appropriate and how to set realistic expectations. This helps parents cope positively with various situations.
Learn more about child growth and development. As children grow and develop, helping them identify their feelings, communicate clearly and problem solve prepares them for positive social interactions.
Surround yourself with a network. Having a support system in the community gives us needed breaks and helps us cope with difficult times.
Call a professional. Getting to know a child care provider, social worker, teacher, doctor, nurse or faith-based helper can give parents someone to turn to in times of need.
Never shake a baby. Put the baby in a safe place, walk away and get help.
Routt County resources
Routt County Department of Human Services: 970-879-1540
Steamboat Mental Health: 970-879-1241
Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association: 970-879-1632 (Includes the Nurse Family Partnership program, which helps first-time parents with parent-baby relationships and provides moms with a nurse through pregnancy and until the baby is 2.)
Newborn Network: 970-879-0977 (Includes a networking and support group for parents and grandparents as well as the Parents as Teachers program, which serves families of children as old as 5 with resources and information to reduce parent stress.)
First Impressions of Routt County: www.firstimpressi... (Includes birth to age 5 resource list to be posted soon.)
Beth Watson is a public health nurse with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. The VNA has been a member of the Routt County Early Childhood Council since its inception in 1997.
Training will focus on child abuse awareness
The ABC House will hold a Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children training from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 14.
This training is designed to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse. Participants will learn the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of sexual abuse of children.
The training is free, although $10 donations to cover the cost of training kits are encouraged.
Pre-registration is required; contact Maria Schauble at 541-926-2203 or email@example.com to reserve a spot.
Help available for child sexual abuse
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the staff at Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes would like to take this opportunity to educate our community about child sexual abuse.
We live in a society where 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. Children between the ages of 12-15 years old are twice as likely to be sexually abused than younger children. Sexual abuse is often repetitive and happens on average over a four-year span.
We teach our children about “stranger danger,” but in reality 86 percent of kids who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know, love and trust. They often blame themselves and feel that they are the ones who did something wrong.
Even with more attention being brought to the topic of child sexual abuse, only 1 in 10 children will tell what happened to them. Forty two percent of women and 33 percent of men will never tell.
If a victim does not receive the resources they need to heal, child sexual abuse can cause many adverse effects that may remain with the victim well into adulthood. Some of these effects may include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, sexual promiscuity and anti-social behavior.
Educating children about sexual abuse is crucial. Keep conversations with your children about this subject open and honest. If a child discloses sexual abuse it is important to believe them and put the supports and resources in place to help the healing process begin.
Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes provides medical and legal advocacy, a 24 hour crisis hot line, and short term crisis counseling for child/adult victims of child sexual abuse, their parents, and other secondary victims. We also provide a prevention education program in Seneca, Yates, and Ontario counties.
For more information on our services or to speak with an advocate, please call our Geneva office at (315) 781-1093 or our Penn Yan office at (315) 536-9654. To reach our 24 hour hotline please call (315) 536-9654 in Yates county or (800)247-7273 in Ontario/Seneca Counties.
Day is an educator with Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes, Inc.
Thousands Of Children At Risk Of Sexual Abuse Claims NSPCC
Thousands of children repeatedly went missing from care homes last year, leaving them at risk of sexual abuse, a leading charity has said.
The NSPCC revealed that 7,885 teenagers and children vanished from care in England and Wales last year, with at least 2,959 going missing more than once, some 35 times.
Around 40% of the youngsters were aged 13 to 17, but some were as young as six.
Tom Rahilly from the charity said: "The state needs to be a parent for these children. If any other child went missing their parents would move heaven and earth to find them and to understand why they did it. It should be no different for young people in care.
"Repeatedly going missing should be a big warning sign as this kind of behaviour can put them at serious risk of harm such as grooming or sexual exploitation. But we have to understand why they are doing it.
"Children go missing for many reasons - they're being bullied, they've been put in a home miles from their family and they miss them and their friends, or they just don't trust staff enough to tell them where they are.
"Many will have been abused before being placed in care and they need a lot of attention and protection. Going missing for just an hour or two can be long enough for them to come to harm."
The charity is calling for repeatedly going missing from care to be fully acknowledged as sign that a child is at greater risk of harm.
It also wants care staff to make sure that they listen to children about why they have gone missing rather than simply punishing them, and to work with police to stop children going missing and to return them to safety as quickly as possible.
The NSPCC made a Freedom of Information request to all the police forces in England and Wales to obtain the figures, and 29 out of 43 responded in full.
However the charity said that it is estimated that less than half of all missing cases of this kind are reported to police.
Figures from the Department of Education also differ drastically to those supplied by police, putting the number of missing children at fewer than 1,000, the NSPCC said.
Last month concerns were raised by children's charities about changes to the way that police deal with missing people.
The plans could see the number of cases where officers are called out drop by a third.
Call handlers will class cases as either "absent", when a person fails to arrive somewhere they are expected, or the more serious as "missing", where there is a specific reason for concern.
Police deal with around 327,000 reports of missing people each year, the equivalent of around 900 a day, two-thirds of which involve children.
There is often a link between a child frequently going missing and falling prey to sexual abuse.
The NSPCC warned that the changes could put children at risk of being sexually exploited, while the Children's Society claimed that pilots carried out were too short to prove the plans were safe.
A Department for Education spokesman said: "We welcome the NSPCC's findings. It is simply unacceptable that some residential care homes do not respond immediately when young people go missing. That is why we are taking immediate action to reform the system, so all homes are safe and secure places where vulnerable children can get the support they need.
"We have already changed the rules so that Ofsted can share the names and addresses of care homes with the police to better protect children who go missing. For the first time, we will also begin collecting national data on all children who run away, not just those missing for 24 hours.
"Decisions about whether to place children at a significant distance from their local community will be taken at a much more senior level as a result of a new duty on local authorities.
"Additionally a new regulation will mean children's homes should not be open in areas that are unsafe, and children's home providers will be required to work with the police and LA to consider the risks. We are also taking steps to improve the skills of care home workers so they are better able to identify risks and take action before children run away."
Chief Constable Pat Geenty from the Association of Chief Police Officers said: "We know that regularly going missing from home can be a warning sign of child sexual exploitation.
"It can also signify that children and young people may be at risk of other forms of abuse, becoming a victim of crime or involved in criminal activity.
"This is why we have acted to improve our response to risk assessing and responding to missing person cases."
County legal system puts priority on child sexual abuse cases
by John Davidson
Child sexual abuse cases are horrific situations that cause damage to victims and the community. For that reason, Etowah County's judges and district attorneys place a high priority on those cases.
Presiding Circuit Judge Allen Millican spoke to their importance April 9 at a ceremony honoring the James M. Barrie Center for Children. He said he sat down with the other judges in February to discuss what they could do to improve Etowah County's judicial system, and they decided to seek a swift resolution to child sexual abuse cases.
“I think I put every case that I have involving a child sex abuse or child abuse case in my court on (the April 15) docket,” Millican said. “We are trying to prioritize these cases and move those through the system as fast as we can.”
When April 15 came around, the burden was on District Attorney Jimmie Harp's office to make sure everything was ready. Deputy District Attorney Carol Griffith acted as lead prosecutor on all 17 cases, all but one of which were sexual abuse cases.
Four of the cases did not make the week's docket and one was declared a mistrial. Eleven of the 17 involved crimes against children. Nine defendants were sentenced outright to an average of 14 years in prison. Two have sentencing hearings scheduled for a later date.
The sentences varied from 20 years to 12 months.
Griffith said she considers child sexual abuse cases her top priority. She also works on a few property cases here and there, but spends most of her time working with law enforcement, the Department of Human Resources and the Barrie Center making sure the investigations are thorough and complete.
She said one of the biggest wins for the victims in these cases was the fact most were settled with pleas and didn't go to trial.
