Free Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training Being Offered
by Kerry Fair, Authorized Facilitator, Eastern Connecticut
According to recent numbers compiled by Connecticut's Child Advocacy Centers, Windham County has, by far, the highest incidence of child sexual abuse per capita in the state. Children who live, learn, grow and play in Windham County are at a higher risk for being sexually abused before they reach adulthood than children in other areas of the state.
Kerry Fair, local authorized facilitator for Darkness to Light, is offering two opportunities to gain the tools to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse in our communities. The Stewards of Children training is offered at no cost on June 27, at the Killingly Public Library on Westcott Road. Two sessions are being offered - 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.
Internet Safety for Children
Amidst all the trips to the beach, family vacations, and picnics this summer, children will also spend an increased amount of time on the Internet. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, children and teenagers aged 8-18 spend almost 8 hours a day on electronic devices. This summer, the Stop.Think.Connect. ™ campaign is encouraging parents to take a few minutes to talk with their children about Internet safety.
While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk. For children, this includes cyber bullying, cyber predators, and other threats. The Cyber Bullying Research Center says that about half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly. The Internet makes it easy for rumors, threats, and photos to be easily disseminated, without realizing the harm it can cause someone else.
Parents, teachers, and guardians can begin taking steps to protect children online by creating an open environment where they feel comfortable reporting abuses over the Internet. Here are some additional tips from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign:
Be aware of what social networks your kids and teens use and how much information they share. They should never share addresses, birthdays, schools, and last names with strangers;
Teach your kids how to conduct searches safely, by using specific and narrow search terms on commonly-used search engines to prevent unwanted and malicious results;
Install filters and firewalls to manage what sites your kids can access;
Set strong passwords that are different on every site; and
Remind your children not to say anything online about someone else that they would not want them to said about them.
At the end of the day, cybersecurity is ultimately about people and is a shared responsibility. We are all called on to ACT or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect
Life sentences for child abuse deaths
The San Francisco Chronicle reported today a Bennettsville man was sentenced to life in prison on Friday after he was found guilty of raping his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter and abusing her so severely the injuries eventually caused her death. It only took about 45 minutes for the jury to decide Huckabee's fate. Huckabee physically abused Edna Hunt, burned her with his cigarettes, pulled out her two front teeth and sexually abused her for several months before she died in October 2011.
Tragically, child abuse deaths do not always result in a life sentence or death sentence. According to The Star Ledger, the average prison time for those convicted in child homicide cases in New Jersey is eleven years. There are no national surveys or statistics on how other states prosecute child death cases, but interviews with various law enforcement officials and child welfare experts indicate that New Jersey's record is not unusual. "The criminal justice system in this country by and large treats children as second-class citizens," said Daniel Armagh, director of legal education at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "If you have the same crime against an adult and child, you'll have incredibly disparate results." Child welfare and law enforcement officials say that one major problem is that the law is written to address factors surrounding adult homicides. A murder charge requires proof of intent to kill or cause injury that results in death.
How can a child abuse death result in anything but a life sentence or death sentence? Especially when the death occurred as a result of horrific physical or sexual abuse at the hands of the person who is supposed to love them and protect them. The following cases involve child abuse deaths that resulted in life sentences for the offender and the hope is that more states will follow suit and demand laws that will value our children's lives by instituting stricter penalties.
On June 8th, CBS Detroit reported that a 27-year-old Oakland County man will spend the rest of his life in prison in the death of his ex-girlfriend's 4-month-old son. Donald Raleigh was charged with first-degree felony murder and first-degree child abuse in the slaying of Dominic Carrette. Dominic was dropped Oct. 25, 2012 on the basement floor of his home. He later died at a hospital. Prosecutor Kelly Collins said during trial. “The defendant demolished Dominic's skull, causing his very untimely, brutal and fast death.”
On June 5th, MLIVE reported that 26-year-old, Marcus Hill, was ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars for the 2012 death of his ex-girlfriend's 2-year-old son. He was convicted last month of first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and torture. Authorities allege he and Mercedes Kemp abused, tortured and ultimately killed Kemp's son, Brandon Kemp.
CBS2 Report Inspires Legislation That Would Prohibit Spousal Support In Child Sex Abuse Cases
RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — A CBS2 news report has inspired a proposed bill that would prohibit spousal support in child sex abuse cases.
In May, CBS2's Andrea Fujii talked with Carol Abar, who was sued by her ex-husband, Ed, for alimony even after he'd been convicted of raping her daughter.
Abar, however, said the judge assigned to the case watched her story on television and essentially threw out the lawsuit.
“He said that Mr. Abar is wasting his time and money,” said Abar. “I'm (relieved) that justice (has) been served.”
Due to a loophole under California law, Ed Abar, who spent more than a year in jail, would actually be eligible to receive spousal support from his ex-wife.
The court only takes domestic abuse between spouses into consideration when deciding alimony; child abuse is not specifically mentioned in the law.
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, of Murrieta, has introduced legislation to change that.
AB 681 would prohibit the award of spousal support to a spouse convicted of a violent sexual felony against a child (of the marriage).
“It was through your news station that we first picked up on this story, and it just really struck me. As a parent, it was unfathomable,” said Melendez. “I didn't want to see more spouses, whether men or women, victimized in this way.”
Abar said the law must pass because she made a promise to her daughter.
“This loophole has to be closed, and I would continue that fight until that loophole was closed in the law,” she said.
Keep pressure on to fight human trafficking
Nearly every country has stepped up law-enforcement efforts against human and sex traffickers, thanks to diplomatic prodding by the U.S. State Department.
THE U.S. State Department's annual barometer of anti-trafficking efforts around the world is in. Of the 188 countries ranked in the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report, nearly all are doing a better job identifying victims and going after their perpetrators.
Nearly every country or foreign territory has anti-trafficking criminal statutes. As a result, the number of identified victims is up 10 percent to 46,500 worldwide. The notion of fighting human and sex trafficking revolves around finding and helping victims. Spot it and stop it, says Secretary of State John Kerry.
Once victims are found, their perpetrators should be punished. The report notes a 20-percent rise, at 4,746, in worldwide convictions for human trafficking-related crimes.
Tiny numbers compared with the estimated 27 million people forced into prostitution or unpaid labor around the globe, but foreign governments are doing better at reaching for their obligation to stamp out human trafficking.
The State Department's annual report is an important diplomatic tool required under the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Countries' anti-trafficking efforts are tracked and rated on prevention, protection and prosecution. Rankings play a key role, identifying which countries the U.S. should follow up with diplomatic engagement, training and legal and technical advice.
Embarrassment over a low rating, or in some cases financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. because of a low rating, can pressure countries into doing more to fight human and sex trafficking crimes, says U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Cyprus added a forensic psychologist to its anti-trafficking police unit. Latvia has doubled the funding for victim services in the last three years. Iraq created a new anti-trafficking unit in the Ministry of Interior.
And Myanmar, which has long had state-sponsored forced labor, recently repealed the 1907 law that condoned such labor. It did so after pressure from international governments and labor organizations.
Anti-trafficking efforts in the U.S. are ongoing from Washington, D.C., to Washington state, giving this country the highest ranking. More can always be done. President Obama recently signed an executive order requiring the federal government, one of the biggest purchasers of consumer goods, to verify that no products were made with forced labor.
The U.S. should not let up the pressure on itself or other countries to end human and sex trafficking.
Willis High grad helping victims of sex trafficking
by Kimberly Sutton
Willis High School product Dottie Laster is becoming somewhat of a celebrity, but not in the way one might think. She has been featured in Texas Monthly magazine, New York Times Blog, More Magazine and in a CNN documentary.
Recently, M2 Pictures brought a documentary film crew to Houston and followed Laster around doing her job, rescuing women from human sex slavery in the brothels of west Houston.
Some people rescue abused animals or save babies from being killed. Laster searches for women and children who are forced into the sex trade and works to combat human trafficking, protecting and restoring victims of this horrific and fast-growing crime. Laster, a 1982 Willis High School graduate, was in Conroe Tuesday on her way to Houston from her home near Austin to deliver a Visa to a victim forced into labor trafficking.
“I've always thought slavery was an evil institution,” she said. “When I was 8, I remember wondering if I had lived in the 1800s, would I have bought all the slaves I could and protected them or would I risk everything and attack the whole system.”
Her Twitter page describes her as an “expert at combating human trafficking – voice for victims of trafficking and a woman who kicks hornets' nests.”
She was trained by the Department of Justice to train law enforcement and others on human sex trafficking. In recent weeks, she spoke to students at The Woodlands High School and the John Cooper School in The Woodlands about the tactics that recruiters of human trafficking use to target young students, male and female.
“I hear from victims that sex traffickers are lurking around high school and middle school campuses,” Laster said. “They are called Romeo pimps. I have worked with families where the parents are blindsided by an evil that they never knew existed.”
During the early grooming period, the recruiter will learn all he can about the victim and she will tell him everything: her hopes, her dreams, her fears and disappointments, Laster said. Then, while she believes he is listening to her out of affection, he is listening to use the information against her to carry out the plan of human sex trafficking.
“Then, he gets her isolated, villainizes the family or friends and uses things to manipulate and control the victim, with physical abuse or rape. Quickly, the victim becomes dependent on them because of the trauma she has experienced. It's called ‘trauma bonding,” she said. Traumatic bonding is “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one harasses, beats, threatens, abuses or intimidates the other.”
Laster has seen this multiple times.
“In as quick as three months, parents get back a broken kid. They've experienced guilt, fear, shame, trauma and shock,” she said. “They're not the same girl that they were.”
During the recent filming of the reality show pilot, M2 Pictures hired a bodyguard to accompany her on the shoot. Protection Agent Scott DePriest, who is employed by Global Executive Protection in Conroe, protected Laster as she talked to two girls in a Houston motel room, with their pimp waiting outside in the car.
“We had so much action during the four days of filming that the crew was traumatized,” she said. “There was a pimp killed next door to where we were filming.”
DePriest said he had never experienced anything like it before.
“We were in a part of Houston where the police vacate the area after 9 p.m.,” he said. “We were in the belly of the beast; Westeimer and Beltway 8 area. There were no police cars. They let the thugs run the area. They would beat or kill the production crew just for their equipment. The girls carried knives for protection.”
DePriest saw girls' faces that were disfigured from being punched in the face, cigarette burn scars on their arms.
“They are serving 10-15 clients a night and being treated like animals,” DePriest said. “They are being traded like a commodity. (Traffickers) sell her online, just like a motorcycle. Dye and cut her hair and get her out of state, move them all over the place. (The girls) all have their stories. They say their saving their money to get out, but their pimp is not saving it for them.”
DePriest's job was to keep Laster and the crew safe while they were filming.
“She's become a target, with a bull's-eye on her back,” Global Executive Protection CEO Tom Johnson said. “She doesn't realize how much danger she's in.”
Laster is fully aware of the danger.
“I have had threats. A bad guy made subtle threats on my voicemail because we had ‘stolen' his property,” she said referring to one of the young women she rescued.
“I know I have a target on my back, it's no secret. I look out the door before I walk out of my house,” Laster said.
For more information about Laster, to sponsor or to donate to helping victims, visit www.lasterglobal.com
Still Creek Ranch program breaks ground on new home for young sex trafficking victims
by Brooke Conrad
It's estimated that 100,000 children nationwide are in the commercial sex trade, according to Polaris Project, a D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking.
In 2012, the project's hotline, which serves to provide assistance for callers who have been the victim of sexual slavery, received 140 calls from Texas concerning human trafficking. About 50 of the calls referenced interactions with pimps. Almost | 70 of the calls involved U.S. citizens.
"Trafficking is happening throughout the U.S. much more than any of us realize," said Megan Fowler, director of communications for Polaris Project. "It's happening in suburban shopping malls and rural communities alike. Young girls are targeted and coerced into the sex trade. In some cases, they're driven from city to city to have sex with multiple men a day. It's truly a horrific situation."
Restore Her, a program facilitated by Still Creek Boys and Girls Ranch in Bryan, a Christian-based home for troubled children, began to tackle the issue about a year ago.
The program currently serves four girls, but, on Friday, ground was broken at the ranch for a second Restore Her home that will house eight more trafficking victims.
Jennifer Terry, program director for Restore Her and house mom for the girls, said, in many trafficking cases the ranch sees, a girl has left an abusive home and attempts to find refuge with a man whom she believes will help provide for her.
"In a moment, he'll switch on the girl," Terry said. "He'll say, 'Do this for me. Help my friend out.' Then she can't get out because she's in an awful psychological trap. Between the love she thinks she feels for him and the abuse, it bonds them even closer because he did not take her life. Then her boyfriend, her pimp, has complete control over her."
