NAASCA Celebrates Australia's "Blue Knot" Day / Week !!
Oct 28, 2013
||NAASCA Celebrates Australia's "Blue Knot" Week !
I was asked by some of our Adult Survivor friends in the UK to make up a video message supporting Australia's "Blue Knot" Day / Week, which is celebrated there the week of Oct 28.
I've loaded it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/1FxXMpHHpgs
We at the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (North America) are delighted to join our fellow activists in Great Britain and elsewhere in helping our Australian abuse survivor cousins celebrate their Blue Knot Day / Week ! We're with you !!!
Happy Blue Knot Day / Week !!!!
Cleveland kidnap survivor sits down with Dr. Phil
CLEVELAND (AP) — One of three women who escaped from a ramshackle Cleveland home after more than a decade in captivity is about to share her story.
Michelle Knight will appear on the "Dr. Phil" show Tuesday and Wednesday in a taped interview.
The show says Knight "describes the horrible conditions in the house" and discusses her physical, mental and sexual abuse. That includes "being tied up like a fish" and spending weeks chained and tortured in the basement, according to the show.
Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escaped May 6 when Berry pushed out a door and yelled for help.
Their kidnapper, Ariel Castro, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. He hanged himself Sept. 3.
On "Dr. Phil," Knight will also discuss how she was able to survive her ordeal. She was 20 years old when she was kidnapped in August 2002.
"Three women were taken, three women were rescued, but only two went home," said Phil McGraw, referring to Knight's decision not to reunite with her family.
The Knight interview was announced earlier as three segments but was trimmed.
"Out of respect for Ms. Berry and Ms. DeJesus, she chose to speak about their shared experiences only from her own point of view," McGraw told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in comments published Saturday.
"When you listen to her describe the horrible living conditions and how she was treated, you wonder how anyone lasted a day let alone more than a decade. In the 12 years of doing the 'Dr. Phil' show, no one has changed me like Michelle Knight and her story of survival."
Knight, the only victim to appear at Castro's sentencing, told him, "You took 11 years of my life away, but I've got my life back! I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning."
McGraw said he found Knight "very bright, well-spoken and eager" to have her own voice after suffering years of abuse.
Castro was found dead in his cell just a few weeks into his sentence. A coroner ruled his death a suicide but an Ohio prisons report indicated he may have died accidentally while choking himself for a sexual thrill.
Philadelphia Alliance For Children To Hold Annual Fundraiser Next Week
by Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)– A Philadelphia non-profit that provides a safe place for child sex abuse victims to access law enforcement is having its annual fundraiser next week.
The Philadelphia Alliance for Children provides a kid-friendly place where young sex abuse victims can tell their story to the police, the DA's office and social services agencies all at the same time.
“When a child has been sexually abused they are often not sure what to expect when they go to an agency to tell somebody,” says Chris Kirchner, “we wanted to make sure that children are not interviewed repeatedly about their abuse.”
Kirchner says PAC videotapes interviews and facilitate sharing of information between agencies. She says these types of services are desperately needed since they see 130-140 newly reported cases each month.
“We see an average of six or seven kids every day,” says Kirchner, “and we are not state-funded. We do about half of our money from the city of Philadelphia and the rest we raise.”
The November 6th, Movin' On Benefit Concert at World Live Cafe is part of PAC's fundraising efforts. Several Philadelphia artists will perform songs from the CD, which focuses on overcoming abuse.
“Some of the musicians are survivors and will talk about and sing about the impact of the issue on their lives,” says Kirchner.
In addition, adult survivors of abuse will tell their stories, as part of Philadelphia Weekly's national storytelling initiative.
“I still get a little nervous and scared sharing such a tragedy with a bunch of strangers,” says Ari Benjamin Bank, 39. The English teacher submitted his story to the magazine and was selected to read his story at the concert.
“I was just five years old and it happened over the course of a summer at a day camp that is still open,” says Bank, “I was a very, very good swimmer. And one of the counselors would escort me to the pool for more advance swimmers. Instead of going into the pool, we would go into the bunk, he would close the door and sexually molest me.”
Bank was continuously molested over the course of eight weeks. He kept the abuse a secret for decades.
“A big part of healing is recognizing that you are not a victim, but you are also a survivor,” he says.
Tickets for the Movin' On Benefit Concert run 15 to 25 bucks.
You can get tickets or buy a CD at http://mecamusicheals.com/ or at paphiladelphia.nationalchildrensalliance.org
Olympic medalist to share sexual-abuse saga with Boulder audience
by Aimee Heckel
Kellie Wells has an Olympic medal. But that's not her proudest accomplishment.
More important are the lives she has touched by transforming her own personal trauma into hope for others.
More important is igniting the dialogue.
Wells, a hurdler and sprinter from Richmond, Va., is known for winning a bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2012 London Olympics. So she's no stranger to challenging herself.
But going public about her childhood sexual abuse and a domestic-violence tragedy that culminated in her mother's death -- that was much more difficult than training for the Olympics, she says.
"It's one of the hardest things I've done," Wells says. "Compared to training and competing, being transparent and looking at yourself in the mirror is one of the hardest things to do."
Wells will share her story at the Hotel Boulderado on Thursday in hopes of spreading awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as providing hope and inspiration to other survivors. She's the keynote speaker for Moving to End Sexual Assault's annual fundraiser, Bold, Brave and Beautiful.
Organizers expect the event to draw more than 220 people and raise more than $10,000, after expenses, to help fund sliding-scale services and other programs.
Boulder author and professor Rev. Donald Matthews also will speak. Matthews, an associate professor of religious studies at Naropa University, wrote the novel "Sex Abuse in the Black Church."
Moving to End Sexual AsSault (MESA) is the only rape crisis center in Boulder and Broomfield counties. Since its inception in 1972, it has helped more than 36,000 local survivors, averaging more than 1,000 per year.
But that's just the people who have reached out for help -- not nearly all of the survivors, says Lora Atkinson, executive director of MESA.
"Statistically, we know that this is a silent epidemic crime," Atkinson says. People don't like to talk about it."
Wells admits she didn't want to.
"I swept it under the rug for many years," she says. "I couldn't understand why my relationships were suffering, my friendships were suffering. I had this sadness or darkness I couldn't describe."
Shortly after Wells began track and field at age 6, her parents divorced. For years, her mother suffered in a physically, emotionally, mentally and even monetarily abusive relationship with her new fiance.
When Wells turned 13, the man turned the abuse toward her. That's how she lost her virginity, she says.
She says her mother's fiance raped her for three years, before she got up the courage to go live with her father.
Two weeks after Wells moved out, her mother and her fiance were killed in a car accident. He was intoxicated, Wells says.
"It affected me in so many ways," she says.
She says she struggled with trusting anyone: If the very people who were supposed to keep her safe did not, why would someone who was not family -- someone who didn't have to love her?
"But you can't live like that," Wells says. "Especially in my profession. You have to be able to trust your coach wholeheartedly."
At age 28, she decided to go public about it. It wasn't an easy choice.
"You never know how you're going to be received," Wells says. "But it's not about being received. You'll always have a naysayer or someone who's going to question you. I did it for myself. My family. The people who don't have a voice, like I do."
That was the first step in her healing, she says.
She encourages other survivors to speak out, too.
"I don't want anybody to hold things in out of embarrassment or shame, because it's only going to mess with you," Wells says. "That person will be free, and you'll be captive in your own mind. It's such a terrible feeling to be captive inside of yourself."
Studies show that 1 in 4 women in Colorado will be victims of sexual abuse during their lifetime, according to MESA. That number is one in 17 for men.
Sexual violence is one of the most pervasive and serious public health issues in this country, says Atkinson, referencing 2010 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. That report found that nearly 1 in 5 women nationwide have been raped.
Still, she says she meets plenty of people who are surprised that sexual violence happens in Boulder County.
"I get that quite often. People still have this mindset that it's not an issue here," Atkinson says.
The truth is, MESA continues to see an increase in demands for its service -- not necessarily as a sign of increased sexual violence but more likely because more people are coming forward for help, Atkinson says.
"I'm hoping we're starting to talk more about what is rape culture and what we can do to really change this," she says.
She hopes Wells' story assists that movement.
After first reading Wells' story in a running magazine several years ago, Atkinson says she was so inspired that she found Wells on Twitter and sent her a thank-you. This began a social-media dialogue that continued throughout Wells' triumphant effort at the 2012 Olympics.
"I invited her to come (to Boulder), hoping it would help bring visibility to the movement and the cause," Atkinson says. "And because Boulder's athletic, we thought her story could speak to a lot of our community."
Atkinson adds, "You can move forward. You can heal from this trauma. You can move beyond it, yet come back to help make change."
What's new at MESA?
Adolescent support group: In January, Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) will launch a new adolescent support group.
Like Olympian Kellie Wells, nearly 80 percent of women who reported being raped said it happened before age 25, according to MESA's executive director, Lora Atkinson.
The group, Girls Rising, brings young survivors together to share and support.
"It's pretty progressive," Atkinson says, adding that she doesn't know of any other nearby rape crisis centers that offer such a service. "They're dealing with high school and their life and parents and boyfriends and all the pressures from social norming. They have different needs than an adult woman in her 30s."
Trauma-informed yoga group. Starting this month, MESA is offering a yoga class specifically for sexual-abuse survivors -- designed to intentionally allow survivors "to slowly be back in their bodies and work through trauma," Atkinson says.
The class will include deep breathing and easy postures as a way to help re-teach the participants that their bodies are safe and reclaim a sense of strength.
"We believe trauma gets stored in your body and it's hard for survivors to be in their bodies," Atkinson says.
The lunchtime classes are donation-based with a suggested offering of $10.
Guest Column: Steps to reduce child abuse in Cowlitz County
by Mark S. Nelson
We are fortunate in Cowlitz County to have many things that make us unique: Access to the beautiful and historic national monument, Mount St. Helens, the Columbia River, county pride and plenty of community cooperation and volunteerism. These are all things that we can be proud of as residents of this beautiful area.
However, Cowlitz County also leads the state in one very troubling statistic: confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect. In 2011, law enforcement investigated reports of abuse or neglect in 49 children-per-thousand in our county — the highest per-capita rate in the state and 63 percent higher than the state average of 30 children per thousand. This issue has a significant long-term negative impact on quality of life here.
Child abuse is not only a crime but the impact of abuse often stays with a child into adulthood and the cycle of family violence continues into the next generation. One of the long-term consequences of abuse or neglect is future involvement in crime. Although most victims of abuse grow up to lead productive lives, research shows abused children are nearly 30 times more likely to commit violent crimes as adults. Oftentimes this violence is a repeat of the abusive treatment they experienced as children, resulting in multi-generational cycles of violence and crime. Researchers have estimated that as many as 33 percent of adults with a history of abuse may go on to abuse their own children.
The good news is Cowlitz County is gearing up to provide one of the most proven Child Abuse Prevention programs available — the Nurse-Family Partnership. Thanks to a grant from the state Home Visiting Services Account, beginning in November, specially trained nurses from the county health department will begin providing voluntary, intensive services to some of our highest-risk young mothers and families. The nurses provide education, coaching and support to first-time, single mothers in order to assure that babies are born healthy and get off to the best start in life.
Thirty-years of study of the Nurse-Family Partnership have shown a 48 percent decrease in child abuse and neglect, a 59 percent reduction in arrests of program children by age 15 and 72 percent fewer convictions of program mothers by the time their child is age 15. A cost-benefit analysis by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy determined that the Nurse-Family Partnership program returns on average, net benefits of $13,000 per child served. These are astounding facts! What investor wouldn't want that kind of return?
