National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


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

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

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

May - Week 4
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.

From the FBI

Looking for Our Children
National Missing Children's Day 2013

05/24/13 -- (Pictures on site)

Earlier this month in Cleveland, three young women were freed from years of captivity after a concerned neighbor responded to an urgent call for help.

We need your help, too, in rescuing the many kids who remain far from home today . Please take a minute to look at all the faces above and on our Kidnapping and Missing Persons webpage and see if you can identify Crystal, Jaliek, Rolando, or any of the other children listed with their stories.

Also take a look at the faces of the children who have been kidnapped by a parent —Mohammad Hussain Metla, Jr. and the many other kids.

And we hope you'll visit our Violent Crimes Against Children page to learn all you can about what a dangerous world it can be for our kids…and our Resources for Parents page to learn how to protect them in today's world.

Last: Join us in honoring the law enforcement officers and others recognized as part of National Missing Children's Day , including FBI Special Agent John D. Wydra, Jr. of our Charlotte Division. Our partners at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children also recognized a dozen FBI employees for going “above and beyond the call of duty for safely recovering missing child or successfully resolving a child sexual exploitation case.”



Proof is a burden for victims of child abuse


The little boy didn't look good: gaunt features, discolored bruises on his face.

He hadn't been to preschool for many days and was already “delayed” in his learning. His stepmom and dad, who had been reported to the Missouri child welfare hotline for possible abuse and neglect, were in charge of his care.

These factors, considered alone, might have led the Children's Division investigator to recommend that 4-year-old Lucas Barnes Webb be removed from the home and placed in state custody.

But since a change in state law in 2004, the investigator had factors to consider on the other side as well: Although Lucas had recently told an adult that his stepmom kicked him in the stomach, he didn't tell the investigator he was being abused. He and his brother often played rough; the bruises could be a result of that. Police weren't going to pursue charges. And the house had plenty of food.

Using Missouri's tougher standard of proof, the investigator weighed each side — a crucial calculation that Children's Division workers across the state must make every day, and one that many advocates fear inadvertently allows some children's cries to never truly be heard.

The standard, called preponderance of evidence, is subjective — requiring experience and proper training for the investigator — and starkly simple: Whichever side of the scale has more evidence carries the day.

In Lucas' case, the investigator weighed the four factors she identified for removing him from the home against at least six that leaned toward keeping him there. The scales, according to the investigator's notes in records released by the Missouri Department of Social Services, tipped toward the latter.

“Risk level is low for current parents,” said the report closing the case on Lucas.

Thirty-eight days after that hotline call — and just five days after the state stamped its investigation as unsubstantiated — Lucas' stepmother called 911 and an ambulance rushed him from his Holt, Mo., home.

Within an hour, he was dead. His stepmother and father have been charged with second-degree murder and felony child abuse and neglect.

Because of the higher bar set for investigations, child welfare experts say it's often more difficult to substantiate allegations and remove a child from the home. Indeed, state statistics indicate fewer allegations are being substantiated even as reports of child abuse and neglect have increased.

In the nine years since lawmakers adopted preponderance of evidence, hotline calls have increased 11 percent, while the number of substantiated cases has dropped by 32 percent.

That concerns child advocates, who fear more children could be left to suffer in unsafe conditions even after they have told a teacher, a nurse or another adult. Will children be less likely to share secrets of abuse and neglect if nothing happens the first time they tell?

“Who knows what that little kid went through when he told?” said Barbara Brown-Johnson, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield, which conducts forensic interviews of children. “Why in the world would a child disclose a second time when nothing happened the first time or they were hurt because of it? … The standard is too high.”

After the 2002 death of toddler Dominic James in foster care, many worried that Missouri was removing too many children from their homes.

At that time, reports could be substantiated based on probable cause, meaning a reasonable basis exists for thinking that abuse or neglect may have occurred. It's the same level authorities need to obtain a search warrant.

Dominic's death in southwest Missouri prompted a statewide overhaul of the child welfare system. Lawmakers pushed for reforms, including enhanced background checks for foster parents and opening some parts of family court for transparency.

They also raised the standard that investigators need to substantiate a case of child abuse or neglect. Beginning on Aug. 28, 2004, when the Dominic James Memorial Foster Care Reform Act went into effect, the standard went from probable cause to preponderance of evidence.

Many refer to this standard as needing 51 percent evidence in favor of a finding of abuse or neglect.

“When you leave it as preponderance of evidence, it's so subjective,” said Lisa Mizell, chief executive officer of the Child Protection Center in Kansas City. “If you aren't trained well enough or experienced enough to know what questions to ask, it's difficult to get to the truth.”

With the often high level of turnover in the social work field, the higher standard proves to be an even bigger challenge.

“It takes a certain level of skill,” Mizell said, “to go into a home and discern what you need to know.”

Experts say the change in the standard was a major contributor to the sharp drop in substantiations. But an increase in awareness of child abuse may also have played a role, said Kelly Schultz, director for the Missouri Office of Child Advocate. That ombudsman's office was created after Dominic's death to review complaints about the child welfare system.

“We sometimes have people calling for things like a child's clothing is too stained or maybe too small,” said Schultz, who added that anyone with concerns should always call the hotline. “More people are calling because they care about the safety of children, but some of the kids they are calling about don't meet the standard for child abuse or neglect.”

Kansas adopted a more stringent standard than Missouri in July 2004. According to a spokeswoman with the Kansas Department of Children and Families, the state moved from using a preponderance of evidence to one that calls for the proof to be “clear and convincing.”

That means, spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said, that the allegations are highly probable and the event most likely occurred.

In fiscal year 2004, before the change went into effect, 21 percent of Kansas' child abuse and neglect cases were substantiated. In 2012, however, only 5.9 percent were substantiated.

It isn't clear, de Rocha said, whether the stronger standard of proof is the main reason for the sharp decrease in substantiated cases.

“We have multiple work groups that continue to monitor our policies, procedures and practice and are always striving to improve them,” de Rocha said Friday.

When Missouri moved from probable cause to preponderance, substantiated cases also significantly dropped. In 2004, before the change went into effect, roughly 12 percent of child abuse and neglect cases were substantiated across the state. That dropped to about 7 percent in 2012.

Rep. Rory Ellinger, a Democrat from University City, Mo., and a member of the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, said he supports using a higher standard of proof for child abuse and neglect.

“Preponderance does require a little more evidence,” he said. “I am comfortable with that standard right now.” He added, however: “I wouldn't want to raise it any higher, because you don't want kids to get hurt.”

Other supporters say probable cause wasn't a stringent enough standard for verifying child abuse.

In the days of the probable cause standard, the findings of abuse and neglect were so shaky that nearly 40 percent were getting overturned by the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board, said Woody Cozad, a lobbyist who represents CNS Corp., which funds Heartland Christian Academy, a tough-love boarding school for troubled youths.

The main worry, say those working in the social services system, is the children and how they have been affected.

In a 2007 assessment of the legislative changes, Children's Division workers said the switch to preponderance had put some children at risk.

“The change in the standard of proof has had a significant impact on Children's Division,” the assessment said. The staff described it as “a culture change for CD in shifting the investigation from the best interests of the child to evidence gathering.”

The report went on to say: “Several respondents felt that this change results in delays that increase risk to children and that the preponderance of the evidence standard may benefit the abusive parent by making CD reluctant to make a finding.”

Some child welfare workers, though, said preponderance of evidence was needed because too many parents were getting sucked into the system based simply on the probability that abuse or neglect had occurred. Then the parents' names were added to a state child abuse registry.

But child welfare workers said that the new standard was confusing and that workers in some county offices received little guidance on how to carry it out.

“Nobody understood what the standard of preponderance of evidence was,” said Marni Scott, who was with the Jackson County Children's Division for nearly two decades before leaving last year. “It was poorly implemented, poorly trained. There was this horrible confusion as to ‘What is our role in this thing?'

“We didn't get the training until way after it was implemented. All of a sudden, all of our cases were getting overturned. So then they came back and trained us after it was in law.”

Brown-Johnson, of the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield, testified against the change in 2004. She said she told lawmakers that children would die if the standard were higher, or they would be abused multiple times before the system believed that marker was met.

In Springfield, she said, the advocacy center has seen kids “come back here more times before something can be determined. … It's a tragic occurrence when we have set the system up to where we tie the hands of investigators.”

Then there's the additional trauma on a child, she said, when a higher bar has to be reached.

Brown-Johnson tells the story of a young girl who years ago said something to a teacher that indicated she and her siblings were possibly being sexually abused. A forensic investigator interviewed the girl, but she remained in the home.

Sometime later, the girl returned to the center for another interview. It was then that interviewers heard what the siblings had gone through after the first hotline call.

“They came home and their puppy was dead on the front steps,” Brown-Johnson said. “Their father told them, ‘This is what will happen to you if you tell again.'”

In that case, there was a happy ending after all.

“Something happened in the home, and she did tell again,” Brown-Johnson said. “And the children were removed.

“…What concerns me is the children who don't tell again.”

Brooke Barnes, Lucas' mother, said she worries her son suffered after he first told adults in late August that his stepmom had kicked him in the stomach. Workers investigated the allegation, met with the stepmom and dad, and kept him in the home.

“He was probably so scared that he was going to get in trouble for telling,” said Barnes, who is angry at the Children's Division.

“They'd been out to the house several times, and nothing was done,” she said. “I don't understand why they wouldn't take him out of the home. I understand he was only 4, but 4-year-olds don't lie about who kicked them in the stomach. That would have been an automatic red flag for them to take him, just long enough to see if it was true.”

The Department of Social Services acknowledges that policies were violated in Lucas' case, and experts who reviewed the file say warning flags were missed.

Days after Lucas died, Barnes received a standard letter from the Department of Social Services.

It was dated Oct. 16, the day after he was pronounced dead at a Liberty hospital, and stemmed from the previous hotline call made on her son.

A box had been checked that said: “There is insufficient evidence to determine by a preponderance of evidence that the children have been abused or neglected.”

Months later, in January, came another ruling from the Children's Division, this time in the agency's final report on the boy's death and the subsequent hotline call confirming the alleged abuse:

“Conclusion: Preponderance of Evidence.”



Two new programs working to prevent child abuse

by Rebecca Powers

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Here's a shocking statistic: Child abuse in South Mississippi is up 300 percent since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

That's upsetting to anyone, but especially those who work with abused and neglected children.

"We have more children in custody, then we ever had before," said Hope Haven Executive Director Terry Latham.

But child advocates like Terry Latham are hopeful about two new child protection programs. One program will help better prosecute offenders. And it all begins with forensic interviews in a new child friendly play room at Hope Haven Children's Shelter.

"This is very important for kids. So any child that's been sexually or physically abused, now we have a specially equipped room, hidden microphones and cameras."

Most importantly, the interview is done by one, non-threatening person and it's only done once.

"They can be questioned one time and it's recorded to a disc and that keeps the kids from the trauma of having to be questioned over and over again by different people."

These forensic interviews are now allowed in court as testimony, and that helps better prosecute offenders.

"Because now you don't have the problem with the child said this one time and this the other time."

Latham said expensive efforts in the past to keep children from even becoming victims have failed.

"For years, the preventive measures against abuse is trying to teach children to stop from being abused. 'Good touch, bad touch.' All those things, and it hasn't worked."

But he is very hopeful about the new national program "Darkness To Light." It aims to prevent child abuse by educating kids and training adults who interact with children.

"We have three trained facilitators. It will aimed at the schools, civic organizations and summer camps, every single place where there is interaction between adults and kids. Those are possible individuals who we are looking to go train."

Now, caring adults are needed to step up and receive this free training. They are taking applications now for the free "Darkness To Light" training for your school, camp, church or any group that interacts with children.

Learn more about the program at or by calling 1-866-FOR-LIGHT.

You can also reach Terry Latham at (228) 466-6395 or email him at

You can also visit the shelter's website:


Missouri summer camp wants to be national model for stopping sex abuse

by Nancy Cambria

Kanakuk Kamps refuses to hide from a sex-abuse scandal that threatened to sink its massive Christian summer camp network five years ago.

Instead, it has made preventing sexual abuse a central part of its mission.

Prominent on the website of the Branson, Mo.-based camp network — amid idyllic images of children at play or around campfires — is a detailed Child Protection Plan, spelling out the dozens of safeguards the camps vow to take to prevent abuse.

As outlined in a 180-point plan, Kanakuk employees and volunteers are randomly monitored. They can't be one-on-one with children. All employees must undergo a background check that includes fingerprints. Sight lines on camp are unobstructed. And campers are told of private, safe places where they can report questionable activity.

But Kanakuk Kamps doesn't stop there.

In an industry in which regulation is so sparse that parents usually can't even look up a camp's history of sexual abuse, Kanakuk has promised to do its part to clean things up.

It vows to train 1,000 youth camps nationwide within the next three to five years to weed out sexual abuse and child predators.

Child-abuse prevention advocates say the zeal is more than smart public relations.

“They really are a great example of stepping up to the issue of child sexual assault,” said Marissa Gunther of Missouri Kids First. “Unfortunately, we see a lot of institutions do the opposite because I think they are afraid of how they are going to look and how they are going to look to parents.”

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center could cite no formal studies nor statistics regarding the frequency of child sexual assault at summer camps. But media reports have chronicled the issue.

In Florida, the Palm Beach Post detailed last year how that state's weak and unenforced background check law allowed predators and felons to move from camp to camp victimizing children, particularly in youth organizations in poor areas.

Other reports have documented the impulse by summer camps to cover up abuse incidents. For example, while the Boy Scouts of America kept internal records of volunteers involved in abuse allegations, news reports say the organization failed to tell police or take strong enough action to prevent predators from moving to other troops and victimizing more children.

And yet, summer camps nationwide fall under a spotty system of regulation. Missouri, for example, is one of six states that have no licensing or regulatory standards, such as requiring background checks.

Unlike many day cares that are licensed and monitored in Missouri, there are no publicly accessible reports chronicling safety violations, crimes or suspected abuse at camps. The Missouri Children's Division could not provide information about abuse at camps because the state child-abuse registry does not differentiate camps from schools and other educational settings.

Amid that backdrop is an industry that, by its design, is vulnerable to potential sex abuse.

The camps depend on seasonal employees and volunteers who have prolonged access to children in unfamiliar surroundings without direct supervision of parents. Statistics further indicate that many sexual abusers are teens who act out on younger children.

“Perpetrators are looking for those camps where kids are not equipped to talk about it and the camps are not equipped to respond to it,” said Gunther, of Missouri Kids First. “Every person that is employed by these camps needs to be trained to prevent sexual abuse ... counselors, nurses, the cooks, everybody. Even the janitorial staff.”


At Kanakuk Kamps, the sex-abuse prevention plan posted is designed, in part, as an “outer perimeter” to keep child predators out.

Rick Braschler, Kanakuk's risk-management coordinator since 2003, developed the plan. It alerts potential child predators that they will be caught if they work there, he said.

“We want them to self-select, to opt out, before they apply for a job,” Braschler said.

His plan and training has gained the endorsement of the American Camp Association, despite the fact that Kanakuk Kamps are not accredited by the organization. The plan also has been praised by child-abuse prevention advocates who call it a national model.

That's a far cry from the kind of attention Kanakuk attracted five years ago, when Peter Newman, a camp director involved with recruiting children for summer programs, was reported to have been sexually abusing teen male campers for a decade.

The incident made national news in part because Kanakuk's owner, Joe White, is a major speaker with the Promise Keepers and Focus on the Family movements. He recruits campers during speaking events in states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Two lawsuits were later filed against Kanakuk and its operators out of Texas and Missouri, alleging White had known about Newman's actions and failed to remove him. They include allegations that Newman rode naked on an ATV at the camp and that other employees witnessed it.

In the course of the investigation, 19 victims, all young teenage boys, were identified, with many alleging the perpetrator groomed his victims under the guise of being their spiritual adviser.

Newman pleaded guilty last year in Taney County court to three counts of second-degree statutory sodomy, two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy and two counts of enticement of a child. He is currently serving two consecutive life sentences, plus an additional 30 years.

Braschler, who has worked as a risk-management coordinator with Kanakuk since 2003, declined to elaborate on how Newman eluded scrutiny and continued to work at the camp for 10 years. But he said the discovery of a predator was a catalyst for change.

“It devastated our knowledge of what we do,” he said. “And it devastated our organization and everything it stood for.”


Kanakuk operated like most camps until Newman was discovered, Braschler said. It followed child protection guidelines set forth as early as 1993 by the insurance industry. Those include background screenings of employees, reference checks, interviews, awareness training and bans on one-to-one interactions with campers and staff.

Braschler said the strategies — some governed by state laws — were ineffective in rooting out a predator.

“First off, America seems to believe that background checks are a competent way to inform me or you as a parent that this person has no prior deviant behavior,” he said.

Federal statistics show that fewer than 10 percent of people charged with a sex crime are convicted, and that fewer than 10 percent of alleged pedophiles have a previous record.

There is also a lack training about child sex abuse for leaders in camps, schools and churches, Braschler said.

“We've graduated an entire population of leaders from institutions where they have been taught to coach, lead Bible studies ... teach math,” he said. “Yet it's not surprising that those processes nationwide are not built to identify a potential abuser.”

Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association, said child protection is a growing area of training among quality, accredited camps. She noted that her members supported the federal Child Protection Improvements Act, which would offer low-cost, one-stop access to nationwide background searches at the federal and state levels.

She said parents should always choose accredited camps that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards for quality and safety practices, including child protection. But parents are the first line of defense, she said. They need to reach out to camp directors, and they need to call families who have participated in the camps.

“You don't want to scare parents and not give your kids these great experiences,” Smith said. “All everyone is saying is be a knowledgeable parent, be an informed parent partner with the camp and learn its policies.”


Braschler describes his system for fending off offenders in the military language of fortifications and zones.

It starts with the “outer perimeter” to discourage predators from stepping foot on camp. It progresses inward with “Sandbox” and “Alamo” zones, each spelling out more detailed safeguards as employees have contact with children.

But the key is changing the whole culture, he said.

Boundaries are addressed with campers during orientation (hugs, no; high-fives, yes), and everyone is urged to “recognize, resist and report” anyone who breaks the rules.

That includes staff members.

“We tell kids if one of the boundaries is broken, we want you to resist that,” Braschler said. “We want you to blow the whistle if the ball goes out of play.”

Robert Queen, a retired superintendant of Mingo Valley Christian School in Tulsa, Okla., said he and his staff took the Kanakuk training after learning that two teachers had been sexually abusing students. One was a graduate of the school from a respected family who had come back to teach.

Queen said he failed to realize that the qualities that make a great teacher — such as compassion, kindness and taking special interest in a child — are also qualities projected by child molesters. And the school had no training to weed out the good from the bad.

“We spent so much time on ‘stranger danger' instruction, and that's not the problem here. They're known to the victim.”

After the training, the school revamped its hiring practices, training and communications with parents.

For Kanakuk, part of the struggle is regaining its reputation.