“If we can keep the child from the trauma of testifying, that's good.” Griffith said. “It's always difficult (for the children) looking at the person who did the scariest thing in the world to you.”
Harp said dealing with this many cases involving child sexual abuse at the same time can be very taxing on his office. He said the week was especially hard on Griffith, since she is the one out there talking to the victims and their families.
“She lives through the tears and the crime scenes (17) different times,” Harp said. “She's done a wonderful job and we're just aiding her.”
Griffith said these cases are especially difficult because there is nothing bad enough that can be done to those who commit such crimes against children. One of the most difficult parts is changing gears from case to case and trying to make sure every one is properly handled, even when they start to blur together.
She battles through that exhaustion largely because of something she can't help — an emotional attachment she gets with the children throughout the process.
“I don't ever want something to happen to a case where it isn't appropriately handled because I'm tired,” Griffith said. “I want to make sure those kids get justice.”
What Do I Do When My Child Tells Me He's Been Sexually Abused?
by Polly Franks, Executive Director of "It's Not Your Fault"
As the mother of three children who were abused by a friendly, helpful neighbor who turned out to be one of the most prolific sexual predators in American history, "It's Not Your Fault" founder and Executive Director Polly Franks wants America's parents to take action.
1. First of all, BELIEVE YOUR CHILD. Children rarely, if ever, lie about being sexually abused. There is no valid reason for a child to have intimate knowledge of sexual matters. Don't think it can't happen. Ninety percent of incidents of child sexual abuse occur with someone your child knows.
2. Just as important is to assure your child that this is NOT their fault. Make sure he or she clearly understands that this is 100 percent the offender's fault and not the child's. Convey this to your child no matter how many times it takes, no matter how long it takes. Remember, there is no such thing as "consent" when a child is sexually abused by an adult.
3. Hard as it is, try to remain calm and LISTEN to what your child has to say. Most parents' immediate reaction is to fly into a rage and seek their own form of justice. This is completely natural and very understandable. However, the most important thing is to help your child get through this. Your child's healing is more important than your own pain and rage. Remember, you won't be able to help your child at all if you're locked up in jail.
4. Make sure he or she knows they've done the right thing by telling you, and make sure they know that they can come to you ANYTIME and tell you absolutely ANYTHING. Give them your unconditional love and support.
5. Get professional help for your child, and for yourself. It's a major mistake to think that you can handle this alone. Seek appropriate medical care for your child, either through a pediatrician's office or a trip to the nearest hospital emergency room. Obtain professional counseling for your child and yourself with an established mental health professional who has experience in treating survivors of child sexual abuse.
6. Notify the police immedately and cooperate with them, as well as whatever appropriate authorities are brought into the investigation.
7. Finally, respect your child's right to dignity and privacy. Kids are people, too.
It's Not Your Fault
Is it child abuse? When in doubt, meddle.
by Kishwer Vikaas -- The following is a work of opinion submitted by the author.
Four weeks ago, I found myself in line at a convenience store behind a young mother with two children — an infant who tightly clutched a stick of beef jerky and a bright-eyed toddler who smiled at me mischievously. I watched with growing impatience as the mother slowly put her items on the counter. But that impatience soon turned to horror as I realized that she was under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or some sort of medication.
Her every movement was sluggish. She spoke nonsensical words in a slurred voice and almost walked out of the store without paying for her purchases — twice.
When the cashier finally lost patience and firmly asked her to leave, the woman managed to tear her children away from their snacks, almost stumbling over them as she walked out. I followed her as she walked to a red minivan where she unsuccessfully tried to place the little one, who was now howling loudly, in a car seat.
"Can I help you with the baby?" I asked cautiously. "Do you need a hand?"
The older child stared tearfully at me and tried to prop up the baby, who was perched precariously on the mother's lap.
"No, no, no," said the mother, vigorously shaking her head before her speech trailed off into incoherence.
I walked to the corner and surreptitiously observed the trio. Taking a deep breath, I called the police.
Does interference help or hurt?
"Hello, I'm calling to a report a woman with two children in a red minivan with the following license-plate number." I gave the number.
"Something's wrong. I think she's on drugs or something. She tried to put her baby in the car seat and almost dropped her. I don't think it's safe for her to drive — especially with children."
Less than five minutes later, an officer approached.
Twenty minutes later, I circled back to the corner and found five officers at the scene. One was holding the infant, who was sobbing. Another had the older girl, also crying. I edged my way to an officer and explained that I had called the police. "Is everything alright?" I asked, hoping to hear a simple explanation for the bizarre behavior.
"I can't say much, ma'am," he said quietly. "But I will say that we're asking her some questions right now and she's not giving us the kind of answers we like to hear."
I walked home heavy-hearted, hands still shaking from the encounter. When I told my sister the story that night, she worried out loud, "What if your calling the police made the situation worse?" It's a common fear. When is interfering in a parent-child interaction okay?
A scene all too common
The incident I saw was not unfamiliar. I'd seen child abuse firsthand in my own neighborhood and still chastise myself for not reporting it. But when you live in a major metropolitan city, you're bound to run into the ugly specter of child abuse.
The latest statistics from Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare found that in 2011, for every 500 children in Philadelphia, one was abused . According to Pennsylvania statute, child abuse is any action or inaction that causes non-accidental, serious physical or mental injury or imminent risk of injury.
Philadelphia Magazine's Victor Fiorillo addressed the conundrum strictly through a racial lens and came to the unscientific conclusion that somehow race played a factor into how people address public child abuse. "Is this some black thing that I just don't understand? What was it that someone once said about it taking a village?" he wrote after his heavy-handed attempts to intervene in a situation misfired.
A problem passed down
But Fiorillo's misguided attempt to use race as a means to talk sensibly about child abuse offer no real solution to the problem — it contributes nothing to the dialogue Philadelphians need to have about child abuse. What we face is not a racial problem — nor is it an apathy problem. It's a politeness problem.
Whether we admit it or not, many of us are conditioned to fear meddling and to think that intruding on someone else's household somehow crosses the line of decency. Mind your own business, we're taught. It's certainly something my parents taught me. Look straight ahead, do your own thing and whatever you do, don't get involved.
It needs to change.
As April marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Philadelphia sees yet another case of a parent beating a young child to death, it's important that we all continue to listen to our gut. If you see something, say something. Anyone can anonymously report child abuse without fear of repercussions. Because if there's one more thing my parents taught me, it's this — better safe than sorry.
Kishwer Vikaas currently studies at Temple Law School. She is a co-founder of The Aerogram.
Family Service Association program educates, mentors new parents
by Alyx Arnett
Taking steps to prevent child abuse and neglect is what Family Service Association strives to do with Healthy Families, a program that provides education and mentoring to new parents with in-home visits.
With more education and support, new parents are less frustrated, more confident, and are provided the information that can help them be great parents. In turn, that can lead to fewer cases of child abuse and neglect, said program manager Marie Yager.
“You go home with a baby, and there are no instructions. It can be very stressful, especially in those first couple months,” she said.
For each family in the program, a staff member visits the home weekly to discuss topics such as how much a baby should sleep during the night, how often a baby should eat, and when's the right time to potty train a child.
“This way they know what to expect. If you think your baby is supposed to sleep through the night, it can make it very stressful, so one thing we educate people about is what they should expect from their baby,” she said.
By knowing what to expect, Yager said it decreases stress because the parents feel a sense of control.
“They say, ‘OK, this is what my baby's supposed to be doing. They're not supposed to sleep through the night,'” she said.
Another topic parents are educated on is what to do when they do find themselves in a stressful situation in order to prevent child abuse cases resulting from stressed parents. Yager said parents are told to put their baby is a safe place and to walk away.