Terry said there are nine girls, not sex trafficking victims, in a separate home next door to the current Restore Her facility. For the most part, the girls are integrated with each other, but their level of socialization varies from girl to girl depending on their experiences and their current emotional and mental states, Terry said.
Terry said staff at the facility would love to take in more girls, but it's a difficult task with the nature of their situations.
"You have to be really sensitive -- you can't just take in a girl because she needs to be there," Terry said. "How is this girl going to handle a new roommate? Sometimes the timing isn't right to add a new person in. If we had more beds and more houses, it would make it more flexible."
Terry said staff at the 25-year-old ranch have began working with the FBI for referrals.
"At first they said, 'We can't work with you, you're a faith-based organization,'" Terry said. But as the program has progressed and the girls have flourished, the ranch has built a relationship with the agency. Terry said three girls currently have FBI agents working on their cases.
When a girl is enrolled in the program, she is eligible for credit recovery if she is behind in school and can participate in the equestrian and 4-H program for the chance to earn college scholarship money. The girls are also encouraged to get involved in hobbies, like painting.
"We pull from our volunteer list for that," Terry said, adding that the ranch needs committed volunteers to mentor and teach the girls in a certain skill or craft. "We want to remind them that they have gifts and talents. We want them to gain confidence and feel loved and accepted."
To fund the new home, Terry said, the staff ran a short, relaxed campaign. In two months, they raised $500,000.
"Random people who came in and toured and saw our purpose just wrote checks," she said.
Contributors include James and Addie Stasney, Randy and Cheryl French of Stylecraft Builders, T.O. and Nelda Dunman, Scott Carroll of Bass Plumbing, Fernando Lazio of Hi-Tech Septic and John Rhodes of R.A.I. Designs.
Terry said the new owners, Steve and Tracy Singleton, who took over the nonprofit ranch about a year ago, have big plans for it, including an addition of an agricultural science preparatory school, a chapel, an administration building, sports fields and more.
"We really do believe we are going in the right direction," Terry said. "We're not trying to expand to become great business people. ... The expansion will really give kids the awesome opportunities they deserve. They're just kids who have been lied to and abused, and they didn't ask for that."
Police: Missing 8-year-old girl found dead
by Makenzie Bowker
A Florida town is mourning the tragic end to the Amber Alert search for a missing 8-year-old girl. Jacksonville police found the body of Charish Lilly Perriwinkle Saturday morning-- just hours after she went missing from a nearby Wal-Mart Friday night. Registered sex offender Donald James Smith faces kidnapping and murder charges. Perriwinkle and her mom reportedly met Smith at a store. He offered to take them to Wal-Mart to buy clothes.
While at Wal-Mart, Smith offered to take the girl to get food and instead, left in Smith's van. Police stopped Smith Saturday while driving and detained him without incident, according to police.
The 56-year-old was taken into custody and held without bond Saturday night. According to records from the Duval County Clerk of Courts, Smith's most recent conviction occurred last year on charges from 2009 for unlawful impersonation of a public employee and aggravated child abuse by willful torture. He was sentenced to a year in county jail. He was just released on May 31 st.
Rape, robbery case a reminder that anyone can be a victim
by Deb Gruver and Tim Potter
The 76-year-old woman said she wants everyone to forget about what happened to her June 7 at her Wichita home.
“Though I'm not sure I'll ever forget," she said.
The woman, who was recently widowed, told police that two teenagers kicked in the door to her home in southeast Wichita and that one raped her.
Contacted by The Eagle, she explained why she didn't want to be interviewed.
“I'm afraid of making myself more of a target,” she said.
So far this year, the Wichita Police Department has investigated four other sex crimes against people older than 65, records show. One was a rape, another an attempted rape. One woman said a man exposed himself to her. Another woman said someone sent her obscene material in the mail.
Last year, police looked into seven sex crimes in which people older than 65 were the victims, and in 2011, six. Five years ago, they handled 10 sex crimes against seniors.
“A lot of people assume that it's a young woman's issue, but we do see it across the lifespan,” said Mary Stolz-Newton, assistant director of the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center.
“We find the community, if they hear about a very young child or an elderly person, their compassion and sympathy is a little bit more there. I sure wish it were that way for all survivors.”
The center handled 126 cases involving people 60 and older between 2009 and 2012, Stolz-Newton said.
A study by the U.S. Department of Justice says the rate of rape and sexual assault per 1,000 women is 0.1 for those 65 or older. Data from the report was from the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey, which collects information on non-fatal crimes reported and not reported to police. The survey seeks information from a nationally representative sample of people age 12 or older.
Sexual abuse was one of the “most understudied” types of mistreatment of seniors, the National Institute of Justice said. Its study showed that elderly sexual assault victims were not routinely evaluated to access the psychological effects of an attack.
“For people of my mother's generation, for instance, it's difficult to talk about sex, so talking about sexual violence is even more removed,” said Kathy Williams, executive director of the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center. “They put it aside and you go forward. I think that's another huge disservice. We do not clearly understand always the culture that people come from.
“As a society, we have a very narrow perception of sexual assault and rape. We assume in a lot of ways that it's going to be a stranger jumping out of a bush at a young woman. It goes the full range from children to the elderly to men.”
One of the 76-year-old woman's sons said the case has been a nightmare for his mother and family. He said prosecutors and police advised the family to not talk to the media.
Two teens, ex-parole officer face charges
The woman in the June case told police that the door to her home near Lincoln and George Washington was kicked in about 5 a.m. that day.
Two teenagers face charges in the case. A 22-year-old woman accused of hiding them at her home also faces charges.
Prosecutors from the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office charged John Edward Thompson Jr., 18, with rape, aggravated robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon and two counts of aggravated burglary. Thompson has requested a court-appointed lawyer, saying he is unemployed.
Thompson's mother, Lisa Brown, said she did not want to talk about the case.
“I prefer not to,” she said when contacted by The Eagle.
They also charged a 17-year-old with one count each of rape, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. They are seeking to prosecute him as an adult.
Police have said that at least one of the men had a gun.
The men are accused of stealing the woman's wedding ring, a gold-colored cross on a gold chain, a Seiko watch and other jewelry. Records say they also stole two flat-screen televisions, a red Kansas City Chiefs coat, $20 in cash, car keys, a Kohl's credit card and a Sam's Club membership card.
Police found the suspects at a house a couple of blocks away from the victim's house. Jessica Dawn Ward, who owns the house, is thought to be Thompson's girlfriend, officials said.
No one answered the door Thursday at the tidy white house with a red front door and yellow artificial flowers in a window box.
Ward, who faces two charges of aiding a felon, is a former parole officer for the Kansas Department of Corrections. She also had worked as a corrections officer for Sedgwick County, records show.
She has hired a private attorney, J. Matthew Leavitt, to defend her. He did not return a phone call from The Eagle.
Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said Ward was a parole officer I from Feb. 4 to April 15. He would not say why her employment ended. He said Ward supervised parolees in Wichita.
Barclay said a college degree typically is required for people in that job. Work experience can be substituted for a degree, he said.
The Corrections Department did a background check on Ward, Barclay said, and found no criminal record.
Barclay said records do not indicate that Ward had encountered Thompson in her work for the state. She would not have supervised the juvenile in any way in her work as a parole officer.
Kristi Zukovich, a spokeswoman for Sedgwick County, said Ward worked for the county as a corrections officer from May 14, 2012, to Jan. 31.
People with that job title, Zukovich said, do “routine work involving the observation, security and treatment of juvenile or adult offenders in a 24-hour correctional or residential treatment facility.”
Corrections officers also monitor “resident activities within the facility or, as approved, outside the facility, with emphasis on security or treatment in behavior modification and control,” according to the job description.
Neighbors who live on Ward's street said she and others at the house kept to themselves.
Neighbors said police surrounded the home June 7 and waited for the suspects to come out. Police explained to neighbors what was going on.
The neighborhood association called a meeting the next day. With one or two hours' notice, about 50 to 60 families showed up at a nearby park to find out what happened.
Both Thompson and the 17-year-old have criminal histories as juveniles.
In April 2012, the 17-year-old was convicted of attempted robbery and aggravated assault, both felonies. In two 2010 cases, he had been charged with misdemeanor battery and theft.
Efforts to reach his family have been unsuccessful.
He “has a previous history of antisocial behavior or patterns of physical violence,” according to a document filed June 11 by prosecutors requesting that he be prosecuted as an adult in the rape and robbery of the 76-year-old. A hearing on that matter has been set for July 19.
Earlier this year, on March 27, at the request of the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority, a judge discharged the 17-year-old from the authority's custody.
Juvenile court records show that on April 9, 2012, he pleaded no contest to attempted robbery, attempted theft and aggravated assault. At his June 11, 2012, sentencing, he was ordered to be detained in the Sedgwick County Juvenile Detention Facility pending a placement by the justice authority.
The robbery/theft/aggravated assault case stemmed from an incident the night of Feb. 4, 2012, at a Wal-Mart on West Kellogg, when he was 16. According to the criminal complaint, he grabbed a purse on a 67-year-old woman's shoulder and tried to pull it out of her hands, and stuck his hand in the pants pocket of the woman's 71-year-old husband and tried to remove his wallet. He threatened another man with a handgun, according to the complaint.
The 71-year-old male victim said he and his wife were putting groceries in the trunk of their car, parked in a handicapped space, when the incident happened. He said he thought more than one suspect was involved. He said the suspects backed away when he said something to them.
“They caught us by surprise,” he said. For security reasons, he asked that his name not be used.
In December 2011, when the teen was 15, he was charged with misdemeanor theft – a pair of socks from a Gordmans store – but the charge was later dismissed, court records indicate.
Earlier in 2011, he had been discharged from the court's jurisdiction because he had fulfilled conditions of his probation, apparently from an earlier case. Those conditions included being enrolled in school and attending classes, following a curfew, being subject to random urinalysis and breathalyzer and getting counseling.
According to court records, his first trouble as a juvenile resulted from a November 2009 incident involving a fellow student at Hamilton Middle School, when he was 13. He was accused of punching a 14-year-old boy in the face multiple times in their classroom. He was put on diversion, meaning the prosecution would be deferred as long as he stayed out of trouble and fulfilled certain conditions, but that the diversion was revoked in July 2010 after he was arrested in a June 2010 theft.
Prosecutors charged Thompson in June 2011 with misdemeanor theft – of an air gun, CO2 cartridges and BBs – from a Wal-Mart on North Rock Road. According to a police investigation, a Wal-Mart employee saw Thompson conceal the items, leave the store without paying for them, load the gun and shoot it into the air. He admitted taking the items, valued at $38.41, according to police.
In October 2011, he was put on diversion, with prosecution being deferred. But in April 2012, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke his diversion after he was arrested in another theft case and had failed to make passing grades, both violations of his diversion agreement. The new case against him involved the theft of three polo shirts from J.C. Penney on Feb. 20, 2012.
Healing comes for some Louisville victims, church 10 years after settling priest abuse cases
by Peter Smith
Ten years ago this month, Shannon Age and 242 other plaintiffs settled their lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville over sexual abuse by priests and other church workers for what was then a near-record amount of $25.7 million.
Even before the settlement, Age had begun a reconciliation with the Catholic Church, despite years of battles with church bureaucracy and traumatic memories over the abusive priest who had exploited her parents' trust.
But when her husband, Steve, told her he felt a divine call to become a deacon, Age “was very much against it,” she said. “I didn't want my husband being a member of the clergy.”
Now she regularly joins him at the training program with about 20 other deacon candidates and their wives.
“Healing is possible,” Age, 53, said.
A decade after the accord, some of the plaintiffs have reconciled with the church, while others remain distrustful of its handling of abuse cases past and present.
Many survivors say they believe the lawsuits and resulting settlement helped get abusive priests removed from ministry and new policies to prevent future abuse.
Victims received $20,000 to $218,801, depending on the severity of the abuse. Some used it for counseling, others for school, financial needs, savings or charity.
All the plaintiffs interviewed recently said money wasn't the object — justice and reform were.
“If we hadn't all joined up in the numbers we did, they would have swept it under the rug,” said Bernard Queenan, who was abused by former priest Louis E. Miller. “The settlement itself was not the purpose. ... The purpose was to bring it into the light of day, and we certainly did that.”
Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer for the archdiocese, agreed that the settlement was necessary, even though it prompted budget and staff cuts.
“I wish the abuse had never happened, but we needed to respond to those men and women who were hurt, and we did,” he said.
Archdiocesean officials say they've transformed their culture, alerting law enforcement about suspected sex crimes, training more than 30,000 workers and volunteers on how to prevent abuse and teaching children how to protect themselves.
Even so, sexual assault victims such as Jeff Koenig remain deeply skeptical of the Catholic Church's follow-through on sexual abuse allegations.