In the summer of 2011, two years after Newman was arrested, another counselor, Lee Bradbury, abused three boy campers ages 9, 10 and 12 in a span of four weeks. Bradbury, 23, was later found guilty of second-degree statutory sodomy, sexual misconduct and two counts of child molestation.

Braschler said the incident didn't mean Kanakuk's efforts to prevent abuse had been in vain.

Before the camps adopted its abuse-prevention protocol, he speculates, Bradbury's abuse might never have been discovered. This time, the predator was caught within weeks because fellow campers knew the boundaries had been broken, Braschler said.

“The Alamo Zone. The kids reported it,” Braschler said. “That's where it was caught.”


Sexual assault is a 'scourge' on U.S. military: Hagel

(Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called sexual assault a "scourge" on Saturday as he addressed graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where a sergeant stands accused of videotaping female cadets in the showers.

"Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal - a profound betrayal - of sacred oaths and sacred trusts," Hagel said. "This scourge must be stamped out."

His comments came a day after President Barack Obama delivered a similar message to graduates at the U.S. Naval Academy, saying sexual assault threatened to erode trust and discipline in America's armed forces.

The Pentagon is reeling from a series of sex-related scandals in recent weeks, including cases in which military advocates for victims of sexual assault were themselves accused of sex crimes.

A study released by the Defense Department two weeks ago estimated that reports of unwanted sexual contact in the military, from groping to rape, rose 37 percent in 2012, to about 26,000 cases from 19,000 the previous year.

At West Point in New York state, Sergeant First Class Michael McClendon was charged last week with four counts, including indecent acts, dereliction of duty and cruelty, the Army said.

McClendon had served as a tactical non-commissioned officer at the academy since 2009, a job that put him in charge of mentoring and training a company of about 121 cadets.

The incidents have embarrassed the U.S. military and prompted members of Congress to introduce legislation designed to toughen up the Pentagon's handling of sex crimes.

Hagel, in his address, noted that budget cuts were impacting military readiness and morale. But he cited sexual assault and sexual harassment among other, growing threats to America's all-volunteer force.

"You will need to not just deal with these debilitating, insidious and destructive forces but rather you must be the generation of leaders that stop it," he said.


Cannes and child abuse

As long as you are loyal to France they don't care

by Georgina Pijttersen

Reuters just reported today at 11:03am EDT that Roman Polanski and his movie “La Venus a la Fourrure” , English title: Venus in Fur, is likely to receive the “Palme D'Or” in Cannes tomorrow. But first the movie has to battle against it's competitor today in order to be seen by all during it's premiere this afternoon. This is the only hurdle the director will have to face. Is it morally acceptable that a person who thinks child abuse is OK, can still continue to work, be filthy rich, successful and loved by many, albeit mainly the French. (In specific French former minister of Culture and Communication, Frédéric Mitterand.*)

As a reminder these were the facts:

•  March 1977, Roman Polanski had been detained bu the LA police and was charged with several offenses against Samantha Gailey. Samantha was just 13 at the time. The official wording by the court: – rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.

•  What did it mean to Samantha? These are her own words: ”We did photos with me drinking champagne, Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn't quite know how to get myself out of there.” During an interview in 2006 she added this: ”I said, ‘No, no. I don't want to go in there. No, I don't want to do this. No!', and then I didn't know what else to do. We were alone and I didn't know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I'll get to come home after this”

•  Samantha testified to the court: that Polanski provided champagne that they shared as well as part of a Quaalude (a sedative hypnotic drug) , After that he got his way with her orally, vaginally and anally despite her constant objections . She continued saying how she wanted him to stop and saying “no” repeatedly.

•  Polanski kept pleading not guilty to all charges. He later retracted that pleading and accepted a plea bargain. This bargain meant that five of the initial charges could be excluded but that he would plead guilty. The result would be that he had engaged in unlawful sexual intercourse. Because of this he had to go to a court ordered psych evaluation. The idea was that he would only receive probation after his sentencing and that he didn't have to do any hard time. Unfortunately for Roman he wasn't going to get off the hook that easily and he would have to do hard time and he would face deportation. Polanski didn't wait around for this and fled to France in February 1978. From then on he has remained in France mostly and he has done his best not to visit countries who might extradite him to the US.

Sure we can argue about how long ago these facts have occurred. How many people have been arrested for the very same thing and never been sentenced to jail for it. In addition Samantha didn't press the matter further and actually accepted a large sum of money to keep quiet. But the truth is a famous, powerful man who was forty three years old at the time took advantage of a young impressionable thirteen year old. (Just imagine how young that is, most people consider this an age where a girl is still “little”, should play with dolls or other innocent toys and dream about her prince on a white horse. Not fending a man off who is thirty years older than her and rich and physically strong. No matter if she agreed or not this shouldn't be possible and furthermore it should be impossible to make movies, prosper, enjoy life and quite possible receive another feather in one's cap. Or “golden palm leaf” in this case.

It won't be his first either. He has received this price already in 2002 for “the Pianist”. (The story is semi-autobiographical and it's a drama about the Warsaw Ghetto.) Surprisingly enough he also won an Oscar in the category of best director for this movie. He decided not to show his face there and Harrison Ford who presented the award also accepted the award on his behalf.

The saga continues to this day. On the twenty sixth of September in 2009 Polanski had been detained by the Swiss police at the Zurich Airport. After his arrest the US asked for his extradition. However on the twelfth of July 2010 the Swiss court rejected this request and released Mister Polanski from custody. All six of the original charges are still pending against him to this day. (The reason being; that he never got sentenced and just fled.)

When Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California during 2003-2011, was asked if he would grant Polanski a pardon he had the following to say: ”I think that he is a very respected person and I am a big admirer of his work. But, nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else. It doesn't matter if you are a big-time movie actor or a big-time movie director or producer.” Schwarzenegger added: “And one should look into all of the allegations, not only his allegations, but the allegations about his case. Was there something done wrong? You know, was injustice done in the case?”

What is your opinion? Do you agree with Arnold? Or do you think no person should be able to receive any accolades after committing such a heinous crime and never serving time for that.

* Mitterand was very supportive and said about the ordeal of in his eyes loyal French citizen Polanski: ”very deep emotion” after the questioning of the director, “a French citizen” and “a film-maker of international dimension ” he also added: “the sight of him thrown to the lions for an old story which doesn't make much sense, imprisoned while traveling to an event that was intending to honor him: caught, in short, in a trap, is absolutely dreadful. Polanski had a difficult life, but always said how much he loves France, and he is a wonderful man”. Mitterand's statements are incredibly painful if you've read his published book in 2005, which talks about using adolescent “boy” prostitutes in Thailand.



Woman arrested for child abuse by Munchausen Syndrome

by Michael Purdy

Broken Arrow, Okla. — A woman is arrested on Saturday for child abuse by Munchausen Syndrome.

Tulsa court records say Victoria Lee is accused of making her daughter undergo unnecessary medical procedures over a six year period.

She would go to doctors and give them false information about her child. Court records show her daughter had to endure hundreds of doctor visits and went through numerous procedures.

Lee was charged on Friday with one count of child abuse by Munchausen Syndrome by proxy. No court date has been given.



Oak Park survivor of childhood sexual abuse offers workshops to help others


OAK PARK — Duane Hughes is determined to make a difference by helping prevent the incidence of childhood sexual abuse.

Hughes himself learned to thrive after such abuse, having suffered years of torment by his stepfather.

“You have a person in your life who's supposed to be someone of authority, someone you respect,” Hughes said, recalling his own abuse, which lasted from when he was 9 to 15 years old.

“It felt like there was something wrong with me,” he said. “That's how it started. But that turned out to be a complete manipulation.”

Hughes recently launched Are You Playing Hurt In Life (R U PHIL), an educational and advocacy initiative that targets adults who are in a position to identify and advocate for children being sexually abused, as well as survivors recovering from that abuse.

His effort includes keynote addresses, workshops and mentoring programs based on his “Playing Hurt in Life Playbook” principles that Hughes adopted to express himself as an abuse survivor. By sharing the playbook, he intends to help fellow survivors define their voices and express themselves to the world.

“The key to the whole thing is that it's from the survivor's point of view, which makes it a little bit different,” Hughes said.

Hughes, now a 46-year-old father of five, grew up in Tennessee, Washington, Texas and Oregon. His family's mobility resulted in a lack of long-term connections that is typical in childhood sexual abuse situations, Hughes said.

“Silencing of voice, shame; those types of things are weapons for abusers. The only way to disarm them is to talk openly,” Hughes said.

Hughes found refuge in sports, which boosted his self-esteem and led him to become an all-state high school athlete. He later earned a Division I scholarship to play football at Oregon State University.

R U PHIL builds on a truth Hughes gleaned from football: playing when you are hurt is part of the game. Following his own abuse, Hughes “played hurt” for more than 20 years.

Today, R U PHIL keynotes address child advocates, including coaches, teachers, parents, community groups and others. The workshops are similar in content but hours longer and more detailed.

“In my keynotes and my workshops we talk about some of the patterns associated with abusers,” Hughes said. He also works to “give the advocates an understanding of the stereotypes projected on us [survivors] by society and how we may or may not deal with them.”

Some stereotypes associated with childhood sexual abuse survivors include promiscuity, tendency to become abusers and questions of sexual orientation, Hughes said.

Another branch of Hughes' work is mentoring childhood sexual abuse survivors.

Childhood sexual abuse statistics are hard to find because abuse is often hidden. Yet based on reporting percentages, the incidence could be anywhere from 260,000 to 650,000 children a year, according to the advocacy group Stop It Now!

Hughes said his recovery took time.

“After the actual abuse stopped, I still had to live in the same house with him,” he said of his stepfather. “After leaving the house, just starting to understand what I'd been through, I could feel that I was hurt. I was fully functional but carrying around this extra weight for a long period of time. I knew I was limited emotionally.”

Hughes said half of all males who are sexually abused as children have suicidal thoughts; 20 percent attempt suicide.

“Over the years I just continued to work at healing myself. I knew I would do something to apply my experience to helping others but didn't know what,” he said.

Hughes, who holds an MBA, is also an entrepreneur with more than 15 years in sales and management.

“I hope I can leave in my wake many people on the path to healing, whatever that may look like, and on the path to doing something similar to what I'm doing,” he said. “I didn't have mentors for this. All I had was the principles I learned from coaches, sports and my professional life that have made me successful.”


To schedule an “R U PHIL” keynote or seminar, visit or call Duane Hughes at 708-851-1427. Fees may apply.


Priests, nuns form group to keep church honest on sex abuse issues

by Ben Feuerherd

New York -- A group calling itself “Catholic Whistleblowers” celebrated its launch at a Manhattan news conference May 22.

The group's message:

•  Catholics who blow the whistle on the sexual abuse of minors in the church deserve a network they can turn to for support;

•  A decade after the church issued “zero tolerance guidelines” for abuse, it is still mishandling these cases;

•  The bishops who mishandle these cases must be held accountable.

Founding member Dominican Sr. Sally Butler of Brooklyn, N.Y., said the creation of a nationwide “whistleblower protection program” is necessary. “Clearly, the women and men who work for the church now fear reprisals for speaking out,” she said.

Attorney Marci A. Hamilton, the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Cardozo Law School in Manhattan, said that she and her team of five law students have promised to defend any whistleblowers who come forward.

Hamilton, a children's rights activist, said she sees the current sexual abuse crisis as a civil rights issue for children. “This boils down to the pursuit of truth,” she said.

Eight founding members of the group gathered at Cardoza Law School to read prepared statements and field questions from the media. The group comprises current and former priests, women religious, and laypeople who support survivors of sexual abuse.

Presenters at the news conference included: Butler; Hamilton; Fr. John Bambrick of the Trenton, N.J., diocese; Robert Hoatson, co-founder of Road to Recovery, a group that works with survivors of sexual abuse; Fr. Ken Lasch, a retired priest of the Paterson, N.J., diocese; Fr. Ronald Lemmert, a priest ordained in New York; Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Maureen Turlish; Fr. James Connell of Milwaukee; and Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle.

In his statement, Bambrick discussed why he is involved in Catholic Whistleblowers. Bambrick was one of two priests to testify before the U.S. bishops in Dallas in 2002, when a zero-tolerance policy on sex abuse was established. At the Dallas meeting, Bambrick said, former St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop Harry Flynn, who chaired the bishops' ad committee on sexual abuse by priests, publicly demanded that Bambrick hold the bishops accountable.

“He turned to me and said, ‘John, as a priest I want you to hold us to these promises we make to you today; I want you to confront us and hold us accountable.' ”

But, according to the group, a decade after the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was drafted, bishops who fail to uphold it do not face repercussions from the church.

Referring to bishops who have violated the Dallas Charter, Bambrick said, “I can draw a straight line from west to east. We have witnessed chicanery in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Kansas City [Mo.], and just this month in Newark, N.J.”

Hoatson pointed to the case of Fr. Michael Fugee of the Newark archdiocese, who was not removed from ministry after allegations of child abuse were lodged against him.

“I notified the media in 2009 of the appointment of child abuser Fr. Michael Fugee as hospital chaplain at St. Michael's [Medical Center] in Newark,” Hoatson said. “He was … subsequently appointed to two other leadership positions within Newark archdiocesan headquarters.”

Later, though he was supposed to be under supervision, Fugee attended parish youth group events and even overnight trips in the Trenton, N.J., diocese.

Lemmert offered a list of appeals that Catholic Whistleblowers would like met:

•  New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, should use his influence to press the Vatican to remove Newark Archbishop John Myers because of his mishandling of the Fugee case.

•  All bishops and legislators should remove all statutes of limitations on child sex abuse cases.

•  The bishops should create protection policies for all priests, nuns and other church employees who report child sexual abuse or cover-up to civil authorities.

The group recently wrote to Pope Francis with a list of six recommendations. “ Most importantly ,” the group's leaders wrote (emphasis in original), “establish within the Holy See an international body composed of Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse, lay professionals and clergy who will be responsible for the facilitation in all dioceses of a dialogue between the Church and victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse.”

The letter also called for any “pledges of secrecy” by church officials to be revoked and for files regarding clergy sex abuse to be made public.

Participants at the event offered a range of ideas for meeting these goals. Certain members said they believe change will come “from the bottom up” if enough lay Catholics pay attention to the problem. Others advocated withholding financial support from dioceses to pressure church leadership.

Lasch said that he believes the Dallas Charter is not only improperly implemented, but also fundamentally flawed. Limiting the charter's “young people” to those below the age of 18 omits an important group of potential victims, he said. The charter is “not applicable in responding to vulnerable adults who have been victims of sexual harassment, attempted rape and rape by Catholic clergy or religious,” he said.

For some members of the group, the answer to the sex abuse crisis does not stop with reform of the Dallas Charter or acknowledgment of whistleblowers. Civil law must also be amended.

Turlish said statute of limitations reform is integral in the fight for justice. “No religious denomination … should be depended upon to police itself regarding the sexual abuse of vulnerable populations,” she said. “That is society's responsibility.”

“I wouldn't trust them [the U.S. bishops] to do what's right, given their track record,” she told NCR .

For Butler, changes in civil law need to go beyond statute of limitations reform.

Butler worked in Brooklyn public housing projects for more than 40 years. It was decades after her service began that she learned three priests she worked with had molested countless children, including her foster son. Fed up with the inaction of the Brooklyn archdiocese regarding these cases, she and other sisters contacted The New York Times in 2002 and told their story.

Butler said she is “particularly concerned about people of color in poor parishes throughout the country who have not been able to report the abuse.” She said that people of color “usually cannot trust the church — a white institution — or the criminal justice system.”



Indecent obsession

We know who to suspect. Or, at least, we think we do. It's why we teach kids about "stranger danger" and inappropriate touching, to be wary of the overly affectionate priest, the weirdo teacher, the touchy-feely coach. Still, we're not that naive. Solemnly, we acknowledge sexual abuse happens in families, too - all those nightmare horror-stories of older relatives and parents sneaking into kids' bedrooms at night. Yet there's another form of sexual abuse, one that only seems to be discussed in inverse proportion to how often it happens. Greatly under-reported, sibling sex abuse, researchers agree, is the most common form of intra-familial sexual abuse, a scenario far more common than fathers abusing daughters.

Carmen Burnet was four when her brother Samuel,* eight years her senior, started molesting her. Samuel, as the eldest of the five siblings raised by their mother (their father left when Carmen was two), was the only one to have a bedroom to himself. "If he invited one of the younger kids to his bedroom, that was like you were the special one," Carmen says. "Occasionally, he would let one of us go into his room and look at his toy soldiers or whatever, things we couldn't normally touch or look at. What I remember happening was me going into his room on that sort of pretext. Then it turned into something different: him getting me to take my underpants off and looking at me, and maybe touching me a bit. Then the day just went on as normal, as if nothing had happened."

Looking back on it now, Carmen says that it started out as "not a very bad thing". The sort of thing, she says, that was hard to pin down as definitely being wrong or weird. When the family moved from Sydney to Canberra in 1987, what Samuel did escalated in frequency and intensity. Samuel openly loathed having to move to Canberra, and Carmen now looks back and suspects she became an outlet for his frustration, adding that he was abusing the other siblings verbally and physically, too. "He got more forceful," she says. "The sorts of things he was doing definitely felt much more full-on." Quietly, she explains the abuse began to involve full penetration.

Carmen was 12 when she finally told her mother that Samuel had repeatedly abused and raped her between the ages of seven and 10. Unlike many other parents who are told one of their children is sexually abusing another, Carmen's mother believed her immediately. After all, Samuel had been six-foot tall for as long as anyone could remember, with muscles and a tremendous capacity for violence. "The times that police got called to our house for domestic violence were because he'd beaten up our mum so badly that she was unconscious," Carmen says. "He was a pretty dangerous sort of person."

Carmen's mother responded to the news the only way she knew how: she went out and confronted Samuel about the sexual abuse. "She came back with him, we all went inside and she then immediately wanted everything to be all right," Carmen says. "She didn't want there to be 'any dramas' and she wanted us to be friends. Immediately, there was this pressure on me to be fine and conciliatory and not be mad at him." The message was clear: it was up to Carmen whether this family could move forward or not. Carmen now sees her mother's strategy as completely inappropriate, but adds that "I think she felt out of her depth".

Afterwards, Carmen's mother booked the two siblings into counselling at a family health centre in Canberra. "Which was not what I wanted," Carmen says. Here she was, trapped in a room with a complete stranger and the brother who had sexually abused her so violently that on one occasion she had to see a doctor to ensure permanent damage hadn't been done to her genitals and internal organs. "It just made me feel worse," she says of counselling with Samuel. "I was speechless. I couldn't manage to say anything. I was totally intimidated by him. He was really smarmy and wanting me to forgive and forget, be friends, leave all that in the past. Mum thought it was fine for him to try to hug me, try to talk to me. I wanted to avoid him as much as possible."

