National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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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

January, 2014 - 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.

Acknowledge That Rape Is Rape and 5 Other Steps to Combat Sexual Violence

by Christine Pelosi

Chair, CA Democratic Party Women's Caucus

President Obama commendably convened a task force to address the rampant rape and sexual assault incidents that are "an affront to our basic decency and humanity. And it's about all of us -- the safety of those we love most: our moms, our wives, our daughters and our sons."

Herewith from my 20 years in advocacy for women and children are my suggestions for the council:

1. Acknowledge That Rape is Rape

One would think this would be obvious -- but one would be wrong.

A minority of people with a grasp on power believes that only a "legitimate" rape results in pregnancy. We know why some conservatives say this -- they want to deny birth control, morning after pills/emergency contraception and abortion options to women, so minimizing the effects of rape means minimizing those women's health options. We heard this from Todd Akin, Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee, who defended Akin then and attacks Democrats now for (falsely) believing that women are "victims of their gender" who need to get contraception from "Uncle Sugar" to control our "libidos."

Just yesterday, when visiting Politics Radio to oppose Mike Huckabee's inane "libido" comments and stand up for the 8 in 10 Americans who support abortion rights in the case of rape or incest, I was immediately twitter trolled by a man accusing me of perpetuating the "rape pregnancy myth."

Oh my. It would be easy to write off Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, Mike Huckabee and the twitter troll if only Ryan wasn't writing a budget to cut off women's health, Huckabee weren't a front-runner for the 2016 Presidential nomination and the "rape pregnancy myth" so pernicious in public discourse.

Thus President Obama's task force must firmly state the science: rape is (still) rape and does in fact cause pregnancy. This means emergency contraception, counseling and rape kits as the universal norm, not the exception, for all rape cases.

2. Understand Why Victims Do Not Come Forward

The legal term is victim (you might alternatively see "complaining witness" on a police report or during jury proceedings when the rapist is the defendant until/unless found guilty). I use both terms "victims" and "survivors" because people often identify as both or as one or the other depending on their own personal path to recovery, and some have told me quite directly that they prefer one term and not the other.

Too often people ignore the other science behind miss-named "sexual violence" -- that sex crimes are actually violent crimes -- crimes of power not sex. But once you fall into the nomenclature, it's easy to then shame the victims or project consent onto unwilling victims. Ask a woman why she won't report a rape and she'll talk victim-blaming, slut shaming and misogyny. Ask a man why he won't report a rape by another man or by a woman and he'll talk about confronting homophobia. Ask a trans* man or woman about failure to report a rape and she or he will talk about confronting intense trans-phobia. Ask a man or woman of color and he or she will talk about the racial discrimination inherent on our criminal justice system, or about the lack of linguistic or cultural resources needed for reporting. Each of these victims will in different ways have to defend their sex life, sexuality or sexual orientation just to report being victimized. With that burden to carry, many simply refuse to come forward.

The Center for Disease Control, in partnership with the Department of Justice, performed the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey and interviewed 6,507 adults (9,086 women and 7,421 men). Some of their findings:

Sexual Violence by Any Perpetrator

Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3 percent) and 1 in 71 men (1.4 percent) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration.

More than half (51.1 percent) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8 percent by an acquaintance; for male victims

Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8 percent) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime; most men who were made to penetrate someone else reported that the perpetrator was either an intimate partner (44.8 percent) or an acquaintance (44.7 percent).

Violence Experienced by Race/ Ethnicity

Approximately 1 in 5 Black (22.0 percent) and White (18.8 percent) non-Hispanic women, and 1 in 7 Hispanic women (14.6 percent) in the United States have experienced rape at some point in their lives. More than one-quarter of women (26.9 percent) who identified as American Indian or as Alaska Native and 1 in 3 women (33.5 percent) who identified as multiracial non-Hispanic reported rape victimization in their lifetime.

One out of 59 White non- Hispanic men (1.7 percent) has experienced rape at some point in his life. Nearly one-third of multiracial non-Hispanic men (31.6 percent) and over one-quarter of Hispanic men (26.2 percent) reported sexual violence other than rape in their lifetimes.

Approximately 1 in 3 multiracial non-Hispanic women (30.6 percent) and 1 in 4 American Indian or Alaska Native women (22.7 percent) reported being stalked during their lifetimes. One in 5 Black non-Hispanic women (19.6 percent), 1 in 6 White non-Hispanic women (16.0 percent), and 1 in 7 Hispanic women (15.2 percent) experienced stalking in their lifetimes.

Approximately 1 in 17 Black non-Hispanic men (6.0 percent), and 1 in 20 White non-Hispanic men (5.1 percent) and Hispanic men (5.1 percent) in the United States experienced stalking in their lifetime.

Approximately 4 out of every 10 women of non-Hispanic Black or American Indian or Alaska Native race/ethnicity (43.7 percent and 46.0 percent, respectively), and 1 in 2 multiracial non-Hispanic women (53.8 percent) have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Nearly half (45.3 percent) of American Indian or Alaska Native men and almost 4 out of every 10 Black and multiracial men (38.6 percent and 39.3 percent, respectively) experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

3. Perform More Rape Kits and Close the Rape Kit Backlog

In my work as a prosecutor and advocate, I know that the easiest way to resolve a case is to use DNC evidence to implicate or exonerate a defendant. A rape kit with the forensic evidence linking a suspect to a crime is often the clearest path to justice, with evidence far stronger than unreliable eyewitness testimony or uncorroborated hearsay. Sadly -- unconscionably -- there are hundreds of thousands of rape kits that linger gathering dust on the shelves of crime labs. Many more rape tests should be administered, and all of them should be tested within 30 days of creation to expedite sexual violence cases.

4. Consider Alternative or Parallel Paths for Victims and Survivors of Campus Assault

Campus reporting is uneven and fraught with peril. Although the Jeanne Clery Act -- officially the "Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act" and Title IX are, respectively, designed to mandate reporting and prevent sexual discrimination, they are not working to prevent and prosecute sexual violence.

Schools don't want the bad publicity inherent in being a campus where kids get raped, and many students on both sides of rape charges prefer a civil proceeding to a criminal one.

Why would victims and survivors want an alternative path for non-criminal punishment? So pernicious is rape culture that many victims and survivors simply do not want to involve the police. In California, young women assaulted on college campuses are actively working with the state legislature on a bill that only provides police reporting with victim or survivor's consent.

I am sympathetic to the argument that having a school hearing in 90 days with a preponderance of the evidence standard to expel an attacker is far easier for a victim than a protracted months' long criminal trial with a higher standard of proof and higher stakes of all involved. I see this as a practical effort to attempt discipline not prosecution, and it certainly spares victims and survivors the time and expense of criminal proceedings. However, my concern is that this merely allows a campus rapist to perpetrate at another campus or setting with no legal indication of his (or her) dangerous behavior.

Alleged perpetrators take issue with this approach as well. Indeed some are suing schools under Title IX, claiming that their equal protection rights are violated under school hearings. While this defense argument ignores the distinction between a Title IX hearing for expulsion and a criminal hearing for conviction, it does highlight the inherent conflict between victims and survivors who want to take a non-prosecution path, and defendants who might prefer that path with its higher burdens of proof since being expelled from college for even a civil proceeding finding of sexual violence is a career-ender.

In the end, I come down on the side of providing both paths to prosecution, and don't see the Title IX violations in a civil disciplinary hearing. Mandatory reporting -- opening a police rape case file -- is perhaps less relevant in California where the Nicole Brown laws allow prior uncharged acts to enter into later trials should the perpetrator re-offend, but more necessary for future victims in other states without such evidentiary procedures.

Health care for the physical and mental effects of sexual violence for victims and survivors services can go a long way toward the healing process -- and the stamina it takes to go through legal proceedings.

5. Teach Children Not To Rape

Colleges are acting in loco parentis -- Latin for "in place of the parent" and should treat all kids on campus as if they were their own. Looking at the shocking number of campus rapes at fraternities, sororities, sports teams and clubs -- all of whom have faculty advisors, coaches or other formal adult supervision -- it is clear that we have failed to teach children -- especially boys -- not to rape.

For the ultimate word on this, I'll quote columnist Zerlina Maxwell, who bravely discussed this on FOX (and was attacked with rape threats but persevered to write up this column and continue fighting rape culture):

1. Teach young men about legal consent 2. Teach young men to see women's humanity, instead of seeing them as sexual objects there for male pleasure 3. Teach young men how to express healthy masculinity 4. Teach young men to believe women who come forward and not to blame the victim and 5. Teach young men about bystander intervention.

6. Support Victims and Survivors

While welcoming people into the discussion, provide a trigger warning so that this discussion does not imperil their healing. Let's begin, then with the contact information for RAINN -- the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network website and hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) Keep it on hand.

A national effort to support victims and survivors wherein we acknowledge that rape is rape, fight the stigma and discrimination inherent in our laws, close the rape kit backlog, offer alternate or parallel paths to justice and teach children not to rape will go a long way toward answering our call to fight sexual violence on campus and in our communities.



