The James House: Supporting victims of domestic violence in Virginia
by Holly Smith
HOPEWELL, Va., June 15, 2013 – Collaboration with local service providers is key for first responders working with survivors of any type of crime, including forms of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. It is important to know what services are available in your specific areas; this includes substance abuse programs, domestic violence programs, and any other outreach services.
Not all victims are in need of the same services; and your knowledge of distinctions between programs may be what sets a person on the path to recovery. This week's featured service provider is The James House Intervention/Prevention Services, Inc.
How was The James House (TJH) started?
TJH was founded in 1989 on the belief that all people deserve a life free from interpersonal violence. We began as the Survivor's Outreach Center serving people affected by sexual violence. We later became the Sexual Assault Outreach Program, and when we obtained funding to begin providing services for those affected by domestic violence and stalking as well, we became The James House.
What is your organization's mission statement?
Providing support, advocacy, and education for people in the Tri-Cities area of Virginia affected by sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking to empower them to become healthy, safe, and self-sufficient.
Who are your board members and/or co-founders?
Phil Munson: Chairperson; Corie Tilman Wolf: Vice Chairperson; Cheryl Justice: Treasurer; William Lightfoot: Secretary; William Gandel, Andy Clark, Margaret Morgan, and Estee Newby Howard
Where are your headquarters based and where are your efforts based?
Our main business office is located in Hopewell, Va. We have satellite office space in Petersburg, Prince George County, Dinwiddie County, and southern Chesterfield County. Our service area includes the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg and the counties of Prince George, Dinwiddie, and southern Chesterfield.
Do you offer outreach services, residential programs or both?
We do not provide residential services. Our outreach services are geared towards raising awareness about the issues surrounding interpersonal violence. Our direct services include a 24-hour hotline, safe shelter, safety planning, individual counseling, support group, case management, food pantry, clothes closet, community referrals, court accompaniment, and hospital accompaniment. All of our services are cost-free and confidential.
If you offer housing, how many individuals are you able to accommodate? Which ages/genders are qualified for housing? Are you able to house mothers with children?
We offer safe shelter for anyone who is in imminent danger from sexual or domestic violence. This service is available to women, men, transgender, and children under 18 if accompanied by an adult.
Are the services you provide in accordance with any particular curriculum? What sets you apart from other programs? How are your services specialized for those populations which you serve?
TJH is accredited by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance. We must meet stringent standards in order to be an accredited sexual and domestic violence agency. We do not follow a set curriculum for any of our services; however, we do have several curricula available for use with support groups, etc. We are the only accredited domestic & sexual violence agency in our service area providing specialist interpersonal violence services.
Do you have any programs / curricula that are specific to victims of sex trafficking or other forms of human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, or sexual abuse / exploitation? If so, please describe.
We provide services for people affected by any kind of sexual violence. We do use “The Courage to Heal Workbook” with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. We do not have curricula specific to human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation.
What is the best way for victims or for first responders to reach you for services?
Our 24-hour crisis line number is (804) 458-2840. We can also be reached at email@example.com or through our website: www.TheJamesHouse.com.
Are there necessary avenues for law enforcement/social services to follow before a victim can be placed into your program?
Anyone can make a referral to our agency. We then talk with/meet with the person to do an extensive intake/needs assessment to determine if they are eligible for our services. If someone is not eligible for our services, we make referrals to community agencies that may be more appropriate.
Are you involved with other efforts related to advocacy within your state or community?
The James House is a member agency of the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance; four local and one regional Domestic Violence Task Forces; four Sexual Assault Response Teams and one Sexual Assault Review Board (on Fort Lee).
Please share any recent awards or annual events.
The James House was recognized by the Cameron Foundation with the 2012 Excellence in Organizational Management Award and the 2008 Cleveland A. Wright Award for outstanding Community Service. We have a very successful outreach campaign and fundraising event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
Please share any upcoming events or honors .
This month, we will host our Volunteer/Donor Appreciation Event; and in September, we will take part in the Amazing Raise event sponsored by the Community Foundation.
What has been the greatest achievement or most meaningful recognition or experience for your organization?
Our greatest achievement is providing quality, meaningful services for people affected by interpersonal violence to help them become empowered to live safe, healthier lives. Our greatest recognition was being the recipient of the Excellence in Organizational Management Award last year.
Where do you hope to see your organization in the future?
We will continue to build upon our solid foundation, serving more people and raising more awareness about the issues of domestic and sexual violence.
How can the public help you with your plight?
TJH relies heavily upon individual and corporate monetary donations. We receive grant funding for a great deal of our direct service work, but we need to raise approximately $100,000 a year to meet our budget. We also have a solid group of community volunteers who assist us with things such as answering our hotline, co-facilitating support groups, providing accompaniment to court/hospital, sorting donations, attending community events to raise awareness, etc.
Our Board of Directors is also made up of volunteers as are our board sub-committees. We are always on the lookout for passionate, motivated, committed people willing to donate their time. We collect used cell phones and ink cartridges and we always have a need to small denomination gift cards to gas stations and stores such as Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc.
How can community members reach you or your organization for questions or more information?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, through our website http://www.thejameshouse.org, or by calling (804) 458-2704.
What is your organization's Twitter handle and Facebook page?
about Holly Smith
Holly is a survivor of child sex trafficking and an advocate against all forms of human trafficking. In order to raise awareness about human trafficking, Holly has appeared on the Dr. Oz show and has been featured in Cosmopolitan magazine.
Google gives £3m to aid crackdown on child abuse images
Net giant acts after coming under pressure ahead of Westminster summit to be chaired by culture secretary Maria Miller
by Tracy McVeigh and Maggie Brown
Google has announced that it will hand out £3m in grants to protection schemes for children after coming under pressure to act against the growing tide of child abuse images online.
The net giant has acted ahead of this week's Westminster summit chaired by culture secretary Maria Miller and organised by Conservative MP Claire Perry, special adviser to David Cameron on children and pornography.
It is expected that the meeting on Tuesday will result in a new "zero tolerance" approach to freely available material on the web and smartphones. There may also be demands for more funds from internet service providers to tackle child abuse images and for a ramping up of policing, including taking down illegal sites, and action to bar children from accessing pornography with the use of simpler one-stop filtering devices in the home.
Until now, web companies had been reluctant to do anything that inhibits an internet user finding anything they want online, and would only block access to websites on a list provided by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
It is among those to benefit from the Google donation, with £1m to expand its team searching for indecent and illegal images.
The company will give £600,000 to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, based in Virginia, US, and to similar organisations in Brussels, Canada, Australia, and Latin America. It has also announced a £1m Child Protection Technology Fund for new tools or ideas to tackle the issue.
John Carr, of the UK Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, welcomed the announcement: "Google have stepped up. No one can argue about that. This is an important moment. It should focus the minds of other industry leaders in relation to how they are going to join the fight." He added that a system to authenticate the age of internet users was now "essential".
Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of IWF, said she was encouraged by the donation. She said that on average, IWF was finding one new child a week who was being used in abuse images.
"We know that the best way to tackle what is some of the most horrific content online is by working with others from all over the world to combat this on a global platform. These funds, made available internationally, will no doubt allow international experts to target images and videos of children being sexually abused with the best technology based on the most technically progressive ideas.
"I'm excited by what this means for online users and of course victims of child sexual abuse who have not only suffered at the hands of a criminal, but had the recordings of their abuse scattered across the internet."
At a public meeting at Westminster on Friday, Claire Perry MP told the Observer she wants the internet industry, including Apple, to offer expertise.
She backs a household-wide filter "for time-poor, pressured parents" to cover all devices used in the home.
On Friday BT introduced a flash screen to explicitly warn people when they were attempting to access illegal images, and urged other ISPs to follow suit.
Andy Baker, deputy chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, the national agency to tackle child abuse, said that in the year to last month peer-to-peer sharing of abused child images had apparently declined from around 41,000 people to 30,000, but that most likely meant that they had migrated to "dark web" and hidden private networks where people could stream images, sometimes live, of acts of child abuse.
The issue has been thrown into the spotlight by recent cases of offenders such as Mark Bridger, who was convicted of killing April Jones. He had accessed violent porn before carrying out acts of abuse and murder.
The video-on-demand regulator, ATVOD, is in discussions with the UK Cards Association, representing bank credit cards, to block payments worth around £180m a year to offshore suppliers of child abuse imagery.
Chief executive Peter Johnson said they were able to use the Obscene Publications Act because the businesses often advertised their wares with freely available snippets, which children can access. He is hoping such operators will decide to write off the UK market.
Diane Abbott, Labour MP and shadow minister for public health, said: "Porn is the biggest driver of traffic to Google. You cannot allow the industry to drive the pace of change. So much money is riding on what happens."
She said the issue ranged far wider than a pure focus on illegal content, and was about restricting impressionable children's access to hard core images.
"I am of a generation that thought free sex, free love, was a form of liberation, but it seems to me what is happening online is increasing the sexualisation and pornification of our society. We have moved from liberation to imprisonment."
Scott Rubin, communications director at Google, said: "We have a zero tolerance attitude to child sexual abuse imagery online.
"The fight to remove these images from the internet is a global one, and we hope these measures will help in that important battle."
Arlington task force tracks sexual predators
by Susan Schrock
ARLINGTON — An Arlington man, now serving two life sentences in prison, showered his daughter and her two 9-year-old friends with lavish gifts, including horses, clothes and electronics, while he sexually molested them for more than a year, police said.
During his daughter's sleepover parties, police said the single father would take each girl individually downstairs to the living room where he would molest them with his hands or a sex toy.
The girls finally made an outcry in February 2012 when one of the mothers arrived at the home to pick them up after a sleepover and take them to school.
“They had allowed the abuse to go on to keep their friendship,” Arlington Detective Garth Savage said. “The girls finally decided they didn't want to go through it any more.”
The girls were among 323 confirmed victims of child sexual abuse in the city last year. Arlington's Crimes Against Children Unit not only investigates outcries of sexual and physical abuse, reported kidnappings and child abandonment or neglect, but also has has a special task force that uses technology to proactively track down would-be child predators.
In at least 90 percent of cases, a child is victimized by a family member or someone who has been able to gain the family's trust through months of careful grooming. But technology - especially cell phones and Internet-based video games - is making it even easier for sexual predators to prey on children, Savage said.
That's why Arlington police and Tarrant County child advocates are stressing the importance for parents, guardians and community leaders to watch for signs of abuse, monitor who their children interact with and teach them about how to protect themselves in the physical and virtual world from inappropriate contact and communication.
“The grooming process was more difficult. You had to build trust with the parents and the people in that family because you needed to be alone with the child,” Savage said about how pedophiles traditionally have come in contact with their victims.
“Now it's been all erased with the internet. You have that contact immediately and you can start that grooming immediately.”
Two years ago, Arlington used a $500,000 federal grant to launch a Child Sexual Predator Task Force, which investigates online offenses including solicitation of a minor, child pornography and indecency through means such as cell phone apps, websites and internet-based video gaming.
Since January 2012, the task force has investigated 148 cases, made 31 arrests, filed 34 cases with the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office and still has several pending cases, Sgt. Ricardo Lucero said.
“These cases have exploded over the past few years due to the advancement in technology and kids utilizing that technology,” Lucero said.
Unfortunately, funding for the four-member task force, which includes a computer forensic examiner who retrieves data from all phones and other electronic media in the criminal investigations, runs out next month, Lucero said. Those positions will be eliminated if another funding source is not found.
Savage, who works on the task force, said investigators pose as juveniles online or take over the identify of a child whose parents have contacted police to look into inappropriate messages or requests for nude photos. The task force also has software that allows detectives to monitors which computer IP addresses in Arlington have downloaded known images of child pornography, which is illegal.
In one case, a 6-year-old girl playing an Xbox game with other online players was contacted by a man in his 50s, who began sending her messages of a sexual nature. Fortunately the girl was not old enough to know how to send photos, Savage said. The messages were discovered by the girl's older brother and her parents contacted police. That case is still under investigation.
Another time, a young girl with Asperger syndrome and low-self esteem became involved in a conversation with a 42-year-old man online through her tablet. The man convinced the girl to send nude photos of herself and he was arranging to meet her when the child's mother found the tablet and contacted police, Savage said. Investigators recovered photos of the girl and chats between her and the man.
According to Centers for Disease Control research, approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
“People talk about how predators can be the guy next door. The victim can also be the child in their home,” Arlington Detective Grant Gildon said. “That is why communication with your child is so important.”
Gildon and Savage recommended parents monitor their children's online and cell phone activity, especially reviewing phone apps like Kik Messenger and Snapchat photo messaging, to be aware of what their children are doing.
“Failing to learn that is empowering sexual predators. It is giving them access alone with their child because they don't know how to work that,” Savage said.
Last year, 5,598 children were confirmed victims of physical or sexual abuse in Tarrant County. The youngest sexual abuse victim was 6 months old, said Dr. Jayme Coffman, medical director of Cook Children's Child Advocacy Resource and Evaluation Team.
“We would all like to be out of a job,” said Coffman, who examines children for signs of abuse and also reviews images and videos of suspected child pornography to assist with Tarrant County criminal investigations. “It would really be nice to prevent abuse to begin with.”
Physical evidence of sexual abuse in children is rarely found, either because of the delay in an outcry or because the abuser was careful not to injure the child so the abuse could continue, Coffman said. That can make it difficult for parents to believe a child when he or she does make an outcry.
“Pedophiles aren't going to physically harm the child. if they do, they are going to be less likely to re-abuse the same child,” Coffman said.
Coffman and other child advocates say is important for parents to teach their children the correct names for their body parts and to know the difference between welcome and unwelcome touches so the child can communicate with an adult when something is wrong.
“Predators are talking about it with your kids. If we as parents or adults in the community are afraid to talk to kids about their bodies or prevention, you better bet predators are going to jump on that,” said Shellie McMillon, director of Centers and Education for the Alliance for Children.
A study on child advocacy
by Susan Finn -- Special to The Morning Star
In the North Okanagan, there are dozens of children every week, month, or year who require specialized services to guide them through difficult times, in particular children who have been abused or who have witnessed abuse.
If you have had experience in working with a child, as a parent, caregiver, foster home, medical examiner, lawyer, police or within the legal system, you know how difficult it is to work through a system that is mainly geared for adults and does not lend itself well to the specific needs and specialized issues of children in our society.
With funding from the Department of Justice, both federally and provincially, the Vernon Women's Transition House Society is currently undertaking a feasibility study to examine our current situation here in the North Okanagan in dealing with children who have witnessed or experienced violence. We are examining how a specialized children's response team and a child-friendly location could better meet the needs of children and increase their resilience during and after a traumatic event.
Often times, children who have been violated or have witnessed violations or abuse (possibly sexual), require interviews from an array of agencies and in a series of different locations, such as the RCMP or the Ministry of Children and Family Services, and may require some form of specific counseling from the Family Resource Centre or the Women's Transition House Society, possibly several interviews within the legal systems, such as with lawyers, judges or the courts. Currently child survivors of sexual abuse must travel out of town for medical services and a consistent, child friendly environment is not available in the North Okanagan. How different would it be if there was one location with streamlined services and one advocate for the child to deal with during this frightening and traumatic time?
It is the vision of the North Okanagan Child Advocacy Response Service Committee, to create a coordinated, streamlined service that would include all agencies who deal with all child survivors of abuse, in the form of a centre that would serve the needs of the children of the North Okanagan.
The committee is comprised of the Vernon Women's Transition House Society, The Vernon Family Resource Centre, The Ministry of Children and Family Services, The North Okanagan Neurological Association and the RCMP (local detachment) and has been working on mapping existing resources/services, and identifying gaps and overlaps in existing programming/services/resources for children.
