National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


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

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

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

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


Child abuse, neglect records found dumped in alley

Thousands of pages of confidential state documents on children and parents involved in abuse and neglect cases have been found dumped in a Phoenix alley, and state officials say they're investigating how that happened.

KSAZ-TV reports that a resident gave the station a box of documents that he found next to a trash container.

Child Protective Services officials say they picked up the records from the station late Tuesday.

Confidential information in the documents included names, Social Security and phone numbers, addresses, medical records and photographs as well as reports of child abuse and neglect.

The Department of Economic Security, the parent agency of Child Protective Services, says dumping of the records is a breach of confidentiality and a violation of state and federal law.


United Kingdom

Rape victims 'should make report'

Rape victims must be encouraged to report attacks but should understand the difficulties in securing convictions, a police chief has said.

Victims should have the confidence to report attacks, said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, the Association of Chief Police Officers national lead for adult sexual offences.

"We need to be honest about the challenges that are faced in investigating and prosecuting rape," he said.

Police will do everything they can to ensure victims get the support they need when reporting a rape or sexual offence, according to Mr Hewitt.

"We will thoroughly investigate the offence and put all our efforts into ensuring justice is done. We want to support those who are victims of these crimes and do all we can to increase reporting levels," he said.

"The conviction rate is at an all-time high and this is down to the hard work of police, prosecutors and other agencies working together to develop victim-focused approaches and take cases through the courts. But, despite the bravery and tenacity of the victims who do go through the process, a third of rape prosecutions still don't end in a conviction.

"That can put people off reporting because they think it isn't worth it. I really want to show people this week that victims should have the confidence to report. It triggers a full investigation into the offence but also means that victims are able to access medical treatment and support services to help them cope with the experience.

"We are calling for more people who experience sexual offences or rape to report them to us so that we can help them get the help that they need but also so we can do everything we can to stop it happening again - to them or anyone else. But we also have a responsibility to be honest about the fact that reporting and going through the court process may not end in a conviction."

In 2012-13 a total of 3,692 rape prosecutions were brought with 63.2% resulting in convictions, a 5.5% increase from 2008-9.

Reporting of sexual offences to the police is up 9% this year, the largest increase since current recording standards began.

The public debate about sex offences, particularly non-recent child abuse, may have been responsible for the increase.

Jordan Hart, an 18-year-old rape survivor whose attacker was jailed for 11 years, has waived her anonymity to support the campaign and encourage more women and men who are victims of rape to report it to the police.

"Reporting to the police gave me peace of mind, knowing I hadn't been beaten by him. I was supported by my Soit (Sexual Offence Investigative Techniques) officer who gave me advice, guidance, explained what was going to happen and how long it would take. I didn't do anything alone," she said.

In the coming week, police forces will be running campaigns on communicating how they deal with rape and sexual offences, the support that victims should expect and the realities of the judicial process in dealing with this type of offence.

Mr Hewitt will also be taking to Twitter to answer questions about how the police can better deal with these crimes directly.

Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: "Victims' needs must come first in any approach to dealing with rape. They need to know they will be taken seriously, treated sensitively by all criminal justice agencies, and given access to specialist support services as and when they need them.

"It takes a great deal of courage for victims to come forward but their confidence to do so is vital in bringing perpetrators to justice."

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: "It is vital that victims feel confident that if they report rape or sexual offending to the police, their case will be dealt with thoroughly and sensitively and that they will be supported throughout the process.

"This is why communication with victims is so important and why the CPS has rolled out specialist units dedicated to handling these cases, across the country. These units are staffed by trained prosecutors with expertise in handling rape cases, including detailed understanding of the psychological effects of sexual violence, how to challenge the associated myths and stereotypes and, importantly, ensuring victims are given the support they deserve."

People wishing to report a sexual offence or rape to the police can call 101, or 999 in an emergency.


North Dakota

Sen. Heitkamp's bill aims to corral sex trafficking

FARGO, N.D. — U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has introduced legislation meant to crack down on sex trafficking, which experts fear is on the rise in her home state of North Dakota due to the large influx of men coming to work in the state's western oil patch.

Heitkamp, a Democrat, introduced the bill this week on the same day that federal prosecutors in North Dakota unsealed charges against 11 Dickinson-area men who were arrested in a child prostitution sting. The men thought they were buying sex with teenage girls, prosecutors allege.

“Just looking at the recent arrests would tell you that North Dakota could be ground zero for this type of behavior,” Heitkamp told The Associated Press on Friday.

It's a trend that has alarmed federal prosecutors in North and South Dakota. A man on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota was recently sentenced to 45 years in prison for coercing women into prostitution in oilfield communities. Two men in South Dakota have received life sentences for human trafficking cases in Sioux Falls.

“With the increase in population, there's the risk of organized crime,” said Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney from North Dakota. “We're certainly very aware of the threat potentially posed by human trafficking in the oil patch.”

Heitkamp said the bill, which focuses on all forms of human trafficking, would encourage law enforcement officers and the courts to treat minors who are sold for sex as victims, not as criminals. She said it includes a safe harbor provision to encourage them to come forward.

“These are very difficult issues to expose and research,” Heitkamp said. “It's very difficult to get the victims to speak. They've been conditioned not to speak. They've been terrorized.”

Heitkamp said estimates show that more than 100,000 minors in the U.S. are forced into sex trafficking every year. Children are 13 years old, on average, when they are forced to become prostitutes, she said.

Native American girls and women often are targets of human traffickers, Heitkamp and Purdon said.

“You have a vulnerable population in young girls on the reservation,” Purdon said. “My concern is that they could be exploited if organized human trafficking operations gain an inroad here.”

Purdon said the 11 arrests in Dickinson and three arrests in a Williston sting about a month ago “stand for the idea that there is the demand out there as well.” Trying to stop the supply is more difficult, he said.

Going after the johns could help deter other future buyers, Heitkamp said.

“Nobody wants to see their name in the paper relative to sex trafficking,” she said.

Brendan Johnson, the U.S. attorney for South Dakota, recently argued and won a case in front of the 8th U.S. Circuit of Appeals that reinstated convictions against two men who previously were acquitted of commercial sex trafficking. The men had been arrested in a sting operation known as “Operation Crossing Guard.”

South Dakota has a couple of unique sex trafficking stages with the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and a pheasant hunting season that attracts hundreds of outdoors enthusiasts from around the country.

“Anytime you have large groups of men gathering, you're going to have the potential for sex trafficking problems,” Johnson said. “That's just the reality.”



Sex trafficking: No cases yet in Bristol County, one in Plymouth County

by Curt Brwn

The state's new human trafficking law has been on the books since early last year, but Bristol County has not charged anyone and Plymouth County has brought charges against one man from Boston.

Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter, did not know why police departments in Bristol County have not brought any charges under the new law.

However, he said, perhaps it is more suited for larger urban areas like Boston and New York than it is for the smaller cities of Bristol County — New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton and Attleboro.

Russ Eonas, a spokesman for Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, said one man was indicted under the new law — Camaron Wise, an employee at Fenway Park, on March 29. Bridgewater police and the Plymouth County District Attorney's office investigated the case as part of a multi-agency probe.

The human trafficking law increases fines to a minimum of $1,000 for attempting to buy sex and provides for up to five years in state prison for those seeking to purchase sex from minors. The law also allows for a prison sentence ranging from five years to life, if someone is convicted of trafficking a person under the age of 18 into sexual servitude.

Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny, who authored the law, said the problem of human trafficking exists everywhere, including along SouthCoast, and he believes the attitude that it doesn't happen here is part of the problem and needs to change.

"Everyone thinks it's someone else's problem," said Montigny, D-New Bedford. "That's what they all say, and it's just not true."

Law enforcement should use cases involving johns and prostitutes "to go up the ladder" and identify and prosecute the trafficker, he said.

Montigny emphasized that sex with a minor is rape. "You can't consent if you are underage," he said.

Starting in January, he will be working to strengthen the trafficking law, Montigny said.

In contrast to the cases brought in Bristol and Plymouth counties, Attorney General Martha Coakley's office has charged 13 individuals with human trafficking, according to Emalie Gainey, a spokeswoman.

Coakley's office has teamed its resources with local and federal agencies, including the Boston Police Department's Human Trafficking Unit, and ICE, in some of the cases, according to press releases about the 13 cases provided by the Attorney General's office.

"Massachusetts has already made significant strides since passing the new human trafficking law, including bringing a number of cases against organized sex traffickers," Gainey said.

"Our recent Task Force report gives us a clear path forward to further assist victims, put traffickers out of business and reduce demand," she said. "This includes educating law enforcement and the public about the role (that) demand for commercial sex plays in fueling sex trafficking."

The defendant in the Plymouth County case, Wise, 25, is charged with trafficking a person for sexual servitude, procuring a person for prostitution, deriving support from a prostitute, two counts of assault and battery, assault with intent to commit murder and two counts of possession of a firearm or ammunition without a license, Eonas said.

Wise is charged with offenses that occurred between July 1, 2012, and Sept. 8, 2012, according to Eonas.

The suspect is free on $1,000 cash bail with orders to stay away from the victim, report weekly to the probation department, wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and observe a curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Eonas did not discuss the particulars of Wise's case, but said his office takes reports of human trafficking "very seriously."

New Bedford detectives are not fielding many complaints about the world's oldest profession and speculate it has become high-tech savvy and moved its business online.

Detective Lt. Robert Aguiar said he still sees prostitutes working the streets, just not as many of them.

"We haven't had that many complaints about prostitution. I don't know the reason for it, but we're not seeing many complaints for prostitution so we concentrate on narcotics," said Aguiar, who has headed the Organized Crime Intelligence Bureau the last 1½ years.

"When the phone rings with complaints, it's (about) drugs," he said.

New Bedford Deputy Police Chief David Lizotte said prostitution has moved online to different websites, where providers can offer their services more discreetly — away from the eyes of law enforcement.

"To me that's almost unenforceable," Aguiar said. "We don't have the time to look into that."

Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons, the former president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said she has also noticed a lack of prostitutes on the streets.

"You don't hear as much about it as you did, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening," she said. "I have a feeling that more of it is done online or discreet advertising."

Aguiar said the prostitutes that he and other organized crime detectives see on New Bedford's streets are drug-dependent. They are involved in the prostitution business as part of a cycle that feeds their drug addictions.

"Nine out of 10 are buying drugs and going back on the street," he said. "We're seeing several, but they're all the familiar faces. It's not what it used to be."

New Bedford police arrest both the prostitutes and their clients, although Aguiar said the department has not run any operations specifically targeting johns in a long while. (He could not remember the last time the department placed a female police officer undercover for the purposes of arresting johns.)

According to The Standard-Times archives, the last "john sting operation" was in August 2011 with the arrests of six men and women on prostitution-related charges. Before that operation, 10 men were arrested in June 2008; and 20 men and women were arrested in July 2000 and 14 men were arrested in September 2000, according to S-T archives.

If detectives observe a prostitute and client involved in what appears to be a transaction for sexual services, Aguiar said police follow the individuals and then take them into custody.

Police talk to the johns and tell them they are subjecting themselves and their families to possibly sexually transmitted diseases, he said.

"We try to have a heart-to-heart (talk)," Aguiar said. "You try to show them the light."

However, the battle of educating the johns in the world's oldest profession seems never ending, he said.

"We could arrest 50 johns, but tomorrow we would get 50 new guys," he said.




Put an end to human trafficking

The slave trade, long outlawed, still goes on in Michigan and the U.S.; more needs to be done to prevent it

Although it's the 21st century, the age-old problem of human trafficking still exists. In fact, it's a thriving billion-dollar business worldwide, bringing in $87 million a day and $32 billion a year. But what's most alarming is that it is occurring not just in Third World countries but in both rural and urban areas, including our own backyard.

Modern-day slavery takes a much different form than its predecessor. The Internet is among the high- tech tools human traffickers use to entrap victims.

Michigan has human trafficking laws, but they need considerable updating and revision to address the complex issues of the crime today.

Attorney General Bill Schuette recently co-chaired with Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, the first Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking.

Formed in March, the commission's detailed report to the governor in November includes more than 20 recommendations.

As a result, 19 state Senate and 15 House bills have been introduced. Lawmakers expect the bipartisan legislation to begin moving to the governor in December.

The large number of bills illustrates how complicated the problem has become but, generally, the legislation strives to accomplish several specific goals.

They include decriminalizing the victim, who may be forced to do illegal acts, such as prostitution.

“Safe harbor” laws would automatically classify anyone under 17 as a victim and not an offender.

Some bills would eliminate the statute of limitations on human trafficking. Senate Bill 584 is known as the Theresa Flores bill and shows that the problem is local.

Flores, originally from Birmingham, was lured into captivity as a 15-year-old by a man who purported to be her boyfriend. She was trapped for two years because she was afraid to tell her parents what was happening to her.

Often, experts note, victims are kept in a psychological bondage, afraid to reveal their plight because of blackmail and threats to themselves or family members.

Another example of how the problem surfaces in Michigan is legislation named after Stephanie Brown, a southeast Michigan woman who was working at a nightclub when she was drugged and dragged into sex trafficking.

She died from a drug overdose as her captors tried to keep her sedated. These bills would allow local communities to pass laws that control nightclub activities.

There is also legislation dealing with the “johns,” those who solicit sex from children.

All the bills are aimed at giving law enforcement agencies the tools to attack the problem and prosecute the human traffickers.

Public awareness is also a critical issue, notes Jane P. White, director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, based in East Lansing. She says local communities, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies all must work together and coordinate efforts to fight the crime.

“It's imperative, based on the demographics of Michigan, we understand the crime of human trafficking is here, whether it's labor or sexual exploitation,” says White, who endorses the commission's recommendations.

There's obviously much work to be done in Michigan.

The efforts of the attorney general's commission and all of the other stakeholders, such as the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, should be commended and supported.



Prosecutors appeal Montana rapist's 30-day sentence

by Soumya Karlamangla

Prosecutors in Montana are going to the state's highest court in hopes of securing a longer prison term for a former teacher who was given a month-long sentence for raping a 14-year-old girl.

The trial judge tried to impose a new sentence after he came under fire from critics nationwide for the 30-day sentence he gave Stacey Rambold. The Montana Supreme Court, however, ruled that he could not modify the sentence after it had already been imposed.

In the latest twist to the case, state prosecutors are arguing the Supreme Court can impose a new, and tougher, sentence on Rambold.

The student Rambold raped later killed herself.

Rambold was technically sentenced to 15 years behind bars by District Judge G. Todd Baugh in August, but the jurist suspended all but 31 days of the sentence, with a credit for a single day already served. The judge faced national criticism for the length of the sentence and for remarks he made about the girl during the sentencing.

Baugh said that the girl was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation as was the defendant.” The comments and sentence led to calls for Baugh's removal from the bench.

He scheduled a hearing to try to modify the sentence, but Montana's Supreme Court blocked the attempt and said it would be unlawful.

Atty. Gen. Timothy Fox, in an opening brief filed Friday, argues that Rambold should have at least been subject to the mandatory minimum two-year prison term for his offenses. As a result, he argues, the Supreme Court can vacate Baugh's sentence because it was illegal and impose a new one.

When Baugh suspended all but 31 days of Rambold's prison sentence, “the court imposed an illegal sentence, in which it erroneously attributed culpability to the 14-year-old victim,” Friday's brief argues.

In February 2010, after accusing Rambold of having sex with her and while the case was pending, the girl committed suicide. At that time, Rambold acknowledged his actions and both sides of the case agreed to defer prosecution for 36 months.

In a plea agreement, Rambold admitted to having sex with the girl though she was too young to consent, and the state said it would recommend that he receive a sentence of 20 years with 10 of them suspended.

In court, Rambold urged that he was entitled to the most lenient sentence possible for a variety of reasons, including that he had not reoffended, had no prior criminal record and had already lost his teaching career, according to court documents.

The girl's mother said in court that she believed “Rambold's actions were a major factor” in her daughter's suicide.

“She felt guilty for ruining his life,” she said at the sentencing hearing, according to court documents. She “has paid the consequences of his actions.”

Baugh later apologized for his comments about the victim, saying: “I made some really stupid remarks. It didn't come out right and I owe the whole county, but maybe even the whole country, especially women, an apology.”

Rambold finished his 30-day sentence in Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge on Sept. 26, and is on probation.,0,5472863.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fmostviewed+(L.A.+Times+-+Most+Viewed+Stories)#axzz2m8aOcjpz


United Kingdom

Ian Watkins child abuse: Band mates appeal for other victims to come forward

Former band mates of paedophile Ian Watkins, who has admitted a string of child sex offences, have appealed for other victims to come forward.

Lostprophets said they would forever be "haunted" by what Watkins, 36, of Pontypridd, had done but were unaware of his actions.