As the sheriff, I find any crime against a child troubling and I believe we must do what it takes to prevent these crimes and make sure more of our kids grow up without the physical and emotional scars caused by abuse and neglect. As a father, I recognize that these children are our children and our future. We must continue and even expand our commitment to providing the Nurse-Family Partnership and other proven child abuse prevention programs.
I am very excited about this program coming to Cowlitz County. It is another example of how the citizens here recognize a problem and address it in order to make Cowlitz County the wonderful place to live that it is. We are blessed.
Mark S. Nelson is Cowlitz County sheriff.
Help "Child Abuse Victims", Become A Secret Santa
(Now-prior to Christmas) Become a SECRET SANTA for a sexually abused child.
The Child Advocacy Center is again coordinating this part of Christmas for an often forgotten group. They often has challenges that make it a challenge for their guardians to be able to afford what other youngsters take for granted. Instead, this families' money is often used for moving expenses to get away from the abuser.
For information on how you can get involved and be a Secret Santa to an abused child, contact the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County at (615) 867-9000 or the Cannon County Child Advocacy Center at (616) 563-9915.
Signs a child is being sexually abused
by April Baker
Sexual assault and misconduct is oftentimes a crime that goes undetected among children, because parents or adults do not know what signs to look for.
It's also hard to determine, because there are many factors that influence the way a child behaves, whether it be their health, hormones, or issues within his or her family.
Ultimately, one of the major reasons why it's so hard to find out about sexual assault and misconduct is because it's mostly kept secret by the perpetrators and those who are the victims.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), about 60 percent of assaults go unreported to police.
Jacqui Campman, who an emergency services counselor for the Rape Crisis Center in Myrtle Beach believes the painful secrets these people have been hiding need to be shared so they can be helped once and for all.
"We need to start opening up the lines of communication and talking about this issue more openly so that it's not a secret because perpetrators thrive off the secrecy of it," Campman said.
Campman has a few signs to look for kids who may have possibly been abused.
One of the most typical signs she says to look for is a change in the sleeping or eating patterns. If a child is sleeping more or less than normal or eating more or less than it may be one indicator that something is wrong.
Another sign may be if a child's behavior regresses.
"Children that are already potty trained that start wetting the bed or wetting themselves in their clothes not making it to the bathroom in time. Children prior to anything happening to them did not have a problem separating from parents all of a sudden are super, super clingy,"
The problems can also be seen in the classroom.
According to Erin Wheeler, a middle school science teacher at the Palmetto Academy of Learning and Success Charter School said she and her colleagues have been trained to spot the signs, although they haven't had to deal with a situation like that before.
"If their grades suddenly drop, if they seem depressed or if there is a big change in their demeanor and in their behavior and in their academic work," Wheeler said.
Also, Wheeler said another part of their training is to focus on keeping the lines of communication open, whether it be with the kids, the family of the children, other teachers at the school.
To find out more about how you can help someone being abused or learn more about sexual assault and misconduct, click here.
America's silent epidemic: child sexual abuse
AMARILLO - Some are calling it America's silent epidemic child sexual abuse.
Everyone probably knows a victim of child sexual abuse, whether it be a friend, acquaintance or someone in your family. The perpetrators of those crimes aren't typically strangers.
Every Halloween, parents are cautioned to check the sex offender registry and warn their children to steer clear.
"Knowing where sex offenders live in you neighborhood is certainly a step every parent should take and should know," the Director of the Community Supervision and Corrections Department for Potter, Randall and Armstrong Counties Terry Easterling said.
For the past ten years, Easterling's had officers make sure sex offenders on probation don't welcome trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
"We don't want children feeling comfortable going to a sex offender's house anytime," Easterling said.
But Halloween night is no more dangerous than any other.
There are 650 registered sex offenders in Potter and Randall counties alone. You can see where they all live on the Department of Safety website or certain phone apps. But the people most likely to harm your children probably won't be found on the list.
"We need to let go of the idea of stranger danger. Strangers don't pose a risk that's significant to our children," Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider Troy Simmons said.
Simmons has worked with convicted child molesters and victims for about 20 years.
He's written two books on the subject and worked with Texas courts to provide treatment to several hundred offenders.
"In Amarillo, we see a little bit of everything," Simmons said. "Probably the most common offender is the friend of the family, like a neighbor, the step-father, or the uncle."
As to why that happens, there's no one reason. Simmons says for some it's about power and control and others it's simply an obsession.
"The question sometimes is, is this an illness that beyond their control? I don't believe it is. I believe that these are behavioral choices that in some ways like alcoholism can be managed long term," Simmons said.
About 100 sex offenders in Amarillo are involved in programs enforced by probation officers and conducted by counselors like Simmons. Weekly group meetings, polygraph testing, and intensive therapy are handed down in most cases instead of jail time. Research from the Texas Department of Health shows it works more than 80 percent of the time.
"The happier and the healthier that the offender is in all areas of his life, then the safer they are within the community," Simmons said.
Simmons says sex offenders typically go with less assertive children they believe would be the least likely to tell.
So to best protect your children, Simmons says trust your instincts about the people you let have access to your family and make sure your kids know how and when to say no.
"Early and often. Kindergarten and first grade is a wonderful time to be talking to children about whose job includes touching or seeing your privates. And children get that. They understand jobs because we talk to them about what do you want to be when you grow up," Simmons said.
Only 15 percent of cases are thought to be reported, likely because victims are often close with the offender and are ashamed to tell their families.
Texas Public Sex Offender Registry: https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/SexOffender/Index.aspx
Soft-spoken Bev Moore-Davis sends loud message about child abuse
by Melissa Jenkins
At 17 years old, Bev Moore-Davis ran away from home.
This soft-spoken Georgetown, Conception Bay native hid some dark secrets from her past for many years. It wasn't until 2010 she began to tell the story of why she had to leave her home and family behind.
Bev was a victim of child abuse.
Although she is not specific on the type of child abuse she experienced as she talks with The Compass Nov. 1, she acknowledges that she speaks on all types, including sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
Bev is an entrepreneur and owns four businesses — three in St. Johns and one in Ottawa — under the Morvis Group of Companies banner. She also worked and lived for a period in Bay Roberts.
She has also made a name for herself because of her involvement with introducing the issue of child abuse to the City of St. John's and also around the province.
As a survivor of child abuse, Bev tells The Compass, she decided enough was enough.
“A light bulb went off,” she says. “People keep secrets (of child abuse) their whole lives. We are just hurting ourselves by not speaking out.”
It was that moment Bev began her three-year journey of advocacy on behalf of child abuse victims, and sharing her story so those affected would know they were not alone.
“It's a life sentence,” she explains. “We suffer as our perpetrators are free. By showing others affected that I can do it, I can help them (realize) they can too.”
The RCMP classifies child abuse as, “any form of physical, psychological, social, emotional or sexual maltreatment of a child whereby the survival, safety, self-esteem, growth and development of the child are endangered.”
Bev is getting more comfortable with sharing her story, but says it will never be easy.
As an advocate for child abuse, Bev has networked with people all over the world to share the message because she is passionate that someday the word can be widespread.
She explains people do not speak out — even in today's society — because of the repercussions it could cause, including being ousted to other family members, friends and members of the public.
Other entrepreneurs, Bev continues, have confided in her about being victims of child abuse, but will not come forward because of the professional positions they hold, and the fear of how they would be viewed.
She doesn't see it that way. Rather, she believes sharing her story and going public will help the cause, not hinder it.
Miles for smiles
This past April, an event called Miles for Smiles kicked off at Bowring Park in St. John's. Bev organized it. The event was not to raise money, she says, but rather to raise awareness.
In fact, the entire event was run solely off company donations and contributions from Bev's companies.
With the co-operation of the City of St. John's and the VOCM Cares foundation, the month of April was promoted as child abuse prevention month to coincide with the national awareness campaign of the same name.
Hundreds of people showed up to the Miles for Smiles event in support of loved ones, and some even survivors themselves.
Newfoundland and Labrador Organization for Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) held a gala at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John's Oct. 30. The event was to present female entrepreneurs with awards recognizing their success in business.
Bev was one of the recipients.
The NLOWE Community Impact award was awarded to Bev for her dedication to raising awareness of child abuse prevention and her self-motivated involvement to the cause.
After seeing a short video of the winner — which can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M00MSSGDBVc — the audience at the gala heard a heartfelt speech from Bev.
"This award, I accept for all survivors," she told the audience during the gala. "For all those that had their innocence stolen, for those who were raised being told — and you believing — you are not good enough (and) for those adults still struggling with those negative words as they have been cemented in our very foundation. I accept this for you."
A standing ovation followed her address.
Bev is currently transcribing her thoughts and experiences into a book.
“I'm really putting myself out there,” she says.
She even wrote a chapter on emotional abuse, which is something many people she has encountered brush off as a less important form of abuse.
On top of the Miles for Smiles and her book, Bev also organized a support group for those who have lived through child abuse. The group is called Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) where members meet to discuss their former experiences.
Bev is very positive, and strives to one-day see a world with no child abuse.
“Our society has come so far, but we still have a long way to go.”
Berthoud police officer fired for child abuse
The Berthoud police officer caught on tape and arrested by Loveland police for allegedly punching and kicking his teenage daughter has been fired by the town manager.
Yachik, 35, is accused of physically abusing his teenage daughter on at least four occasions between July 1 and Oct. 2, 2012, according to a Loveland police arrest affidavit.
Yachik is to be advised of the charges against him on Nov. 12, Larimer County District Attorney spokeswoman Linda Jensen said.
Yachik was arrested about one month after Berthoud town board members, media outlets and Loveland police received an e-mail from Yachik's former fiancée accusing him of abuse. The e-mail included a video recording of a child being choked, punched and kicked by an adult male.
According to the arrest affidavit, Yachik and his daughter identified themselves in the video, which was taken in his home.
His former fiancée told investigators that she attempted to report the incident to Berthoud Police Chief Glenn Johnson, but she received no response. Soon after, Yachik allegedly phoned her and said, "Nice try ... trying to get me fired ... it's not going to work."
The woman then attempted to report the incident to Larimer County's child protection agency.
Because the case involved an officer working in the county, it was referred to Weld County, where the case was closed without action, according the affidavit.
Frustrated that she was unable to get help for Yachik's daughter, the woman on Sept. 24 forwarded the cellphone video to Loveland police, media and town officials.
Loveland police opened an investigation, and Yachik was placed on leave.
During their investigation, Loveland police executed search warrants at Yachik's home and also at Johnson's office, where three computers were seized. According to the affidavit, the search confirmed Yachik's fiancée had attempted to report the alleged abuse to Johnson.
Johnson was placed on administrative leave Oct. 3. Larimer County Sheriff's Sgt. John Feyen is serving as interim police chief during the criminal investigation.
No charges have been filed against Johnson, Jensen said.
According to the arrest affidavit, Yachik's daughter told interviewers at the Child Advocacy Center in Fort Collins that she had been choked; force-fed hot sauce; bound with handcuffs and plastic zip ties; locked in rooms; punched and kicked; beaten with ropes; and prevented from eating. She said the abuse occurred almost daily for several years. When the girl was interviewed again by detectives Friday, she confirmed what she told child advocates.