Suburban survivors of clergy sex abuse can face lifelong struggle

by Jamie Sotonoff

For nearly 40 years, Carmen Severino hid the fact that she was sexually abused by her family parish's priest between fifth grade and her senior year of high school.

Scared to tell her devout family, fearing they'd side with the church over her, Severino suppressed the memories and soldiered on with her life. She got married and had children. Divorced and remarried. Pursued successful careers as an actress and nutritionist.

Everything seemed fine on the outside, but the psychological wounds festered for decades. When she finally opened up about the abuse nine years ago, it took years of therapy to come to terms with her guilt and shame. Even today, at 59, something as simple as the sight of a priest wearing clerical robes can trigger thoughts of her painful past.

For Severino, of Naperville, and many other survivors of clergy sexual abuse, the trauma they suffered decades ago is something they still deal with in their daily lives. Yet most agree that the best thing they did to heal was to talk about it with someone, either a professional, a trusted friend or a fellow survivor.

"When I first came forward, I was the sinner. I was the shame," she said. "It still is a journey ... but the more it comes out, the better it will be for those suffering in silence. You have to shine the light in the corners of the kitchen to have the cockroaches come out."

Severino was among a handful of suburban survivors who shared their priest sexual abuse stories last week.

Sexual abuse, particularly by someone as respected as a priest, can cause psychological scars that linger for a lifetime, social workers and psychologists say.

Each person deals with it differently. Some are open about it, seek counseling, join support groups like Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and speak out for related causes. Others hide their past, telling only a few trusted people, if anyone. Some survivors lead seemingly happy and healthy lives, relying on a strong support network of friends and family, while others isolate themselves and struggle with depression, addiction, or, in a small percentage of cases, become abusers themselves, the experts say.

Cardinal Francis George views the problem as being one in the church's past.

"Today no priest with even one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor serves in ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago," according to a statement from the archdiocese.

The church has reformed its abuse reporting system, created a group that helps victims heal and "is working hard to regain trust," the statement said. Meanwhile, other educational efforts — things like teaching children the difference between good touch and bad touch — have led to a decline in sex abuse cases in recent years.

But even abuse that happened decades ago can still be difficult for survivors to deal with today.

Severino can't bear to see a priest wearing a cassock, a clerical robe, since her abuser wore one every time he assaulted her.

"I can't even watch Bing Crosby in 'Going My Way,'" Severino said. "I went to a funeral, and there were a lot of priests with cassocks ... and I thought, I can't go in there. So I went in, paid my respects, and walked right out."

Sometimes she'll feel anxious when being intimate with her husband. Other things trigger memories, such as people sneaking up behind her.

"Anyone who's been sexually abused knows that you just don't get over it," said Sue Albrecht, 56, of Midlothian, who was abused by her priest, as was her younger sister, Therese. Their father had been sick, and Albrecht said the priest warned that if she told anyone what was happening, he'd snap his fingers and her dad would die. The two sisters didn't share their secret with each other until they were in their 40s.

Albrecht has dealt with her guilt and shame in therapy, vowing not to let the priest who abused her have power over her life. But her sister isn't faring as well, and lives "with death on her back every day," Albrecht said.

It's not just the abused who suffer. The family members, do, too. Jim and Kathy Laarveld, of Wheeling, were plagued with guilt for not realizing, and thereby preventing, their 10-year-old son's abuse by the priest who they welcomed into their home and trusted. They still have problems trusting and warn parents to be vigilant.

"It's terrible to say, but don't trust anybody," Jim Laarveld said.

Common problems caused by childhood sexual abuse include intense guilt and shame, difficulty trusting people and authority, a lack of self-confidence and problems forming healthy relationships. Experts say victims also might act out sexually, or if the abuse was same-sex, struggle with their sexuality. Many lose their faith in the Catholic church, or God.

"The feelings they felt at age 6 or 8 and 10 are the same feelings they have about it now," said John P. Harris, a Chicago social worker who works with men who have been sexually abused, including several by priests. "They have to sort all that out and recognize that they're not responsible for what happened to them, but it's a very gradual process. You don't turn this around in a short time. There's a lot of processing that needs to take place and a lot of relearning that needs to take place."

How a person deals with the aftermath can vary depending on the child's age when abused, the frequency and intensity of the abuse, whether he or she attempted to speak up, or if the child was ever threatened to keep quiet, Harris said.

"There are so many variables," Harris said. "It will never be to the point where this didn't happen to them, but they can put it into perspective and transcend the guilt and shame, relieve themselves of those burdens and find healthy relationships. That's really the key, I think, focusing on one's relationships. It's central to one's sense of well-being."

A psychologist who helps childhood sexual abuse victims at her practices in Chicago and Winnetka, said the wounds can be deeper if a child confessed the abuse to an adult, and the adult then dismissed the story, saying "you're lying" or "don't talk about it."

"If parents can take steps to help and protect (the child), there's typically a better outcome," Kieffer said. "But if they're told to essentially shut up and be quiet, the thoughts are still present. A child will shut down in a certain way."

Severino stayed shut down for four decades, finally opening up about her abuse in 2005 after reading a newspaper article about a woman who had been abused by the same priest. Suddenly, all the issues she thought she'd "packed neatly in a little box in my mind, and pushed it way, way, way back" bubbled up.

"I just started to cry. I said, 'I feel like there's something wrong with me.' I'm getting all these perverse images in my head. I thought, I must be nuts," she said.

She saw several doctors, leaving one because he overmedicated her, and ended up with a psychologist who helped her work through her issues without drugs.

It was a powerful moment when she went up to the microphone in front of the national media cameras last week and said, "I committed no sin. I have no shame. The sin lies in them."

"Then, when I got home," she said, "I cried."



Child Welfare System Must Work Better to Help Stop Trafficking of Children

by Ima Matul

It is a sad truth that America's most deprived children are also among the most vulnerable to human trafficking. But, I speak from experience when I say how important it is to convert sadness into action if these children are to have any chance at a productive life.

Study after study shows that children already in the child welfare system are significantly more likely to be trafficked into domestic labor or sex slavery. The stories are many, diverse and heartbreaking. We also know that child trafficking victims too often do not receive services to address their unique needs once they enter the system.

Keisha's mother abandoned her as an infant, and she bounced around foster programs throughout her childhood. She suffered sexual abuse at age 7, and, at age 12, was raped and forced into prostitution until age 17, when she was sent to juvenile detention.

Nine-year-old Evelyn left Cameroon on the promise of a better education, but instead was physically and verbally abused, and forced to cook, clean and care for other small children 24 hours a day. She escaped after seven long years with the help from members of her local church. Evelyn bounced around to several foster homes and was told not to tell her foster mother what she had been through, so she received no support to help her recover.

Christina was 12 years old when she first approached a homeless youth drop-in center. She reported that her mentally ill mother's boyfriend was physically abusive to her entire family. The counseling center contacted child welfare, and Christina and all of her siblings were placed in different homes. Feeling unsafe, Christina eventually returned to her mother, where an adult couple “recruited” the teen into prostitution for two years.

The stories go on and on. Clearly, there is a connection — a dangerous intersection where child welfare and human trafficking meet. It only makes sense to try to address the problem through an existing system that frequently encounters trafficked children or those at high risk.

I know the importance of supporting these children, because I am a trafficking survivor myself. I came to America in 1997 at 17 years old, believing I would work as a nanny in Los Angeles. Instead, my trafficker took my passport, physically and verbally abused me, and forced me to work 18 or more hours every day. I did not speak English, and had no money. I was terrified and without options until a neighbor helped me escape, and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking provided help and services that allowed me to rebuild my life.

Keisha, Evelyn, Christina and so many others like them deserve the same chance to live well after surviving the trauma of being trafficked. Since the child welfare system is the best channel through which to deliver much-needed services, we must ensure the system is ready to identify and respond to victims, as well as counsel children at risk.

One important step toward doing that is through legislation already being developed.

Last year, the House and Senate introduced identical legislation that aims to strengthen the child welfare response to trafficking. In the House, Reps. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Tom Marino, R-Pa., introduced HR 1732, which currently has 43 co-sponsors. In the Senate, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., introduced a companion bill, S 1823. I would like to thank them for their efforts and ask other legislators to join them.

The legislation directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and publish guidelines that will help child welfare agencies serve the at-risk populations they encounter. It also amends the Social Security Act to require a state plan that ensures welfare agencies make efforts to identify and document the trafficking victims they encounter. That plan would require the agency to report their findings within 72 hours to appropriate law enforcement. Finally, it amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act so that states would be required to have in place provisions and procedures to help them assess and identify trafficking victims, and provide comprehensive training and services to serve such victims.

I am very pleased the legislation emphasizes providing for two types of trafficking victims — those forced into sex slavery as well as child labor. Each type of victim requires specialized services, and it's important that people are trained to recognize the signs of trafficking.

I understand all too well that child trafficking is a difficult issue — to acknowledge as well as to address. But affected children deserve our courage and commitment, and it will take action to end the great injustices as well as help those who experience them. I ask all members of Congress to stand up and support this legislation.

Ima Matul is the survivor coordinator for the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking.