If you would like to share any information that would lend itself to enhance this study, or are interested in further information on this project, please contact Susan Finn at email@example.com or 250-558-8714 or Michelle Novakowski at firstname.lastname@example.org. The study is expected to be completed by the end of August, 2013.
Susan Finn is a contract researcher at the Vernon Women's Transition House Society.
Bikers to hold child abuse awareness event
by Laura Blasey
Saturday, June 15
They're big, they're mean, they're scary — and they're here to help.
They're Bikers Against Child Abuse, and they're hosting their second public awareness day today at the Frederick Moose Family Center Lodge.
The South Mountain chapter of the group will treat children to face painting, crafts, games and food from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.
“We want the public to be aware of the horrors of child abuse and that BACA is out there,” event coordinator Little Wing said. “We provide services where other agencies can't.”
The bikers go by nicknames for protection during BACA events. The local chapter is part of an international nonprofit organization of bikers who have banded together to provide support for abused children and their families, from home visits to attending court with victims.
The Frederick Keys will sign autographs and children can win prizes playing foosball and air hockey tables, which will be raffled off the end of the day. The group will raffle off two bikes — one for a girl and one for a boy.
Children and their parents can also win smaller prizes and gift cards from Starbucks, the Fractured Prune and Harley-Davidson. And attendees can get a free massage courtesy of the Department of Social Services.
Representatives from the Mason Dixon Roller Vixens, Miss Maryland pageant, the Frederick Police Department, and advocacy groups including the Child Advocacy Center and the Child Trafficking Agency will make appearances to do crafts and play games.
IF YOU GO
What: Bikers Against Child Abuse family awareness event
When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today
Where: Frederick Moose Family Center Lodge 371, 828 E. Patrick St., Frederick
Repeat sex offender accused of abusing children for years
by Jesse Marx
A Tigard man was indicted Monday on more than a dozen charges related to the sexual abuse of children, and investigators are asking the public for information about other possible victims.
Joseph E. Walsh, 43, a repeat sex offender, was already in jail this spring when several people alleged he abused their children, according to Jennifer Massey, a spokeswoman for the Tualatin Police Department.
Tualatin police say the abuse occurred between 2008 and 2013 in Tualatin, Tigard, Eastern Oregon and Vancouver.
Court records show Walsh was arraigned on a 20-count indictment, which included 10 counts of first-degree sexual abuse and charges of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, encouraging child sex abuse, unlawful contact with a child, luring a minor and attempted delivery of marijuana to a person younger than 18. Five victims are named in the case.
Massey said the parents knew Walsh personally. She wouldn't provide any more detail about their relationship, but did note that detectives are still working on the case.
They've set up a confidential tip line at 503-691-0285 for anyone who has more information.
Walsh pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sodomy in 1993 in Multnomah County, according to court records. He was sentenced to five years in prison and required to register as a sex offender.
In 2001, court records show, Walsh also pleaded guilty in Multnomah County to one count of third-degree sodomy. He was sentenced then to one year, 10 months in prison.
If convicted a third time, Walsh could be eligible for life in prison because of Oregon's three-strike law for sex offenders.
On Father's Day, vow to end sex trafficking: Column
by Rick Nolan and Ted Poe
We need to eliminate the demand that drives sex trafficking.
Recently, our female colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to discuss underaged sex trafficking. Not in Southeast Asia or the Middle East, where our attention is usually directed. But right here in the United States, where on any given day, some 250,000 American children, mostly young girls, are at risk of being sold into our nation's burgeoning sex trafficking industry.
Why is America's girl-focused sex traffic industry flourishing in its dark and dangerous marketplace? The simple answer is demand. As with any business, legal or illegal, success requires demand for the product being sold. In this case, men constitute the demand. Men are part of the problem. And men are part of the solution.
That is why we are joining our female colleagues to declare loudly that "our daughters are not for sale."
Understand that the daughters that we're talking about aren't street-wise prostitutes, but on average, 12- to 14-year-old girls. Many are runaways, abducted or lured by traffickers, then raped and beaten into submission. Traffickers have turned their attention from drugs to young girls because, as we are told, criminal enterprises have discovered it is less risky and more profitable to sell young girls than it is to market heroin or crack cocaine. This is happening in America today.
Regretfully, the "johns" who pay for these young girls are rarely arrested or prosecuted. More often it is their young rape victims who are re-victimized by a legal system all too quick to label them as prostitutes and, with that, give them lifelong criminal records. Our social welfare system too often fails to provide the necessary services to help these victims.
The agenda that our female colleagues put forth marks a huge step forward by Congress in addressing this national crisis. We, as men, join them in this effort and support these principles and needed steps:
Law enforcement and prosecutors must treat trafficked girls as victims, not criminals.
Exploited and trafficked girls must receive the same legal support and protections as other rape victims and full protection under laws governing child abuse.
Social services must provide victims with healing, as well as community education programs, to help everyone better understand the nature of a victimhood that most often includes broken homes, broken relationships and a welfare system that allows kids to fall through the cracks.
But the most significant point still focuses on demand.
To be sure, the last decade has seen significant federal and state efforts to go after traffickers – most of whom are men. But virtually none of the various task forces is charged with the dual responsibility of targeting buyers – most of whom are also men.
That must change. And our laws must be clear. Anyone who buys or sells a child will be caught and punished accordingly, under the full weight of local, state, and federal enforcement agencies. Men, as well as women, need to get behind making both our system of laws and penalties airtight in that respect.
On the demand side, there is a cultural component as well as a parent/guardian component at work. Every parent knows that protecting our kids while giving them the independence they need to learn and grow is a delicate balancing act.
In the meantime, as congressmen from different sides of the aisle, who are also fathers, we are pressing our colleagues, both male and female, to help assure that Congress, the Justice Department, and the White House address the issue of demand, along with the need for tougher laws and policies, in a shared effort to end this form of modern-day slavery.
That is our Father's Day gift to America's most vulnerable daughters.
Rep. Rick Nolan is a Minnesota Democrat. Rep. Ted Poe is a Texas Republican and founder of the Victims' Rights Caucus.
Oregon House passes tough child sex trafficking bill; senator wants it to be tougher
by Christian Gaston
A set of measures aimed at cracking down on child sex trafficking unanimously passed the Oregon House Friday, but advocates still want to make the bill tougher.
The measure the House passed -- amended Senate Bill 673 -- would boost mandatory sentences for those convicted of paying for sex with a child and prevents anyone charged with the crime from using ignorance of the child's age as a defense in court.
The bill is just the latest in a series of legislation passed since 2011 aimed at cracking down sex trafficking in Oregon and boosting sentences for pimps and johns.
"I feel like we've come a long way in the last couple years and I'm very proud of the work we've done," said Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie.
The House made the Senate version of the bill more punitive by requiring mandatory jail time and $10,000 fine for the first conviction of paying for sex with a child and making the second offense a felony.
"This is a much stronger bill than the one that came to us," Tomei said.
But advocates for tougher sex trafficking laws are still pushing to make the first offense a felony.
"I think we need zero tolerance for this particular crime," said Sen. Betsy Close, R-Albany, who sponsored the bill in the Senate along with Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.
While a $10,000 fine sounds like a massive deterrent, Christine Raino, policy counsel for Shared Hope International, said people who buy sex have money to spare.
"From what we know they are people with disposable income," Raino said.
Raino's group has been pushing for tougher sentences for child sex trafficking nationwide. The first version of Senate Bill 673 was based on Shared Hope International model legislation.
But legal concerns in the Senate about making the crime a felony led to the bill's provisions being rolled back.
Portland Police Officer Mike Gallagher, speaking from his two decades of experience investigating prostitution, said making the crime a felony would be a strong deterrent.
"I think we'd send a message to the johns that we're serious about this," said Gallagher.
A misdemeanor offense is easier for a john to hide from a wife or employer, Gallagher said.
Close said she'll seek a conference committee in the legislature that would be able to amend the bill.
Tomei also sponsored a version of Shared Hope International's version of the bill in the House. But she's happy with the compromise bill.
"It's an excellent bill," Tomei said. "It's much stronger than what we have right now."
Another bill Tomei authored was signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber. House Bill 2334 allows district attorneys to prosecute pimps for attempting to force a child into prostitution. That frees prosecutors up from having to prove that the child had sex with a john in order to convict a pimp in court.
And Tomei hopes to introduce more legislation next year that would establish a secure treatment facility for the victims of sex trafficking far from the Portland area and far from their pimps.
So far, she said, progress has been made in identifying a few locations that could work. The next step is to find funding.
"We're feeling very encouraged," she said. "Now we need funding to develop it into a home."
FORUM: State task force to help combat sex trafficking
by Brendan V. Johnson is U.S. Attorney for South Dakota
When most people hear the term "human trafficking," they think of sweatshops in Malaysia or brothels in Bangkok. Human trafficking, however, is now a global problem that has metastasized into the heartland of South Dakota. Recent cases prosecuted by my office underscore the damage this crime has already inflicted on our residents.
Since 2009, we've prosecuted nine people on sex trafficking charges. Two will be sentenced later this summer, two are serving life sentences, and others have been sent to prison for a long time.
On May 30, a sex trafficker from Sioux Falls was sentenced to three life sentences based on convictions for sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion and two counts of sex trafficking of a child. There is no parole in the federal system, and his permanent home is now a federal prison.
This particular defendant, 37-year-old Carl Campbell, operated a sex-trafficking operation in and around Sioux Falls from approximately mid-2011 until late June 2012. He advertised his victims on the Internet, drove them around to various hotels and motels, and he collected proceeds from the commercial sex acts. He brutally assaulted one of his victims multiple times, and took her out of state on various occasions to engage in forced prostitution acts elsewhere.
Campbell's case probably sounds like an isolated, particularly egregious example. Unfortunately, his case is much like others we have investigated and prosecuted in our district. Like others, Campbell's victims were local women and girls. Additionally, the investigations in our district have uncovered dozens of sex-trafficking victims, most from right here in South Dakota.
The victims of these crimes tend to be female, and those involved in our cases have ranged in age from approximately 13 to 30. The backgrounds of victims vary, but they are predominantly from low-income homes, often with one or both parents absent, many endured difficult childhoods colored by abuse and neglect, and were solicited by their traffickers during periods of drug addiction and homelessness.
We have also worked with many young people who met their traffickers at times when they were desperate for money, struggling to care for family members, including young children of their own. It is clear from our cases that traffickers actively seek out vulnerable girls and young women who share these and other characteristics.
At a recent press conference, I announced the formation of a Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force will be comprised of law enforcement partners on the federal, state, and local levels.
The cases prosecuted to date are the result of a close working relationship with our partners who have initiated the investigations and conducted the sting operations. Without that collaboration, these prosecutions would not happen. Now we are taking it a step further and forming a task force to ramp up efforts to combat human trafficking.
There is another partner in this crime fighting effort: each of you, citizens in our communities. We all share a moral obligation to report suspicious activity to law enforcement, especially when the protection of our children and young women is at stake.
The prosecutions that have taken place should serve as notice to anyone who is even thinking of sex trafficking in our state. South Dakota girls and young women are not for sale. There is no refuge from law enforcement, and we will aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who tries to profit off the sexual exploitation of our most vulnerable citizens.
Supervisors to Consider Backing Hazel's Law on Sex Trafficking
The law, proposed by Rep. Juan Vargas, would make it easier to prosecute those who force minors into sex trafficking. Davis and Peters are also backing the bill.
by Jennifer Vigil
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is expected on Tuesday to consider support for a federal law that would close a loophole in regulation of child sex trafficking and speed up prosecution of defendants.
The Child Protection Act of 2013, authored by Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, would remove a requirement that the alleged trafficker knew the victim was a minor.
The bill is also known as "Hazel's Law."
Currently, the trafficker's knowledge of the victim's age at the time the crime was committed is a factor in whether he receives a longer or shorter sentence, according to a memo by Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob.
The supervisors said the average age that females become prostitutes in the U.S. is between 12 and 14 years old. Most are runaways, former foster youth or homeless, which make them prime targets for traffickers.
Cox and Jacob wrote that prosecution of alleged child sex traffickers is frequently delayed because law enforcement has to spend time looking for evidence they knew their victims' age.
“Hazel's Law” is named after a San Diegan identified as Hazel C., who the supervisors said was abducted by Maurice Lerome Smith, 41, of Oceanside and forced into prostitution.
She escaped and contacted law enforcement, but the prosecution of Smith was delayed while investigators tried to prove he knew her age. The proof was eventually found, and the defendant was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, the supervisors said.
“In the case of Mr. Smith, had Hazel's Law been in effect at the time of Hazel's abduction, the federal trial to prosecute Mr. Smith on charges of child abduction would have been streamlined to ensure a quicker trial by not having to prove Mr. Smith's knowledge of Hazel's status as a minor at the time of abduction,” Cox and Jacob wrote.
Other local Democratic congress members, Susan Davis and Scott Peters, are co-sponsors of the Vargas bill, which is now before the House Judiciary Committee.
Davis represents Lemon Grove and Peters Coronado.
Summer Time - Sex Education Helps Keep Children Safe from Abuse
by Patricia C. Wass
The latest discussion about when to start sex education, how much information to give and who should give it, highlights yet again the societal debate about sex and sexual taboos in the United States. The focus of the discussion has been about keeping children and teens safe from unwanted pregnancy and disease, especially important in light of the increasing spread of HIV and AIDS. As usual, opinions range across the spectrum, from no sex education in the schools to the schools should start as early as possible. But there is a piece of the debate which does not seem to be taking place at all: the importance of educating children about healthy sexuality in order to help kids keep themselves safe from sexual abuse.
In spite of the increasing number of news reports about child molestation, there is reluctance to talk about the issue of children being sexually abused in our society. The reluctance is certainly understandable; child sexual abuse is one of the most difficult realities we face. No one wants to believe that anyone would do something that terrible to a child, so there's an unwillingness to recognize just how pervasive this type of abuse is. In spite of our collective denial, we all may know a family where sexual abuse is taking place, may be acquainted with a sexual predator, or almost certainly know an adult who was sexually abused as a child. The statistics are staggering: one in four girls and one in six boys will be victims of some type of sexual abuse or assault by the time they reach age 18.
There are many types of child sexual abuse, from inappropriate touching, fondling, voyeurism, exposure to pornography, to full forced intercourse and sadistic acts. Victims may be infants as young as 2 months, although the average age of child sexual abuse victims is nine. Abuse may consist of a one-time incident or be ongoing perpetration which continues throughout childhood into teen years. Often a teen leaves home as the only way to escape. Although most of the high profile cases of child sexual abuse that make the news are stories about weird, creepy strangers who prey on children and often murder them, most child sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows: a parent, a sibling, another relative, a family friend, a neighbor, a teacher, a member of the clergy. It happens in every socio-economic class, every ethnic community, and among all races.
In the majority of cases, children never tell anyone what has happened to them. Why? Because it doesn't feel safe to tell. Talking about sex at all is taboo in many families; if a child can't talk about healthy sexuality and normal bodily functions comfortably, how can a little girl or boy ever tell someone about sexual abuse? If parents get hysterical when they find their children touching themselves or exploring each others' bodies out of normal curiosity, how will they react if their child tells them that Uncle Fred or Grampa or Mr. Smith next door has touched them inappropriately - or worse? Children pick up very subtle cues from their parents; if sex is never talked about, or if parents have reacted disapprovingly to any mention of sex or sexualized behavior in their children, then children will be very reluctant to tell if they've been abused.