He cites such cases as St. Therese parish, which housed priest James Schook, in 2009 and 2010 while he was under investigation for abuse; Schook is now awaiting trial. That controversy also brought to light the presence of a parish board member with a statutory rape conviction, contrary to archdiocesan policy banning volunteers with any history of sex offenses.
Seizing the moment
The sexual-abuse crisis in Louisville — as in the Roman Catholic Church elsewhere — simmered for years before igniting in early 2002 following shocking revelations of cover-ups in Boston.
Louisville Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, who had previously kept several priests in ministry after confirming cases of abuse against them, resisted calls by critics to resign, saying it was his task to remain and respond to the crisis. Kelly retired in 2007 and died in 2011.
When lawyers for the archdiocese and 243 plaintiffs reached the $25.7 million settlement in June 2003, it was the second-highest payout ever by an American diocese and the highest paid directly by the church rather than through liability insurance.
“When we couple the monetary result with the public pronouncement of an apology, that restored the dignity even more than the money did,” said local attorney William F. McMurry, who sued the archdiocese on behalf of hundreds of plaintiffs. McMurry and other lawyers representing victims received about 40 percent of the settlement.
Several other plaintiffs reached individual settlements.
McMurry had sued under Kentucky case law that opened a window for lawsuits beyond the typical one-year statute of limitations upon a victim's turning 18 — if one could prove an employer concealed what it knew about an abuser.
But McMurry said relying on that case law was risky, and subsequent court rulings have limited plaintiffs' right to sue past such deadlines.
“If we didn't seize that moment, there would never be a moment,” McMurry said.
Reynolds said the U.S. bishops' 2002 adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People transformed the church's approach.
“There's no question the church did not handle accusations and reports of abuse well” in the past, he said. “Now we're in a new mode. It's about education, prevention, healing, awareness.”
Since 2002, the archdiocese has trained 32,000 clergy, lay employees and volunteers on signs of abuse and the need to report suspected abuse directly to law enforcement. Children also receive training on self-protection. Several times, Reynolds said, children and adults have come forward to trainers, seeking guidance on potentially abusive situations in their homes or other settings.
Annual audits conducted for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have consistently given the Archdiocese of Louisville passing grades for its response to abuse.
A sense of healing
Many survivors, including Koenig, say they have found healing through helping others — whether by supporting their fellow survivors or through missions and other charitable work.
Koenig advocated for victims and was part of the successful lobbying effort in 2008 that changed Kentucky law to increase penalties for sexual abusers and those who protect them.
“Helping other survivors is very burden-lifting to me,” said Koenig, now of Jeffersonville, Ind., and a company truck driver. “I don't have the anger and the resentment and the bitterness that I did.”
Michael Turner, who was the first to sue the archdiocese in April 2002, said he experienced a similar sense of healing when he “got into helping.”
Turner, a construction contractor, operates a Pewee Valley bakery with his daughter and raises funds for a charity for children with developmental difficulties.
In 2002, Turner had long been alienated from the Catholic Church and was struggling with nightmares over his memories of abuse at the hands of Miller while growing up in the 1970s at St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley.
When he saw a Courier-Journal article in April 2002 indicating that Miller had just retired — long after the archdiocese learned of his abusive behavior — Turner contacted McMurry, who sued the archdiocese on Turner's behalf. Miller eventually testified that three successive archbishops knew of his sexual offenses as far back as the early 1960s.
More than 200 others sued in the coming year, charging the archdiocese with covering up abuse between 1949 and 2002 by more than three dozen priests and other people associated with the church.
Miller, who is 82 and housed at the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange, has served 10 of his 30 years in prison sentences.
Turner is now active at St. Aloysius, crediting the compassion showed by its recently retired pastor, the Rev. John Caldwell, and positive memories of his youth there.
“I'm a happy man right now,” said Turner, 55. “I'm happily married. I've got grandkids now. They're beautiful and all. I have my moments, but it's still so much better.”
'Business as usual'
Many of the plaintiffs have bonded with each other, including numerous former Holy Spirit School classmates from the early 1960s who were victimized by Miller.
Queenan, 64, said he and other former classmates regularly get together for pizza and chats on topics that range from church to grandchildren.
But Queenan still believes the crisis “just doesn't seem to have humbled the church as it might. It's business as usual.”
Andrew Corcoran, another plaintiff, said he and his fellow Holy Spirit alumni never talked about getting money from the lawsuit.
“We wanted to fix the problem for good,” he said. “... We wanted the perpetrators eliminated from the church. We wanted those church leaders who knew about the problem and did nothing to fix it to retire. Somebody needed to tell these arrogant people that just because they rose through the ranks of the church's power structure, they did not have the right to put young people at risk.”
Age said the decade since the settlement has been transformative in personal ways.
She and Steve Age had long been involved with their parish and in short-term mission work in Appalachia and Latin America. It took Shannon some time to reconcile with Steve's desire to be a deacon, “but after prayerful consideration I realized he really did have a deep calling.”
Steve Age said: “She chose to take a bad situation and let God turn it into good.”
Shannon Age, who wrote a portion of the archdiocese's training manual on how abusers “groom” their victims or lure them into a vulnerable relationship, said that at the time of the lawsuits, many in the church perceived the litigation as a personal affront.
“The whole dynamic in the past 10 years has changed” since then, she said, with priests and others acknowledging the abuse and the plaintiffs' desire to prevent it in the future.
“It took them a few tries in the beginning,” Age said. “But they really have gotten it.”
“Justice did need to be brought,” she said, and the church needed to “recognize there was a problem that needed to be fixed. … At the same time, you have to learn to forgive. Otherwise you hold yourself hostage.”
NYS Assembly Passes Jay J's Law on Child Abuse
by Ron Plants
ALBANY, NY - The New York State Assembly has finally passed a version of the measure known as Jay J's Law which is named for the case of a WNY child who family members say was beaten by his biological father.
State Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak says the intense personal lobbying effort by JJ's grandparents and other family members in Albany helped convince lawmakers after previous failed efforts in the legislature.
The bill would now allow the courts to "look back" up to ten years to determine if a suspected abuser has past convictions and increase the court sentence. The current statute only goes back to three years in a suspect's record. Gabryszak says in the case of little 2 year old JJ Bolvin , his father Jeremy Bolvin, had been convicted four years previously so it could not be cited by the judge.
The child's maternal grandparents, Joe and Tabitha Retzer, say little JJ suffers from a severe seizure disorder and other developmental disorders because of violent shaking and abuse by his father.
The State Senate is also scheduled to vote today on the amended version of the bill. Kevin Retzer says staffers in Governor Cuomo's office have told them it would likely be signed by the Governor.
Gabryszak says he expects there will also be an effort in the next session to increase penalties for repeat abusers who assault a child under the age of 11.
Child Advocacy Center offers Light to Sexual Abuse Survivors hosts
by John DeRousie
FULTON, NY – For adolescent survivors of sexual abuse, healing from this traumatic experience is often quite a difficult process.
However, in times like these the services offered through the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County are able to provide the survivor with the tools necessary to expedite the healing process.
One of those tools is the upcoming “Darkness to Light Workshop” that will be held June 25 at the CAC offices, 301 Beech St.
Made possible through a mini-grant provided by the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the “Darkness to Light Workshop” is designed to provide hope to adolescent survivors of sexual abuse by helping them develop a better understanding of the healing process.
“The devastating effects of sexual abuse permeate a child's soul, often leaving shame, loneliness, and blame in its wake. The purpose of this workshop was to give survivors an opportunity to reframe their experiences through drama and art therapy, give the healing process another form, and allow the teens to connect with others who have experienced the same type of abuse,” said Executive Director of the CAC Karrie Damm.
Therapists from the CAC, Stacy Austin-Root, Melissa Baker, Carol Gazitano, Melanie Proper, and interns from SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University, will facilitate the “Darkness to Light Workshop”. The team of therapists will lead teens through an embodied verbal method and trauma-centered psychotherapy process.
“The therapists at the CAC do a wonderful job every day, and they are especially proud of the work they do with teens during this workshop every year. We are also thankful of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau for affording us the opportunity to bring a unique healing experience to the youth as we continue our mission to protect and serve the abused children of Oswego County,” said Damm.
Established in 2001, The Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County is a non-profit charitable organization that provides a safe, child-friendly site for the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse and offers a wide range of services to children who have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused.
Working together with law enforcement investigators, child protective services, medical providers, therapeutic professionals, victim support professionals, the probation department, and the district attorney's office, the CAC looks to maintain a well-coordinated, effective approach to child abuse investigation and prosecution, and service provision to families and individuals affected by child abuse.
For more information on services provided by the Child Advocacy Center, visit www.oswegocac.org or call Damm at 592-4453.
Billions for prisons, but no funding for victims of child abuse?
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs), founded by former Madison County District Attorney and Congressman Bud Cramer and modeled after the National Children's Advocacy Center, have been operating since 1985 and now number more than 800 in the United States, serving more than 276,000 children in 2012 alone.
These programs have historically been supported through one primary federal funding stream, the Victims of Child Abuse Act within the U.S. Department of Justice, which currently provides $19 million to individual CACs, chapters, several training and technical assistance projects (including two at the National Children's Advocacy Center), and an Accreditation program for these CACs.
CACs are public-private, community-based partnerships that bring together law enforcement, prosecutors, child protective services and the medical and mental health professions to investigate cases of child sexual abuse and severe physical child abuse, and provide therapeutic services to those affected by this maltreatment.
All of the published research has demonstrated positive practice outcomes for these programs and also cost-savings through this collaborative response to child abuse.
Amazingly, and despite of this overwhelming usage and evidence, the President's Budget for FY2014 eliminated all funding for the Victims of Child Abuse Act for the second year in a row.
Everyone should be outraged by this decision, especially given the progress we have made over the past 25 years.
Dramatic efforts are underway to restore this funding, but it is a challenging time given the economic lag that continues and the ongoing impact of sequestration. No one within the President's Office, the Department of Justice or the Office of Management and Budget has taken responsibility for this elimination of funding.
We fight daily against child abuse where often there are no answers to things that don't make sense, and typically this is at the hands of offenders. Now, we are faced with similar unanswered questions at the hands of our government. In the proposed budget, while eliminating funding for CACs, the Department of Justice is requesting $395 million in new gun related spending, $100 million in "second chance" funding for prisoners, $30 million in new neighborhood revitalization, and $8.6 billion for new prison facilities.
Additionally, they just released a $2 million grant notice for a program to combat child labor in home-based carpet production in Afghanistan. All of these are prioritized over the protection of our children from child abuse? Everyone should be outraged by this decision, especially given the progress we have made over the past 25 years.
The number of children helped by CACs has increased from 100,539 in 2000 to more than 286,000 in 2012. All indicators are that this investment has paid off and child sexual abuse has declined almost 50 percent over the past 20 years.
CACs are working, and shouldn't our government be investing in programs that work? If this frustrates you, please express this concern to your elected Senators and Representatives today, before it is too late. Let them know you want our children to be protected. They are our future and they are looking to us for guidance and protection.
By Chris Newlin, executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville.
Audit: Not All Child Abuse, Neglect Investigations Complying With State Law
Advocates for children say it can mean the difference between life or death. Timing is critical when it comes to removing a child from a harmful or abusive situation.
But as ABC NewsChannel 20 learned, the state agency in charge of investigating reports of abuse and neglect is failing to do so within the required deadlines.
A report from the Illinois Auditor General reveals the Department of Children and Family Services missed the deadline close to 900 times last year. That's the biggest backlog since 2006.
More than 100,000 cases of child abuse and neglect are reported in Illinois each year. That's according to the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois.
And when it comes to checking out those complaints, Roy Harley will tell you timing is critical.
"It's like any kind of a crisis situation," Harley said. "The longer you delay, the greater the risk for the individuals involved."
That's why state law requires the Department of Children and Family Services to launch an investigation into every child abuse and neglect complaint within 24 hours.
The agency must determine whether a complaint is true within 60 days.
And in the event of a child's death, DCFS must review the circumstances within 90 days of the close of an investigation.
But, the audit shows between 2010 and 2012 DCFS didn't comply in every case.
Harley says the time frames can mean the difference between life and death.
"We know if an actual investigation doesn't begin within 24 hours, the case may be lost," Harley said.
Additionally, some of the department's case files were incomplete.
AFSCME Council 31 represents more than 2,500 of the employees.
"Unfortunately this is a consequence of the years of slashing the budget," said AFSCME Council 31 Legislative Director Joanna Webb-Gauvin. "Our members remain committed to protecting Illinois' children, but they're struggling to do it with inadequate resources."
She points to "overwhelming" case loads in an agency with 200 fewer workers than a year ago.