“Shaken baby syndrome is not something that somebody plans to do. They get really stressed. It's a reaction, and so educating folks ahead of time is really our focus on what we're doing there. We're giving them all this information up front,” she said.
Currently, Healthy Families is serving 104 families in Howard County and additional families in two surrounding counties.
Since the program's inception, Yager said she has seen many success stories.
One woman in the program was a 25-year-old who was pregnant for the first time. The woman had been a drug user most of her life, and she went to FSA for help, Yager explained.
“She comes to us and she says, ‘I don't want this anymore. I want to be a great mom, but I just don't know how to do this,'” she said.
After having her child, a staff member visited the home once a week and provided the woman with educational information, but more importantly, Yager said, the staff member provided her with the encouragement that she could stay clean and be a good mom.
“Now during that time, did the mom relapse once or twice? She did. And every time she'd come back and was so embarrassed and really struggled to tell our staff person because she didn't want to let them down,” she said.
That was early on, Yager said. Today, the mom has been clean for two years.
“She's clean. Her child is developing wonderfully,” she said. “She really had not stayed clean all of her life, so that was a big deal, figuring out how she was going to not use drugs and alcohol. Our staff person was out there every week, encouraging her to go to her support groups, helping her figure out how she can make a whole new set of friends, and she really just thrived by having this one solid person in her life.”
Yager said that woman's story is an example of how powerful the program can be and shows how child abuse and neglect can potentially be prevented with a little help.
“Thinking about child abuse and neglect, I could see where that child could have been pulled from the house from neglect had we not been there,” she said. “The benefit for me is not only are we keeping kids from abuse and neglect, but we're also giving that parent the opportunity to try to be the best parent they can be.”
Currently, the Healthy Families program is at capacity.
Three years ago, FSA's Healthy Families program was serving three times as many families. Due to budget cuts, funding was slashed 60 percent, Yager said.
Last year, Healthy Families served 163 Howard County families.
“It's such a great program, but unfortunately we had to cut the number of families we can serve almost in half because the state decreased our funding,” she said. “It's a big deal. We're to the point now where we're completely full and can't take anyone else unless there's additional funding.”
For more information on the program, call Family Service Association at 457-9313.
Preventing Child Abuse a Job for All
Child abuse takes many forms and is not limited to the physical. It also includes emotional abuse, neglect of basic needs and sexual abuse.
by TONY DUNGY & DAVID WILKINS
Being a parent is one of life's greatest joys and responsibilities. As fathers, we each strive to give our children love, support and protection. Every child deserves security and happiness but, sadly, that is not what every child receives.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month — an important reminder to us all that preventing child abuse is everyone's job.
Preventing child abuse begins with the nurturing of a child's physical, social and emotional well-being. Of course, this begins at home, but it continues in the community, at school and even among others in public — all places where each of us can play a role in protecting children.
Here are some simple things you can do to promote healthy surroundings for children:
Know your neighbors. By acquainting yourself with the children and families in your neighborhood, you become a ready lifeline if a need arises. A frightened child or a despondent parent will be more comfortable turning to you for help if they know you.
Encourage other parents. Good parenting comes naturally for most but requires constant diligence. When you see a parent doing a good job with a child, praise the parent. If you see a young mother or father treating their child kindly in public, commend the parent.
Offer to help. If you see someone using unwise parenting techniques, don't criticize. Instead offer to help by saying: "My children used to throw temper tantrums when they were this age too. May I do something to help?"
Start in your own home. A child's well-being is multifaceted. Child abuse takes many forms and is not limited to the physical. It also includes emotional abuse, neglect of basic needs and sexual abuse.
If you are struggling with the responsibilities of parenting, you are not alone. There is help. Both the Department of Children & Families and Family First have resources to help you and your child, and they are partnering to make even more assistance available to you.
Water a seed. There are wonderful programs to give parents and caregivers the tools they need to promote a child's well-being. Although many of us have an image of a child abuser as a stranger, child abuse usually takes place in a child's home at the hands of a person the child knows well.
Free school programs such as All Pro Dads Days and iMOM Mornings offer mothers and fathers the encouragement and training they need to parent well.
Join us in helping protect all children from abuse, so that every child can grow up receiving the love, support, and protection they deserve.
For more information on All Pro Dad and iMOM, visit www.allprodad.com and www.imom.com. For parenting tips from birth to teenage years, download DCF's free Parenting Guide ebook at www.myflfamilies.com/parentingguide.
[ Tony Dungy is a Super Bowl winning coach, an NBC TV commentator, national spokesman for All Pro Dad and the father of eight children. David Wilkins is the Secretary of the Florida Department of Children & Families and the father of three children. ]
Making A Difference: The World of Giving - Child Abuse Prevention Month
by Lisa M. Dietlin -- CEO, Lisa M. Dietlin and Associates, Inc., philanthropic advisor, author
Child abuse is a topic many find challenging to discuss or even think about, but it's necessary, especially with the alarming statistics reported annually in this country. According to the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 3.4 million reports of child abuse were filed in 2011 in the United States, which actually affects nearly 6 million children. However, it is estimated the actual number of incidents of abuse and neglect could be three times more than what is actually reported by professionals (police officers, social workers, attorneys, etc.) and nonprofessionals who are neighbors, friends and family members.
For more than 30 years, April has been recognized as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect. This month is also a time dedicated to encouraging individuals and communities to support children and families while preventing abuse from happening.
While there are numerous groups working to stop the abuse and neglect of children, this will focus on CASA and Prevent Child Abuse America.
CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, is an outstanding national nonprofit organization with chapters through the country. It helps children throughout the United States find permanent and safe homes in which they can live and thrive. It began in Seattle, Wash.m in 1977 because The Honorable Judge David Soukup was frustrated by the lack of substantial information given to him in child abuse and neglect proceedings. Judge Soukup believed these children needed a voice and an advocate who spoke just for them and with this seemingly simple idea, a national movement and organization was started. Today, community volunteers are recruited and trained to provide child protection judges with key and sometimes vital information and details about the very complex lives of court-involved children and their families.
Since CASA's beginning , there have been more than 75,000 CASA volunteers involved. Together they have donated a total of 5.8 million hours serving well over one million children. They are making an incredible and lifelong impact on children's lives nationally. Currently the organization has more than 955 programs in all 50 states. It has been documented by CASA that when a volunteer is involved, a child is less likely to be moved frequently between several different homes and is 95 percent less likely to have to re-enter the foster care system. However, there is more work to be done. For example in the Chicagoland area, CASA of Cook County helps more than 650 children each year; however there are almost 7000 children in the foster care system in Cook County alone. This means only 10% are being helped. There is still a continuing need for help. Find your local CASA chapter to see how you can help!
Another amazing nonprofit organization is Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America). It works to prevent abuse and neglect before it happens. This is done through the education of parents, children and entire communities to increase awareness of key prevention programs, support groups and the affect abuse and neglect can have on not only the child but the public as well. Some children who fall victim to abuse are placed into the foster care system by state authorities. According to PCA America, this is meant to be a short-term alternative while determining one of the following three permanent solutions: reunification with the biological parent, conversion of the foster home to legally permanent guardianship or adoption, or placement of the child into another legally permanent family.
Founded in 1972, Prevent Child Abuse America was the first organization founded in the United States with the sole purpose of preventing child abuse and neglect. PCA America works at both the government and community level to ensure systems are in place to make prevention possible. With its national headquarters located in Chicago, PCA America has chapters in 47 states and manages over 353 different locally based strategies that help meet the mission. Celebrities and high profile personalities involved with PCA America and serving on their National Honorary Board include Michael Bolton, Bill Cosby, Grant Hill, Jack Nicklaus, Tamia Hill, Bob Costas, and Tommie Harris serving on their National Honorary Board. To find events and activities going on throughout the month, find your local PCA America Chapter.