Dr Gary Foster from Living Well - a Queensland-based organisation that supports male survivors of sexual abuse - points out that young people who experience sibling sexual abuse often don't know how they want their parents or guardians to respond. When considering disclosure, ghastly possibilities and questions race through their minds. "For instance, 'Are they going to kick him out?' 'What's going to change?' Or, 'They might never kick him out, so then I have to live in the same family.' "Often, Foster says, abuse victims opt to keep the peace instead. "They think, 'It would be too distressing and upsetting for my parents. And I'm kind of managing it. Maybe I can just push through, block it out.'"

It's the attitude and approach adopted by Zach, another victim of sibling child abuse. For Zach, however, it meant he found himself being forced to invite his older brother Billy - who groomed Zach to repeatedly masturbate and perform oral sex and analingus on him - to be groomsman at his wedding. To this day, Zach, now 25, still hasn't told a single member of his family what Billy did to him. By the time Zach's wedding came around, no one except Zach and his fiancée knew his brother had molested him. His fiancée was horrified by the prospect of Billy even attending the wedding and implored Zach to confront his brother.

"But I was uncomfortable doing that," Zach says. "I guess I came to a place where I thought, 'My life has really turned out all right.' I was almost halfway through my uni degree, I was moving towards a pretty great career, and I was getting married to someone I loved deeply. In that respect, I thought, 'Well, this hasn't screwed me up too much; I've overcome it. We can move forward, he can be a groomsman and we don't have to worry about what happened in the past - we can have a great future."

When he reflects on the wedding itself now, Zach struggles to find the words. "It was the best day of my life, but it was also ..." He trails off. This is the thing about sibling sexual abuse: as much as you want it all to remain in the past, it's impossible to shake off. And as much as you might want these people out of your orbit, family is still family.

Jack lives just outside Sydney. He's 51, but good skin and a lean body means he looks a decade younger. Wearing a black muscle shirt and metal scorpion pendant, Jack also looks tough, like someone who could beat the living snot out of you if it came to that. But it's clear that Jack is gentle: a husband who married his childhood sweetheart; a dad who still kisses his adult kids goodbye. In his spare time, he writes poetry. The only time Jack seems to get angry or upset is when he talks about his childhood - in particular, his older brother Dennis. "Forgiveness didn't work for me," he says.

Of the sprawling bunch of kids who grew together in Sydney's west, Jack was the youngest. Dennis was six years older. Jack was intelligent and bookish, while Dennis was the family's golden-haired child and clearly their dad's favourite. Dennis was also - in Jack's words - a bastard. "He'd tie grasshoppers to skyrockets; crucify lizards on the back fence. He used to take me for a ride on a billy cart or pushbike and we'd get a certain distance from home, then he'd give me a belting and leave me to walk home crying."

Every night around 5pm, their dad would call Jack for his bath. One evening, Dennis came in the bathroom while Jack was getting dressed and produced a $1 note. To a kid in 1968, that represented a lot of money. If Jack wanted the money, all he had to do was what Dennis asked. "What he did," Jack says, staring dead ahead, "was he sat down on the chair that was in the bathroom and got me to sit on his lap. He proceeded to stick his penis up my backside, which hurt and felt very wrong. I cried. He was hissing at me: 'Shut the f... up', 'Open up your arse' - that type of thing." Jack was seven; Dennis was 13.

This happened four or five times - Jack can't be sure - except that on subsequent occasions Dennis no longer bribed Jack with money. If Jack didn't co-operate, Dennis belted him hard instead: bit him, punched him, slapped him around. Jack only escaped his brother's rapes once, when he reached between his legs, twisted Dennis's balls with a clamp-like fist and refused to let go until Dennis released him. Jack shakes his head thinking about it now. "With me crying and trying to basically fight Dennis off, I look back now and I wonder why nobody heard, why nobody intervened. The only thing I can think of is they were just used to him being a prick to me."

When Jack started waking up with Dennis in bed beside him - either raping him or attempting to - he demanded to know how Dennis even got there. Dennis said their father put him in the same bed so the brothers could share warmth on cold nights; Jack confronted their father and told him to stop it. When their father asked why, Jack came out with it: that Dennis was "doing things to my bottom". Jack says he will never forget the expression on his father's face when he told him. "He looked at me with utter disgust. It could be argued that he was disgusted with my brother, but I felt then, and I still feel now, that his disgust and contempt was for me. His reaction was, 'What do you want me to do? Beat him up?' I was lost for words. Of course I wanted him beaten up; of course I wanted him punished. But it never happened."

For a while though, the abuse stopped. Eight years later, Jack was 15 and had just met the girl whom he'd eventually marry. Out of nowhere, Dennis - still living at home - started raping Jack again. "I had no chance fighting against him," Jack says. "A 15-year-old against a 22-year-old? It's not going to happen. To my eternal shame I got to the point where I thought, 'Let him get on with it.' I didn't see any point in going to Dad."

To Jack, it seemed no one would ever believe him, anyway. It would be years later - decades, in fact - when he figured maybe the police would.

How frequently sex abuse occurs between siblings in Australia is impossible to gauge. Dr Daryl Higgins, a child-abuse expert from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, says the statistics just aren't available. One 2011 US study, however, estimated half of all adolescent-perpetrated sexual offences involved a sibling, while a 2012 UK study concluded sibling incest was the most common form of family sex abuse - at least five times more common than parent-child incest. In Australia, the New Street Adolescent Service - a NSW program addressing under-18s who have sexually abused people - consistently finds that roughly 50 per cent of their clients' victims are siblings. Still, Higgins says it's difficult to get exact numbers or estimates in this country. "Small-scale studies tell us what issues [victims] face," he says, "but it doesn't tell us about how prevalent it is."

Complicating matters is the question of how to define sibling sexual abuse. At what point does normal childhood sexual experimentation become molestation and rape? Do kids and teenagers even know what they're doing is wrong? In the 1980s, researchers defined sexual behaviour between siblings as abuse when there was an age gap of five years or more. While most cases of sibling sexual abuse do fall into that range (a 2010 study of 17 female victim-survivors showed a median age gap of 4.18 years), many researchers nowadays point out that using age as a criteria ignores cases involving slightly older siblings, twins, and younger siblings who might be physically stronger or use coercion.

Helen Kambouridis, a senior psychologist at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital who has worked with young victims of sexual abuse for 15 years, says because there are so many grey zones, it is also unhelpful to label minors who abuse their siblings as "perpetrators" or "offenders". "We don't use that language," she says. "Effectively, they're kids. And they're kids who - for the most part - have been victims of some sort of trauma of their own, possibly sexual abuse. Part of the difficulty we face is [asking], 'What's underneath this? What's motivating a kid to engage in behaviour like this?' What we do find is kids who have been exposed to a sort of trauma that has basically screwed with their template for relating with people."

This isn't always the case, however. Talia looks back on her childhood and says she can't explain what she did to her two younger sisters. The eldest of three girls, Talia - now 25 - is five years older than her middle sister and six years older than the youngest. When Talia was nine, she would play games with them, usually one at a time, re-enacting scenes from the film Grease . "It started as just childish games," she says, "like playing doctors and nurses. Then it ... stopped being games." Soon, their play involved genital touching and coerced oral sex. "There was trickery involved. I never threatened them but it was, 'Make sure Mum doesn't find out. Make sure we don't tell her.'"

Talia visibly shakes talking about it now, looking ashen with regret. "If it had ended at doctors and nurses - being naked around each other, looking and touching at bits and pieces - I think I could justify that and be okay. And while I've got all the symptoms of someone who has been sexually abused - highly sexualised behaviours; abusing others - I'm pretty sure that never happened. I kind of wish it had, because then I could explain my behaviour. Not to get excused, but there would be a reason as to why I did it."

Strangely, neither of Talia's sisters seems to recall any of this happening. Talia has never broached it directly with them, but says that whenever sexual jokes or stories come up, she watches them closely for anything in their response to confirm they know what Talia knows. They've never reacted. It is possible they were too young, or simply don't regard the incidents in the same way Talia does. Either way, Talia has decided never to broach the subject with them. In fact, she's never told anyone what she did between the ages of nine and 11, except for her psychologist and Good Weekend. Not even her husband knows. "The thing that hurts me the most is they're the two people I love most in the world, and they're the ones I've hurt most."

In early 2012, Talia had a nervous breakdown, set off by work pressures but fuelled by the roaring tide of guilt over what she did to her younger sisters years ago. Drinking heavily, Talia violently cut herself repeatedly and had to be admitted to emergency. Later, her psychologist suggested to Talia that what happened with her sisters wasn't abuse, but "sexual play that went too far". Talia disagrees. "I've decided to see it as abuse and deal with it that way." After all, Talia works in psychology herself and has read the literature. She can't let herself off the hook. "My main reason for thinking it's abuse is because there's a five-year age gap," she says. "I should have known better."

"I should have known better." it's a thought that ricochets in parents' minds, too, after they discover one child has been abusing another. "I don't think people, one, think it's possible, and two, would even want to think it was possible," Kambouridis says. "I can't think of a worse position for a parent to be in. You've raised two kids in the same way, and one of them did this to the other? How did that happen?"

Often, parents respond with blanket denial or they downplay its severity. When Sofia emails Good Weekend , she says her story seems minor compared to other stories she's heard. "In the scheme of things, I'm not terribly damaged by it," she writes. When she later tells her story to me in person though, it's clear what happened to her in childhood still deeply affects her. "My cousin and my brother ..." she begins, then catches herself, gulping. "Sorry," she says, blinking tears. She tries to start again. Much of the pain Sofia now feels, she explains, is that her mother didn't believe that what her cousin and brother did was sexual abuse.

Sofia was seven when her mother, older brother and extended family all stayed together in a beach house one summer. A male cousin - five years her senior - and Sofia's brother told her they wanted to show her "what grown-ups did". They took her into a private room, started kissing her on the mouth, then undressed her and touched her with their genitals. Sofia had no vocabulary to express what was going on. "I was seven," she says. "I had no idea of sexuality." The incident repeated itself several times over the summer. School reports from before that summer described Sofia as outgoing, happy and confident. Afterwards, she was described as quiet, shy and not interacting so much with the class.

Some years later, while still in primary school, Sofia's friend Raelene confided to her that her father had sexually molested her. Horrified, Sofia told her mother, who responded by saying, "That can't be right. She must be lying. Kids lie." After counselling in her 20s, Sofia understood that what her brother and cousin did to her was sexual abuse, too. She rang her mother. All she wanted, looking back, was recognition and acknowledgement that it happened. "They were just experimenting," her mother said. "They didn't mean any harm." Just like that, the conversation was over. "I was extremely disappointed," Sofia says. (Later, when Sofia told an online friend that her brother had molested her, she went outside, bent over and nearly threw up.)

"How would anyone react?" Kambouridis says of parents being told of sibling sexual abuse. "There's clearly no kind of guidebook - not least because there's not a lot of awareness of this sort of stuff. I don't know that there could be anything more difficult than to open yourself up to that."

Jack was 21 when he realised he could kill his brother. Both Jack and Dennis had children by now. They were at their mother's place, horsing around with their kids under the garden hose, when Jack lifted Dennis right off the ground. For the first time, Jack realised he was now the stronger brother. It would take nothing, he thought, to smash open his brother's skull and spill his brains all over the cement. A quiet, tense moment of shared understanding passed between them as Jack put Dennis down. "It was a huge moment," Jack says now. "It made me think I wouldn't have any problems with this ever again, that I was finally strong enough to defend myself."

Still, Jack couldn't shake his bedtime ritual of thinking about all the times Dennis had raped him. "There was a voice in my head, saying to me, 'When are you going to do something about this?' ”Another voice would talk back, "I don't want to hurt my mother. I'll do it in 10 years' time, or 20 years' time." Decades passed. By the time Jack was 45, he was close to losing it. He'd developed intense anger-management problems and had volcanic road rage. His entire family noticed it. What they didn't know was that Jack was also regularly contemplating suicide. "It was like a monster," he says of his rage towards his brother. "It just got bigger and bigger and it was dominating my whole life." One day, he finally told his wife by saying, "You know I've never really liked my brother. Here's why." That first revelation was like a crack in the dam. From there, Jack told his adult sons and his GP, who referred him to a counsellor. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Against the advice of his counsellor, Jack decided to confront Dennis in person. When Dennis - now deeply Christian - admitted to the abuse and asked Jack to forgive him, Jack left feeling stronger and happier. "But it only lasted a few weeks," he says. "Then I started to think, 'Hang on, I let him get away with too much.'” In 2010 Jack spoke to police, who eventually arranged for him to wear a wire tap while talking to Dennis. That evidence propelled Dennis to plead guilty to three acts of buggery that had occurred in 1976. Sentenced to a year for each crime, to be served concurrently, Dennis is still in prison. Jack says he sleeps much better nowadays.

Carmen Burnet, however, has mixed feelings about taking Samuel to court. When she took him to trial in 1993, when she was 17, it was one of the ACT's first incest trials. "The catalyst for deciding to go to the police was that he was trying to get custody of his daughter, who by then was 2 1/2," she says. "I just thought, 'No, I've got to do something to protect her. I am not going to just stand by and let him potentially do the same thing to her.' I don't know that he would have, but the fact that he'd been so lacking in remorse or guilt or anything in relation to me made me feel pretty frightened."

Carmen describes the court experience as "nasty", adding that she wasn't allowed to give evidence via video link but instead was forced to give evidence in person, with dozens of journalists and complete strangers staring at her and listening to her testimony. Of the six charges - including carnal knowledge, sexual intercourse without consent, and acts of indecency - Samuel pleaded guilty to only one minor charge of "committing an act of indecency", and a jury found him not guilty of all the others. Samuel was given a good-behaviour bond and ordered to pay Carmen $500 in compensation.

"I felt [like] I hadn't been believed," Carmen says. "Of course, I knew rationally that there was always the risk of an acquittal, but I wanted to believe that if I did the hard thing - of going through the courts - that would be worth it. That people would see and understand and that he would get convicted. When that didn't happen, I was left with this huge void of disbelief. I hadn't prepared myself for that possibility at all. It was total shock. The only way I'd been able to go through with it was with the belief he'd be convicted."

Carmen says the one thing that made it worthwhile was that Samuel was prevented from gaining custody of his daughter. In the scheme of things, though, it was a small victory.

Carmen spoke to Good Weekend immediately after an appointment with her psychologist. Right now, Carmen has intensive psychotherapy three times a week to address the complex PTSD she developed as a result of her sexual abuse and the resulting court case. "That's been an ongoing thing that, periodically, totally disables me," she says, adding she has received the disability pension since 1998. "Most of the time I can function to some degree, but I haven't had the sort of stability that you'd need to be reliable for a job."

Two-and-a-half years ago, Carmen's PTSD got so bad that she started a new regimen of medication and underwent intensive psychotherapy three times a week. When asked how she is now, Carmen smiles a little. "I've only been in hospital twice in the last two-and-a-half years," she says, "so that's not too bad." Now, Carmen has non-existent or patchy relationships with her remaining siblings, though is close to some of her nieces and nephews. She has no contact with either parent. In all of this, though, she's also been able to find love: she's been married for the past four years.

But, she says, "It's always going to be an aspect about myself and about my past that I somehow have to navigate or deal with. It doesn't go away. It still really hurts to have had trust betrayed so badly ... by someone who was a brother. And to have not been safe and protected in a situation where that's what we should have had: safety and protection."

Living Well's Gary Foster says all those feelings sexual-abuse survivors experience - shame, confusion, self-blame - are only amplified when the abuser is a sibling. "Say there's an uncle who's 25 years older," he says. "There's the sense that, 'This was an abusive relationship and there's not much I can do.' Or if you're attacked out of the blue, it's like, 'What more could I have done?'"

Sibling-abuse victims, on the other hand, are often initially invited into the behaviour from someone with whom they already have an intimate bond. "It can mess with your mind so much more," says Foster. "Abuse might happen at night, yet they'll go down to breakfast and everybody's behaving normally. They go on holidays with the family [together]. In front of everybody, it's all fun. You become trained very quickly in pretending and covering this up, even though you've got this incredible emotional turmoil happening. It's hard enough for adults to get their heads around the issue. Imagine what it's like for a 10-year old."

For Sofia, her confusion over what her cousin and brother did to her was that it didn't fit the classic narrative of sexual abuse. But one thing that has changed since undergoing counselling as an adult is she no longer carries any shame over what her brother did. "I'm not ashamed for myself," she says. "But I'm ashamed I'm related to him."

* Except for Carmen Burnet, all names of victims, perpetrators and family members have been changed.
Lifeline 13 11 14; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.



The inner child still weeps

Accounts of sexual abuse at the Home for Colored Children echo with the sting of anguish

Tessie Brooks is 14.

She's just run away from home, and been lured into sleeping with an older man.

Soon, the authorities come calling and she lands in the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children on the outskirts of Dartmouth.

In the two years that follow, she'll become a “lover” of a worker there, having sex with him up to five times a week in the back of his car, or in the locked third-floor “sick room” at the home, or behind Graham Creighton Junior High School just down the road.

She'll be brought from the orphanage to his house and meet his girlfriend, his mother, his grandmother and his friends.

She'll be coached how to tell other staffers at the home that she's going to a friend's house or to see another worker at her place.

But really she's meeting the man, who is in his mid- to late 20s, to have sex.

She'll learn to lie for him, and for herself, and to pick on another girl who said he'd raped her.

And when the time comes, he'll drive her to the nearby gas station, where she'll just happen to run into her previous boyfriend, who has since become a pimp.

Not long after, at 16, she's told she has to leave the orphanage. With no skills or education, there's nowhere to go but back to the boyfriend, to work for him as a prostitute in Montreal.

Ten years pass. She runs drugs for dealers, and sells them. On the streets, she asks men if they want “some company.”

Her pimp butts out his cigarettes on her chest. In a small Montreal apartment, she watches as he takes a searing hot coat hanger to another one of his “girls,” and listens to her screams.

Now 45 and living in Ottawa, Brooks wonders how society can gasp at the thought of children being abused but fail to honour her story now that she's an adult — a story that is hauntingly similar to those told by scores of young people who have passed through the doors of the Dartmouth orphanage.

Brooks says she'll have no peace until someone believes her. She's been praying for a public inquiry so she and all the others who allege they've been assaulted at the home can have their say.

But that's not going to happen. The Nova Scotia government is instead forming an independent panel to look into the claims of former residents. The province recently appointed a social worker to come up with the terms of reference for the panel.

That's not what Brooks and other former residents have been fighting for, they say. They fear their stories of what happened to them won't ever make it into Nova Scotia's public fabric.

Brooks trusts few people and has been feeling tortured since learning that the RCMP decided not to charge the home staffer she claims destroyed her childhood. (The Mounties have said they didn't have enough evidence to lay charges in her case and more than 40 others involving alleged abuse at the home.)

“I'm mad at the home, I'm mad at Children's Aid,” she says of the organization that was supposed to help protect her.

Brooks is doing this interview at a Halifax hotel, having travelled here to tell her story. Her voice often trembles, and tears sporadically stream down her face.

She can't understand why other orphanage staffers who knew about her abuse — and she can name names — didn't tell the authorities.

And last year when it looked like the home worker who raped her might face criminal charges, he phoned her, threatening suicide.