In a Sept. 27 interview with Loveland detectives, Yachik admitted to the alleged abuse, saying he had punished the girl because she "won't communicate" with him. The girl, then 15, was sent to Mountain States Children's Home on Oct. 2, 2012, according to the arrest affidavit.
If convicted, Yachik could face up to 18 months in jail on each child abuse count and up to a year in jail on the false-imprisonment count.
Teen accused in "egregious" case of child sexual abuse
by Cindy Horswell
In what Montgomery County prosecutors call "the most egregious case of a juvenile committing despicable sex acts on another juvenile" in the county's history--a teen was certified this week to be tried as an adult on 46 felony counts of everything from sexual performance to trafficking of a six-year-old boy.
Llewellyn Van Sligtenhorst, now 17, from north Harris County, repeatedly abused the young boy while baby sitting him at a Montgomery County home, starting last Christmas eve and continuing through March, investigators say.
Investigators have recovered over 200 photographic images of the victim, whom they say was drugged unconscious during the assaults. Prosecutors say the teen took orders over the Internet from child predators as to what they wanted to see done to the boy.
Award-winning Author and Child Abuse Survivor, Tom North, is Guest on "Stop Child Abuse Now" International Radio Show with Bill Murray - Nov. 6, 2013
Studies show that children who experience physical, emotional and sexual abuse may be marked for life. From stress that is associated with the disruption of early brain development and impairment of the nervous and immune system, to stress that contributes to heart disease, cancer and suicide, child abuse victims are at risk.
Award-winning author and child abuse survivor, Tom North, is the featured guest on the “Stop Child Abuse Now” International Radio Show with Bill Murray, Wednesday, November 6th at 5 to 6:30 PM Pacific Time.
As the author of True North – The Shocking Truth about “Yours, Mine and Ours”, Tom writes about his experience as the 11th of the 20 Beardsley children, made famous in the 1968 film “Yours, Mine and Ours.” With Lucille Ball playing the role of the mother and Henry Fonda as the father, the film was a critical and box-office success. However, the loving family portrayed in the film differed dramatically from the actual Beardsley family. Tom's true story tells what it was really like to grow up in that family, taking the road less traveled through violence and despair, to hope, and eventually to self-discovery and a fulfilling life.
Tom North remarks, “I'm looking forward to being on the show with Bill Murray and reaching out to listeners and child abuse survivors around the world, letting them know that there is help and hope. Child abuse survivors don't have to suffer alone, and there is much we can do to make a positive difference in our lives and the lives of others. I invite everyone to tune in, call in and chat online.”
The host of Monday to Friday's “Stop Child Abuse Now” (SCAN), nationally respected public safety advocate Bill Murray, has a special mission: to address issues of child abuse. But his concerns and activism goes much deeper than that. Mr. Murray is best know as the founder of LA Community Policing, his reaction to the events of 9-11. For the past 11 years he's published its web site, at LACP.org, which encourages residents to engage in public safety, homeland security and in helping their neighbors reduce crime, the fear of crime and improve the quality of life. Originally a regional non profit effort, LA Community Policing's web site has grow to nearly 5000 pages, and long ago was identified by the US Dept of Justice as the world's largest grassroots non profit effort devoted to community-based policing.
On January 1, 2011, the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse was launched (NAASCA.org), based on Bill's personal life experienced. “Very few adults have escaped many years of severe child abuse, trafficking, and kidnapping. But I have, and I've been in recovery from its devastating effects for nearly 30 years. Now that my parents are both gone I've decided to devote my remaining time, money and available energy to this vitally important cause.”
Studies show that children who experience physical, emotional and sexual abuse may be marked for life. From stress that is associated with the disruption of early brain development and impairment of the nervous and immune system, to stress that contributes to heart disease, cancer and suicide, child abuse victims are at risk.
In a recent interview for Health Matters Magazine, North said, “After having grown up in an environment of child abuse and domestic violence while having to bear the added burden of covering it all up because we were a famous family, I suffered from the effects that are well-documented. My life was a mess. I was depressed, sick, angry, withdrawn and I made poor lifestyle decisions. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn Transcendental Meditation (TM) and it was my first step to recovery. I'm gratified to learn that readers of my book are inspired to learn TM as they seek a brighter, more peaceful life.”
People around the world can listen in, call in and chat online during the program at: http://NAASCA.org/ .
True North - The Shocking Truth about "Yours, Mine and Ours" by Tom North recently won a Living Now Award Gold Medal. The awards celebrate the innovation and creativity of newly published books that enhance the quality of our lives. The paperback and e-book are available wherever books are sold.
Tom North is an Official Supporter of National CASA for Children.
Psychotherapist Stefanie Stolinsky Describes the Effects of Childhood Abuse and Shows Abuse Survivors How to Recover and Regain Control of Their Lives
Childhood physical, sexual or emotional abuse can cause long-term harm, often lasting well into adulthood, according to author and psychotherapist, Stefanie Stolinsky . Depression is a common symptom of past abuse. October is National Depression Awareness month. Other negative effects of childhood abuse include depression, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and anxiety. Abuse survivors are also at higher risk for physical health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. These effects do not simply “go away” as children mature.
The good news is that adults can heal from trauma and abuse they experienced in childhood.
Act It Out: 25 Acting Exercises to Heal from Childhood Abuse is a self-help book published by Praeclarus Press, which guides readers through a series of exercises that actors use. Each exercise is linked to short video with actors demonstrating it. Author Stefanie Stolinsky, a psychotherapist and former actress based in Southern California, began incorporating acting exercises into her psychotherapy sessions when she noticed that many of her clients presented the same kinds of complaints actors did in drama classes. Her clients had difficulties feeling and releasing emotions, such as sadness, weakness, or fear. They often relied on alcohol or drugs to help them cry in a scene or “feel”; playing “at it” or faking it rather than really feeling it. They were often afraid that releasing true emotions because they believed that they would be dangerous. They held back or experienced stage fright. They felt embarrassed, fearful of revealing themselves, and shame.
Because of these striking similarities, she began incorporating acting exercises into her therapy sessions. If acting exercises can help actors get unblocked, perhaps they could also help her clients get “unblocked” and start healing.
Acting exercises in therapy allow clients to have total control over what they are experiencing. If things are too painful, they have permission to pull themselves out of the exercise. The acting exercises are also fun. They give clients a chance to “play” while also addressing some of the serious issues in their lives. Acting exercises are a natural adjunct to traditional therapy that also works well as a self-help technique. Dr. Stolinsky guides readers through the exercises and provides examples of how clients benefited from each one.
According to Dr. Trudy Moss,
Act It Out offers the reader an opportunity to travel beyond an intellectual understanding of his or her struggle to become a more integrated, self-loving person. Written with compassion and respect, Act It Out invites the reader to privately begin to release old sensations of shame and self-doubt… Act It Out leads its readers safely into that place of self-healing where the light of emotional release forever illumines the dark corners of the cave. Unconscious fears that have imprisoned victims' capacity for fully realizing their own potential will be scattered, and readers will reap the benefits of their inspiring acts of courage.
Stefanie Stolinsky, Ph.D. is a clinical and forensic psychologist who has a private practice in Beverly Hills, California. She began her career at UCLA, where she did original research on adult women sexually, physically and emotionally abused as children. She is a noted speaker and held training seminars on Overcoming the Aftereffects of Child Abuse. She lives with her husband, David, a retired physician, in Los Angeles.
Act It Out is available through Amazon and at Praeclarus Press. Praeclarus Press is a small press specializing in women's health. It is owned by health psychologist Kathleen Kendall-Tackett and is based in Amarillo, Texas.
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/10/prweb11283897.htm
Man faces deportation to Canada for trial in alleged 1974 rape of disabled child
by Brian Day
Deputies Thursday announced the arrest of a San Dimas man who fled Canada in 1980 pending his re-trial for the alleged rape of disabled child in 1974.
Raymond Douglas MacLeod, 71, was being held on immigration violation and weapons charges as he awaited deportation back to Canada to face charges there, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said in a written statement.
The fugitive, who officials said had been using a dead person's social security number, was arrested Monday at his home at the East Shore Recreational Vehicle Park, 1440 Camper View Road in San Dimas, near Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, authorities said. The mobile home park is home to many children.
He had allegedly been hiding from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for more than 33 years.
“They're eager to get him back in Canada,” Deputy Johnny Jones said, adding that the victim in the 1974 rape case had been informed of his recapture.
Deputy Dan Whitten, who identified MacLeod as a Canadian fugitive, said two rifles and several high-capacity magazines, including a 100-round drum, from an AK-47 rifle that was not found were seized from MacLeod's mobile home when he was arrested without a struggle. McLeod is a convicted felon due to drunken driving and hit-and-run case stemming from the 1980s and is barred from possessing weapons.
He has been arrested several times in the United States over the past three decades, but not linked by law enforcement to the Canadian case.
Though MacLeod was expected to be charged with weapons violations in Los Angeles County, local officials planned to let the Canadian case be handled first.
“We're going to go ahead and let (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) deport him,” Whitten said. Weapons charged will likely be filed later, generating an arrest warrant should MacLeod ever return to the United States.
MacLeod's then-5-year-old victim is now married with a family and expressed relief that MacLeod was in custody, Whitten said.
“In 1974, Mr. MacLeod was arrested in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the rape of a 5 year-old who suffered with cerebral palsy,” officials from the Sheriff's Parks Bureau said in a written statement.
As he was free on bail pending his trial in Canada, he twice attempted to flee Canada to the U.S. but was stopped, officials said.
“He was tried, and in four days was acquitted due to an error made by the judge,” the statement said. An appeals court ordered a new trial in January of 1980, however MacLeod was not present in court during the appeals process.
“MacLeod was ultimately found to have fled Canada, and a warrant was issued for his arrest by the RCMP,” according to the sheriff's statement.
The case went cold for more than three decades until January, when Deputy Dan Whitten of the Sheriff's Parks Bureau became aware of MacLeod's possible connection to the Canadian case.
After running McLeod's information in January, Whitten said he noticed a “very vague” entry listed in connection with his name in a national crime database. After three or four hours of research and a call to Canadian investigators, Whitten confirmed MacLeod was the fugitive rape suspect.
Canadian authorities immediately began the lengthy process of extraditing MacLeod back to Canada.
But the deputy said he discovered that MacLeod was using a fraudulent social security number and was living in the U.S. illegally, speeding up MacLeod's return to a Canadian courthouse.
“Due to the seriousness of the crime he was accused of, Deputy Whitten contacted ICE and the United States Marshals Office,” according to the sheriff's statement. “Following a 10-month investigation, ICE confirmed Mr. MacLeod's Canadian Citizenship, which led to his arrest and detention pending deportation.”
Investigators were cautious not to tip MacLeod off to his pending arrest as they continued their investigation. “I was very careful to watch my footsteps,” Whitten said.
MacLeod was believed to have been living the mobile home park for at least eight years.
It was unclear how long the deportation process would take.
Experts say Halloween laws against sex offenders are a scare tactic
by MARISSA BUDZYNSKI
Parents have long warned their children to avoid pranksters and unwrapped treats on Halloween. But local law enforcement agencies suggest parents should be concerned about another threat: sex offenders.
Texas laws prevent convicted sex offenders from participating in Halloween festivities, and some Dallas-Fort Worth area cities tack on additional restrictions.
But many experts say there is no evidence to suggest sex offenders attack children more on Oct. 31 than any other day and the restrictive laws amount to nothing more than a scare tactic.