Founded by two Hollywood actresses in 1959 after a trip to Japan, Child Help shares on its website there is a report of child abuse made every ten (10) seconds. More shocking is that five children a day die of child abuse in the US. Read the story of how two women, Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson who once played the girlfriends of Ricky and David Nelson on the show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet , plus a chance encounter with 11 orphans and Nancy Reagan propelled them into action!
With all these statistics, many of which are overwhelming, you might think there is nothing you can do to change this situation. However, I would advocate there are a number of things you can do to help today. Here are five tips for ways you can become involved and begin Making A Difference (M.A.D.):
Learn more about the warning signs of child abuse and become aware; knowledge is power and you can become knowledgeable; then be courageous and use your voice to report child abuse when you see it
Make a financial donation to nonprofit organizations working in this area including Prevent Child Abuse America, CASA or Child Help; if you want to get involved locally find their chapters and groups; remember, every little bit helps
Consider becoming a volunteer for CASA and working directly with the children you're helping
Make your home a safe place for children; work to be accessible so children who might be suffering from abuse have a place to go and a person to speak with about what is happening to them
Volunteer at a child abuse prevention organization; for some of us working with children who are abused could be too difficult, but there are many opportunities to get involved
Bonus Tip: Consider hosting a fundraiser in your community or with your network of friends to raise funds and awareness for an organization working to help children be safe!
Children are believed to be our most valuable resource. By working together we will ensure they are protected and safe. By getting yourself involved, you will be Making A Difference! What are you doing today to be M.A.D.?
Keeping your child safe from sexual abuse
by Erika Peterson
Every parent fears that stranger in the van just waiting to harm their child. Most adults feel comfortable talking to children about “stranger danger” and take precautions to keep kids safe from that risk. As valuable as these prevention efforts are, when it comes to child sexual abuse, they're missing the real story. Only 5 percent of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by strangers; around 40 percent of abusers are family members, and over 50% are acquaintances of the child or parents.
What can we do to reduce that risk for our children? Darkness To Light, an organization dedicated to ending child sexual abuse, has developed seven steps to help adults prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
An important first step is to learn the facts about abuse and understand the risks. In recent research, one in four women and one in six men reported experiencing some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18, so this problem cannot be ignored. The second step is to minimize the opportunity for abuse. More than 80 percent of sexual abuse incidents occur in one-adult/one-child situations, and so addressing this one factor can make a powerful difference.
If you are a member of a youth-serving organization like a church or a sports league, make sure you have a policy for handling one-adult/one-child situations. The simplest option is to eliminate those situations altogether, and for many organizations that may be the best choice. But one-on-one time with a trusted adult can also be a valuable, self-esteem building experience for a child, so if you want to provide that experience, commit to doing so safely. Require that one-on-one time take place in visible public settings; 70 to 80 percent of sexual abuse takes place in someone's home.
As a parent, make sure that any adult spending time with your child can tell you specific plans for their activities ahead of time, and make sure your child can confidently tell you how their time was spent when he or she returns home. Drop in unexpectedly when your child is alone with another adult, even if it's someone you think you can trust.
A third step is to talk openly about the topic of abuse. Talk about it in organizations where you work or volunteer, and talk about it with other adults you know. Doing so not only helps to educate others, it also puts potential abusers on notice that you are well-informed and are paying attention. Talk about it with your children. Help them develop healthy personal boundaries, and keep the lines of communication open so that they will be more likely to tell you if they do experience a problem.
Erika Peterson has a doctorate in social psychology and works for Shawnee Health Service in the Shawnee Healthy Families program. She is a member of the Jackson County Healthy Communities Coalition/Southern Illinois Behavioral Health Team.
Visit Darkness to Light at www.darkness2light.org for more on abuse prevention guidelines.
If you suspect that a child you know is being abused, call the Illinois Child Abuse hotline at 1-800-25ABUSE.
Teen's campaign: Making us NOTICE child abuse
by Lindsay Ruebens
Bailey Brooks just wants people to notice.
She first noticed child abuse after watching the Caylee Anthony and Zahra Baker cases unfold on TV.
Bailey, now a junior at North Mecklenburg High, has since launched a campaign to raise child abuse awareness, and officials at Mecklenburg County noticed.
The county's prevention and awareness committee picked up her campaign idea, NOTICE, to use for the month of April, which is national child abuse awareness month. “We really just ran with it, and I'm so thankful she agreed to let us do that,” said Marni Eisner, chairwoman of Mecklenburg County's Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention Month committee.
As a sophomore last year, Bailey decided to focus on child abuse for a project in the International Baccalaureate program.
“I got really mad when I was watching (the trials) on TV,” she said. “I asked my mom, ‘Why didn't anyone notice these girls were gone?'?”
She looked up the statistics on child abuse. In Mecklenburg County, according to Pat's Place, there were 13,367 reports of child abuse and neglect in 2011. Pat's Place is a Charlotte child-advocacy center that serves abused children.
“I was shocked,” Bailey said. “I did not know that many children were abused.”
So she created the NOTICE campaign. To raise awareness, she sold t-shirts with the word “NOTICE” printed across the front. Bailey added tags to the shirts with child abuse statistics and hotline numbers for Union, Lincoln, Gaston and Mecklenburg counties. She also sold buttons.
Bailey gave all of her proceeds to Teen Health Connection and the Council for Children's Rights. By spring of 2012, she'd raised $5,000, and she continued selling into the next school year.
Bailey also made a YouTube video with Teen Health Connection and started the trend of posting pictures with messages like “Shatter the Silence” inked on her palm. Others started following suit on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, she said.
When the county committee was brainstorming ideas for April, members – who include Bailey's mother, who works for CMS – already knew about Bailey's project. She had made presentations to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools principals and the county's Department of Social Services and Child Fatality Team.
“I know she did a tremendous job when she presented to the CMS principals – I heard she got a standing ovation,” Eisner said.
CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison, who wrote “Protect Our Kids” on his hand, said he was proud of Bailey. “Her innovative ideas and leadership skills are helping to raise awareness on an important issue in our community,” he said.
The committee decided to hold themed events each week and a picture-posting campaign online and at bus stops, showing local celebrities who wrote messages on their hands.
“It just goes to show we have some really awesome, creative students in our midst, and I'm really proud of the committee for celebrating what she came up with,” said WBTV anchor Maureen O'Boyle, who wrote “Stand up for Kids” on her palm for the photo campaign. “It's a really cool concept.”
Sheriff Chipp Bailey, who wrote “See It Say It!” on his hand, said people need to ask themselves why a child might be absent from school or have unusual bruises.
“(The campaign) is a reminder ... to not just say, ‘Oh well, that's probably something that happened on the playground,'?” he said. “If you see a child who is for one reason or another exhibiting signs of possible abuse, then tell somebody about it, a police officer, a doctor, a teacher, just tell somebody.”
Kris Taylor, who works at Pat's Place, is a county committee member and said she's been impressed with Bailey and her work.
“She is a fascinating, brilliant, brilliant young woman,” Taylor said. “She's done more at her young age than many people have done by the time they retire. She's been an inspiration to all of us.”
The committee focused on schools last week and had elementary students make pinwheels, which is the state's symbol for child abuse prevention. Middle-schoolers took photographs of themselves with messages on their hands and high-schoolers were invited to make posters.
Bailey said she hopes to spread her campaign to Union County Public Schools and will continue to bring awareness to child abuse.
“I knew this was something I wanted to do. It's not just a project to me. I want people's lives to be changed and people's lives to be saved because someone noticed.”
Little Warriors workshop held in Vulcan
by Simon Ducatel
Being able to recognize signs that a child is enduring sexual abuse and learning how to handle the situation is what a Little Warriors workshop held in Vulcan is all about.
About a dozen people attended an informative session on the matter April 13 at the Vulcan and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) office.