His crimes had now somehow become her problem, Brooks remembers.

“He called me. He said he's choosing clothes for his funeral. I could hear the trembling in his voice. It's a tremble of guilt.”

Brooks says she struggles to be a good mother to her three children because she's had no role models.

“How the hell can I teach my children? My life is shattered,” she says.

“I want my kids to live a normal life. I want to be at the table with them and have ice cream.”

And when it looked like her story would finally come to light, she sat her teenagers down and told them the truth.

“My kids didn't want me to expose that I'd been a prostitute,” she says. “(But) they believe in me.”

And then it was time to tell her grandmother, who is in her 90s. It was a disturbing conversation, as Brooks had always been the sun in her grandmother's eyes.

Roselyn Borden thinks she knows why some people won't believe Brooks or other child survivors of sexual abuse.

“It doesn't surprise me at all,” says Borden, a counsellor at the Gatehouse, a Toronto non-profit for adult victims of child abuse.

Borden, too, suffered because no one would believe that her foster father had molested her.

“You can tell the world your story, and people just won't believe,” says Borden, a black woman originally from New Glasgow who was brought up in a white foster home in Peggys Cove.

She has worked at the Gatehouse on contract since November.

Borden says her foster mother didn't take her seriously when she revealed that her foster father had been raping her for five years, starting when she was about eight.

Both her foster parents are now dead.

“The ones close to you don't believe you,” she says during a telephone interview from Toronto. “I think that's their own guilt.

“As survivors, you look for belief from our families. You're not going to get that. In order for them to believe you, they're going to have to admit they did something wrong.”

Society appears more than willing to believe that a child relating such a story is telling the truth, Borden says.

“I think it's because adults think (adults) have had time to … make up stories. Kids can't make this up. There are certain things that they can't make up because of their innocence.”

Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse may have had their innocence torn from them, but they're still children underneath.

“They're robbed,” Borden says.

She tells those she counsels to write a letter to their “inner child.”

She was surprised at what she wrote herself, learning that her own childhood lay just beneath the surface.

“I could actually see my little … head, walking around happy,” she remembers, reflecting on days before she was abused.

“It's amazing that little child is still in there.”

But that's not what society sees when it hears adult survivors of childhood abuse reveal their truth, Borden says.

“That's why we need more awareness and education,” she says. “Back in the day, (abuse) was so hidden.” You're a “liar or a mental case” if you allege abuse.

“(Victims) need a voice. If they don't have that same voice that was taken from them as a kid, and it's been taken from them as an adult, they're not going to really heal.”

If no one listens, survivors question themselves, Borden says.

“They start thinking, was it a dream? That's when you have your mental health issues.”

Sybil Power is chairwoman of the Nova Scotia group Survivors of Abuse Recovering.

“There is a disconnect for society when they see an adult who is speaking of the abuse they suffered as a child,” Power says.

“Because what they see is the adult, not the child, in front of them.

“That makes it more difficult to access that compassion they might otherwise have if they were looking at a child.”

Power, whose group has been counselling adult victims of child abuse for 20 years and now helps 40 to 50 people a year, thinks the public doesn't want to address “the enormity of the issue.”

“If society were to have to process the scope of this epidemic, that (roughly) one in three girls and about one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18, then we would have to look at our neighbours, friends, organizations, and within our own homes, for the perpetrators.”

Research suggests that up to 60 per cent of victims repress or have a “delayed recall of abuse,” Power says.

Dr. Vicky Wolfe, psychologist in the child welfare mental health clinic at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, says that when children or adults finally tell their story, it can be very damaging if the people they confide in don't believe them.

“That belief is so important for children,” Wolfe says.

Often, they are already experiencing other problems as a result, and therefore their loved ones might be reticent to acknowledge it actually happened, she says.

“Perhaps when they tell when they're teenagers, they may have already started with some emotional reactions that are troublesome, and people might think this person is not trustworthy because they have a number of emotional problems,” she says.

“Sometimes in that situation, you will have people question (the victim).”

Wolfe says predators can be very convincing, so a parent or caregiver might have trouble believing a child or teenager's claims.

The perpetrator has usually taken his or her time “grooming” the child for future abuse, she says, so a parent only sees a caring coach, teacher, friend or relative who's just helping out.

The victim may then be seen as having a “character flaw,” says Power, who agrees with Wolfe.

With no support or acknowledgement, adult victims of child abuse almost always turn to self-medication to dull the pain, experts say.

They have trouble sustaining intimate and/or close relationships and turn to alcohol or substance abuse to quell their troubled minds and retreat, Power says.

They become drug addicts, alcoholics or, like Brooks, walk the streets because that's all they know.

The latter is the route Harriet Johnson took for a time, after being raped twice at the home by the same staffer who'd assaulted Brooks.

Johnson's allegations, contained in affidavits that are part of a proposed class action against the province that goes to court next month for certification, accuse that same staffer of luring her into prostitution for him.

She still shudders at the memory of her early days at the orphanage.

“I do go back to that child. I still shake, I'm scared,” she says in an interview from her home in Montreal.

“Harriet is that same scared little girl,” she says, reading from a letter she wrote to herself. “Harriet feels no one's going to believe her. Harriet is just one black child that lived in misery, filth and hell.”

Like Brooks, Johnson suffered when she learned that police wouldn't be laying charges of abuse against her attacker or other former staffers at the home.

Some forward steps were taken when the home settled its part of the class action with the former residents, but that's not enough, Brooks and Johnson contend.

They're seeking vindication in order to move on.

Some have tried reinventing themselves.

“I decided to change the spelling of my name, but I never, ever knew why until I was almost 40,” Borden says.

Formerly Rosalind, she became Roselyn.

“I started fresh with a new one, with a name for a child that wasn't abused,” she says. “To step away from that person … to a new person.”

Johnson's path is under construction, but her quest for people to believe her builds with every day.

The apparent lack of belief “makes us look like lying black children,” she says, adding that she has felt “useless” for most of her life because no one would take her stories seriously.

Her “inner child” is still suffering. “Harriet is only 44,” she says, again reading from her letter. “But Harriet is only eight. Harriet will never grow up.”

A fear that no one will ever believe them keeps many victims from ever telling their story, Borden says.

Statistics show that only about 30 per cent of abused children ever come forward, Wolfe says. But even that percentage is a vast improvement over the past, she says.

“Even today, with all the work that's been done, still kids don't disclose.”

And that means little chance of healing and moving on, Wolfe says.

Brooks, Borden and Johnson can attest to the fallout. Only now they're raising themselves up.

Johnson is still reeling from her past. Many days, the sorrow in her voice is marked, and she also took her pain out on herself. She once poured bleach in her bath to wash the “black” off her skin.

“That's how scarred I am,” she says.

Borden, now steaming ahead, still has flashbacks and trust issues. Helping others who've gone through similar troubles is cathartic, she says.

Brooks laments the loss of her childhood. She never got to further her education. Even today, she still struggles, having only recently attained papers to become a health-care worker.

“That's what upsets me the most,” she says, her voice quavering. “I know I could do much better.”

She is out to erase the “raw reality” of her former life.

Brooks hopes for a good future for that 14-year-old little girl she once knew — and atonement for her perceived sins.

“The road is so shattered.”


Dead Pa. baby's dad believes in 'divine healing'

A Pennsylvania couple who believe in faith healing have been charged with murder after a second of their children died.

by Maryclaire Dale

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — After their 2-year-old son died of untreated pneumonia in 2009, faith-healing advocates Herbert and Catherine Schaible promised a judge they would not let another sick child go without medical care.

But now they've lost an 8-month-old to what a prosecutor called "eerily similar" circumstances. And instead of another involuntary manslaughter charge, they're now charged with third-degree murder.

"We believe in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil's power," Herbert Schaible, 44, told Philadelphia homicide detectives after their ninth child, Brandon, died in April. Medicine, he said, "is against our religious beliefs."

The Schaibles were ordered held without bail Friday, two days after their arrest, although defense lawyers argued that they are neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.

"He is incarcerated because of his faith," said lawyer Bobby Hoof, who described client Herbert Schaible's mindset as resolute.

"He's strong willed," Hoof said. "(Yet) he's mourning this son. He's hurting as any dad would."

The only people theoretically at risk are the couple's seven surviving children, who are now in foster care, the lawyers said.

A judge acknowledged that the couple had never missed a court date in the first case but said he worried that might change amid the more serious charges. And he feared they may have supporters who would harbor them.

"Throughout this country … there are churches like the Schaibles' whose members and leaders probably don't think they did anything wrong and might be willing — to paraphrase the Schaibles' pastor — to put their interpretation of God's will above the law," Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said.

About a dozen children die each year in the U.S. when parents turn to faith healing instead of medicine, typically from highly treatable problems, said Shawn Francis Peters, a University of Wisconsin lecturer who has studied faith-healing deaths.

In Oregon, four couples from a faith-healing church have been prosecuted, the most recent in 2011 when a couple was sentenced to more than six years in prison for manslaughter in the death of their newborn son.

The state legislature that year removed faith healing as a defense to murder charges. Members of the Followers of Christ have consistently refused to speak with journalists.

Defense lawyer Mark Cogan declined to comment Friday on whether the legal actions have changed the practice of any church members. Some testified at the 2011 trial that they do get medical care.

At the Schaibles' sentencing in February 2011 in their son Kent's death, they agreed to follow terms of the 10-year probation, which included an order to get their children regular checkups and sick visits as needed. Catherine Schaible, 43, let her husband speak for her and never addressed the judge.

"It's very clear that the law says that religious freedom is trumped by the safety of a child," Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Engel Temin explained.

But a transcript of a later probation hearing that year shows probation officers were confused by their mandate to oversee the required medical care and felt powerless to carry it out. The family was not being monitored by child-welfare workers, who are more accustomed to dealing with medical compliance.

"I think that we all on the jury thought that it would not happen again, that whatever social and legal institutions needed to be involved in their situation would just take over … and that the mandated visits would be robust enough that they would not be able to do this again," Vincent Bertolini, a former college professor who served as jury foreman at the Schaibles' first trial, said Friday.

That jury convicted the couple of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

Like other cases Peters has studied, the Schaibles belong to a small, insular circle of believers. Both are third-generation members and former teachers at their fundamentalist Christian church, the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia.

Their pastor, Nelson Clark, has said the Schaibles lost their sons because of a "spiritual lack" in their lives and insisted they would not seek medical care even if another child appeared near death. He did not return phone messages this month, but he told The Associated Press in 2011 that his church is not a cult, and he faulted officials for trying to force his members into "the flawed medical system," which he blamed for 100,000 deaths a year.

"These are people who have been brought up in these communities; their beliefs are reinforced every day," Peters said. "They're not trained intellectually to question these doctrines, where the rest of us might engage in critical inquiry, weighing the benefits of medicine versus the benefits of prayer."

A handful of families, including one in western Pennsylvania, have lost two children after attempts at faith healing, according to Peters, who wrote "When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children and the Law."

Peters isn't sure that courts have the means to prevent the problem, since such people don't fear legal punishment, only Judgment Day. Some believe death "is a good outcome," given their belief in the afterlife, he said.

"They don't want to harm their children. They're just in this particularly narrow — and very, very dangerous — way misguided about the potential of medical science," he said.

He believes that "empathetic" intervention, through dialogue between church and public health educators, could help some "get to a point where they allow their beliefs and practices to evolve."

But there's a risk that could backfire, and drive these communities further underground, he said.

For the Schaibles, a third-degree murder conviction could bring seven to 14 years in prison or more.

Said Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore: "Somebody is dead now as a result of what they did — or didn't do."



Two Long Beach men arrested for felony sex trafficking

by Joe Segura

Lebrette Winn, left, and Eric Avery were arrested by the Long Beach Police Department as two suspects in human trafficking.

Two men held two women and a 16-year-old girl captive and forced them to work as prostitutes in Los Angeles and Orange counties until the adults escaped and sought refuge in Hawthorne, police said Friday.

The teenager was rescued in an Inglewood motel.

Lebrette Winn, 22, and Eric Avery, 24, both of Long Beach, were arrested May 16 at a traffic stop near The Pike at Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office this week filed nine felony counts against Winn, and two felony counts against Avery, police said. The charges include human trafficking, pimping, pandering, mayhem, kidnapping, and other sex-crime charges.

Winn and Avery are scheduled for a preliminary hearing June 4 in Long Beach Superior Court.

The investigation began shortly before midnight May 15 when Hawthorne police officers notified the Long Beach Police Department that two women had escaped from a suspect who had kidnapped them in Long Beach and was forcing them to perform acts of prostitution, Long Beach police Lt. Dan Pratt said.

The victims, one of whom was held for four months, had escaped their captor while in Culver City, and were able to make their way to Hawthorne, where they contacted authorities, police said. It is unclear whether the women were held by just one of the suspects or both.

While they were held, the women were forced to perform acts of prostitution throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties, and one of them was sexually assaulted by one of the suspects, police said.

The investigation took Long Beach police to Inglewood, where they located the 16-year-old victim at a motel, police said. It is unclear whether the younger victim was held with the other women or separately.

"We don't know how many other victims are out there," Pratt said Friday. "We just want to get the message out for any and all women to come forward so we can help them. "

State and county leaders have taken measures this year to crack down on sex trafficking, particularly in the South Bay-Long Beach area, where there have been a number of reported crimes. The county formed a sex-trafficking task force in November.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris described sex trafficking as one of the world's fastest growing enterprises. California is one of the nation's top four destination states for human trafficking, which is believed to be a $32-billion-a-year business.

Authorities earlier this month arrested a Long Beach man, Marquis Horn, 34, on a federal indictment that alleged he worked with another Long Beach man, Roshaun Nakia Porter, 37, to coerce women to work as prostitutes.

In this week's arrest, Long Beach police believe there are more victims. Police asked anyone who is or has been a victim of human trafficking to come forward by calling 562-570-7219. Any victim in need of assistance also is encouraged to contact detectives.



Most child sex offenders have multiple victims

by Margaret Bozik

An astounding 93 per cent of child sex offenders have more than one victim, while 23 per cent abuse 10 or more children, psychologist Sandra Ifrah told parents attending workshops on ‘Parenting Safe Children' held recently in Melbourne.

The workshops were run by Tzedek (Hebrew for Justice), Australia's only dedicated advocacy and support group for Jewish victims/survivors of child sexual abuse, in conjunction with CASA, Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault.

These statistics underscore the importance of reporting all cases of child sexual abuse to the police as abusers are extremely likely to repeat their crimes and/or to have abused other children in the past. “The seven per cent with only one victim is mainly because they got caught the first time,” Ms Ifrah said.

Studies have found that approximately one in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18, with a quarter of all victims aged under nine and 37 per cent aged 9-12. Eighty per cent of offenders are known to victims – a family member, family friend or other person of trust – and they are of all ages, academic levels and socio-economic statuses. Many are charismatic and seek out employment and activities that provide them with easy access to children, Ms Ifrah said. The over-whelming majority (98 per cent) are male but it is important to note that some abusers are female. Up to 50 per cent are minors, under the age of 18.

Ms Ifrah outlined the grooming process, a technique used by offenders to gain the child's – and often the child's family's – trust, and manipulate the child into accepting the abuse. She then discussed ways parents could help protect children from abuse by creating a safe and open environment where kids knew they could speak freely.

Talking about ‘body safety' (rather than sexual abuse), using the correct terminology for body parts and explaining the difference between ‘OK', ‘Not OK' and ‘Confusing' touching, does not sexualise or traumatise children, Ms Ifrah said. Children need to know that it is never OK to keep a secret about someone hurting them or another person, they can say ‘no' to touching that made them feel uncomfortable, they should trust their instincts and they will be believed and supported if they come to their parents with any concerns.

The value of teaching children about body safety was highlighted in a recent case where police found hundreds of diaries belonging to a paedophile teacher who documented his attempts to groom multiple children, Ms Ifrah said. Along with entries “Touched [child's name] hip and she did not flinch” and “Brushed hand across [child's name] bottom and she did not object” was an entry where a child resisted his attempts to tickle her, saying “I only allow members of my family to tickle me”. The paedophile recorded “Clearly [child's name] has been coached”, referring to the fact that the child had undergone some form of child sexual abuse preventative training.

“Without even realising it, with that one sentence that child had saved herself from being a victim,” Ms Ifrah said. Emphasising that sexual abuse was never the child's fault, Ms Ifrah noted that letting family, friends and other adults know you are teaching your child protective behaviours can in and of itself help protect your child from predators.

There was extensive discussion during and after the workshop by parents seeking advice for specific situations and several requests from participants for further workshops and sessions to be run at schools. Many participants also wanted information sheets and resources designed specifically for parents of children of different ages.

Tzedek Events Coordinator Lauren Gabriel said: “We were absolutely delighted with the quality of the presentations, the enthusiasm of participants and the clear desire of our community to learn more about this important issue. Many people, including myself, went home to start important conversations with our children. We received multiple calls from schools and community and youth groups wishing for the workshops to be run in house following excellent feedback from their parents. We plan to run additional workshops for those who weren't able to attend this one and design further workshops and educational programs for our schools and community.”

Register your interest in further workshops by emailing


Kids and Trauma: Maintaining a Watchful Calm After the Oklahoma Disaster

by Maggie Lee

Videos taken within flattened schools by survivors of this week's Oklahoma tornadoes show the damage through a simple lens. Children see things differently, say experts who add that ways to help them can range from turning off the TV to setting out crayons and paper, to watching for certain behavioral changes.

“You tend to see the stress they're under in their behavior rather than really what they say,” said Gale Hobson, speaking on the phone from Moore, Okla. She is a psychologist at the Mercy Clinic in Oklahoma City, which is providing emergency health care around the hardest-hit Oklahoma community.

She ticked off a list of symptoms that community-wide environmental trauma may cause in children: separation anxiety, irritability, fussiness, sleeplessness, falling grades, or fear of storms or going to school.

Her own grandson, Hobson said, had acted out with a tantrum when it was time to separate from his mom and go to daycare. Another grandson, she said, had asked if a tornado was going to destroy his house.

It can take time for symptoms to develop, she added. The signs are not necessarily immediate.

About 8 to 15 percent of individuals exposed to disaster on the scale of the Oklahoma storm will probably develop the kinds of psychiatric disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression that hinder their grades, social interactions and outlook, said Dr. Russell Jones , a professor of psychology at Virginia Tech University, who focuses on children, trauma and natural and technological disasters.

“We're pretty good at figuring out who will need help,” he said. One of the big predictors is the young person's proximity to the center of the disaster, what he or she saw, or if they were injured or knew anyone who was injured or killed. The other is a young person's psychiatric history before a tragedy, if there are prior stresses, like depression.

In mild cases, symptoms of stress, flashbacks, headaches and the like will disappear in days or weeks. Beyond a month of such suffering, Jones suggests seeing a counselor, clergy or other help, with the view of getting a referral to or screening by a psychological professional.