SNAP leader terms $12.5 million abuse award against Florida Baptist Convention historic

The head of a network for survivors of clergy sex abuse says the local-church autonomy defense used by the Southern Baptist Convention in lawsuits involving Baptist churches may be unraveling.

by Bob Allen

The head of a group that fought for changes in the Catholic Church in light of the pedophile priest scandal termed a $12.5 million judgment against the Florida Baptist Convention historic.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said despite “widespread” child sex crimes by Baptist ministers, relatively few civil lawsuits have been filed against Baptist churches.

That is beginning to change, he said, thanks in part to “brave individuals” like the unidentified man in his 20s who claimed a church planter recruited and resourced by the state convention sexually abused him when he was 13.

In 2012 a Florida jury found the state convention liable for not properly screening church planter Douglas Myers, now in prison in Maryland after serving seven years in Florida. While a criminal background check on Myers showed no prior convictions, members of his previous two churches said he left under suspicion and if asked they would have recommended against hiring him.

On Jan. 18 a second jury ordered the Florida Baptist Convention to pay the victim $12.5 million in damages, one of the largest judgments in Florida and thought to be the first ever against a statewide affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Clohessy, an abuse survivor who testified before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002, said like the Catholic bishops, Baptist officials “have erected strong walls of secrecy, deceit, denial and legal defense to protect their jobs and reputations in clergy sex abuse cases.”

“And just like Catholic bishops, Baptist officials are slowly but surely seeing those walls being demolished by brave victims, smart lawyers, determined prosecutors and compassionate juries,” Clohessy said. “The self-serving claim by Baptists that every church is independent so no one can be held responsible for ignoring or concealing child sex crimes is on its way out.”

Despite having the designation “priests” in their acronym, SNAP claims 15,000 members monitoring abuse in Protestant denominations and even in civic organizations like youth athletics and the Boy Scouts.

In October Clohessy criticized Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson's blanket assertion that Christians should not take internal church disputes to the media. Last May Clohessy shamed Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler for publicly supporting a ministry colleague accused of complicity in a high-profile sexual abuse lawsuit.

Clohessy applauded the young man in Florida for having the courage to come forward and seek justice.

“We believe others who have been sexually assaulted as children by Baptist ministers and rebuffed as adults by Baptist officials will be inspired by this victim's courage and this jury's compassion to come forward, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing,” Clohessy said.

The Florida Baptist Convention is planning to appeal the judgment, and the convention's attorney of record says he remains confident it will be overturned, in part because the 2012 jury agreed that Myers was never an employee of the state convention.


North Carolina

NC tells Union DSS to reopen child abuse checks

MONROE, N.C. — North Carolina officials say Union County's social services department will have to reopen or review a handful of cases of possible child abuse and neglect to make sure workers didn't mishandle them.

The renewed investigation efforts come as part of a state investigation launched after a county child welfare supervisor was charged with handcuffing her foster son to a porch with a dead chicken tied to his neck.

Union County asked the state Division of Social Services to review how local social services workers deal with adoptions, foster care and child protection.

County child protective services supervisor Wanda Larson and her boyfriend have been charged with child abuse. They were arrested in November after a Union County sheriff's deputy found the 11-year-old boy on the porch.



Horror in Philippine online child sex abuse village

In a remote Philippine village, toddlers played oblivious at a nursery as the house next door became part of a horrifying child pornography ring, with live footage of children performing sex acts being streamed online to paedophiles around the world.

The depraved scenes in the bungalow were being repeated in many homes throughout Ibabao, a secluded community on Cebu island where Internet child pornography had for some of its 5,000 residents become more lucrative than fishing or factory work.

"In the beginning I was shocked, I could not believe this was happening in my town," mayor Adelino Sitoy told AFP last week, shortly after police announced they had cracked a global live-streaming paedophile ring in which Ibabao was a key source of the child pornography.

But while the village is currently in the spotlight, authorities and child rights advocates say the fast-growing global industry is infecting many parts of the mostly poor Philippines, with thousands of children having been abused.

At first look the coastal community of Ibabao, 885 kilometres (550 miles) south of Manila, is a typical close-knit rural Philippine village, where many of the long-time residents are relatives or enjoy close and longstanding ties.

In scenes echoed across the devoutly Catholic Philippines, its residents regularly attend masses held in quaint chapels along narrow footpaths and dirt roads.

Parents sell children for online sex

But police and authorities said that behind the closed doors of the tiny wooden and brick homes, many parents directed their children for sex videos in front of webcams connected via the Internet to paying paedophiles overseas.

Other children were lured into the homes of neighbours and forced to perform sex acts in front of webcams, they said.

Sitoy said the trade thrived because children were locked secretly inside homes, as well as Ibabao's remote location and the fact some elected village leaders with relatives involved ignored the crimes.

But some of the videos eventually found their way into the computer files of a known British paedophile two years ago, triggering a global manhunt to track down the perpetrators.

The British man was convicted in March last year and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Shortly afterwards police in the Philippines began carrying out raids in Ibabao and nearby areas with the help of British, Australian and US authorities.

One of the raids saw dozens of Filipino police and social workers break into the bungalow next to the day care centre in September last year, arresting a couple and rescuing their three children, aged three, nine and 11.

Two days later, 13 other children who were being abused in other Ibabao homes were rescued, according to Philippine police.

Residents are generally wary of outsiders but some allowed AFP to interview them on condition of anonymity.

They said "cybersex dens" remained in operation, but security fears and the Filipino tradition of not interfering with a neighbour's affairs helped to ensure that people did not pry further or try to stop it.

Housewife Jennifer Canete, 38, was willing to talk openly about the crimes, confirming many people in the community were involved and that she feared her four young children could become victims.

Canete said one of her children attended the nursery located next to the house where the three children were being abused.

"We were angry that this could happen just near the day care," she said.

"I was also afraid, we didn't know what could happen to our children if they went to school because there were many here who were doing that."

Shadowy outsider introduces child cyberporn

Authorities say they do not know exactly when the trade arrived in Ibabao.

But, according to local social workers, a Filipina woman from outside the community believed to belong to an organised crime group relocated to the village several years ago and introduced locals to the get-rich-quick scheme.

That woman taught residents how to scout for clients in pornographic chat rooms and receive payments through international money transfers, according to the social workers, who did not want to be named for security reasons.

Some operators lured friends of their children into their homes and abused them, threatening to harm their parents if they told anyone, the social workers said.

One parent told AFP a neighbour who had tried to recruit her said clients paid as much as 100 dollars a session, a fortune in a region where the minimum daily wage is the equivalent of about seven dollars.

She said the neighbour justified the trade by saying that no actual physical contact took place.

"I was angry. We were always taught to protect and love our children," the woman said.

"We are not rich, but we are also not poor and desperate. It was an evil thing to do."

Nevertheless, she said that staying silent and steering clear of those involved in the trade was the best thing to do, to avoid any trouble.

In announcing the dismantling of the paedophile network, Britain's National Crime Agency said in mid-January that 11 people had been arrested in the Philippines and 18 elsewhere around the world.

Another 733 suspects were being investigated, the agency added.

Andrey Sawchenko, Philippine head of the Washington-based International Justice Mission (IJM) who helped in the arrests, said 39 children had been rescued in Ibabao and elsewhere in the Philippines.

But this is widely believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, with the British crime agency describing online child sex abuse as a "significant and emerging threat".

"Extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high speed Internet and the existence of a vast and comparatively wealthy overseas customer base has led to organised crime groups exploiting children for financial gain," it said.

Dutch advocate group Terre des Hommes estimates that "tens of thousands" of children are being abused through the cybersex industry just in the Philippines.

Last year, the group created a virtual 10-year-old Filipina girl that was deployed in Internet chat rooms to lure paedophiles.

Over 10 weeks, 20,000 people from 71 countries approached the fake girl asking for sexual performances, according to Terre des Hommes, which passed the details of the paedophiles onto police.



State Takes Aim At Sex Trafficking Of Minors

Nearly 200 reports made to DCF since 2008


The state's child-protection agency has fielded nearly 200 calls on the sex trafficking of minors since 2008, and police, prosecutors, and social workers are now working on a more unified response to an increasingly insidious practice.

The majority of the reports to the state Department of Children and Families involve girls aged 13 to 17. The victims include more than a dozen young boys.

On the heels of new state laws that have toughened penalties against pimps and expanded the definition of sex trafficking, child-protection, law-enforcement, health and school officials have joined forces for the state's first major conference on the sex trafficking of minors. It's set for Wednesday at the Hartford Convention Center.

The co-sponsors along with DCF include Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane, state judges, probate-court administrators, human-service groups, children's' rights advocates, and the Mohegan Tribe.

Last summer, five teenage girls who were working as prostitutes were rescued and one pimp was arrested in Connecticut during an FBI raid that hit 76 cities and towns nationwide. The Connecticut girls were among more than 100 sexually exploited minors rescued in the crackdown over one July weekend.

Three of the girls, aged 15 to 17, were runaways from foster homes or group homes they'd been placed in by DCF – a common occurrence, DCF officials said.