The Miami Heat are spreading awareness for sexual abuse victims during the NBA Finals
by Eric Freeman
Basketball fans often have a tendency to fixate on the importance of the NBA Finals, the conclusion of the basketball season and the most widely respected indicator of success in the sport. Yet, no matter how much we argue about a player's legacy or the strategic battles of a series, we're still looking at grown men playing like a child's game for millions of dollars. In the grand scheme of things, they've all already won. There are much more important issues in the world, and sometimes it helps to be reminded of that.
Kudos, then, to the Miami Heat for helping to raise awareness of sexual abuse during the playoffs. From Laken Litman at For The Win:
[Mike Miller is] shooting 80% from three-point range for the Miami Heat and averaging 9.7 points per game. Watching Miller rise and fire, you might catch a glimpse of the teal band around his right wrist. The wristband reads ‘42 million.'
That's the number of survivors of childhood sexual abuse per year. The other side of the bracelet reads “Lauren's Kids”, a foundation the Heat have supported for the past three years. [...]
Lauren Book is the founder of Lauren's Kids and a Heat fan.
“It's amazing to see them wearing the bands because when I was an 11-year-old kid, I didn't think anyone cared,” Book said. “No matter what happens on the court, all of them are champions off it. They have hearts of gold.”
The Heat's actions to support Lauren's Kids fairly common around the NBA — each team and player usually has a few preferred charities — but that doesn't make them any less worthy of attention. The team is using their very public platform to spread a positive message, even if just in a casual way.
It's a reminder that, while we usually focus on measurable basketball accomplishments around this time of year, the sport can be used to express more general concepts and causes that affect people in all walks of life.
Darkness to Light: End child sexual abuse seminar set for June 27
The seminar will take place at the Allen P. August Multi-Purpose Annex, located at 2000 Moeling Street in Lake Charles. Registration is required for all who are interested in attending and will be available on a first come, first serve basis.
LAKE CHARLES — A free seminar will be offered to all Calcasieu residents in an effort to end child sexual abuse, June 27, from 8:30 a.m. until 12 noon.
The seminar will take place at the Allen P. August Multi-Purpose Annex, located at 2000 Moeling Street in Lake Charles. Registration is required for all who are interested in attending and will be available on a first come, first serve basis.
The Stewards of Children training program, presented by Louisiana CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children), is designed to train adults in the prevention of child sexual abuse and how to recognize it and react responsibly.
The program is the only nationally distributed evidence-based program with a track record in increasing knowledge, improving attitudes and changing protective behaviors of sexually abused children. Stewards of Children is a program created for both organizations and individuals that serve youth and are concerned about the safety of children.
This free seminar is made possible by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Louisiana CASA, and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Information Center of Louisiana Inc.
Interested residents can register by emailing their name, address, city and phone number to: email@example.com, or they may call Adele Mart or Brenda Prejean at 721-4020.
Grant to target child abuse
Alamosa nonprofit to receive $300K
by MATT HILDNER
ALAMOSA — The creation of a program aimed at responding to child abuse in the San Luis Valley came one step closer to reality this week with the award of a $300,000 state grant.
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs gave the grant to Alamosa County for the creation of the Children's Advocacy Center of the San Luis Valley.
The center would be run by Tu Casa, an Alamosa nonprofit that fights child and domestic abuse.
Tu Casa hopes to renovate a 1,600 square foot space for the center, which has already worked with 20 families affected by child sexual or physical abuse in the last three months.
"Referrals have come in from all over the valley," Ashley Riley Lopes, the nonprofit's executive director, said in a news release. "This is a much-needed resource for our communities."
The center offers forensic exams, pediatric sexual assault nurses exams and after care services.
The nonprofit launched a fundraising drive last year with the goal of raising $850,000 for the project.
Tu Casa still is raising funds to complete the center, including the Tough Love Tennis Tournament on June 28. More information can be found via a link available at chieftain.com or call 719-589-2465.
Rights Groups Push to Improve New York Sex Trafficking Law
by Lucy Westcott
NEW YORK, Jun 13 2013 (IPS) - It started for Ruth when she was 12 years old and for Lowyal when she was 13. After being raped by her mother's boyfriend, Ruth ran away from home and was picked up by a pimp, who sold her into prostitution.
Lowyal, bullied at school and facing a deteriorating situation at home, dropped out of school and eventually began working on the streets. In a drawing Lowyal created to depict this traumatic time in her life, a wide eye reflects a city skyline as red flames curl at the bottom, with menacing faces on both sides.
This month, New York's legislature will vote on the New York Trafficking Victims and Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), which would give more protection to girls like Ruth and Lowyal, and harsher punishments for those who trafficked them. It is part of the Women's Equality Act that supporters hope will be voted on before the legislative session ends Jun. 20.
Equality Now , an international human rights organisation, is working with the Jewish Child Care Association and the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition to get the law passed.
The organisation is encouraging supporters to send letters to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, and State Senator Dean G. Skelos.
The TVPJA will direct resources to toughening laws to target and arrest pimps and buyers rather than victims. And under the new law, penalties for buying sex from a minor will be similar to those for statutory rape.
The law would also mean that all prostituted persons under the age of 18 are treated as trafficking victims instead of criminals in the state of New York. Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds arrested for prostitution are prosecuted as adults.
“There are two provisions that we are having a hard time with and [are] getting opposition to,” Lauren Hersh, New York director of Equality Now, told IPS. Hersh is perplexed as to why these provisions are problematic.
The first is making sex trafficking a violent felony in New York State, which would send a message to law enforcement that trafficking is a violent crime, Hersh explained.
“Talk to any sex trafficking victim, and they'll tell you how violent it is,” she added.
The second is aligning New York state law with U.S. federal law, which does not require prosecutors to prove that minors were coerced into sexual acts. Under the current law, with most cases in New York, victims have to testify in court, Hersh said.
“The New York State assembly is historically against raising penalties,” Emily Amick, staff attorney at Sanctuary for Families and legislative director for the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition, told IPS.
“The law needs to evolve,” Amick said. “Albany is letting politics get in the way of helping people,” she added, with state lawmakers who oppose these provisions working against the livelihoods and futures of sex trafficking victims.
Despite some opposition, Hersh sees the bill as “excellent and comprehensive”.
The fact that women and girls are being trafficked not only inside U.S. borders, but also within city limits, may be a surprise to some people, Hersh said.
“When people think of sex trafficking, they often only think of women and girls being smuggled across international borders. But sex trafficking is happening within New York City, and many of its victims are American-born,” Hersh said in a statement.
Legislative justice is one part of the solution. Sexually exploited girls like Ruth and Lowyal should also be given a voice in the process of advocacy and justice, Hersh said. Project IMPACT, a New York-based programme that allows trafficking victims to share their stories, if and how they choose to, is one way to do so.
“I think telling my story matters because it could help other girls like me,” Veronica, another formerly trafficked girl, said, after sharing her story at Project IMPACT. “Storytelling is important because I lived this – I'm the one who knows what it's really like.”
Ruth, Lowyal and Veronica are part of Gateways, a residential treatment program for commercially sexually exploited youth that is run by the Jewish Child Care Association and allows them to rebuild their lives and self-esteem. Some Gateways residents visited Albany in May to lobby for the bill's passing.
Reliable statistics on sex trafficking are difficult to obtain due to the hidden and underground nature of the crime, according to Hersh, but a 2010 State Department report put the number of people trafficked to the United States each year at around 15,000.
Two million children are exploited each year in the international commercial sex trade, according to 2012 data from the International Labour Organisation, which also estimates that women and girls make up 98 percent of sex trafficking victims.
And in the United States, while little data is available for the number of victims, the FBI estimates that 293,000 American children and teenagers are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
“The only way we're going to have justice in New York is to pass this bill in its entirety,” Hersh told IPS.
A safe house for sex trafficking victims
DAYTON — The slow journey toward building a safe house for Dayton's trafficking victims marked a milestone Wednesday morning.
Dayton City Commission voted to donate the city-seized property at 205 N. Garland Avenue to Oasis House, a local nonprofit that helps women leave prostitution and the sex industry.
The East Dayton property will be transferred through a federal program called Operation Goodwill. The program allows properties seized in drug cases to be donated to community organizations.
The Operation Goodwill home will provide shelter for two women and a “house mom.”
“Its a very slow process,” said Cheryl Oliver, executive director of the Oasis House. “We were actually given a property in South Park and we would've been able to house 15 residents there.”
Zoning negotiations fell through on that property. Another setback was a break-in a few weeks ago at the now-donated house, according to Dayton police Maj. Brian Johns.
“Folks don't know but the house that we are seizing was broken into a few weeks ago and extensive damage done to the home,” said Johns. He said the suspects took the furnace from the house.
“Every time we move further, we get set back,” Johns said, “but we want to see this thing through no matter what.”
Oliver shared the sense of determination, telling News Center 7, “We have to start somewhere and we have to prove to the community that we are here to help.”
Jamie Cochran of the U.S. Marshals Service — the office that oversees Operation Goodwill — told the Dayton Daily News the house would be the first of its kind in the state, and one of about 100 nationally. She said Oasis House must maintain the house for at least five years and will go through an audit process every year.
The program now moves to the U.S. Attorney General's office for final approval.
Oakland: Police department, FBI create task force focused on sex trafficking and exploitation
by Brittny Mejia
OAKLAND -- The Oakland Police Department and the FBI have partnered to create the first joint task force focused on sex trafficking and exploitation in the city.
Although the FBI already has a presence in Oakland, it will now be working jointly with the Police Department, said Holly Joshi, chief of staff to interim police Chief Sean Whent and former supervisor of the Child Exploitation Unit.
Joshi worked with an FBI agent to help put the task force together, and an agreement was signed this week. However, numbers, resources and logistics are still being determined.
The task force will give the OPD access to resources it does not currently have access to, such as the FBI intelligence database, Joshi said. Exploiters and pimps often move girls out of the state, and with the FBI's nationwide jurisdiction, the task force could help tackle the issue, she added.
"You're bringing not only additional bodies, but you're also bringing the resources that the federal government has," Joshi said.
International Boulevard in Oakland has been a hotbed for trafficking from 1st Avenue to San Leandro, Joshi said.
Councilman Noel Gallo said sting operations take place almost weekly along the stretch, but there are challenges because of the limited number of police officers available.
"I believe we need all the help we can get," Gallo said, referring to the task force. "I support more police in the street and reaching out to our other law enforcement agencies."
Gallo also said citizens must do their part by reporting prostitution and cooperating with police.
"It's going to have to be a joint effort and not just an Oakland police effort for us to be able to resolve this issue," Gallo said.
Cal U human trafficking conference called a hoax
But a real function on topic will be held at University of Toledo
by Mary Niederberger and Alex Zimmerman
It's not a plea from a Nigerian prince inviting individuals to share in his inheritance for a small upfront fee. But an announcement floating around on the Internet with details about a conference on human trafficking to be held at California University of Pennsylvania next month is pretty close.
The email is addressed to "Dear Friends and Colleagues," and it invites them to the "2013 10th Annual International Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference" which it said will be held at California University of Pennsylvania's Steele Hall in July and a few days later at a location in Senegal.
The problem is there is no conference taking place at Cal U next month.
There is, however, a legitimate 10th annual conference on the topic being held at the University of Toledo in September, where professor Celia Williamson has a long history of performing extensive research on the sex trafficking of domestic minors and adult prostitution.
The legitimate conference is called the "10th Annual International Conference on Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work" and it will be held at the Student Union of the University of Toledo on Sept. 26-27.
Its purpose is to bring together practitioners and researchers to talk about their work and foster collaboration and to educate social service, health care and criminal justice professionals on human trafficking and its victims. The Toledo area has been designated by the FBI as "a hub for this type of activity," said Meghan Cunningham, a University of Toledo spokeswoman.
In addition to her research, Ms. Williamson founded a nonprofit called Second Chance, which has posted on its website the details of the conference. Details from that website are presented nearly verbatim in the scam email sent by "Ms. Hannah Paul," who uses a globomail.com email address. But the email places the conference at Cal U next month.
Cal U spokeswoman Christine Kindl said the scam email, dated June 7, which was brought to the university's attention by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, marks the third year the university has been the target of such a scam. Similar emails went out claiming the annual conference would be held at Cal U in November 2011 and 2012. In both instances the conference invitations also mentioned a follow-up conference in Senegal several days later.
This particular scam appears to be a "phishing" attack -- an attempt to trick people into giving out money or confidential information -- according to Timur Snoke, a member of the technical staff for the CERT program at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
But unlike the classic Nigerian prince attempt to get people to hand over financial information with the promise of reaping millions from a too-good-to-be-true investment, phishing attacks have become more sophisticated by targeting specific groups and mimicking legitimate organizations.
In this case, the invitation to attend a conference about human trafficking could be sent to a wide range of people who might actually be interested in a real version of the same event.
"You have a group of people that is very sensitive to an underrepresented population that is in dire straits. Then you reference a second conference in an area where this might actively be a problem ... you're playing on their heartstrings," Mr. Snoke said.
Inquiries sent to the email addresses in the fake conference announcement were not returned. The email addresses are likely free to set up and require little registration information, making them difficult to trace. The phone number listed in the email is not functional.
Mr. Snoke said spending extra time tailoring the phishing attack to mimic conferences that actually exist takes more effort but might pay off in the long run. "If only two people bite on it and you get 2,000 bucks for half an hour of your time, it's worth it," Mr. Snoke said.
Asked how people can avoid being caught up in the scams, Mr. Snoke said people should always verify requests for information by independently contacting the requesting organization instead of following links or phone numbers embedded in the original request.
Ms. Kindl said a few people have called the university in recent years to inquire about the conference, and Cal U officials have explained to them it is a hoax and warned them not to send any money for registration fees or hotel reservations to any links provided in the emails.
"It's definitely distressing that it goes to the credibility of the legitimate work that we do," Ms. Kindl said.
Cal U has hosted a conference on human trafficking for the past two years called the "Shatter the Silence" summit.
Students from Cal U's Department of Social Work have conducted extensive community outreach to bring the National Association of Missing and Exploited Children's "Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation" to southwestern Pennsylvania, according to a news release on the summit. The summit is an opportunity for students to report on their progress and hear from experts in human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The second summit was held in April at the Natali Student Center.
New law to give child sexual abuse victims more time to file
by John Sittler
INDIANAPOLIS — Victims of child sexual abuse now have more time to bring a civil case against their offenders and prosecutors will have more time to file charges in those cases under a law that takes effect July 1.
Senate Enrolled Act 142 — authored by Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond — extends the statute of limitations for lawsuits to either seven years after the offense or four years after the victim leaves the care of the alleged offender. It had been two years.
Prosecutors will now have 10 years from the commission of a crime or four years after the victim is no longer a dependent of the abuser — whichever is later — to file criminal charges. Currently the statute of limitations on those criminal offenses is five years.
Mrvan said it doesn't make sense to have the same limits for child sex crimes as the state has for lawsuits resulting from other incidents such as car accidents.
He said the extension is necessary because many children do not report the abuse right away, especially if it is committed by someone the child knows. That's the situation in 90 percent of sex abuse cases, he said in a video posted on the Indiana House Democrats website.
“This gives the victims time to mature and file charges,” he said.
Mrvan emphasized the importance of protecting Hoosier youth saying, “Nothing is more important than our children.”
Erik Scheub, director of media and public relations for the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the new law is “a step in the right direction.”
He said that often survivors take awhile to feel safe or empowered enough to come forward and report the abuse.
“The longer statute of limitations gives the system time to better prosecute those offenders,” Scheub said. This is “a great achievement for families, survivors, and potential victims.”