When children are in the room, it's important to turn off televisions showing nonstop disaster, said both Jones and Hobson. Both counseled that families stick to routines, reassure the children of their safety and pay attention and listen to children, something that can be especially hard when cleaning up a shattered town.

Cynthia Sandusky saw that in Vermont. After Hurricane Irene caused massive flooding and several deaths in August, 2011, some adults were so “naturally consumed” with the basic needs like food and shelter “that a lot of times how the family is feeling, there may not be room or time to address that,” she said.

Sandusky is a former practicing psychotherapist who now directs the Arts Bus Project from Randolph, Vt. The refitted school bus brings artists and art, theater, and music experiences to children in central Vermont's rural towns. It started running years before Irene, but the storm put the bus in a high gear.

“The arts can be a marvelous vehicle with which children and teens and adults can express those feelings that can be so difficult,” Sandusky said. For children especially, “it can be an easier task to put it in pictures.”

About a month after Irene, the bus came to Bethel, Vt., with paper, crayons, markers and an artist-mentor who invited children to write, draw, sculpt or dramatize what they felt. That and subsequent visits were not psychological therapy, Sandusky emphasized, it was offering children a chance to express their emotions.

Their fears can have more power than they need to have, “like the monster in the closet,” said Sandusky. For some, art is like shining a flashlight in the closet.

Scientists are starting to understand some of the neurobiological impacts that come with trauma.

Jones said studies of child sexual abuse already link that trauma to the survivor's hippocampus getting smaller. That part of the brain that governs learning. It's also bad for the amygdala, which normally helps control excitement and hyperactivity.

Trauma also hinders function of the immune system, endocrine system and the cardiovascular system, Jones said.

Nearly two years after Irene, just as this week's storms hit Oklahoma, an Arts Bus book about the trauma project went through its first print run. “Children, Trauma and the Arts” collects young peoples' drawings and writings from Vermont, as well as articles from medical and psychological experts.

After the storm, said Sandusky, people always wanted to know what they could do to help. Offer an ear to listen to children, she said. And maybe get out the crayons and glue.


Give Me Strength to Endure Anxiety of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That's 223.4 million people that are suffering.

Durham, NC, May 24, 2013 -- A new book has just been released that will help these millions of PTSD suffers. "Gabriel's Tears" by Nedra Kiper was written in a way that will give relief to anyone suffering.

Nedra endured extreme abuse starting in childhood. In her late teens she developed severe post traumatic disorder with deep depression and anxiety. As she worked through the abuse issues she faced all the common problems with healing as all sufferers of ptsd. In the end she did recover and is now wanting to share the secrets of survival to as many people as possible. Her story is found exclusively in the book "Gabriel's Tears."

Along with the new book, Gabriel's Compassion is pleased to announce a new website that is designed as a safe haven for survivors of child abuse and rape. All that are wanting to heal from their own abuse issues are welcome to come and share your stories of survival. The author of Gabriel's Tears (Nedra Kiper) will also be available to answer any questions you may have on healing abuse issues.

So come join them at and let your own healing process take the leap into complete healing. Limited “signed by the author” copies of Gabriel's Tears are now available exclusively at Gabriel's Compassion.

About Nedra Kiper

Nedra Kiper born on public assistance and suffered extreme child abuse. In her early 20's she was declared mentally retarded and placed on mental disability. In her 30's, against all odds she went to college and became a successful programmer analyst for 14 years. Now working undependably at helping inspire others to grow as she has grown.

Media Samples

Media samples are available upon request.

For more information contact: Nedra Kiper, email:, phone: 605 / 413-1107

“Gabriel‘s Tears” is now avalable from the publisher at,,, and through additional wholesale and retail channels worldwide.

Title: Gabriel's Tears
Author: Nedra Kiper
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 9781300818311
Publication Date: March 8, 2013
Pages: 313

Contact Information
Gabriels Compassion
Nedra KIper
605 / 413-1107



State's Attorney's Office talks to community about child abuse prevention

by Brett Lake

The Carroll County State's Attorney's Office held a forum Thursday to help educate parents on how to protect their children from sexual predators, and its message was clear: Talk.

Talking to their children is the most vital thing parents can do in preventing their children from becoming victims of sexual abuse, according to Senior Assistant State's Attorney Amanda Costley.

Around 100 people attended the event held at Carroll Community College in Westminster.

Costley, a child abuse prosecutor, said the topic of sexual predators is not an easy one, but it is one all parents should learn about.

“I think one of the biggest things that parents should know is that abuse can happen to anyone,” Costley said. “It's not limited to a certain type of person. The offenders cannot be stereotyped, nor can the victims. It truly can happen to anyone.”

In about 93 percent of cases, the sexual offender is someone the child knows. About 47 percent of offenders are family members, according to Costley.

Parents should talk openly and often to their children, Costley said, and know about their lives.

In 2012, the Carroll County Advocacy and Investigation Center conducted 1,570 interviews, identified 727 potential victims and investigated 181 cases, according to statistics provided by the state's attorney's office.

Krystal Gagliardi drove from Annapolis to attend the presentation.

Gagliardi, a mother of two, said it's an important topic to learn more about.

“Anytime you have small children you're dealing with sexual predators, you want to know how to handle it and how to talk to your kids,” Gagliardi said.

The event was part of National Missing Children's Day, May 25, and the Take 25 campaign, which encourages parents to talk to their children for 25 minutes about safety and ways to prevent abduction.

The presentation included information on how sexual offenders typically operate, what to look out for, the dangers parents need to be aware of and the tools and resources in the community.

Laura Waltrup, of Manchester, said she was curious about the event and decided to attend.

“People don't talk about it,” Waltrup said. “So because of that I felt like it was my responsibility to know more about it, if not for my own children but for anyone really.”

Waltrup said she learned some valuable tools and realized she needed to broach the topic more often.

“I need to have a lot more of a discussion with [my kids],” she said.



Serial sexual abuse

Why was a child victim left so exposed to risk?

The criminal justice system is human -- which is to say it is fallible, sometimes to a mystifying degree.

Certainly it seemed so in a 1980s child sex abuse case, written about in the Herald-Tribune this week.

The report concerned a girl who, at the age of 6 in 1989, revealed that a man had been sexually abusing her. Law enforcement investigated back then. The suspect -- distraught -- admitted to one incident. Instead of going to trial he pleaded no contest. He was sentenced to two years of house arrest, mental health treatment and eight years of probation, according to a 1989 article in the Herald-Tribune.

But the story does not end there. As detailed by reporter Shannon McFarland, the victim, now grown, recently revealed that the abuse continued, secretly.

These new allegations of past abuse sparked a fresh round of investigation, resulting in the arrest of the man -- Jerald Williams -- this month.

The crime may have happened decades ago, but it still scars the conscience that a child apparently wasn't protected from her known abuser.

We hope laws, toughened since the 1980s, save other children from this kind of suffering. But because sex abuse is shrouded in shame and secrecy, detection remains difficult.

The Williams case raises questions as to why the victim had been left so exposed to risk, despite being on the radar of a system that was supposed to keep her safe. That network is comprised of more than law enforcement and child protection teams; it encompasses parents, church, courts and community, too. All have roles and responsibilities on this issue.

To be sure, there is some evidence in the Williams case of people trying to do the right thing amid the tumult of conflicting needs and unsatisfactory options. With 20/20 hindsight, we must acknowledge that child welfare decisions are among the very hardest to make.

Still, an accounting is needed, to understand the "why" and perhaps learn from the past. It may also present an opportunity to chip away at the wall of secrecy that too often allows abuse to be perpetuated.

It took courage for a young woman to endure the memory of abuse and to step forward -- a second time, years later -- to bring it to light. Her brave example can inspire others who have suffered in silence -- and serve as a profound admonition to a community that could have done more to help her.



Personal Counseling Service officially opens annex building

Counseling facility provided services to 7,755 individuals last year


CLARKSVILLE — Eight years ago, Personal Counseling Service in Clarksville provided services to 734 people. Last year, that number grew to 7,755.

While the need for mental health services has grown tremendously, the Personal Counseling Service facility has not.

“We are just out of space,” said Doug Drake, PCS president and CEO. “I have to share my office with two therapists two days a week.”

But that will no longer be a problem — at least not in the immediate future. On Tuesday afternoon, PCS held an official-ribbon cutting event to open an annex building which sits on the same property at 1205 Applegate Lane. The annex, which was in shambles prior to being renovated, will allow PCS to provide another 42 families a week with services.

“So the community wins and we win,” Drake said.

The annex space includes an additional play therapy room and space for a parent-child interaction group and adult survivor group for abused women.

“They do important work for not only Clark County but for Southern Indiana and the entire region,” said State Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, who attended the ribbon-cutting and open house celebration with 1si President and CEO Wendy Dant Chesser and several 1si ambassadors. “They provide services where there is not enough supply. I think we need more discussion about mental health issues.”

Following the ribbon-cutting, guests toured both PCS buildings and had the opportunity to talk to employees and clinicians about the type of therapy available.

Drake said the annex was made possible thanks to an $86,000 grant from the Paul Ogle Foundation and a matching $40,000 from the community and board members. The annex was a former small farmhouse prior to renovation.

The event also kicked off PCS' year-long theme of “Celebrating the Commitment” to helping individuals and families achieve a well-balanced mind, body and spirit. It will culminate with the fifth-annual Norman Melhiser Samaritan Awards Dinner on Sept. 26.

“Clarksville loves new business and businesses that want to expand,” said Clarksville Town Council President Bob Polston. “The citizens of Clarksville benefit from the services you can get here.”

PCS has been in existence since 1959 and has provided more than 530,000 hours of counseling and psychiatric services. Drake, who has been CEO of PCS since 2005, said 61 percent of the clients are children and youth, and 47 percent are at or below federal poverty guidelines.

For more information about PCS or for tickets to the awards dinner, call 812-283-8383.


These Wounds Must See Light

by Ellen Magnis -- Chief of External Affairs, Dallas Children's Advocacy Center

We spent all of April, National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, making a rallying cry to pay attention to our cause and to take some time to understand a very challenging topic that many of us know intimately. I've said it before: I consider myself lucky. My life could have turned out very differently had I not taken my own childhood wounds into the light as a young adult.

According to a national survey of adolescents, 73 percent of child sexual abuse victims do not tell anyone about their abuse for at least a year and 45 percent of victims do not tell anyone for at least five years. Some never disclose. That means that among us, each and every day, there are children and youth who are suffering, carrying an unbelievable burden and all the while perhaps sending us subtle clues of their shame. While exact numbers are hard to come by, more than 40 million adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are also in our midst.

We can easily conjure up compassion for very young children who have been raped or molested. The very thought is frightful and we know these young children are blameless victims. Every day I see people deeply moved and transformed to take action because of the heartbreaking stories of 9 and 10-year-olds cared for in our children's advocacy center.

I have seen, however, some on juries lose that compassionate response if the victims are teens -- their innocence somehow doubted, especially if their behavior or appearance is in any way suggestive of "troubled youth." And compassion is almost non-existent if these victims transition into self-destruction or acting out.

Teens exposed to sexual abuse, for instance, have higher rates of teen pregnancy, are more likely to have intercourse by the age of 15, are less likely to use condoms and are more likely to have multiple sexual partners. When it comes to the issue of prostitution, 85 percent of those who were prostituted reported a history of sexual abuse in childhood; 70 percent reported incest. High rates of depression, alcohol and drug abuse are noted in the literature for those victimized by childhood sexual abuse. The Adverse Childhood Event database has spawned numerous scholarly articles that reflect the poor health outcomes of those who have not found their path to healing, including a higher than average prevalence of future intimate partner violence.

My experience is that we either quietly or overtly blame those who are promiscuous, who become pregnant as teens, that we show little compassion for those who have become prostituted, who suffer from depression, who abuse drugs or alcohol or who find themselves in the hopelessness of a violent household. Don't we personally indict those who suffer in these ways just a little -- thinking they are somehow different from us?

I visited some female inmates in our county jail around the holidays and was vividly reminded that unhealed wounds can lead us so far from who we truly are. Desperation and longing for love and acceptance can accelerate poor decisions that spiral us further and further into darkness. Those women behind bars were actually just like me, only I found my way earlier on, and they had not yet exposed their pain to the light.

Why do some survive and even thrive and others succumb to despair? Protective factors in childhood can be important. Early on, I knew the deep, abiding love of grandparents and the support of cherished teachers. I was also fortunate to have strong coping skills -- a vivid imagination, a love of reading, music and poetry.

In order to heal, those with child sexual histories must redefine their experiences. They must be supported through a grieving of all that was lost, as well as grieving and owning and forgiving the decisions they made because of their unhealed wounds.

Not every person can be saved, but we have to try. The earlier in the process we can begin to shift a victimized child's trajectory from despair to hope, the sooner the wounds can begin to heal. During April, our call to action was for adults who care about children to Stand Up: to pay attention, to learn more, to recognize and report, so that more children can be saved.

I believe every month should be a month to pay attention to what is happening to our children, and I believe that any day can be the day to begin or continue to heal. I want to make a special plea to the tens of millions of adult survivors who I consider my brothers and sisters. Consider today as a call to healing, the day you bring your wounds into the light, if only to one other person. Share your story. Call a therapist who specializes in working with adults who have histories of childhood trauma. And if only for a moment today, at least consider that you are whole, that you are inherently good, and that you can heal.

Ellen Magnis is chief of external affairs at the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center in Dallas, Texas, and an OpEd Project Public Voices fellow at Texas Woman's University.


Erin's Law: Teaching Arkansas Kids It's OK to Report Abuse

Public News Service

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The task force being created under Arkansas' new "Erin's Law" is expected to be assembled soon and convene for the first time this summer.

State Rep. John Baine, D-El Dorado, said the panel will look at the best ways to teach children who are being sexually abused that they need to tell a trusted adult - such as a nurse, guidance counselor or educator.

"If something is being done to them, I want them to raise their hand and tell their teacher," Baine said. "That's basically our bottom-line goal, and that way, mandated reporters under Arkansas law will immediately contact the authorities per the protocols in every school district."

In addition to explaining to children how to speak up, the law also aims to teach the teachers what to look for, according to its namesake, Erin Merryn.

"Teaching the educators what they need to be trained on," she said. "Looking for warning signs. How to respond when a kid reports this. Looking for the red flags in a kid that's showing the signs of abuse."

Merryn has been trying to bring the law nationwide after she and her sister suffered sexual abuse as children - and, as with a majority of victims, it was by someone they knew and trusted.

"It wasn't by the 'stranger danger' we were warned about every year in school," she said. "We knew not to go look for a lost puppy, but when a family member was abusing both of us, the only message we got came from the perpetrator: 'This is our secret. No one will believe you. Stay silent.' And that's what most kids get."

Among the places where victims can turn are the 13 Children's Advocacy Centers across Arkansas. Last year alone, they interviewed nearly 3,700 children who were victims of abuse, neglect and maltreatment.

After the task force has identified any shortcomings and reviewed which age-based curriculum is the most effective, implementation will follow - either through the state Department of Education or with proposals in the 2015 Legislature.

Arkansas is the seventh state to adopt Erin's Law.

The bill's text is online at

More information on Merryn and Erin's Law is at


Teens More Likely to be Perpetrators and Victims of Dating Violence

by Jessica R. Kendall

Erin was 14 when she started to date her first boyfriend. “At first, it was exciting and new,” she said. But things started to change quickly.

“I didn't realize that his punching holes in the walls or yelling and cursing at me, wasn't normal,” said the now 33 year old who asked that her real name not be used.

Erin's experience, though nearly two decades past, isn't that different from a significant number of young people today.

A recent study from the Journal of Adolescent Health found that some 30 percent of teens have been involved in verbal abuse, such as swearing or calling each other names, said Ashley Brooks-Russell, Ph.D., M.P.H, of the Prevention Research Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development, one of the study's authors. Another 5 percent have been involved in some form of physical violence with a partner, she added. This group, whether they are the perpetrator or victim, are more likely to be depressed, use illegal substances or experience physical signs of stress or depression, such as head, stomach or backaches, she said.

Females between the ages of 16 and 24 experience partner abuse more than any other group, said Andrew Sta. Ana, supervising attorney at Day One, a New York-based organization that works with adolescent dating violence survivors. And several past studies have found similarly high rates of abuse, with as many as one third of young people experiencing psychological abuse and one in ten having been the victim of physical violence.

“People think about teen dating violence the same way they think about adult dating violence,” said Russell. “But, in adolescence the pattern is very different and young women perpetrate as often as young men,” she added.

The study, which was published on-line in April, is the largest nationally representative sample to look at both victimization and perpetration of dating violence, said Russell. More than 2,200 10th grade students completed assessments of physical and verbal dating violence, as well as depressive symptoms, physical health complaints, and substance use.

In later adolescence, said Russell, the literature shows that dating violence declines as young people mature. However, being in an abusive relationship as a teen “is a risk factor for adult dating violence” and later in life, the abuse can become more serious, she warned.

Being a perpetrator or victim of dating violence does not mean a teen will become a victim or abuser later in life, though, said Sta. Ana. “Given the right information and space, teens can make other choices in their relationships,” he said. They are just beginning to make their way in the world, have a sense for consequences, boundaries and figuring out their sexuality, he explained.

Youth service professionals working with young people who may be involved in abusive relationships shouldn't be afraid to have the hard conversations, said Sta. Ana, but must be well prepared to have them.

The professional should create a space for the teen to be comfortable, talk to the young person about his or her options, be non-judgmental, but also cognizant of his or her own limitations in talking about sensitive, personal topics, said Sta. Ana. Being familiar with the young person's day-to-day life, the role technology plays in adolescent relationships and common adolescent relationship ‘lingo' are also keys to successfully broaching these topics, he said.

“It's no longer as simple as this person is the victim and this person is the perpetrator,” said Russell. And in some instances, professionals working with a teen may also need to offer both victim and perpetrator services, she explained.

Erin and her boyfriend were together for four years — for her entire high school experience. It's only as an adult, she said, that she has finally realized how unhealthy the relationship was.

With the benefit of knowledge and hindsight, she noted, “I wish I had ended it sooner.”


Protecting our children: Investigating child abuse in Idaho

by Karen Zatkulak

BOISE -- Every two hours a child in Idaho is abused.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare tells KTVB in 2012, they received nearly 8,000 calls of abuse or neglect.

Unfortunately, some of those calls ended in a child's death.

In three of those cases, authorities were aware of a history of abuse, and the child's life was still taken.


In 2009, 8-year-old Robert Manwill's body was found in a Boise area canal. His mother's boyfriend had beaten him.

Caseworkers had been inside the same home checking on the safety of another child just a month before.

In 2012, 2-year-old Nakita's body was burned in a barrel outside her home after her mother, Veronica Herrera beat and tortured her.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare monitored Nakita from birth because of her mother's substance abuse, but closed their case a year before her murder.

Then in March of 2013, authorities tell us 1-year-old Joseph suffered deadly traumatic injuries inside his Mountain Home apartment.

His stepfather, Airman Richard Laubach, is now charged with his murder.


David Ray lived next door to the Laubach family and says it was common for violence to erupt inside the home.