During that crackdown, local police and the FBI had gone to hotels in West Hartford, Berlin, Norwich, Milford and New Haven, where they believed the minors were working as prostitutes.

Earlier this month, Windsor Locks police officers and FBI agents rescued a 16-year-old girl who was being exploited by an area prostitution ring.

The girl was removed from a Motel 6 in Windsor Locks. She received medical attention and was returned to her home out of state, police said.

The prevailing perceptions of sex trafficking might be that it has to look like the Southeast Asian sex trade, or that it necessarily entails smuggling humans across state or national boundaries. But those are misconceptions, says the DCF's Elizabeth Duryea.

There's a shadow world in Connecticut where dozens of juvenile runaway girls have been ensnared by pimps bearing seductive gifts and filling a parental void. Compounding the problem is that the young people, at least at first, often don't consider themselves victims. By the time they do, they have long become the property of the traffickers.

"Domestic minor sex trafficking is a subset of human trafficking,'' said Duryea, a top official in DCF Commissioner Joette Katz's office. "We want to raise public awareness of the problem right here in Connecticut and get underneath some of the misconceptions.''

The mantra in the fight against domestic terrorism – "if you see something, say something'' – applies to the sex trafficking of children.

A hotel clerk or an emergency room nurse are just as likely to encounter evidence of the trafficking of minors in the sex trade as police officers or social workers, said Duryea.

Kane, the chief state's attorney, said the scope of the problem is probably wider than the reports that DCF receives through its hotline.

"I believe this type of activity occurs far more than we realize,'' said Kane. "This is basically sexual assault of minors, but the victims are not inclined to report it or seek the help of police.''

Kane said he hoped next week's conference "will improve communication" among agencies.

"We need to think about ways that law enforcement can be a more significant part of the solution – but it is still just one component of the response."

The Mohegan Tribal Council's participation in the conference flows from the tribe's commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of the community, said spokesman Chuck Bunnell.

"This was an easy one. The Mohegans want to bring awareness to issues that are often uncomfortable to talk about but are critically important,'' said Bunnell.

State laws enacted since 2012 have targeted traffickers who exploit adolescents who are too young to legally consent to sex.

For example, it is now a felony to purchase any type of advertising for a "commercial sex act" involving a person under 18. Patronizing a prostitute under 18, formerly a misdemeanor offense, is now a felony carrying a prison term of up to 10 years.

Also, the state can now move to seize money and property of anyone convicted of third-degree promoting prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation of a minor.

The FBI had notified DCF about the crackdown last summer a few weeks before the raids were conducted, according to William Rivera, DCF's director of multicultural affairs and the co-leader of the agency's human trafficking response team.

Rivera said at the time that DCF was familiar with three of the five girls.

"Kids who get lured into prostitution of this sort are generally children who run away frequently," Rivera told the Courant. "They're not likely to stay with us -- they reconnect with their pimps."



State's sex-trafficking laws hinder prosecution, lawmakers told

by Laura Krantz

The Attorney General's Office on Friday called on lawmakers to broaden the definition of sexual acts under the state's human trafficking law so prosecutors can crack down on prostitution.

As part of a Senate Judiciary Committee discussion of the state's prostitution laws, Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell explained the narrow scope of the 2011 human trafficking statute and the prostitution law, written in 1919.

Committee Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said he arranged the discussion to get an update on whether the current statutes are deficient.

After the testimony, Sears said he asked those who testified to suggest changes in the law. A bill should be ready in about two weeks, he said.

“This is something that I'm glad we uncovered but I don't know what the solution is other than trying to keep in mind who the victim is,” Sears said.

Lawmakers made it clear that they want to protect sex trafficking victims and punish traffickers or the people who buy sex.

Treadwell said the trafficking law addresses several types of forced labor but the definition of “sex act” is limited to sexual intercourse, whether it is oral, anal or vaginal.

“Our suggestion here is to ensure that all varieties of sexual conduct are covered,” Treadwell said, so it will be easier to prosecute those who force women, or men, into prostitution.

He suggested the law's definition of “commercial sex act” be expanded to include masturbation and other so-called “happy endings.”

Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, pointed out that under Vermont law it is legal to sell sexual acts that aren't intercourse.

Survival sex

Officials squirmed a bit at the 8:30 a.m. topic as they tiptoed gingerly around the explicit description of the types of acts covered, or not covered, under the law.

A youth advocate who helps victims of prostitution told the committee that the limited scope of the law often dissuades victims from coming forward. She also told lawmakers the state needs to start collecting data about trafficking in Vermont.

Courtney Gabaree, of H.O.P.E. Works, an anti-sexual-violence organization in Chittenden County, said while massage parlor-type prostitution is a concern, ( what she sees most often is domestic sex trafficking, so-called pimp-controlled prostitution of adults and minors.

In those situations, a man typically persuades a young girl that he is her boyfriend, showers her with gifts, then forces her to have sex with his friends, who pay him, Gabaree said.

“Those are the situations we're hearing about all of the time, and it's particularly happening with minors and young adults,” she said.

She said she works with six to 12 victims every six months.

The women are often controlled with drugs, alcohol or gifts, she said. And they are often scared to come forward, especially because laws are vague about what is a crime.

She also hears about cases of “survival sex,” a gray area that some states consider human trafficking, Gabaree said.

In that type of situation, desperate minors or adult women exchange sex for a place to stay, food, protection or transportation, she said. In that situation, the trafficker and the “john” are the same person.

“They're taking advantage of these youths, they're enticing them and they're forcing them into commercial sex acts,” Gabaree said.

Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, said those situations can get murky if it involves two adults.

“That could be called marriage,” White said.

Obstacles to prosecution

Bennington County State's Attorney Christina Rainville used a recent Bennington massage parlor investigation as an example of how current laws stymied her office's attempt to halt what appeared to be a trafficking operation, she said.

Rainville described her office's fruitless 2013 human trafficking investigation into two massage parlors.

Rainville's office got a call from the FBI that they were investigating spas in Bennington in connection with prostitution in New York City.

Her office secured warrants and raided the Green Spa and Cozy Spa, but the Korean women they found denied being prostitutes and had proper living quarters, food and passports.

Investigators found no records, client lists or cash, or other evidence of human trafficking.

“They're incredibly sophisticated, the people running these spas in Vermont,” Rainville said.

Owners told police they only give “hand jobs” and in Vermont that's legal, Rainville said.

“I went and looked at the statute and I was shocked to see that in fact our definition of prostitution did not cover this so we couldn't charge them,” she said.

Meanwhile it is a risk to allow the spas to continue operating, Rainville said, because they could be trafficking the women who work there. And people in Bennington don't like them, she said.

She said there are about 13 or 14 such spas that offer “happy endings” in Vermont, especially on the New York border because that state broadened its definition of prostitution.

“Right now, it's inadvertently legal and I think that the committee probably should make it illegal,” she said.



Los Angeles

The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $200,000, two-year program to fight child sex trafficking.

“There simply is no matter that is more morally repugnant than the exploitation of children,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

The money will go to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) to help victims. The group developed a custom database, created a free legal network and identified mental health practitioners to help, as part of an existing partnership with county law enforcement.

“The issue affects the entire county,” Ridley-Thomas said.

But the 2nd Supervisorial District, which he represents, has the largest concentration of documented cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children, according to CAST.

The new program will focus on those communities, “taking it to the streets,” Ridley-Thomas said.

The aim is to help victims get their lives back on track.

Advocates can provide victims with “someone by their side at a hospital, night after night, after their trafficker attempted to take their life. They have someone to reach out to at 2 in the morning when they've been left by the side of the road by a purchaser, beaten badly,” said Michelle Guymon of the Probation Department.

Supervisor Don Knabe, who has worked to bring attention to the issue of human trafficking, said, “It's one of those issues that's not easy to talk about.”

Kay Buck, chief executive of CAST, said some criminals and gangs were shifting from drug running to sex trafficking.

“Trafficking of children is more lucrative and less risky than trafficking of drugs,” Buck said. “As human inventory ... they can be used over and over again.”

Minors in Los Angeles have been forced into begging, as household help, on magazine crews and selling drugs, in addition to performing sex acts, according to CAST. Some of the sex slavery involves girls as young as 10.

“As a society, we must ask ourselves, ‘How does an elementary school girl end up in the commercial sex industry in Los Angeles?'” Buck said.

Answering that question requires collaboration between law enforcement, child welfare and community advocates, she told the Board of Supervisors.

Statistics in a recent federal report on human trafficking paint a grim picture of the situation in Los Angeles County, Buck said.

“But it's also an opportunity to be a leader in the fight,” Buck said.

“Los Angeles can be a model county and turn these statistics around.”



Shining the spotlight on Salvation Army abuse


The shocking cover-up by the Salvation Army of the sexual and physical abuse of children at its boys' homes and orphanages will be investigated by the royal commission into child sex abuse starting tomorrow.

Orphans brought up in four of the organisation's 35 homes in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s will give evidence of their brutal treatment as officers and staff were moved around between the homes to hide the abuse.