In a statement they said they "never imagined him capable" of such offences.

Police called for victims to come forward after Watkins dramatically changed his pleas in court on Tuesday.

He pleaded guilty to a series of offences - described as "depraved" in court - including attempted rape of a baby.

South Wales officers are now investigating new leads after receiving around a dozen calls.

The police chief who led the inquiry said they would "work tirelessly to identify any other victims".

Det Ch Insp Peter Doyle described it as "the most shocking case I have ever seen".

Watkins will be sentenced on 18 December.

The other members of Lostprophets had announced in October that the band would disband amid the sex offence charges against Watkins.

Now, in a statement on Facebook over the weekend, Jamie Oliver, Lee Gaze, Luke Johnson, Mike Lewis and Stuart Richardson said they had "hoped it was all a mistake".

"Sadly, the true extend of his appalling behaviour is now impossible to deny," said the statement.

"Many of you understandably want to know if we knew what Ian was doing. To be clear: we did not," they added.

They urged any other victims to "contact the authorities".

The band described Watkins as a "difficult character" and said personal relationships with him had deteriorated in recent years "to a point that working together was a constant, miserable challenge".

Despite this, the band members said they "never imagined him capable of behaviour of the type he has now admitted".

"We are heartbroken, angry, and disgusted at what has been revealed.

"This is something that will haunt us for the rest of our lives."

Watkins admitted two counts of attempted rape and 12 other offences - including sexual assault and taking, making and distributing indecent images of children - as his trial was due to start at Cardiff Crown Court alongside two women.

The court was told the two women sexually abused their own children and made them available to Watkins for him to abuse.

Woman A admitted the attempted rape of a baby after denying rape and two charges of sexual assault, as well as taking and distributing an indecent photograph of a child.

Woman B pleaded guilty to conspiring to rape a child, three sexual assault charges and four charges of taking, possessing or distributing indecent images.

'Take responsibility'

The evidence against Watkins came from computers, laptops and mobile phones with some recovered from "cloud" storage.

The court heard that he had filmed and kept the episodes of abuse which took place in various hotels in London and south Wales.

His former band mates said they hoped that Watkins would "truly take responsibility for what he's done".

The band was founded in Pontypridd in 1997 and has sold about 3.5 million albums worldwide.

Their music received heavy airplay on mainstream radio stations and they were a staple festival act at the likes of Reading and Leeds.

Meanwhile, a watchdog is investigating South Yorkshire Police's handling of complaints about Watkins.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the force's handling of a complaint made against him in 2012.

The watchdog has already opened an investigation into whether South Wales Police failed to act quickly enough.


New Hampshire

In-your-face posters draw attention to the odds of children becoming a victim of sex abuse


The Granite State Children's Alliance has launched its "Beat the Odds" campaign hoping to raise awareness of child sexual abuse. The campaign includes posters intended to shock parents into learning more.

More information is available by visiting the Granite State Children's Alliance website at or calling the Child Advocacy Center of Hillsborough County in Nashua at 889-0321.

NASHUA – The Granite State Children's Alliance is launching its first self-created campaign to draw attention to the problem of child sexual abuse with a pair of posters that may raise a few eyebrows.

The alliance, the umbrella organization for the state's 15 child advocacy centers – including the Child Advocacy Center of Hillsborough County in Nashua – produced two posters highlighting just how common child sexual abuse is for its “Beat the Odds” campaign.

One of the posters shows a picture of 20 smiling children. Below the picture are the numbers, such as how, statistically speaking, one of the 20 will become class president, two will be captains on a sports team and three will get straight A's.

But four of the 20 will be sexually abused. Nationally, one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused by the time they turn 18.

“It's kind of in your face for parents,” said Kristie Palestino, the Granite State Children's Alliance executive director. “We really wanted to make it clear that it happens across all demographics. For the first time, we really want to launch it in a way that has a big impact.”

Another uncomfortable truth for parents is highlighted in the second poster, which shows an image of a silhouetted man kneeling and talking with a child. The text reads, “Who's the scariest person in your child's life? It's not who you think,” along with the same statistics and the fact that a vast majority of children who are abused know and often are close with their abuser.

The point of the campaign is to continue to increase awareness of just how common child sexual abuse is, and also to prompt parents to educate themselves on ways to protect their children and recognize signs if they have been abused, Palestino said.

The hope is more parents will visit the alliance's website,, or call the Nashua center at 889-0321 and potentially sign up for courses the alliance offers to parent-teacher groups and other parent organizations.

“The more you learn about child sexual abuse, the more equipped you are to protect your kids,” she said. “The statistics are there that say this is going to happen.

“How can you beat the odds? How can you learn the signs?”

Palestino said she hopes to partner with YMCA centers, schools and doctors offices in the area to display the posters.

“It's all about awareness,” she said. “People just need to understand. They need to be aware.”


Depression and Loneliness Common During the Holiday Season for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse

by Stefanie Stolinsky -- Psychotherapist and Author

For adult survivors of physical or sexual abuse, the Holiday Season can lead to depression and loneliness, as family closeness and togetherness are emphasized. Stefanie Stolinsky describes the long-term effects of childhood abuse in her book, Act It Out, published by Praeclarus Press.

Events in childhood can have a lifetime impact on adult health. The Holiday Season can be a challenging time for adult survivors of childhood abuse.

Childhood physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can cause long-term harm, often lasting well into adulthood. For adult survivors of childhood abuse, these effects can be particularly difficult during the Holiday Season, according to psychotherapist Stefanie Stolinsky, author of Act It Out, published by Praeclarus Press. All around them are signs of happy families, warmth, and togetherness. For men and women who grew up in abusive families, the Holiday Season serves as a stark reminder of the type of childhood they did not experience.

The negative effects of childhood abuse include depression, posttraumatic 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 no simply “go away” as children mature. During the Holiday Season, depression and loneliness can be particular problems.

According to Stolinsky, depression comes from being helpless. Abuse survivors were manipulated and overpowered by an authority figure, an adult. Depression can be one of the most persistent aftereffects of child abuse. Inability to escape pain can cause long-term depression. Low energy, malaise, lack of interest, and lack of desire to take action even on their own behalf plague some survivors. Many feel like they have “learned helplessness.” Adding to depression is the inability to ever truly trust happiness. Abuse survivors live in constant fear and sadness that memories will never abate, and will dominate their minds and encroach on every relationship.

Loneliness can also be a problem in a season where there are often parties and social gatherings. For abuse survivors, loneliness results from lack of trust. Survivors are afraid others will lash out in ways the survivor could not anticipate or prevent. The message is: life is dangerous and the safest response is to isolate for protection. Loneliness, like other emotions, feeds on itself. The lonelier people are, the shyer, more timid, and more socially outcast they become. It is a vicious cycle.

Fortunately, there is a way out. Stolinsky describes some specific steps abuse survivors can take so that they can overcome their pasts. Seeking support helps, as does psychotherapy. In Act It Out, she also describes a series of self-help exercises survivors can do to help them break old patterns and gain insight into self-defeating behavior.

The Holiday Season does not have to be a time of sorrow for what was lost. It can also mark a new beginning. But it's important to take the first step towards healing.

Stefanie Auerbach Stolinsky, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Beverly Hills, California, who specializes in trauma and PTSD, and in treating adults sexually, physically and emotionally abused as children. She is a forensic psychologist and a noted speaker, who teaches training seminars on overcoming the aftereffects of child abuse. Dr. Stolinsky lives with her husband in Los Angeles.



Arizona Gov in Spotlight Over Child Abuse Failures


Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer could be politically damaged by revelations that her administration ignored thousands of child abuse and neglect reports that prompted calls for her to replace her hand-picked leader of the state's social services agency.

While Brewer has made reforming Child Protective Services one of her top priorities in the past several years, critics of the Republican governor say the failures show her administration continues to shortchange kids.

Brewer is so far rejecting calls to replace the agency's leader, and supporters say the governor ensured the botched cases were made public and has called for accountability.

Clarence Carter, director of the Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS, revealed last week that more than 6,000 reports generated by the state's child abuse hotline hadn't been investigated since 2009, most in the past 20 months. The CPS plan to clear those reports was released early this week and has been widely panned as inadequate and short on specifics.

Carter promises every case meriting a full investigation will be handled by the end of January. He's assigned more than 200 CPS supervisors and program managers to the job, employees who don't currently handle a caseload.

Carter has declined to comment through a spokeswoman since Monday.

Last January, Brewer personally took credit in her State of the State address for "overhauling" the hotline system so urgent calls received priority. But that overhaul apparently included simply closing thousands of abuse reports.

Now, criticism is coming from both Democrats and members of Brewer's own party, who appeared blindsided by the news.

"I have to ask the question, what else might not be working?" said Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, a Phoenix Republican who co-chairs the Legislature's CPS oversight committee. "Is it a systemic problem?"

Republican Sen. Nancy Barto, the committee's other co-chair, said the problem was system-wide. And while neither GOP lawmaker called for Carter's ouster, both were harsh in their assessment.

"The public must know that this neglect of duty will never happen again and that the people responsible for this disturbing practice are held accountable," Barto said in a statement. "In addition, a long-term reform of the agency is warranted to restore public confidence."

The controversy is certain to become a major source of debate when the full Legislature returns in January, and the attention focused on the social service agency could deflect from Brewer's other priorities going into the final year of her last term.

Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder brushed off the calls for Carter to resign.

"The calls for Carter's resignation have come from largely predictable people," he told The Associated Press Wednesday. "She's not entertaining calls like that right now, because her first concern is to ensure that every child whose case went uninvestigated is safe. That's the immediate task at hand."

The leader of minority Democrats in the state House of Representatives blasted Carter, saying Brewer needs to take responsibility for the problem.

"The bottom line is Carter needs to go. He needs to go yesterday; he's failed in every aspect of this job," Rep. Chad Campbell said. "Either the governor or Carter — one of them needs to go. This is another state agency that's failing under her.

"The other agencies are bad, but now we're talking about protecting children," Campbell said. "Enough is enough."

The head of a leading Arizona child advocacy group sent an open letter to Brewer demanding that Carter be removed.

"Since this practice of leaving reports uninvestigated has continued over several years from different units within the Department of Economic Security, it's clear it was not one or two rogue employees, but a systemic policy," wrote Dana Naimark, president of the Children's Action Alliance. "Director Clarence Carter is responsible for this lapse and we urge you to ask for his resignation."

Brewer has made reforming CPS a priority, establishing a task force in 2011 to recommend changes, and making it a key part of this January's State of the State address.

She took credit for overhauling the hotline system "so the most urgent calls are directed for faster response," all the while apparently not knowing that the team responsible was labeling thousands of cases unworthy of investigation.

Wilder said Brewer ensured the failures were publicized and has called for accountability once an outside review by state police is completed. He also said Brewer should be credited with creating the special investigation team within CPS that discovered the cases were being neglected.

"If it wasn't for the reforms that Jan Brewer fought for successfully, it is a question when and if these cases would have been exposed," Wilder said.



Kidnapping suspect with face tattoo may be with kids in Mexico

(Picture on site)

by Joseph Serna and Victoria Kim

The search continued Friday for a Los Angeles parolee with mental health problems suspected of kidnapping his two children.

Charles Baines, 36, has a shaved head and the words “Drug Cartel” tattooed on his left cheek and is believed to be in Mexico with his two sons, who are 9 and 10 years old.

Baines is accused of taking the boys from his mother's Harbor City home Wednesday night. He whisked the boys away in his father's car while his mom slept, authorities said.

Baines' mother and father have custody of his children.

Baines was driving a red Kia Spectra with the license plate number 6FMN288 and may be in Mexico, officials said. The car belonging to his father has been reported stolen.

Officials described Baines as 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 270 pounds.

Anyone with information about Baines or the children's whereabouts has been asked to contact the Carson Sheriff's Station at (310) 830-1123. They can also anonymously call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or use the website,0,4883158.story#axzz2m8aOcjpz


And This Is Exactly Why You Never Judge Someone By Their Looks. Whoa

Bikers strike fear into the hearts of many. They're seen as rough thugs… but there is more to a biker than you think. This gang, for instance, is happy to intimidate people. However, they only intimidate people who dare hurt children. They are the Bikers Against Child Abuse International. And they mean business.

These bikers stand out because of their soft spot: innocent victims of child abuse.

You may be taken aback by their kind and generous attitude, but there are more to bikers than just leather and chains. These bikers act as guardians for abused children.

The girl chewing on her lip was abused by a relative, according to police reports – someone she should have been able to trust. He's not in the state any longer, but the criminal case is progressing slowly, so he's not in jail, either. She still leaves in fear, but this unruly-looking mob in her driveway is there to help her feel safe again. They are members of the Arizona chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse International, and they wear their motto on their black leather vests and T-shirts: “No child deserves to live in fear.”

A biker's power and attitude can help a vulnerable child feel safe… and BE safe. If this little girl has to testify against her abuser in court, they will go, too, walking with her to the witness stand and taking over the first row of seats. Pipes will tell her, “Look at us, not him.” And when she's done, they will circle her again and walk her out.

The bikers even welcomed this little girl into their gang, making her a denim jacket with the name “Rhythm” on it, for a girl who dances and loves music.

The bikers are all volunteers, giving five, 10, 20 or more hours a week. There's no reimbursement for gas or the time they take off work. The bikers must be tough, not only to protect the kids but to be able to stomach knowing what their young charges may have been through. An 8-year-old beaten by Mom; a 6-year-old molested by his mother's boyfriend. A girl, 10, raped. They are trained by a licensed mental-health professional affiliated with the chapter. Each biker must be fingerprinted and undergo a thorough criminal-background check, the same one required for state child-welfare workers and law-enforcement officers, before they can join the group.

These bikers aren't looking for trouble. The only thing they want to do is make sure innocent children don't feel so alone, or so powerless.

“It's scary enough for an adult to go to court,” he says. “We're not going to let one of our little wounded kids go alone.”


David Beckham forced to perform humiliating sex act in hazing ritual as teen

David Beckham was forced to perform a humiliating sex act while looking at a photo of soccer legend Clayton Blackmore during a bizarre homoerotic hazing ritual, the soccer star admits in a new documentary.

As a teenager, Beckham suffered through the creepy initiation ritual – while other players watched and cheered — before joining Manchester United's youth team, he said.

“Everyone had an initiation that you had to go through on the youth team, that was one of the most uncomfortable ones,” Beckham said, according to UK's Metro.

“The fact that I had to look at Clayton Blackmore's calendar and do certain things, while looking at Clayton Blackmore — I mean it was embarrassing to talk about!” he said.

The soccer superstar vaguely describes the ritual in "The Class of 92," a documentary about six players on his team will air this Sunday in London.

“I was embarrassed when I was saying it on camera let alone talking about it more. But it's something we all had to go through,” said the 38-year-old superstar. “It was definitely something I wouldn't like to go through again.”

Beckham now married to "Posh" Spice Girl Victoria and a father of four has graced countless billboards with his chiseled physique.



California teen set on fire doesn't want to be 'too harsh' on attacker

OAKLAND, Calif. – A Northern California teen who was set on fire on a bus in what authorities believe is a hate crime says the 16-year-old accused of the attack shouldn't be charged as an adult.

Sasha Fleischman spoke to reporters about the horrific ordeal after leaving a hospital in time for Thanksgiving, more than three weeks after suffering second- and third-degree burns when the teen's skirt was set on fire on an AC Transit bus in Oakland.

The legs of the 18-year-old high school senior, who doesn't identify as either male or female, are still heavily bandaged.

The lawyer for the suspect, Richard Thomas, 16, of Oakland, said it was just a prank that went wrong. But Fleischman said, "I think you should really know better than to light someone's clothing on fire.

"I think you should be able to realize that that's not just a funny prank," the teen said Thursday.

Prosecutors have charged Thomas as an adult with aggravated mayhem and felony assault, with hate crime enhancements. Police said Thomas told investigators he was homophobic.

But Fleischman said Thomas "probably didn't realize how big of a deal it was going to be, how harmful it would be."

"I don't want to be too harsh because people do dumb things, especially when they're teenagers. If I had my way, I'd have him tried as a juvenile," Fleischman said.

Thomas' lawyer, William DuBois, argued at a hearing earlier this week that his client should be charged as a juvenile. An Alameda County judge plans to issue a ruling on the matter Dec. 20.

The incident has drawn worldwide attention as Fleischman's family and friends helped raise tens of thousands of dollars to pay for medical bills. Several classmates wore skirts to school to condemn the attack.

Fleischman, who was released from the hospital Wednesday, said panic set in moments after feeling the flames.

"My first instinct was kind of dumb," Fleischman said. "I started waving it around trying to put it out with air, but that just fanned the flames and made it bigger.