"There was a lot of abusive conversation going on between the two, most of it involved him yelling at her," said Ray.

Authorities responded to a report of abuse at the home six months before Joseph's death.

The incident led to a battery charge involving Laubach's wife, and an injury to child charge involving Joseph.

However, both charges were dismissed.

In exchange, Laubach was ordered to attend anger management and parenting classes.

We contacted both Mountain Home Police and the prosecutor in the case, but neither would comment.

Ray said classes weren't enough. "This guy, he needed professional help. You say he had anger management class, but I don't think that quite covered it all said and done. You have little kids involved, obviously they should have been removed from the home."

He says he's shocked that more wasn't done to protect the child who couldn't protect himself.

"I think somebody did drop the ball if not somebodies," said Ray.

We took that concern to the Department of Health and Welfare, who released new information to us about their involvement in the case assisting with the Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program.

They tell us they assisted the Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program.

The caseworker reported that Laubach's wife had moved out and said she wouldn't return.

So the case was closed.

"Based on their assessment and their discussion with both parents and collateral contacts, people that were involved with the family, it was determined that there was no imminent safety issue and the case was closed, said Amanda Pena, with Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

But Laubach's wife and child did return and by March, Joseph was dead.

We asked Pena if more could have been done in this case.

"I think absent, being intimately involved. Again, the information I have is the same information you have regarding this specific case. So I don't know that I can give you an accurate answer to that," said Pena.


We wanted to take a closer look at the child welfare process in Idaho, and went to the person who sees severe abuse firsthand. The medical director with St. Luke's Children at Risk Evaluation Services, Dr. Paul McPherson is Idaho's only child abuse pediatrician.

Dr. McPherson reports suspected abuse to the Department of Health and Welfare and says it's difficult to see the cases where abuse was noticed, but not stopped.

"It's always hard to hear that, because I just want to say, we could have prevented this worse injury, what can we do as a community to help prevent it," said Dr. McPherson.

Ron and Barbara are volunteers with CASA guardians.

They're caseworkers who investigate alongside the Department of Health of Welfare.

"We go to the homes, we go to the schools, we attend after school functions with the children. We try to develop relationships with the kids where they will trust us," said Ron.

Ron says their goal is finding the safest place for each child.

"These children, they don't have a choice, they're being neglected, they're being abused, they didn't ask to be where they are, they need help," said Ron.

He tells us the biggest problem is a big need for money and resources.

"The organizations that are trying to help them badly need funding," said Ron.

Roger Sherman with Idaho Children's Trust Fund says there is minimal state funding to address the problem, in fact the second lowest amount in the country.

"There are states that are spending a great deal more money, people have very strong home visiting programs for example that they're funding with state dollars, they are using their dollars for parenting classes," said Sherman.

In 2010, Child Trends reports Idaho spent nearly $22 million to address the problem.

In comparison, smaller neighboring states like Montana and Wyoming spent more on child abuse prevention.

In 2010, Montana spent $35,219,556, while Wyoming spent $36,748,995.

Sherman says a lack of funds means a lack of family resource centers, crisis nurseries, and in home help for struggling parents.

"We have not appropriated enough money to do the kind of job that I think that all of us would want to do, when it comes to protecting our children," said Idaho Rep. Grant Burgoyne of Ada County.


Burgoyne admits it's something Idaho has struggled with for decades.

"I think there is a feeling in Idaho that we don't want government sticking its nose in the business of families," said Burgoyne.

Burgoyne says the answer is not just more funding, but more accountability, and says he's pushing what many other states already have, a child death registry to investigate each young tragedy.

"When a child dies as the result of abuse, it's not only a tragedy, it's a failing on the part of our state and our community," said Burgoyne.

As for Joseph's death, it has sparked an internal review of the Department of Health and Welfare's policies.

As many agencies look for ways to help save young lives, Idaho was the last state to get a child fatality review team.

The executive order to create one just passed last year, and the team has recently been trained.

They will look at a child death after the criminal case is complete to look for trends and ways to prevent the deaths.


United Kingdom

Rise in reports of children sexually abusing children

by Sima Kotecha

A growing number of children are being sexually abused by other children, say charities.

They say their helplines have seen a big increase in calls from young people who are being abused.

Freedom of information figures obtained by the NSPCC say more than 5,000 children were reported to police in England and Wales as abusers over the last three years.

Almost all of those accused of the abuse of other children were boys.

Some of those reported were as young as five. More than half of the offences were classified as serious and included rape.

The NSPCC and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation say it is a growing problem.

They think that it is partly because of access to online porn becoming easier, with more children owning devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Jenni says her nine-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a boy of the same age.

She does not want to use her surname because she does not want her child to be identified.

"He aggressively rubbed himself up against her, getting very excited, and telling her what he wanted to do to her in a very graphic way.

"He had his hands around her neck."

'Horrific' images

Jenni is convinced the boy was influenced by images he saw online.

"He told her to go home and look at porn sites and then copy what she saw on him," she said.

"I looked at some of the sites and I couldn't bear it. I walked away in disgust, it was just too much.

"The images were absolutely horrific."

Charities believe indecent online material is making young people think that is how they should behave.

Warning signs

The four main internet providers have told the government they plan to put safety filters in homes with children by the end of the year.

Experts say they do not really work because many young people know how to get round them.

A recent government report on young sexual offenders said parents, teachers and social workers often missed warning signs in children who might sexually abuse.

Campaigners say there needs to be more investment in training staff so that they're able to detect problems early on.

The charities believe blocking porn sites is a start but it is not necessarily the solution.

They think teachers and parents should talk about the damaging effects porn could have on children in an open way.

"He took my daughter's innocence away," said Jenni. "It's just shocking what he did at such a young age."

Anybody worried about a child or in need of help and advice can contact the NSPCC's helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Children and young people can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111.

Relationship of offender to victim (2011/12)

•  18% family member (347)

•  40% family friend/acquaintance (782)

•  3% partner (69)

•  14% stranger (286)

•  25% unrecorded (494)


USC handling of rape allegations targeted by Allred

Associated Press

NEW YORK - Women's-rights attorney Gloria Allred says federal complaints have been filed against four U.S. colleges over how the colleges handle rape allegations.

Allred joined students from the colleges at a New York City news conference to announce the filing of complaints against Swarthmore College, Dartmouth College, the University of Southern California and the University of California at Berkeley.

She said some of the complaints filed Wednesday were Title IX complaints alleging a hostile environment for women. Other complaints charged the colleges with violating the federal Clery Act, which requires accurate reporting of campus crimes.

Complaints were filed earlier against Occidental College in southern California and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Representatives for Dartmouth, Swarthmore, USC and UC Berkeley did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.


Peeping Sergeant 1st Class (First Class, Indeed)

by Mark Thompson

Last week, the Army removed Sergeant First Class Michael McClendon from his assignment at the U.S. Military Academy for allegedly videoing female cadets at West Point, sometimes while showering.

The Army apparently only owned up to this latest sexual embarrassment Wednesday when Thom Shanker of the New York Times heard about it, and went to the Army to confirm it.

McClendon, a combat engineer who has served since 1990, is charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with indecent acts, dereliction in the performance of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, and actions prejudicial to good order and discipline.

He served at West Point from July 2009 until last week, and “is involved in an on-going investigation for possession of inappropriate images taken without consent,” the Army said. “The Criminal Investigation Division of the United States Army is contacting individuals who may have information relevant to the allegations in this case, as well as notifying everyone involved.” He videoed at least a dozen female cadets without their knowledge.

At West Point, McClendon served as a tactical noncommissioned officer, where he was responsible for the health and welfare of a 125-strong cadet company. Such an NCO is supposed to “assist each cadet in balancing and integrating the requirements of physical, military, academic and moral-ethical programs,” the West Point website says.

McClendon, from Blakely, Ga., is highly-decorated soldiers, having earned the Combat Action Badge, the Bronze Star Medal, four Iraqi Campaign Medals, nine Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, the NATO medal, a pair of National Defense Service Medals, a Joint Meritorious Unit Award, a Valorous Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, three Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, four Southwest Asia Service Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, three NCO Professional Development Ribbons, an Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, an Air Assault Badge, and the Sapper Tab.

He obviously can follow orders, and knows how to be a soldier.

Too bad he apparently missed all the sexual-harassment training.

He also earned the Army's Good Conduct Medal. Seven times.


New Jersey

Sexual abuse survivors to host public forum


A local women's support group has initiated a community outreach effort to build awareness about the effects of childhood sexual abuse.

The goals of the Women Survivors of Sexual Abuse support group are to educate people in recognizing the signs of sexual abuse that children may experience and to minimize the damage sexual abuse can cause people over their lifetime, according to Anitra Puntolillo, a licensed professional counselor who co-facilitates the group with Pat Ervin, a licensed social worker.

According to Puntolillo, the group supports women who want to heal from a past plagued with sexual abuse. The group members have come together as advocates to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse.

The support group will sponsor an event to raise awareness of the issue 7-8:30 p.m. May 29 at the Manasquan Methodist Church, 23 Church St., (corner of Church and South streets), Manasquan. The forum is free and open to parents, teachers, Scout leaders, caretakers, victims/survivors and the community to learn about the impact of child sexual abuse and its repercussions, according to Puntolillo.

Residents of all communities are welcome to attend.

Puntolillo said the forum will guide parents in learning how to speak to their children, identify behaviors typical of a victim, and provide advice on how to get help. Several adult survivors of child sexual abuse will share their stories and answer questions.

“We have all heard stories in the news of scandals involving a coach, a religious leader, a teacher or other person in authority who is accused of sexually abusing a child or children,” Puntolillo said. “We see this and may think of these abuses as exceptions to the rule or of happening to someone else's child. Harder to imagine is sexual abuse to a child we know. Harder still is hearing that the perpetrator is the child's parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, sibling, neighbor, playmate, family friend, date, baby-sitter or any other trusted person. What will you do? What are the long-term effects of sexual abuse?”

Ervin said Jo Pohl, a member of the group, encouraged the organization to take its message to the community at large.

“Helping other survivors of childhood sexual abuse is part of their healing process as well,” said Ervin, whose son was a victim of childhood sexual abuse when he was 3 years old.

“It happened in my home, and I had to deal with the guilt of that. It is not only the child who goes through emotional turmoil, but the child's family as well,” she said.

Pohl is an adult who suffered childhood sexual abuse and spent years not dealing with the emotional aspects of the abuse. She said she began to deal with the issue about a year ago.

She stressed the importance of getting children who have been sexually abused some help right away and not letting them bring the abuse into adulthood.

“Getting support will not eliminate the effects of the abuse but may diminish its effects,” Pohl said. “Children need to be helped to feel safe and supported again. Once you are violated like that, you never know who to trust and you carry that around with you until it is addressed.”

Women interested in finding out more about the support group may contact Pat Ervin at 732-528-7535, or Anitra Puntolillo at



Lessons in Preventing Child Sex Abuse

by Margaret Bozik

An astounding 93 per cent of child sex offenders have more than one victim, while 23 per cent abuse 10 or more children, psychologist Sandra Ifrah told parents attending workshops on ‘Parenting Safe Children' held in Melbourne on Sunday, 19 May.

The workshops were run by Tzedek (Hebrew for Justice), Australia's only dedicated advocacy and support group for Jewish victims/survivors of child sexual abuse, in conjunction with CASA, Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault.

These statistics underscore the importance of reporting all cases of child sexual abuse to the police as abusers are extremely likely to repeat their crimes and/or to have abused other children in the past. “The seven per cent with only one victim is mainly because they got caught the first time,” Ms Ifrah said.

Studies have found that approximately one in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18, with a quarter of all victims aged under nine and 37 per cent aged 9-12. Eighty per cent of offenders are known to victims – a family member, family friend or other person of trust – and they are of all ages, academic levels and socio-economic statuses. Many are charismatic and seek out employment and activities that provide them with easy access to children, Ms Ifrah said. The over-whelming majority (98 per cent) are male but it is important to note that some abusers are female. Up to 50 per cent are minors, under the age of 18.

Ms Ifrah outlined the grooming process, a technique used by offenders to gain the child's – and often the child's family's – trust, and manipulate the child into accepting the abuse. She then discussed ways parents could help protect children from abuse by creating a safe and open environment where kids knew they could speak freely.

Talking about ‘body safety' (rather than sexual abuse), using the correct terminology for body parts and explaining the difference between ‘OK', ‘Not OK' and ‘Confusing' touching, does not sexualise or traumatise children, Ms Ifrah said. Children need to know that it is never OK to keep a secret about someone hurting them or another person, they can say ‘no' to touching that made them feel uncomfortable, they should trust their instincts and they will be believed and supported if they come to their parents with any concerns.

The value of teaching children about body safety was highlighted in a recent case where police found hundreds of diaries belonging to a paedophile teacher who documented his attempts to groom multiple children, Ms Ifrah said. Along with entries “Touched [child's name] hip and she did not flinch” and “Brushed hand across [child's name] bottom and she did not object” was an entry where a child resisted his attempts to tickle her, saying “I only allow members of my family to tickle me”. The paedophile recorded “Clearly [child's name] has been coached”, referring to the fact that the child had undergone some form of child sexual abuse preventative training.

“Without even realising it, with that one sentence that child had saved herself from being a victim,” Ms Ifrah said. Emphasising that sexual abuse was never the child's fault, Ms Ifrah noted that letting family, friends and other adults know you are teaching your child protective behaviours can in and of itself help protect your child from predators.

There was extensive discussion during and after the workshop by parents seeking advice for specific situations and several requests from participants for further workshops and sessions to be run at schools. Many participants also wanted information sheets and resources designed specifically for parents of children of different ages.

Tzedek Events Coordinator Lauren Gabriel said: “We were absolutely delighted with the quality of the presentations, the enthusiasm of participants and the clear desire of our community to learn more about this important issue. Many people, including myself, went home to start important conversations with our children. We received multiple calls from schools and community and youth groups wishing for the workshops to be run in house following excellent feedback from their parents. We plan to run additional workshops for those who weren't able to attend this one and design further workshops and educational programs for our schools and community.”

Register your interest in further workshops by emailing: events AT tzedek DOT org DOT au
For support or advice, please visit the Tzedek website.

Margaret Bozik is a freelance journalist and Tzedek's Head of Communications



Senate considering legislation to make lies about age on children's internet chat rooms an offence

by Natasha Bita

ADULTS who lie about their age to children on social media or in internet chat rooms in order to meet them risk jail, under draft legislation before federal parliament.

A Senate committee is considering legislation that would make it a crime for adults to lie about their age to children online, with the intention of meeting them.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has drafted "Carly's Law", named after a 15-year-old Adelaide girl who was murdered in 2007 by a 50-year-old man who had posed as a young musician online.

He said existing laws required prosecutors to prove that adults who groomed children online had a "sexual purpose".

"If you are lying about your age to a child and you want to meet them, that needs to be an offence," Senator Xenophon said.

"Police now have one hand tied behind their backs because they need to prove a sexual intent.

"This (law) would mean police can intervene at an earlier stage, and that will save kids from abuse."

The federal Attorney-General's Department has told the Senate inquiry the legislative change could help police intervene sooner.

"... this offence may be easier to investigate and prosecute than existing grooming and procuring offences which require evidence of sexual intent, allowing law enforcement agencies to intervene during the preparatory stage of an offence before proof of sexual or other illicit intention is apparent," its submission states.

But the AG's Department raised concerns that the draft law could "criminalise conduct which may not be harmful in itself".

"Lying about one's age occurs in many social situations, including on the internet and social networking sites such as Facebook," it says.

"There are many reasons why people may lie about their age, and it is conceivable that a person over 18, having lied about their age, may meet a young person without any ill intentions."

Senator Xenophon said he would be happy to amend the bill to address the AG Department's concerns.

"But why would an adult lie about their age to a child and want to meet that child?" he said.

"Most parents would agree there is something wrong about that."

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus yesterday said the federal government "shares Senator Xenophon's concerns about the safety of children online" and would consider the Senate inquiry's recommendations later this year.

"There are already offences in the Commonwealth Criminal Code which protect children from adults seeking sexual relationships with them online," his spokeswoman said.

"It is a Commonwealth offence to communicate with a child online with the intention of either engaging in sexual activity with the child (procuring) or making it easier to engage in sexual activity with the child (grooming)."

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said it was "troubling for parents" that 6 per cent of teenagers have arranged face-to-face meetings with strangers they met online.

A survey of 1000 kids by internet security firm McAfee has found that one in five "tweenagers" aged eight to 12 have chatted with strangers online, or sent them personal photos.

The National Centre Against Bullying's Cyber Safety Committee chairman, child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, said it was "just terrifying" that teenagers were arranging to meet cyber strangers, and called on parents to monitor their kids' internet use.


The Australian Federal Police lists possible signs of abuse as:

A CHANGE in sexualised language.

EXCLUSIVE use of mobile or internet technologies.

UNEXPLAINED gifts or cash.

AGGRESSIVE behaviour.


HIT the "Report Abuse" button on the Federal Police/Microsoft website Think You Know

MONITOR and supervise your child's internet use.

CHECK if your child knows every Facebook friend.



October Perez bill becomes law: Measures intended to curb child abuse

by Michael Beall

Gov. Steve Bullock signed two child abuse protection bills inside the Cascade County Courthouse on Tuesday, adjacent to an ongoing jury trial of an alleged sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl.

The two bills were Senate Bill 160 and House Bill 76. SB 160 was sponsored by Sen. Mitch Tropila, D-Great Falls, which created the offense of felony criminal child endangerment. HB 76, known as the October Perez bill, created an ombudsman for the Montana Department of Justice.

“It is a celebration of legislation that has passed, but it's also a celebration that's rooted in many tragedies,” Bullock said.

The tragedies Bullock alluded to are the deaths of five children in Cascade County over the past five years, and in the wake of the deaths, five child abuse prevention bills were introduced to the 2013 Montana Legislature, and four passed.

Tropila carried SB 160 through the Legislature, but he said the passage of the package of child protection bills was a team effort from law enforcement and county attorneys to social and community service groups.

The crux of the package of bills is that, “In Montana, if you hurt a child, you will be punished,” Tropila said.

Tuesday's ceremony symbolized that after the tragedies in Great Falls, the state of Montana said enough is enough, Tropila said.

Cascade County Attorney John Parker drafted SB 160 and traveled to Helena throughout the legislative session to testify for the package of bills, and he opened his short speech to the courtroom by thanking Bullock.

“I think it sends a powerful message that the plans we've been making and the work we're doing is taking hold, and we're going to turn the tide, and he came here personally to make sure that's going to be the case,” Parker said.

Parker's voice cracked with emotion as he spoke about going forward and how the bills will be used.

“Here's the bottom line. Montana's children have more protection under the law than they did before,” he said. “I will tell you we are going to use these laws to make sure kids are safe in this community and all across the state of Montana.”

Bullock said his visit to Great Falls was more than symbolism, and his signature on the two bills showed how the legislative process works when people come together and work toward an end and to make a meaningful difference.

The court proceedings next to the room where Bullock spoke is recognition of the continuing challenges the justice system will face, Bullock said.