“It was a good turnout,” said Ashlee Fath, community services co-ordinator with FCSS.
“For every participant in the workshop, that's 10 kids that are safer.”
The workshop is a three-part, three-hour prevention program that helps arm parents and guardians with the tools required to handle a case of child sexual abuse, said Cortney Needham, a program co-ordinator with Little Warriors.
“The presentation is phenomenal,” said Fath. “It is heavy material, but it's presented in a manner that educates you and makes you more aware.”
Offering such a workshop locally is important — child sexual abuse can very difficult to deal with, but it can't be ignored, said Fath.
The workshop “raises awareness to help our children, because they're the most vulnerable growing up, and we need to be able to protect them,” she said.
The first part of the program covers statistics on child sexual abuse. Statistically speaking, there are more cases of abuse going on than people might think, said Needham.
One in three girls and one in six boys will experience an unwanted sexual act, she told the Advocate.
And while there's always hype about protecting children from strangers, Needham adds that of those children who have been sexually abused, 95 per cent of them will know the perpetrator.
This abuse can have serious and long lasting consequences on the victim.
About 70 per cent of survivors of sexual abuse report excessive use of drugs or alcohol, about 60 per cent of women with panic disorders are victims of sexual abuse and 76 per cent of prostitutes have a history of child sexual abuse, said Needham, adding the statistics come from Darkness to Light.
The second part of the workshop deals with reducing the risk of exposing children to potential abuse.
It's important for parents who are considering enrolling their children in any kind of program to ask the organization about its policies, says Needham.
Some of the questions parents can ask an organization about its policies includes whether employees get background and reference checks, as well as how often the organization reviews its policies, she said.
The third part of the program is dedicated to helping parents and guardians to recognize signs of child sexual abuse and what to do if a child reports he or she has been abused.
Some of the warning signs a victim of child sexual abuse might exhibit include nervous behaviour around a certain adult, becoming withdrawn or anxious and a fear of a person or place, said Needham.
There are also physical signs, such as bruises, she said. In these cases, authorities should immediately be informed.
But authorities can also be contacted if a parent has concerns, but doesn't necessarily know beyond a doubt that there's abuse taking place.
“Trust your gut instinct,” says Needham.
In these situations, parents should also show unwavering support towards the child, she says.
However, in no situation should a parent or concerned adult personally investigate potential abuse, she said.
“Let authorities know and tell them what you've seen,” said Needham. “Let them do that job.”
Also, in this day and age, there is a whole new venue for predators to seek out victims. While the internet has countless benefits, it also has a dark, seedy underbelly.
Little Warriors touches bases on the matter, but hasn't yet fully developed its workshop to include more about the dangers that lurk online, said Needham.
Parents are encouraged to monitor their children's online activity and to keep lines of communication with them open, she said.
It's important to let kids know that not everyone on the internet is representing their true selves, she said.
“They may not know whom they're actually talking to,” she said.
And chatrooms aren't the only virtual venues parents should be aware of, says Needham. There are interactive website games and online video games that could also be exploited by an online predator posing as someone else, she said.
If anyone missed the workshop but is interested in finding out more, or even requesting another workshop, Fath said she could be contacted at the FCSS office, 403-485-2192.
Pending on interest, she said another workshop could be offered this fall.
Little Warriors isn't only focused on providing resources for concerned parents and adults. The national charitable organization is currently working diligently towards raising the funding required to build a treatment centre for children — the first of its kind — called the Be Brave Ranch.
“In Canada, there are numerous treatment facilities for the perpetrators of abuse” but nothing for the child victims of sexually abuse, says Needham.
Little Warriors currently only has short term counseling available, but the organization wants to be able to direct people somewhere for more long term help, she said. That's where the Be Brave Ranch would come in.
“We have a goal to raise $3.4 million,” said Needham, adding that there is about $1.5 million raised to date — without any government support.
Visit www.littlewarriors.ca for more information or call 1-888-440-1343.
Horace Mann Sexual Abuse Deserves Independent Probe, Allred Says
by Don Jeffrey
Horace Mann, the New York City prep school at the center of sexual-abuse allegations by former students, should conduct an “independent and transparent”probe into the alleged crimes, attorney Gloria Allred said.
Allred joined some of the former students as they related their experiences at a news conference today in New York. She is representing 22 men and three women who said they were victims of crimes including anal and vaginal rape by more than a dozen teachers and administrators at the elite school from the 1970s to the 1990s.
“We are here today to urge Horace Mann School in New York to conduct an immediate, independent and transparent investigation into the worst case of child sexual abuse in an American school in recent history,” Allred said. “The report at the end must be made public.”
Allred appeared with four men and one woman whom she referred to as “adult survivors” of the crimes allegedly committed by the former headmaster, Inslee Clark, and several teachers. Clark and the teachers mentioned today are all deceased.
A partner in the Los Angeles law firm Allred Maroko & Goldberg, Allred said she hasn't filed any lawsuits on behalf of her clients. She declined to say whether she would. She said 20 of her clients had reached settlements with the school, though declined to give additional details about them.
Thomas Kelly, the head of Horace Mann, didn't respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment. Calls to the main office as well as the alumni office were referred back to Kelly.
Allred also called on the New York State legislature to pass a bill that would give victims of sexual crimes a one-year window to report their claims no matter how long ago they occurred. At present, the state's statute of limitations would prevent any of the perpetrators from being criminally charged.
The scandal was disclosed in a June 2012 New York Times Magazine article written by a former Horace Mann student.
The abuses took place at the school, at the teachers' and administrators' homes and on school-sponsored trips, according to the students.
Jon Seiger, 51, a professional musician, gave the most graphic account today of the abuse he said began when he was 14.
After a glee club concert, headmaster Clark invited him to his home, Seiger said. A history teacher, Stanley Kops, was also there. Seiger said they plied him with alcoholic drinks. Then they drove him to a Manhattan nightclub that he said was filled mostly with males over 50 and under 20.
The men picked up two prostitutes at the club and brought them back to Clark's house, Seiger said. The men forced Seiger to have oral and anal sex with the prostitutes while they watched. After the prostitutes left, Clark and Kops forced him to have oral sex with them, he said. The abuse continued after that night, he said.
The victims were described by Allred as children who were vulnerable to sexual predators because of broken homes and other family stresses.
Some alumni are conducting their own investigation.
Robert Boynton, who graduated from Horace Mann in 1981, is a spokesman for an alumni group, Horace Mann Action Coalition. He said he's skeptical about any probe by the school itself.
“It's unlikely as snow in August,” said Boynton, a journalism professor at New York University who said he wasn't a victim of sexual abuse while attending the prep school.“They've never cooperated.”
The alumni group hired retired New York State Supreme Court Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder to lead its investigation. Snyder also worked as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's office, where she headed investigations of sex crimes.
“I'm going to reach out to them and hope for their cooperation,” Snyder, who attended the news conference with Boynton, said of the school.
While Allred said it was important that the school conduct an independent investigation because it possesses the records and documents, Snyder said it was “questionable” whether such documents would be forthcoming. Horace Mann has said many of its files were destroyed in a fire, she said.
Sex assault accuser reacts to top court case dismissal
Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh remains a free man, judicial case now over
One of the accusers in a long-standing Nova Scotia legal saga says even though the case against the man he says sexually abused him was thrown out, he hopes some good will come out of the Supreme Court ruling.
Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, now 69, was convicted in two separate trials in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on 17 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency, almost 15 years after allegations surfaced that he sexually abused boys.
However, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal dismissed the convictions late in 2011, arguing MacIntosh was not brought to trial in a timely manner. The appeal court justices found the trial judge wrongly placed the onus on MacIntosh to turn himself in while he was living in India.