"My second reaction, which is probably what saved my life, I went back to kindergarten class and 'stop, drop and roll,' so I just dropped on the floor and started rolling around," Fleischman said.

Other passengers also helped put out the flames. Fleischman's injuries required three surgeries and three weeks in the burn unit.

Despite it all, Fleischman intends to keep wearing skirts.

"I'm going to keep wearing the skirt. I'm not going to give it up," Fleischman said. "It's a big part of who I am, and I don't like pants."



Mother and stepfather charged after three girls are freed from home in Tucson

by Reuters

TUCSON — Three sisters who escaped after being held captive in Arizona for up to two years by their mother and stepfather were confined in filthy conditions in a house with elaborate security and crudely soundproofed rooms, police said.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor told a news conference Wednesday that the house in which the malnourished girls were held had been elaborately alarmed and outfitted with round-the-clock video security.

“Their movements were controlled — when, where and how they went to the bathroom, when they were fed,” and they had not seen each other for much of that time, he said.

Loud music was continuously played in the girls' bedrooms, and towels had been stuffed into ducts and under the doors in an apparent attempt to muffle sound, Villasenor told reporters.

The music was sometimes replaced with loud static, he said.

On Tuesday, the two younger sisters, age 12 and 13, managed to run to a neighbor's house and told them their stepfather had kicked in their bedroom door and tried to attack them with a knife, according to police.

In a subsequent search of the house, police said they discovered a 17-year-old girl locked in another bedroom, and they arrested the mother and stepfather.

Fernando Richter, 34, and Sophia Richter, 32, were charged with emotional and physical child abuse and kidnapping. The stepfather is also charged with one count of sexual abuse of a child under 15.

More charges are expected, Villasenor said.

Since regaining their freedom, the girls have been evaluated by doctors and are under the care and supervision of Child Protective Services, Villasenor said.

Police said the girls' mother had a cellphone with a San Diego telephone number; that helped the family convince the girls' biological fathers and grandmothers that the family was in California.

Officers are also looking over a journal kept by the 17-year-old girl and covering more than 18 months of captivity and abuse , which the police chief declined to describe in detail.

The teenager kept the journal in a satchel with a photo of singer Enrique Iglesias throughout her ordeal. She was overjoyed when the photo was returned on Wednesday, after police examined the contents of her bag, Villasenor said.

Police had been called to the family home twice before the call at 4 a.m. Tuesday alerted them to the girls' situation. On one occasion, Fernando Richter reported being chased by teenagers. On another, he said he had been robbed.

Sophia Richter told police her daughters were home-schooled.

The couple have been together for about 10 years and married for three or four years, and there is evidence the girls were held against their will in at least one of the family's former homes, Villasenor said.

Fernando and Sophia Richter are being held in the Pima County jail, with bond set at $100,000 and $75,000 respectively.



Tough calls for child abuse hotline workers


A school worker's report to Clark County's child abuse hotline about 7-year-old Roderick “RJ” Arrington Jr. was one of more than 35,000 such calls handled in 2012.

Governed by laws meant to protect privacy and confidentiality, the calls and actions of county employees who answer them seldom are made public. But on Nov. 28, 2012, the school worker's call for help reverberated across the Las Vegas Valley. Within a month, the hotline worker was fired, after questions arose about the priority assigned to the case.

The crux of the case hinges on whether the hotline worker had enough information to warrant assigning it a Priority 1 case, which would have meant a response from a Child Protective Services investigator within three hours. Instead, hotline worker Jadon Davis assigned the case a Priority 2, requiring a response within 24 hours. A Priority 3 requires a response within 72 hours. Anything else gets no response at all.

An employee at RJ's school called the hotline, reporting concerns that the boy had extensive scarring, had difficulty walking and said he had been beaten. But the employee, whose identity has not been made public, also reported the child said he felt safe to go home, and she declined to check immediately for current injuries on the child's rear, county records show.

Based on those circumstances, Davis assigned it a Priority 2, and RJ was allowed to go home. The next day he was rushed to University Medical Center in a coma.

His brain swollen and body covered with bruises, RJ died from his injuries. His mother, Dina Palmer, and stepfather, Markiece Palmer, face child abuse and murder charges.

RJ's case sheds light on the operations of child abuse reporting hotlines, as well as policies that guide workers who deter­mine how to prioritize thousands of reports.

Those decisions in Clark County mean the difference between an investigator showing up within three hours, the next day or perhaps not at all.


The Clark County hotline took 35,016 calls in 2012. They resulted in 15,187 abuse and neglect referrals. The referrals led to 8,908 Child Protective Services investigations.

Child Protective Services hotline workers coded 1,411 calls as Priority 1, which required a response within three hours, according to county records.

A total of 307 calls were assigned a Priority 3, which requires a response from an investigator within 72 hours, according to county statistics.

The report about RJ was one of 6,628 Priority 2 calls last year. As such, it fell in the mid-range of the most commonly used classification.

Hotline workers need to gather as much information as possible to make the best determination how to prioritize calls, officials said. In Clark County, 32 hotline workers are tasked with that job.

The perception of the hotline workers' role has changed over the years, said Jill Marano of the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services.

In the past, their work was viewed almost as clerical. Now, a call is viewed as the start of an assessment of what's going on with the child and family, Marano said.

That can make the hotline worker's judgment, and the policies that guide them, a matter of life and death.


After RJ's death, Clark County officials determined that its policies, if followed correctly, adequately protect children. Davis, who handled the call in RJ's case, failed to follow policy, officials found. He was fired on Dec. 27, 2012.

But an arbitrator last month re­instated Davis, ruling that he did follow policy. Instead, the arbitrator faulted the county policy, noting that Priority 1 and 3 calls both represent extreme situations, causing most reports to be coded Priority 2 by default.

County officials defend the hotline policy, calling Colorado-based arbitrator Kathy Eisenmenger's decision “incorrect” and showing a lack of understanding of child welfare practices.

Paula Hammack, assistant director at the Clark County Department of Family Services, said a call must be coded Priority 1 when the referral contains information of present or impending danger to a child.

County officials say Davis had enough information to correctly designate RJ's case as a Priority 1, but failed to ask the right clarifying questions.

Davis maintains he asked the school worker for clarifying details.

The school worker reported seeing scars on the boy, who was walking with difficulty, but was unwilling to comply with Davis' request that she check the boy's buttocks for injuries, arbitration records show.

Based on the fact that the scars indicated old, healed injuries and a lack of current visible injuries, Davis determined the child was not in immediate danger and listed the call as Priority 2.


While defending the current policy, county officials also have it under review as part of a routine process that happens every two years.

“There will be revisions to the policy, not as a result of this arbitration finding, but as a result of the implementation of the revised safety practice model that we've been working on since February of this year,” said Lisa Ruiz-Lee, director of the Clark County Department of Family Services.

The revisions won't be significant, Ruiz-Lee said.

“There are just some nuances, like additional assessment information that you want to collect,” Hammack said. “They are still collecting the same information around the same six questions. The priority response or time frames are not changing.”

The policy has six questions hotline workers must ask mandated reporters, such as teachers, school administrators and doctors, in addition to the right follow-up and clarifying questions.

Those questions include circumstances of the abuse claims, parenting practices of the family and if the child shows fear of the home situation.

County records show RJ told the school worker that he was beaten, but also indicated he felt safe to go home when asked. That information, relayed from the school employee to Davis, was a factor in his decision to code it as a Priority 2.


In Washoe County, the policy for prioritizing child abuse calls mirrors that of Clark County.

A Priority 1 call means “danger is urgent,” said Jeanne Marsh, director for the Washoe County Children's Services Division.

An example of a Priority 1 call would be a 2-year-old child wandering down the street unaccompanied, Marsh said.

“To me, the priority ones, they're in your face. It's pretty obvious in situations like that.”

With a Priority 2 call, there may be concern about the family dynamic, but not an immediate danger, Marsh said, explaining that this kind of call might come while a child is in school, but there are questions about the home environment.

For a Priority 3 call, there may be signs of maltreatment, but no safety risk involved. A child who isn't getting required dental treatment would be classified as a Priority 3, Marsh said.

There are no major differences in the way child abuse hotline calls are prioritized anywhere in Nevada.

Marano said the state's hotline, which covers areas outside Clark and Washoe counties, follows a similar prioritizing process.

Still, the work remains challenging.

“Sometimes you're really relying on a phone conversation with a referral source,” Marano said. “You don't always have the full picture. It can be real tough to figure out whether or not you need to go out there.”

But, she added, “To me, it seems to work if you follow the policies and you follow the definitions of ‘present danger' and ‘impending danger.'?”


Hotlines follow a similar structure, though expected response times can vary, county by county and state by state.

Utah's Division of Child and Family Services requires a one hour response for Priority 1 calls, or three hours in a rural area.

“Priority 1's are pretty rare,” said Sarah Houser, a child protective services program administrator for Utah.

Priority 2 calls in Utah require a 24-hour response, just as in Clark County.

Hotline workers are required to ask plenty of questions, she said, but the work also has a subjective nature.

“I think when you work with humans there's always an element of subjectivity that comes along with that,” she said.

Hammack said there could be subjectivity, though that doesn't negate the process of handling calls.

“Based on the information that is being reported, there's some things that are subjective,” she said. “You are trying to get information from somebody who is trying to give information, and we are trying to assess it.”

What's not subjective, she said, is the standard for declaring a Priority 1 response when there is information regarding present or impending danger.


Ruiz-Lee acknowledged RJ's death caused the agency to evaluate the system as a whole, including its ties to law enforcement, the Clark County School District and child welfare services.

A special Child Death Review Team reviewed the case, with input from police, child welfare professionals and school officials. The team found room for improvement around training for mandated reporters, she said.

Training is an ongoing discussion at the Clark County School District.

A school spokeswoman said a committee representing all departments has looked for better training methods. Officials produced a video, which every principal began to show staff this year.

‘CALL 911'

Child advocates who train mandatory reporters advise against calling a hotline in all situations.

Michelle Fingerman, director of the National Child Abuse Hotline at ChildHelp, advises people to call law enforcement instead of a child abuse hotline if they see a life-or-death situation.

“CPS won't get the immediate response,” Fingerman said. “You are going to want to call law enforcement so they can get there right away and hopefully save that child's life. If you are unsure, call 911. The worst it can happen is that they will say that they can't come out. It's better to err on the side of caution.”



New steps to eliminate abuse

Scottish Church unveils a three-part plan to increase transparency and tackle the problem

The Church in Scotland has unveiled a new three-step programme to increase transparency and ‘eliminate abuse' by clergy.

In a letter read out at all of Scotland's 500 Catholic parishes last Sunday, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow spoke on behalf of Scotland's bishops, saying the Church has learned from the mistakes of the past.

“We recognise the trauma and pain that survivors of abuse have suffered and we are committed to providing for them both justice and healing,” the president of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland says.

Archbishop Tartaglia (above) went on to say that 2013 had been ‘a test of faith' for Scottish Catholics, but the Church was committed to ‘consolidation of our safeguarding practices, the renewal of trust in our unshakeable commitment to atoning for abuse in the past, guarding against abuse in the present and eliminating abuse in the future, and supporting those who have been harmed.'

Archbishop Tartaglia also said the Church was launching the three new initiatives ‘in a spirit of openness and transparency,' and in recognition of the fact that ‘safeguarding is a priority within the Church, and all who work in the Church must realise this.'

The first initiative is the publication of all Diocesan Safeguarding Audits from 2006-2012, giving a statistical breakdown of reported safeguarding incidents during those years.

These figures show a total of 46 allegations were reported, of which 55 per cent related to sexual abuse.

The second initiative will be an external ‘Review of Safeguarding Protocols and Procedures' which will assess the suitability and robustness of safeguarding procedures and the quality and rigour of their implementation nationally. This review will be directed by Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan, CBE, former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and formerly Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Finally, the Church will also carry out a statistical review of all historic cases of abuse from 1947-2005, and report back next year.

Dr McLellan said he agreed to take on the role to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults.

“I have agreed to chair the review panel which will instigate and complete a review of ‘awareness and safety' in the Catholic Church in Scotland,” he said.

“My appointment is a generous sign of respect not simply for me but for the Church of Scotland; and I am pleased to be able to help the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland in what has been for them a difficult year. But my first concern is not to support the Catholic Church: rather it is to seek the best protection of many vulnerable children and adults.

“Over the remaining weeks of 2013, I hope to turn my attention to these matters so that I can announce the particulars of the review process and structure early in 2014.”

Tina Campbell, the Catholic Church's newly appointed national coordinator for safeguarding, said the announcement signified an impressive new approach by the Church.



Child abuse: Lament for the end of innocence

Mariella Furrer confronts her demons in her book, "My Piece of Sky", as she untangles the horror of child sexual abuse.

Trigger warning: some readers may find below content and images traumatic.

When I was about five years old, I was sexually abused by a stranger. I don't think at that age I really understood what it was that had happened to me, but somehow I knew it was wrong, and I felt to blame for letting the man touch me.

Shortly after the incident, I told my parents. I cannot begin to imagine the weight my disclosure must have had on them: the grief and the rage, furious at themselves for failing to protect me, enraged at the man for doing this to me, and infuriated at the world for allowing this to happen to their young daughter.

The molestation could not have lasted more than a few minutes, but it affected my life in ways that are difficult to articulate.

As a five-year-old, I don't think you really understand that you have lost something when you are abused. Yet you have; something does change. You lose your childhood, really: your innocence is snatched away, and what little is left of that once pure child is now transformed into a sexual being, a child with a knowledge of things way before her time.

My Piece of Sky is the result of the journey that has since led me to explore the world of child sexual abuse. It is testimony to the young children who have survived the experience of rape, and those who have lost their lives to it.

When children are molested or raped, they lose control over what is happening to them and their bodies, so when working with victims I was sensitive about giving control back to them. I would generally begin by sitting on the floor in a corner or somewhere out of the way. Once in my spot, I would move very little. I would take few photos, watching to see how the children responded to the camera. I would interact with them often, becoming part of the team that worked to comfort them and make them feel safe.

When I interviewed the perpetrators, it was with the understanding that My Piece of Sky would take some time to complete, and that they would not be identified, so as not to influence any pending court cases.

My interviews with them were really motivated by my need to understand their own childhoods, when they were first attracted to children, whether they were abused or not, how they chose their victims, how they went about abusing them.

My work with perpetrators threw me into a deep depression – but not for the reasons you might think. The truth is, we all have multiple facets to our personalities and these perpetrators were no different. They were abusers of children, but some of them were funny, intelligent, creative and interesting.

After attending their group sessions for several weeks, one of the perpetrators asked me in front of the group how I felt about them now. "Do you think we are all monsters?"

I didn't. I could not at all condone what they had done, but I did not hate them. With this discovery, my black-and-white world of right and wrong, good and evil, caved in on top of me.

Ten years later, I am not the same person. Not because I have aged, but because I have learned so much – too much, really.

Meeting these people and hearing their stories has taken me to the ­limits of my psychological, emotional and spiritual existence. It has tested me in ways that I am not yet able to comprehend. After many of the interviews, I would lie on my floor for hours, in shock from what I had heard.

Many times I have wanted to lock these interviews and photos up and walk away from them, pretend I had never heard them or seen them.

Only a sense of obligation to those who shared their deepest, darkest secrets with me, so that it does not happen again, has prevented me from doing so.

Profiles of the abused:


My name is Dylan and I am 39 years old … At the time, John taught at a school near me. He was a scoutmaster and our catechism teacher at church. So I knew him and I trusted him. When I was with Creasey and he was doing things to me, I would not hear a thing; everything just buzzed in my ears and I would not be there; I escaped to another place inside myself. He would reward me if he could touch me once or twice. It depended on how many times he could touch me, and that is how much of a reward I got.

I confessed every week, or every time it happened, to the priest at church. I would say to him that I had been touching a man and that a man had been touching me, and he would just tell me that for my penance I needed to say so many Hail Marys and so many Our Fathers, and try not to do it again. That only reinforced my feeling that I was in the wrong and that it was my sin.

When I was 13 I made a decision that I would make men pay for it from now on, that they were not going to take me for granted. I mean, they were taking me anyhow, so they are not going to take me for nothing anymore. Whoever wanted a boy like me had to pay for it. There are images out there of me that I know can never be destroyed; they are there forever. Having my photo out there is basically like being raped every day.

Dylan committed suicide on April 23 2008.


My name is Thuli and I am 27 years old … I was six at the time of the incident and that day I was actually sick. My father was not working. At some point, he came up to me and told me that he was "not going to feed a horse if he was not going to be able to ride it", and he pushed me on top of the bed, tore my panty off, put a pillow on my face and started raping me. I didn't cry because I didn't understand what was going on.