We reached out to the DCFS. Late Thursday afternoon, a department spokesman told us the director launched a major staff reorganization plan this year eliminating middle management and adding child abuse investigators.
He says the number of suspicious child deaths in on the rise in Illinois is creating a backlog in investigations.
He says the agency started an investigation within the required time frame for 99.6 percent of cases.
Baby Elaina's dad recalls the day she disappeared
by Stephen Loiaconi
As dive teams searched the Maumee River for any sign of Elaina Steinfurth Monday, the missing 18-month-old's father revealed new details about the day of her disappearance .
In an exclusive interview with HLN's Nancy Grace, Terry Steinfurth Jr. described what happened when he went to pick his two daughters up from his estranged wife on June 2 and he discovered that Elaina was missing.
Angela Steinfurth, Elaina's mother, had stayed at her ex-boyfriend Steven King's house the previous night. When Terry went to the Federal Street home of King's family to get the girls, he says he found Angela sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette.
“I asked her to go get the baby,” he said. “She told me she had just laid her down for a nap and she wasn't waking her up.”
According to Terry, Angela let their 4-year-old go with him but she refused to go inside and get Elaina. Then he claims King started “yelling and screaming like he wanted to fight, ripped his shirt off.”
At that point, Terry says he left and came back with his father, Terry Steinfurth Sr., who got out of the car and confronted King.
“The boyfriend told me he would fight with me, like he wants to do with my son, and I just told him I wasn't there to fight with him,” Steinfurth Sr. told Grace Monday. “I wanted to see my granddaughter.”
Steinfurth Sr. claims Angela told him she would not give Elaina up because she thought Terry would never bring her back. She finally agreed to go inside and get Elaina, and King went into the house with her, he says.
Steinfurth Sr. said Angela came back outside about a half hour later and claimed someone had taken Elaina.
According to a police report obtained by HLN Monday, King is believed to have left through the back door during this time without anyone knowing. Angela allegedly said he left to go look for Elaina.
The police report revealed additional information about the timeline of events on June 2. According to the report, Angela said she last saw Elaina when she put her down for a nap around 1 p.m.
She said she and her ex-boyfriend then went to the Family Dollar and, when they returned, the door to the bedroom where Elaina had been sleeping was still closed so she did not go in to check on her.
Around 2 p.m., Terry Steinfurth Jr. arrived. After arguing with Angela, he returned around 2:30 with his father and Angela agreed to get Elaina. 25 minutes later, Angela said Elaina was gone. Steven King had left at that point.
Police arrived around 3 p.m. and began interviewing witnesses and searching the neighborhood. King returned around 4:30 p.m., according to the report.
The police report described the King house as “unfit for living,” noting sewage overflowing from a toilet and dog feces on the floor.
King and his parents have not returned calls from HLN seeking a comment on the case since Thursday, but his mother and father both told HLN last week that he is cooperating fully with investigators and does not know where Elaina is.
Angela Steinfurth was arrested last Wednesday on a child endangerment charge for allegedly not seeking medical attention for Elaina after she suffered an injury. She remains in custody on $250,000 bond.
Calls to her attorney have not been returned.
Angela's stepfather, Richard Schiewe, suggested Monday that there is more to the story.
“My daughter screwed up big time, okay?” Schiewe told Nancy Grace. “I'm not making excuses. I can't forgive and I can't forget it. The story is she knows what happened to the baby. She got afraid because people threatened, if you say anything, you're next.”
Schiewe claimed Angela told him she does not know where Elaina is, but she knows what happened to her and who took her from the house.
According to Schiewe, Angela told him she had made a big mistake, but he would not say what the mistake was, stating that the FBI told him not to talk about it. However, he did say his “gut feeling” is that Elaina is dead.
“It's been too long for her to be gone,” Schiewe said.
Terry Steinfurth Jr. said one of the reasons he and Angela separated was the way she treated their children. He claimed she would yell and curse at them and she would drag their older daughter around and smack her in the mouth.
Captain Brad Weis of the Toledo Police Department said child protective services had been involved with the couple in 2012 when they were having issues with their marriage, but that case was closed.
Terry Steinfurth Jr. told Nancy Grace he has asked Angela and others who were at the house that day what happened several times.
“'We don't know, we don't know.' That's the only answers I keep getting,” he said.
“That's more or less what they're telling me,” Terry Steinfurth Sr. said. “Nobody knows who took this baby, nobody can tell us when the baby left the house or the last time they saw the baby in the house.”
One Year After Sandusky Conviction: A Different Climate for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention
by Kevin Horne
Looking down historic Allegheny Street in Bellefonte today, it's hard to imagine the media circus outside of the Centre County Courthouse one year ago. There were dozens of news vans and throngs of reporters spread across the front lawn. They're are all gone now – in fact, there's no sign that they were even here at all.
Saturday marks the one year anniversary of Jerry Sandusky's conviction on horrific child sex abuse charges.
The impact of that trial is still being felt throughout the region and beyond. Sandusky's hidden past shocked the nation. His crimes led to increased awareness of child sexual abuse and spurred a number of changes to help prevent it.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is working to eliminate all forms of sexual violence. Delilah Rumburg, PCAR's CEO, said there has been a palpable change in the way the average person thinks about child sexual abuse.
“The consciousness of the people in our community has increased and there is much more awareness of child sexual abuse in our communities,” Rumburg said. “People are more likely to report now. As awful as it was, there have been some good things that have resulted in the publicity of the case.”
Rumburg also cites recent legislation in Pennsylvania designed to combat the issue as a tangible example of the newfound awareness. On Thursday, a bill passed by the state house would allow mandatory reporters to notify the authorities by e-mail. It would also require reporters to go to police and not just their work superiors. That bill now goes to the senate.
“It really did create an environment where some much needed child abuse protection legislation could be promoted,” Rumburg said. “It's definitely helped us legislatively. There has been a huge response that way.”
Reports of suspected child abuse has risen over the last year, too. The Centre County Child and Youth Services fielded 225 reports of suspected child abuse in 2012, up from 185 in 2011. Centre County CYS director Julia Sprinkle credits the increase to greater awareness.
"Adults are more aware now; they notice things in a child's behavior, or they may see a relationship that raises some red flags. We're getting adults to pay more attention as opposed to having children speak up," Lukima says. "This is part of what we need to do."
There have been substantial changes at Penn State, too. With the help of groups like PCAR, the university has trained more than 16,000 faculty and staff in the last year on what to do if they suspect someone might be a victim of child sexual abuse.
Penn State's NCAA integrity monitor George Mitchell says that a member of his staff took the training course and “found it to be thorough.”
Penn State also restricted the use of its on campus gyms and recreation facilities to students and staff only. All gym users are now required to have a Penn State ID card. That ends a longstanding understanding that State College residents would be able to use the facilities.
"The University's new facilities policy is an important part of an overall plan to provide the safest environment possible to our constituents, and also re-emphasizes our commitment to offer athletic and recreational space for the use of our students, faculty, staff and their guests," said Steve Shelow, assistant vice president for University Police and Public Safety. "It's important to note that we will continue to honor prior agreements with outside organizations to use these facilities."
Jerry Sandusky is currently serving 30 to 60 years in prison.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives approves 3 child abuse bills
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Three bills that address how child abuse investigations are handled are closer to becoming law following favorable votes in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
The House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday in favor of the three proposals, part of the legislation being considered in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
One would establish procedures to report child abuse online or by email and require those who must report suspected abuse to inform their supervisor and call the ChildLine hotline.
Another would require approval of "indicated" child abuse determinations by county child protective services administrators and the agency's lawyer.
The third broadens how school personnel must handle abuse cases.
"As a member of the Children and Youth Committee, I am very proud of the fact that the House has taken the lead in addressing the many problems with our child safety statutes that became apparent when the Sandusky case went to trial, said Pa. Rep. David Malone, R-Berks Co. "We need to fix the gaps in our laws that leave our children vulnerable to the predators which, sadly, continue to exist in our society."
The bills were sent to the state Senate.
Child abuse inquiry calls for Scottish survivors to come forward
An inquiry into historical child abuse at institutions in Northern Ireland is appealing for survivors living in Scotland to come forward.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was set up earlier this year to investigate abuse at residential institutions over a 73-year period up to 1995.
So far 43 individuals living in Scotland and England have contacted the inquiry regarding their experiences, while 281 potential witnesses still living in Northern Ireland have contacted investigators.
The inquiry is focussing on 35 institutions, including state-run children's homes, Catholic Church-run facilities, borstals or training schools and homes run by Protestant churches or voluntary organisations.
Inquiry chairman, Sir Anthony Hart, said: "We recognise that, for many potential witnesses, reliving their experiences will be very painful and traumatic.
"Indeed, some will not have told their closest relatives or friends about the abuse they suffered. If they now live outside Northern Ireland, the thought of contacting the Inquiry may seem especially daunting.
"But we're determined to make this investigation as thorough as possible, and we believe there may well be individuals now living in Scotland who have information which could greatly assist the Inquiry. We will provide as much support as we can for them."
The inquiry has contacted 60 organisations throughout Scotland, including social service departments, churches and charities which work with abuse survivors, to assist in tracing child abuse survivors.
Survivors of childhood abuse in Northern Ireland institutions and any other potential witnesses should visit the [inquiry's website] (http://www.hiainquiry.org) or call 800 / 068-4935.
Combating child abuse event Saturday in Kendallville
Working for children
The Fort Wayne nonprofit organization TRACK, the Three Rivers Arts Center for Kids, will participate in the Combating Child Abuse event 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday at the Noble County Fairgrounds, 580 Fair St. in Kendallville.
TRACK's mission is to use art to brighten the lives of children, with a special emphasis on working with chldren who have been abused, an announcement said.
Peggy Tassler, artist and owner of SOZO Art Studio and Gallery in downtown Kendallville, will lead children in painting a mural on the theme of child abuse, the announcement said. Other activities will include live music by area artists, children's events, speakers, a fundraising auction and more.
Admission is $5 per person for the day.
For more information about the event, contact Misty Raymundo at 1-260-599-4632. For more about TRACK, call Patty Hunter, 220-0072, or Terry Doran, 338-2807.
Talking about child abuse
Free half-day workshop this weekend to help partners and carers of those who have survived childhood abuse and trauma
Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA), the peak national body, is holding a free half-day workshop this weekend on Saturday 22nd June, designed for partners and supporters of adults who have experienced childhood trauma and abuse.
The workshop will introduce the concept of a `trauma-informed' approach to interpersonal relationships, and builds on the core principles of a trauma informed approach to assist individuals who are partners, supporters and/or carers in their interactions with adult survivors of childhood trauma/abuse.
President of ASCA, Dr Cathy Kezelman said: "Since the announcement of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, ASCA has been focusing on setting up local workshops around Australia to help advance the needs of survivors and carers. Although the Royal Commission has raised awareness on the issue, we believe, more than ever, that we need to work to break the stigma, and provide support to those who need it. A large number of people are still in the dark and we are so pleased to be able to bring a workshop to Brisbane.
"Whether you are a partner, sibling, parent or friend, we hope to be able to provide you with information as to how best to support survivors and we really think this workshop will be hugely beneficial for carers."
This workshop is divided into three parts:
What is a `trauma-informed' approach? Looking at what it involves and how it is helpful
What is trauma and what are its effects? (Key points of which to be aware)
Core principles of a trauma-informed approach to interpersonal relating and how these can be implemented in offering support to adult survivors of childhood trauma/abuse
These pilot workshops have been made possible with the support of the Department of Health and Ageing.
When: Saturday 22 June 2013
Where: Hotel Ibis Brisbane, 35 Turbot Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000
Cost: FREE TO ATTEND (you must register to secure your place)
T 02 8920 3611
For more information you can download the flyer here:
Or go to the website: http://asca.org.au
The ASCA professional support line can be reached 7 days a week on 1300 657 380, 9am until 5pm
About ASCA: www.asca.org.au
ASCA is the national peak body which focuses exclusively on advancing the needs of the estimated four-five million Australian adults who are survivors of childhood trauma. ASCA was formed in 1995 and provides a range of services: professional phone support, a referral database, workshops for survivors and their supporters, education and training programs for health care professionals and workers, newsletters for survivors and health professionals, advocacy, research and health promotion in the areas of complex trauma and trauma informed care and practice. ASCA is also a founding member of the national Trauma Informed Care and Practice Advisory Working Group - advocating for a national agenda around trauma informed care and practice. ASCA is the key Australian organization providing hope, optimism and pathways to recovery for adults with complex needs who have experienced all forms of childhood trauma.
As defined by ASCA, childhood trauma includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, witnessing and experiencing the impacts of family and community violence and a range of other adverse childhood events.