Care Leavers Australia Network's Leonie Sheedy said yesterday that the organisation's motto should be "Shame on the Salvos" instead of "Thank God for the Salvos''.

"People will be shocked and they need to be shocked," Ms Sheedy, executive officer of CLAN, said. "This was an organisation that the government had said was suitable to look after children who had no one else because of war, death, poverty or their parents for other reasons could not look after them.

"But the boys, now adults, talk about them as hell holes."

The abuse within the Salvation Army's homes has been no secret with a number of inquiries including the Senate's 2004 report Forgotten Australians, exposing harrowing stories of brutal regimented treatment and abuse.

The royal commission will examine what went wrong inside the organisation and with its processes to investigate, discipline, sack and prosecute sex offenders as boys were beaten, bashed and raped.

The spotlight will be turned on four notorious homes - Bexley Boys Home in Sydney, Gill Memorial Home in Goulburn, Riverview Training Farm in Queensland and Akira Salvation Army Home for Boys, also in Queensland.

At ''The Gill", evidence has been given at other inquiries about boys being caned on the penis, forced to clean toilets with their toothbrush and stand outside in cold weather without shoes. There have also been reports of boys being caught by police after running away and not being believed when they told officers about the sex abuse.

At Bexley, boys were known by numbers instead of names and had to strip naked before filing in to shower with other boys as Salvation Army officers watched.

The commission will also look at secret settlement payments to survivors of Salvation Army homes. Like the Catholic Church, the organisation included confidentiality clauses so those involved could not talk about what happened to them.

The royal commission's inquiry into the response of the Salvation Army into sexual abuse at the four homes is scheduled to run for two weeks and will sit in Sydney.


South Carolina

7-week-old girl dies from child abuse, dad charged

by Ashton Pellom

ROCK HILL, SC -- A Rock Hill man is facing homicide by child abuse charges after police say he beat his seven-week-old baby so badly, it died as a result.

Police see a lot of things in their line of work, but a baby violently shaken to death allegedly by its father, is something that has Rock Hill cops working with a heavy heart.

"Everybody left here pretty sad yesterday afternoon," said Rock Hill Police Capt. Mark Bollinger.

Police say 25-year-old Quentin Evans killed his seven-week-old daughter Thursday afternoon at his house on Wright Street.

He was watching the baby while her mother was at work.

Officers were called to the home in reference to an unresponsive baby and they noticed something was wrong immediately.

"The baby had bruising, a broken collar bone, and they found some other internal injuries which I'm not going to address at this time. It was evident and apparent that this baby had been abused," said Capt. Bollinger.

According to arrest warrants, the seven-week-old had several injuries which is consistent with being shaken violently.

"We see a lot of death and injury, but it's always worse with children and even worse with babies," said Capt. Bollinger.

WBTV stopped by the house where the death happened for a comment.

Family members wouldn't talk, but a neighbor did.

"I'm Devastated, just devastated," said neighbor Rawlins Clark.

Clark says he didn't know Evans well, but says the baby's death has been difficult for the neighborhood.

"Anytime an infant passes, it's hard on the family and for a questionable death, that's double hard," he continued.

Police say they don't know what caused Evans to abuse the child.

Evans is being held at the Moss Detention Center in York.

His bond was set at $100,000.


From ICE

Former priest sentenced for possession, distribution of child pornography

DETROIT – A former priest was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison Wednesday for possession and distribution of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Timothy Murray, 63, of Novi, pleaded guilty to one count of distributing child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography in July 2013.

According to court records, Murray used peer-to-peer software to trade child pornography with others, including an undercover HSI special agent. A search warrant executed at Murray's home recovered at least seven different computer devices containing videos and images of child pornography. Murray's collection included more than 650 movies and 450 images of child pornography. Murray had previously served as a Catholic priest within the Archdiocese of Detroit before being removed from public ministry when substantiated allegations of Murray's prior sexual abuse of a young boy came to light.

U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade stated, "The hands-on sexual abuse that led to his removal from public ministry by the Catholic Church had long-lasting effects on the defendant's prior victim. Similarly, the victims depicted in his extensive collection of child pornography suffered greatly not only at the hands of their abusers, but by those, like the defendant, who collect and continue to view the permanent depictions of their abuse."

"For a former priest to engage in the depraved activity for which he is being sentenced is reprehensible," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. "Today's sentencing will hopefully bring a measure of closure to those affected by his actions. Cases like these serve to strengthen HSI's resolve to aggressively pursue child predators."

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator , an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.



POTUS reveals Sex Assault Report: Here are 24 more things to consider

by Diana Winslow

Midday, Wednesday January 22, President Barack Obama held a press conference and signed paperwork to initiate a 90 day task force after revealing a report on findings regarding college age sex assault.

This is his memorandum:

Here is a copy of the PDF explaining the current findings and focus that preceded the memorandum.

Valerie Jarrett, an attorney is the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, the group which is responsible for managing the 90 day discussion working to formulate a plan for this information.

Below is her contact information for social media, and a recent post from her.

Valerie Jarrett ? @vj4420h

Today POTUS signed a Presidential Memorandum creating the WH Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault:

The other three women under her are:

Tina Tchen Attorney , JD
Avra Seigel Master of Public Administration
Sarah Hurwitz, Speech Writer, JD

So top of the list are three attorneys and one public administrator.

It isn't really clear who will be consulted to bring forward additional related information, or if the study is only to focus on the above PDF as the pinnacle information.

Here are some things this writer, a retired professional clinician in mental health and addictions family therapy would like the group to bring forward as part of the discussion.

So here are some problems this writer is aware of:

1.) There is no national standard for report documentation or for the process of investigation of sexual assault of any age person.

2.) The CDC ( Center for Disease Control) , nor the WHO ( The World Health Organization) nor most public health departments are involved in the process of measuring the effectiveness of information collections processes, staff who do this work, outcomes in systems or law enforcement or court outcomes.

3.) Survivors of sex assault do not come forward because often the processes of sex assault reporting and processing are murky, or random.

4.) Victims have an equal chance of being blamed for the assault in most systems of response, either by law or by process.

5.) A recent Philadelphia addictions ( Narcotics Anonymous 60th Anniversary Conference) conference symposium noted that the process of most investigative questioning includes two things.

A.) One is that the entire system of questioning that bypasses knowledge of how a victim CAN think or CAN recall data are employed with regularity. This is counter-intuitive for the victim. This would immediately cause a failed report, because the interviewee could not possibly know that, could not and should not be asked to recall data in a way that requires them to reorder their thinking to match the interviewer's taste or desire, and that automatically skunks the interviewee. People in crisis need to be listened to, and supported to share what they can.

B.) That the investigative interviewer has the option to make up their mind about the interviewee independent of the facts presented, or any bio-psycho-social assessment of the problem at hand, therefore making the interviewer's PERSONAL opinion greater than any fact of a first hand observer. This backdoor approach leads also to the interfering influence of anyone who wishes to interject or subjugate the interviewee to get a desired outcome.

C.) Most systems employing interviewers don't require a professional license that would support ethics in interviewing, respecting the bio-psycho-social aspects of the victim and any other limitations, like intelligence, medical compromise or learning disabilities, mental health or cultural limitations or the interviewee or interview process.

6.) Systems Induced Traumas can be what happens to the person who is the reporting party, (be it the exact victim and or the family who accompanies) them when the process is mishandled and they are victimized once, or repeatedly by poor system management of the problem. Things like repeat interviewing ( which is supposed to be illegal but the victim has to hire an attorney to process this), interference with evidence, reporting or investigations ( again, this is supposed to be illegal, but the victim is expected to hire an attorney to process this). Harassment, instruction to remove, dilute or recant testimony. Problems getting proper aid. Being asked to pay for the assault care. Being refused a rape kit. Rape kits not being processed in a timely manner.

7.) Systems Induced Traumas, if accompanied by a failed or no start for investigation, are then often followed by infinite jeopardy . Indefinite jeopardy is when the victim or family are held responsible for the failed report, investigation or for the whole incident. That is not to say that the victim could never be responsible, but this is surfacing at a rate, when considered with #5 is HIGHLY concerning to most providers and families.

Infinite jeopardy means that there is no protective action, and the perpetrator may even end up in charge of the victim, without the situation ever being assessed. Risk, abuse and death can ensue. This issue is not just for college aged females, but consider how many people may never have reported, or cases failed due to poor processing of complaint. Besides the potential of PTSD, this risk of reverberating acts against the victim,victim blaming, slut shaming, bad parenting, whatever you want to call it can boomerang back again and again. Failed child sex assault investigations cannot be resurrected, and the child may be placed with the perpetrator as primary caregiver. This is happening with increasing frequency.

Oklahoma has a law that #SWTW cautioned against, that a man can rape and impregnate a woman and ultimately gain control over the child. #SarahElizondo case has enough traits for the general public to get the picture.

Supreme Court yesterday, in their first child porn restitution case identified that reimbursement for a survivior is appropriate, but shouldn't be random. That person, who happens to be a woman, is faced life long with people bringing up images over which she had no control. An assault, victimization, re-victimization in a social context and now re-victimization in the court (s)? She is having indefinite jeopardy from the assault, and from the attempt to get justice.