My mother came home and she saw that I was bleeding and took me to the Randburg Police Station, and then to the doctor to confirm the rape. The doctor told my mum that yes, I had been raped, and they took tests and stuff. Nothing happened.

After the first incident, the rape continued. It just never stopped. My father would rape me in front of my mother. He would sleep with me in front of my mother and I would hear my mother crying.

When I was 14, I found out I was HIV positive. When I would think about killing my father, there would be this calmness that would come over me.

I am usually scared of corpses, but that day I was not scared. I just wanted to see this lifeless body and know that he was really dead. So they took me in and then they opened this drawer and my father's eyes were open. I asked the guy if I could have five minutes alone with my father. I stayed there and I talked to the corpse. I said: "I am not a murderer, but you pushed me so hard. I didn't have any choice …"



New alliance formed to address domestic child sex trafficking

The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the bipartisan Advisory Council on Child Trafficking (ACCT) announce a new, formal alliance, building on the May 2013 symposium highlighting the need for more rigorous research addressing domestic child sex trafficking. The symposium was part of a White House initiative that was announced by President Barack Obama at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative. Findings from the symposium will inform the first order of business for the new alliance: a white paper detailing the ground-breaking work of leading researchers, policymakers and advocates. The purpose of the forthcoming white paper and the new alliance is to chart an informed path forward for those working to end child sex trafficking in the United States.

Dean Michael Klag, Bloomberg School of Public Health - "The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is proud to have welcomed luminaries to our campus for this unique and powerful symposium. We believe that the new collaboration of the Moore Center and ACCT is an exciting outgrowth of that important event. The issue of domestic child sex trafficking, and child sexual abuse more broadly, continues to generate headlines and capture attention, making careful, rigorous approaches to the prevention and treatment work essential to ensure children's well-being."

The Moore Center/ACCT alliance was announced at the November 20 "Women Rule: Driving the Conversation" event sponsored by POLITICO and headlined by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. The event was centered on the issue of sex trafficking globally and in the United States. Moore Center Director Elizabeth J. Letourneau, PhD, was a featured speaker and described the new partnership in her remarks.

Steven G. Moore, MD, Founding Donor, The Moore Center - "The Moore Center is a leading research institute for the prevention of child sexual abuse and the ACCT founders understand the importance of such research. With Elizabeth Letourneau's leadership at the Moore Center, we are proud to partner with ACCT to continue to connect research with policy solutions and continue to highlight the issue in our society. In particular, we aim to address the primary prevention of child sexual exploitation within the broader context of preventing child sexual abuse."

Allison Abner, Co-Founder, Advisory Council on Child Trafficking - "With a focused, coordinated effort across disciplines, we can prevent child sexual exploitation. This new partnership will enable us to identify the most effective strategies for reducing demand, for intervening and treating the victims, and for recognizing at-risk children before they are sexually exploited."

The first project of the alliance will be the publication and release of a comprehensive white paper synthesizing the findings of the May 2013 two-day symposium. The paper, which will be released in early 2014 at an event in Washington, D.C., will incorporate findings on prevention and mental health, along with international research lessons for domestic efforts, law enforcement best practices, and the role of technology in preventing child sexual exploitation. It will also summarize research gaps that were identified at the symposium and areas for attention in the future. The Annie E. Casey Foundation will sponsor the highly anticipated publication.

As a leading international authority on public health, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is dedicated to protecting health and saving lives. Every day, the Bloomberg School works to keep millions safe from illness and injury by pioneering new research, deploying its knowledge and expertise in the field, and educating tomorrow's scientists and practitioners in the global defense of human life. Founded in 1916 as part of the Johns Hopkins University, the Bloomberg School of Public Health is the world's oldest and largest independent school of public health. @JohnsHopkinsSPH

The fundamental mission of Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse is to move the public toward adoption of a comprehensive public health policy that focuses significant resources on the primary prevention of child sexual abuse. The Center will achieve this goal through research, education, communication, advocacy and policy activities. @MooreCenter


The Role of Sex Trafficking

by Kathleen Wirth -- research fellow in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership in Gaborone, Botswana.

In the quest to end AIDS, the role of sex trafficking should not be ignored by the public health community – but until recently, it largely was. In India and Nepal, where much of the existing research has been conducted, young women are frequently lured away from their homes by acquaintances, distant relatives and strangers under the pretense of employment or marriage, and then are sold to a brothel owner. These women work to pay off “debt” supposedly incurred through their recruitment, transportation and sale. Only recently have public health researchers connected these practices with increased risk of H.I.V. infection. Data collected from thousands of interviews with Indian sex workers indicate that women forced into prostitution are nearly three times as likely to be H.I.V.-infected; among trafficked women who also report physical or sexual violence the risk is more than 10 times that of other sex workers.

Sex trafficking is clearly a risk factor for H.I.V. infection among sex workers, but does trafficking fuel H.I.V. epidemics? The answer depends on knowing how many persons are trafficked into the sex trade annually and where. However, obtaining high-quality data on sex trafficking is a complex and often thorny endeavor. Sex trafficking is illegal, and its victims are kept hidden from outsiders. Brothels are strictly controlled, and trafficked women are often isolated from other sex workers or even transferred between brothels to avoid detection by authorities. Given these difficulties, many highly publicized estimates of the scope of sex trafficking lack a robust statistical basis – and some critics even claim the numbers are artificially inflated for advocacy purposes.

The few methodologically rigorous studies that have examined sex trafficking surveyed only adult sex workers in south Asia or Southeast Asia. It is difficult to extrapolate from these data, because there are other factors at play for the younger populations. Although women can be trafficked at any age, traffickers frequently target underage girls to satisfy demand by clients who perceive them to be virgins, free of H.I.V. and other infections. To bring newly trafficked women into submission, pimps routinely use intimidation and violence, including repeated rape. These cruel practices, along with prepubescent girls' increased vulnerability to H.I.V. infection, may lead to disproportionately high rates of transmission among the younger victims of trafficking.

Findings from south Asia or Southeast Asia will not necessarily generalize to regions with different H.I.V. transmission dynamics and commercial sex trades. But at least one lesson applies globally: sex trafficking is not only a human rights crisis, but also exacts a devastating toll on the health and well-being of women, girls and communities.



New legislation, shelter to help sex trafficking victims

by Lindsey Seavert

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota has new ammunition in the fight against sex trafficking.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure minors trapped in the trade aren't prosecuted.

The announcement came as advocates broke ground on a new shelter for victims in St. Paul.

The "Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act" or (SETT) Bill will use Minnesota's safe harbor laws as a nationwide model to ensure young women sold for sex are not classified as defendants, but instead seen as victims. Renewed focus will allow law enforcement to prosecute the perpetrators of the trade.

Klobuchar joined the 180 Degrees Youth Development Center, the organization that will open the new shelter for sexually exploited youth, with an estimated 12 beds for young girls and teens ages 10 to 18 years old. Right now the state of Minnesota only has two beds for sex trafficking victims in need.

"In Minnesota, the average age of a child that gets involved in sex trafficking is 13 years old, 13 years old, not even old enough to get your driver's license, not even old enough to go to your first prom," said Klobuchar. "I love the name 180 Degrees, this is about turning lives around and there is no tougher life than the lives of victims of sex trafficking and the plans are amazing for the new facility."

Klobuchar said the federal government gave a $350,000 grant to open the new shelter, along with a $500,000 grant from the city of St. Paul. Her hope is with a new model, more funding will become available for similar shelters across the state and nation.

Other officials showed their support for stronger laws including St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith, 180 Degrees CEO Richard Gardell and the Women's Foundation President and CEO Lee Roper-Batker.

"None of us should ever have a blind eye to what goes on with this. This is a national issue that crosses all cultural and ethnic lines. For a lot of us, it's been too long and silent because a lot of people don't want to talk about it. Now, we have an opportunity, a voice, a national voice," said Smith.

Ramsey County attorney John Choi said he's prosecuted five sex trafficking defendants in the past year and a half, with three of them sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

"With two more in pipeline and many more cases we are working on, but, that does not happen unless we have this victim centered approach where these courageous young girls tell their story, and that is a hard thing to do," said Choi.

An estimated 27 million people are trafficked for sex worldwide each year.


New Jersey

Hotels near stadium prepare for Super Bowl-related sex trafficking

SOUTH HACKENSACK - On Tuesday PIX11 brought you two stories of pain, and survival from victims of sex trafficking.

One of them was Barbara Amaya — she endured years of abuse after being forced into what amounts to modern day slavery.

Barbara spent some nine years in the 1970s on the streets of New York City, from the age of twelve until she was nineteen. She was a working girl in what's called ‘the life.'

After decades of keeping that part of her life a secret, Barbara is now telling her story, hoping to help other young at risk women from falling into the lifestyle that almost ruined her.

Sporting events are a magnet for sex and human trafficking with thousands of potential customers staying in hotels – and this year's Super Bowl, which will be played in a few months at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey — is, according to law enforcement officials and victims' advocates, the single largest human trafficking draw in the country.

Truck stop supervisors and hotel mangers are now the first line of defense for authorities.

At the Congress Inn in South Hackensack, New Jersey – one of several hotels within a ten mile radius of the stadium — hotel supervisor Donna Browko is ready for the business the Super Bowl may bring, and is also prepared to call the police if she sees signs of someone being trafficked.

“First of all when they come in, we check their ID. And we look, we can see if they're of age or they're under age,” Browko told PIX11. “We check the plate number, the cars – how many people.”

Raising awareness to sex trafficking has been on New Jersey Attorney General John Jay Hoffman's radar for months with targeted training.

“For instance – EMTs, ambulance drivers, taxi drivers, hospitality industry providers,” said General Hoffman.

PIX11 spoke to Attorney General Hoffman today via Skype – from his office in Trenton, about what private sector workers are taught to look out for when it comes to identifying a sex trafficker – or a victim.

“Young women, or young boys, or young girls being with individuals who don't' allow them to speak, don't allow them to talk, don't' allow them to act. Young boys or girls that show, sort of quiet, subdued look – depressed, and also show signs of physical coercion,” said General Hoffman.

Investigators are doing everything possible to keep Super Bowl 48 from just being another night of sex slavery for women like Barbara Amaya.



Taking Back The Night

Gail Abarbanel has changed the way rape is viewed—and how victims are treated—in L.A. and across the nation. Her secret: demanding we do better

by Monica Corcoran Harel

Each fall the tony brunch on the grounds of Green-acres, a 50,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills, never fails to draw major stars. Past hosts have included actors Gwyneth Paltrow, Viola Davis, Ben Stiller, and the cast of Mad Men . Male guests shun the jeans-and-T-shirt dress code favored by the Hollywood elite, opting for sober suits and ties; women show up in fancy day dresses, their designer handbags at the ready. The 800 or so who attend could be at any Westside charity event, but this one is different. There will be no fashion show, no musical interlude, no gift bag. Instead there will be stories—stories about rape.

When a woman named Gail Abarbanel stands up and takes the microphone, those who've been at previous brunches instinctively clench their cloth napkins. They know from experience that Abarbanel—the president of the Santa Monica-based Rape Foundation, which serves sexually abused adults and children—is about to quietly and dispassionately break their hearts. With her close-cropped hair, crisp suit, and patent leather flats, Abarbanel is the antithesis of flashy. She doesn't do drama. As she talks about the girls and boys who come to Stuart House, the Santa Monica satellite of her flagship Rape Treatment Center that serves victims under the age of 18, she doesn't stutter with emotion. She takes a deep breath and says something like this:

Marleny didn't meet her father until she was ten. When she was 13, he moved into the family's small L.A. apartment. Marleny slept in a closet that held just her single bed. There was no blanket for her. When she turned 14, her father started coming into the closet at night to sexually assault her. She tried knotting the drawstring on her pajama pants, but he untied it. Each night, for almost three years, Marleny's father raped her in that closet. She planned to leave when she turned 18, but as her 17th birthday approached, she couldn't take it anymore. Marleny told a school counselor everything and was brought to Stuart House. I would like you to meet her.

As Marleny—or Katrina or Irene or any of the survivors of abuse whom Abarbanel has introduced at 34 brunches over 34 years—speaks, the crowd falls apart. “When my father was sexually abusing me, I couldn't physically escape,” Marleny tells the crowd. “Sometimes when he was touching me, I would imagine that I was at the beach, in the water, swimming away.” Some couples sob and hold hands; women shake their heads and swipe at the mascara tracks on their cheeks. All of them will drive home thinking about the little girl desperately knotting the drawstring of her pajama pants and trying to swim away. Of that Abarbanel is sure. But many will do more than think about Marleny—they'll donate their time and money because Abarbanel asks them to. In a town that never lacks for high-profile causes, this slight, unassuming woman has commanded not only attention but also commitment.

Translating stories into action—that's what Abarbanel, 69, has devoted more than half her life to doing. Those who've worked (or tangled) with her describe her as a tireless reformer. Relentless even. “I like to say I'm determined. Or a noodge,” she acknowledges. Because of that persistence, victims of sexual assault in Los Angeles are receiving better care. They are being better served by the legal system. And more rapists are being arrested, prosecuted, and convicted.

Not that Abarbanel would tell you so. Ask her a question about herself—this is the first profile she's ever agreed to be interviewed for—and she unfailingly steers the subject to her preferred topic: the victims she is trying to help. “My strategy has always been to share what moves me with other people,” she says. “Everything comes from work with victims. Through their experiences they tell us what we need to do next.”

The statistics are bracing. One in every five American women will be raped in her lifetime. Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted; each month there are 40 to 50 new rape victims in Los Angeles alone. By some estimates, one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they are 18. But 97 percent of rapists do not go to jail.

What's more, until this year the uniform definition of rape used by the FBI did not include many acts most people think of as rape, such as sodomy and forced oral copulation. Which means that for years national rape statistics have not reflected the full scope of the problem. (Only 54 percent of sexual assaults are reported to the police.) Many sexual assaults on children are not even tallied. “Whenever something as serious and prevalent as sexual abuse of children isn't officially counted,” says Abarbanel, “it feeds into making the problem invisible.”

Add to that the fact that for years there was a backlog of 12,000-plus rape kits in Los Angeles County's two big crime labs—those run by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. These kits, which typically contain samples of bodily secretions such as semen as well as clothing and other physical evidence, had been collected from victims' bodies but then left untested. Because rapists tend to be repeat offenders, Abarbanel says, “if you solve one case, you're preventing other women from being raped.” That opportunity, she says, was being squandered. “It was a huge betrayal of trust.”



Ground broken in St. Paul for new shelter for child sex trafficking victims


The center is scheduled to open in St. Paul next year and provide 12 additional beds for child sex trafficking victims.

A safe place to stay could mean the difference between life or death for a Minnesota girl who has been forced to sell her body, yet there are only a handful of beds in the entire state reserved solely for child sex trafficking victims.

Local advocates and authorities celebrated a big step in the fight against child sex trafficking Tuesday with the groundbreaking of a new St. Paul shelter for sexually exploited youth that would greatly expand the number of beds available to abused girls.

The Safe and Sound Shelter, which will be located on the East Side will add a dozen dedicated beds when it opens next summer.

“What we have here today is a gigantic leap forward. What we have here today is our response as a community to say, ‘We're not just going to sit back and allow this to happen. We're not going to allow our children to be exploited,'?” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at a news conference before the ceremonial groundbreaking.

The shelter will be run by 180 Degrees, a Twin Cities nonprofit that offers youth and adult services, with help from partners the Midwest Children's Resource Center and Breaking Free, a St. Paul organization that currently has four beds in the state dedicated to trafficking victims.

“They [officials] are doing the first step. … We've got to get these kids off the street,” said Vednita Carter, executive director of Breaking Free.

Girls ages 10 to 17 will be able to stay at the shelter typically up to three months and can receive chemical dependency treatment, mental health help, vocational training and other services. Statistics are unreliable for how many victims are in the state, but the number of beds currently available fell short of meeting the need.

The center will be located on 180 Degrees' youth development campus next to its current East Side offices. One building has already been demolished to make way for the new shelter and another building is set to be razed, said Richard Gardell, the chief executive officer of 180 Degrees. The center is scheduled to open next August.

“This shelter for us is built with the input and the love and care of survivors,” Gardell said.

Tuesday's event was attended by notable stakeholders including U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith and Women's Foundation of Minnesota president Lee Roper-Batker among others.