Crown lawyers appealed that decision but Canada's top judges in Ottawa threw out the case and upheld the Court of Appeal decision even before MacIntosh's lawyers had a chance to speak on Monday.
"The court heard from the Crown who were asking for the appeal and decided that they haven't raised any grounds that required us to respond," said Brian Casey, MacIntosh's lawyer.
One of the children, identified by the initials B.M., said this decision to throw out the charges against MacIntosh might be the push that policy makers need to change the system.
"Maybe this is a wake-up call for the bureaucrats to say, 'Okay, we have to do things in a timely manner,' because people like myself will not come out or disclose to the appropriate agencies — and we want to — and I would do this tomorrow in a heartbeat," he said.
"We want to come out we want to tell our story, we want these people put away, we want people to be comfortable coming out because I don't want people looking at me and say, 'Hey, God, he's been at that for 17 years and they let the guy go, I don't want to do that,'" he said.
B.M. said he would not participate in a civil case against MacIntosh, but he said he would welcome an inquiry. He is also pleased that the director of public prosecutions has ordered an internal review into how his department handled the MacIntosh case.
"It doesn't happen often that they deliver a decision right away and it doesn't happen often that they don't need to hear both sides. But if the issues are clear and the decision under appeal is solid, then they can sometimes say that there's nothing really they need to do to improve on the existing decision. They're content to just dismiss the appeal."
Case marred by delays
Casey said the Supreme Court of Canada's decision proves his client's right to a trial within a reasonable time was violated.
"Ordinarily, the courts have established frameworks for trials in the range of 18 months and so it's not hard to say that 14 years is way out of whack," he told CBC News.
"This does mean things are over for him and the Canadian judicial system is finished with him and he can get on with his life."
In 1995, the RCMP received complaints from two men who said MacIntosh, a businessman and a one-time political candidate living in Port Hawkesbury, abused them back in the 1970s when they were boys.
Over the years, more complainants emerged and the list of charges grew to more than 40 counts of sexual abuse involving nine alleged victims.
Even though police knew exactly where MacIntosh was living in India, he wasn't extradited until late 2007; more than 11 years after the first charges were laid. Once back in Nova Scotia, it took almost three years for a trial to be held.
During the first trial, he was convicted of 13 counts of gross indecency and indecent assault and sentenced to four years in prison. In a second trial, MacIntosh was convicted on another four counts and sentenced to another 18 months in jail.
MacIntosh's lawyers appealed those convictions to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, arguing the 11 years it took to extradite him from India, plus the three-year delay in getting to trial once he was back in Nova Scotia, violated his charter rights to be tried within a reasonable time period.
What are the arguments?
The Crown argued most of the blame for the almost 14-year case should be placed on MacIntosh's shoulders.
Prosecutors said he was notified of the charges during a phone call he received in 1996 while living in India from the investigating officer in Cape Breton, telling him they had issued an arrest warrant for the two charges they had laid at the time.
The Crown contends if MacIntosh was interested in a speedy trial to clear his name, he could have returned to Canada voluntarily to face the charges, but instead chose to stay in India until he was finally extradited a decade later.
In an argument filed with the court, the Crown said MacIntosh is turning the shield of the charter into a sword to fight his convictions. They also argue that even with the delay, it's in society's interest to have these serious charges of the sexual abuse of children decided in court on their merits and not thrown out on legal technicalities.
Nova Scotia first made the extradition request to Ottawa in 1998, although it was paused for a couple of years in late 1999 while new complainants came forward. No one has ever explained why the request sat on someone's desk in Ottawa between 2001 to 2006, before the formal extradition request was made to authorities in India.
Casey said his client didn't learn about the charges until 1998 when he received notice his passport was going to be revoked.
"He contacted the passport office through his lawyer and said, 'What's the problem?' Asked for disclosure of the file that had led to this decision and they decided they would reinstate his passport instead of disclosing the file information to him. He took from that whatever the allegation was had gone away or wasn't being proceeded with," said Casey.
"He continued to come back and forth to Canada. The passport office always knew where he lived, they hand delivered documents to him, he renewed his passport giving him his address. The RCMP always knew where he was. He says all of that delay is theirs."
Casey argues that MacIntosh — and anyone else accused — does not have an obligation to voluntarily return to Canada to face trial.
"It's just an unfortunate thing where these are now 40-year-old matters. Most of the people who were living in the next room or living on the same property are now dead. That makes it pretty hard to defend the charges," he said.
Utahns to join 300 cities nationwide in march against child abuse
by Brittany Green-Miner and Kelly Chapman
SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City is one of 300 cities nationwide who will be taking part in the Million March Against Child Abuse on Monday.
Anissa Martinez and Lucinda Martin have a passion for standing up for children and standing against abuse.
They say they first got involved with advocacy against child abuse when 4-year-old Ethan Stacey was allegedly abused by his mother and stepfather until he died in May 2010.
Now they spearhead advocacy events and are working to combat and hold those responsible for their actions.
“We would like to see harsher punishments. Tougher laws against crimes against children, that are committed against children and nationwide mandated laws,” they said.
They're taking their message to the streets on Monday as part of the Million March Against Child Abuse, a day-long demonstration against child abuse.
The event will take place on Monday, April 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the Matheson Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City. Supporters will mare in a single-file line on the sidewalk, holding signs of child abuse statistics and wearing blue and white; the colors that represent child abuse awareness.
For more information on the event, visit the Million March Against Child Abuse Salt Lake City Utah page on Facebook.
Million March Against Child Abuse planned Monday in Carbondale
CARBONDALE — On Monday, April 22, individuals in over 150 cities and 45 states will raise awareness of child abuse and crimes against children in the U.S. to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
A Million March Against Child Abuse is planned for 3:45 p.m. Monday, April 22, at the west end of University Mall. The march will wind south on Lewis Lane to Grand Ave., then west to Shryock Auditorium.
Cast members of “Rock of Ages” will participate in the march. The march is supported locally by Gaia House Interfaith Center and the No Longer Silenced Movement. The No Longer Silenced Movement is a grassroots movement spearheaded by SIU Carbondale students.
For more information call Gaia House at 618-549-7387
Cycle-powered radio broadcast raising awareness of child abuse
BOISE -- April is Child Abuse Prevention month, and each year, KISS FM morning show host Keke Luv pulls out all the stops to put an end to abuse in our community.
He's pulled off some wild stunts in the past, like running seven marathons, or staying awake for seven straight days.
This year, it's a push to 'Cycle to Break the Cycle.' The unique LIVE for 175 event consists of volunteers riding 13 stationary bikes and powering the radio broadcast for 175 hours. If the cycles stop, so does the broadcast.
It's something the staff at KISS FM is passionate about.
"I think it's the stories you report on, we hear them every day, and I don't know if we are just more aware of it," said Luv. "You know what, I would love not to do this, I'm upset I have to keep doing this, I would love to not do this anymore, but every time there is a new story, it shows we have to continue to do this because it's not going away."
Luv says it's a great way for folks to take a meaningful action in raising awareness of child abuse.
"Every time someone jumps on a bike, even for 60 seconds then they are standing up and saying it shouldn't hurt to be a child," said Luv.
Lynnette Horton came down to the studio to take part in the cycling marathon because of her personal connection to child abuse. "I can really understand it," Horton said. "I was abused as a child, and I wanted to get it out there and make a difference."
Horton says awareness is key to stopping the cycle, because all too often, kids are too afraid to talk.
Paramedic Chris Loffer also showed up to lend his support and leg power to the cause. He works with a woman who recently lost her grandson to abuse. "I kind of felt helpless," Loffer said."You think we live in an age where people know it's wrong, and yet you still hear about it all the time."
The event got under way Friday and continues until this coming Friday at 5:00 p.m. Because it's a 24 hour a day operation, Luv is asking for riders to help out.