Newark, Essex officials visit Wynona House to raise awareness of child abuse
by David Giambusso
Evelyn Mejil, far left, director of Wynona's House and Newark Mayor Cory Booker gather with Newark schoolchildren to hang blue ribbons to raise awareness of child abuse. David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger
NEWARK — While summertime for many children means no school, trips to the beach and summer camp, for many it can also mean a season rife with opportunities for abuse.
"During the summer there's a lot less supervision," Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson said today. "We all have to be vigilant."
Anderson, along with Mayor Cory Booker and acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, joined leaders at Wynona's House Child Advocacy Center — a Newark non-profit that coordinates law enforcement and community groups to prevent child abuse — to hold a blue-ribbon ceremony and raise awareness about child abuse.
Blue ribbons are the symbol of child abuse prevention and dozens were hung outside Wynona's House today.
"This team here is a force of nature," said Wynona's House Executive Director Evelyn Mejil flanked by the investigators, doctors, nurses, social workers, educators, and volunteers that help prevent, prosecute, and counsel child abuse cases. "I have never seen more valor, more dedication, more commitment."
Mejil offered some harrowing statistics about child abuse and neglect in America - one in four girls and in six boys will be the victims of sexual abuse before adulthood.
Roughly five children a day die in the U.S. from abuse and neglect, she said, and that the the country pays $124 billion a year battling and treating child abuse.
David Sims, the Essex area director of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, (formerly the Division of Youth and Family Services) said his office received 7,748 reports of child abuse and neglect in 2012 alone. Statewide there were 74,274 re
Murray said that in 2011, eight children in Essex County died from abuse and neglect, but in 2012 only one died.
"We urge parents to be aware," Murray said. "Be smart about the summer. Approach it with a plan."
Booker said child abuse was among the biggest factors leading to the cycle of violence that plagues Newark and other cities.
"It is anguishing to me to see us arrest more and more children," he said referring to teenagers' involvement in crime and violence. "Many of the children were victims of violence themselves." `
Officials urged residents to report abuse at (877) 652-2873
Why are Michigan's child abuse/neglect rates so high?
by Ron French
The number of abused and neglected Michigan children rose in recent years, during a period when state spending on abuse and neglect prevention plummeted.
The state's rate of abuse and neglect, below the national average as recently as 2006, is now more than 50 percent higher than the national rate. Michigan now ranks 41 st , according to an analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
While state rankings are an iffy proposition because states define abuse and neglect differently, Michigan's ballooning rate of abuse and neglect has caused concern among child advocates.
“Child abuse/neglect prevention programs in Michigan have been decimated over the years,” said Mina Hong, policy senior policy associate at Michigan's Children. There has been “ increased funding for foster care and child protective services, but funding for child abuse prevention hasn't kept pace.
“Unfortunately in Michigan, this has led to the unacceptable rise in child maltreatment that you're looking at.”
Abuse and neglect rates ran as high as one in every 25 children in some Michigan counties in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available from the Michigan Department of Human Services. Roscommon County had the highest rate, with 41.5 of every 1,000 children being the victims of confirmed abuse or neglect, followed by Branch County at 40.5 victims per 1,000 children.
Ottawa County had the lowest rate, with 5.4 victims of abuse and neglect per 1,000 children.
Related: See your county's abuse and neglect rate.
“We've wondered ourselves for years why our rates are so staggeringly high for Branch County,” said Lisa Aviza, former interim director of the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Branch County. “The neglect is much higher than the abuse. What's happening is children are not getting their daily needs met. Maybe they're only getting a meal at school; maybe they're going to school in the winter without hats and gloves and coats.”
Between 2000 and 2011, the rate of confirmed abuse and neglect cases in Michigan rose 39 percent. Yet state programs aimed at preventing child mistreatment have been cut. The Families First program received $21 million in state funds in 2000. In the 2014 budget, the program will receive $16.2 million – an inflation-adjusted cut of 42 percent.
The Zero to Three Secondary Prevention Program, which received $7.75 million in 2001, was eliminated in 2012.
The federally-funded Strong Families, Safe Children program, which received $16.9 million in 2000, is set to get $12.4 million in the 2014 budget year – an inflation-adjusted cut of 45 percent.
Some of those cuts are a result of funding shifts in the state's child welfare system prompted by a 2008 settlement.
Money needed to improve the state's foster care and child protective services programs, as required by the settlement, left less money for abuse and neglect prevention programs, Hong said.
Some of the increase also may be attributed to a 2009 change in the number of professions that are required to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect, adding jobs such as nurses, first responders and dental hygienists.
Rates have increased every year since then -- but they also rose in the three years prior to the policy change. And Michigan's list of professions mandated to report abuse and neglect is not unusually long compared to other states, some of which have lower abuse and neglect rates.
Washington, for example has a longer list of people mandated to report child mistreatment (including any adult who lives with a child), but has a confirmed rate less than a third of Michigan's.
Indiana requires all citizens to report suspicions of abuse and neglect, yet it's confirmed rate (11 children per 1,000) is lower than Michigan's (14 per 1,000 children).
“To attribute (the increase in confirmed abuse and neglect) to one factor is dangerous,” said Colin Parks, manager of Child Protective Services and Family Preservation for DHS.
“We've increased the number of social workers, and they're better at identifying issues. In addition to that, public awareness of abuse and neglect has been raised, and adds to the reporting.”
Jane Zehnder-Merrell of the Michigan League for Public Policy reports that about 80 percent of abuse and neglect cases involve neglect -- not physical or sexual abuse. Being homeless or not being able to provide adequate food or clothing for children could be labeled as neglect, with cases referred to community services for assistance.
“Twelve percent of kids in Michigan live in homes below half the federal poverty line,” Zehnder-Merrell said. “I don't know how you have shelter with that.”
Funding is running out for Arlington task force that tracks sexual predators
by Susan Schrock
ARLINGTON — The single father showered his daughter and her two 9-year-old friends with lavish gifts, including horses, clothes and electronics.
But when his daughter hosted the girls for sleepover parties at his Arlington home, her father took the 9-year-olds downstairs to the living room, one at a time, and sexually molested them with his hands or a sex toy.
The girls finally told someone, in February 2012. The man is serving two life sentences in prison.
“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 anymore.”
The young girls were among 323 confirmed victims of child sexual abuse in Arlington 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 a special task force that uses technology to proactively track down would-be child predators.
The future of the task force, however, remains unclear. Funding runs out at the end of the month.
The Crimes Against Children unit will not know until September whether the task force positions will be funded as part of the regular Police Department budget, said Sgt. Ricardo Lucero. Budget discussions for fiscal year 2014 begin in August.
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. And technology — especially cellphones and Internet-based video games — is making it 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 those with whom their children interact and teach them about how to protect themselves in both the physical and virtual world from inappropriate contact and communication.
“The grooming process was more difficult [before technology]. 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.
“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 cellphone 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, with several cases pending, Lucero said.
“These cases have exploded over the past few years due to the advancement in technology and kids utilizing that technology,” Lucero said.
The four-member task force includes a computer forensics examiner who retrieves data from phones and other electronic media. Detectives use software that allows them to monitor which IP addresses in Arlington have downloaded known images of child pornography, which is illegal.
Savage, who works on the task force, said investigators also 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.
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's syndrome — an illness on the autism spectrum characterized by difficulties in social interaction — and low self-esteem became involved in a conversation with a 42-year-old man online through her electronic tablet.
The man persuaded the girl to send nude photos of herself, and he was arranging to meet her when her 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 and Prevention research, about 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 that parents monitor their children's online and cellphone activity, especially reviewing phone apps such as 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.
Catholic Religious Order Opens Abuse Files
by The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — A Roman Catholic religious order released an unusually candid report Tuesday outlining how its leaders failed for decades to stop sex abuse in its schools and other ministries.
The Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, which spans 10 Midwestern states, asked experts in clergy sex abuse to provide a full accounting of abuse by examining all the order's records. Advocates for victims said it was the broadest attempt at transparency by any part of the American church.
The auditors found the Province of St. Joseph hid abuse from parents and police, kept offenders in ministry long after their misconduct was known and spent far more on defense attorneys than on helping victims. Some friars showed compassion to victims. But they were thwarted when the order and the insurance company that covered settlement to victims allowed lawyers to take a win-at-all-costs strategy in civil lawsuits that was unnecessary and undermined the moral standing of the church, according to the findings.
"For much of the history of the province, we have failed victims," said the Rev. John Celichowski, the provincial minister, or leader, of the Province of St. Joseph, in a conference call with reporters. "We realize it will take years and many concrete gestures to restore the trust we lost."
Much of the detail in the report was previously known. In 1992, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on abuse at St. Lawrence Seminary High School, a boy's boarding school that the order runs in Mount Calvary, Wis., about 70 miles north of Milwaukee. The religious order was compelled to publicly confront the issue for the first time and hired a law firm to investigate and issue findings.
However, the latest audit included names of friars with confirmed allegations of abuse, and it discovered additional victims. The report included the names of 23 friars who the auditors could confirm were guilty of sexual misconduct. In abuse investigations elsewhere, only a small number of church leaders have released the names of accused priests in a diocese or religious order.
The investigation also stands out for the way it was conducted. The Province of St. Joseph is the first in the church to voluntarily open records to outside experts and release details of how individual leaders failed to protect children. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has commissioned studies on abuse claims and hires auditors to check current child safety programs. But those reports contain general statistics without naming specific dioceses, the accused priests or the bishops who supervised them.
The three auditors hired by the Province of St. Joseph included the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who was ostracized by bishops after his early warnings in the 1980s about the scope of the abuse problem and has since become an advocate for victims.
On Tuesday, Doyle credited Celichowski and the order for "prophetic foresight to do what they have done." The Province of St. Joseph, one of several branches of Capuchin Franciscans, is based in Detroit and has just 174 members with ministries mainly in the Midwest. Still, Doyle said he hoped it would prompt others in the church "to have the courage and the Christian decency to do the same thing."
Peter Isely, Midwest director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the report "a good start" and "a very long overdue validation to victims." But he said the audit lacked the true transparency of a grand jury report. Isely, 52, was sexually assaulted as a student at St. Lawrence Seminary. He said he was particularly disturbed by the finding that despite the cooperation of the province members, the auditors found little documentation of the abuse cases in the order's files.
The auditors said they interviewed victims, attorneys, friars and former friars and lay people who had worked in the province, while also reviewing minutes of meetings of the Provincial Council, a governing body of the order, dating back to the 1930s. The records contained "coded language" such as "immorality" or "evil actions and speech" to describe molestation, making it impossible for the auditors to determine in some cases whether abuse had occurred. The auditors said the lack of detail reflected a widespread mindset in the order that they should protect fellow friars who had been accused.
Among the other findings in the report:
— Friars ignored Wisconsin laws enacted in 1965, and strengthened over the years, that required adults to report child abuse;
— Auditors found twice as many victims at St. Lawrence Seminary as had been previously known, increasing the total from 14 to 28;
— The insurer responsible for the St. Lawrence Seminary victims spent about $855,500 on defense costs and only about $107,000 on settlements with victims;
— The panel investigated accusations against an additional 23 friars, but could not confirm the claims, in part because of poor record-keeping by the religious order;
— In one case, a defense attorney threatened to reveal the sexual orientation of a victim if he testified in a criminal trial. In another case, girls who had been molested by a priest were told to keep the abuse secret and go to confession.
Auditors said the Province of St. Joseph has made dramatic improvements in recent years in its response to abuse claims, including reaching out with compassion to victims and their families, and spending far more on counseling and other support for victims than for legal defense.
Auditors' report: http://sjpcommunications.org/files/pastoralcare/audit061813.pdf
Supervisors back state child sex trafficking law
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to support legislation aimed at closing a loophole in federal child sex trafficking laws and speeding prosecution of suspects.
The Child Protection Act of 2013, authored by Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, would remove a requirement that the alleged trafficker must have known the victim was a minor. The bill is also known as “Hazel's Law.”
Under existing law, the trafficker's knowledge of the victim's age at the time the crime was committed is a major factor in determining the length of a sentence imposed, according to Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob.
“These children have suffered enough,” Cox said. “They shouldn't have to suffer more waiting for justice to be delivered.”
The average age that girls become prostitutes in the United States is between 12 and 14 years old, and most are runaways, former foster youth or homeless, which make them prime targets for sex traffickers, according to the supervisors.
“Child predators target vulnerable youth who might have a history of problems or who have escaped a home of parental abuse and neglect,” Cox said. “Through mind games and manipulation, these children are forced into the sex trade.”
Cox and Jacob contend prosecution of alleged child sex traffickers is frequently delayed because law enforcement has to spend time looking for evidence that they knew their victims' ages.
“Hazel's Law” is named after a San Diegan identified as Hazel C., who at 17 was abducted by 41-year-old Maurice Lerome Smith of Oceanside and forced into prostitution.