At the event, Klobuchar highlighted the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (SETT) that she introduced last week, which is modeled after Minnesota's Safe Harbor laws. It's aimed at getting all states to enact Safe Harbor provisions to ensure that minors who are trafficked are treated as victims. Other provisions in the legislation would include helping trafficking victims recover damages. About a dozen states have some form of Safe Harbor laws.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature approved $2.8 million to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth legislation, $1 million of which went to create shelter for sex trafficking victims, said Jeff Bauer, director of public policy at the Family Partnership. Four different organizations across Minnesota have been awarded the state grants, which are expected to help fund an additional 18 dedicated beds, Bauer said.

The city awarded 180 Degrees a $150,000 loan and a $350,000 grant from the Neighborhood STAR program this year to help fund the shelter. Funding for the capital campaign also came from private foundations and federal new-market tax credits, Gardell said. The organization's goal is to have $3.3 million for the shelter. To date they have raised about $1.4 million and are accepting additional donations for the project, he said.


Link Between Domestic Abuse and Long-Term Women's Health

by Ludy Green, Ph.D -- President and Founder, Second Chance Employment Services

The physical and mental health effects of domestic violence can have a devastating and long-term impact on victims. In a recent ABC News report on the long-term health impact from domestic abuse, author Leslie Morgan Steiner commented that she still deals with psychological damage, physical joint pain and some short-term memory loss more than twenty years after suffering horrific abuse from her now ex-husband. Leslie is not alone.

Results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) reports that men and women who experienced rape or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime were "more likely to report physical frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty with sleeping, activity limitations, poor physical health, and poor mental health than men and women who did not experience these forms of violence."

The survey also reports that "women who have experienced these forms of violence were more likely to report having asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes than women who did not experience these form of violence."

Another alarming report was published in September 2013 by an interagency Federal Working Group, created by President Obama in March 2013, to explore the intersection of HIV/AIDs, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities. The report states that "for women living with HIV/AIDs, violence is especially prevalent with over half of the women living with HIV experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV), which is considerably higher than the national prevalence among women overall (55% vs. 36%)."

Awareness and prevention of intimate partner abuse and violence is necessary to stop this cycle of domestic abuse. Increased National awareness and prevention of domestic abuse is improving each year. On September 30, 2013, President Obama declared October 2013 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The presidential proclamation promotes peace in our own families, homes and communities and calls for our commitment to end domestic violence in every city, every town and every corner of America. This proclamation has strengthened advocates charge to bring an end to domestic violence.

Domestic violence among intimate partners is an epidemic and the perpetrators are like diseases. The National Domestic Violence Hotline National Report, based on hotline calls during the first half of 2013, reported that the hotline received nearly 120,000 calls or an average of 20,000 calls a month. Approximately 64% of the callers were victims or a survivor of abuse from an intimate partner. Additionally, 95% of the victims experienced emotional abuse and 70% physical abuse. Without prevention, this disease cannot be cured.

Similar to preventing many diseases and illnesses, the first step to preventing domestic abuse is education. The NISVS report states that prevention efforts should start early in the home by promoting healthy, respectful relationships in families by developing positive family dynamics and emotionally supportive environments. These environments help children adopt positive interactions with adults based on trust and respect instead of fear.

For current victims or survivors, the prevention efforts need to be addressed by the community and healthcare system. These women and men need coordinated services to ensure healing and prevent recurrence of victimization. NISVS suggests that one way to strengthen the response to survivors is to increase training of healthcare professionals. These professionals should be trained to recognize domestic abuse and work with organizations that can offer shelter, legal services, mental health care, career training and employment opportunities.

Another important form of response to domestic abuse is to hold the perpetrators accountable. Many times laws are not enforced adequately or consistently and perpetrators may become more violent after the victim reports the crimes against them. Proper training within the criminal justice system is necessary to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.



Army officer drops 'evil twin' defense, pleads guilty to sex assaults

An Army artillery officer accused of a series of sex assaults for which he'd planned to blame his twin brother changed his mind Tuesday and pleaded guilty to the charges.

1st Lt. Aaron Lucas, who had been stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., faces 20 years to life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for February 28.

Earlier this month, case judge David Shakes ruled that Lucas's attorneys could argue that the defendant's identical twin brother, Brian Lucas, committed the attacks on 11 girls between the ages of 4 and 10. Shakes said that it was the jury's role to decide if the defense was convincing. A trial had been scheduled for January.

Defense attorney Ted McClintock told the Colorado Springs Gazette that Lucas had changed his mind and made the guilty plea because "he wanted to do the right thing. He loves his family. He doesn't want to create problems for them."

Lucas had been linked by DNA to the June 2012 abduction and rape of an 8-year-old girl, as well as similar assaults in Texarkana, Texas in 2009 and Madison, Alabama in 2007. The defense's theory was based on the theory that since identical twins share DNA, the physical evidence would not prove Lucas' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lucas was charged with crimes ranging from kidnapping and rape to indecent exposure in connection with the attacks that took place in El Paso County, Colo. between 2009 and 2012. Authorities said the attacks stopped during a yearlong period while Lucas was deployed to Afghanistan.

As part of his plea agreement, Lucas waived extradition to Texas for the 2009 assault. Prosecutors in Alabama agreed not to charge him for the assault in that state.



Save the Children eyes aiding half a million survivors of Haiyan

by Karen Liao

MANILA, Philippines – “If there is one thing we have learned during these past decades, it is that children are the most vulnerable. Children are the most at risk, and frequently and commonly pay the highest price during crises.”

Save the Children operations team leader Ned Olney stressed the needs of child survivors in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) at a press briefing on relief efforts on Friday, November 22.

The international aid organization aims to help 500,000 people in the coming weeks and months, especially children. So far, it has been able to reach out to over 9,000 children across affected areas in Leyte (including Tacloban City) and Panay Island. It has also established field bases in Ormoc, Roxas and Estancia, and a logistics support team in Cebu.

“What the Philippines is facing is really one of the worst humanitarian crises that I have experienced. The scale is really staggering,” Olney said. Citing United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates, the organization said that the typhoon has affected around 5.4 million children.

Responding to post-disaster needs, Save the Children has delivered hygiene kits and shelter kits for families in Tacloban City, Leyte. One of its mobile teams was also the first group to provide medical services in Dulag, also in Leyte. Medical teams for treating the injured and wounded have also reached communities in the northern tip of Cebu and the northeastern islands of Panay.

Some of these areas, especially those in Panay, are still getting little media and international attention, Olney said. “I think what we're going to see is an expansion of the humanitarian coverage from Tacloban, from Roxas, from a few major urban areas – and out into the rural areas."

Save the Children has already launched an emergency appeal of US$50 million to fund relief efforts. The organization plans to expand operations and to add more relief programs, including sending out breastfeeding counselors to guide mothers in feeding their babies.

Child-friendly spaces and aid supplies

Setting up child-friendly spaces in Tacloban has been one of the immediate lifesaving interventions of the organization. These function like day-care centers, providing distraction and play spaces for children while keeping them safe.

Children play games and share their experiences of the typhoon with each other as part of their recovery. With trained adults, they also get to read as a form of informal education incorporated in these spaces.

These can be helpful to parents who need to keep their children safe while they look for lost loved ones or food and water. The organization plans to set up hundreds of these centers across affected areas.

“Children must always be protected before, during and after emergencies. If you do not put into play systems that protect children very early on, as we know from crises around the world…the cases of abuse, exploitation and trafficking go up,” Olney said.

Situation on the ground

Helping the young in the aftermath poses an enormous challenge, as suggested by on-the-ground observations. Children in affected areas have lost families and homes, and are exposed to unsafe surroundings that lack sources of food and water.

Communications manager Lynette Lim, who had been in Palo (south of Tacloban City) during the storm, said that at evacuation centers, children were loitering around with no routine because schools have been shut. “Children also have no safe spaces to play. In fact, families have told us that their children are getting sick from playing in unsanitary conditions,” she said.

She also observed that some children were in distress. Families reported lack of food and water for their children, and a lack of sanitation facilities and water supply. Clinics outside of Tacloban have reported a lack of capacity to treat anything beyond simple cuts. Other injuries needed hospital care, but for many families, access and transportation to hospitals within the city itself was already an issue.

“Parents have also reported that they have no jobs, and so will be unlikely able to feed their children in the long-term as well as to rebuild their homes,” Lim added.

Challenges during initial response

Save the Children's relief operations had already begun at the early onset of the disaster and had been able to provide initial support to families. But it has also faced obstacles along the way.

“Many of the crises we've seen, whether it's an earthquake or a typhoon – they're isolated and in specific locations. So here, you've got hundreds of kilometers in multiple islands, that's one. Two, airports cut off. Roads cluttered with debris,” Olney said, enumerating the challenges of aid delivery.

“We had to set up a logistical hub in Cebu. We had cargo planes come to Cebu. How do we move that support to Tacloban? Ferry to Ormoc, ferry all the way to Tacloban. We ran out of diesel, and we had to bring a barge of diesel from Mindanao.”

Staff had to be deployed to Ormoc via ferries, then they were brought to the target areas via motorcycles.

Even relief workers themselves had to ration their food and water.

“Let me tell you – our team that was on the ground the first week. They were eating essentially ramen noodles with just not even hot water – just room temperature water. They just allowed the noodles to soak. It was the only thing they had to eat. There was nothing else,” Olney said.

“We empathize with the local community. There simply wasn't enough food or water. And one day we had a team of 10 people and they were sharing one liter of water. There was no water available.”

The Save the Children relief team has been working 24 hours a day, in coordination with the humanitarian response team under UN OCHA, and with local government agencies and municipal governments, according to Olney. With full teams on the ground, the organization expects to be able to reach out to more people in the coming days.



Ground broken in St. Paul for new shelter for child sex trafficking victims


A safe place to stay could mean the difference between life or death for a Minnesota girl who has been forced to sell her body, yet there are only a handful of beds in the entire state reserved solely for child sex trafficking victims.

Local advocates and authorities celebrated a big step in the fight against child sex trafficking Tuesday with the groundbreaking of a new St. Paul shelter for sexually exploited youth that would greatly expand the number of beds available to abused girls.

The Safe and Sound Shelter, which will be located on the East Side will add a dozen dedicated beds when it opens next summer.

“What we have here today is a gigantic leap forward. What we have here today is our response as a community to say, ‘We're not just going to sit back and allow this to happen. We're not going to allow our children to be exploited,'” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at a news conference before the ceremonial groundbreaking.

The shelter will be run by 180 Degrees, a Twin Cities nonprofit that offers youth and adult services, with help from partners the Midwest Children's Resource Center and Breaking Free, a St. Paul organization that currently has four beds in the state dedicated to trafficking victims.

“They [officials] are doing the first step. … We've got to get these kids off the street,” said Vednita Carter, executive director of Breaking Free.

Girls ages 10 to 17 will be able to stay at the shelter typically up to three months and can receive chemical dependency treatment, mental health help, vocational training and other services. Statistics are unreliable for how many victims are in the state, but the number of beds currently available fell short of meeting the need.

The center will be located on 180 Degrees' youth development campus next to its current East Side offices. One building has already been demolished to make way for the new shelter and another building is set to be razed, said Richard Gardell, the chief executive officer of 180 Degrees. The center is scheduled to open next August.

“This shelter for us is built with the input and the love and care of survivors,” Gardell said.

Tuesday's event was attended by notable stakeholders including U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith and Women's Foundation of Minnesota president Lee Roper-Batker among others.

At the event, Klobuchar highlighted the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (SETT) that she introduced last week, which is modeled after Minnesota's Safe Harbor laws. It's aimed at getting all states to enact Safe Harbor provisions to ensure that minors who are trafficked are treated as victims. Other provisions in the legislation would include helping trafficking victims recover damages. About a dozen states have some form of Safe Harbor laws.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature approved $2.8 million to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth legislation, $1 million of which went to create shelter for sex trafficking victims, said Jeff Bauer, director of public policy at the Family Partnership. Four different organizations across Minnesota have been awarded the state grants, which are expected to help fund an additional 18 dedicated beds, Bauer said.

The city awarded 180 Degrees a $150,000 loan and a $350,000 grant from the Neighborhood STAR program this year to help fund the shelter. Funding for the capital campaign also came from private foundations and federal new-market tax credits, Gardell said. The organization's goal is to have $3.3 million for the shelter. To date they have raised about $1.4 million and are accepting additional donations for the project, he said.


New Jersey

Rutgers Psychology Professor's Research Addresses Impact of Violence Against Women

As Courtenay Cavanaugh explains, physical and sexual violence against women is nothing short of an epidemic.

“It is a significant public health problem that affects one in three women in the United States,” says Cavanaugh, an assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers–Camden. “It can lead to numerous health problems across one's lifespan and is associated with women's risk for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Abused women are at risk for contracting HIV because abusive partners force or coerce them into sex, and because they engage in risky behaviors that are consensual.”

Underscoring this significance, Cavanaugh dedicates her research to examining the impact of violence on women and children's health and development, including risk and resilience for psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

The Philadelphia resident recently co-authored a new study that sheds light on this critical health issue: “Intimate partner sexual violence: A comparison of foreign-born versus U.S.-born physically abused Latinas,” published online ahead of print in the Journal of Urban Health .

This study examined the prevalence of recent intimate partner sexual violence occurring against 555 physically abused Latinas, and compared the relationship of this sexual violence to women's nativity. The women in the study, all of whom were seeking help for intimate partner violence, were asked if their partners had physically forced them to have sex or made them have sex without a condom within the previous six months.

Thirty-eight percent of the physically abused Latinas reported recent intimate partner sexual violence and, of those, 51 percent reported that they were made to have unprotected sex six or more times in the previous six months. The study also found that physically abused Latinas who were foreign born were two times more likely to have experienced recent intimate partner sexual violence than the physically abused Latinas born in the United States.

“We think that these findings have several implications in terms of HIV risk,” says Cavanaugh, a 2012 Civic Engagement Faculty Fellow at Rutgers–Camden. “However, we are still learning why Latinas who are foreign born have greater risk for intimate partner sexual violence. We need to know more about the perpetrators of sexual violence against these Latinas since they are forcing and coercing these women into sex. For example, we weren't able to determine the nativity of the perpetrators in the study that we conducted.”

A clinical psychologist by training, Cavanaugh is ultimately focused on developing intervention strategies that benefit the victims as well as ensure that future generations are at a reduced risk for these same problems. “We know that a lot of these issues replicate themselves across generations,” she says.

As Cavanaugh recalls, the impetus for her research was the well-timed culmination of her academic and clinical training. As an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, she had taken a course on the domestic assault of women, examining how it impacts victims' health and well-being.

Upon graduating with bachelor's degrees in psychology and Spanish in 1996, she obtained a position in a psychiatric hospital in Kirkland, Wash., where she worked on the adolescent girls unit. With a fresh lens of understanding, she became immediately aware of the violence exposure among the female patients.

“It was just blatant; I could read the chart of any girl on the unit, and could see that the majority of them had pretty significant histories of violence and abuse,” she says, adding that she couldn't help but contemplate how their histories of violence contributed to their psychiatric problems and wonder what types of trauma-informed treatments may improve these young women's mental health. She also noticed that the adolescent girls were engaging in risky sexual behaviors that put them at risk for unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. So she initiated that the programming for the girls include a sexual education and risk reduction group that was led by Planned Parenthood.

Cavanaugh subsequently earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Alliant International University in 2005. During her doctoral training, she worked at Stanford University as a research interviewer and project coordinator for a randomized trial of group therapy for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse who were at risk for HIV. The project resulted in her dissertation, titled "Psychological Resilience of Adult Female Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Group Psychotherapy Outcome Study.” She then completed postdoctoral research fellowships in the respective departments of psychiatry and public health at Yale University and Johns Hopkins University.

Cavanaugh recently received a NIH-funded pilot grant from the Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology For Drug Abuse and Sexual Risk Behavior to adapt an evidenced-based HIV-prevention intervention for women in domestic-violence shelters.


Assessing child-abuse reports a complex challenge

by Associated Press

NEW YORK — The calls, reporting suspicions of child abuse and neglect, come in at a rate of nearly 10,000 a day, to hotlines and law-enforcement offices across the country.

They add up to 3.4 million reports per year — a daunting challenge for state child protection agencies, which must sort out the flimsy or trivial claims from the credible and potentially dire ones, and make decisions that balance the rights of parents with the welfare of children. Many states, after initial screening, deem more than half the reports they receive to be unworthy of further investigation.

"In child protection, you are always walking a difficult line," said Cindy Walcott, deputy commissioner of Vermont's Department for Children and Families.

"Obviously you want to protect children from harm, but you don't want to intervene in the private life of a family when it's not indicated," she said. "Those decisions need to be made carefully, so you're getting it right as often as possible."

The issue of child-abuse reporting burst into the spotlight last week with news that Arizona's Child Protective Services failed to look into about 6,000 reports of suspected child maltreatment that had been phoned in to its abuse hotline in recent years. At least 125 cases already have been identified in which children were later alleged to have been abused.