Silent No More
Men who were sexually abused as children have found healing and relief through Howard Fradkin. The Columbus psychologist has built a practice giving voices to victims who have been mute for years. Three of them speak with Columbus Monthly by way of encouraging others to emerge from their pain.
by John Futty
Even as he counseled patients to overcome traumatic experiences, Howard Fradkin couldn't admit that he had been sexually abused as a child.
“The most common reaction to abuse is to deny it, to push it away because it is so uncomfortable, so shameful, so embarrassing,” the Columbus psychologist says. “Most men bury it for as long as they possibly can.”
In 1983, Fradkin was 30 years old and had been a licensed psychologist for a year when he told a colleague about what he experienced throughout his childhood and adolescence at the hands of several trusted adults. The adults had convinced him that the behavior was normal. The colleague told him it was not.
“Like many survivors, it was probably at least a decade or two after the abuse that I was able to acknowledge it,” he says.
The gentle, soft-spoken therapist, now 60, spent years in therapy to deal with his own torment. And he made it his mission to help others, becoming a nationally recognized authority on the treatment of male survivors of child sexual abuse.
“What's important for them to know is that I'm a survivor like them, that I've experienced the abuse, the betrayals and the aftermath.” said Howard Fradkin, psychologist.
In an office on South Front Street in the Brewery District, he and a team of psychologists, counselors and social workers operate Affirmations: A Center for Psychotherapy and Growth. Although the center deals with a wide variety of mental health issues, Fradkin estimates 75 percent of his patients are adult survivors of child sexual abuse—and most of them are men.
Fradkin doesn't discuss the details of his abuse. He doesn't want to interfere with focusing on the stories of each client.
“What's important for them to know is that I'm a survivor like them, that I've experienced the abuse, the betrayals and the aftermath. I'm not just approaching it as an academician or someone who's read about it in books,” he says.
In fact, he's written his own book, “Joining Forces: Empowering Males Survivors to Thrive,” published last fall.
The message of the book is the same one he impresses on his clients: Those who suffer the trauma of childhood victimization—which often leads to substance abuse, dysfunctional relationships and mental-health problems in adulthood—can recover. But healing can't begin until the victim breaks his silence and rids himself of the secret that is the source of his suffering.
Abuse is traumatic for victims no matter who they are, but Fradkin says it's even more shameful for men, “because of the message in our society that men are supposed to be strong and in control of everything, especially sex. … Being a victim means you're weak, you couldn't protect yourself.”
The most commonly cited research contends that one in six boys and one in four girls is sexually abused by age 16. But statistics from those who investigate the cases show that boys report abuse much less often than girls. Local evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, supports this.
The most comprehensive work with child victims in Central Ohio is done at the Center for Family Safety and Healing at Nationwide Children's Hospital, where police, prosecutors, counselors, case workers and medical professionals work as a team to assist victims and their families. Of the 894 youths from Franklin County who came to the center in the past six years and disclosed sexual abuse by an adult, 18 percent were boys. The Columbus police sexual assault unit reports that about one in 10 of the child sexual abuse cases it investigated last year involved a male victim.
“Anecdotally, a lot of abuse of males goes unreported,” says Columbus police Sgt. Mark Kaeppner.
Because the overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse is committed by men, male victims face another stigma, he says. “Parents have told me that they fear that prosecution would publicize the case and result in others questioning the sexual orientation of their son,” Kaeppner says.
Regardless of gender, victims typically wait weeks, months or years before disclosing abuse—if they ever disclose. The statute of limitations for prosecuting sex crimes against children in Ohio is 20 years; the clock starts running when the victim turns 18. But a delay of just 72 hours means that physical evidence likely is gone; in many instances of abuse, there simply is no physical evidence.
In eight years of supervising the Franklin County prosecutor's special victims unit, assistant prosecutor Daniel Hawkins can count on one hand the number of adults who have been able to prosecute someone who sexually abused them in childhood. “The statute of limitations only gets your foot in the door,” he says. “You still have to prove the case.”
Prosecuting the abuser can be therapeutic, Fradkin says, but it's not a necessary part of the healing process. Forgiving the abuser also is an important step for some survivors, while others bristle at the idea.
“I believe self-forgiveness is what's essential,” he says. “Many survivors blame themselves for what was done to them or for not protecting themselves or for not speaking up. They need to forgive themselves.”
Lifting the stigma, preventing abuse and helping adults recover are the goals of MaleSurvivor, a nonprofit organization Fradkin helped found in 1995. Since 2001, the group has hosted Weekends of Recovery at locations throughout the country. The three-day retreats are designed for a small group of survivors to interact in a safe, nurturing atmosphere, surrounded by nature. Survivors tell their stories in small groups and employ healing techniques from meditation skills to art therapy. In one exercise, each man designs a T-shirt with a message he wants to convey about recovery.
Many of the participants stay in touch, creating an informal support network. By the time the 50th weekend takes place next month in New Haven, Connecticut, nearly 1,000 survivors will have attended.
“Many of them have been isolated, they haven't had anybody to talk to,” Fradkin says. “So by the end of the weekend, they have someone they can call or email and say, ‘I'm having a tough time today.'
“They find that they can carry that support around with them long after the weekend is over.”
Daniel Adams' memories center on the living room chair where the molestations began. His abuser was a man trusted to take care of him at the family's home in Perry, Ohio.
“I was 7 years old and I believe it only lasted one summer,” Adams says. “I knew something wasn't right, but it was our little secret. I was a very needy child. I was extremely shy and quiet and I didn't have a lot of friends. I really needed that attention. You're manipulated so it seems like you're a party to [the abuse].”
One of the sexual assaults was so painful that Adams fought to get away from the man and threatened to tell on him. “That ended it,” he says. “He wouldn't touch me after that. He wouldn't play with me.” Instead of relief, Adams felt a sense of loss. “I liked the attention, not the sexual component, but I needed the attention and it was gone.”
It wasn't until he went off to college in Columbus more than a decade later that Adams discovered how heavily the secret weighed on him. He first revealed the abuse during a conversation with his college roommate. “I ended up giving him graphic detail of what happened to me and I broke down crying. It was horribly painful. It took me a while after that to decide what to do about it.”
Increasingly depressed and confused, he eventually called 1-800-4-ACHILD, a national child-abuse hotline. “I spent hours and hours on the phone with those people,” he says. “They saved my life.”
That was 20 years ago. The 42-year-old Pickerington resident, who works in information technology, has been in and out of therapy ever since. “It doesn't take everyone 20 years,” he says. “Everyone goes through the stages at different speeds. But I don't think we can do it by ourselves.”
He is even more convinced of that after attending three Weekends of Recovery, first in 2004, and after participating in group therapy with other survivors. “I don't think the shame actually goes away until you start telling people about what happened,” Adams says. “People need to have positive experiences where they can tell their story and have people believe it and not be shamed by it.”
Adams realized in college that he is gay but knows the abuse didn't affect his sexual orientation. Instead, it robbed him of self-confidence and his ability to trust others.
“I always had a tough time connecting with people,” he says. “I'm 42 and I've been in one real relationship.”
Just two years after he entered therapy, he decided to prosecute his abuser, whom Adams declined to identify for this story. The man confessed and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. “It was a positive experience because the legal system protected me and believed me and they did something,” Adams says. “But the trauma of it was intense.”
Therapy and his work with other survivors have left him “feeling more and more confident” and willing to go public with his story.
“I don't want anybody else to be in the spot that I was,” he says. “I want people to know that there are others out there like themselves, in all walks of life. I don't want people feeling alone. There are a lot of people out there to support you. You don't have to do it alone.”
Lou Castelli was so emotionally removed from those around him that his wife referred to him as “my pet rock” and “Mr. Spock,” the “Star Trek” character who repressed his feelings.
“The joke was that if you did an EKG on him, it would be a flat line,” Barb Castelli says.
Lou doesn't argue with the description.
“Even to this day, I'm not crazy about people getting close to me,” he says, sitting beside his wife on a couch in their Worthington home. “Barb used to always say to our girls, ‘Dad doesn't like to be touched.' ”
After 25 years of marriage, Barb could no longer handle the emotional distance between them. They both remember the day she confronted him—Easter Sunday 2010. “I said, ‘I can't do this anymore,' ” Barb recalls. “There was no marriage. We never fought, nothing like that. It was just two people living in a house. I said, ‘I want a marriage. I want a husband.' ”
She badgered him for months, demanding to know why he couldn't be open and truthful with her. He responded by retreating even more. The breakthrough came that October when Lou, who specializes in business turnarounds, was on a business trip to China and the couple decided to communicate only through email.
“I was burned out, it was the end of the trip and we'd had a particularly difficult email exchange going back and forth and I just said, ‘How's this for truth? My cousin molested me,' ” he says.
“I didn't know what to do with it,” Barb says. “But I knew things were starting to make sense and I knew we needed to get help.”
Without her persistence, Lou says he never would have found his way to Fradkin, who has guided him toward healing. Now 59, Lou started his psychotherapy two and a half years ago with no idea that the sexual abuse he endured as a boy was controlling his life. The memories of abuse had been buried for decades, hidden in what Lou calls “the dark room in my head.”
He was sexually abused from the ages of 11 to 13 by a male cousin who was about 18 when it started. The cousin died several years ago, before Lou revealed the abuse. It never occurred to Lou to tell anyone what had happened. “It just goes in the dark room and you shut the door and it didn't happen and you don't think about it and you don't have to deal with it,” he says.
Psychotherapy forced him to deal with it. He remembers his initial sessions with Fradkin as “gut-wrenching.” But nothing prepared him for the experience of attending a Weekend of Recovery in 2011. “I look back at that weekend and say that really was the true beginning of my recovery.”
The most cathartic moment was the session in which the men broke into small groups and took turns sharing their stories with other survivors.
“As you watch these people and hear their stories, you're hearing their horror and you're living your own. Those sessions are awful, just awful. But they are exhilarating at the same time. It's better than drugs because you've got this weight off your chest, this secret shame you've had for 45 years,” he says. “The more you say it, the more you face it, the less impact it has on you.”
Lou is a different man as a result of the recovery process. “He's demonstrative. He's loving, in a way that he wasn't able to be before. He's calmer. There's a peace about him,” Barb says. He has disclosed the abuse to some of those closest to him, including their three daughters.
Barb and the wife of another survivor have started a support group for partners of male survivors. The couple also plans to bring Darkness to Light, a national sexual-abuse prevention and education program, to Columbus.
“Unless and until I can proudly stand in front of anybody and not have this scarlet letter on my chest, then I'm going to be a captive forever,” Lou says. “And so I'm compelled to tell, I'm compelled to disclose. Or I'm damned to be Mr. Spock, a pet rock, not very deep, for the rest of my life.
“That will be my salvation, trying to communicate to others that you don't have to be tortured by this.”
It took several years of psychotherapy before Kristofer Johnson was ready to prosecute his father.
“It takes a long time to get to a healthy point where you're ready for that stage,” the 36-year-old Brewery District resident says.
His father sexually abused him from about the age of 7 until Johnson left his family's home in Coshocton for college at the Newark campus of Ohio State University. The molestations went on for so long that Johnson asked a college counselor whether what he had was a normal relationship between a father and a son.
With the counselor's encouragement, Johnson disclosed the abuse to his two sisters and his mother. His father didn't deny the abuse. He even participated in a family counseling session. “I just remember my sisters were crying and my mother was trying to stay strong and it was a very dysfunctional appointment,” Johnson says. “I remember my dad saying we didn't need to go back, we're fixed. He wanted it to be over.”
For many years, it was. Johnson tried to go on with his life, but found himself unable to establish meaningful relationships and turning to alcohol for episodes of binge drinking. “Alcohol was my choice of distraction for a very long time,” beginning in high school, he says.
Johnson, who is gay, sought counseling to deal with relationship problems, but all his issues kept going back to his father. “I still had a lot of anger toward him. I didn't understand the effect it was having on me,” Johnson says.
Attending a Weekend of Recovery nearly three years ago was “a breakthrough,” he says.
“I had never met other people who had experienced anything like me. It gave me a sense of belonging that I had never felt in my life. That's where I learned to feel again. I knew what empathy meant, but I never felt it until that weekend.”
Johnson had the support of his mother and sisters when he reported the abuse to Coshocton police two years ago. His mother and father had divorced by then. His father, who already had admitted the abuse to the family, agreed to plead guilty in Coshocton County Common Pleas Court. He was sentenced in March 2012 to 12 years in prison.
The decision to prosecute “was not stemming from anger,” says Johnson, who didn't want to mention his father's name. “It stemmed from a very healthy place in me. I just felt this sense of justice for that child inside. I had to jump in later in life and defend that child, take care of that confused kid.”
His anger issues have faded, as has his abuse of alcohol. He is speaking out because he wants others to know “there's light at the end of the tunnel. The truth is, you don't fix this problem and close the door and move on,” he says. “It lives in you and you need to be aware of that. But I'm in a good place.
“I was the prisoner for many years. I was the prisoner until recently.”
Where to Turn
Local and national resources for victims of child sexual abuse
Call your local police or children services agency.
For Franklin County Children Services, call 614-275-2571.
The 24-hour emergency hot line is 614-229-7000.
Weekends of Recovery
Darkness to Light
The Center for Family Safety and Healing
Myth vs. Truth
Setting the record straight on common misbeliefs about perpetrators and victims of child sexual abuse
Myth: Most sexual abuse of boys is perpetrated by homosexual males.
Truth: The vast majority of abusers are not homosexual. They are pedophiles.
Myth: Boys abused by males are or will become homosexual.
Truth: There are different theories about how sexual orientation develops, but it is unlikely that someone can make another person homosexual or heterosexual.
Myth: Boys who are sexually abused will grow up to become abusers.
Truth: While past sexual victimization can be a factor in making someone more sexually aggressive, most children who are sexually victimized never perpetrate against others.
Myth: Children are most likely to be sexually abused by a stranger.
Truth: Research shows that about 85 percent of child molestation is committed by a family member or someone the family knows.
sources: MaleSurvivor, One with Courage
Sexual assault cases are challenging in resort area
by Teuta Shabani Towler
Rape and sexual assault cases are not easy to talk about. But local women's advocates are speaking up and trying to raise prevention awareness. And when such incidents do happen, they help the survivors through each step of ensuing process.
During April, which was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Outer Banks Hotline in conjunction with the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault held two days of training called Sexual Violence Primary Prevention 101.
The training was intended for agencies at the beginning stages of implementing prevention programming or those that have some experience but needed more guidance.
Amy Parsons, a sexual assault program coordinator with Hotline, teaches workshops throughout Dare County schools — from elementary to high school. Hotline's safe touch program, anti-bullying and sexual harassment awareness are part of the education and prevention programs.
She also responds to calls from law enforcement or the hospital whenever there is a report of a sexual assault.
Parsons has mostly seen younger women reporting crimes with the exception of her first case, when the victim was a male adult.
“Every case is different, and it has never been clear-cut,” Parsons said.
Whatever the case might be, she's there to help victims feel safe and comfortable. If they do not feel safe in their own homes, Hotline offers shelter.
Even with all of the education and prevention programs, the numbers of sexual assault cases are increasing.
The Dare County Sheriff's Office had 29 cases reported from Jan 1, 2012 to April 29, 2013: Eleven sexual battery, three sex offenses, six indecent liberties, two statutory rape and seven rape cases.
“Unfortunately, it seems to be progressing. Every season there are more and more. There's no decline in it,” said Scott Rodriguez, an investigator with the Dare County Sheriff's Office.
Rodriguez discussed the difficulties peculiar to Dare County. For example, during the summer months, if a child is sexually assaulted while on vacation, the incident is often not reported until six months to a year later. For obvious reasons, the crime scene — often a rental home — is completely compromised and of little value in helping put a case together.