In fact, Dallas police say they have not witnessed an increase in crime, sexual or otherwise, on the spookiest day of the year. Halloween crime rates in the city dropped 12 percent from 2011 to 2012, said Maj. Robert Sherwin of the crimes against persons division.
Dallas police say there is no need for further restrictions beyond state laws, which require sex offenders who are on probation to keep their porch lights off during trick-or-treating hours. They also cannot answer their door to candy-seekers and are not allowed to decorate their homes.
Jill Levenson, an associate professor at Lynn University, said that the greatest risk to trick-or-treaters is getting hit by a car. Researchers at the Florida school determined that there was no change in sexual assaults during Halloween, or even in the weeks that followed, in comparison to the rest of the year.
“The laws restricting sex offenders make parents and communities feel safer, but there's no proof that they reduce the risk of sexual abuse,” Levenson said. “Law enforcement should be directing their efforts towards crimes that are more commonly seen on Halloween, like vandalism.”
But some experts argue that the laws are the reason sex crime rates are low on Oct. 31.
“The reason there are fewer incidents isn't because of a change in the offenders themselves, but because of increased supervision and awareness,” said Steve Lurie, an adjunct professor of law at Loyola University in Los Angeles. “On Halloween, parents, guardians and mentors are more aware.”
Many police departments conduct door-to-door checks to monitor convicted sex offenders on Halloween. Plano officers will go to offenders' homes to ensure that they're complying with the law.
“Typically Halloween is a big night for checks because there will be more children walking around neighborhoods than a typical night in the city,” said Plano police spokesman David Tilley, who noted the city hasn't experienced an increase in sex-related crimes on that date.
Parker County takes its Halloween program a step further. Everyone on probation for a sex crime in the county is required to meet at an undisclosed location from 6 to 10 p.m. on Halloween, said Mike Stack, director of adult probation in Parker County.
There the offenders take part in mandatory counseling, which is often a requirement of their parole. Those who don't attend are deemed in violation of their probation.
The program was launched in 2004 and has received mostly positive feedback from Parker County residents — including offenders — Stack said.
“Most offenders think it's a good idea because they realize that if something bad happens in their neighborhood, the finger will be pointed at them. If they're here with us, however, we can verify where they were,” he said.
Regardless of the risk level associated with sex offenders on Halloween, local law enforcement officials say it's important to know where the offenders live.
“Know if you have any in your neighborhood and know where they are,” Tilley said. “I'm not saying they're going to be posing any danger, but it's always good to know where these individuals are.”
How to stay safe on Halloween
1. Young children should trick-or-treat with a parent. Older children should stay with a group.
2. Trick-or-treat while it's still light outside or bring a flashlight if it's dark.
3. Never enter a stranger's house or car.
4. Use electronic lights instead of candles inside of jack-o-lanterns.
5. Wear flame-resistant costumes. Use reflective tape to help drivers spot children more easily.
6. Don't let children wear long costumes. They can get caught on objects or cause the child to trip.
7. Children should know their home phone number and how to call 911 in case of an emergency.
8. Don't let kids eat any treats until they've been inspected by a parent. Get rid of any candy that has been opened or is not in its original wrapper.
Ohio Supreme Court bars teacher's testimony on child abuse
by Catherine Candisky
A divided Ohio Supreme Court yesterday upheld a decision to toss the conviction and 28-year sentence for a Cleveland man in a child-abuse case, ruling that a preschool teacher's testimony about who the 3-year-old victim said had beaten him was inadmissible.
In a 4-3 decision, the court found that Darius Clark was entitled to confront his accuser. The youngster, who a physician said had been abused along with his 2-year-old sister, was deemed incompetent to testify at trial, and prosecutors had relied on the boy's out-of-court statements to his teacher.
Justice Terrence O'Donnell, in the court's majority opinion, acknowledged that Ohio law requires teachers to report actual or suspected child abuse. However, the “confrontation clause” of the U.S. Constitution bars the admission of the boy's statements to his teacher because they were solicited when there was no ongoing emergency.
Clark was living with his girlfriend and her two children in 2010 when he dropped the injured boy off at preschool. Teachers noted the boy's left eye was bloodshot and bloodstained and there were welts on his face. When questioned, the youngster said Clark had hit him, prompting school officials to notify police. Clark was later charged with felonious assault, endangering children and domestic violence.
O'Donnell explained that a teacher acts in a dual capacity as an instructor and as an agent of state law enforcement when questioning a child about suspected abuse, requiring the court to determine the “primary purpose” for questioning. If statements are obtained to remove the child from an emergency situation, they can be used later in court; if there was no immediate threat, the statements are inadmissible.
The decision affirmed a ruling by the 8th District Court of Appeals to overturn the conviction and return the case to common pleas court for a new trial. O'Donnell was joined by Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Sharon L. Kennedy and William O'Neill.
In a blistering dissent, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor wrote, “The very people who have the expertise and opportunity to recognize child abuse are now prohibited in Ohio from testifying about any out-of-court statements that a child makes about abuse or neglect when the child, for whatever reason, is unable to testify. … Children in Ohio will go unprotected.”
O'Connor was joined in dissent by Justices Judith Lanzinger and Judith L. French.
Catholics encouraged to acknowledge Blue Knot Day and support victims of child sexual abuse
by Truth Justice Healing Council
CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council has written to more than 1,500 Catholic priests and women and men from religious orders across Australia encouraging support for the activities of Blue Knot Day and the possibility of recovery for the victims of child sexual abuse.
Blue Knot Day and other activities will conclude this Sunday (3 November). The week's activities are part of an annual awareness campaign coordinated by the victims of child sexual abuse group, Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma.
Mr Sullivan said Blue Knot day is an important event that focuses on the damage done to victims of child sexual abuse.
“This year's Blue Knot activities are focused on recovery and spreading the message to both survivors and all community members that with the right care and support, recovery is possible,” Mr Sullivan said.
“It is important all members of the community, and particularly members of the Catholic Church, do whatever we can to help victims and survivors.
“Within the Church that could range from individual parishioners saying a silent prayer, to Church leaders and authorities acting to strengthen the protection of children, and to ensure victims are heard, believed and treated with justice,” he said.
The Truth Justice and Healing Council was established by the Catholic Church to coordinate the Church's engagement with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
New court helps New York's human trafficking victims
by Sadhbh Walshe
Human Trafficking Intervention Courts offer help and hope to prostitution defendants across the state
NEW YORK — They look so young. Some of the accused in Judge Toko Serita's courtroom could easily pass as high school seniors instead of who they are: criminal defendants waiting to go before a judge on prostitution charges.
It's a serious charge, one that can carry up to 90 days in jail. But on this October morning in the borough of Queens, Serita isn't presiding from a traditional bench. Instead, she calls into session the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court.
A growing awareness of just how deeply human trafficking is entrenched in the commercial sex industry means that the women and girls in this room not only could avoid a jail sentence but could also get connected with counseling and services, their first real chance to escape the trap of their circumstances.
The court in Queens is just one of three Human Trafficking Intervention Courts already in operation in New York state. By November there will be a total of 11, all allowing defendants to have their cases dismissed if they successfully complete a prescribed number of mandated sessions with service providers.
In 2011, 70 percent of the defendants who came before the Midtown Community Court in Manhattan were identified as trafficking victims . The goal of the new statewide court system is to give nearly all defendants charged with prostitution a chance to escape from the pimps or traffickers who may be controlling them. If it works as planned, getting arrested — usually a sex worker's biggest fear — may turn out to be a blessing.
“It was the best thing that happened to me,” said 29-year-old Mexican native Anna Gomez (not her actual name), referring to her experience with Serita's court following an arrest earlier this year during a brothel raid.
Gomez was easy prey for a team of sex traffickers when she arrived in the U.S. at 15, alone and without papers. Now, as she sits in her attorney's office at the Queens Family Justice Center, she can hardly believe how her life has changed. Initially, she was convinced she'd be back at work in the brothel as soon as her case was closed. By the third meeting with her counselors, however, her skepticism faded.
“I realized that there were options and that maybe I could get out of this,” she said.
The idea of offering options instead of penalties and jail sentences to those arrested for selling sex took root in the Queens courtroom more than 10 years ago when Serita's predecessor, Judge Fernando Camacho, found himself face to face with a 16-year-old charged with prostitution who had been arrested multiple times.
“I looked at her and the offer I think, was plea the charge and 15 days (in jail), and I said I don't want to do this,” Camacho said in an interview with the Center for Court Innovation. “There's got to be an explanation as to why she's out in the street at the age of 16.''
Instead of sending her to jail, Camacho connected the girl with an organization called Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS), which specializes in helping victims of sex trafficking. And so the trafficking intervention model was born.
Now there is a whole network of service providers in the city, and many work with their clients for years after the cases are officially sealed. The first step is to help the women get their paperwork in order so they can utilize any public assistance that's available. Then the search starts for safe housing and a job. Victims often have no proper identification, no credit (or credit problems), and if they were born outside the United States they usually have immigration issues.
For Gomez, learning that she may be entitled to permanent residency under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was a game changer. Now, just seven months after her arrest, she has a job in a restaurant and her visa application is underway.
Left in the snow
The outreach number on the Polaris Project brochure, a national human trafficking awareness project. www.polarisproject.org
“Finally (Anna) is getting the services she should have gotten 13 years ago,” said Dania Lopez Beltran, the Family Justice Center lawyer who is handling Gomez' case. “But because she has been neglected for so long, her needs are so much greater.”
Beltran is referring to the debilitating trauma that victims endure at the hands of traffickers or pimps while they are trapped “in the life” — a trauma that cannot be miraculously erased by getting a job and a place to live. This is all too apparent when Gomez begins to sob and shake as she recounts the terror she felt after her first beating by a john who left her naked on the street during a snowstorm. She reacts with similar distress as she recalls how her body went into a kind of toxic shock after “servicing” 24 clients on her first night working in a brothel. (Later, she says, her body got used to it and she would often see up to 60 men per night. Her youthful appearance made her so popular, she said, that there was usually a line of men outside her door.)
Critics of criminal penalties argue that such stories reveal the limits of a criminal justice solution to a problem so rooted in social, racial and gender inequality. The average age that sex workers first enter the industry in the U.S. ranges from 12 to 14. Many service providers would like to see stepped-up efforts to stop these girls from falling prey to traffickers in the first place, rather than helping them get on with their lives after years of trauma and abuse.
“We've come a really long way with this, and that's great,” said Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS and a former trafficking victim herself. "Women who fall prey to traffickers are no longer automatically being sent to jail or fined. But now we need to take the next step and look at the reasons they fall prey in the first place.”
A fighting chance
An even more pressing concern about the criminal justice approach is how it affects victims who cannot comply with the court's mandates or who are simply unable to get out from under their trafficker's control.
“Our clients are still prosecuted as defendants even though we know they are victims,” said Kate Mogulescu, who heads the Trafficking Victims Legal Defense and Advocacy Project of the Legal Aid Society . “At the end of the day there is a high risk of criminalization.”
Back in Serita's courtroom, the judge tried to impress this risk on a young Asian girl who was arrested twice in the same location one week apart.
“You understand that if this happens again, the offer that is being made now (that her case would be dismissed) might not happen, and if there are immigration issues you can be deported,” Serita said before mandating that the defendant complete nearly double the usual number of sessions.
Through her interpreter, the girl said she understands what could happen if she doesn't comply. Whether the circumstances of her life will make it possible, if she avoids jail time and deportation, is unknown. After all, her pimp may be waiting around the corner for her. At least, thanks to the timely intervention of the trafficking court and the services it offers, she has a chance — a fighting chance.