Other states have had problems with their processing of abuse reports. Florida's Department of Children and Families, for example, overhauled its abuse hotline last year after flaws were discovered with how information was collected and relayed to investigators.

In general, however, advocacy groups and academic experts credit child-protection agencies and their workers with trying their best, under often-challenging circumstances.

"Child protection workers are very valuable to our country," said Jim Hmurovich, president of the Chicago-based advocacy group Prevent Child Abuse America and former director of Indiana's Division of Family and Children. "They often have to make determinations with limited information, and they care a lot."

Nationally, the standard practice is to vet all the calls coming in to the hotlines. Yet as that is done, federal data show that about 40 percent are soon "screened out" — judged not to warrant further intervention or investigation. Among the reasons: The alleged maltreatment might be deemed innocuous, or the caller may fail to provide enough details for the agency to pursue.

Of the 3.4 million reports received for the 2011 fiscal year, about 2 million — or 60 percent — were "screened in" to trigger some degree of state intervention, according to the latest federal figures. Of those cases, 680,000 ended up being substantiated as incidents of neglect and abuse.

Even at that stage, there are options. The child-protection agency may open a formal child-abuse investigation or, in a less drastic step, it may assign social workers to assess a given family's circumstances and offer counseling, support services or other intervention. Minnesota is at the forefront of a group of states pursuing this strategy, known as "differential response."

"It is hard work," said Erin Sullivan Sutton, Minnesota's assistant commissioner for children and family services. "One of the challenges is being able to distinguish where people are doing horrible things to children and those situations where a mom or dad are trying to be good parents but lack the resources to do so."

Minnesota screens in only about a third of all the reports received through a statewide network of county and tribal hotlines — well under the national rate of 60 percent. But Sullivan Sutton says voluntary social services are offered to some of the families who figure in the cases that aren't going to be subjected to a formal abuse investigation.

"We care as much about the families who are screened out as those who are screened in," she said.

Vermont, like Minnesota, screens in only about 30 percent of the reports phoned in to its statewide hotline. In 2011, there were 15,256 reports and 4,911 of them were accepted for state intervention — either a child abuse investigation or a less draconian assessment.

Walcott said her agency is comfortable with the low screen-in rate.

"We encourage people to call," she said. "Even if they just suspect something, we prefer they call us. It's our job to sort through the information they give us."

Overall, experts say it's difficult to assess how good a job the state agencies are doing with their screening of abuse reports — in part because variances in laws and practices make precise state-to-state comparisons almost impossible. Even the basic definitions of child maltreatment vary.

"We don't have a lot of information about the cases that are screened out, so it's hard to say if a good decision was made," said John Fluke, an expert on child maltreatment at University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Vermont did undertake a detailed assessment of its abuse reporting system in 2012. It concluded that its decisions on screening in were highly accurate but found fault with 22 percent of the decisions to screen out, generally on grounds that those decisions were made without gathering enough information about the case.

According to the federal data, the total number of reports of suspected maltreatment rose from 3.1 million in 2007 to 3.4 million in 2011. The number of confirmed cases of abuse or neglect declined over that period, from 723,000 to 681,000, at a time when many state child-protection agencies were experiencing tight budgets and heavy caseloads.

Virtually every state has laws outlining who is required to report instances of suspected child maltreatment. Most states designate certain professions — notably law enforcement personnel, social workers, teachers and other school personnel, doctors and other health care workers, and child-care providers. However, 18 states have laws requiring any person who suspects child abuse to make a report.

Sociologist David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center, said some members of the public may make calls that are far too vague for an agency to pursue.

"When professionals call, they understand what's needed to make a credible report," he said.



Knitters preventing child abuse one tiny purple hat at a time

by Rose Egge

SEATTLE -- All year long volunteers have been busy knitting thousands of tiny purple hats they hope will save babies' lives. Seattle Children's Hospital collected 3,600 hats and distributed them this month to hospitals throughout the state to prevent child abuse by reminding parents crying is normal.

The project is part of the Period of PURPLE Crying, a training program for parents created by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome after abusive, head-trauma injuries skyrocketed in 2008. Seattle Children's admitted three times as many infants with shaken baby syndrome that year compared to 2007.

“Preventing child abuse is always on our minds at this hospital,” said Amy Owens, senior program coordinator of the Seattle Children's Protection, Advocacy and Outreach Program. “When we saw this significant spike, it moved it even higher up on the list of concerns.”

Research shows crying is the number-one reason parents or caregivers shake a baby. Studies have also demonstrated when parents understand the normal pattern of infant crying and learn coping skills, it significantly reduces the likelihood a child will be shaken or abused.

For five years Owens' team has distributed PURPLE's educational materials to parents throughout the state. The goal is to let parents know crying is a normal part of child development and sometimes no amount of soothing can stop it.

“Newborns can cry quite a bit in first four months,” Owens said. “Parents who are informed from the start are better equipped to deal with it. A fussy baby can be frustrating for parents doing the very best they can to soothe, but there are times there just isn't anything the parent can do to stop the crying.”

Over the last three years, Seattle Children's has tried to keep these lessons about crying on the minds of parents with a reminder on babies' tiny heads.

Click for Babies is a national program in which volunteers knit purple hats for infants throughout the year. Seattle Children's distributes the hats throughout Washington hospitals during November.

Owens said she hopes the hats will help keep babies safe and out of the hospital.

“Anything we can do during those critical first six months of life when infants at their most vulnerable to remind [parents] that ‘This is a difficult time but you're going to get through it, and if you get frustrated put your baby down in a crib and take a break.'”

Volunteers who want to knit hats for Seattle Children's Hospital should contact the Protection, Advocacy and Outreach Program.



Girls were imprisoned in bedrooms for two years: Arizona police

by Jeff Black

An Arizona mother and stepfather were being held on kidnapping and child abuse charges Tuesday for allegedly imprisoning their three girls — who were found malnourished in a filthy home and hadn't bathed in months, police said.

Tucson police said officers responding to a 911 call found two girls, 12 and 13 years old, at a neighbor's house at about 4 a.m. Tuesday. The girls told officers they had escaped their home after their stepdad kicked in the door to their bedroom and attempted to attack them with a knife, police said.

The girls also said, according to police, they had been held prisoners in the bedroom they shared for about two years.

When officers went to the house they discovered their sister, 17, locked in another bedroom, police said.

At a news conference on Tuesday night, Tucson police Capt. Mike Gillooly said all three of the girls were extremely dirty and malnourished and stated they said they had not bathed in several months.

“It was alleged by the little girls that they had been imprisoned in their bedrooms for approximately the last two years,” Gillooly said.

“They were kept in filthy living conditions and alleged only being fed once a day,” said a Tucson police statement.

The stepfather, Fernando Richter, 34, was booked into the Pima County Jail in Tucson on charges of kidnapping, sexual abuse of a minor and physical and emotional child abuse.

The mother, identified as 32-year-old Sophia Richter, is also charged with kidnapping and both physical and emotional child abuse.

The three girls were removed from the home.


McLean, VA

For women once abused by Potomac School teacher Kloman, years of pain and silence

by Justin Jouvenaly -- The Washington Post

The Bee Gees were big and Laura Gill was just 14 the year a teacher at the Potomac School pinned her to the floor of his basement and molested her. Nearly 40 years on, the question she says he asked her is still seared on her mind: Did she like it?

The attack was over quickly, but the betrayal was just beginning. Gill said her parents and another teacher reported Christopher Kloman to the administration of the prestigious school in McLean, Va.

She thought he would be fired, that she'd never see him again. Instead, her parents told her, he was sent to counseling. There he was in the hallway each day as Gill passed, and she felt the eyes of the man some girls dubbed “The Wolf” boring into her.

A woman with a face lightly lined with wrinkles recently took the stand in a Fairfax County courtroom and faced Kloman again, her story finally spilling out. Gill is now 51.

For Gill and other women molested by Kloman in the 1960s and '70s at Potomac, the court case was the start of an extraordinary and public quest for justice after years of pain, anger and silence. Kloman was sentenced in October to 43 years in prison. The five women he was found guilty of abusing, and others who say they were also victims, agreed to be identified in this article.

The women's stories reveal how the abuse they suffered affected their confidence, happiness and sense of belonging, and how the isolation has continued as they progressed through life.

Some of the Potomac victims are in their 50s and 60s. They include an executive director of a nonprofit organization, a nurse and a landscape designer. Some are mothers, who have children around the age as when they were abused. Yet most said they sometimes feel like they are still those girls.

One isolated herself from men for part of her life. Another found herself helpless when faced with fresh abuse. Some attributed serious physical ailments to the stress of the violations they suffered.

“People say it happened so long ago, but it hasn't gone away,” said Anne Sullivan, another victim.

“The abuse is a wound that gets opened and reopened. It happens when you get married and tell your husband about it and when you talk with a friend who has been raped. ... Time doesn't heal all wounds.”

Represented by nationally known attorney Gloria Allred, the women have demanded that Potomac give an accounting of how many girls Kloman, now 74, victimized, what it knew about him and whether it did enough to stop him.

Most say they never told anyone about the abuse, but Gill and another victim said their parents warned the school about him. A Fairfax County prosecutor said in court that Kloman told detectives he was reported to the school and sent to counseling.

Two former headmasters Kloman worked under said they were never told of his abuse. John Kowalik, the head of Potomac since August, said the current administration had no indication that anyone came forward about Kloman but that the school will investigate the women's claims. He apologized on behalf of the school.

“What has happened to these women over the years, I can't comprehend,” Kowalik said. “It deserves our best effort to find out what the school actually knew and when.”

The women say they are determined to force new safeguards for students and show that healing can begin, even after so many years.

“We're hoping with Kloman being sentenced and the school investigation, we can all get out of the victim role,” Gill said. “Instead of using the word victim, use the word survivor.”

‘The Wolf' comes to Potomac

Before he was called “The Wolf,” Kloman targeted his first victim at Potomac. Cricket Beauregard believes she may have been that person, although she was not part of the criminal case against Kloman.

She was in ninth grade at the school, which has long educated the children of Washington's elite. Potomac has counted the children of congressmen, ambassadors and foreign royalty among its students.

The year was 1966, and she said a new geography teacher had quickly established a reputation for cool. He was funny, irreverent and in his 20s. She would see him at school and on the weekends. He became familiar.

“He seemed closer to our age than everyone else,” Beauregard, 62, said of Kloman. “Over the course of the fall, he kept asking, ‘Cricket, what would you love to be doing this year?'”

The answer for Beauregard was downhill skiing and driving — they meant freedom to a girl poised between childhood and adolescence. She said Kloman told her that he had a deal for her: If she cleaned his Georgetown home, he would teach her both.

One time, he met her at his door in a terry-cloth bathrobe. Once inside, he pulled her on top of him and grinded against her, she said. She remembers how calmly he explained it was okay because he also did it with her close friend. And then, she said, he had sex with her.

Potomac had built her into a confident and happy girl, but that girl “started shutting down,” she said.

For Beauregard and the other women, boundaries were erased. Trust in everyone crumbled. Many said they didn't fully comprehend what Kloman was doing to them. They were too young.

“It destroyed my internal compass,” Beauregard said. “I didn't know what was right or wrong anymore. I couldn't make decisions for myself. I was an automaton.”

Beauregard also thought: I must be the only one.

She was wrong. The pattern of molestation played out again and again in the years that followed. Kloman attacked a girl he invited over for a swim. He molested another he called to his classroom and accused of cheating. A third who babysat his daughter made allegations of abuse.

Interviews and court documents show that at least 15 women accused Kloman of abuse over nearly two decades from the mid-'60s to the mid-'80s.

Nearly all of the abuse involved rubbing up against girls.

Kloman's attorney declined to comment, but a prosecutor said during his plea hearing that he told detectives he molested fewer than 10 girls. He also apologized at his sentencing.

Kloman told Fairfax County detectives that Gill reported him to an unnamed school official, Fairfax County Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Katherine Stott said in court. The official then told the bishop of the defendant's Episcopal church, who referred him to a counselor.

Most of the girls chose to cope the only way they knew how: by burying it.

“I developed a public, accomplished self,” said another victim, the Rev. Jane Soyster Gould. “And on the other side, I literally lived terrified that someone would discover the secrets of my life.”

Buried secrets

Throughout the years of abuse, Kloman remained on Potomac's staff and was promoted to an administrative role as head of the upper school. Kowalik said Kloman left the school in 1994 because of “performance and leadership” issues, but he would not elaborate.

He was sent off with a party and a warm dedication at the front of the yearbook.

“He has encouraged and guided the growth of students into young adults, teaching them about the world and themselves and ways to make those two coincide,” the dedication reads. “He has touched all of our lives in a special way.”

But for the women who were abused, Kloman's lessons were very different. One recalled how she was molested on a bus at 14 and did nothing to stop it. Kloman had taught her to be helpless in the face of such violations.

Gould said Kloman taught her to avoid men. She had no male friends in high school and didn't date at all. When she finally married and later had a son, she was struck as the days-old child glanced up at her one night.

“‘I don't know the first thing about boys,'” Gould recalled telling him. “‘We are going to have to learn together.'”

Edie Dillon, who alleged that Kloman abused her when he was caring for her while her parents were on a trip, said she was the first full-time female park ranger in the Northern Cascades of Washington in the 1970s and directed a natural- history center. But when she had children, she gave up an ambitious career because she couldn't bring herself to put them in day care — she said the slim possibility that they might be made vulnerable was too difficult to accept.

Gill said the double violation of Kloman's abuse and her feeling that the school didn't do enough to stop him destroyed her sense of self-worth, a feeling that has been difficult to rebuild.

“Nobody thought that what he did was bad enough to protect me,” Gill said.

She said she drifted into behavior that was self-destructive, which she didn't want to discuss, and later suffered breast cancer and had a hysterectomy. She believes her emotional suffering played into her physical problems, something other survivors of molestation have also reported.

Until her mid-30s, Gill also held herself responsible for the abuse — a notion she was able to dispel only when a therapist suggested that she write a letter to the man who molested her. She added up exactly how much it would cost for therapy and demanded the money.

“I told him he was a monster and he had betrayed me,” Gill said. “I said he was an adult I trusted. He threw that all aside to gratify himself.” She said that Kloman, to her surprise, wrote back apologizing and sent her about $4,000.

After leaving Potomac, Kloman taught briefly at Barnesville School in Dickerson, Md., prosecutors said. School officials did not return a call seeking comment.

In 1995, he moved to the Washington Episcopal School of Bethesda, where he worked for a decade, serving as middle school director and assistant head of school, school officials said. They said they were unaware of any complaints of “inappropriate conduct” during his tenure.

A chance encounter

For the women, many eventually began to deal with the abuse. Attacks that lasted seconds or minutes required years of therapy. Others said loving, patient husbands allowed them to breach the icy distances they had put between themselves and others.

Some learned to use it — that's all they could do. Gould said she decided to work with young people, the poor and immigrants because her experience created an empathy for those prone to abuse.

“Horrible things can open us to transforming ourselves,” Gould said.

But it would take an improbable encounter and a national conversation on sex abuse to fully confront the 40-year-old secret they shared. Sullivan said she was walking down the hallway of her son's school in November 2011 when she stopped short: There was Christopher Kloman.

His hair had gone white, but the man who had abused her so long ago was a substitute teacher at Washington Episcopal School. The girls in her son's school were the same age she was when she first encountered him at Potomac.

“That put me squarely facing my conscience,” said Sullivan, now 57. “I thought, ‘Oh, man. I can't live with myself anymore.'?”

Soon after, charges in the Penn State sex-abuse scandal were filed, and the head of Washington Episcopal sent out a message on a Friday afternoon. If you see sex abuse, it said, say something. The following Monday morning, Sullivan finally did.

The tip prompted a year-long investigation by Fairfax County police. Women who suffered alone with the abuse for years suddenly found each other. They reconnected and shared their stories. It brought them strength.

Kloman was arrested in November 2012, and in August, he pleaded guilty to molesting five former students: Gill, Sullivan, Gould, Kim Shorb and Julia Craighill.

On Oct. 18, the women got up one by one at Kloman's sentencing and detailed the abuse. They gave each other high-fives after their wrenching testimony, hugged one another and burst out laughing when one described Kloman as ugly.

One woman sat in the front row of the courtroom, silently holding up a photo of herself as a young girl.

When Gill took the stand, Kloman kept his eyes lowered, staring at the defendant's table. The old gaze that had transfixed her so long ago was gone. Gill carried on clear and determined.

“I feel like justice is going to be served now,” Gill testified. “I have a voice now.”


Code Adam

from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Code Adam, created in memory of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, is a powerful search tool for lost and potentially abducted children. It is one of the country's largest child safety programs and is currently used in tens of thousands of establishments across the nation.