Volunteers are encouraged to go the the KISS FM website to learn more, or just show up at the corner of Eagle and Fairview and jump on a bike.
"Anybody can come down and contribute," said Luv. "I'm just playing the music and talking to people, it's everyone else that is powering the message."
Local author plans to march against child abuse
RENOVO - Renovo area author Donna Kshir and her fellow children's rights advocates in Dreamcatchers for Abused Children planned to attend the "first annual" March Against Child Abuse in Port Huron, Mich. which opened yesterday and will continue until Tuesday.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and child advocates across the country are coming together for the first time in American history in more than 200 cities in 50 states to join together in a national march against child abuse. The marches are efforts to create public awareness and ask for harsher sentences for people who commit violent crimes against children.
Dreamcatchers is Michigan's largest child abuse education and resource center. The not-for-profit organization recently opened a Dreamcatchers branch office here in Clinton County. Its mission is to educate the public on all aspects of child abuse.
A large public event will follow the march with guest speakers, activities, crafts, food and live performances by The Barones, Gasoline Gypsy, Carl Henry and Emily Torres.
Kshir said she is "excited" to travel to Michigan to attend the march with her colleagues.
She and co-writer and fellow advocate Sandra Potter are known for their advocacy work, advocacy books and dedication to children's rights and causes. Last year, Dreamcatchers reached out to more than 350,000 clients.
For more information, visit www.dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com.
Comedy night hosted by Child Abuse Prevention Services
Laughter to fill Orpheum Thursday
by ANDREW POTTER
The laughs will be overflowing in the movie house at the Orpheum Theater as Child Abuse Prevention Services hosts Stand up for Children Comedy Night.
The night will feature the local improv group "Instant Comedy Just Add Spam," Marshalltown High School student and comedian Carl Giannetto and the headliner, comedian Toby Kid, who is from Ogden.
It will also serve to raise awareness for CAPS and what they do during Child Abuse Prevention Month.
"The overall goal is to have a great night celebrating families and children and to find humor in some typical family situations," said Laurie Gowdy, community awareness director of CAPS. "We will also tell a little about what we do here at Child Abuse Prevention Services and the programs we provide to the community."
Gowdy said often people think about the downside of child abuse and her agency is about the positive side of prevention - which is what they want to focus on Thursday.
The night of comedy might be not be appreciated by the younger crowd, Gowdy said.
If you go ...
WHAT: Stand up for Children Comedy Night
WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Orpheum Theater, 220 E. Main St.
The improv group will open the night performing at 7 p.m., with Giannetto hitting the stage at 7:20 p.m. and Kid at 7:35 p.m.
"It's kind of a nice mix of local talent and a comedian (Kid) who has been all over the world," Gowdy said.
Tickets are $10 and available at the CAPS office at 811 E. Main St. in Marshalltown. There might be limited tickets at the door the night of the show, but that is not guaranteed.
CAPS will also host a Stand up for Children rally at 12:15 p.m. Friday on the Marshall County Courthouse lawn.
For more information or to get tickets for the comedy show, call the Child Abuse Prevention Services office at 641-752-1730.
May is Mental Health Month
The Blair County “May is Mental Health Month” Committee will be presenting “Bullying/Peer Abuse: Start the Healing,” a free program addressing bullying issues, including how to heal and move forward.
The program will be held May 8 at the Ramada, Altoona. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and for an hour attendees will be able to visit representatives from different agencies. They'll be to learn what help and services are available locally on bullying and other mental health issues.
Nationally, May is designated as Mental Health Month to decrease the stigma society attaches to mental illnesses. Locally for 17 years, a group of local mental health service organizations have presented programs designed to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding of mental health-related subjects.
This year, May is Mental Health Month's featured speaker is Elizabeth Bennett, M.Ed., who is a national pioneer in advocacy to stop bullying among children and adults. She is an author, consultant and survivor of childhood bullying.
Bennett, of Spartanburg, S.C., explains why understanding the roles of victim, bully and bystander in bullying situations is crucial to ending the abuse cycle. She promotes the term “peer abuse” in place of “bullying” because peer abuse leaves invisible scars on victims.
As a survivor, her message is one of hope, because help and healing are possible through better understanding. Her message will appeal to parents, teachers, school administrators, middle and high school students, according to May is Mental Health Month Committee chairman Mark Frederick.
“Bullying continues to escalate not only nationally, but locally as well,” he said.
“Whether your child is a victim, a bully, or witnesses it happening to a classmate, all are impacted. Bullying is a huge distraction from learning and that is the reason our children are in school. Bullying today occurs in many more settings and has far-reaching consequences. Teens have committed suicide after bullying-related videos of them were placed on the internet. It is no longer simply a bully taking the victim's lunch money. Today, bullying is taking lives.”
Bennett's message identifies the signs of when a child may be being bullied. Too often, a victim fails to seek help out of shame and fear of retaliation, Bennett said.
“There is a difference between ‘ratting someone out' and reporting what should be considered a crime. Educating our children and taking proper action as adults will save lives,” she said. “If you are being abused by your peers or you see it occurring, tell someone. Peer abuse needs to be handled by caring, compassionate and educated adults. If adults don't act, we allow it to continue and grow worse.”
For information on professional Continuing Education Credits, call 814-889-2706.
April Marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month
It's been 30 years since the first presidential proclamation of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Share how are you are bringing light to this issue, and learn what organizations in Georgia you can turn to.
One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. And, only 10 percent of those victims actually tell anyone about it.
That means that a number of people in your circle of friends have experienced child sexual abuse, and most likely, they haven't told a soul.
That person could be you.
April marks the month when advocates throughout the United States, band together to bring more awareness to this issue.
It's been exactly 30 years since the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month was proclaimed. This year, President Barack Obama had this to say in his official designation of the month:
"America is a country where all of us should be able to pursue our own measure of happiness and live free from fear. But for the millions of children who have experienced abuse or neglect, it is a promise that goes tragically unfulfilled. National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to make their struggle our own and reaffirm a simple truth: that no matter the challenges we face, caring for our children must always be our first task.
"Realizing that truth in our society means ensuring children know they are never alone -- that they always have a place to go and there are always people on their side. Parents and caregivers play an essential part in giving their children that stability. But we also know that keeping our children safe is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors and the broader community. All of us bear a responsibility to look after them, whether by lifting children toward their full potential or lending a hand to a family in need."
So, in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we've pulled together short list of Georgia events and resources for additional information:
Stewards of Children (Darkness to Light) trainings are ongoing. Click here for a place and time near you. There are a number in April.
The Atlanta Association of Black Journalists will be hosting a panel discussion on child abuse and coverage by the media on April 9. For more information, check the organization's website.
SafePath Children's Advocacy Center, located in Marietta, will host its annual "Safety Rules Rule" event on April 20. The event is free and open to the community. Click here for more information.
A march is planned April 22 in Atlanta to bring awareness to child abuse. To find more information about it, see the event's Facebook page, or email the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) : CASA advocates for the best interest of abused or neglected children in juvenile court proceedings. They are always in need of volunteers.
Children's Advocacy Centers of Georgia: This organization serves as an umbrella group for child advocacy centers in Georgia. There are about 40.
Children's Bureau (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (Child Protection Center): This center provides medical investigations of child abuse, treatment, and trainings, among other things.
Georgia Care Connection: This agency identifies commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) and links them to services.
Georgia Center for Child Advocacy: Located in Atlanta, this center sees children and families mostly from DeKalb and Fulton counties. It focuses on prevention ( Stewards of Children training ), treatment and advocacy.
Governor's Office for Children and Families: This agency works to reach, support, and empower communities serving Georgia's children and families. It also leads the state's CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children) Task Force .
Gwinnett Children's Shelter: The shelter provides a safe haven for runaways, homeless, abused, neglected or abandoned children. It operates 24 hours a day, all year.