“This wasn't an issue of prostitution or choice or drugs,” Hazel told the board. “This was a snake in the grass — and I got bit.”
Hazel escaped and contacted law enforcement, but she said her abductor's prosecution was delayed for about six months 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.
“Supporting this law and getting it passed means that it won't be such a burden to prove it,” Hazel said.
San Diego's other Democratic congressional members, Susan Davis and Scott Peters, are co-sponsors.
Supervisor Bill Horn said the punishment for convicted sex traffickers was not severe enough.
“These people are not redeemable, no matter how long the prison term is,” Horn said. “Once they get involved in the sex trade, they're just not going to reform. It's a profitable business to them.”
Hazel's Law is now before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.
“This is but another effort to tighten up those laws — make them tougher for sex traffickers who are doing great harm to our young girls,” Jacob said.
Cuomo Woman's Equality Act plan includes human trafficking agenda
by JOAN GRALLA
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to crack down on human trafficking, submitted to the state Legislature as part of his Women's Equality Act, comes as New York lags behind other states in attacking the problem.
Experts say thousands of people are trafficked every year in New York -- as sex slaves or forced farm workers. Yet relatively few arrests are made, largely because of legal obstacles and the victims' fear of coming forward.
"In New York, as far as human trafficking is concerned, we're where the domestic violence movement was 25 to 30 years ago," said Emily Amick, a lawyer with Sanctuary for New York Families, an advocacy group.
Cuomo's proposed legislation would toughen penalties, making trafficking a Class B felony -- a violent crime with a minimum sentence of 5 years. Offenders now face as little as a year in jail.
"Governor Cuomo's legislation recognizes the incredible violence of human trafficking," Amick said.
Under the measure, sex slaves arrested in connection with prostitution could cite trafficking as a defense -- a move advocates believe could lead to more investigations of human slavery rings. Prosecutors would also no longer have to prove juveniles were coerced or tricked into slavery.
Though experts say New York is a human trafficking hot spot, just 77 people were arrested last year, according to the state Department of Criminal Justice. California authorities made 599 arrests in the first half of 2012, statistics show.
Nine out of 10 planks in Cuomo's Women's Equality Act, which includes workplace measures improving pay equity and ending pregnancy discrimination, enjoy bipartisan support. The governor wants the legislature to act before it adjourns Thursday.
The bills' fate, however, is uncertain because Cuomo's proposal includes an abortion bill opposed by conservatives, including Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
The Senate has approved its own anti-trafficking bill. But the Assembly wants to strengthen the human trafficking laws that are among Cuomo's bills.
Most victims U.S. citizens
New York City is a magnet for runaway teens and home to a large population of low-income and undereducated people, many of whom are immigrants. There's also convenient access to international airports.
Trafficking is often viewed as purely an overseas problem. But that's not the case.
"The greatest percentage of any nationality of our victims is U.S. citizens," said David Rogers, the FBI's human trafficking program manager. "That is something most people don't understand."
Statistics are sparse because it's a hidden crime that occurs behind closed doors, or ensnares people who fear being reported to child care or immigration authorities.
Following raids earlier this week, 11 owners or managers of 7-Eleven convenience stores on Long Island and Virginia are accused of exploiting workers living her illegally by forcing them to work long hours and confiscating their pay.
At least 11,268 trafficking survivors in the metropolitan area were in contact with private service providers from 2000 to 2010, according to a 2011 Hofstra University study.
Nearly 88 percent were women and almost 72 percent were trafficked for sex, with other victims forced into domestic or farm labor. More than half were younger than 18 and two-thirds were born in the United States, the study found.
In Nassau and Queens counties, an emerging trend is traffickers bringing in Asian women from other areas to local massage parlors, according to a federal prosecutor who requested anonymity. Those sex slave cases are tough to prosecute because many victims fear bringing dishonor on their families.
"They'd rather be deported than have their family back home find out," the prosecutor said.
'I tried to leave'
Many victims won't talk to authorities because they're too traumatized. Others have been threatened with violence.
"He knew exactly how to break me," said Kenya, whose four-year ordeal as a sex slave began when she was 18. She spoke recently during a conference call with Amick, her attorney.
Amick said all of Kenya's related convictions were expunged June 10 in Manhattan.
Her ordeal began, she said, when her father locked her out of their Queens home and she was taken in by a man she thought loved her. He turned out to be a pimp. Later, after being sold to another pimp, the teen said she was forced to have sex with men in hotels.
"I tried to leave and he beat me with a bat," said Kenya, an alias she uses for protection.
Currently working as a waitress, she said she wants to become a social worker so that she can help other human trafficking survivors.
"There are still a lot of girls out there who need my assistance," she said.
Our view: Support falls short for sex-trafficked kids
Two years ago Minnesota became a national leader by adopting a more-enlightened view of prostitution and human trafficking
Two years ago Minnesota became a national leader by adopting a more-enlightened view of prostitution and human trafficking. A decision was made to start seeing the women and children out there soliciting — or being solicited — not as lawbreakers or wrongdoers but as the victims they truly are.
Lawmakers passed the Safe Harbors for Sexually Exploited Youth Act, and Minnesota became just the fifth state in the country to define exploited, sex-trafficked children as victims of crime in need of support and services rather than as criminals in need of arrest and detention.
The law is set to go into effect in 2014, meaning it was on this year's Legislature to provide funding for counseling, shelters and other help for children rescued from cheap hotel rooms, shabby apartments and elsewhere. It was on this year's Legislature to assure the support the 2011 Legislature so rightly chose to provide.
But not even a spend-happy, pay-for-everything, DFL-led session could deliver the money. Only $2.8 million was approved of the $13.5 million identified as necessary for 40 beds of shelter housing in as many as six communities, including in Duluth; for therapy and culturally specific counseling for sex-trafficked children; to hire a state director, six regional heads and 14 youth street outreach workers; and to train law enforcement and others on the front line of this shameful organized criminal activity.
As the Star Tribune Opinion page reported Monday, the $2.8 million will be enough to hire what is believed to be the nation's first statewide director of child sex-trafficking prevention as well as six regional coordinator positions. The allocation also will pay for up to 12 beds of safe shelter and treatment. Only four such beds exist now.
State funding for officer training to identify and help sex-trafficking victims also was approved by the Legislature this year as part of the public-safety bill, Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, told the News Tribune Opinion page Monday.
Though he was a sponsor of a bill to provide the full $13.5 million, Lourey said the $2.8 million allocated can be seen as a good start. Look for the Legislature to provide more funding in coming years, he vowed.
“It's by and large a success story,” he said. “No, (advocates for the young victims of sex trafficking in Minnesota) didn't get everything they asked for. But nobody ever does. That's too much to expect.
“We gave it a lot of attention. We gave it a lot of work,” he continued. “You want to make sure that these start-up operations are able to use all the money effectively. We've overfunded start-ups in the past.”
With respect to the senator, $2.8 million — only about 20 percent of what was determined to be necessary — wasn't a good start. It was barely a start at all.
The funding amount was based on 18 months of studying and strategizing and on a 30-page report by two state departments — public safety and health and human services — that worked cooperatively and effectively together and that worked thoroughly through details. In addition, statewide polling showed overwhelming public support for full funding. And researchers from the University of Minnesota and University of Indiana determined $34 in tax savings for every $1 invested.
Two years ago, Minnesota took a leadership role to protect children and to save them from becoming victimized by traffickers and others who'd do them harm. This year Minnesota all but abandoned them. When the new law goes into effect in less than seven months, what is going to happen? When people come forward to say they're victims, will they be helped? What about victims rescued by law enforcement? What resources will be there for them?
Will 80 percent of them end up back out on the streets?
Mentally impaired Ohio woman and daughter held captive
3 Ashland residents charged with forced labor
by Emma Tremblay
A mentally impaired woman identified as S.E. and her daughter were taken from an Ashland, Ohio residence in October, after years of forced labor. Today, homeowners and residents Daniel Brown, 33, Jordie Callahan, 26, and Jessica Hunt, 31 were charged in a case involving threats made with pit bulls, a poisonous coral snake, a ball python, and a 130-pound Burmese python.
29-year-old S.E., who has the functioning mental capacity of a 13-year-old due to blunt force trauma to the head at 16, was caught shoplifting a candy bar in October 2012. The investigation reportedly began when she asked to be taken to jail because Brown, Callahan, and Hunt “were mean to her” according to a police statement.
After being invited into the home in 2011, she and her daughter, now 5, were lived in inhumane conditions: forced to sleep on the cement floor, injured and denied pain medication, housed with the pets they were forced to take care of, threatened, and beaten, notes NBC News.
Their captors also apparently forced S.E. to hit her child, recorded the incident with a cell phone, and threatened to reveal it if she ever tried to escape, reports the Associated Press.
The defendants have all pleaded not guilty, and the attorney representing Callahan, Andrew Hyde, claims the police planted the story in S.E.'s mind. “She was never forced to do anything. She used this story to get out of trouble she was in.”
Former USC professor indicted on child sexual abuse charges caught in Mexico
by The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - A former USC professor indicted on child sexual abuse charges has been arrested in Mexico, a day after being added to the FBI's list of the Ten Most Wanted fugitives.
KCBS-TV reports 64-year-old Walter Williams was taken into custody Tuesday.
Williams was wanted for the alleged sexual exploitation of children and traveling abroad to engage in illicit sex acts with children.
The former Palm Springs resident was charged in an indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court.
On Monday he was the added to the FBI's regularly updated list of the most wanted fugitives.
Williams was a professor of gender and sexuality studies at USC until 2011.
A call to the FBI by The Associated Press seeking additional details was not immediately returned.
Law Gives More Time To Report Child Sexual Abuse
by A.J. Brammer
A law going into effect July 1 gives survivors of child sexual abuse seven years to report a crime or four years after the child leaves the care of the alleged perpetrator.
That is an increase from the previous two-year statute of limitations.
Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal says after that time period, his office could not press charges.
Gaal says if child abuse survivors now have more time to report, prosecutors will have more opportunities to pursue a case.
“That's a good reason for extending the statute of limitations so that we're not having to decline prosecuting a case simply because there's been delayed reporting, when in fact delayed reporting is a common thing that occurs in these types of child sex abuse cases,” Gaal says.
Heather Maritano is licensed social worker for Inner Resources Counseling in Bloomington. She says many victims take years to come forward because they are still dealing with the trauma and reporting can be especially difficult for young children.
“If you're a two year old and you're sexually abused you're not really going to have the ability to be a good witness for yourself in a court case until you're much older, so that two year window for younger victims is really detrimental,” Maritano says.
While this new law means it's unlikely any physical evidence from the crime will still exist, Gaal says in most cases the most important evidence in a sexual abuse case is the victim's testimony.
With more time to accept this testimony, he says the chances of conviction might be higher.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network or RAINN, fewer than 10 percent of reported sexual assaults are ever prosecuted.
Google to try to erase pictures of child sexual abuse
by Michelle Pekarsky
(CNN) Google says it will spend $5 million on an effort to wipe pictures of child sexual abuse from the Web and another $2 million to research more effective ways to find, report and eradicate the images.
“The Internet has been a tremendous force for good — increasing access to information, improving people's ability to communicate and driving economic growth,” Jacqueline Fuller, the director of Google Giving, said in a blog post. “But like the physical world, there are dark corners on the web where criminal behavior exists.”
Part of the $5 million will go to established child-protection groups that have been partnering with Google to fight the problem. They include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Internet Watch Foundation.
The Web giant also is creating the Child Protection Technology Fund to develop more efficient ways to fight child porn.
Recently, Google has begun using “fingerprinting” of child sex-abuse images, Fuller said. It will help law enforcement, Web companies and advocates find and remove the images, as well as prosecute the people who posted them, Google says.
“We're in the business of making information widely available, but there's certain ‘information' that should never be created or found,” Fuller wrote. “We can do a lot to ensure it's not available online — and that when people try to share this disgusting content they are caught and prosecuted.”
Since 2008, Google has been using technology to tag images, helping the company find them anywhere else they may appear on the Web. Among other things, Google can make sure images or Web pages do not appear in search results.
In 2006, the company joined Microsoft, Aol, Time, Time Warner (CNN's parent company) and others in a Technology Coalition, targeting child abuse on the Web, and has donated hardware and software to groups around the world fighting child sex abuse.
The company, which jealously protects details on how its search algorithms and other processes work, did not immediately respond to a message seeking more details about how its new initiative will work and what additional efforts may be on the way.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the group's tip line received 17.3 million images and videos of suspected child abuse in 2011. That was four times what the group received in 2007.
Canada Joining Global Alliance Against Online Child Sex Abuse
TORONTO - Canada is joining a group fighting online child sexual abuse around the world, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Monday, calling it the next step in the government's crackdown on child sex predators.
The Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online, which includes the United States, the European Union and other countries, was started last December to help authorities better identify and assist victims of abuse and prosecute culprits.
The international nature of online abuse requires co-operation between countries to bring criminals to justice and rescue victims, Nicholson said.
While much is already being done to combat child sex abuse on Canadian soil, working closely with investigators abroad is a necessity given that child pornography rings often span several countries, he added.
"This is just a recognition of what is taking place on the Internet," the minister said at a news conference in Toronto.
"What this will do is formalize with a whole new range of countries with the intention to share information and to co-operate with each other in these investigations."
The alliance also wants to raise global awareness of the scope of the problem.
In Canada, sexual violations against children — including instances of online luring — were among the few types of violent crime to rise between 2010 and 2011, according to the latest data provided by Statistics Canada.
Increasingly sophisticated technology makes it easier for predators to obtain pornographic material — and to keep their activities underground, said Det.-Sgt. Kim Gross, who heads Toronto police's child exploitation investigations unit.
Those who work in that field already trade tips, techniques and other information to keep up with the evolving methods abusers use to hide their tracks, she said.
But cementing those networks will help investigators take action more quickly in cases where a child may be in danger of being harmed, she added.
"Often when we're talking about children who are young and vulnerable, you may want to act faster than normal because you certainly want to protect that child," she said.
Monday's announcement comes months after the Conservative government vowed to stiffen penalties for sex predators who prey on children and give victims a formal role in the country's criminal justice system.
Nicholson also made a series of funding announcements in the last week of January geared toward child-assault victims.
Harpers Ferry WV and Middlesex NJ
MindCross Training Offers Online Child Abuse Course
MindCross Training is now offering it's online Child Abuse and Neglect course to providers and educators. This one hour course satisfies the 'Annex A' New Jersey DHS contract requirement.
A recent report shows that 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18. In 2012, 38% of reports to the New Jersey Department of Children and Families were initiated by agencies or schools.
Many prevention agencies and schools are required to provide child neglect and abuse training for their staff. Unfortunately, limited budgets and busy staff can make the training hard to acquire and schedule.
To help agencies, schools, and other organizations satisfy this requirement, MindCross Training is now offering their online Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect class. The course has been offered as part of their Professional Development training program for over five years and has consistently received excellent reviews and comments.
"This is a research based course that we originally created a few years ago as part of our Professional Development curriculum says Scott Hutton, Training Director for MindCross Training. Educators and other professionals that have taken the course have always given it excellent reviews. And, since some service provider contracts require this training by the State, we thought we'd make it available as a standalone offering.
The full Professional Development program consists of seven one hour courses. The Recognizing Child Neglect and Abuse course is being offered for a limited time as a standalone offering available for $8.88.
The course is engaging and informative continues Hutton and, we've tried to make it affordable to everyone.
The Professional Development program was originally developed in partnership with NCADD of Middlesex County, Inc. New courses are added every year. New Jersey service agencies and schools looking for an effective and cost efficient staff training solution can get more information by contacting MindCross at 304.725.2617.
MindCross Training is a boutique provider of innovative learning solutions for all organizations large or small. MindCross customized offerings are focused on reducing the cost of training while maximizing results. MindCross focuses on building training solutions that engages the learner and promote educational success. MindCross has been helping clients implement successful training solutions for over 10 years.
Additional information can be found at http://www.mindcross.com
Stewards of Children sexual abuse prevention program June 27
Danielson, Conn. — Kerry Fair will offer free Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention trainings from 9 a.m. to noon and 5 to 8 p.m. June 27 at Killingly Public Library, 25 Westcott Road, Danielson.
Participants can learn the risks, signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse as well as how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to it. Fair is a local authorized facilitator for Darkness to Light.
To register for a session, contact Fair at (860) 336-9377 or email@example.com
Abused children cannot afford funding cuts
by BOB FEIKEMA, IRIS SUNSHINE and CYNTHIA NAPOLEON-HANGER
Speaking at the launch of the Children's Fund bearing his name, Nelson Mandela declared, "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." The people of Forsyth County and across the Triad are now confronted with a test of how we will treat our children who are the victims of child abuse.
April – which happened to be Child Abuse Prevention month - turned out to be the cruelest month. That's when a half-dozen agencies in the Triad learned that their federal and state funding for a range of child-abuse prevention, treatment and advocacy services had been cut by over $400,000. Among the programs feeling the blow was Family Services' Children's Advocacy Center (CAC), as well as children's advocacy centers in Guilford, Rockingham and Alamance counties.
Childre's advocacy centers are a recent addition to the system of child-protection services, a system that has reduced the incidence of child abuse while providing skilled and compassionate treatment of victims. Before Family Services' CAC was established in 2000, a child who had suffered physical or sexual abuse would have to undergo a series of examinations and interviews in emergency rooms, police stations and the courtroom - settings that can be intimidating for anyone, let alone for a child who has suffered abuse.
Family Services' CAC, which gained national accreditation in 2012, was established through the joint efforts of legal, public-safety and human-service professionals. It provides a comfortable, child-friendly setting where an abused child can be interviewed by a highly trained forensic interviewer. This accomplishes two things. First, it safeguards the child's emotional health by not subjecting him or her to a series of interviews that, in effect, “retraumatize” the child. Second, a skilled interviewer can obtain more detailed and reliable information about the abuse from the child, which can be utilized in the prosecution of offenders.
The latter is especially important in cases of sexual abuse where a forensic interviewer can sensitively uncover the facts. This is particularly relevant in Forsyth County, where 35 percent of all sexual assaults in 2011 were committed against children under the age of 8, a rate 50 percent higher than the state average.
In addition to the forensic interview, a Family Services counselor is available to provide child therapy when it can be most beneficial, as soon as possible after the abuse has occurred. And the center's family advocate offers guidance and support for the non-offending parent(s) as the case wends its way through the legal system.
Once the case moves into the legal arena, another Forsyth County agency is there to advocate for the best interests of the child. Throughout the course of court proceedings, the Children's Law Center provides a voice for children who have suffered abuse or neglect. Center attorneys advocate on behalf of the child for safe placement, counseling and other needed services. Established in 2005, the Children's Law Center is the only nonprofit legal entity in the state of North Carolina that represents the “best interests” of children in domestic-violence cases. In April, the center learned that state funding for its child-advocacy services had been eliminated.
As a society we have come a long way from the days when child abuse was hardly even recognized. Prior to the 1960s, medical schools provided little or no training on child abuse, and medical texts were largely silent on the issue. Even pediatricians were largely uniformed, often dismissing recurrent subdural hematomas and fractures of the legs or arms as the result of youthful rambunctiousness. It was only in 1965 that North Carolina passed a “child abuse reporting law” requiring the reporting of child abuse and neglect to the county Department of Social Services. Communities then proceeded to establish organizations like Exchange SCAN, which serves 16 counties in Northwest North Carolina, to prevent and treat child abuse. In April, Exchange/SCAN learned that state funding for its services would also be cut.
Abused children can't afford funding cuts. The federal sequester and other austerity-induced legislation have ripped many holes in the social safety net. But these have to be the unkindest cuts of all. They threaten a return to an era that was truly a dark age for our children.
Nelson Mandela also observed that "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear." Over the past 50 years the people of Forsyth County have met that obligation by creating and supporting child-abuse services that have made our county a national model. In the wake of shrinking public investment, it will be up to individual citizens, acting collectively as a community, to ensure there will be no retreat from the progress we've made in protecting and safeguarding our children.
Bob Feikema is the president and CEO of Family Services, Inc. Iris Sunshine is the executive director of the Children's Law Center. Cynthia Napoleon-Hanger is the executive director of Exchange/SCAN.
Missionary child abuse, long unspoken of, emerges from the shadows
Survivors speak out, advocates push for reform — all to keep the next generation out of harm's way
by Manya A. Brachear
They followed their parents to remote regions of the world to preach the Gospel. But in recent years, dozens of adults, known in evangelical Christian circles as "MKs," or missionary kids, have come forward to report decades-old abuse at the hands of other missionary families or boarding school staff.
These children suffered, advocates say, either in silence out of respect for their parents' work or because their cries for help were ignored. But years later, as adults, they have coalesced into a national movement that is calling on the more than 200 evangelical mission agencies to address past physical and sexual abuse and help keep the next generation of missionary kids out of harm's way.
"I don't know of one case where the person bringing a case was welcomed and listened to and dealt with appropriately," said the Rev. Rich Darr, a Methodist pastor in Park Ridge and founder of the victim-advocacy group MK Safety Net. "All we want is for the church to be church. I see progress, but it is maddeningly slow."
Evangelical mission agencies have only recently taken action, prompted by victims who started speaking up in greater numbers after Roman Catholic Church leaders began addressing their scandal more than a decade ago.
Since 2006, about 50 of the more than 200 evangelical mission agencies around the world have worked with an umbrella group to collectively address abuse. Member agencies receive training in child safety and how to keep potential predators from joining their ranks.
But Darr and others say the efforts of that group, the Child Safety and Protection Network, aren't enough. Victims and advocates want to see even more reforms and accountability from the evangelical mission agencies that sent their families overseas in the first place.
They cite as an example Boz Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham. The former sex-crimes prosecutor began selling his services as an independent investigator in 2001 to mission groups facing allegations of abuse. His group, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, releases its findings to the public.
"There has been a culture of silence as it relates to abuse in the mission field," Tchividjian said. "What we're encountering is so many adults now whose lives were completely devastated by this abuse in the mission field, and also sadly the failure of family members or mission agencies to do anything about it. They were so focused on evangelizing and reaching souls for Christ, sometimes their own children were being sacrificed."
Some advocates for abused missionary children take a more personal approach.
Proof of that is found on Fanda Eagles, a blog run by a Chicago woman under a pseudonym to expose the abuse she said she suffered at a boarding school in Fanda, Senegal, miles from her parents' mission. The blog has since become a forum and source of encouragement for missionary kids who are abuse victims.
While many abused children she knew suffered severe beatings, the Chicago woman said, she was sexually abused by her dorm father when he tucked her in at night. Afraid of getting in the way of her parents' mission, she didn't complain.
"The blood of the Africans would be on your hands if you damaged your parents' work by being honest, by being real," she recalled thinking at the time.
But her silence didn't last. Her family abandoned the mission and returned to the U.S. shortly after she revealed what was happening at school. Meanwhile, she said, the evangelical group that oversaw her school and her parents' work, New Tribes Mission, did nothing to halt the abuse or punish the accused.
In 2008, the woman found her way back to Senegal and reconnected with peers. To her surprise, she discovered that they believed the sexual abuse they had suffered was normal affection and the beatings were acceptable forms of discipline. She believed they had been brainwashed and betrayed.
New Tribes Mission still wouldn't respond to her concerns, so she launched her blog. New Tribes eventually offered her a financial settlement and agreed to cover the cost of counseling.
Pam McCurdy, a New Tribes spokeswoman, said the mission is trying to address decades-old allegations and prevent abuse with background checks and training now in place.
"We are leaving no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to justice by handing over all of our findings to the appropriate law enforcement," McCurdy said. "We are acutely and painfully aware of the lingering damage that abuse can bring to precious children and their families. … In short, no abuse of any kind will be tolerated."
The agency also hired Tchividjian's group, GRACE, to investigate the claims.
As a criminal prosecutor in Florida in the 1990s, GRACE's founder, Tchividjian, said half the sex crimes he prosecuted involved a faith community. The sex abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church came as no surprise to him and influenced his decision to leave the prosecutor's office in 2001 to launch his group.
Watch out for signs of child sex abuse, hotels told by police
HOTEL staff in parts of Yorkshire have been told to be on alert for the signs of child sex grooming amid fears paedophiles may be using the establishments to carry out abuse away from prying eyes.
South Yorkshire Police, which was accused by MPs of “letting down” the victims of child sexual exploitation by failing to bring about any recent prosecutions for the offence, wants hotels to report concerns about “inappropriate relationships” between guests.
Staff are being issued with guidelines about the danger signs for potential child sex grooming and can call for an officer, who will enter the room where the guests are staying to check whether an offence is taking place.
The move comes days after Keighley MP Kris Hopkins called for a change in the law to force hotel owners to inform the police if they suspect child grooming.
The Conservative MP said police chiefs in several parts of the country, including South Yorkshire, had raised the alarm over a small number of hotels being almost openly used by grooming gangs.
Temporary Detective Superintendent Phil Etheridge, South Yorkshire Police's lead on Child Sexual Exploitation, said hotels were being used for grooming around the country and that it was “more than likely to be happening in South Yorkshire”.
He said: “A lot of these offences are in private and we want to make it as difficult as possible for people committing these offences to use hotels in South Yorkshire to facilitate that.”