“It's nearly impossible to find anything. That's why we rely so much on the child interview and also a good suspect interview,” Rodriguez said.
“That's when their training comes in handy,” said Gail Hutchison, victim advocate with the Dare County Sheriff's Office.
Rodriguez has attended special training provided by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, APSAC ,which teaches guidelines for interviewing children.
He talked about the structure of the child interviews. Dare County Sheriff's Office investigator,Trey Piland, emphasized how scrutinized those interviews are and how they have to be done in a particular manner so the interviewer cannot be accused of asking leading questions but also get information that will lead to criminal charges against a perpetrator. All interviews are recorded, Piland said.
While the investigators are busy building a case or getting ready to make an arrest, Gail Hutchison prepares victims for court, helps them fill out Victim's Compensation forms and also keeps the victims and their families informed about the progress of the case.
If victims are hurt and go to the hospital, sexual assault nurse examiners, SANE, Becca Eilert and Daphne Hauser will take care of them. Eilert and Hauser are SANE nurses who have been specially trained to examine rape or sexual assault victims.
“The biggest complaint we hear from patients is that they have to tell their stories too many times. Taking away the triage area and bringing in a medical provider is one less time they have to tell their story,” Eilert said.
They make sure the victims are treated and comfortable. If they want a rape kit collected, the SANE nurses will do that. They seal the box in front of the patient and release it to the law enforcement so they can send it to the state crime lab.
Patients are offered an emergency contraception (often called a “morning after pill”) to avoid pregnancy as a result of rape.
There is now a process in which victims can go to the hospital and make an anonymous (“blind”) report about a sexual assault. In this way, a sexual assault evidence collection kit can be done in the event the victim wishes to press charges at a later time. Law enforcement does not know the identity of the victim and does not begin an investigation. The kit is stored outside of Dare County at a site maintained by the State Bureau of Investigation.
Once a prosecutable case is sent to the DA's office, the first contact for the victims is Andrea Chaney, victim/witness assistant and child abuse coordinator. She helps educate the victims about their rights and their responsibilities as well as provide victim compensation forms.
“It's more than just hand holding and supporting them emotionally. I make sure all the meetings are set up with the prosecutors and I walk with them through the court process, give them a forecast of what's coming,” Chaney said.
The DA's office currently has 16 felony sexual assault cases pending. These are just cases that are ready for trial. The number of sexual assault cases under investigation by the various law enforcement agencies is not known.
“Two of those cases are sex offenders failing to register, so there's no victim in those, but they are tagged as sexual assault. Two forcible rapes of adults and all of the rest involve children in some way,” said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Karpowicz.
She said that prosecuting cases involving children are the hardest because they're the most emotional.
The legal process, depending on the type of case and the charges, takes 18 months to three years. Typically, charges are brought by a warrant or indictment.
“If we're talking about a felony case and they are charged under a warrant, then the first step is an appearance in the District Court. The first appearance and the probable cause hearing are the two main procedural points in District Court,” Karpowicz said.
“If the law enforcement does not charge under a warrant, then we will get a DA's package, which includes law enforcement reports, notes, videos and all evidence that they have and then we type up the indictments. Then the case goes in front of the grand jury and they determine if there's true bill or no true bill and then it goes to the Superior Court,” she said.
Charges under indictment seem to help the victims because there are fewer court appearances and they don't have to re-live their story every time they go to court. However, the waiting period is longer and there is not the sense of satisfaction that sometimes accompanies the immediate arrest of a suspect.
There are times when the District Attorney's Office is involved in the investigation. They help investigators with legal advice in to build a stronger case.
There are many more sexual assault cases occurring in Dare County than are reported to law enforcement. Victims may be scared, threatened, humiliated and sometimes are afraid that nobody will believe them.
Rape is not about sex; it's about power and control and is never the victim's fault.
Mexico arrests 12 in border slayings of 11 young women
by Ricardo Chavez and Mark Stevenson
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Mexican prosecutors say they have arrested 12 people in connection with the slayings of 11 young women whose skeletal remains were found near the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez early last year.
The suspects include alleged drug dealers, pimps and small store owners. They allegedly belonged to a gang that forced young women into prostitution and drug dealing and then killed them when they were "no longer of use," the prosecutors' office for the northern state of Chihuahua said in a statement late Tuesday. The 10 men and two women face charges of human trafficking and homicide.
The killings had raised fears that serial-style killings had returned to Ciudad Juarez, where over a hundred women were killed in such crimes in the 1990s and early 2000s. The latest round of deaths appeared to be different, apparently involving forced labor and prostitution, but no less chilling.
Three of the suspects ran a modeling agency, a clothing store and a small grocery.
"These businesses were used by the gang as a `hook' to offer young women jobs. Once they obtained the information they needed from the women's' job applications, they used different techniques and other people to kidnap them or pressure them into forced prostitution, and the consumption and or sale of drugs," the state attorney generals' office said.
"Once the women were no longer useful for their illegal activities, they decided to kill them and abandon their bodies ... in the Juarez Valley," just east of Ciudad Juarez.
In past cases in Ciudad Juarez, prosecutorial and police misconduct was so prevalent that the mothers of dead or missing girls doubted authorities' identification of their daughters' remains and the arrest of suspects in those cases.
But in this case, mothers and activists said Wednesday they are sure that the suspects arrested this week participated in abducting their daughters.
Maria Garcia Reynosa, the mother of Jessica Leticia Pena Garcia, who was 15 when she disappeared in 2010, said she obtained video showing her daughter entering one of the suspects' businesses, a boot shop, looking for work.
Garcia Reynosa said she had to do much of the investigative work herself, but that prosecutors finally listened to her and followed up the leads she provided on a hotel where she believed her daughter had been held. Unfortunately, it was too late by then; Jessica Leticia had already been killed.
"I gave them everything on a silver platter, and these dogs didn't do anything," she said of the original investigators.
Finally this year, the state agreed to create a small team of investigators devoted to focusing on the murders.
"This was done with the creation of the investigative agency, our presence and the efforts of the mothers, who were the ones who provided leads from the beginning," said Norma Ledesma, leader of the advocacy group Justice for Our Daughters. "They (the mothers) carried out their own investigation."
D.A. wants investigation of state child abuse hotline
by Mark Mulholland
QUEENSBURY - Gary Carpenter III was 5-years old when he died last fall from brain trauma inflicted by Brandon Warrington.
Colbi Bullock was seven months old in 2007 when he was beaten and choked to death by Michael Flint.
Both children lived in Glens Falls and both of their killers were prosecuted by Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan.
But the similarities don't end there. Hogan says in both cases, someone called the state child abuse hotline to report that they suspected the men were harming the children.
But Hogan says in both cases, the reports weren't forwarded to the county so they could be investigated. "I have no idea how it is that these calls aren't even forwarded to the county for investigation. But I think something has to be done and I think it warrants an investigation."
The state hotline, it's official name is the Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, is run by the Office of Children and Family Services.
Their spokesperson saying Wednesday that confidentiality laws prevent them from commenting on specific cases, even when the subject of the calls is deceased, but an emailed statement from Jennifer Givner says, "If a call was placed... alleging the type of neglect and abuse in this case, a report would have been...directed to the county for investigation."
But D.A. Hogan isn't so sure and she wants answers, before it's too late. Again.
"That's why I'm very concerned and its why I want to be the squeaky wheel," said Hogan. "I understand it's a difficult position to respond to every call, but clearly something has to be done when we have two cases in the span of five years that result in the death of a child."
The state spokesperson says the call takers are college educated and highly qualified. And they forward roughly two-thirds of the 300-thousand reports they take each year to the county departments of social services.
YMCA unveils program to train adults about child sex abuse
by Beth Anne Heesen
Leaders with the YMCA of Reading & Berks County are so impressed with a training program designed to prevent child sexual abuse that they're trying to bring the program to as many people as possible.
The organization spent the past four months and almost $15,000 providing the training for 357 of its staff, board members and volunteers. And the few who haven't received training soon will.
Now the YMCA wants to send its five training facilitators to churches, businesses, schools, small groups and others across the county.
"We're committed to this 100 percent," said Christine Wullert, a member of the YMCA's corporate board and chairwoman of the mission advancement committee.
Representatives of about two dozen local organizations formed an advisory council to move the initiative forward, and they met over lunch Wednesday.
The program they're implementing comes from Darkness to Light, a national nonprofit in South Carolina.
One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18, according to the Boston University School of Medicine. Darkness to Light claims that an adult trained in prevention of child sexual abuse can protect an average of 10 children from sexual abuse.
The 21/2-hour Darkness to Light training workshop teaches adults to recognize, prevent and respond responsibly to child sexual abuse in seven steps. Participants are taught how to react when children say they were abused so that they don't discourage them from telling the whole story. They also learn how to minimize opportunities for abuse and what to do when abuse is reported.
"Ninety percent of children know their perpetrators," said Kim Johnson, YMCA president and CEO. "That old adage your mom tells you not to talk to strangers - yeah, it doesn't work anymore."
Last year, there were 880 reports of child sexual abuse in Berks County and 26,664 in Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Public Welfare's recently released 2012 Child Abuse Annual Report.
Johnson said the YMCA already provides many services for children and can do much to combat child sexual abuse with the community's help.
"Child sexual abuse is the most under-reported crime in the United States," she said. "That's why I think it's so important for the YMCA to get involved."
David S. John Jr., executive director of the Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs, said 20 to 25 of the state's 70 YMCA associations have at least one staff member trained to teach the Darkness to Light program.
He hopes to have trained facilitators in all 70 associations within two years. And the big goal, one with no timeline yet, is to have 5 percent of all Pennsylvania's adults - about 500,000 people - trained in the program.
"Everybody should be in this together," John said.
Report: Rampant child abuse at ex-home in Vienna
VIENNA -- Children at a former city-run home in Vienna were rampantly abused, with some of them raped and subjected to other forms of sexual exploitation both by caregivers and outsiders, an Austrian investigative commission said Wednesday.
The commission also documented cases of physical and psychological abuse in a 344-page report summarizing the results of its investigation of claims by former wards of what used to be a home managed by the city of Vienna from 1948 to 1977.
The probe was commissioned in late 2011 after two sisters said they and the other 18 girls in their dormitory were regularly raped by groups of men.
The sisters said the abuse began when they were 6 and 8 and ended in their early teens, when the institution was shut.
Other alleged victims subsequently also came forward with testimonies of sexual, physical and psychological mistreatment in the late 1940s and early 1950s at the Schloss Wilhelminenberg home, which is now a hotel in a leafy outlying Vienna district.
Without assigning individual blame, the report concluded that municipal employees in the department overseeing the city's homes for children were aware of the widespread abuse but neglected to react. Municipal politicians who learned of them in the 1960s also shut their eyes to the problem.
Commission head Barbara Helige told reporters that the findings will be forwarded to the state prosecutors' office and other investigative agencies.
Commission members said it was up to them to determine whether crimes committed in the home fell under statutes of limitations.
The report cites dozens of alleged victims of, or witnesses to, abuse.
"I saw how they dragged a girl onto a bench, with one person forcing her hands back and sitting on her, forcing her legs back and the other one raped her," one former resident was quoted as saying.
"She screamed and struggled," the unidentified witness said, describing the victim as aged 11 or 12.
Boys were also reportedly victimized. One former resident said he was regularly molested by a dormitory supervisor at age 14.
Once the home was turned from a coed to an all-girls institution in 1962, all male orderlies were replaced by women but the abuse continued, this time from outsiders, the report said.
Some former residents spoke of being raped and otherwise sexually mishandled by men climbing through windows. Others said their caregivers took them from their dormitory to rooms where men were waiting for them.
Several said they were drugged or forced to drink alcohol.
The report also spoke of frequent beatings and other forms of physical abuse that went on for decades until the home was closed.
"Children were dragged by the hair, beaten with objects, were slapped in the face or had to kneel for long periods of time," if found guilty of misbehavior, it said. Children's faces were pushed into their food if they didn't eat properly.
Most of the children came from problem families, prompting disparaging comments about their backgrounds from those taking care of them that sometimes resulted in psychological damage, the report said.
"We should be thankful that we get something to eat and are not gassed like the Jews," one former resident was quoted as saying she was told.
She said she was also told that "we are worthless ... little whores and children of alcoholics."
Since the first allegations surfaced in 2010 of abuse at Schloss Wilhelminenberg, hundreds of former residents there have turned to Weisser Ring, a victims' organization supported by the city of Vienna. Claims of past abuse in other state or Catholic church-run institutions have also surfaced.
Beyond psychological help, some of the former Schloss Wilhelminenberg children have received financial payouts as high as 35,000 euros — more than $45,000.
The report was based on 217 interviews with 140 former charges of the home, 28 orderlies and 94 other witnesses.
Experts converging on Madison for “Paths to Healing: Conference on Child Sex abuse Survival”
MADISON —Several Wisconsin organizations have partnered to put together a one-day conference on surviving childhood sex abuse that will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Madison on Thursday, June 20.
Sponsored by Solidarity with Child Sex Abuse Victims/Survivors, Rape Crisis Center, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), OutReach Inc., Family Sexual Abuse Treatment, Canopy Center, Proud Theater, and Friends of the State Street Family the day-long conference will focus on healing and survival, particularly among male victims, an often underserved population in the sexual assault advocacy community.
The conference will start with an introduction by Kelly Anderson, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center at 10 a.m. on June 20 and will culminate at 6 p.m. with "Dare to Dream,” a program of MaleSurvivor that includes the film "Boys and Men Healing,” followed by a panel discussion led by MaleSurvivor's Executive Director Christopher Anderson. MaleSurvivor is a nationwide organization based in New York City that is committed to preventing, healing, and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men.
In the morning there will be a breakout discussion for survivors facilitated by two survivors and an introduction to survivorship led by Stephen Montagna of WCASA. The afternoon will close with a community discussion on responses and ways to help Wisconsin survivors that will be led by Kelly Anderson, executive director of Rape Crisis Center; Jude Edmonds, Oasis Clinical Director; Chuck Stonecipher, executive director of Family Sexual Abuse Treatment; Pennie Meyers, executive director of WCASA, and Nic Dibble, education consultant with the Department of Public Instruction. There may be a couple more panelists added at a later date.
Afternoon breakout sessions include:
|• "Ten Things You Should Know About Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse", by Christopher Anderson, Executive Director of MaleSurvivor.
•"Healing Families: When Sexual Abuse Hits Home", by Chris Wirth, LMFT and Rainbow Marifrog, LMFT, therapists at Canopy Center's Oasis program for the treatment of sexual abuse.
•"Choose Your Difficulty: Survivor Activism as a Path to Justice and Healing", by Peter Isely, Midwest Director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
•"Healing through Creative Expression,” by playwright and Proud Theater/Milwaukee Artistic Director Callen Harty.
Harty initially decided he wanted to bring "Dare to Dream" to Madison after seeing an e-mail about it from MaleSurvivor. He approached Anderson at the Rape Crisis Center and together they decided to expand that idea into a mini-conference on survival. He then contacted other organizations for sponsorship and support and several decided to partner to put on this important event. Harty, Stephen Montagna of WCASA, and an adult survivor who prefers to remain anonymous comprised the planning committee.
A benefit concert was held in March to help raise funds to pay for the conference and individual donations were also sought. All the involved organizations are non-profit so funding is still needed to ensure it is all covered. Donations may be mailed to OutReach, Inc., 600 Williamson Street, Madison, WI 53703. Checks should be made out to OutReach but must be marked for Paths to Healing to ensure the funds go to the right program.