Gwinnett Sexual Assault Center (Gwinnett Children's Advocacy Center): This organization provides resources for victims of sexual assault, as well as child abuse.
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: Housed at Kenessaw State University, JJIE is a group of journalists who cover the juvenile justice system, youth culture, and other issues facing young people and their parents.
Prevent Child Abuse Georgia: Housed at Georgia State University, this organization focuses on prevention, awareness and research, among other things.
StreetGRACE: This faith-based nonprofit focuses on ending domestic child trafficking. It is located in Norcross.
Voices for Georgia's Children: This nonprofit focuses on child policy and advocacy in the state of Georgia.
Wellspring Living: This nonprofit provides a safe haven for abused children. It has been serving survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation since 2001.
youthSpark: Formerly the Juvenile Justice Fund, this Atlanta organization works to end child sex trafficking by, among other things, training law enforcement officers in working with victims and working with young girls deemed at risk for exploitation.
Diane Dotson: First person convicted of continuous sexual assault has impact on abuse
by Diane Dotson
D. Diane Dotson is executive director at Regional Victim Crisis Center. Last year, the center served more than 1,238 victims at no charge.
Wonder how the Abilene area compares nationally in sexual assaults of children?
A recent statistic from the U.S. Department of Justice cites 82 percent of sexual assaults against children are committed by an acquaintance or family member. Locally, data from the Abilene/Taylor County Child Advocacy Center puts that figure at 97 percent.
Staggering, isn't it? However, for more than 35 years, Regional Victim Crisis Center has served all ages of victims and their non-offending family members.
In the past 10 years, we have had a 45 percent increase in child victims served. Last year, we served 253 children under the age of 17.
Nationally, one in three girls and one in five boys are sexually abused before the age of 17. These statistics cross all lines of ethnicity, education and income. In the service area of RVCC, less than 50 percent of all violent crimes and less than 20 percent of sexual assaults are reported.
You may know us for our crisis intervention and counseling services available at no charge for victims. But did you know that through our comprehensive victim assistance services we stay with our clients through the legal process?
One example is an 11-year-old girl who now is guaranteed her father will not have access to sexually assault her.
In January, her father was the first person in our area to be sentenced under the criminal charge of “continuous sexual assault.” Sentenced to 55 years, he will be 91 when he is due to be released from prison.
Continuous sexual assault of a child is a fairly new criminal charge in the state of Texas, only going into effect in 2007. The charge is applicable when a child is sexually assaulted for a period of time over 30 days and the child is under 14. The minimum sentence is 25 years.
New solutions allow our local law enforcement and district attorney's office to be aggressive in protecting the children of our community.
Our collaborative partners in the solutions available for crime victims include the Abilene/Taylor County Child Advocacy Center, local law enforcement and prosecutors in our six-county region of service, medical professionals, Serenity Foundation, Noah Project and countless other service agencies.
This week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, but the entire month is Awareness and Prevention Month for both Sexual Assault and Child Abuse.
These words are from the 2013 presidential proclamation for National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, “In the last 20 years, our Nation has made meaningful progress toward addressing sexual assault. Where victims were once left without recourse, laws have opened a path to safety and justice; where a culture of fear once kept violence hidden, survivors are more empowered to speak out and get help. But even today, too many women, men, and children suffer alone or in silence, burdened by shame or unsure anyone will listen. This month, we recommit to changing that tragic reality by stopping sexual assault before it starts and ensuring victims get the support they need.”
As the needs increase, so do opportunities for support. The Shelton Family Foundation has offered a matching grant for Regional Victim Crisis Center to increase the numbers of individual donors. Every dollar you give within the next month will be matched. If you want information, don't hesitate to call.
Regional Victim Crisis Center is here for victims and their families year-round. We offer prevention programs in grades K-12. When you identify abuse and need assistance, call 325-677-7895 or go to http://www.RegionalCrime.org
Arkansas Pediatrician Honored for Efforts to Prevent Child Abuse
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A pediatrician who has dedicated her life to preventing child abuse and protecting children is being honored this week by the Children's Advocacy Centers of Arkansas. Executive Director Stacy Thompson said the award will go to Dr. Karen Farst for her career of service and support.
"She has been a practitioner for numerous years," Thompson said. "She currently serves on the National Children's Alliance Board of Directors, and she is the first state-certified child abuse pediatrician."
Farst remarked that every honor is special, but this one stands out since it was her work with the Children's Advocacy Centers that led her to choose her career path.
"I was in private practice when I started volunteering with a local Children's Advocacy Center in Arkansas and it was really because of those experiences that I wound up pursuing extra training and then becoming a specialist as a child abuse pediatrician," the doctor recalled. "So, for that group to choose to honor me with the award just really kind of makes it extra special."
Farst will receive the award from Arkansas state Senator Percy Malone, the award's namesake and first recipient. The ceremony is set for Tuesday at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.
There are 13 Children's Advocacy Centers across Arkansas. Thompson described them as community-based efforts to prevent child abuse and support victims with a multidisciplinary approach.
"The mental health, medical, prosecutorial, protective services, law enforcement, all come together, so that a child is able to tell their story one time, and one time only," she said of the Centers.
Last year, the CACs in Arkansas interviewed nearly 3700 children who were victims of abuse, neglect and maltreatment.
More information is at CACArkansas.org
Mom of 3 who died in fire grew up amid child abuse
MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin woman whose three children died in a fire after being left alone, locked in their bedroom, grew up in a home marked by fatal child abuse.
Angelica D. Belen was 3-years-old in 1992 when her little sister was found beaten and starved in her crib in Milwaukee.
Belen, now 24, faces three felony charges of child neglect resulting in death after the fire earlier this month. But even before the fire, she received numerous warnings and faced multiple charges of neglect. According to the criminal complaint, she said she knew she wasn't supposed to leave her kids home alone but that she was starting a new job and couldn't find a baby sitter.
Belen's mother is Dawn Sosa, whose 17-month-old girl was found beaten and starved to death 20 years ago this month, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday.
The toddler, Marisol Serrano, was “grossly malnourished,” weighing less than 10 pounds, according to an autopsy report. She had a broken leg, four broken ribs and a brain bleed.
Her mother's boyfriend was convicted of beating the child, and her mother pleaded guilty to child neglect. Sosa was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Belen and her surviving siblings were placed in foster care and bounced from home to home, sometimes separated. Court records show Belen was physically abused. She received counseling for attention deficit and bipolar disorders.
As an adult, Belen's record with child protective services began days after the youngest of her four children was born in 2011. The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare received a report alleging that her husband beat and choked her in front of the children.
Multiple reports of abuse, neglect and filthy living conditions followed, court records show. So did two warnings from authorities against leaving the children home alone. As with Belen's mother, child welfare officials each time would decide to provide the family with intensive in-home services rather than take the children away.
Belen was charged with six counts of misdemeanor child neglect in March after allegedly leaving her three sons in a car while she went in a store with her daughter. Her twin boys got out of the car, and a witness said one was nearly hit by another car.
Belen told caseworkers she didn't know any better.
“This is how she was raised,” one report said. “She denied being aware that this was against the law. Ms. Belen stated that her mother would run into the store leaving her in the car and had left her home alone to run somewhere.”
Less than two weeks later, on April 11, her 5-year-old daughter, Nayeli Colon, and her 4-year-old twin sons, Adrian and Alexis Colon, died in the fire. Her youngest child, 1-year-old Wilfredo Belen, was visiting his father. The fire was traced to a faulty electrical connection in the kitchen.
Belen made her first court appearance on Wednesday. Her attorney, Reyna Morales, said Belen was trying to earn money to provide for her children.
“She's the only person who was taking care of them,” Morales said, according to WTMJ-TV.
The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families says confidentiality issues prevent it from commenting on the case.