The program is offered free of charge and is easy to use. When a customer reports a missing child a special Code Adam alert is issued on the premises. For more information, call 1-800-THE-LOST ® (1-800-843-5678) or email

Code Adam decals are posted at the entrances of participating businesses. Employees are trained to take the following steps when Code Adam is activated:

How It Works

1) Obtain a detailed description of the child, including what he or she is wearing.

2) Page "Code Adam." Describe the child's physical features and clothing.

3) Designated employees will immediately stop working, look for the child and monitor front entrances to ensure the child does not leave the premises.

4) Call law enforcement if the child is not found within 10 minutes.

5) If the child is found and appears to have been lost and unharmed, reunite the child with the searching family member.

6) If the child is found accompanied by someone other than a parent or legal guardian, make reasonable efforts to delay their departure without putting the child, staff or visitors at risk. Immediately notify law enforcement and give details about the person accompanying the child.

7) Cancel the Code Adam page after the child is found or law enforcement arrives.

The Code Adam story

On July 27, 1981, 6-year-old Adam Walsh and his mother went to a department store about a mile away from their home to shop for lamps. When they entered the store, Adam saw several children playing video games and asked if he could join them. His mother let him stay while she went to the lamp department, which was about 75 feet away. Because the lamp she wanted was not in stock, she returned in less than 10 minutes, but could not find Adam.

After looking for Adam on her own for two hours, someone finally called the local police department. By the end of that week, thousands of fliers with Adam's photo were distributed in the local area. Sixteen days after Adam disappeared from the store his body was found and identified.

The Code Adam program was named in memory of Adam and is implemented in establishments across the country to help ensure other lost children are recovered safely and quickly.



Center supports families traumatized by child sexual abuse

by Scott Aiken

ST. JOSEPH — The disclosure by Ann's 7-year-old son that he had been sexually abused by a relative came as a devastating shock to her.

Within a short time the Berrien County woman's teenage daughter also revealed that she had been sexually assaulted for years.

The children's father, Ann's ex-husband, was later charged with abusing both, found guilty in a trial and sentenced in December to a long prison term.

“Looking back now, I can see the signs that were there,” Ann said. “It was more devastating because I didn't ask my children a lot of questions.”

Initially afraid and uncertain of the legal process after the sexual assault revelations were made, Ann came to count on support and counseling from the Children's Assessment Center (CAC) of Berrien County.

The center in Royalton Township played an important role during the police investigation, doing forensic interviews with the children to help authorities determine if the sexual assaults had occurred.

Later, the center's therapists provided free counseling to Ann and her children, helping them work through the traumatic events and bring normalcy to their lives.

Ann said she got an important bit of encouragement from a therapist at a terrible moment early in the process — immediately after her son disclosed facts to an interviewer about the sexual abuse he had endured.

“She said someday this won't be the only thing you think about,” Ann said. “This won't dominate.”

“I was thinking there's no way, I'd never get past this.”

But after a few months, with support and counseling, the trauma subsided.

“I thought, OK, we can think about soccer practice,” she said.

And after six months, Ann said, “it wasn't consuming us anymore,”though she feels there's still a way to go.

“They were incredibly kind to me,” she said.

Abuse investigators

The case is one of more than 500 in 2012 in which the CAC interviewed children to determine if they were sexual assault victims.

Operated by the Berrien County Council for Children, the center coordinates the work of police, the prosecutor's office, the Michigan Department of Human Services and others responsible for investigating child sexual abuse.

The facility, a remodeled school along M-139, serves children ages 2-18. The aim is to assist law enforcement while reducing the trauma on children.

Crisis and ongoing counseling are provided to young victims and members of their families who are not abusers. The CAC coordinates case reviews of every child seen at the center. Cases are tracked through an investigation and prosecution until final disposition.

The National Children's Alliance has accredited the center and does periodic reviews.

One of the most important parts of the work is doing forensic interviewing with children who may have been sexually abused. The interviewing technique, which requires training, poses questions in a friendly but unemotional way, one that does not suggest answers.

The interview is one on one and conducted in a pleasant room with decorations appropriate for the child's age.

While the interview takes place, a police officer, prosecutor and DHS employee watch through one-way glass. They can communicate with the interviewer, who wears a small headset, sometimes suggesting a question.

“We're looking for a lot of detail,” said Barbara Welke, recently retired CAC director and a forensic interviewer. “You're not supporting anything but encouraging to give detail.”

Typically, 90 minutes is set aside for the interview. Afterward, the police officer, prosecutor and DHS worker who were present meet with the child's parent.

Children disclose that they were sexually abused in about half of the cases, and the majority of those result in prosecution.

In some cases abuse may have occurred, although a child does not disclose what happened or tells only some of it, not enough information to bring charges.

In other cases, suspicions of abuse are shown to be unfounded, occasionally initiated by a vindictive spouse in the context of divorce or custody proceedings.

The forensic interview process has come into use to replace a problem-prone method that relied on multiple interviews.

Under that system, a child would sometimes be interviewed three or four times as a case proceeded from police to the prosecutor's office and through the court system.

Interviews might take place in a police station or in the home where the suspected perpetrator was nearby. The multiple interviews tended to add to a child's trauma or leave the impression that nobody believed him or her.

In the forensic interview the child is encouraged to do most of the talking.

“It may be the first time an adult has listened to them,” Welke said.

With the police and others watching and listening from another room, all get the same information at the same time, and rarely there is a need for a second interview.

Therapy is another key element of the Council for Children's program, said Brooke Rospierski, a forensic interviewer and therapist. The service may continue for a long period of time.

“There's no fee, no time line, no insurance companies to deal with,” she said, which can relieve some of the family stress.

During 2012, the CAC conducted 526 forensic interviews, up from 476 in 2011 and 463 in 2010. The numbers were 372 in 2009; 330 in 2008; and 338 in 2007.

Therapy sessions also are on the increase. There were 552 in 2012, compared with 398 in 2011; 384 in 2010; 292 in 2009; 244 in 2008; and 326 in 2007.

The center sometimes interviews children who may be victims of physical abuse or neglect.

Child sex abuse victims come from all ethnic groups and economic backgrounds. In 2012 a large percentage of the suspected abusers were parents, stepparents, boyfriends or girlfriends of a parent, other relatives or others known to the victim.

About 26 children's assessment centers operate in Michigan, which means not every county has one. The Berrien County CAC also serves children in Van Buren and Cass counties.

A step forward

Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic said development of the CAC, which opened in a different building in 2002, has meant better outcomes in investigations of child sexual abuse.

But the incidence of such abuse does not seem to be declining.

“I think we're getting better at prosecuting them,” Sepic said. “I don't think it's stopping.”

Accurately determining the number of cases is not possible because so many sexual assaults on children go unreported.

The nonprofit organization Darkness to Light says studies suggest that 10.7 percent to 17.4 percent of girls are sexually abused, while the rate for boys is 3.8 percent to 4.6 percent. The organization's goal is to reduce the incidences of child sexual abuse through awareness and education.

Nationally, about one in 10 children are abused before they turn 18, according to Darkness to Light.

A 2005 study by London, Bruck and Cici found that 60-70 percent of adult survivors of child sexual abuse do not recall ever disclosing to anyone about the abuse when they were children. Of those who did tell as a child, only 10-18 percent remember their cases ever being reported to authorities.

“We only see the tip of the iceberg,” Welke said.

Studies by David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, maintain that one in five girls, and one in 20 boys, have been sexually abused.

Over a one-year period in the U.S., 16 percent of children ages 14-17 had been sexually abused, one of the center's studies shows.

Assistant Berrien County Prosecutor Patricia Ceresa says children who have been abused sometimes come forward to prevent the same thing from happening to a sibling.

In one case, a 13-year-old girl reported how she had been abused only when it seemed to her that a younger sister was about to become a target. A family member was prosecuted, convicted and sent to prison.

A new approach

The Children's Assessment Center of Berrien County went into operation as the result of a committee's work to find better ways to investigate and prosecute child sex abuse cases. The CAC moved into its present building in 2005.

Sepic, who helped get the ball rolling, said changes were sorely needed in the interview process — which was not child-friendly — to help victims.

The committee decided to set up a center using forensic interviewing, a technique which had been around for almost 15 years at the time, Sepic said.

At first, some police officers who had training in victim interviewing were skeptical. Then, the Benton Harbor and Benton Township police departments started using the professional interviewers and liked the results.

From that point on, Sepic said, “it just sort of blossomed.”

A protocol on child sex abuse investigations developed by law enforcement, the Michigan Department of Human Services and the prosecutor's office requires that the CAC interview alleged victims who are under 13.

Lincoln Township Chief of Police Dan Sullivan, who worked as a detective when the center opened, said it has solid support among law enforcement agencies.

“This allows us to have an independent, professional person with no bias in the case, other than concern for the children, to do the interview,” he said. That way, police investigators do not inadvertently cause mistakes that could affect the outcome of a case.

“We don't want to mislead or ask leading questions of children,” Sullivan said. “They are trained to do it. They're trained interviewers.”

Defense lawyers also support the center, Ceresa said, because the forensic interview process reveals cases that are groundless.

“It really filters those out,” she said.

Growing pains

After eight years of operation in its current building, the CAC has run out of room.

“It's getting crowded in there,” said Ceresa, also president of the Council for Children.

The CAC is the council's largest program. The council is an umbrella organization that works to reduce child sexual abuse through prevention, assessment and intervention. Plans are being developed to provide additional space for therapists and to have separate waiting rooms for people whose children are there for interviews and others getting counseling.

The building now being used has one waiting room, and it can be a busy, confusing place. There is no debriefing area for parents waiting for the outcome of a child's interview.

“We tell the parent the worst thing that's ever happened to their kid,” Executive Director Jamie Rossow said, then send them back to the waiting room.

The nine staff members work in tight quarters, cubicles with no locked space for records and other documents. The employees include two interviewers, two therapists, two family advocates and a front-desk, child-care person.

Officials are developing plans for expansion, either an addition to the current building or, if need be, a building somewhere else.

Ceresa said the organization has managed its finances well over the years and should be able to expand.

The center's annual budget is $425,000. In addition to government support, the center receives funding from several foundations and other organizations.

Funding sources are: Crime Victims Services, through the state Victims of Crime Act; the Michigan Department of Human Services; Berrien County prosecutor's office; United Way of Southwest Michigan; Children's Trust Fund; National Children's Alliance; Upton Foundation; Berrien Community Foundation and individual donors.



Botched child abuse cases to be reviewed by next week

by Bob Christie

PHOENIX (AP) -- An Arizona government official says his department will review more than 6,000 unexamined reports of child abuse and neglect by Dec. 2.

The director of the Department of Economic Security, Clarence Carter, also said in a plan submitted Monday night that all reports forwarded to case workers will be investigated by Jan. 31.

Carter sent the plan to members of the Legislature's Child Protective Services oversight committee.

Carter revealed the problems with the botched cases last week and was grilled by members of the oversight committee on Thursday. He told the committee he would deliver the plan by "the close of business" Monday.

Child advocates have said that the debacle in Arizona reflects a common problem nationwide as child protective agencies are burdened with high case loads, lack of funding and dismal resources that force social workers to prioritize calls based on the most egregious reports.

Still, the reports need an initial review to determine whether they are worthy of investigation, said Michael Petit, president of the advocacy group Every Child Matters and former commissioner of Maine's Human Services Department, which oversees child protective services.

"They can't just park them and say we're really busy and put them aside," Petit said Monday.

Carter has identified a number of Child Protective Services staffers who will be assigned to investigate the cases, department spokeswoman Tasya Peterson said earlier Monday. An exact number of staffers hasn't been determined, but Gov. Jan Brewer has approved using overtime for the urgent job.

So far, authorities re-examining the cases have identified at least 125 in which children were later alleged to have been abused. No deaths have been connected to the lapses.

Brewer added 200 new CPS positions in her budget this year to help the agency deal with skyrocketing case loads.

Meanwhile, state police are reviewing how the mistakes occurred. A captain, sergeant and four detectives will have their caseloads reassigned and focus only on the CPS investigation.

The investigation is designed to determine who authorized the cases to be designated as "not investigated" and to review the department's policies. It is administrative in nature, and any findings of potential criminal actions would be handled by another team or agency, Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said.

State law requires that reports phoned into a child abuse hotline be investigated. Yet beginning in November 2009, some cases were closed before being sent to a field office for investigation by a team of specialists trying to clear a backlog, Graves said.

The practice was suspended, briefly renewed the next year, and suspended again.

However, beginning about 20 months ago, a new team designed to help the agency overcome an ongoing backlog revived the practice. More than 5,000 of the 6,000 cases that were not investigated happened since that time.

Law enforcement agents assigned to the agency's child welfare investigations unit discovered the closed cases in recent weeks.

Carter has said cases were pulled before they reached field investigators based on a review by a special team whose goal was to focus field investigators on the most serious cases.

Petit suggested the agency just had too many cases to handle.

"When you've got 6,000 backlogged cases, that's not a function of a lot of people goofing off," he said.

However, Petit added, the problem won't be easy to address without a huge increase in staff at the Arizona agency, and the issue will be compounded as calls keep coming.

"If they're going to do a retroactive on these 6,000 cases," he said, "they're going to have the same problems six months later if they don't address the problem that led to this in the first place."

Some Democrats have called on Carter to resign. But Brewer, a Republican, is standing by him - for now.

"Once we know what happened, then accountability will take place," Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said.



Reporting Child Abuse

by Christine Souders

It's first and foremost a moral obligation, but some adults are required by law, or by their employer to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect.

In light of recent abuse charges by a Dixon drama instructor, CBS 4 News looks into the laws requiring officials: and even you, to report it.

Earlier this month an instructor at Viva Performing Arts School was arrested for 3 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and now there's also charges for two other adults who failed to report it.

The Child Abuse Council said people who report abuse are the state's frontline's to protecting children.

There are three types of reporters in both Iowa and Illinois.

First, mandatory reporters, like teachers, social workers, and police officers who are required by law to immediately report if they suspect abuse.

Secondly, mandated reporters, like the case in Dixon, where some workplaces require their employees call the hotline if they have knowledge of neglect.

Then there's 'permissive reporters', that's the general public who have the moral obligation to protect children who are in harms way.

"When you are going into the field of working with children, you are accepting the possibility that you're going to see some very traumatic things, and you have a responsibility to reach out to try and protect that child," said Angie Kendall with the Child Abuse Council of the Quad Cities.

Kendall also said there's been a huge increase of charges for 'failure to report' since the Penn State scandal.

"That scandal was a great example that if someone opened up years ago, we could have prevented a lot of children from becoming victims, and that's our responsibility, is to protect our children."

The Child Abuse Council said Iowa has stricter laws than Illinois, Iowa mandatory reporters must take a minimum of two hours of classroom training, and be approved by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In Illinois, reporters can get certified online.

"We have to speak up when something happens to protect that child, and future children that person may come in contact with."

To learn about the signs of abuse, just click on this web extra.

However, you don't need evidence, just a suspicion of abuse to report it.

Here are the hotlines:

  • Illinois: 1-800-252-2873

  • Iowa: 1-800-362-2178


United Kingdom

Child-on-child sex abuse revealed in official report

London — Children as young as 12 are carrying out "shocking" sexual violence against other children, according to an official report published on Tuesday.

The Office for the Children's Commissioner for England warned that rape was considered "normal and inevitable" in some areas, particularly among gangs.

Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz highlighted the "sheer levels of sadism" uncovered by the two-year inquiry into child exploitation and gangs.

"We have found shocking and profoundly distressing evidence of sexual assault, including rape, being carried out by young people against other children and young people.

"This is a deep malaise within society from which we must not shirk," she said.

The report found that 2,409 youngsters were known to be victims of child sexual exploitation by gangs and groups while a further 16,500 were deemed to be at risk.

The problem exists in every area of England and is not just confined to deprived, inner city areas, according to the report.

"Our findings are that both gang-involved and group-involved is happening across the piece, all over the country in every type of neighbourhood, rural, urban, deprived, not deprived," added Berelowitz.

Research by Bedfordshire University into sexual violence in gangs suggested that two thirds of young people know of young women who have been pressurised or coerced into sexual activity.

Half of those questioned cited examples of young people offering sex in return for status or protection, while two fifths said they knew of individual cases of rape and over a third gave examples of gang rape.

Another study by London Metropolitan University suggested that young people had confused views of the meaning of "consent", with many believing that sex without consent is not rape if those involved know each other.

"The victim, usually a girl (but boys are victims too) is invariably blamed for their own assault", the study said.

"They should not have gone to visit the boy; should not have worn a tight top; should not have had the drink; have 'done it before' so have no right to say no."