8.) CDC and WHO or public health departments not necessarily involved in development of assessments and investigations or their success.This writer spoke with a higher up with CDC who deals with studies of personal injury stats, documentations and attempts at repairs and he said that he has never had the question of structure of reporting, success of reporting, success of measures and success or effectiveness of investigations come across his desk.Whether an issue of dollars, or purview or interest that this has not been studied is unclear.

9.) But the White House Committee above is focused by attorneys, and women.

10.) Where is the voice of understanding the offender, and what preventions from that aspect might be made of? There has been no mention of resources previously given like Atlanta's Gene Abel MD, who measures and studies extensively sex offenders, discovered and undiscovered. Dr. Abel is a gem, and untapped resource for people who think this problem is of a social more in nature. Getting the facts on the layers that make this really complex and requiring care are pretty important. Even a rudimentary review of this information shows possible reflections Dr. Abel could offer a discussion like this, and plans for reply.

11.) It is easier to report a bad burger and get a clear direct process of response and protections than it is to file a sex assault complaint.

A.) Noone asks the public to get an attorney or to "make sure".

B.) Noone says the consumer could, should be or is charged for introducing the complaint.

C.) Noone says the public has to contact the related public systems ( city, county, state, fed, public and private are often involved in reporting sex assault, with an average of 8-13 groups a victim and family may have to have contact with, not to mention change in staff within the groups)

12.) With a bad burger, there are immediate medical protocols followed. This is uniform, it tracks a variety of data and provides a profile over time, with timely collected samples. Everyone gets this, and everyone cooperates.

13.) Until the US looks at sex assault of any age person as a public health menace, the issue will be lost in culturally looking the other way, morality fluff, legal jargon that protects perps, systems investigations that are murky and in the end perpetuate the problem.

14.) In reality, because measures and processes are so poor ( by mismatch or otherwise), there is an excellent possibility that sex assault numbers are much higher than the public realizes.

15.) If that information is rolled back further to understand that the highest incidence of child sex assault is in the five and under crowd, that changes the discussion some more. IF those numbers too are wrong for the same reason, that would be even more concerning

16.) A national magazine in the last 5 years showed that teen pregnancy Fathers who are teens, are sex abuse victim unidentified. Chris Brown as a third grader was sexually assaulted by a HS Sophomore and didn't seem to know that when he disclosed to national news. Sex education classes reveal healthy development, prevention of pregnancy and STD and reveal possible sex assault for either sex. How many child victims turn out to be adult victims or perps? Or adult victims AND perps.

What else is missing?

17.) Date rape and sex assault and unprotected sex can generate STD active/passable/permanent infections, unwanted pregnancy, internal rips and tears that may go untreated. Sex abuse can cause or exacerbate psychological problems for a lifetime. Untreated any of these can dilute if not destroy a person.

For perpetrators and victims, sex abuse is "the gift that keeps on giving" and it is something noone need experience.

18.) Steubenville and Maryville and thousands of other situations like them happen daily. Date rape drugs.

19.) Social etiquitte is helpful. Looking out for others is helpful. But formal responses must be improved, and a matrix of understanding and expected outcome from the White House Committee on Women and Girls will surely be better if a profoundly broader protective net is thrown.

20.) Why is this not a public health menace all over the world? Why is CDC and WHO and the US Surgeon General not the one called forward to nail this and then pass it to the policy and law writing peoples on this committee?

21.) Extreme gratitude and kudos to Mr. President and company for this progressive request.

Here are a couple of other things for edification.

22.) Hilary and Chelsea Clinton both expressed concerns that Rape Kits have been collected in some states and have never been processed. Rape Kits are the medical evidence collection packet that Emergency Rooms and Sex Assault Centers process to get necessary information following a reported assault.

Wikipedia has some standard info.

RAINN is the sex assault network and so the more direct professsional.

23.) Here is a Jezebel excerpt of the COST of caring for sex assault. Jezebel Rape Treatment Cost

24.) Here is a list of reasons a law enforcement unit did not process rape complaints in their community.

This article is not a professional review of stats and vetted studies. It is a call for attentions to the fact that stats and vetted studies for some unknown reason have not to date appeared to allow professional medical and mental health communities to have a greater hand in developing along with others programs of response that allow our communities and governments to understand just how pervasive sex assault is from day ONE of life ( yes babies are assaulted).

Once this is better understood, perhaps more effective responses will be in place for us all, high risk populations as the focus.


Advocates Against Campus Sexual Assault Encouraged By White House Initiative

Dana Bolger, a recent Amherst College graduate, found out she had an ally in the fight to end sexual assault on campuses nationwide when the White House gave her a call.

President Barack Obama announced a task force Wednesday with the purpose of making recommendations to stop sexual assault on college campuses. Along with the announcement was a report stating women living on a college campus are more likely to be sexually assaulted than anyone else.

"The administration has clearly heard our plea, and I'm hopeful we'll see real change on our campuses as a result," Bolger told The Huffington Post.

She spoke with a White House staff member who mentioned Ed Act Now, a group Bolger works with to push the federal government toward holding schools accountable for the way they respond to rape allegations. The task force has 90 days to come up with recommendations for how schools should respond to reports of sexual violence, add to existing law enforcement efforts and spread awareness.

One statistic the report highlighted was that an average of one in five women on a college campus experiences sexual violence. The task force's members include Education secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Duncan and the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) have fielded several complaints from victims who allege their school did not properly handle their sexual assault claims. The most common types of violations OCR investigates is the Clery Act, a federal law requiring schools to release a campus crime transparency report, and Title IX, the federal gender equality law.

"We have seen progress, including an inspiring wave of student-led activism, and a growing number of students who found the courage to come forward and report attacks," Obama said, of the report, the HP reported. "That's exactly what we want them to do. And we owe all these brave young people an extraordinary debt of gratitude."

Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale Law School student, was one of 16 students to file a complaint against their school in 2011. The school was not penalized too harshly and Brodsky said that is one thing that needs to change.

"The task force is not an end in itself," said Brodsky. "We have not stopped sexual assault because Obama said something on TV, but it is a tremendous step in the right direction."


The Warrior Voice

Lilada Gee spent years hiding in denial until her faith gave voice to her abuse. Now, her culturally specific message of healing for other Black female survivors of long-term sexual abuse is powerful, empowering and so very badly needed.

by Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz

Her earliest years are spotty, like inkblots splattered on what looks like an exquisite picture. But, without warning, shards of memory can slice the canvas at any given moment. The way the hot afternoon sun looked as it cut through the blinds when Lilada Gee woke from her nap that day, a tiny six-year-old girl, lying on top of her abuser's erect penis. The paralyzing, toxic fear creeping through her veins as the venom of responsibility first pierced her. As right then and there, from that moment on, his outrageous crime became her burden to bear.

“Immediately, shame filled me. Fright filled me,” recalls Lilada. “So when he swore me to secrecy, I was good with it. Because I wanted to pretend like it never happened.”

How it happened for Lilada was deeply personal, but what she couldn't know then—and what her abuser counted on—was that it was happening to other little girls like her all over the place. Sexual abuse is not unique to any one particular race, socioeconomic group or cultural background. It's everywhere—one in four American girls and one in six boys are victims. It's pervasive and it's choking and it blooms in silence, multiplying and creeping like a toxic mold in the dark, feeding off the rotting fruit of secrecy. Sexual abuse makes you believe that there is no one else like you out there. No one that feels the way you do, has been where you've been. It tells you you are dirty, that there's something about you that asked for this, that it's your fault. That no one will believe you anyway, if you tell. So you don't. You help keep the awful secret, becoming both hostage and coconspirator, aiding and abetting your own devastating crime.

Or, maybe, you do tell. In a best-case scenario, your abuser is prosecuted and convicted. Your family embraces you and you get some good therapy and you start to believe the truth, that it wasn't you. That there is nothing inherently wrong with you. That you are good and whole and beautiful and strong and that your perpetrator was the sick one. That you're not alone and you never were.

Or, more likely, there are years and years of bruised gray area. Maybe you freeze. Maybe you stuff it down and deny and hide it for so long that it's far too late to collect physical evidence, once you do thaw. Maybe your world explodes into fractious fragments of he-said/she-said, so-what/shut-up wreckage. Maybe you face cross-examination from friends, from law enforcement, from social service agents, from the court system.

Maybe you get up the guts to speak out to a magazine writer. Maybe she believes you, but maybe at the eleventh hour your deeply personal story is stripped down by the publication for fear of litigation. Maybe you feel, once again, the weight of the burden of proof that has always fallen on you, not your abuser. Maybe it's devastating. Maybe it isn't. Maybe you're used to being dismissed by now, as a Black woman in America, which is a whole other story. Or maybe it's this same story, too.


From the outside, Lilada Gee's life looked pretty good, and for the most part it genuinely was. Her mom, once a broke high school dropout and divorced single mother, managed to relocate to Madison, graduate Dean's List at the University of Wisconsin, remarry and raise two babies, who each went on to earn multiple degrees of their own. There was always food to eat, a car to drive, a place to live.