Billboards will help draw line on sex trafficking
by JOHN L. SMITH
The glow of a few roadside billboards isn't much competition against the Strip's blinding lights, but it's a start.
That was the unspoken message I heard at Tuesday morning's human trafficking-themed news conference at the Grant Sawyer State Building. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who has been consistently pro-active on this issue, led the gathering.
Not that Masto and Metro Vice Lt. Karen Hughes phrased it that way as they unveiled the first of several Clear Channel Outdoor-sponsored billboards that will put the toll-free number for the Polaris Project's National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline on the street in large numerals. (The number is 1-888-373-7888.)
Clear Channel estimates the billboards it is donating will display 1.6 million impressions a week over a 15-week span. The national hotline is a tool, one of many, authorities are using in an attempt to pull young women and girls out of the prostitution racket in a city that hypes its sexual side like few others in the world. In case you haven't noticed, the Southern Nevada playing field isn't exactly level.
On one side, you have lusty Las Vegas with all the hedonistic trappings and elusive promises of glitz and greenbacks. You have a pop media culture that just can't help glamorizing the pimp-and-whore subculture.
On the other side, prostitution experts say, you have many girls raised in poor neighborhoods without education whose perceived options and worldview are precariously narrow. It's little surprise that you don't find many street prostitutes from functioning family environments.
In Las Vegas, where the sex trade and adult-themed businesses generate many millions, change has come slowly. But at least our community's teen-age prostitutes — most of whom are local girls — are no longer disgustingly characterized as willing participants in a “victimless crime.”
With the passage this year of Assembly Bill 67, which makes sex trafficking of children and adults a crime and increases the penalties for pandering, Nevada at last sent an enlightened message on the issue in a state that still offers legalized prostitution in several counties.
When it comes to sex trafficking, positive change comes slowly here. Masto and Hughes agreed that the collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement and concerned interest groups has never been higher.
It will need to stay that way.
Those who monitor sex trafficking at the street level know the issue is complicated by the fact many girls are socialized and persuaded into entering the life.
Persuasion is often accompanied by violence and threats of violence to family members, Hughes said.
Getting into the life is as easy as crossing the street. Getting out can take years and often requires substantial psychological deprogramming and life training.
The fears are often justified and the dangers very real.
That's why the message that help is out there and alternatives are possible needs to echo down streets where it once was barely whispered.
“I think sometimes the lack of them having a voice comes out of a sense of self-preservation,” Hughes said.
“It's not until I think we as a community really care about what happens to these victims — and they believe with sincerity that we are going to provide them with an exit strategy — that we are going to be able to succeed at a high level. Until that happens, I think those pimps and traffickers are going to have a strong foothold.”
It's a long shot, but maybe that change begins with a phone number.
“So much more needs to be done on this issue,” Masto said.
Amid the glaring reality of Las Vegas, Tuesday's billboard announcement was a small but positive sign.
Change is possible, even here.
Drunk man wearing clown makeup accused of dangling child from overpass
by The Associated Press
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin man wearing clown makeup dangled a child upside down from an overpass after coming home drunk from a Halloween party, according to officials who charged him with child abuse.
The Kenosha News reports that a woman called police after she saw 33-year-old Antonio Brown dragging two screaming children into woods in Kenosha about 2 a.m. Sunday. The 13- and 8-year-old children said Brown was their mother's boyfriend.
According to court records, Brown invited the children to go for a walk on train tracks when he returned from a Halloween party about 1 a.m. The children had done this before and thought it was fun.
But the 13-year-old boy told police that this time Brown was drunk and he forced the children to drink alcohol as well. The teen said he drank so much that he vomited.
The younger child became scared after they climbed onto the tracks, and the boys tried to run away. Brown grabbed the older child, held him upside down from the overpass and warned him, “If you try that again, I'm going to drop you.”
Brown then climbed onto a train car and began hopping from one car to another, the complaint said. When the 8-year-old refused to follow, Brown grabbed him by the hair and tried to pull him up. He later dangled the child from a train car, holding him by the neck and ankle.
Brown has been charged with child abuse and second-degree reckless endangerment and is being held in the Kenosha County Jail. Court records do not list his attorney.
Kenosha is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
Program launched to assist child victims of sexual assault
by GREG SOWINSKI
LIMA — Children who are sexually assaulted often experience a medical exam and interviews that force them to relive the ordeal and that can be nearly as traumatic as the crime itself.
Local officials who deal with children who are sexually assaulted have wanted to fix the process for years.
They are well on their way.
On Monday, officials from various agencies including Children Services of Allen County, two local hospitals and the county prosecutor's office gathered to announce a program tailored to try to lessen the traumatic experience that follows a sexual assault while trying to get the child as much help as possible.
Kids Clinic: Child Advocacy Center of West Central Ohio was announced at Lima Memorial Health System. Not only does it the program work with first responders but it provides them training to manage a delicate situation in a child-friendly environment.
Interview rooms are also at the hospital with an audio and video recorder so the child does not have to go to the police station or tell the story multiple times. Everyone involved in the system is highly trained all the way to the proper way to collect evidence so it can be used later in court, if necessary.
The new system saves multiple trips to different agencies and recently, trips out of town as far away as Columbus where the experts were to handle sexual assault victims after a doctor who handled the cases in Lima left more than a year ago.
“We want to do everything under one roof,” said Rory Stauber, who is heading the program that is under Crime Victims Services. The program is funded through grant money and mainly through Allen County Children Services.
There are 26 similar programs set up in Ohio, not all accredited. Lima will have to work toward accreditation, Stauber said.
The program also will be subject to peer review to make sure it's operating to high standards, Stauber said.
Stauber expects the time to process a victim, including an exam and interview, will take about two hours. In the past, a child going to Columbus would have a two-hour ride just to get there.
About 100 cases of child sexual abuse from Allen and surrounding counties are reported annually, said Scott Ferris, the director of Allen County Children Services.
Unfortunate, the ages in the cases range from infants to 17, Stauber said.
While the Kids Clinic is only at Lima Memorial, Ferris said officials hope to open a clinic at St. Rita's Medical Center at a later date. Medical exams still can take place at St. Rita's.
Making partnerships to curb child abuse
by Ian Margol
MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) More than 300 mesa county children are subject to abuse each year, and moving them to a safer home is one way to keep them safer.
At Monday morning's meeting the Mesa County Board of Human Services renewed their contract with Ariel Clinical Services - a group that helps to place children at-risk for abuse in foster homes.
"It's just a state-wide initiative to make sure we get families as early on as possible," says Mesa County Commissioner, Rose Pugliese. "[We] get them the services they need to prevent as opposed to when it's too late."
The partnership will also help educate and work with families on how to get through difficult situations that may otherwise lead to abuse.
Child sexual abuse via the Internet on the rise
Sexual abuse of children and adolescents can have serious health consequences for victims. Early studies have revealed that child sexual abuse is associated with an increased risk of later mental and physical health problems and risk-taking behavior. The Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich, the Psychosomatics and Psychiatry Department at Zurich's University Children's Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at University Hospital Zurich discovered that sexual abuse is alarmingly widespread in a representative sample of more than 6,000 9th grade students in Switzerland.
Sexual harassment via the Internet is mentioned most frequently Among the study participants, mainly between 15 and 17 years old, roughly 40 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys reported they had experienced at least one type of child sexual abuse. Relative to boys, sexual abuse without physical contact was reported twice as often in girls and sexual abuse with physical contact without penetration three times more often. Both genders reported "sexual harassment via the Internet" as the most frequent form of abuse. This form of sexual abuse was experienced by roughly 28 percent of girls over the course of their lifetimes and by almost 10 percent of boys. At just under 15 percent for girls versus 5 percent for boys, "molested verbally or by e-mail/text message" was the second most common form of abuse. Just under 12 percent of the surveyed girls and 4 percent of the surveyed boys reported having been kissed or touched against their will. Approximately 2.5 percent of the girls had already experienced sexual abuse with penetration (vaginal, oral, anal or other); among boys, this figure was 0.6 percent.
The results of the Zurich study are comparable to those of an earlier Swiss study which was conducted in Geneva between 1995 and 1996 in a similar age group asked similar questions. The prevalence of sexual abuse with physical contact is almost unchanged today. However, sexual abuse without physical contact occurs far more frequently. "We believe that this difference can be attributed to harassment via the Internet, e-mail, or text messaging. This type of sexual abuse was not surveyed back then", explains Dr. Meichun Mohler-Kuo, senior research scientist at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich.
The majority were victimized by juvenile perpetrators
Just over half of the female victims and more than 70 percent of the male victims reported that they had been abused by a juvenile perpetrator. Furthermore, most of the victims of sexual abuse with physical contact knew the perpetrator – for instance, they were partners, peers, or acquaintances. "This new trend towards the majority being juvenile perpetrators, and being peers and acquaintances, is in contrast to the Geneva study, and might indicate increased violent behavior among adolescents", explains Dr. Ulrich Schnyder, Head of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at University Hospital Zurich. And he adds: "Our results also differ considerably from official police reports, according to which perpetrators are usually adult, male relatives." This would seem to indicate significant under-reporting of abuse to officials.
The majority did not disclose sexual abuse
Only about half of victimized girls and less than one-third of victimized boys disclosed their sexual abuse experiences. The disclosure rate is even lower with more severe forms of sexual abuse. Most victims who do disclose, do so to their peers; less than 20 percent to their families. Fewer than 10 percent of victims reported the sexual abuse to police. "Compared to similar studies from other countries, the disclosure figures in the Swiss study are low. The reluctance in reporting incidents of this kind to family members or authorities makes timely intervention more difficult," concludes Dr. Schnyder.
Meichun Mohler-Kuo, Markus A. Landolt, Thomas Maier, Verena Schönbucher, Ursula Meidert, Ulrich Schnyder. Child sexual abuse revisited: A population-based cross-sectional study among Swiss adolescents. Journal of adolescent health . October 29, 2013.
The survey was conducted in 22 cantons. The study examined the prevalence, characteristics, and circumstances of sexual abuse over each child's entire lifetime and over the course of the previous 12 months. A distinction was made between the following forms of sexual abuse in the study:
Sexual abuse without physical contact
Forced to show one's naked body or have pictures taken of it against one's will
Forced to watch people having sex
Forced to watch pornographic material
Molested by email or SMS
Sexual harassment via the Internet
Sexual abuse with physical contact without penetration
Kissed or touched against one's will
Sexual abuse with penetration
Forced vaginal intercourse
Forced anal intercourse
Forced oral intercourse
The survey is part of the Optimus Study which was conducted by the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine of the University of Zurich, the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the University Hospital Zurich, and the Department of Psychosomatics and Psychiatry of the Zurich's University Children's Hospital. The Optimus Study was initiated and financed by the UBS Optimus Foundation (http://www.optimusstudy.org).
Prof. Dr. med. Ulrich Schnyder
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
University Hospital Zurich
Tel. +41 44 255 52 51
PD Dr. Meichun Mohler-Kuo
Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine
University of Zurich
Tel. +41 44 634 46 37
Police: Danbury Man Used Electric Dog Collar on Child
by Ari Mason and Ilana Gold
A Danbury couple is facing charges in a child abuse case after investigators discovered that one used an electric dog collar to punish a child in his care, according to police.