Cost of the conference is $30 in advance or $40 at the door and covers all of the sessions and lunch. For more information on the conference go to the Facebook page "Paths to Healing: Conference on Child Sex Abuse Survival" or to the WCASA website (www.wcasa.org), and click on the events link. From the Paths to Healing page click the link for registration to sign up for the event in advance. A limited number of scholarships are available and can be applied for at the time of registration.
For additional information or questions contact Callen Harty at (608) 469-6686.
Cleveland kidnap case: Will the 3 women have to testify to ordeal?
Ariel Castro, facing 329 criminal counts in connection with the kidnap and abuse of three Cleveland women, is back in court Wednesday. If he contests the charges, the women will need to testify, no matter how difficult that challenge.
by Mark Guarino
The three Cleveland women whom authorities say were kidnapped and suffered physical, sexual, and emotional abuse for about a decade appear destined to recount their experiences in a public courtroom, given that the man charged with the crimes plans to plead not guilty.
A plea deal would have spared the women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight – the often-wrenching ordeal of testifying in public about details of the alleged crimes, which include rape and sexual assault. But Ariel Castro, a former Cleveland bus driver charged with keeping them hostage and inflicting the systemic abuse, is expected to fight the 329 charges authorities leveled against him last week, his lawyer told Reuters Sunday, setting in motion a trial that gives him the right to confront his accusers.
“Any testimony they are going to use at the trial has to be public,” says Michael Benza, a senior instructor of law at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “There isn't a lot that can be done to prevent it because the defendant enjoys a right to confront the witnesses against him.”
Among the criminal counts Mr. Castro faces are aggravated murder (by causing miscarriages), rape, kidnapping, and sexual assault in connection with the alleged imprisonment of the three women, two of whom were teenagers when they disappeared. The indictments cover August 2002 until February 2007, and prosecutors in Ohio's Cuyahoga County say more are forthcoming. Castro, who is being held on an $8 million bond, will be arraigned on these newest changes Wednesday and is expected to enter a plea.
A trial judge is also expected to be named Wednesday, starting a process that means the three women will eventually confront Castro in a courtroom, where they are expected to testify that he repeatedly tortured and raped them, kept them isolated in rooms while in chains, and very rarely allowed them to leave the house. A 6-year-old girl discovered in the home is reportedly Ms. Berry's daughter, conceived after allegedly being raped by Castro.
While the women must testify in public, the court can take steps to diminish their anguish, say legal experts. A judge can clear the courtroom of spectators during testimony, or establish a physical barrier between the women and the public to hide their faces, says Daniel Coyne, a criminal law professor at the Kent College of Law in Chicago who specializes in prosecuting cases of sexual violence.
“There are a variety of ways to accommodate people with some emotional concern about reliving the event through testimony,” Mr. Coyne says. “While we have public courtrooms, some judges may rule that the right and dignity of the victim supersedes the rights of the public.”
A judge also has authority to decide if a fixed pool camera for the media is permissible, and, if so, what accommodations can be made to protect the witnesses' identity. One notable example is the William Kennedy Smith rape trial in 1991 in which the victim's face was blurred on video.
Given the international attention on the case, Mr. Benza of Case Western Reserve says he expects the presiding judge will rule to have the Castro trial televised, but may dictate certain conditions, such as the angle and location of the camera.
“There is not a way for the court to close [the trial] to the public or the media,” he says.
Trial motions allow attorneys on both sides to establish parameters for victim testimony, determining factors such as the voice level used by attorneys during cross examination to the time of day when the testimony takes place, says Jason Kutulakis, an attorney outside Harrisburg, Pa., who serves on the state's jury rules committee.
“Confrontation does not necessarily equal intimidation,” he says.
Some courtrooms are exploring the introduction of certain comfort tools into the courtroom to help witnesses testifying about personal trauma cope with recounting their experiences before a room of strangers, not to mention the defendant. One such tool is a service dog, which is commonly used in trials when the witness is a juvenile, but which Mr. Kutulakis says is being employed in some legal circles to aid adult trauma survivors.
“A dog does nothing but sit there and can give a sense of comfort when the victim feels all alone. The victim can actually tell her story to the dog, which can provide them a sense of comfort,” he says.
The three women may have already testified behind closed doors to a grand jury. But it's also possible that a police investigator, not the women themselves, provided an account of their experiences during captivity. Grand jury testimony is secret and kept from the public, so it is not known who testified or even who was present.
In some high-profile kidnapping cases in which the evidence was overwhelming, the accused accepted plea agreements and went directly to prison. A recent example is Phillip Garrido, kidnapper of Jaycee Dugard, who decided to forego a trial and accept a plea deal that sent him to prison for 431 years. Ms. Dugard, who was kidnapped in 1991 at age 11 and held captive in California for 18 years, was spared the need to testify in public.
The public was allowed access to her grand jury testimony. During Mr. Garrido's sentencing, Dugard elected to send her mother to read her victim's statement, so never had to face him in court. Before releasing the grand jury transcript, El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister removed 20 percent of the material that, he said, “would qualify as pornography.”
Kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart was not spared public testimony. Kidnapped in 2002 in Salt Lake City, she testified of being raped daily after being held captive for nine months by a couple that often forced her to play the role of the man's wife. Ms. Smart endured the experience, which was televised, but it came at a price: On the third day of testimony, she abruptly left the courtroom with her mother after hearing testimony from a forensic psychiatrist who said her kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, had chastised Smart for not wanting to have his children.
Senate bill defines sex trafficking as child abuse
by VALERIE BONK
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Child prostitutes would be considered victims of abuse rather than juvenile offenders and be referred to child welfare officials under legislation in Congress aimed at extending care to them before they become ensnared in the criminal justice system.
"In much of the country today if a girl is found in the custody of a so-called pimp she is not considered to be a victim of abuse, and that's just wrong and defies common sense," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing Tuesday, where lawmakers heard a 25-year-old woman recount how the child welfare system failed her nearly a decade earlier.
Asia Graves, now a Maryland-based advocate for sexually exploited girls, told of being kicked out of her home by her father at the age of 16 and soon found herself with a man who took her in during a Boston snowstorm. After a week of living comfortably, things changed.
"He told me that he was a pimp, and I was his property," Graves said.
"I did not wake up one morning and say that I wanted to be a prostitute," she said. "There is no such thing as a `child prostitute' because legally, children cannot consent to be sold for sex. No girl chooses to be a slave. Yet, girls like me are the face of modern day slavery in America."
Michelle Guymon, a probation officer in Los Angeles, told the committee that pimps prey on girls like Graves who are left without a home and seek comfort and a place to stay.
"He may pose as a boyfriend or parental figure, offering to provide her with food, clothes, shelter, security, even love," said Guymon. "Later, after an emotional bond has been established, she is forced to engage in commercial sexual acts or face brutal physical violence."
Joette Katz, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, quoted a decade-old Justice Department report's estimates that nearly 450,000 children run away from home each year and that one-third of teens living on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
"The tough background and unstable upbringing of many foster youth increases their risk of exploitation," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "Too often, sexually exploited children have nowhere to go for help. The people they turn to don't know how to handle these cases."
The legislation, co-sponsored by Wyden and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would require state law enforcement, foster care and child welfare programs to identify children lured into sex trafficking as victims of abuse and neglect eligible for the appropriate protections and services.
In first step, child abuse package moves to Pennsylvania House floor
by Charles Thompson
The House Children and Youth Committee, in a string of unanimous votes today, gave its blessing to a package of bills meant to update Pennsylvania's child protection laws in the wake of the major sex abuse scandals at Penn State and within the Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia.
The six-bill package, taken together, would make more people submit to clearance checks before they work with children in any capacity, and require more people to report to police or child welfare authorities if they suspect something is wrong.
At the same time, the state's definitions of child abuse would be expanded to capture more types of behaviors, and the thresholds of injury required to make a case are being lowered.
"There may be some inconveniences for adults, but that's life," said Rep. Todd Stephens, a Republican from Montgomery County. "We're here to protect children."
Committee Chair Kathy Watson, R-Bucks County, said she expects the package to get votes on the House floor before the General Assembly breaks for the summer. That will set the stage, then, for work to resolve differences with the Senate.
Watson hopes for votes on a final package this fall.
Child advocates generally praised today's changes, though a few observers complained they are still waiting for tangible efforts aimed at upgrading the child welfare agencies that must ultimately give the new laws life.
Until that happens, argued Berks County resident Donna Morganti of Families United, there is no guarantee that another case like Sandusky's, where several opportunities to stop a serial pedophile were missed, won't happen.
"DPW (The state Department of Public Welfare) and children and youth services are the ones that allowed that to go on, because they did nothing," Morganti argued. "And these people are ignoring that."
Anti-domestic violence crusaders have also called attention this spring to provisions they fear may go too far in risking separations between children and non-abusive, protective parents who don't intervene or report abuse because of fears of retaliation that's even worse.
But most observers saw the committee votes as a good step, adding that because of the nuances in the issues they are fine with taking additional time to balance the twin goals of providing additional protections to children without overstepping rights.
"I'm extremely happy that we're seeing consistent progress on both sides of the General Assembly," said Jason Kutalakis, a Carlisle attorney who served on the blue-ribbon Task Force on Child Protection that recommended changes to state laws last year.
For a look at that commission's report, click here.
"There is still some work to do, but this is a solid step forward," agreed Cathleen Palm of The Protect Our Children Committee.
Among the major moves in the House package is a reset to the definition of child abuse as found in state codes.
Physical abuse, for example, would encompass "bodily injury," as opposed to the existing standard of "serious physical injury."
A new set of specific incidents such as "forcefully shaking or striking a child under one year of age," serious physical neglect, or even having a child present at the time of a drug deal or in a car driven by a drunk person would all trigger findings.
Another bill broadens the list of so-called "mandated reporters" - those obligated to report suspicions of child abuse - to include new categories including attorneys, librarians at public libraries, and paid or volunteer staff who regularly work directly with kids.
In a nod to the concealment problems exposed at Penn State and within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Phiadelphia, dual reports must now be filed with supervisors in the affected organization, and the state's Childline system.
It also sets out with new clarity whether those reports get referred to children welfare caseworkers, to police, or both.
Other bills would require criminal history and child abuse background checks for all volunteers in positions where they are responsible for a child's welfare, like youth sports coaches or school field trip chaperones, and standardize abuse language in the state's school code with other laws.
A final bill in the House package balanced the changes with new safeguards for those being investigated by requiring, for example, that child welfare agency administrators and their solicitors sign off on all reports of indicated child abuse.
Perpatrators in cases with no serious injury or sexual abuse would also have the ability to petition for removal from the state's child abuse registry after five incident-free years.
Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said she did not see any major area of conflict between the House and Senate on these bills. The main difference at this point, Benso said, is that the House is simply farther along.
That said, she applauded lawmakers for not rushing bills along in order to claim action on a popular cause.
"They've not taken the bait of the temptation to just pass a bunch of bills," Benso said this afternoon. "That was the thing we were most afraid of, because on an issue like this there's just no way you can really do that well."
How social workers' lack of domestic abuse awareness fails vulnerable adults
Adult safeguarding professionals all too frequently try to manage domestic abuse referrals using only social care interventions, meaning the most effective option is missed, says Sarah Khalil.
A survivor once said ‘living with lung cancer has been easier for me than living with constant fear and abuse' . This statement is from an older person who had lived with domestic abuse for decades and reminds me how torturous domestic abuse can be. I have heard social workers say ‘we hardly ever see any domestic abuse cases' and ‘it's not something we can offer support for'. What kind of response would that survivor get from those professionals?
In many areas of the country and indeed in our national policy, a culture has evolved where domestic abuse, adult safeguarding, children's safeguarding and community safety, are all seen as individual industries, when in reality they are intertwined. Whilst this siloed approach continues, victims of abuse are crying out for cohesive interventions.
Research suggests that disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse than non-disabled women. This implies that adults who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect are more likely to experience domestic abuse. Research also tells us that one in three female suicide attempts can be attributable to past or current domestic abuse and women experiencing domestic abuse are 15 times more likely to misuse alcohol. This therefore implies that adults who experience domestic abuse are more likely to become ‘vulnerable adults'.
'Subordinate, dependent and isolated'
At the end of March, the government provided us with a new definition of domestic abuse, which now includes controlling and coercive behaviour - as well as incidents of threatening behaviour or violence - and distinct definitions of these. Think of those you've worked with who were being abused by their adult son or daughter, their partner or ex-partner, their brother or sister, and who were made to feel, in the words of the government definition, “subordinate, dependent, isolated from sources of support” and “deprived of the means needed for independence”.
I've managed an adult safeguarding service until recently and have found it incredibly useful to have a broad approach to protecting people that encompasses domestic abuse interventions. For example, when 81-year-old Mr X is being physically and emotionally abused by his 43-year-old son we can:
work out the level of risk he is at using a domestic abuse risk indicator checklist, thereby ensuring we ask the right questions;
refer him into the multi-agency risk assessment conference (Marac) so that all agencies can consider how they can assist him;
ask the police consider removing the perpetrator with a domestic violence protection order;
use a domestic abuse 'sanctuary scheme' to put extra security in his house and offer him a referral to his local domestic abuse service for emotional support as well as our standard social care support;
liaise with domestic abuse services for expert advice, including how to develop a safety plan.
This response appears to have been sadly lacking within the serious case reviews we read, such as that concerning 83 year old Mrs A in Bournemouth and Poole, who was killed by her son-in-law. We have got to stop the tendency to immediately place victims in one type of safeguarding silo.
I still hear people ask, ‘but why didn't she leave?', in relation to domestic abuse. It is a sad fact that women in particular are most at risk of homicide or serious injury at the point of leaving an abusive relationship, which is why the choice to leave needs to be planned and risks managed. Eight out of ten domestic homicides take place at or after the point at which the deceased victim has either left or told the abusive partner that the relationship is over.
Additional barriers to leaving for vulnerable adults
When I've interviewed survivors and listened to their stories I am amazed how they have managed to leave. When I speak to adults who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect I am even more humbled as I hear of the additional barriers that they have had to overcome.
Adults who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect may have substance misuse, disabilities or mental health problems, for example, which can make doing the shopping difficult nevermind orchestrating a safe move from an abusive relationship. They may fear being placed in an institution, losing their carer, their specially-adapted home and contact with their family and grandchildren. Some survivors from a black and minority ethnic background may struggle to leave an abusive relationship due to reasons including a fear of honour-based violence, having no recourse to public funds and their language skills being a barrier to accessing support.
Research suggests that adults who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect may be less aware of support services. This means we as professionals, who are also their advocates, need to be aware of what is available for them.
We must join up safeguarding and domestic abuse services
A national drive is required from government to conjoin the often separated strands of safeguarding and to listen to the voices of survivors of domestic abuse who are also vulnerable adults. We can so easily miss where systems have affected an outcome or where a child or adult could have been better supported if the right questions and expertise are not used within the separate processes of adults' serious case reviews, children's serious case reviews or domestic homicide reviews. This is particularly relevant where adults, including those who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect, have been seriously injured or killed due to domestic abuse. How can we expect learning to occur when it is siloed within the very processes designed to encourage us to learn lessons?
In the meantime my challenge to you is to assess what you can change locally to ensure that survivors of domestic abuse who are also eligble for adult safeguarding support are given the full range of options. In Manchester the safeguarding adults and safeguarding children's boards have recently completed a joint domestic abuse protocol, our domestic abuse forum is a sub-group to the children and adults safeguarding boards, and we share our expertise from serious case reviews into the processes for domestic homicide reviews and vice versa.