“We need to be vigilant to keep kids safe,” he said. “As attorney general, I worked a lot on child advocacy centers, making sure a child who is a victim or potential victim is on a path toward healing.”

The Cascade County CARE Center is one of the advocacy centers Bullock mentioned, and it's the center where Great Falls Police Detective Noah Scott conducted his forensic interview of a 4-year-old girl in March 2012. That interview led to the trial he testified in Tuesday morning.

Scott said Tuesday's bill signing is huge for children in Montana, and that he's most optimistic about SB 160.

“Hopefully on even one case we can proactively stop a child from getting into a situation like an October Perez,” Scott said. “If we can get one it will be a resounding success. It will lead us to have more tools in the toolbox so to speak to help children in difficult situations.”

Scott said getting a case into prosecution is a difficult process, and for every child abuse case the public reads in the paper, there are 20 that never get to that point.

Amid the crowd inside the courtroom were a half dozen people wearing white T-shirts with October Perez's name and picture. Tuesday was an emotional day for October's family, but it was also a chance to start anew.

“It has been a very long road,” said April Hall, October's grandmother and major proponent for the October Perez bill. “It's been a fight day and night, and the last few months was a roller coaster ride.”

The fight for Hall, as well as October's father, who returned from deployment in Afghanistan, her aunt and close friends, began six months before October's death, trying to save her life, Hall said. But the true fight followed her death in order to get an ombudsman for child abuse cases in the Department of Justice.

Tropila personally thanked October's family wearing matching shirts, as he walked from the courtroom, telling them they helped make the child protection package pass.

He said hope for our children starts today.

“Ultimately it really is all about the kids,” Tropila said. “It was a team effort. The sun is shining today, and hopefully it's shining bright for our children.”


Child abuse experts gather at Del. conference

DOVER, Del. (AP) — State officials are hosting a two-day conference for police, educators, attorneys and others on Delaware's child protection system.

The conference that begins Wednesday in Dover is aimed at improving how Delaware professionals work together to respond to child abuse and neglect cases from both a civil and criminal perspective. Organizers also plan to discuss prevention efforts to reduce child abuse.

Officials say the conference themes are based on the work of Delaware's Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission. They are also based on reviews prompted by the case of former pediatrician Earl Bradley, who is serving life in prison for sexually molesting scores of young patients over several years.


South Carolina

Public-private partnership: Initiative targets child abuse

by Alan Wilson

Child sexual abuse is not a comfortable topic for the dinner table. We shy away from it because of its complexities and the horrors of sexual abuse. However, our silence only makes the systemic and system-wide failures in addressing the problem even worse. Significant progress will require vision, leadership, communication, cooperation and coordination.

Under the leadership of Bob and Lisa Castellani, Silent Tears program was forged last year with the mission of giving “a voice to every child sexually abused.” An array of private-public partnerships and the world-renowned expertise of Victor Veith, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center, provided the foundation for a statewide task force. This task force includes law enforcement officials, prosecutors, child protection service facilitators, health care providers, civic, community, judicial and religious leaders.

As our state's chief prosecutor, I am committed to protecting South Carolina's children and giving them a voice. Last month, my office helped host the annual Children's Advocacy Day at the Statehouse and stood with legislators to discuss the need for greater protections for our most vulnerable children – those who are victims of abuse and neglect.

Over the past year, the Silent Tears initiative conducted the nation's first child sexual abuse statewide needs assessment. This process included talking with key stakeholders and identifying representative counties, conducting face-to-face interviews with more than 200 child protection professionals across South Carolina, and distributing a statewide survey to more than 400 professionals. The report's findings will be comprehensive, including reforms to undergraduate and graduate programs, frontline professionals, court systems, forensic professionals, prevention programs, the faith-based community and more. Clearly, Silent Tears is a “best practices” model that should be replicated across the United States.

I look forward to joining U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, S.C. Rep. Bruce Bannister, Victor Veith and the Castellanis on May 28 for the release of the Silent Tears official report and a presentation of its findings and recommendations. This will showcase how government can work with the private sector to give our children a voice.

The Silent Tears study provides South Carolina with an opportunity to be a leader in eradicating child abuse. This is an issue that has no boundaries or lines. It affects all South Carolinians regardless of race, creed, religion, ideology or means. Therefore, we must all come together to engage policy makers, community leaders, child care professionals and parents throughout our state.

Our children are South Carolina's most vital resource and our future. We all share in the problem of child abuse, so we must all share in the solution. I hope you will find the time to become involved in the Silent Tears initiative and take part in protecting the future of our state. Join us as we work together to end child sexual abuse.

Wilson is South Carolina attorney general.



Florida girl, 18, arrested and expelled after relationship with 15-year-old female classmate

The family of Kaitlyn Hunt wants prosecutors to reconsider the charges against their daughter. Under a plea deal on the table, she would face two years of house arrest and one year of probation for engaging in a physical relationship with her younger girlfriend, a student at a Sebastian, Fla., high school. Her mom says she's no criminal and was being targeted, in part, because of her sexuality.

by Erik Ortiz

An 18-year-old Florida student's senior year has become a nightmare — all because she was in a same-sex relationship with a 15-year-old, her family says.

Kaitlyn Hunt was arrested Feb. 16 for having a physical relationship with a younger classmate, who was her girlfriend at the time, mom Kelley Hunt Smith wrote on Facebook.

Under Florida law, Hunt could see up to 15 years in prison and must register as a sex offender. A plea deal, however, remains on the table that would give Hunt two years' house arrest and one year of probation, her family said.

“Does my daughter deserve to lose her life for 15 years, or 3 years, or to have no life, because of one choice she made in high school, absolutely not!!” Hunt Smith wrote Friday, adding, “This is a mother's nightmare.”

The distraught mom and her family has launched an online campaign asking supporters to petition the State Attorney's office in Indian River County and have them reconsider the charges.

“The (assistant) state attorney, Brian Workman needs to use taxpayers money to prosecute REAL criminals, not a high school student who has never been in trouble a day in her young life, all because she had a mutual consenting relationship with someone who has bigoted parents,” wrote Hunt Smith, who didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Sunday.

Hunt's uncle, Andrew Gay, told the Daily News that the girls were in the same social circle at Sebastian River High School and played together on the basketball team.

In September, after Hunt turned 18, she and the other girl, a freshman, began dating and expressed their relationship in “intimate ways,” the family said.

But when the basketball coach found out about their relationship, Hunt was thrown off the team and the other girl's parents were notified.

The parents then told police, and a phone call was recorded between their daughter and Hunt in which the girls discussed their relationship, Gay said.

The age of consent in Florida is 18.

Hunt was arrested on two counts of felony lewd and lascivious battery on a child ages 12 to 16, jail records show.

Her family was devastated.

“We certainly aren't saying that all 18-year olds anywhere should be able to date all 15-year olds,” Gay said. “But this is a situation where these two girls were in the same social circle, on the same basketball team. I just don't think Kaitlyn looked at this girl and thought, 'She's a certain age, so she's off limits to me.'”

Hunt Smith claims the other family was upset because their daughter was in a same-sex relationship and believed that Hunt had somehow “made” their daughter gay.

“Of course I see it 100% different,” Hunt Smith wrote. “I don't see or label these girls as gay. They are teenagers in high school experimenting with their sexuality, all teens do it in one form or another. ... And even if their daughter is gay, who cares, she is still their daughter.”

Hunt was expelled from the high school and agreed to have no contact with the other girl. She also transferred to an alternative high school.

Although she'll be allowed to walk with the graduating class at Sebastian River High School, her final year — and future — has been tainted by scandal.

“Should the girls have made better choices, YES. I agree," Hunt Smith said, "but is this criminal, no."

The State Attorney's Office in Indian River County couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Regardless of whether the family takes the plea, Gay said, a felony child abuse charge will ruin his niece's future and her dream of one day becoming a nurse.

“She's been a great student, so bright and not troubled at all,” Gay said. “She was voted ‘most school spirit.' What's happened to her now is ridiculous.”



Utah teen suicides

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – It's the most horrific sight a parent or sibling can come across.

They often times are the ones finding their loved ones after committing suicide.

It happens quite often in Utah. According to the Utah Department of Health the state ranks 10th in the nation in teen suicides and every day two are treated for attempted suicides.

A major effort to prevent suicides happened nine years ago in Moab.

Five teens committed suicide within 18-months of each other. There was some fear at the time that there was a pact for others to do the same.

"I went right to the closet and it took me a moment to realize what I was seeing,”
recalls Sherilynn Sowell.

Her daughter, 17-year old Kelly Sowell was hanging from a clothes bar inside the closet.

"I thought she was sitting,” she says.
“Her hair which is long was over this way. I screamed her name out."

She was hoping for some response, but the senior at Grand County high school in Moab wasn't moving.

"I'd seen these dark circles all around her legs and she didn't move when I screamed her name,” says Sowell.

She went looking for her husband. Both lifted the body and tried undoing the rope around her neck.

“It was so tight, it was so impossible but it took both of us to do it right,” she says.

She tried CPR but there was no pulse.

“Kelly was gone,” she says. “(Her) last words to me (were) ‘I tried to get a hold of Cleve and couldn't' and that was the last words my baby said to me," she says.

Mario Hernandez was 13-years old and lived a few houses from Kelly.

“I turned the corner into the closet and there he was dead,” says Sharla Lovato.

"I was looking for the key to the chain I couldn't find it. I just wanted to get him down. I didn't want him like that."

Mario had used a bike chain to hang himself in the closet.

"And I pushed his body and I say no, no,” says Lovato in a tearful voice.

Mario and Kelly were five of the teens who took their lives over an 18 month period beginning in 2004.

It all started that summer when brothers Stephen and Brandon Cannistraci committed suicide within two months of each other. Days later their friend Katherine Langdon hanged herself in Carbon County.

“We were all really scared (over the suicides),” says Principal Melinda Snow of Grand County Middle School. “It was massive rumors, people were saying there was this big pact and we would lose five more kids."

She says there was panic at her school after Mario's suicide which took place during the first days of school.

Principal Snow says none of the rumors of a pact were true. It was more of a copycat.

"He (Mario) was everybody's friend, even teachers,” she says. “Everyone adored him. Nobody saw it coming."

Certainly it was never detected by his mother, Sharla Lovato. She remembers taking Mario to Stephen's funeral.

"I go please don't ever do that to us,” Lovato says. “See all those people suffering I said that's what you're going to do to us. He said ‘yeah I would never mom.'"

Sowell knew her daughter was troubled. She says Kelly was bullied by adults and classmates after going to police.

Kelly testified in court that a popular teacher and coach Ariel Beck sexually abused her.

“She was bullied because of testifying against this person,” says her mother. “She couldn't get over it and it confused her sexual identity she couldn't get over it.”

Beck was convicted of forcible sex abuse and was sent to prison. But the case was overturned and a new trial was ordered. Kelly took her own life before the second trial. Her mother blamed Beck.

“She wasn't in the room that night but she might as well have been,” says Sowell. “She was the one who absently without being in the room put that dog lease around her neck and hung that child. Because Kelly would still be here had she not been sexually abused.”

Court records show Beck took a plea prior to the trial. She served no extra prison time but remains on the sex offender registry for ten years.

“We have been successful here in Provo because of everyone getting involved in preventing suicide,” says Dr. Greg Hudnall

At the Provo School District teachers and staff learn how suicides can be prevented. Its Dr. Hudnall's mission after learning that one of his students committed suicide years ago. After that suicide, Dr. Hudnall set up a prevention program called and since then he says there have not been any suicides in the Provo schools.

He also takes his suicide workshop to any Utah school seeking advice Dr. Hudnall says weeding out bullies is key. And more importantly he says listening and perception can help target a troubled student.

“Suicide can happen within a window of three hours,” Dr. Hudnall told those attending his workshop. “If someone can recognize that intense moment, there's a high percentage that suicide can be prevented.”

In 2004, Dr. Hudnall brought his expertise to Moab after the cluster of suicides. The school district took action focusing on the students.

At Mario's funeral, Principal Snow was asked to speak. She admits to not knowing much of Mario but she says she had to get her message across to the her students.

“When I said he made a bad choice he missed out on his own life and I'm looking at all those children,” recalls snow. “They have this great future in front of them and to cut it short was foolish thinking.”

Dr. Douglas Gray is head of the University of Utah's child psychiatry unit. He says glorifying suicides creates copycats.

“When you're suffering from bad depression you're in a lot of psychological pain and then someone who dies is sort of revered, it sends that signal that that's the way to go,” says Dr. Gray.

Mario's mother had no idea her son was suicidal. She found a note Mario left behind.

“(He wrote that) he would see us on the other side, that he was sorry,” says Lovato.

Dr. Gray says 90% of teens who commit suicide have one thing in common.

“Most youth suicide is caused by mental illness, usually untreated or under treated,” he says.

In the case of Kelly Sowell she was bullied after accusing Beck of sexually molesting her. Her mother didn't see it coming.

"Had I read this letter (that she found in Kelly's room), I think she wanted me to read it,” says her mother. “And when I didn't she was hurt that I didn't."

Dr. Gray says a teen sends signals that something is wrong.

“And whether it's a parent, teacher, sibling or a friend, its okay to talk about it,” Dr. Gray says. “One thing people worry a lot about is if they talk about suicide or ask about it, it will somehow create a problem or make someone more prone to suicide and that's not true.”

Sometimes a teen does get a second chance. Attempted suicides are common. According to the Utah Department of Health two teens attempt suicide daily. A drug overdose nearly took a West Jordan teen's life.

“I didn't see my life going anywhere,” says the teen who did not want to be identified. “I didn't see any point I just wanted all the pain to end.”

He says pressure to get straight A's was too much for him to handle.

“He (uncle) expected so much for me I didn't feel I could do it,” the teen says. So I stopped trying.”

He's now in therapy and he says getting help was the best thing that happened to him during his crisis.

“She says whenever I feel suicidal pull it out (medallion) and it will make me remember how everyone else will feel when I kill myself,” says the teen.

He is a survivor. But there are so many who don't get a second chance. To learn more about prevention, help and other advice the following websites offer information.


Talking About Rape

by Desmond Tutu , Sohaila Abdulali and Jacob Lief

What will you discuss with your children this evening? Sports, the weather, celebrity gossip, rape?

We are from three generations (81, 50, and 36 years old), 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 organization. We come together in the wake of the recent upheaval around rape in India, South Africa, the U.S. 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 dehumanize 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 last 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 all the important institutions in young people's lives everywhere -- schools from Finland to the Philippines, youth programs 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 favor 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.

This op-ed was originally published in The Guardian on April 26, 2013 under the title To protect our children, we must talk to them about rape



Ozaukee Family Services Fights Child Abuse

It is sad but true that in the U.S. approx. 5 children die every day as a result of child abuse. In 2012, there were 503 reports of possible child abuse in Ozaukee County. Ozaukee Family Services (OFS) child abuse prevention efforts include programs that educate and support families in addition to offering information and referrals to a wide array of community resources. The non-profit agency also presents age-appropriate information to students in schools throughout Ozaukee County.

For the 10th year in a row, nationally known dramatist and academic entertainer Barbara Rinella amused the crowd with her wit and wisdom at the OFS Spring Brunch. While Rinella has certainly kept audiences amused over the years, even more importantly is the impact this event has had on the community. Over the last 10 years, the annual brunch has raised $176,561; including more than $16,000 this year. These funds all go directly to supporting child abuse prevention programs in Ozaukee County. None of this would be possible if it were not for the generous sponsors that supported this event: Graphics Systems, Edward Jones, Johnson Controls, A.S. Korpi, Catnap Communications, Drs. Hawkins, Gingrass & Miller Ltd., Hydrite Chemical Company, Robert W. Baird, Dorothy Jentges-Antoine Memorial, Dan & Paula Switalski, BMO Harris Bank, Visual Image Photography, and Robert W. Baird & Co.

Ozaukee Family Services is a non-profit agency with a mission of improving lives to help families succeed. In addition to its prevention programs and parent education and support, the agency assists families of all shapes and sizes through a variety of programs including: Rainbows support for children who have experienced death or divorce in their family; affordable counseling for individuals, couples and families; and services to help senior citizens continue to live independently. All services are free or on a sliding fee scale – no one is ever turned away because of the inability to pay. To learn more contact OFS at 262.376.7774 or visit


South Carolina

Victim shares child sexual abuse experience: 'It's part of who I am'


Editor's note: This is the fourth in a four-part series on child sexual abuse.

Jill remembers walking around with a big smile on her face when she was a child.

“Everybody thought I was the happiest person around,” said the 58-year-old Aiken resident.

But her pleasant expression was a mask that hid a horrifying private life that involved sexual abuse.

Jill agreed to tell her story if the Aiken Standard didn't use her real name.

“I wish it hadn't happened, but it's part of my life; it's part of who I am,” she said. “There's nothing I can do to go back and change it now.”

Jill and her siblings frequently visited their maternal grandmother's home as youngsters.

“I was 5 or 6 when she got a brand new husband, and we spent many nights and weekends with them,” Jill remembered. “When I was there, and it was time to go to bed, I went to a bedroom with my step-grandfather, and he would close the door. It started with fondling, and it eventually led to penetration. It was strange, and it was odd. But when you're young, you trust the people who seem to love you and give you lots of attention.”

Jill's step-grandfather was a trucker, and he would take her on trips, making her put her head in his lap.

“This is our little secret,” he told her.

Jill remained silent, telling no one what was happening.

“I think my grandmother would have denied it even though I don't know how she didn't know,” Jill said. “I don't think my parents would have believed me.”

Jill became a chronic bed-wetter.

“I did it all the time,” she said. “I didn't intentionally do it, but I couldn't help myself. My mother took me to doctors, but they never did figure out what the problem was.”

Jill also started telling lies.

“Now that I look back on it, it must have been a way for me to try to get attention,” she said. “Maybe I was screaming out for my parents to figure this out. I don't know.”

Jill's step-grandfather stopped molesting her when she was around 11 or 12 years old because she found a way to protect herself.

“I would only go to my grandmother's house when I could bring a friend with me,” she said. “If I took a friend with me, he wouldn't bother me.”

When Jill was older and attending college at night while she worked full-time, a neighbor raped her. She rode with him to school, and, one night, he invited her to his house. Because he was a close family friend, she accepted the invitation.

“He was married, and he was at least 20 years older than me,” Jill said. “I told him, 'No, absolutely no,' but he was a real big guy. The minute I could get out of that house, I ran through the door and ran home. After that, I avoided him at all costs. If he was ever around, I made sure I wasn't.”

Jill suffered silently, never discussing the harrowing experience with her family or friends.

But years later she fell apart emotionally.

“I think, when you go through things like that, they eventually catch up with you,” Jill said. “When I was 37, my life just started crumbling. I had totally repressed all of it because I didn't want to deal with it, but it all started coming back into my mind.”

Jill found a therapist, and she also joined a support group for people who had a variety of problems. She underwent treatment for several years and, during that time, she took her counselor's advice and confronted her step-grandfather and her grandmother.