Eduardo and Paula Montanez, a husband and wife who live at 109 Kohanza Street in Danbury, were arrested on Tuesday, five days after a Danbury school employee contacted the state Department of Children and Families regarding suspected child abuse.
A joint investigation by DCF and Danbury police revealed that Eduardo Montanez had used a PetSafe barking collar on a 9-year-old girl in the couple's care. Police said the couple was upset about the girl's progress report, so Montanez put the bark collar around her neck and forced her to bark so the collar would shock her.
Paula Montanez was reportedly present when it happened and did nothing to stop the abuse, police said.
According to police, the girl went back to school and told a teacher about her problems at home.
The victim told police the shock collar incident had only happened once, but marks on her neck indicated it might have occurred more often. She also told investigators the couple had beaten her several times. It's not clear when the beatings took place, police said.
Eduardo Montanez, 43, was arrested and charged with third-degree assault, two counts of risk of injury to a minor and cruelty to a person. He was held on a $250,000 bond.
Paula Montanez, 34, was charged with two counts of risk of injury to a minor, conspiracy to commit third-degree assault and conspiracy to commit cruelty to a person. Her bond was set at $200,000.
Both are due in Danbury Superior Court today.
Police said there were no young children in the home. The couple does not have a criminal record in Connecticut but has lived elsewhere. It's not clear if they have been arrested out-of-state.
The 9-year-old victim is in state custody, police said.
Survivor: Support sex-trafficking victims
WAHOO, Neb. — A survivor of child sex trafficking told Wahoo students and residents Monday how she escaped the trade and started an organization to help other victims.
A pimp forced Katrina Owens into commercial sex exploitation when she was 16 years old and living in Atlanta.
Owens met the man while working at a restaurant. He was charming, she said, and worked hard to develop a relationship with her.
"Once he had me, I was trapped," Owens said.
She was trafficked in New York and Atlanta for two years.
"I attempted to leave on several occasions," she said. "It just got to the point where the fear of staying became greater than the fear of leaving, and I literally had to fight my way out."
As a survivor, Owens tells her story to raise awareness of sex trafficking. She is the founder of a group called Empower, which offers services and counseling to sex trafficking victims in Atlanta.
When a victim leaves her pimp, she often needs help finding housing and a job with a steady income, Owens said. She helps women find jobs and also hires some women at a bakery she owns and a restaurant she manages in Atlanta.
"Oftentimes victims don't leave their trafficker because they are scared to death," Owens said. "There is physical and emotional abuse that keeps them where they are."
During two lectures on Monday, Owens asked about 400 high school students and eighth-graders and 65 adults to stand up for people who might be in a sex trafficking situation. Many people saw Owens on the streets of New York and didn't ask if she was OK, she said.
People should be aware of girls who are withdrawn from their community, who act fearful and isolated, and who are accompanied by an older man who isn't a parent.
Bob Burton, who speaks locally about preventing sex trafficking in Nebraska, spoke after Owens.
He founded a nonprofit organization called I've Got a Name about four years ago in Lincoln. He told several stories of women he has met in Lincoln who have been trafficked.
"People need to realize sex trafficking does happen in Nebraska," he said. "My message is if I can do something, everyone in here can do something."
I've Got a Name holds events to create awareness of child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in Nebraska. The group's street outreach worker, Nikki Siegel, has developed relationships with 120 girls over the past year who have been sexually exploited in the Lincoln area, Burton said.
"I believe with all my heart that no girl should be for sale," he said. "It's time for men to be men and not be buyers."
Burton's group is asking men to grow beards in December to draw attention to sex trafficking and to raise money to combat it. For information on how to participate, visit: http://ivegotaname.com/decembeard/ .
The U.S. Justice Department has estimated about one third of teens who run away from home and are living on the streets will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours after leaving home.
Law enforcement is working to change the way sex workers and pimps are viewed, Burton said. Girls arrested for prostitution should not be treated as criminals, he said.
In July, the FBI arrested 150 pimps and rescued 105 children, ages 13 to 17, who had been forced into prostitution across the United States.
Tanai Fortman Claimed Child Sex Abuse Happened During Diet Pill Blackout, Sentenced To 15 Years
The Huffington Post
A Springboro, Ohio woman will spend 15 years in prison after her claims that a diet pill-induced blackout left her with no memory of filming sex acts on a toddler.
Tanai Fortman, 32, pleaded guilty to rape and pandering sexually orientated material when she appeared in court Oct. 25, WCPO reports.
In June, the woman's then-boyfriend went to police after he discovered five 30-second video clips of Fortman sexually molesting a 4-year-old girl on her tablet and cell phone.
"I can't help but think about my own kids and if something like this would have happened to them," the man, who wished to remain anonymous, told WKEF at the time. "I wouldn't wish that on anybody's child."
The man said that he checked the devices because he suspected Fortman was cheating on him.
"We were close, we were getting very, very close when all this happened," he told WKEF. "I was actually completely enraged. I mean it just made me sick to my stomach. I saw red," he said.
When she was arrested, Fortman initially told investigators that she had no memory of filming the acts of abuse, due to a "large intake of weight-loss pills that rendered her unconscious."
Fortman said she was sick to her stomach when she saw the videos and would never hurt the victim, according to WXIX.
She also told police that she had been working for an "online sexting company" at the time.
Fortman will register as a sex offender for life, and will have to register her address with authorities every 90 days, according to WHIO-TV.
Hillsborough pastor removed from ministry over '70s-era sex abuse allegation
by Mark Mueller/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger
The pastor of a Roman Catholic church in Hillsborough has been removed from ministry over allegations that he sexually abused a child in the late 1970s.
The Rev. Msgr. Raymond L. Cole, 70, who leads St. Joseph Parish in the Somerset County community, was an associate pastor at St. Mary Parish in South Amboy when the alleged abuse occurred, according to a letter read aloud during weekend Masses at St. Joseph.
Metuchen Bishop Paul Bootkoski wrote in the letter that Cole "steadfastly denies the charges against him." At the same time, the bishop wrote, canon law requires the removal of a priest when an allegation of sexual abuse "has been deemed to have a semblance of truth."
Bootkoski said he was alerted to the allegation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, which did not pursue criminal charges because the statute of limitations had long since passed.
A retired investigator from the prosecutor's office looked into the claim on behalf of the diocese. The Diocesan Review Board, a panel of lay people and clergy members who examine sex abuse allegations — also investigated the matter, interviewing Cole and the alleged victim, Bootkoski said.
"Both the investigator and the review board reported to me that they found the information and circumstances surrounding the allegation were not frivolous," Bootkoski wrote.
The bishop said he planned to forward the case to the Vatican and that it was likely Cole would receive a canonical trial.
The letter did not identify the gender of the accuser or say how old he or she was when the alleged incidents occurred. It also did not address when Bootkoski first learned of the claim.
"Until now, I was aware of nothing in Msgr. Cole's past suggestive of inappropriate behavior," Bootkoski wrote.
Cole, who has been a priest for 41 years, could not be reached for comment.
He was removed from ministry Friday, the same day Bootkoski distributed the letter to priests of the diocese. The bishop's note can be found in its entirety here.
Erin Friedlander, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said Cole is now staying with relatives. He will continue to receive his salary while the case is investigated, Bootkoski wrote.
"Let us be earnest in our prayers for Msgr. Cole at this most difficult time in his priesthood, for all who are victims of mistreatment by those who represent the church, and for all the church's efforts to eradicate the terrible scourge of sexual abuse from the body of Christ," the bishop wrote.
Calls to deacons, staff and parishioners at St. Joseph were not immediately returned Monday.
Parish websites typically carry a biography of a pastor or a weekly pastor's message, but there was little trace of Cole on the St. Joseph website Monday, suggesting the parish or the diocese deleted information and photos ahead of the priest's removal.
What is known from various online publications of the diocese is that he served for a time as executive director of the diocesan Department of Pastoral Life and that he worked on issues of policy, including how to address the shortage of Catholic priests.
Earlier this month, he was scheduled to preside over the Diocesan Youth Mass in Piscataway. It could not immediately be determined if he attended.
The Diocese of Metuchen is home to more than 630,000 Roman Catholics in Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren and Middlesex counties.
N.J. priest in sexting sting thought he was talking to 16-year-old boy, wanted to meet
by Mark Mueller/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger
The text messages read as if they've been ripped from a pornographic novel.
Matthew Riedlinger quizzed his texting partner about sex videos, pressed for details about intimate liaisons, described sexual acts and encouraged mutual masturbation.
He also repeatedly asked to meet.
"Promise me you will never breath (sic) a word of this to anyone — ok?" he wrote.
Riedlinger had good reason for discretion.
He is a priest of the Diocese of Trenton, and while exchanging more than 1,200 text messages over four weeks last year, he thought was he talking to a 16-year-old boy.
Riedlinger, at the time an assistant pastor at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson and a sex-education teacher at the parish school, was the target of an elaborate sting by a Catholic University of America graduate who says the priest sexually harassed him for years.
Timothy Schmalz, now 23 and a resident of Washington, D.C., said he was moved to action after his first complaint about Riedlinger in 2011 resulted in what he characterized as a slap on the wrist by Trenton Bishop David M. O'Connell.
Schmalz is one of five young men who provided The Star-Ledger with similar accounts of harassment and sexual obsession by the priest. Four of the five were in their late teens or early 20s when Riedlinger began inappropriate and persistent sexual dialogues with them, they said. The fifth was in his late 20s.
The sting, initiated on Facebook and carried out through the use of a Google Voice account, partially served its purpose.
After Schmalz forwarded transcripts of the text messages and other materials to O'Connell in August 2012, the bishop removed Riedlinger from the parish, placed him in an in-patient treatment program and later assigned him to restricted ministry away from children, the diocese confirmed.
But for more than a year, O'Connell refused to tell parishioners at St. Aloysius why the priest had been pulled, an omission that advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse call a flagrant violation of the church's pledge of transparency.
Moreover, the former pastor, the Rev. Kevin Keelan, chastised parishioners for asking questions about Riedlinger's removal, saying in the church bulletin that "blabbing" was a sin and that they were not entitled to more information.
O'Connell informed parishioners of the complaints in a statement only last weekend, a day after The Star-Ledger questioned the diocese about Riedlinger and the decision to withhold information about the allegations.
Even then, the statement makes no mention of the fact that Riedlinger believed he was corresponding with a 16-year-old boy during sexually explicit conversations.
"Father Riedlinger has been the subject of two complaints to the diocese over the past few years regarding his participation in inappropriate cell phone text communication over a period of some years with adults," according to the statement, which was read aloud at weekend Masses. "There was no sexual contact, assault or abuse referenced in the complaints."
The statement called Riedlinger's behavior "deeply troubling" and said it is "in no way to be tolerated in the life and ministry of a priest."
O'Connell declined to be interviewed for this story. The full statement can be found here.
Riedlinger, a 30-year-old Ohio native, could not be reached by phone and did not respond to a request for comment sent to his personal e-mail address. In recent months, he has been living at the Villa Vianney retirement home for priests in Lawrenceville and tending to the needs of retired Bishop John M. Smith.
On Monday, he was granted a leave from the priesthood.
"Determining that media coverage will impede his efforts to recover from the problems that have unfolded, Father Riedlinger has decided to leave the diocese and has asked for an indefinite leave of absence from the priesthood," Rayanne Bennett, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said in a statement. "Bishop O'Connell has granted his request, effective immediately."
The Star-Ledger has obtained copies of the text messages. The phone number from which they originated — now disconnected — had been listed under Riedlinger's name in public records.