The new Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services guidance, Adult Safeguarding and Domestic Abuse: A guide to support practitioners and managers, draws significantly from our new procedures. We are dealing with very challenging levels of abuse and violence of all kinds in Manchester, but we are on this journey together and that's the best way to continue.
Sarah Khalil was recently appointed as the named nurse for adult safeguarding for Manchester's clinical commissioning groups and is a member of the Manchester Safeguarding Adult Board. For more information on domestic abuse in Manchester and to download a safety plan please visit our website. The statistics quoted in this article can be found on the national Women's Aid website.
Shouldn't I be Healed by Now?
In Not Quite Healed , childhood sexual abuse survivors Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe offer hope and encouragement to men on the journey of recovery.
by Audra Jennings
Survivors of sexual abuse face a long road to recovery, a journey in which they often ask, “Shouldn't I be there by now?” Having faced the recovery process themselves, Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe, in Not Quite Healed: 40 Truths for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Kregel Publications/March 8, 2013/ISBN 978-0825442704/$14.99), honestly and openly assure fellow survivors that healing is a process, which by definition means it doesn't happen quickly—but it will happen.
“I wish I could say I'm totally healed, but that would be a lie,” writes Murphey. “This much I can say: I'm as straightforward and transparent as I'm capable of being. In the recovery process, I've searched relentlessly for total healing. I don't know if that labels me quick or slow, truly open or slightly self-deceived. Some men heal quicker than others do—we know that. But I challenge the statement of anyone who boasts of total healing from sexual abuse in eight months or a year. Or even ten years.”
Not only do the authors understand, encourage, explain, relate, and guide survivors to the path of healing, they shed light on eye-opening truths about abuse that are beneficial to family, friends and those in ministry. For example, the majority of survivors of childhood sexual abuse were kids who did not feel loved by or of value to their parents and sought the attention and affection of an adult who would show kindness to them. In fact, most perpetrators of sexual abuse (whether male or female) are adults a child not only knows, but trusts. Abusers have a keen ability to find and target such children and take advantage of their vulnerability and innocence.
A victim's need for love, a sense of abandonment and violation of trust affects relationships for a lifetime. Most men experience difficulty in expressing their emotions, and male survivors feel less like real men if they admit their pain. However, as the writers proclaim, no one heals alone, and they hope the stories and experiences within Not Quite Healed will give readers strength to face the road ahead. Murphey and Roe know about struggling to rely on God, living behind a mask, dealing with flashbacks or wrestling with the need for forgiveness. They dive deep into the long-term effects of abuse such as pornography addiction, same-sex attraction, varying degrees of fear and anxiety and other behaviors spurred on by a need for approval and acceptance.
The authors get to the heart of why childhood sexual abuse impacts its victims so deeply. “At our core, we're sexual creatures, male and female. This is part of being created in the image of God. When others abuse us sexually, they touch us at the center of our being,” Roe asserts. “Everything becomes skewed and produces a ripple effect that spreads through our entire personhood. The abuse alters the way we view ourselves, others, God and life itself.”
Each chapter closes with a self-affirming truth that will carry readers through the process of real healing. A few of the statements for meditation and repetition include:
|• I am not quite healed; I am a healing-in-progress.
• I was a needy, innocent child; someone took advantage of me. I wasn't bad; something bad was done to me.
• Pornography is a substitute for intimacy. I choose to strive for the real thing.
• Despite my attractions and desires, I don't have to give in to any wrong impulses.
• I'll never be fully healed if I hide the secrets of my past. A big step—and a difficult one—is to move out of darkness into light.
• Admitting I need help is a sign of humility, not weakness. Reaching out for help is a sign of courage.
• The tools that helped me survive as a child are no longer the tools I need to enjoy my adult life. Now I can consciously choose my tools.
In addition to the encouragement shared in the book, Murphey has also set up a website where readers can share their own stories of survival and healing, www.menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com
Free Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training Class Slated for June 13 in I.F.
IDAHO FALLS — A free class will be held this Thursday, June 13 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Help Inc. located at 1465 Hoopes Ave. in order for parents to learn about how they can help prevent childhood sexual abuse.
Pre-registration is required, according to a news release. Interested persons are asked to e-mail Jen at Jennifer@MrsBonnevilleCounty.com or to dial (208) 557-9854 to register.
Furthermore, this class will teach parents and educators the steps to protect children, and how to respond if abuse does occur. It is estimated that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys have been sexually assaulted. More than 93 percent of victims knew their abuser prior to the assault.
For more information on the national program called “Stewards of Children,” visit www.d2l.org. The Child Sexual Abuse Prevention training is taught locally at Help, Inc.
Multi-disciplinary teams: New Mexico governor's call to action
by Malinda Williams
Taos County was well represented at the recent New Mexico Crime Victims Reparations Commission's annual “Advocacy in Action” Conference, where Gov. Susana Martinez renewed her call for every New Mexico county to establish a multidisciplinary team as a “best practice” in responding to allegations of child abuse.
The multidisciplinary team approach streamlines services to victims and their families, reduces trauma to children and duplication of services, and promotes efficiency in all agencies responding to and investigating each case.
I say this with confidence because Taos County was a pioneer in the multidisciplinary approach to child abuse cases in New Mexico since 1997 when Community Against Violence staff and counselors along with representatives from law enforcement, District Attorney's Office, local district court, Children Youth and Families' Child Protective Services and medical professionals agreed on the need for a collaborative approach to respond to, intervene in, and prevent child abuse and created the Taos County multidisciplinary team. This multidisciplinary team established the Taos Children's Saferoom Program housed at CAV.
From the earliest days of the Taos Children's Saferoom, participating agencies saw the benefit of working together and developing written protocols. These collaborative agencies developed ways to be more effective to combat child abuse.
Under the guidance of the multidisciplinary team, the Taos Children's Saferoom Program grew to become a children's advocacy center, providing extensive support services to the victims and their non-offending family members. The children's advocacy center also assists other agencies in case tracking and staffing to improve the protection of children and to hold offenders accountable.
In 2005, buoyed in part by the multidisciplinary team, Taos County took another progressive step for New Mexico: the Taos County Saferoom Program became the state's first multidisciplinary team to meet the high accreditation standards of the National Children's Alliance in Washington, D.C.
Taos County was the first community to commit to and achieve the rigorous program requirements. These requirements mean that the forensic interviewers of Taos Children's Saferoom conduct quality, non-leading interviews of victim/witnesses in a child-friendly environment.
Our forensic interviewers are trained to gather information from children and teens (and now developmentally delayed adult victim/witnesses and elders with dementia) in the least traumatizing manner. The interviewers do not put words in the victim/witness mouths or lead them in any particular direction. The training enables the interviewers to testify in court and weather tough cross examination knowing the child or adult's testimony has been captured without their own influence.
The expertise developed in Taos County reaches well beyond our borders. The Taos Children's Saferoom regularly provides interviews to law enforcement in Colfax, San Miguel, Guadalupe and Union Counties as well as to law enforcement on the Pueblos of Northern New Mexico. Recently the Bureau of Indian Affairs requested that Taos County Children's Saferoom Director Julie Kay Vigil-Romero work with them to nurture an multidisciplinary team with the Northern New Mexico Pueblos.
The Saferoom program is also assisting to form an multidisciplinary team in Union and Colfax Counties to respond to child abuse cases in those areas. And at the recent New Mexico governor's multidisciplinary team summit in Albuquerque, a San Miquel County official asked Taos and Santa Fe's Saferoom Programs to work collaboratively in assisting them with their own multidisciplinary team.
With this new state-wide push, I look forward to when every New Mexico county does have its own multidisciplinary team and even more to the day when, as a state we celebrate years of success in identifying, responding to, prosecuting, and ultimately preventing child abuse.
Malinda Williams is the executive director of Community Against Violence, Inc. (CAV) which offers free confidential support and assistance for adult and child survivors of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking; re-education groups for domestic violence offenders; and male involvement and community and school violence prevention programs. To talk with someone, call the crisis line at (575) 758-9888, or office (575) 758-8082. www.taoscav.org and on Facebook.
Following museum molestation, lawmakers want tougher "Jessica's Law"
by RICHARD MOODY
After a six-year-old boy was allegedly sexually assaulted in the bathroom at the New York State Museum on Tuesday, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco and Senator Marchione stressed the importance of the legislation they are sponsoring (A.6158/S.5610) that would strengthen New York's version of "Jessica's Law."
The kindergartener was on a field trip to the museum when he went into the bathroom and was touched, according to the police, by 22-year-old Edward Tubbs Jr. The boy's mother was standing just outside the bathroom waiting.
Edward Tubbs Jr. was arrested last Wednesday and is charged with first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
"It is a tragedy that the state Legislature could let this happen at their front door," Tedisco said following the incident. "Enough is enough."
The legislation is an amendment to New York's version of Florida's Jessica's Law — a strict law on child molestation mandating a minimum penalty of 25 years to life in prison for anyone who molests a child younger than twelve years of age.
Jessica's Law was created in memory of Jessica Lunsford, a nine-year-old girl from Florida who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered by a registered sex offender living in her neighborhood. As a result of this tragedy, Florida enacted one of the nation's toughest child molestation laws. Jessica's Law has been used to designate all legislation and potential bills in other states modeled after the Florida law. Numerous states have introduced similar legislation since Florida's Jessica's Law was enacted, with 18 states enacting such measures.
New York passed a similar law in 2006 which mandates a minimum sentence of 10 to 25 years in prison if a person age 18 years of age or older commits any one of the following against a child under the age of 13: rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree and course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree. Tedisco and Marchione refer to that law as "Jessica's Law light" and say punishments should be more severe.
Their proposed legislation will mandate a minimum penalty of 25 years to life in prison for child molestation and mandate lifetime parole supervision for those offenders released from jail.
"It is time that our Empire State joined other states such as Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Virginia and Florida that are headed in the right direction regarding this much-needed public safety measure," Marchione said.
Tedisco added that the legislation "was not a deterrent in this case, but this will get him off the streets and lifetime parole supervision will prevent this from happening in the future if he ever gets out of prison."
The Assembly bill is cosponsored by Republican Assemblyman David McDonough, and is backed by all Republicans except one. The bill has no Senate backers at this time.
Both Senate bill S.5610 and Assembly bill A.6158 are pending before the Committee on Codes in their respective houses.
Government has a responsibility in ending sex trafficking
by Dr. Elizabeth J. Letourneau
Right now, we respond to each incident of sex trafficking as an individual crime that prompts action and treatment. We often punish the victim unknowingly. The young women caught in horrific trafficking situations are often vulnerable and coerced with promises of a better life. While the law enforcement responses are critical, we're missing the broader picture.
Instead of addressing sex trafficking as a public health problem that has causes and can be prevented – which it can – we are in a constant state of reaction that never gets us ahead of the problem.
At the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, we are doing the research that we hope will inform prevention measures and spark policymakers to take a public health approach to ending child sexual abuse like trafficking. But we are only one part of the equation.
We also need federal, state and city governments willing make the long-term commitments to the kind of research-informed prevention measures that actually lead to reducing the risks our children face.
Last month, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) brought together 400 specialists to continue a dialogue between each department within his state's government and practitioners, policymakers and researchers on how to combat human trafficking in Maryland. This dialogue began with the creation of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force in 2007. This kind of long-term, multidisciplinary investment is what leads to innovative new strategies and tactics.
As one example, Maryland's Department of Juvenile Services has developed and pilot-tested a risk assessment tool for identifying boys and girls victimized by trafficking who might benefit from specialized services. Similar efforts are underway by the state's Department of Human Resources and Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Efforts such as these will help to bring about change and may ultimately reduce human trafficking and its effects.
Also last month, the Advisory Council on Child Trafficking (ACCT), Goldman Sachs Foundation, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health convened a symposium on trafficking that brought together policy makers, advocates, and scholars to identify additional ways in which research can inform child sex trafficking policy and practice.
Today, Sen. Baucus (D-Mont.) is rightfully convening a hearing on the state of sex trafficking and the role of child welfare agencies. This hearing is a step in the right direction in solving a serious public health problem we have in this country. He and Sen. Hatch (R-Utah) are planting a crucial stake in the effort to build the coordinated federal and state response needed to truly end trafficking in this country.
Those of us focused on ending child sexual abuse must continue to build partnerships with state and local governments to start developing and testing the innovative prevention policies that will one day filter up to federal law enforcement and public health policy.
Child sexual abuse—from the rare cases that involve long-term kidnappings or worse at the hands of strangers, to the far more common cases of abuse perpetrated by family members and friends—is preventable. But until our governments, researchers and practitioners are partnering to address this as a public health issue, our only course of action will be to wait and respond to the next horrible incident. And when it happens, we'll wonder the same thing we always do: How could we have prevented this?
Dr. Letourneau is the director of the newly launched Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.
South Carolinian to receive "Nobel Prize for public service"
by Judi Gatson
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -- It's become known as the Nobel Prize for public service. The Jefferson Awards are a prestigious national recognition system honoring community champions for their achievements and contributions.
Past winners include Barbara Bush, Oprah Winfrey, and Peyton Manning. Now a South Carolinian will be added to the list.
The letter nominating Rosalyn Moses called her a "one woman show who's a quiet hero."
When you meet Moses, you can tell she keeps it real. It's one of the reasons she's making such an impact on her students through her weekly empowerment group called "This is Girl Power!"
The girls engage in real talk about everything from healthy relationships to self-esteem.
Helping children and adults work through those kinds of emotions is a big part of what Moses does as executive director of the Family Resource Center. They provide counseling and other services for victims of rape and child sexual trauma.
Moses has a heart for helping victims because she understands their pain.
"Having been a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and as an adult a survivor of rape and a teen mom, which are all the things we do at the Family Resource Center, having experienced all of those things when I walk into a room, when I sit with a survivor, when I'm at the hospital in the middle of the night with a woman who's been raped, I understand," said Moses.
Moses first came to the FRC 21 years ago as a volunteer. Board member and mentor Dr. Althea Truitt says this agency represents Moses' identity.
"Rosalyn had all these qualities with her and the mission of this agency brought them out, the mission of the agency demanded what Rosalyn had to give," said Truitt.
To many, the demands of this job would be overwhelming, but Moses has a way of meeting victims where they are.
"I try my very best to be what they need in that moment, whatever that is," said Moses. "Whether it's a hand to hold, comforting word, and it's humbling to be able to walk on that journey with them."
Moses is a living testimony of "getting beyond it", but there are days that take her back.
"I can remember doing a presentation at a school and a child disclosed while I was doing the program, then afterwards we talked about what had happened to her. It sounded like my story. And so immediately, there came this wave of heat over me and I kinda, I stood still and I remember looking at her and thinking. 'Oh, my goodness,' but quickly, I jumped into but now you can affect change," said Moses.
That's why prevention programs like Girl Power are so important. It helps to make sure the girls grow up to be strong, smart women and understand they don't ever have to be a victim.
Lawmakers: Lack Of Labor Protections Allows For Abuse Of Child Models
Current Conditions Lead To Financial, Sexual Abuse, Lawmakers Say
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York state lawmakers joined former child models Sunday to release a report detailing the lack of labor protections for children who work as models.
State Senate co-leader Jeff Klein (D-The Bronx/Westchester) and Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn/Staten Island) appeared with model Coco Rocha and several former child models Sunday on the steps of Lincoln Center to discuss the ways child models have been exploited and abused.
“While New York may set the trends when it comes to fashion, we are falling short when it comes to setting fair labor standards for young people who are trying to break into the industry,” Klein said in a news release. “That's why Senator Savino and I are taking action to push for legislation that would extend the educational and financial protections currently afforded to all other child performers.”