“It took a while for me to get up my nerve to go see them,” Jill said. “They lived far, far away from me by then. Two of the ladies in my support group went with me. We drove all night and all the next day, and, when we got there, they sat in the car while I went up and knocked on the door.”

Both Jill's grandmother and step-grandfather were surprised to see her.

“I told them, 'I need to talk to you,' so we went into their house and sat down,” Jill recalled. “I could tell my step-grandfather was nervous. I'm sure he knew what was coming. I said, 'I'm here to confront you about what you did to me for all those years when I was little.' He just sat there in his recliner and stared at me. He refused to admit he had done anything, and my grandmother wouldn't admit she knew either.”

Jill then went to her parents' house, where she told them her story.

“They were in shock, but there also was some disbelief,” she said. “In my family, you just didn't talk about these kinds of things. But if you did hear about them, you swept them under the rug. If you've got a problem, get over it. That was my parents' mentality.”

Even though Jill didn't get the apology she would have liked from her step-grandfather and was disappointed by the reaction of other family members, she said talking about her abuse helped her because “it was part of my healing process.”

Since then, “I've definitely gone on with my life,” Jill said. “Heck, there's too much living left to do.”

She is a volunteer at the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.

“If I'm able to help one child just a little bit, it's worth it,” Jill said. “I don't want anybody else to go through the things that I went through.”

Suspect abuse? What you need to do

If you think your child might have been sexually abused, you should be careful not to ask leading questions when you talk to him or her about it, said Gayle Lofgren, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.

“Children are highly suggestible and if there is a case and it ends up going to trial, then one of the things that will be looked at is who talked to them about it,” Lofgren said. “You should just open the door in a very general way at first. You can ask, 'Is something bothering you? Is anything going on? Can you help me understand what is going on with you? Did anything happen to upset you?'”

Lofgren recommended contacting a local law enforcement agency or the Aiken County Department of Social Services if your child's answers indicate sexual abuse has taken place or something else has happened to make you think it did.

“They are the proper agencies to do an investigation,” Lofgren said. “They will determine if there is enough there to actually look into it or not. Don't try to sort it out yourself. They are the experts in this field.”

Signs of child sexual abuse include difficulty walking or sitting, eating disorders and changes in behavior such as becoming rebellious or more withdrawn. Stained or torn underclothing and fear of a certain person are among the other signs.


United Kingdom

Comment: Lowering age of consent to 13 is absurd

by Katie Russell

Barbara Hewson's ill-informed and damaging online article regarding Operation Yewtree was shocking on many levels, not least because it came from an apparently 'top' barrister.

By opening with the assertion that ongoing legal investigations pose 'a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did', she invites us to accept that she believes a public figure's abuse of his power and privilege to rape and sexually assault women and children with impunity across decades, is no big deal compared to 'the persecution of old men', or put another way, the lawful investigation of sexual offences.

If we take that at face value, we must believe that Hewson has a contempt for criminal justice that is quite terrifying in someone practising law. To anyone who has ever experienced sexual violence, worked with sexual violence survivors, or campaigned for survivors' rights as part of a movement such as Rape Crisis, however, it seems more like a transparently cynical attempt to self-publicise by generating controversy for its own sake. And that impression is reinforced by all the comments that follow in her article.

One year on from Rochdale, the child sex abuse ring, and in the shadow of the child sexual exploitation case in Oxfordshire, which has since ended in seven convictions, a call to lower the age of consent to 13 is counter-intuitive and borders on the absurd. Surely the disturbing details of these cases and the experiences of the young women involved tell us loudly that the criminal justice system and other statutory agencies still have a long way to go in improving their responses to sexual violence and protecting vulnerable people who are exploited and abused.

But this intentionally headline-grabbing 'recommendation' is arguably not even the most worrying of the points Hewson makes. Particularly unsettling is her attack on and dismissal of the experiences of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She describes the right of these people to access justice as 'infantilising' and an 'open invitation to all manner of folk to reinterpret their experience of the past as one of victimisation.' This betrays not only a complete lack of empathy but also an ignorance of the long-term impacts of sexual violence that is, again, at best disconcerting and at worst dangerous in a legal professional.

Of the 60,000 women and girls Rape Crisis Centres in England and Wales provide specialist support to each year, over 60% have come to us because of an incident of sexual violence that happened more than three years ago and we know that around a third of those sexually abused as children reach adulthood without having told anyone about it. The women we work with tell us that prominent amongst the many and complex reasons for this, as well as the power and control wielded by their abusers, are shame, self-blame and a fear of not being believed, all of which factors are perpetuated and reinforced by the kinds of views Hewson so aggressively presents in her article.

In this context, it is also incomprehensible that anyone, let alone someone with even the remotest understanding of criminal justice, would call for the removal of sexual violence victims' right to lifelong anonymity. When we know that only around 15% of the estimated 85,000 women who are raped and over 400,000 who are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year ever report to the police, it is nonsensical to suggest that adding to the stress and trauma of the experience for victims by forcing them to be publicly identified can do anything to improve levels of justice. All this 'recommendation' achieves is further reinforcement of the widespread myth that women who report rape and other sexual offences are more often than not lying. A report from director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer in March, in fact found that so-called false rape allegations make up as little as less than one per cent of all reports. Sending out messages to victims that they will be disbelieved from the outset will do nothing to improve the environment in which it is already so difficult for them to come forward to seek the justice and support they want and deserve.

The response to Hewson's desire to make a name for herself by being provocative at the expense of sexual violence survivors, including her own law firm's statement to distance itself from her comments, has been heartening. What remains of concern is the possibility that this stunt signals the beginning of a wider backlash against the long-overdue efforts now being made to properly investigate and prosecute sexual offences. A large proportion of the public has understandably been shocked and overwhelmed by the numbers of sexual violence survivors coming forward; understandably not because the scale of sexual violence has not always been so huge (those of us working within the Rape Crisis movement can testify that it has), but because it has been a taboo for so long that its belated acknowledgement is a revelation for many.

What is crucial now is that we do not develop a kind of empathy-fatigue and turn our backs on survivors or refuse to believe them simply because the media coverage has been too much for us. To the contrary, now must be a water-shed moment at which we begin to afford those affected by sexual violence both the criminal and social justice they deserve. And we invite partner agencies, government, professionals and the public to join Rape Crisis in our ongoing efforts to raise awareness and understanding of sexual violence and ultimately to prevent and end it.

We encourage any woman or girl whose life has been affected by sexual violence of any kind at any time to visit our website for details of her nearest Rape Crisis services.

Katie Russell has been involved with the Rape Crisis movement since 2004. She is a founding trustee of Rape Crisis charity Support After Rape & Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL), and she currently does media and communications work for the national umbrella organisation Rape Crisis (England and Wales).


Church Whistle-Blowers Join Forces on Abuse


They call themselves Catholic Whistleblowers, a newly formed cadre of priests and nuns who say the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators.

Several members of the group, which includes priests and nuns, met in Manhattan last week.

Although they know they could face repercussions, they have banded together to push the new pope to clean house and the American bishops to enforce the zero-tolerance policies they adopted more than a decade ago.

The group began organizing quietly nine months ago without the knowledge of their superiors or their peers, and plan to make their campaign public this week. Most in the steering group of 12 have blown the whistle on abusers in the past, and three are canon lawyers who once handled abuse cases on the church's behalf. Four say they were sexually abused as children.

Their aim, they say, is to support both victims and fellow whistle-blowers, and identify shortcomings in church policies. They hope to help not just minors, but also adults who fall prey to clergy who exploit their power for sex. They say that their motivation is to make the church better and safer, and to show the world that there are good priests and nuns in the church.

“We've dedicated our lives to the church,” the Rev. John Bambrick, a priest in the Diocese of Trenton, said at a meeting of the group last week in New York. “Having sex offenders in ministry is damaging to our ministry.”

The group has sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to take several significant steps to heal victims and restore the church's credibility: revoke all oaths of secrecy, open the files on abuse cases, remove from office any bishops who obstructed justice and create an international forum for dialogue between survivors and church leaders.

The Catholic Church in the United States put in place a zero-tolerance policy and a host of prevention programs after the abuse scandal peaked in 2002. Each year the bishops commission an audit of abuse cases, and this year's survey, released May 9, found the fewest allegations and victims since the audits began in 2004.

But the whistle-blowers' group contends that vigilance is necessary because some bishops are violating the zero-tolerance policies, and abusive clergy (who now number 6,275, according to the bishops' count of those accusations that they deem credible) still have access to children. They point to the revelations in the last month that a priest in Newark who was a convicted sex offender restricted by a court order from working with children had been ministering in a Catholic parish in Trenton, taking confessions from children and going on weekend youth retreats.

Several of the whistle-blowers have been vocal about that priest, the Rev. Michael Fugee. Along with some New Jersey politicians, they have called for the resignation of the archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers. They fault Archbishop Myers not only for failing to restrict Father Fugee, but also for appointing him to help direct the education of priests in the archdiocese.

Archbishop Myers's spokesman said the archbishop was unaware of the priest's activities, and is cooperating with an investigation by the Bergen County prosecutor. Father Fugee left the ministry, and on Monday was arrested on charges that he violated a judicial order by having contact with minors. The bishop of Trenton, David M. O'Connell, removed another priest and two youth ministers from the parish in Trenton where Father Fugee worked with youth.

The Newark case, as well as the release of personnel records on priests by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and convictions of church officials in Philadelphia and Kansas City, convinced the whistle-blowers' group that they have work to do despite the optimistic picture in the bishops' audits. They do not consider the bishops' audits credible because they are based on self-reporting.

The group discussed the latest scandal in Newark at a meeting last week in Manhattan. At that meeting, Sister Sally Butler traveled from Brooklyn; Sister Maureen Paul Turlish from Delaware; the Rev. Ronald Lemmert from Peekskill, N.Y.; and Father Bambrick, Msgr. Kenneth E. Lasch and Robert Hoatson, a former priest, came from New Jersey. The Rev. James Connell joined in by speakerphone from Sheboygan, Wis. (The Rev. Thomas P. Doyle — perhaps the church's most famed whistle-blower — recently joined the group but could not attend.) They had been conducting their weekly meetings by conference calls, and it was only the second time most of them had met face to face.

Each member has a history of standing up publicly on behalf of abuse victims, but until last year most of them did not know of one another. A Catholic laywoman, Anne Barrett Doyle, who lives in Boston, suggested they should meet. She is the co-director of, a Web site and advocacy group that is building a database of documents on clergy abuse cases, and a co-worker, Suzy Nauman, had been keeping a running list of priests and nuns who had helped expose predators or had spoken out.

Last year Ms. Doyle spoke with Father Lemmert about the backlash he experienced after exposing a case in New York, and he later told her that talking about his experiences was “very therapeutic.” The group was initially conceived more as a confidential support group for the whistle-blowers themselves.

“I joined the group,” said Father Lemmert, “because I had been badly ostracized because I blew the whistle. There was no support out there, and this group has been a lifeline.”

Until last week, he intended to keep his involvement in the group under wraps for fear of repercussions. But at the meeting Father Lemmert announced, “I just decided to stand up and be counted.”

The group has evolved to take on a more policy-oriented role, drafting the letter to the new pope with six suggestions for action. They sent the letter in late April to the pope and several Vatican officials, but have not received any response yet.

They expressed varying degrees of optimism about whether Pope Francis will follow through on the goal first articulated by Pope John Paul II that there is no room for sexual abusers in the priesthood. They noted that Pope Francis recently said that all human beings must be protected with “clarity and courage” — especially children, “who are the most vulnerable.”

Monsignor Lasch said to the group, “The pope has asked us to speak with clarity and courage, and that's what we've done with him.” Mr. Hoatson added, “It's time that clarity and courage are rewarded rather than harassed and dismissed.”

Mr. Hoatson and Monsignor Lasch founded Road to Recovery, a group that assists abuse victims, but Mr. Hoatson left the priesthood in 2011 after a series of run-ins with Archbishop Myers. He said he has found the recent spotlight trained on the Newark archbishop very encouraging.

The whistle-blowers' group plans to hold its first news conference this week in New York, and some members are bracing for the reaction. They said they know priests who spoke up and were removed from their parishes, hustled into retirement or declared “unstable” and sent to treatment centers for clergy with substance-abuse problems or sexual addictions.

As for what they hope to accomplish, the whistle-blowers had very different answers.

“That all the children in our church would be safe,” said Father Bambrick.

“That the people who covered up would go to jail,” said Sister Butler.

“That's not what I'm in this for,” said Monsignor Lasch. “I'm in this for justice and mercy and truth and compassion.”



Police: Child sex trafficking is Portland's dirty secret

by Abbey Gibb

PORTLAND -- Police call it a dirty secret that is drawing thousands of men a year to the city looking for one thing: underage girls for sex.

A dedicated group of undercover Portland police officers is cracking down harder than ever on child sex trafficking.

They said this trafficking is some of the worst in the country and it's happening right in front of our eyes.

“The sex industry in Portland is huge. On almost every corner is a porn shop, strip club, lingerie parlor. It definitely breeds itself,” said Officer Jeff Ruppel.

Police said it's become so bad, they call it a tourist attraction.

“We have a lot of johns pick up a rental car and drive straight to the avenue and find a girl,” added Ruppel.

The avenue he's talking about is Portland's Northeast 82nd. For the first time, the Portland Police Bureau's undercover prostitution division took KGW along to the front lines of their back-alley war.

“I know there are girls that are 14 that are walking 82nd,” said Ruppel.

That's the average age in Portland a girl, barely out of puberty, will be forced to have sex with a grown man for the first time, he said.

Young women want their stories told.

“I've been doing this on and off since I was 13,” said “Lexi.” “I wanted to be a nurse and a teacher, not a heroin addict and a prostitute.”

The demand is insatiable.

“The minute we get one off the road, there's another one we've never met before,” said Ruppel.

During the sting, police caught “Tony,” a 50-year-old grandfather who's separated from his wife.

He admits to pulling over a prostitute on 82nd and giving her $130. He said he had never done anything like this before.

“I feel like I have no values, I'm feeling really bad that I got caught,” said Tony.

Throughout the day, undercover police tracked girls who looked underage. You could mistake them for high school students walking home, except that school got out hours ago.

“You'll see them look down the side streets a lot to see if anyone pulls over for them,” said Ruppel.

Another mistake? Thinking any of these women are willing participants. They're not, police said. Time and time again, their pimps are not far behind.

“That guy that's showed them any love is that guy that's forcing them to work,” Ruppel added.

Pimps lure young girls with the promises of love and money, but “Marie” explained what happens next.

“He started selling me to who he called his friends,” she said. Marie had been abused by her stepfather as a child. She eventually ran away and into the arms of a man more than twice her age.

“Before I knew it, I'm going in bedrooms. Sometimes they would bring shirts from their granddaughters and want me to wear them. I didn't know I was worth more.”

Police met Christine after another bust that night. She started working when she was just 13. Christine is now 38.

“She described him as a 'gorilla pimp,' basically forcing her to be out, abusing her physically, probably sexually,” said Officer Mike Gallagher.

For most of these women, their fate is as hard as the looks on their faces.

“You'll stop and talk to them 10, 15 times. There's a lot of patience, a lot of getting yelled at, getting cussed at. Someday you hope they come around,” said. Ruppel. "Have the courage to come around to run for help."

“It's survival at our lowest. Not any one of us would do this by choice,” said Lexi. On an average night, police can arrest upwards of a half-dozen men off 82nd.

This is a three-night investigation. On Tuesday, KGW looks into how this trafficking is moving off the streets and onto the Internet, where it's easier to hide these young girls.


Indianapolis, Indiana

Truckload Carriers Association Joins Fight to End Human Trafficking

Newly formed partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking includes awareness and education efforts, as well as a test to obtain CTAT certification

Indianapolis, Indiana -- We now have the means to certify large numbers of people. At the end of the day, that means that more lives will be saved.

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has formed a partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), a nonprofit organization that educates, equips, empowers, and mobilizes members of the trucking and truck plaza industries to combat domestic sex trafficking. Speaking at the organization's Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting in Indianapolis yesterday, TCA President Chris Burruss announced that TCA is already making full use of its powerful Truckload Academy On-demand (TAO) education and training platform to prepare drivers and others to recognize and report such heinous activities.

Sex or human “trafficking”—a term for modern-day slavery—has been reported in all 50 states. The Department of Justice estimates that anywhere between 100,000 to 300,000 of America's children are at risk of entering the sex for sale industry every year. Trafficking often occurs where young girls, and sometimes boys, can be easily moved from city to city and forced to engage in commercial sex along the way.

“When Truckers Against Trafficking told us about the severity of the problem, TCA did what any good professional truck driver would do: we stopped to help,” said Burruss. “It is our goal to help train and certify our members' employees – particularly drivers – on how to recognize the signs of trafficking and how to report what they discover to the proper authorities. We have the members, the resources, and the technology to reach out to thousands of people.”

TCA has developed a test that all interested parties (not just truck drivers) can take to obtain the designation Certified Trucker Against Trafficking, or CTAT. The questions are based on a half-hour video that outlines the scope of the human trafficking problem and what to do when someone encounters it. There is no cost to become certified, and everything is available through TAO ( The training and testing also will be offered on-site at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS), August 22-24, 2013, in Dallas, Texas.

Additionally, TCA will ensure that its member companies have access to TAT materials, which include awareness posters that can be hung in company break rooms and wallet cards that promote the National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888) 373-7888. These items are available in English, Spanish, and French Canadian. When suspicious activity is spotted, a simple phone call to this number could help authorities rescue an enslaved victim.

Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking, said, “We are so fortunate to bring TCA on board through this partnership. They have the connections we need to help unite a large portion of the industry behind this meaningful work. They also have tremendous expertise in the area of training and education, and since TAO is compatible with mobile technology, we now have the means to certify large numbers of people. At the end of the day, that means that more lives will be saved.”

TCA stresses that anyone who wants to help end human trafficking can get CTAT certified; it is not necessary to be a truck driver or a TCA member. However, it is hoped that the trucking industry can set an example for other industries so they will get involved with the program. With millions of people making a living through trucking in some way, there is much potential for closing loopholes to traffickers who victimize both women and children along our nation's highways.

For more information about Truckers Against Trafficking, please visit


Carter: ‘No Tolerance' in DOD for Human Trafficking

All service members are required to take training on how to recognize and report human trafficking, says deputy defense secretary

WASHINGTON -- In a meeting at the White House Friday of the president's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said sexual assault and human trafficking will be met with “absolutely no tolerance” in the Defense Department, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

In a statement on the deputy secretary's participation, Little said Carter joined Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and other senior administration officials in the meeting.

“Deputy Secretary Carter noted that as the largest purchaser of goods and services in the federal government, the Department of Defense has a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not contribute to human trafficking and forced labor,” said the press secretary said.

Carter further noted that the Defense Department requires all its military service members to take training on how to recognize and report human trafficking, which will be updated to reflect recent changes in the law and an executive order on strengthening protections against human trafficking in federal contracts, Little said.