The report said the problems remained "almost entirely invisible" to many professionals working in child care and child protection.


United Kingdom

Children as young as 11 being sexually abused in return for drugs

Some victims are gang raped, with their attackers aged just 12 or 13, researchers behind a two-year investigation found.

And the problem is not confined to the world of inner city gangs but is rife in every corner of the land, it is claimed.

Deputy children's commissioner Sue Berelowitz said: ‘We have found shocking and profoundly distressing evidence of sexual assault, including rape, being carried out by young people against other children and young people. While we have published chilling evidence of this violence in gang-associated contexts, we know, too, that it is more widespread than that.

‘This is a deep malaise within society from which we must not shirk.'

The alarming findings emerge from a Bedfordshire University study for the Office of the Children's Commissioner.

Two-thirds of young people told researchers they knew of young women who were pressured or coerced into sexual activity.

Nearly four in ten said they knew of someone who had exchanged sex for drugs, alcohol or to pay off a debt.

A similar proportion said they knew of rape cases, and more than a third gave examples of gang rapes. However, just one in 12 said they would report sexual abuse.

A second study by London Metropolitan University found that ‘sex without consent where those involved know each other is often not seen as rape'.

Ms Berelowitz said the ‘sheer levels of sadism' were shocking and warned the problem was far reaching and ‘happening across the piece, all over the country, in every type of neighbourhood'.

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said the abuse was abhorrent. He added: ‘Our This is Abuse campaign is also helping teenagers spot abusive behaviour.'



DPW Awards Grants to Organizations Targeting the Prevention of Child Abuse an Neglect

HARRISBURG – The Department of Public Welfare has awarded $1.5 million in grants to 13 organizations with programs for parents and families focused on the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Administered by the department's Office of Child Development and Early Learning, the Children's Trust Fund grants focus on strengthening families, putting protections in place and building resiliency within parents, caregivers and children in order to prevent child abuse and neglect.

“Child abuse is a tragedy, and unfortunately something we are not immune to in the commonwealth. By funding these programs we can provide our communities with the tools needed to create a better future for Pennsylvania's most valuable resource – our children,” said Secretary of Public Welfare Beverly Mackereth.

Selected 2013 grantees will use evidence-based or evidence-informed programs or practices to provide comprehensive support services that will strengthen families and put protections in place to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Since its inception in 1988, Pennsylvania has continued its commitment to keeping children safe by awarding more than $34 million in Children's Trust Fund grants to 275 organizations across the state.

The Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund is funded through revenue generated from a $10 surcharge on all marriage and divorce applications filed in the state.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-692-7462.

Editor's Note : A list of grant recipients is below. The grants cover the period of Nov. 1, 2013, through Oct. 31, 2016.

Cambria County – Beginnings, Inc., $120,000

Philadelphia County – Catholic Social Services, $120,000

Clearfield County – Children's Aid Society in Clearfield, $120,000

Columbia County – Columbia County Family Center, $117,677

Allegheny County – Every Child, Inc., $111,771

Bucks County – Family Services Association of Bucks County, $120,000

Allegheny County – Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, $120,000

Fulton County – Fulton County Partnership, Inc., $120,000

Philadelphia County – Institute for Safe Families, Inc., $120,000

Carbon County – Jim Thorpe Area School District, $120,000

Erie County – Union City Family Support Center, $120,000

Allegheny County – Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, $120,000

York County – Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of York, $71,639



Child abuse survivor now helps kids caught in welfare system

by Kristie VerMulm

OMAHA, Neb. (KTIV) - As she reflects on almost 25 years in broadcasting, people often ask Kristie VerMulm about special interviews that come to mind.

While she has met some amazing people along the way and had the great privilege of telling their stories, she said one particular interview in 2008 left a lasting impression.

She caught up with Clarissa Nielsen five years later, to find out that she has not only survived, but thrived. She's an inspiration to others.

With two beautiful young girls, Clarissa Nielsen is focused on her family. She's making sure they're safe, healthy and happy. Clarissa wants the childhood of her daughters, to be different than hers.

That's because much of Clarissa's childhood was spent in uncertainty and fear.

"Basically, my mom left when I was a baby and she never came back," she said.

And said life with her father was difficult. "Things were not good. They were not safe for me," Nielsen said.

At age 13, Clarissa became a foster child. She bounced from home to home, ten in Iowa before she aged out of the system. At 18 years old she was on her own.

"I don't feel like what happened to me when I was growing up, I don't feel like that was a barrier. I feel like that truly made me stronger."

She found strength from within and support from those around her.

"I had a few good case workers, a lot of great moms, I'm not going to lie, that always gave me that hope and I chose to believe it. And, I really took control and my grades were up. And, I finally just believed in myself and felt like I wasn't worthless or a foster kid," said Nielsen.

We caught up with a then 19-year old Clarissa at Dordt College. She graduated with a double major in Criminal Justice and Social Work in just three years.

She brought her story to Capitol Hill. On the floor of the United States Senate she urged lawmakers to do more to help foster kids like her.

And, as if life wasn't challenging enough at that time, Clarissa did it while battling cancer.

"Cancer was the scariest," she said.

Medulloblastoma, a very rare form of brain cancer in adults, created a golf ball sized tumor. Clarissa underwent surgery and radiation. Doctors also put in a pacemaker for her heart.

"Cancer is something I couldn't control, and I knew that if anything was going to kill me, it would be that," said Clarissa. "When they told me I had cancer and didn't have long to live and there's nothing they could do. I was all this work for nothing!"

What cancer and abuse couldn't do though, is take away her positive attitude. Cancer free for six years she now works with hundreds of abused and neglected kids in Nebraska's Health and Human Services system, as well as those going through Juvenile Courts.

Clarissa said, "As soon as you tell them well I was right where you were and look where I am now, then it's a huge turn of tables. You start getting respect, they ask a lot more questions about how do you make it in life? How do you go to college? What do you do?"

A ray of hope, inspiring young people to find their own voice.

"In most ways I feel like I'm the Child's warrior," she said. "You have control over your destiny, your future. Giving them that control of knowing that it is their control. That's a huge thing. But that's where my life changed, when I knew I had a say. I had control of what was going to happen to me."

Clarissa believes helping young people through troubled times is truly satisfying. She's a motivational speaker and is even writing a book. But, she considers being a wife and mother her most rewarding roles.

"I have a lot of love to give them and that is the best quality I have. I can love them forever and ever, and hold them as long as they let me hold them," she said.

It's her forever family. The one she dreamed of growing up and the one she doesn't take for granted.

"Since I was a little girl I wanted to be a mom. Since I was a teenager I wanted to make a difference in the world and still be a mom. So I feel I've gotten everything I've dreamed of."

Clarissa has since reconciled with her father.

As far as this 25-year old's future, Clarissa isn't ruling out the possibility of politics. However, she working now to have a bigger role and a bigger voice for kids in need.

Her family is about to expand too. Clarissa and her husband Aron are expecting their third child this spring.



Steubenville case: Four more charged, including superintendent, volunteer coach

by Tracy Connor

Four school employees, including the superintendent and an assistant football coach, were indicted by a grand jury investigating a possible coverup in the Steubenville rape case.

The charges were announced Monday by the state's top prosecutor, who decried "blurred, stretched and distorted boundaries of right and wrong" by students and grown-ups alike.

"How do you hold kids accountable if you don't hold the adults accountable?" Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine asked.

Superintendent Michael McVey, 50, was charged with tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice in the aftermath of the incident at the center of the case: the sexual assault of a drunken 16-year-old girl by two high school football players after a booze-fueled party in August 2012.

An assistant coach, Matthew Belardine, 26, was charged with allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business and making a false statement.

Two school employees, strength coach Seth Fluharty, 26, and elementary-school principal Lynnett Gorman, 40, were charged with failure to report child abuse.

The indictment did not contain details of what each person allegedly did.

“What you have is people who were not worried about a victim. They were worried about other things," DeWine said.

"People made bad choices and the grand jury said there are repercussions."

A small city of 19,000 about 40 miles from Pittsburgh, Steubenville and its high-school football team, Big Red, became the center of a firestorm last year after the rape allegations surfaced.

Though charges were brought against two players, activists questioned why more people weren't charged — including other students who sent photos, videos of texts about the assault, or adults who may have known about it but didn't report it.

After Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, were convicted of rape and sentenced to at least a year in juvenile prison in March, a grand jury was convened to determine if anyone else broke any laws.

It met 18 times and heard from 123 witnesses, ultimately issuing six indictments.

Last month, it charged William Rhinaman, 53, the Steubenville schools' technology director, with tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. His 20-year-old daughter, Hannah, was charged with a theft unrelated to the rape case.

On Friday, the grand jury issued the rest of the indictments, which were filed Monday — marking the end of the probe, according to the attorney general.

“Some may ask why others were not indicted,” DeWine said, explaining that a grand jury must find probable cause to charge someone with a crime.

“It is simply not sufficient that person's behavior was reprehensible, disgusting, mean-spirited, or just plain stupid,” he said.

“Barring any new evidence, I believe that the grand jury's work is done.”

The victim's lawyer said he was satisfied with the outcome.

"We're happy that there has been a full and complete investigation," said the attorney, Bob Fitzsimmons. "That they went to the highest level in the school system and filed felony charges does demonstrate to me that they were very thorough."

He said the teen, who testified at Mays and Richmond's trial, is "doing exceptionally well for what she has been through."

"She is in school full-time. She's an honor roll student. She participated in a teen sport this year," Fitzsimmons said. "She still receives counseling and I'm sure she has some low moments in her life but she and the family have done an admirable job."

As he announced the charges, DeWine took particular aim at the role of social media in the case, saying that technology has created "an electronic barrier that divorces us from shame."

But he said the "culture of anything goes" went beyond Facebook and Twitter.

"It's also about the underage drinking and the sex and the lying and the disrespect," he said.

"All too often parents have put on blinders. They allow their kids to have phones and cars and and let them have these parties —and all the while, the lines of appropriate behavior simply get blurred.

"It is up to the adults to intervene. It's up to the adults to change things. It's up to the adults to set boundaries. It's up to the adults to teach the kids right from wrong."

It was unclear if any of those charged Monday have attorneys, and attempts to reach them by phone were unsuccessful. They are due in court Dec. 6.

McVey faces the most serious charges, including two felonies, and could get up to seven years in prison if convicted of all charges. Belardine, who is charged with four misdemeanors, would face a year and nine months in prison if convicted. Fluharty and Gorman would only face up to 30 days.

DeWine said that small city of Steubenville had been traumatized and that many good citizens and student athletes had been unfairly "maligned."

"This community has been torn apart by the actions and decisions not of the many but of the few," he said.

"It's time to let Steubenville move on."



Former carers claim child abuse retreat beset by poor training, self-harm and cult allegations

by Rebecca Baillie

Several former carers have come forward to complain of inadequate training, routine self-harm, and bizarre allegations of a satanic cult.

Heal for Life was founded by the high-profile former TV and movie casting agent Liz Mullinar, and runs programs for children as young as seven years old, as well as teenagers and adults.

Ms Mullinar, along with her husband Rod Phillips, was driven to set up the foundation by her own childhood ordeal.

As an adult she recovered memories of being abused as a child, and in response she sold up everything, and the Hunter Valley retreat became her mission.

Child abuse survivors, from as young as seven years, attend five-day live-in sessions at Heal for Life, and many abuse victims report positive results.

But some of those survivors are then recruited as carers themselves, and - after just six days training - are responsible for looking after others who have been severely traumatised by abuse.

Carers can do more training to become facilitators, and then go on to run "healing weeks", where participants are encouraged to draw pictures to connect with their damaged inner child.

"You are encouraged to take that deeper and go to a place of trauma in your childhood with the child," Dragan Zan Wright, former Heal For Life guest, said.

Self-harm common

Mr Wright is a tertiary qualified psychotherapist, who attended a healing week as a guest and then became a carer and facilitator.

"I just got completely burnt out after a year. I was a wreck when I left that place - absolutely traumatised by the experience," he said.

He says the carer training was inadequate preparation for the job and the only professional psychologist at Heal for Life was part-time and not readily available.

"You need that kind of support. You are dealing with extreme situations - [things] I came across I had never come across as a therapist.

"Extreme self-harm, psychosis, dissociative identity, people who came from a satanic ritual abuse background. I mean that is extreme. I had never come across that."

Kira Timewell was sexually abused as a child, and says her healing week at the retreat was a positive experience.

But she says problems began once she became a volunteer carer after only two-and-a-half days' training.

"I don't believe it's right that I'm in charge of other adolescents or children," she said.

"There were times on the program where another carer for example decided to cut herself and I was the only responsible person there and I had six guests to look after who were all in a really bad place, as well as having this carer cutting herself.

"I don't have first-aid training, I am not a counsellor, I am not a psychiatrist, I am not a psychologist. What I am is a guest, a victim who's learning how to deal with my life."

Jo Wright, a former Heal for Life guest, carer and facilitator between 2006 and 2011, said self-harm was very common.

"Even though it's not encouraged to do it, it is accepted that it is one form of coping mechanism for survivors.

"All carers have first-aid training, but that's it - basic first-aid training. I've cared for several people where I've had to tend to their wounds and as a former self-harmer myself, I've found it very challenging to deal with other people's wounds.

"Because it triggers something within me where I either feel sad or bad about my own harming or I want to do more."

Founder focused on 'satanic abuse'

Former guests have also said that Ms Mullinar has recovered memories of satanic ritual abuse in her own past, and they say she often suggested that others were also victims of satanic abuse.

Harry Callaghan, a former guest, carer and facilitator between 1999 and 2012, went to Heal for Life originally to deal with childhood issues around sexual and physical abuse.

He was sacked early last year after admitting he had had consensual sex with two adult women who had been guests at the retreat.

But after he left, Mr Callaghan claims Ms Mullinar spread rumours that he was involved in a satanic cult, and that he had been sexually abusing women at Heal for Life.

"It was torture for me. I've done lots of silly things in my life and I've owned up to each of them, but this stuff - it's madness," he said.

Two women told 7.30 that Ms Mullinar told them directly that Mr Callaghan was a satanic cult member who had abused them.

Ms Timewell said Ms Mullinar spoke extensively to her about satanic activity in the Hunter Valley.

"[During] my time there, for example, [I was surprised at] the amount of crazy and horrific stories I heard directly from Liz's mouth about cult activities in the Hunter," she said.

"She said to me 'I'm so glad that you now recognise that you have parts implanted in you by Harry and that you've been accessed'."

Di Frost was the education and training coordinator at Heal for Life until she resigned in April this year.

"It's almost like an intense focus on 'the cult'. And I do think there is a bit of paranoia around the cult attacking, so even now me speaking out is because I am being accessed by 'the cult'," she said.

"That will be the reasoning behind anything that is happening that is against Heal For Life."

Ms Frost says there needs to be an investigation into how the foundation is run.

"I think Liz [Mullinar] should probably step aside for a while and just let that happen and let someone look into it," she said.

"And maybe Liz needs some support or something too because really this stuff shouldn't be happening."

Calls for change of leadership

One of Heal for Life's biggest supporters, property developer and champion sailor Graham Oborn, is disgusted by the allegations.

"I feel angry. I want to see a solution to it," he said.

Mr Oborn donated $500,000 in memory of his mother, Eva, who had spent her life caring for children, to fund Eva House, the young women's centre where many of the incidents of self-harm are alleged to have occurred.

"My initial reaction was, do I take my mother's picture down, take her citation, tell Heal for Life not to call it Eva House anymore and to walk off? Or set about trying to rectify the wrongs," he said.

A Heal for Life board member for three years until 2009, Mr Oborn took his and 10 other complaints from former guests and staff to the board in January this year.

"You've got the CEO and the chair of the Board is husband and wife, and one of the board members is the son of the husband and wife. I don't think you can get impartiality in making very, very critical decisions in those circumstances."

Ms Mullinar and Mr Phillips, her husband and chairman of the Heal for Life board, were approached for interviews, but declined.

Mr Phillips instead responded to the allegations in a statement.

"The HFL Board and management have not accused Mr Callaghan of anything," he said in the statement.

"HFL neither accepts nor tolerates self-harm. Guests or volunteers are generally asked to leave a program if they breach the rule against self-harm."

He says a board sub-committee conducted a thorough review of Mr Orbon's complaints and appointed an external health accreditation company "to conduct an independent review of HFL's practices, policies, procedures and staff perceptions. That review was very positive."

"This report does not identify lack of supervision as an issue [and] a counsellor has been employed to better support volunteers," he said in the statement.

While some of the board members have changed since these complaints were raised, Ms Mullinar remains CEO, and her husband remains chairman of the board.

If you or a member of your family need help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.