The diocese notified the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office of the second complaint against Riedlinger immediately after O'Connell received it.
Al Della Fave, a spokesman for that office, confirmed the referral and said investigators conducted a review but ultimately closed the case.
"There were jurisdictional issues that prevented us from bringing any criminal charges," Della Fave said, declining to elaborate.
A law enforcement official familiar with the probe said the case was compromised in part because Schmalz was not in New Jersey when the sting took place. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said authorities also were concerned because the operation had been conducted by a civilian. The authenticity of the texts was not in question, the official said.
The Rev. John Bambrick, who was named administrator of St. Aloysius in January of this year, after Riedlinger's removal, said he had heard rumors but did not know the extent of the complaints. Parishioners have told him Riedlinger was a well-liked priest, Bambrick said, calling the situation "sad for everyone involved."
"This is one of those tough situations," said Bambrick, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and a member of the group Catholic Whistleblowers, formed earlier this year with the aim of holding the church and its bishops more accountable for abuse cases.
Though Riedlinger engaged in "highly destructive behavior," Bambrick said, there is no evidence the priest interacted inappropriately with a real minor, and he said he did not think Riedlinger was a danger because his ministry no longer involved children and because he was undergoing therapy.
"He committed a grievous sin, but what do we do with someone like that?" Bambrick asked. "Do we cast him away? Throw him into the abyss? Or do we give him something constructive to do?"
Schmalz, a Howell native now studying at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, carried out the sting with his college roommate, who said he, too, was besieged by Riedlinger's relentless sexual chatter.
The roommate spoke on the condition that The Star-Ledger use only his first name, Ryan, because his family has business dealings with a Catholic diocese. He said he feared the business would be harmed if his full name was disclosed.
All five men reached by the newspaper said they considered Riedlinger a risk.
"Wherever he is, he will be a danger to kids, especially boys," Schmalz said. "If he did this with us, if he thought he was doing this with a 16-year-old boy, who else did he do it with? This could ruin someone's life."
Stephen Webster, one of those interviewed, was an 18-year-old seminarian at Seton Hall University when he met Riedlinger at a retreat in Long Branch four years ago. Riedlinger, less than a year from ordination at the time, held himself out as a mentor, Webster said.
But their conversations soon morphed, Webster said. Riedlinger began with dirty jokes, he said, then took to discussing his struggles with pornography and masturbation.
"He would say, ‘Pray for me,' but then he would text me when he was doing it, how he was doing it and when he was done," Webster said. "It was twisted."
Webster said he repeatedly told Riedlinger to stop but that the behavior persisted for a year, until the teen cut off contact altogether. Now 22, Webster said the experience contributed to his decision to abandon the seminary.
"As a priest, you represent the Catholic Church. You represent Christ. You hear confessions. And then you're sexting over Facebook," Webster said. "It's a disgrace."
Once, Schmalz and his roommate thought they might be priests, too.
Schmalz, a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in the Lincroft section of Middletown, and Ryan, now a student at Catholic University's Columbus School of Law, were regular altar servers at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The church, the largest cathedral in North America, lies on property donated by the university.
The men said they met Riedlinger, a Catholic University graduate who was approaching ordination, through the shrine's rector, Msgr. Walter Rossi.
Rossi was good friends with Riedlinger and recommended they seek him out as a mentor, Schmalz said.
But the young friendship soon turned odd, they said. Riedlinger began peppering them with questions on Facebook about pornography, masturbation and homosexuality.
"The next day he would say he was drunk and that it would never happen again," Schmalz said. "He would always close by saying, ‘Once I become a priest, I'll forgive all your sins. Whatever you do is okay.'"
Despite their protestations, the behavior continued even after Riedlinger was ordained in June 2010 and assigned to St. Aloysius in Jackson, the two men said. It was a bizarre phone call in the spring of 2011 that pushed Ryan over the edge, he said.
He was studying for finals in a cafeteria with his girlfriend when Riedlinger called from Rome, where he said he was vacationing with Rossi.
"He started asking me questions about my girlfriend, whether I had sex with her or oral sex or anal sex and things like that," Ryan said. "I told him it was really inappropriate and hung up."
The two students had concerns beyond their own discomfort, saying Riedlinger told them he was teaching sex education to middle school-age children at the St. Aloysius parish school.
"He would say how physically mature they were for their ages and how some even had facial hair," Ryan said. "It raised alarm bells."
After asking advice from a professor at Catholic University, the two wrote a synopsis of their experience and forwarded it, along with transcripts of Facebook chats, to Bishop O'Connell in Trenton around October 2011, they said.
In its statement last weekend, the diocese said Riedlinger was assigned to outpatient counseling after that first complaint. Schmalz and Ryan were told through an intermediary — the Catholic University professor — that Riedlinger also was given a stern lecture. Both men said they considered the response insufficient but decided against pushing it further.
Then in the spring of 2012, Schmalz said, he was chatting with a group of people visiting the shrine from the Diocese of Trenton when a woman mentioned Riedlinger. Her 18-year-old son, a seminarian, had become very close with the priest, she said.
"She was thinking it was a good thing, but it got me really concerned," Schmalz said. "I feared he would be walking into what Ryan and I had walked into before."
Schmalz and Ryan had both seen the television series "To Catch a Predator," in which a news reporter posed as a minor in online chat rooms. When an adult approached in a sexual manner, a meeting was set up and filmed, typically resulting in arrests.
The two friends said they weren't looking to have Riedlinger charged. They said they wanted to prove to the diocese the priest had a problem and should not be in ministry.
Their vehicle: Josh McDonald, a fictitious 16-year-old boy who had just moved to Newton, in Sussex County, and who was interested in the priesthood. Schmalz and Ryan created a Facebook profile with a picture they found on the internet. To draw Riedlinger in, they "liked" religious Facebook pages.
They friended Riedlinger in early July of last year. Within 45 minutes, he accepted and asked who "Josh" was. Schmalz wrote that Josh had originally lived in Brick and attended one of his Masses in Jackson. Most of the conversations that followed were in text messages.
The Google Voice account Schmalz and Ryan created allowed them to send and receive texts on a computer, at the same time saving each text in the format of a chat, with dates and time stamps.
The first two weeks, Riedlinger was cautious.
"Something's not right," the priest wrote at 10:24 p.m. July 15, 2012. "U friend me on Facebook randomly, they (sic) you start texting me, You reveal many secrets to me, you speak to me more as a ‘bro' than a priest, and u refuse to actually talk but insist on only texting. … For obvious reasons, priests must be very careful."
Schmalz said he ultimately complied with Riedlinger's insistence on a phone call.
"I quite literally held my nose and spoke in the highest voice possible," Schmalz said. "He said, ‘Hey, you're real. So nice to hear your voice.' And then we continued our conversation online."
The messages show Riedlinger needed little or no invitation to steer the conversation to sex. He spoke of past encounters and the size of his penis, encouraged Josh to enjoy sex with his boyfriend and repeatedly told him how alike they were in their thirst for pornography and sex.
"I love u dude. Ur a sick (expletive) like me," Riedlinger wrote.
Riedlinger occasionally sent a message saying he was near Newton, suggesting a get-together. On those occasions, Schmalz declined to respond and made up an excuse later.
The conversations culminated in a graphic, six-hour texting session in the early morning hours of Aug. 3, 2012. The next day, Riedlinger asked to do it again.
Schmalz and his roommate cut off contact two days later and forwarded the transcript and other materials to O'Connell.
On Aug. 7, the bishop wrote back, thanking them for the documents and saying he had personally escorted Riedlinger to a hospital for in-patient treatment. The diocese, citing federal health law, declined to say where Riedlinger was treated or how long he remained in the facility.
Schmalz and Ryan said they continued to press the diocese to notify parishioners at St. Aloysius, saying they worried Riedlinger might have spoken to other teens the way he spoke to them.
Two months ago, the diocese's victim assistance coordinator, Maureen Fitzsimmons, flatly told Ryan in an e-mail that O'Connell would not do so, according to a copy of the correspondence.
"I hear your request for the bishop to share information with the parish; however, as I mentioned to you in October, it was bishop's decision not to do so," Fitzsimmons wrote. "That has not changed."
Bennett, the diocese's spokeswoman, said the decision was reversed after The Star-Ledger's inquiry "to prepare the community for the media coverage and to answer any questions parishioners might have as a result."
She added that the case does not fall under the auspices of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People — a landmark document approved by the nation's bishops in 2002 — because it did not involve a juvenile.
Mark Crawford, the New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a national advocacy group, argued it was "reckless" for O'Connell not to have taken more aggressive action against Riedlinger after the first complaint in 2011. Crawford also said the bishop had a "moral obligation" to notify the parish earlier.
"The bishops promised to be open and transparent about anything of this nature," he said. "This is an example of them not being open and honest at all."
South Dakota child abuse uptick not easily defined
by STEVE YOUNG
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A child was eulogized this week in Sioux Falls, a little boy who had been thrust into the public consciousness because of the horrible way he died and because of his famous football father.
Two-year-old Tyrese Ruffin's death, which happened when he was alone with a man with whom he and his mother lived, turned a national spotlight on Sioux Falls and the boy who also happened to be the son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
But the more tragic reality here is the fact that this was just the latest headline in a string of child abuse tragedies across the state during the past few years. Among the others:
— Manegabe Chebea Ally is charged in the death of his live-in girlfriend's 18-month-old son last December in their Sioux Falls apartment.
— Chris Miller, 39, of Scotland is found guilty in January of striking and killing his 4-month-old son, Jacob, in 2011.
— Jay Barse, 25, of Watertown pleads not guilty in March to causing the head trauma that killed 14-month-old Serenity Sea Boy, the daughter of his girlfriend.
— Edward Berges of Colorado pleads guilty in May to first-degree manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter in their Rapid City apartment.
— Michael Dean Dubray of Allen on the Pine Ridge Reservation faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of a 10-month-old boy May 30 at a home eight miles north of Loneman.
— And a federal jury in August convicts Mario Contreras of Waubay in the abuse that killed his 2-year-old daughter, Aleeyah Cook.
Now Joseph Patterson stands accused of the Oct. 9 beating that killed Tyrese Ruffin. But ask law enforcement, prosecutors and experts in infant homicide if all these deaths represent an uptick in the incidence of child abuse in this state, and the answer isn't so easy to discern.
The number of persons in Minnehaha County charged with felony child abuse virtually doubled between 2011 and 2012, from 27 to 53 individuals. That could be a result of city growth or increased education and recognition of abuse, Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan told the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/1aeOMLv).
It also could reflect his office's more aggressive stance in charging child abuse in cases where a child is in a motor vehicle with an impaired or intoxicated driver. "Those cases are a top priority in our office," he said.
Nationally, 20 years of data reported by states' child protection agencies to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System shows that physical abuse of children across the country has decreased 56 percent since 1992, and 69 percent in South Dakota.
While there is no consensus in the child maltreatment field about why that decline has happened, experts point to relatively sustained economic growth in the first 15 years of that period, increases in the numbers of law enforcement and child protection personnel, more aggressive prosecution and incarceration policies and growing public awareness of the problem.
Anecdotally at least, South Dakota officials don't believe child abuse trends have changed all that much in recent years.
Sgt. Tim Hagen, in the Sioux Falls Police Department's Crimes Against Persons division, sees no significant spike. "Through media coverage, I think these cases are more publicized," Hagen said. "But as far as the numbers, hard and fast, I'm not seeing or noticing any kind of spike."