The report on the crisis by the Independent Democratic Conference said runway and print models have few protections compared with other children who work in the entertainment field, such as actors, dancers and musicians.
The conference also found that child models are often mistreated and even sexually abused.
• READ THE REPORT
“Most models begin their career around the age of 13, sacrificing their education, health and financial security to model without the basic protections they deserve under New York's current law,” Savino said in the release. “Today, we are bringing attention to the rampant exploitation and sexual abuse of child models and announcing legislation that will give child models these critical protections they have gone without for too long.”
Specifically, child models are denied protections such as the requirement of a responsible person to serve as a safety monitor, a nurse with pediatric experience, teachers and dedicated space for education, safety-based instruction to performers and parents, and a trust fund into which employers must deposit at least 15 percent of a child model's earnings.
In fact, the report said, child models often are not paid at all. They instead receive designer clothing as their only compensation.
The lack of these protections has contributed to the prevalence of financial, as well as sexual, abuse in the child modeling industry, the lawmakers said.
Model Alliance executive director Sara Ziff said the treatment of child models at the hands of nefarious employers cannot continue.
“Most fashion models begin their careers in their early teens, and the choices they make as kids may have long-lasting repercussions,” she said in the release. “During these critical years, models often experience pressures, including nudity, sexual demands, starvation dieting, working long hours for no pay, and foregoing education, that would not be tolerated in any other work environment.”
Rocha added she has experienced the dangers of child modeling firsthand.
“Having once been a teenage model, living and working in New York, I know all too well the difficulties that face underage models,” she said in the release. “Little to no workplace standards at times made my profession a very dangerous one for a minor.”
Savino has released legislation that would require child print and runway models to be included in the definition of “cultural and artistic services” that is currently protected under state labor law – a change that would provide the models with the full protections afforded to other child performers.
Calls of Suspected Child Abuse Up Over 2,000 in the Last Year
by Jessica Nath
An annual report from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare showed a record-breaking number of calls of suspected child abuse or neglect, but this might not be all bad news.
Department spokeswoman Anne Bale said officials think the increase in calls might not be because there are more cases of actual abuse happening.
“What we're seeing is that we're having a better awareness in Pennsylvania in the last year or so, and that has resulted in more people calling in suspected abuses," Bale said. "And we feel that's a good thing because in the long run, we are keeping that conversation going and we're keeping children safe."
Bale said the child abuse hotline registered more than 26,000 calls in 2012, an increase of 2,286 calls from 2011.
Child social services noticed a spike in calls of suspected abuse when former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexual abuse in November of 2011 and convicted in June of 2012.
The department also reported that there were 33 deaths from child abuse in 2012, which is one fewer than a year earlier.
“Anytime a child dies of abuse in Pennsylvania, the department and a team of people get together to discuss any issues that could have been addressed prior to the death, anything that may have gone wrong, anything that we can improve upon, anything that we can do better to prevent it from happening again,” Bale said.
According to Bale, the majority of calls come from mandated reporters, which are people who work with children regularly such as teachers or hospital workers who are required by law to report suspected abuse.
Dr. Mary Carrasco of A Child's Place at Mercy said that there are certain signs to look for if you suspect a child is being abused.
“If you see bruises in unusual places or if you see a kid who appears to be really afraid of their parents, you need to be concerned, and you have a responsibility as a citizen to make a report of abuse,” Carrasco said.
Carrasco said the children's reactions vary, and one child in an abusive environment might be resilient while another child in the same household might fall apart completely.
“It's not just a saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child,' because what we all need to understand is that the future of the country and the future of the environment in which we grow up depends on every child growing up adequately,” Carrasco said.
Abuse by foster parents rare
by RUSSELL ANGLIN
Child abuse is an ongoing problem in the United States, while cases of abuse by foster parents are relatively rare, government data show.
Child Protective Services agencies estimated more than 680,000 children fell victim to abuse or neglect in 2011 nationwide, about 9 of every 1,000 children. More than 1,500 of those child victims died in 2011, the most recently available Department of Health and Human Services data show.
Statistics show less than 1 percent of children living in foster homes in Texas were victimized by a foster parent in 2011. That percentage remained mostly unchanged since 2007, reports show.
Data show 84 reported cases of child abuse by foster parents in Texas in 2011, compared with more than 72,000 cases of child abuse by the victim's parents. Parents abused or neglected their own children in about 80 percent of reported cases nationwide.
Amarillo Area Court Appointed Special Advocates Program Director Linda Coronado said when judges appoint CASA volunteers to monitor abused or neglected children, the volunteer will pay monthly visits to the child's home, as well as visits at school or in other settings away from home.
“A lot of the time … if we suspect something's going on, that child's not going to talk to us at home,” Coronado said.
Advocates remain in close contact with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to monitor children and report any suspicions of abuse or neglect to the judge handling their cases.
“Lots of times (Child Protective Services) already has the same concerns that we had; it's just putting two and two together,” Coronado said. “That's why it's so important that CASA and CPS work together.”
Coronado said local advocates have suspected in a “handful” of cases that foster parents were trying to game the foster system for money. Some of those cases involved foster children who require more care and supervision, because the government gives more money to the children's caregivers in those cases, Coronado said.
“The majority of our foster parents are really, really good foster parents and they care about these kids,” Coronado said.
Mothers of April Jones and Sara Payne campaign against internet child abuse images
Coral Jones and Sara Payne have pledged to campaign together to ensure "such sites are gone and these images removed".
The mothers of murdered children April Jones and Sara Payne have joined forces to push for child abuse images to be taken off the internet.
Coral Jones, who lost five-year-old April when she was murdered by Mark Bridger in October, said: “If I can help save one child I will be happy.”
She has met with Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter was killed by Roy Whiting in 2000, and the two have described their pain at the loss of their children, and discussed the scourge of child pornography.
April's mother said: “I have hit rock bottom and I've only just started coming back. But I want to do this for April, I want to do something in her name... There's no reason for these sites to be there.
“If you're looking at a paedophile site then there's got to be something wrong with you. He put in words like ‘naked five-year-old' — there shouldn't be any results at all.
“There should be no images. We know he was searching these sites that day, that he looked, looked again, went out and suddenly there's little April.
“There was a direct link between what he looked for and what he did.”
Describing the images she saw at the trial of Bridger, 47, who last month was jailed for life, she said: “I didn't want to look at the pictures in court but I had to — they were just horrible. Why should they be on the internet?
“People have pages and folders full of this stuff they can get off the internet and it is disgusting.
“If you are a convicted paedophile you should not be allowed access to the internet at all.”
She is calling for the introduction of a new law which would require search engines and internet providers to pay a levy which would finance the policing of the internet.
“The Government should be involved because they have got a lot more power than parents have,” she says in an interview with the Sun.
Sarah's mother tells her: “You are stronger than you think. Campaigning is not easy, but we won't stop until these sites are gone and these images removed. I think we are going to make a very good team.”
Training to help adults protect kids from sex abuse
by NANCY HICKS
Kick. Scream. Run.
That's what kids are taught to do when confronted with a stranger trying to harm them.
But it is really the responsibility of adults to protect children, says Lynn Ayers, executive director of Lincoln's Child Advocacy Center.
Prevent, recognize and react responsibly might be the mantra for adults responsible for protecting children from sexual abuse.
The Child Advocacy Center offers classes twice a month to adults, using curriculum developed by the national program, "Darkness to Light."
The scope of the problem is pretty eye-opening, said Ayers. Statistics indicate one-fourth of all girls and one-sixth of all boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday, most often when they are young.
The median age is 9.
And the danger is not from a stranger, but a family member, a friend, a neighbor.
Last year, the center had reports of potential sexual abuse involving almost 1,000 children. And in 99 percent of the cases, the child knew the alleged abuser. Sixty-six percent of the time it was a family member.
The advice to "kick, scream and run" doesn't work with dad or uncle. "Children are already blaming themselves, and then we tell them it is their job to stop it," said Ayers.
"We've spent 30 years teaching kids how to defend themselves, as if they have any power to do anything," said Ayers. "It's not the kids' responsibility. Adults need to step up and be leaders," she said.
The class uses a seven-step process to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse and the steps to take to prevent and report abuse.
That includes criminal history checks for volunteers and policies that forbid child-to-adult interactions that are not in public areas.
The Advocacy Center, for example, makes sure there is no place in the building where you can't see what is going on. All rooms have glass, so you can see into them. "We want to make sure kids are safe; we owe it to them," said Ayers.
People who sexually abuse children seek out opportunities to meet and groom them. That includes youth-oriented agencies.
The Advocacy Center's class is available to United Way agency employees free through grants from the United Way and the Lancaster County Attorney's office.
Anyone can take the class, aimed at agencies and people who deal with youth. The cost is $15 for an individual and $100 for an agency.
Information is available on the Advocacy Center website, www.smvoices.org, or by phone, 402-476-3200.
Keep eyes, ears open for child sexual abuse
Admittedly, it could just be how it seems but instances of sexual assault in Harrison County do appear to be increasing, and that is certainly a cause for concern.
It could also be that more vigorous police and prosecutorial action is making these cases appear more than normal in the pages of this newspaper.
We can give praise to all the law enforcement agencies and to District Attorney Coke Solomon's office for their actions in dealing with sexual assault cases. If there is a way to help stop these kinds of criminals, seeing that they end up behind bars is just about the only way.
Sure and swift justice might lead others to think twice about trying to prey on children. There's no guarantee, but the absence of such justice will only make them more bold.
The latest cases we have reported on have nothing to do with the Internet or children facing dangers from the unknown, the kind of cases that seem to get the most attention. These under-age victims were preyed upon by those they already knew and probably trusted completely.
Parents and care-givers tend to worry mostly about those “unknown” predators who lurk in the shadows. The truth is, however, that almost all sexual assaults are done by people who know their victims.
If you are a parent you should closely watch even those situations where you believe your child is with someone “safe.” Those who have no bad intentions will understand your concern and will not be offended.
Sex crimes are rarely about sex, but about power and it is often those who were themselves sexually abused as children who will repeat the acts on others. This does not lessen the seriousness of their crimes, of course, but it does help us understand their motivation.
Beyond what the police and prosecutors can do, the rest of us can play a part in helping prevent the sexual abuse of children.
The most important thing we can do is keep our eyes and ears open. If we see or hear anything that makes us suspect that a child might be the victim of abuse we should report it to the proper authorities.
If you cannot bring yourself to call the police, tell someone. Tell a teacher, a minister, a nurse or doctor. Whatever you do, don't just sit on your suspicions and keep quiet.
If you do that you could be guaranteeing that the child will have to continue to be subjected to abuse. We cannot imagine that anyone reading this editorial would want to do that.
If the predators know that everyone is willing to speak up, it might prevent them from acting. At the very least it is worth a try.
Children vulnerable to sexual abuse being failed by authorities, say MPs
Authorities lack curiosity about those in their care, warn MPs, amid claims of appalling treatment by abusers and agencies
by Alexandra Topping
Vulnerable children in the UK are still being failed by local authorities, the police and the criminal justice system, which are failing to protect them from sexual exploitation, say MPs.
Recent criminal cases which revealed the devastating impact of sexual exploitation on children have laid bare a "woeful lack of professional curiosity" from statutory agencies in different areas of the country, according to the results released on Monday of an inquiry into child sexual exploitation by the Commons home affairs select committee.
Last month seven men were found guilty at the Old Bailey of subjecting vulnerable girls in Oxford to years of rape, abuse and sexual violence. Last year nine Rochdale men were jailed for their part in a child sexual exploitation gang that targeted vulnerable girls, plying them with alcohol, drugs and gifts; and in 2010 five men were jailed after being found guilty of sex offences against girls as young as 12 in Rotherham and nine men were convicted of grooming and abusing girls in Derby.
Police, social services and the Crown Prosecution Service shared responsibility for preventing the abuse of vulnerable children left unprotected by the system, said the report. Rochdale and Rotherham councils were "inexcusably slow to realise […] the widespread, organised sexual abuse of children, many of them in the care of the local authority".
The report adds: "This is due in large part to a woeful lack of professional curiosity. It is no defence for Rochdale and Rotherham managers to say that they had no knowledge of what was taking place, as they are ultimately responsible and must be held accountable for the appalling consequences of their indifference."
The committee chair, Keith Vaz, said it had been a harrowing inquiry, which had heard of children being treated appallingly by both their abusers and government agencies. "We were shocked to learn that it is still happening, in every part of the country," he said. "The quality of the response to the abuse depends on where you live and that is inexcusable."
Officials who had failed vulnerable children and done little as their childhoods were destroyed should not receive payouts if they had been forced to leave their roles, the MPs said. They called specifically for Roger Ellis, chief executive of Rochdale council for 12 years, to pay back the £76,798 he received as a redundancy payout.
There was a "postcode lottery" in the way different police forces dealt with child sexual exploitation, according to the report, which noted Lancashire police secured 100 prosecutions a year whereas South Yorkshire had none. South Yorkshire's newly elected police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, told the committee he had not met with any victims of child sexual exploitation, the report said, adding: "We suggest Mr Wright may wish to take more of an interest in the victims than he has done previously."
The report also criticised Greater Manchester police for recording allegations of sexual exploitation as "non-crimes" and asking a victim to sign a disclaimer that said she was unwilling to support a prosecution, calling such behaviour "a betrayal of the victims".
The education secretary, Michael Gove, was also criticised for rejecting the committee's recommendation that assistance be given to teachers to help them identify and support children who are at risk. "We are concerned that the Department for Education does not seem to understand the importance of a holistic approach towards safeguarding children," the MPs wrote.
The committee called for an overhaul of the way vulnerable children are treated by the criminal justice system, including more training and greater awareness. It called on the Ministry of Justice to introduce specialist courts for child sexual exploitation cases and sexual offences, and made an urgent appeal for a system of pre-trial cross-examination – known as "Pigot 2" – to be widely introduced. It detailed cases
Local authorities should ensure funding for the prevention of child sexual exploitation in multi-agency teams, the MPs said, stressing that identification, prevention and early intervention were key to preventing further cases.
The report also concluded there was no simple link between race and child sexual exploitation, despite high-profile cases in Rotherham, Rochdale, Derby and Oxford involving the exploitation of girls by groups composed mainly of Asian men. The report concluded that there was a model of men of mainly Pakistani heritage targeting white girls, but said it was just one of a number of models.
"Stereotyping offenders as all coming from a particular background is as likely to perpetuate the problem as is a refusal to acknowledge that a particular group of offenders share a common ethnicity," said Vaz. But the report added: "It is difficult to argue that race has had no impact in some of these cases, not just on the part of the perpetrators […] but also on the part of their communities, who turned a blind eye to the abuse of hidden BME [black and minority ethnic] victims … and on the part of professionals who were scared of being labelled racist."
Barnardo's CEO Anne Marie Carrie said all agencies and the wider community had to work together to prevent abuse. "Victims of child sexual exploitation are being failed twice: once by the failure to prevent them becoming victims in the first place and again by the failure to take swift action once that abuse has come to light," she said. "Everyone coming into contact with vulnerable teenagers needs to remember that they are children too, and cannot consent to their own abuse."
David Tucker, NSPCC head of policy, said: "This report is a damning indictment of systemic failure to protect vulnerable children and young people from horrific sexual abuse and exploitation. Obvious signs of abuse were missed by a number of agencies and there is no excuse for the way these girls were let down, often by the very people who were meant to protect and care for them.
"The victims in recent child sexual exploitation cases were too often ignored or treated as troublemakers. There now needs to be a culture change among police, CPS, the judiciary, and all child protection professionals, so they better understand how grooming gangs operate, and how young people's behaviour could be a sign they are at risk of, or suffering, sexual exploitation."