Local authorities in South Yorkshire were heavily criticised for being “inexcusably slow” to tackle widespread sexual abuse of children in a recent report by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
The report said no cases have been brought to court in South Yorkshire since 2010, though a 28-year-old man from Sheffield has since been jailed for sexual activity with a child. Police say they currently have 60 ongoing child sex abuse investigations but admit services to tackle the problem “in the past have not been as strong as they are today”.
Former University of York student Louis Lunts plans to raise £2,000 by cycling from London to Istanbul
by Haydn Lewis
AN epic 2,000-mile bike ride awaits 22-year-old former University of York student Louis Lunts.
The history graduate and cycling enthusiast plans to raise £2,000 or more by cycling the distance from London to Istanbul for York-based charity Survive, in Priory Street, which offers support and information to women and men who have suffered child sexual abuse or rape or sexual assault as adults.
Louis said he plans to set off on July 1 and arrive in the Turkish city five weeks later on August 4, by which time he hopes the current political situation in the country will have settled down.
The journey will take him from one end of Europe to the other, through ten countries, but he is no novice, having previously cycled from London to Rome.
He said: “I wanted to do a trip like this and I wanted the money to go to something local and worthwhile where the funding would make a real difference. I chose the London to Istanbul route long before all the recent trouble, because it is a well ridden cycle route, Hopefully, by the time I get there, things will have calmed down a bit.
“My dad will be joining me for part of the way and a friend is setting out with me and dropping out in Vienna so I won't be completely alone.”
Louis said he chose the charity after a talk given to the university's drama society by Survive support worker Annie Borthwick led to fundraising for the cause.
Ms Borthwick said: “This money means an enormous amount to us. We need between £50,000 and £60,000 a year to keep going and to stay open for the rest of this year we need £12,000.
“We don't get any money from the health service or the council, so Louis's efforts are a massive boost to us and we can't thank him enough.”
Louis has currently broken through the £1,000 mark in his fundraising attempt. To sponsor him go to charitygiving.co.uk/louislunts
What is Survive?
Survive is based in Priory Street and run by three part-time workers and eight volunteers.
It offers a safe place for survivors of rape and sexual abuse to come to where they will be listened to in confidence and understood.
The service saw about 90 people last year and this year numbers look likely to exceed that number in the wake of Jimmy Savile.
To find out more go to their website survive-northyorks.org.uk phone the office on 01904 638813 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More child abuse survivors reveal trauma
Four times as many child abuse survivors are seeking professional help since a royal commission into the issue was announced last year, research shows.
Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) says calls to its helpline have increased by 300 per cent since November when it was revealed there would be an inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
"The royal commission has helped break down the taboo and implore people to tell their story," ASCA president Dr Cathy Kezelman told AAP on Tuesday.
"Often the first step is realising that you are not alone."
The calls have also revealed the effects abuse has on adult survivors.
Four out of five (78 per cent) survivors said the abuse affected their relationships, while two out of three (68 per cent) said they suffered from mental health problems.
"The findings show that living with impacts of child abuse can make everyday life very difficult and for some, dangerous," Dr Kezelman said.
Of those callers who revealed the abuse they suffered, sexual abuse emerged as the most common type, affecting 61 per cent of survivors.
Emotional abuse affected 29 per cent, followed by physical abuse at 27 per cent.
Twenty-two per cent reported multiple types of abuse.
The most common age group when survivors said they experienced any type of abuse was between six and 10 years, at 62 per cent, followed by 11-15 at 42 per cent.
Almost half (46 per cent) said they were abused at multiple stages of their lives.
Since the royal commission was announced, ASCA has expanded its 1300 657 380 helpline to 9am and 5pm between Monday and Sunday.
Previously it was only available four hours a day during weekdays.
Dr Kezelman predicts the fourfold increase is just the tip of the iceberg.
"People are reaching out. We've had people calling us for the very first time who are in their 70s who have never told another soul what happened to them," she said.
The research is based on more than 3,500 calls to the ASCA helpline over the past four years.
US Naval Academy
USNA Will Charge 3 Football Players in Rape Case
by Michael Hoffman
Officials at the U.S. Naval Academy will charge three football players following the completion of an investigation after a female midshipman reported she was sexually assaulted by the three players in 2012.
The three players have not been named by the Naval Academy as the Navy has yet to complete the official charge sheet. However, the Naval Academy issued a statement Monday confirming that Superintendent Michael Miller has chosen to send the case to Article 32 proceedings.
Naval Academy spokesman Cmdr. John Schofield confirmed that all three football players will face an Article 32 hearing, which requires charges be issued against all three.
The female midshipman who reported the sexual assault attended a party at an off-campus property known as the "football house" in Annapolis in April 2012, according to a statement from her lawyer, Susan Burke. Military.com will not identify the midshipman as it is Military.com's policy to not name victims, or potential victims, of sexual assault.
The midshipman woke up at the football house the next morning "with little recall of what had occurred," according to the statement. She later found out through friends and social media that three football players had "sexual intercourse with her while she was incapacitated," according to the statement.
The female midshipman reported the incident to NCIS, saying she was intoxicated and didn't remember much from the night. NCIS started an investigation in April 2012 that continued throughout the summer and into the fall.
All three football players remain at the Naval Academy including a senior who was kept from graduating on May 24 with the rest of his class. The three football players were allowed to play football during the 2012 season.
The NCIS closed the investigation in November -- in the midst of the Navy football season -- and did not press charges. Burke was surprised the case was initially closed because she said investigators collected "substantial evidence, including an admission from one player and social media postings memorializing what had occurred.”
The female midshipman approached Burke in January and asked for her help. Burke recommended she speak to NCIS, which reopened the investigation in February. NCIS has since completed the investigation, which was reviewed by the superintendent.
Child molester tries to blame girl, 9, for sex abuse
Gary Lee Rose claimed he was the victim of a 9-year-old girl bent on thwarting his budding romance with her mother. It was the girl who took those sexually explicit photos and a video found on his cell phone, he said.
A Clackamas County jury didn't believe Rose's story. After deliberating three hours, the 12 jurors unanimously convicted him Friday on multiple counts of unlawful sexual penetration, using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct and first-degree sexual abuse.
Defense attorney Stephen Kelly, offered various possibilities to explain how Rose was actually the victim of a wily child. The girl changed parts of her story. She had a motive -- jealousy -- to harm Rose. He discovered the pictures on his phone and deleted them because of their offensive nature.
Under Oregon law, someone convicted of raping, sodomizing or sexually penetrating a child under 12 must serve at least 25 years. He will be sentenced June 27. Given his criminal history, including convictions for burglary and criminal mistreatment, he could face a much longer sentence.
Child sexual abuse prevention sessions set
The education program is based on the Stewards of Children curriculum
There are several upcoming community education sessions being held in Hopewell Valley that aim to educate adults on the prevention of child sexual abuse. The sessions will be conducted as part of Kyle Bennison's Eagle Scout project in coordination with the Hopewell Valley YMCA.
The education program is based on the Stewards of Children curriculum from the national organization, Darkness to Light (d2l.org) and will be adopted as a community education initiative by the Hopewell Valley YMCA.
Stewards of Children sessions will be held on the following dates:
— June 15, 10 a.m., Titusville United Methodist Church.
— June 22, 10 a.m., Titusville United Methodist Church.
Help to play a part in prevention and to make Hopewell Valley a safer community for our children.
To register, go to Facebook.com/HVCSAPrevent to find the online registration links. Follow the project on twitter @HVCSAPrevent. Each session is open to the public and free to attend.
For more information or to register direct by email, contact Kyle Bennison at email@example.com
Royal commission into child sex abuse targets employment loopholes
by JANET FIFE-YEOMANS
LOOPHOLES in safety checks for people working with children including neighbourhood sporting groups and lifeguards are to be the first target of the royal commission into child sex abuse.
Commission CEO Janette Dines, yesterday said that the commission had decided to make the issue the first topic for public submissions because it had been highlighted as a concern by victims' and survivors' groups.
In most states, individuals need to apply for a Working With Children Check but screening checks vary between states and include a police check, criminal history check, relevant employment proceedings and findings from professional disciplinary bodies. It will be the subject of the commission's first call for public submissions as they continue hearing the stories of victims in private sessions.
In private talks with commissioners so far, they have heard from 56 people in Sydney and are currently in Brisbane where 53 people are to appear in private.
Ms Dines said the sessions had given commissioners an insight into the devastating affects of sexual and physical abuse as well as the courage and resilience of the victims.
Prime Minister puts the heat on abuse websites
by KEVIN SCHOFIELD
DAVID Cameron yesterday vowed that he would “put the heat” on the likes of Google to force them to ban child abuse websites.
The PM also suggested he wanted to introduce a ban on the vile sites being available on public wi-fi networks.
Mr Cameron will host a Downing Street summit with web firms later this week in a bid to crack down on the problem.
The PM said yesterday he was “not satisfied” that the companies do enough to take down illegal images of children posted online.
He said: “That's why we're having this round table with them to really put the heat on.”
Mr Cameron added: “The world has changed so fundamentally with the internet that we've got some real threats there to our children and also from this appalling scourge of child pornography.
"We've to take a lot of action.”
Penn State fallout lingers year after Jerry Sandusky trial
by Mark Scolforo
HARRISBURG, Pa. - In the year since eight young men took the stand to testify they were sexually abused by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the scandal has played out in the courts, in the halls of the university and in continuing debate about how it was handled and what it meant.
Two Penn State trustees made a case this month that the university has already made substantial improvements in child safety and its internal governance, with more changes on the way, including a search for a new president.
Board chairman Keith Masser said the school can already claim to be more efficient, more transparent and more accountable, a national model for university governance. He sees Penn State turning a corner.
"There's a lot of inaccurate information and negative information that's out there, and ... I want to make sure that we promote and discuss all the good things that have been done and we're doing," he said in an interview in New York with The Associated Press.
The fallout from the revelations that Sandusky was a child molester who used his ties to the university to groom and victimize boys has hardly been confined to State College. There, debate continues about whether the school should have agreed to NCAA penalties, whether legendary coach Joe Paterno was treated fairly in his firing and a subsequent university investigation and what role the football team should play in campus life.
Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted last year of sexually abusing 10 boys. He has maintains his innocence and has launched appeals, a process that could take many years.
For months now, Penn State has been negotiating with lawyers for about 30 young men who assert they were abused by Sandusky. Many of them didn't testify against Sandusky and haven't sued, so the nature of their allegations isn't publicly known.
The university's goal is to settle their claims and avoid trial, and the man brought in to help facilitate those talks said he's optimistic the end is near.
"We're getting closer," said Ken Feinberg, who has been involved in many other high-profile group settlements, including the compensation funds for 9/11 and Boston Marathon bombing victims. "We should have this done, I hope, in the next couple of weeks. But it's not done yet - the discussions continue."
The NCAA penalties, which included a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on postseason play, a temporary reduction in football scholarships and the elimination of 112 Paterno-era wins, have triggered several lawsuits, including one by Gov. Tom Corbett that a federal judge has dismissed.
Paterno's family and others with Penn State ties have also sued, and the NCAA has gone to court to challenge a state law that mandates the $60 million should be spent on child abuse prevention efforts within the state, not elsewhere.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane has ordered a review into how the Sandusky investigation was handled under her predecessors: Corbett and Linda Kelly, the woman he picked to complete his term as the state's top prosecutor. The Sandusky scandal is likely to be a campaign topic next year, when Corbett is expected to seek a second term.
The Legislature is working on changes to state law based on shortcomings in child abuse protection that the Sandusky case helped expose, and it's probable that some of the proposals will be enacted this year.
The U.S. Department of Education has been investigating whether Penn State complied with a federal law regarding public reporting of campus crimes.
Also pending are the criminal proceedings against three former Penn State administrators accused of covering up complaints about Sandusky: former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley. They maintain their innocence.
Schultz and Curley were arrested along with Sandusky in November 2011, but prosecutors added new charges late last year and, for the first time, charged Spanier. Their preliminary hearings, which according to Pennsylvania law would normally have been held months ago, have been delayed indefinitely while the courts sort out a dispute over the role played in their grand jury appearances by Penn State's then-general counsel, Cynthia Baldwin.
The men have argued their right to legal counsel was violated when Baldwin accompanied them to grand jury appearances, and they do not want her to testify against them.
Because of the grand jury investigation, much of what has been going on in the criminal case is occurring in secret, including a pair of appeals by Curley and Schultz that the state Supreme Court turned down this month. The state attorney general's office said it's ready to move forward with the case and blamed delays on defense motions.
On the field, the Nittany Lions went 8-4 last season under coach Bill O'Brien, hired as Paterno's permanent replacement. They open the 2013 season Aug. 31 against Syracuse at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.