Neither is Dr. Brad Randall, a forensic pathologist and member of the Regional Infant and Child Mortality Review Committee for Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, Moody, McCook, Lake, Union, Hanson, Miner and Brookings counties.
"Our sense over the time that the committee has been running, since 1997, is that the numbers have stayed pretty much constant," he said.
At the Children's Inn, which provides safe housing for those trying to escape abusive relationships, the number of children it has served who have been abused or neglected is at 158 so far this year, compared to 363 during the same period in 2010.
But don't interpret that as a decline in child abuse, said Amy Carter, operations director for Children's Inn. That simply reflects a move by Child Protection Services in the past year or so to institute what it calls a present-danger plan. Now instead of going through formal court actions to remove children and place them in foster care or at places such as Children's Inn, Child Protection Services is working harder to get those children placed with relatives.
"That doesn't mean there are less children coming into care," Carter said. "It just means they're not using us as a first option. It has nothing to do with our services. It's the idea that it's always going to be better for the child if they can be placed with a family member in a home setting."
But what of children in the home? Should a parent who leaves her child in the care of someone with a history of violence face the same consequences as someone who drives drunk with a child in the car?
It's not an easy question to answer, local officials say.
In cases where, say, a woman is constantly being beaten by her husband or boyfriend but still repeatedly asks for charges against her partner to be dropped, Mees will ask for children in the home to be removed. "That's putting a child in a situation that is potentially injurious to their welfare," Mees said. "From a civil standpoint, we can deal with that."
But McGowan said cases where somebody makes a bad decision to leave a child with somebody else, "and that person causes a direct injury, I can't think of a case where we can hold somebody criminally accountable for that. ... where it would be prosecuted at all. It's just too far removed."
Carter at Children's Inn said she knows there are situations where a woman develops a relationship with a man who has a history of violence, "but he is very charming, very charismatic, and that draws people in."
"He convinces her that the abuse was a one-time thing, or that it won't happen again. We see that a lot in people who are very manipulative," Carter said. "And if it's at the beginning of a relationship, she wants to believe him. But once in that situation, it becomes very difficult when things change. It's very hard for people to understand when you aren't living it or haven't experienced it yourself."
There are attempts underway to change that lack of understanding. The South Dakota chapter of Prevent Child Abuse is holding its first board meeting in two weeks in Pierre. Officials with law enforcement, social services and health care systems, among others, are meeting to take a broad look at the scope of child abuse in the state and to determine strategies to deal with it.
There also has been a program evolving during the past two years through the Sanford and Avera health systems called the Period of PURPLE Crying, which is working to educate parents and other caregivers on why young babies most often cry.
When he pleaded guilty in May to killing the 2-year-old daughter of the woman he was living with in Rapid City, 24-year-old Edward Berges described how "she wouldn't cooperate with me, and I became frustrated. In the heat of the passion, I struck her without any intention of causing her death."
Connie Schmidt, director of Child's Voice at the Sanford USD Medical Center, said the goal of the PURPLE Crying program is to prevent incidents like that, and to get material to every parent while they're in hospitals with their newborns to educate them on why it is babies cry. The more caregivers understand that, she said, then the less likely it is, hopefully, that they will hurt the child or cause injury through shaken baby syndrome.
"We're still implementing the program in hospitals across the state," Schmidt said. "Not every hospital is utilizing the materials yet, but we believe we can make a difference by having that information out there."
Unfortunately, that won't happen soon enough for the child eulogized last Wednesday in Sioux Falls — or for any of the children shaken and beaten and killed across South Dakota during the past few years.
But McGowan, Schmidt and the others insist they are continuing to look for answers and ways to stem that tide of tragedy in the future.
"Fortunately in Sioux Falls, we have a community that cares deeply about children," McGowan said. "I think education is a big part of this effort. We need to equip parents and caregivers to recognize red flags when something is wrong or likely to happen. I really think that's how we will make a difference."
Build public awareness against child abuse
by The New Indian Express
India has earned a bad name in recent years of being unsafe for women. But what is less well known is that it is not safe for children either. A study by the Union ministry of women and child development has found that 69 per cent of children between the ages of five and 12 face abuse and exploitation. What is shocking is that 52.9 per cent of boys and 47 per cent of girls are ill-treated in what has been called a family environment. It cannot be said for certain whether the horrific incident of a 14-year-old boy in Bihar's Nalanda district, who suffered injuries after being injected with acid in his anus, can be placed in this category since the boy worked in a scrap shop and its owner had punished him for suspected stealing. But it shows that children cannot feel safe either at home or in the workplace.
Considering that 88.6 per cent — an unconscionably high percentage — of children who face abuse in “family situations” are maltreated by their parents, according to the study, the possibility cannot be discounted that such uncaring guardians have little compunction about handing over their wards to sadistic employers, knowing full well that they may be cruelly treated. The incidence in Nalanda underlines the inability of the government and society to curb the shameful acts of viciousness against children at a time when the trend is rising almost all over India.
While beefing up the legal mechanism to curb and reverse the trend, the central and state governments must launch a national campaign to build public awareness against child abuse. It can go hand in hand with the campaign to ensure safety and dignity for women. Mere homilies will no longer do. Parents and teachers will have to be made aware of the fact that no nation can prosper if it remains a silent and ineffectual witness to the callous treatment of future generations.
Royal Commission into child abuse hears of numerous 'red flags' at YMCA NSW
by Dan Box
MORE than a year after one of its staff was arrested on suspicion of abusing children in its care, the YMCA NSW still did not know if all of its other employees had been formally cleared to work with children.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard this morning that the inability to co-ordinate information on these mandatory checks was among a number of constraints and "red flags" remaining at the organisation in November 2012.
That month, former childcare worker Jonathan Lord was convicted of assaulting boys aged between six and 11 who he met through his work with the YMCA in Sydney. Having been arrested the previous October, he is now serving a minimum six-year jail sentence.
Giving evidence this morning, the YMCA's former Child Protection and Compliance Manager, Catharine Clements, told the commission she had compiled a list of "key constraints to implementing child protection" in the organisation in November 2012.
These included that relevant policies "appear little used and require updating" and "problems with basic administration" including that an attempt to check if all staff had the Working With Children Check remained incomplete after over a year.
"Other red flags are that staff are told what they are to do, not asked, 'no questions allowed'; it is unclear how staff can raise concerns," the document states. "There appears significant levels of bullying and concomitant levels of personal distress; the level of acceptance that 'this is the way it is' and that to raise concerns is to risk your job."
Ms Clements told the commission her position was terminated after only four months in November 2012, shortly after she compiled the above document.
During her time with the YMCA, the commission heard, she was given no office, no dedicated desk, received no training and went 10 weeks without meeting her direct manager face to face.
Liam Whitley, YMCA general manager of children's services, has told the commission Ms Clements had a two-month "orientation period" with the organisation, although she disputed this. The hearing continues.
Speaker divulges perspectives on sex trafficking
by Cassie Merino
A York University professor spoke at the University of Cincinnati Friday about the widespread issue of sex trafficking. Kamala Kempadoo, social science professor, led a discussion titled “Saving the World from Sex Trafficking: Three Contemporary Campaigns” and asked the question, “Is capitalism really the [resolution] to the problem of modern slavery and sex trafficking?”
The issue is a form of slavery that generates billions of dollars annually in the United States alone, according The Covering House, a restoration organization.
Kempadoo said the problem with sex trafficking is grounded in the inequality of the “haves” and the “haves not.”
“What we have is a daring white knight image whose moral obligation it is to save the world, especially Asia and Africa from itself, affirming white masculinity as amongst other things powerful and heroic,” Kempadoo said.
Kempadoo spoke of three paradigms: sex and modern day slavery, actions of organizations and campaigns, and celebrity involvement.
The organizations are trying to solve human enslavement through capital.
“Modern slavery, according to academic journalists and business people, is not the same as chattel slavery; as it is not practiced on the concept of property, nor on the classification of the other as subhuman and racially different, which defined African enslavement,” Kempadoo said. “Rather, it's okay in the notion to use force or violence and by an individual or company toward another, through which the victim loses complete control over his or her life.”
Kempadoo described the actions of organizations and celebrities' involvement as a “rescue fantasy” and the modern day “white man's burden.” White middle class — or elite — men from America, Britain and Australia dominate this campaign.
Kempadoo's speech gave audience members new perspectives regarding the issue of sex trafficking.
“She brought the ‘hero fantasy' to my attention,” said Hannah Pfaltzgraff, first-year history student.
Kempado said more capital could be the problem; she spoke of the “big bang approach,” which is injecting a large amount of capital into specific poor areas and communities.
Kempadoo urged students to keep asking themselves who and what benefits from the identification of sex trafficking as a problem, and not what but who is the price.
Regional Transit Authority initiative promote human trafficking awareness in public transportation
by Stephanie Ramirez
Ride the RTA often? You'll soon be seeing posters with eyes almost glaring right at you. That look could be a sign of a rider in need of help.
This and more is all a part of a new Regional Transit Authority initiative, promoting human trafficking awareness in public transportation.
“We carry up to 200,000 passengers per day. So that's a lot of people within Northeast Ohio, within the greater Cleveland area. People within those 200,000 may be going through a situation where they may be trafficked whether that be through sex slavery or forced labor,” said RTA Director of Training and Employee Development, George Fields.
In an effort to bring more awareness Fields said all RTA operators and employees are undergoing training to teach those RTA personnel what signs of a human trafficking victim look like.
The poster you'll soon see at stations and bus stops includes several tips, one of them: [the] Victim is denied freedom of movement. Fields said other signs include if the adult or child looks passive and/or fearful. Signs of physical abuse are also key. If it doesn't look right, it most likely isn't described Fields.
Fields told NewsChannel5 the initiative came about in a transportation conference held just this past May, around the same time Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight were rescued from a Seymour Avenue home.
The three women rescued fueled RTA's work, according to Fields and others like Renee Jones believe it's a step in the right direction.
“We just all need to be extra parents to maybe those who don't have parents,” said Jones who runs the Non-profit, The Renee Jones Empowerment Center. Located on Cleveland's West 65 th Street, the non-profit is one of the many groups and organizations working with the RTA to raise Human Trafficking awareness. Jones told NewsChannel5 they have worked with trafficking victims from as far away as Canton.
The non-profit assists victims individually, helping to provide any services they may need such as housing, counseling and so forth.
“I think it's great, the RTA initiative because it's public transportation, there's lots of people coming in and out of those different terminals and to be able to educate people on what this looks like, what the signs are, so that if they see it, they can identify it and help save this from happening to more people,” said Jones.
Other efforts to curb Human Trafficking included Gov. John Kasich's Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, created last year.
A recent study done by the group estimates almost 1,100 children are victims of human sex trafficking each year and that thousands more are at risk.
Authorities say one reason Ohio is chosen as a location for sex trafficking is because of its close proximity to international airports, Canada, the East Coast and military bases.
Homeland Security, Project Star, Bellefaire Homeless Youth Program and the National Human Trafficking Hotline are also working in conjunction with the RTA.
The RTA also went one step further with an app, that can also serve to curb Human Trafficking. Anyone that sees something suspicious will be able to take a photo and send it directly to the RTA Police through the app, “iWatch RTA.”
The RTA already works to assist riders in danger or in need of help with their “Safe Place” program. An RTA spokesperson said they're now trying to reach out to those who can't come forward: the victims of human trafficking.
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