“We always had an abundance of things, and certainly the appearance of a really nice life,” she says. “No one would have ever imagined the depth of child abuse [I was enduring].”

Despite these trappings, Lilada still had a longing inside, a kind of innate loneliness and sadness, and her abuser sniffed it out like a quiet canine. She understands this now because of years of therapy, of medication, of reflection and prayer and tears. But at the time, she only knew there was something missing inside. He knew it, too, and he perverted it. The truth is, little Lilada trusted and cared deeply for her abuser.

“I loved him to death and followed him everywhere and loved being with him,” she says. “But unfortunately, people who are perpetrators, they find that longing and that vulnerability and they tie into that.”

For years—years—Lilada endured unspeakable torment in silence. What the abuser did to her body was bad enough, but what he did to her mind might have been worse.
“I almost wished sometimes he'd beat the hell out of me, but he used his love that I had for him instead,” she says. “He said, ‘If you tell I'll go to jail.' So it just screwed up what love was, what trust was, for me.”

Her escape came in a kind of a roundabout way when, at the age of nine or ten, her kid brain contorted her church's message and she started to believe she was committing a sin. After a year or two of worrying she might be going to hell if she didn't “confess,” she finally approached her mom. She couldn't bear to say it all, so she squeaked this simple sentence out before her throat could close around the words: “He keeps messing with me.”

It'd be nice if everything was instantly better, but of course it wasn't. At first her mother “did everything I would have hoped and imagined she would have done, embraced me, cue the happy music, all that kind of stuff,” says Lilada. But these things are complicated and messy, fraught with missteps and multiple layers. And so she suffered more violations and betrayals as her abuser came back
in and out of her life, over and over for years. He tried to lay his hands on her again but Lilada, now a young adult, had finally earned better tools with which to stand up to him. He never raped her again.

Lilada grew up, married, had two kids of her own, divorced. She earned a UW–Madison bachelor's degree in education, psychology and African American studies, and got work as a Dane County Human Services social worker. In the mid-1990s, she was part of the founding team for the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development with her brother, Dr. Alex Gee, Jr., pastor of Fountain of Life Family Worship Center. The Nehemiah Center's mission is to support and empower Madison's African American community, particularly its marginalized men.

But Lilada, who also became an ordained minister, found herself especially compelled to help its females, those sisters and mothers and daughters she knew were walking in the same painful shoes she'd finally shucked. The more she worked with women like her, the more she knew she needed to confront her own demons.

“I'd ministered to all these women but I was still so broken,” says Lilada. “I didn't even realize how broken I was until I started looking at the pieces of my life.”

One Sunday, she walked up to the pulpit and finally told the congregation what had happened to her as a child. That's when something magical started to happen. That's when the healing became larger than herself. The story became bigger than her own.

“After, women and teen girls just started showing up at my house and sitting in my living room and telling me their stories,” she says. “We'd cry together. We'd pray together. Lilada's Livingroom is an outgrowth of that.”


In 2010, Lilada founded Lilada's Livingroom, a nonprofit providing culturally specific tools to support and empower Black women and children affected by sexual violence. It's a formalization of years of work with the countless teen moms and abuse victims she's ministered to and the professional advocates she's consulted with, on her couch, from her pulpit, on teleconference calls, in speeches and from the pages of her 2006 memoir, I Can't Live Like This Anymore! , in which she goes public with her own story. She's made a deliberate decision to make her work Afrocentric. Part of it is that it's her path—it's what she knows, it's who she is, it's how she can best serve. But part of it is that it's so very badly needed.

“I decided to focus my life work on this issue, to not only do the work but come up with strategies in empowering other people to do this work in a way that reaches our community,” she says. “Because I figure if Black women don't come together to address these issues, no one is.”

Lilada works with women all over the world. She's received awards from both the Investigation Discovery Channel and the National Network to End Domestic Violence. She has traveled to Thailand to work with sex trafficking victims. She's traveled to Skid Row to help women in sexually controlling relationships. She's led cultural competency training for sexual assault advocates all over Wisconsin. But it's her work right here in liberal, progressive Madison that's arguably most critical of all.

“In this state there are about fifty certified sexual assault service provider agencies. Of those fifty agencies, there are absolutely zero sexual assault advocates that are Black and just one Black sexual assault nurse examiner. Examiners are the first people who touch a victim to collect the evidence after she's reported a rape.” says Lilada. “Wisconsin is a progressive leader in domestic violence and sexual assault in the nation. For the field to not be representative of those who need service, in this progressive state, is scandalous.”

Of course, it is possible for well-trained professionals, regardless of cultural ethnicity, to heal and empower sexual abuse victims. The most devastating wounds of sexual abuse are universal. And none of this is to dismiss the vitally important work that Dane County professionals are doing in this town to combat sexual violence.

But it's irresponsible to downplay the effectiveness of being seen and understood by someone who shares your own cultural lens and experience, or the powerful catalyst of self-identification.

That first moment you see someone else stand up and speak out, someone who looks like you, sounds like you, moves like you. Maybe she goes to your church. Maybe she went to your school. Maybe she looks like your sister or your mom or your aunt or your grandma, and it finally hits you like nothing else has. You know it in your bones that you get her and she gets you and there she is, saying, “This happened to me.” And that's when you can finally say, out loud, “Me, too.”

And there's more to it, too, if you're a Black American. If the very fabric of your DNA is woven with hundreds of years of sexual victimization, much of it legalized, no less, even socially acceptable. If hundreds of years of Black men falsely accused and strung up has led you to instinctually protect your own, to keep your family's secrets close and out of the system. If you can't even do something as simple as walk into a store without feeling guilty until proven innocent, how do you know it's safe to lay bare your most brutal secrets to that cop or nurse or social worker? How do you know you don't have to first explain institutional racism to even the most well meaning White person before you can comfortably even speak your name? And why is it even your job to do so, anyway?

“I'm not a scientist, but I believe at some level this has even affected us at a genetic level. To have that many years of stress and trauma and oppression, the chemistry of the body has had to change,” says Lilada. “So when you look at Black women and lack of resources and everybody talking about ‘We treat people the same,' I'm like, bullshit. No you don't. The implication that for some women who need a cultural framework to deal with their sexual victimization, who are not afforded that through any of these state and federally funded organizations, what a disservice. Not just to those women, but to their husbands, to their children, to the community around them.”


Tamara Brown was a twenty-two-year-old newlywed and new mother that day nearly two decades ago, as she sat there rapt on a church pew listening to Lilada Gee testify about her sexual abuse.

Until then, she'd been doing just fine, thank you very much. Her own sexual abuse had happened a long time ago, throughout her elementary school years. She'd since married, had a baby, gone to cosmetology school. Sure, she'd grown tough and quiet, maybe no longer the carefree, outgoing child she once was, but no longer vulnerable, either. The abuse was way back in her rear-view mirror. It certainly didn't affect who she was today.

Except it did, really. She was having a hard time being intimate with her husband, a gentle, patient man she deeply loved. Worse—and she still hasn't shared this part with many people—she was struggling with breastfeeding her baby. It was terrifying. It felt wrong. She had to repeat it over and over in her head as her sweet baby nursed, “This is natural, this is normal.”

Witnessing Lilada's story that day made everything all better and everything so much worse, all at once. Here was this woman standing up before God and everybody, telling her story. And Tamara felt it was her story, too. She wasn't the only one. She wasn't alone. And she didn't have to keep it a secret anymore.

At the same time, all that nauseating grief and shame and confusion and bone-weary fatigue and that searing pain she'd swallowed down for years came burbling up from her gut to her throat, threatening to erupt. Not long after that day, Lilada led an event at church where a few more women shared their sexual abuse experiences, what had happened to them and how they were able to recover. Tamara had never felt so raw. So exposed. She started to feel like she was literally going insane. A few months later, unable to stand it anymore, Tamara drove to Lilada's house.

“And we sat in Lilada's living room,” says Tamara. “And she heard me. She helped me.”

Today Tamara, now married twenty-one years with three children, is the owner of Fringe Salon Spa on the west side. She and Lilada are still close friends and she helps out where she can, both personally and professionally, so that other girls can experience the healing she did.

“As long as my doors are open, I will be supporting Lilada's Livingroom. Because, unfortunately, there has not been an abundance of conversation about sexually abused people,” says Tamara. “It has been difficult to get this information out. I just want to stand behind her and continue to push until it's all fully broken through.”

Tamara wants to be clear: Speaking out didn't fix everything. It wasn't the end of her work; it was just the beginning.

“The good thing is, it gets better and better, every time I do speak out,” says Tamara. “The more that I realize what the reality of things are. And that is that I'm beautiful. I'm safe. I am protected. I'm not alone.”


Thirty-year-old Stephanie Nash is the program coordinator of Madison Empowering Responsibility in Teens, or MERIT, at Kennedy Heights Community Center, and also works at nearby Vera Court Neighborhood Center with the RISEUP high school academic enrichment program. She double majored in social work and religious and philosophical studies at Savannah State University, where she played basketball for the Lady Tigers and was active in her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. Right now she's writing a book titled Pieces of My In-H.E.R. Soul , a memoir and self-help guide to healing, empowerment and restoration and her larger vision and goal is to establish a nonprofit to ensure successful transitions and services for people who've been incarcerated.

It's hard to believe she was once in jail herself.

“I was raging,” she explains, simply. “On the inside.”

When she went away to college in 2001, she'd left behind her mom, who struggled with addiction and was in and out of jail throughout her childhood, and the place where she's been sexually abused as a child. She'd left behind a town where everybody seemed to have two parents in the stands at the basketball games, seemed to have the newest shoes and clothes and things she could never afford. Her experiences made her tough, a star athlete and razor-sharp, driven to succeed, with this crazy idea that if she could just put enough distance between herself and the memories of the abuse, it would all go away. That, well, shit happens. Dust yourself off and keep moving.

But, back when she was an eighth grader in Lilada's Nefertiti girls group at church, something about Lilada compelled Stephanie to confide in her about her own abuse for the first time. Lilada eventually encouraged and was there to support Stephanie when she told her mother, who contacted the authorities—much to Stephanie's dismay.

“She put me in therapy at the same time, and my first therapist was White,” says Stephanie. “I remember I already didn't want to go, and I definitely didn't want to talk to no White lady.”

Stephanie got through that time but became more focused on escaping Madison and never looking back. Today she understands that her unresolved issues of sexual, mental and emotional abuse, rejection and abandonment gave way to anger and rage, which began to burn her alive from the inside out. She found herself, an active honor student, in jail on charges for her role in an auto theft ring in Georgia. After serving six months of a five-year sentence, she got out in 2005 and spent the next few years building a different life for herself. All of which led her back to Madison in the fall of 2010.

“This is where my journey to healing really began,” she says. “I knew that there was a purpose in all the things that I'd experienced in my life and I knew I couldn't continue to run from the pain nor did I want to carry the weight anymore. It was costing me too much.”

That first White therapist, incidentally, has since become one of her good friends. Stephanie says it was people like her, and her high school basketball coach, and her former principal at East High School, the revered Milt McPike, and, of course, Lilada, who helped her see the value in her life and who loved her unconditionally.

“I am grateful to Lilada for being able to channel the depths of me and who I was back then. She understood so many of my feelings and emotions and even my unhealthy behaviors and in turn helped lay the foundation to the journey of my healing,” says Stephanie. “She helped me to love myself, to see myself as beautiful, regardless of what I had experienced that made me feel unlovable and unwanted.”

So that's what she commits to doing for the kids she works with today.

“I see myself in the face of every child I come in contact with and that is what fuels my passion for the work I do with youth.”


Jacquesha McFarlane isn't so sure she wants to talk about her sexual abuse anymore. She will, one on one, if you need her to, if it will help you, but for the most part she just wants to keep it moving. After all, she's thirty-two now, married, a mom and a stepmom to five kids. She's got a liberal arts degree from Madison College, an associate's in business administration from Georgia Perimeter College and a bachelor's in community and nonprofit leadership from UW–Madison. She's got her own consulting business. She's been there and she's done that and she acknowledges the way her sexual abuse devastated her, but she refuses to let it define her.

“I guess I'm just a no-nonsense kind of person because so much nonsense has taken place,” she says. “I've just translated that over into other areas of my life where I don't take no mess. I don't take no stuff. From anybody.”

But Lilada asked and so here she is, speaking out. Because it was such a big deal, all those years ago, to have Lilada's support. To know that she wasn't the only one, that she wasn't alone. Like Stephanie, Jacquesha was a member of Nefertiti as a teenage girl and later ran the Nefertiti program at Wright Middle School as Lilada's assistant.

“We would open up to what had happened in our lives and how we got to where we were,” she says. “Developing that sistership among ourselves to say, ‘hey, we are in this together.' It was always an uplifting and safe environment for us to talk about what happened and it made us feel we could move past it.”

When she does tell you what happened to her, it's brutal. She looks you right in the eye and she says it straight and it's bad, it's really bad. There were some who knew about the abuse, but they thought it was just repeated physical violence, as if that wasn't bad enough. No, it was worse. He did indeed threaten to “punish” her, but what he would actually do was rape her. Rape by a trusted adult, over and over again, from eighth grade through her sophomore year in high school.

“And that was probably the worst beating ever,” she shrugs, quietly.

Jacquesha escaped but was too afraid to tell the truth about what had happened until she was a junior. The police were called but it was too late for physical evidence, and although the system took her seriously, in the end “nothing really ended up coming of it.” But she did have Nefertiti and she did, eventually, talk about it with those girls.

“Once I opened up about it, that's when I learned that there were so many more,” she says. “I think had I experienced more younger people talking about the abuse beforehand, I probably would have opened up about it sooner. I didn't want to be the only one. But once I shared, there were plenty right there in my circle who had been abused.”

That's why she wonders, sometimes, if she should be more forthright. If she's got it in her to keep talking about it, just in case she can help others that still don't know they're not alone.

“I do work a lot with young kids, but they don't know that struggle. They don't know that part of it,” she says. “But what if they did? What might I be helping them through?”


Growing up in Madison has made Lilada “very bicultural,” she says. In her West High graduating class of five hundred, there were maybe eight or nine Black kids. Of the three hundred students in her college lectures, maybe two or three were Black. She'd be hard-pressed to recall any Black teachers. So she really gets these young Black girls today, growing up in a majority white culture that claims to be so progressive yet seems unwilling to address glaring racial disparities.

“Those girls are just so angry, you can just feel the anger and the frustration, you know?” she says. “You don't just wake up one day and you're fifteen and you're mad as hell. These girls are dealing with trauma. That's why they're mad as hell. And nobody's responding to their trauma.”

I imagine it can put a sort of pressure on women like Lilada—professional African American women in Madison—to not only exemplify the triumph over the bullshit, but to educate White girl reporters like me who come calling. When I awkwardly ask Lilada if there are “others” who believe in what she is doing and are willing to take the time to explain for the record why this kind of work is critical, several powerhouse sources immediately line up to throw their support behind Lilada.

Corinda Rainey-Moore is a clinical team manager at Journey Mental Health Center/Fordem Connections Community Support Program. Lilada reached out to her early on to see where their work might intersect.

“One of the things I actually talked with her about was looking at trauma differently, particularly because sometimes with people of color, their exposure to trauma happens on a daily basis,” says Rainey-Moore. “I know this is probably gonna sound a little weird, but sometimes the event itself is traumatic, but sometimes how people respond to your either telling or sharing can be even more traumatic.”

That's why it's so important victims have the ability to choose a healer they identify with whenever possible, says Rainey-Moore. “That doesn't mean that everybody who is a person of color is going to come in and say, ‘I want somebody who looks like me.' But if that's what their preference is, they should have that opportunity.”

Rainey-Moore trains providers on how to work with people of color, how to be culturally competent and meet people where they are. How not to label a victim's reluctance as noncompliant or noncooperative, how to take into consideration that the system may have taught them that their personal information has not always been “used to their best interests.” After all these years of all this work she does sees a positive shift in the number of women of color finally speaking out and she welcomes it, believes it's critical not only to abuse survivors but the community as a whole, White and Black.

“I think Lilada putting herself out there really set the stage for women to be able to heal and people of color to talk about what has happened to them,” says Rainey-Moore. “I'm really feeling proud to be connected to this, what I consider a movement to take back our lives. I consider it to be relevant work. I feel it's needed work, in fact it's long overdue, and I just think that the more we talk about it, the more people will come forward, the more perpetrators won't be allowed to continue. And that
people know that somebody will listen.”

Jacquelyn Hunt also works for Journey Mental Health Center, where she's been a clinical substance abuse counselor for fourteen years. Substance abuse and sexual abuse go hand in hand, of course. Drugs and alcohol are logical solutions when you need to numb out, to self-medicate, to set fire to that trauma. Hunt believes all professionals work with a level of cultural competence, that no matter what race or ethnicity, a professional can help all ethnic groups. But there are still huge barriers to women of color seeking access to mental health services, still a significant group within the community in pain because they don't feel safe opening up.

“African American women have issues with trust and the formal systems that are in place don't necessarily reflect or mimic who they are,” says Hunt. “So they're often pre-judged, and there are stereotypes that are placed on them that aren't placed on other cultures, and so for this reason it is very important to have people who look like them serving them in that capacity.”

Hunt's got another point, too, about the need for Black women helping Black girls, and it's a fascinating one.

“African American girls and women … have mostly been hurt by African American women. Be it in the form of moms who didn't protect them or other significant African American women in their lives with whom society does not agree on their methods of rearing children,” says Hunt. “These women and girls have a missing connection which is critical for them to have in order to form positive images of themselves and to allow for the type of healing and restoration in their lives which is needed.”

Sherry Lucille is a guidance counselor at Memorial High School. She says that even as a “fully intact grown-up woman,” middle class and married and professional, she still sometimes feels that judgment, that fear, that need to prove herself or explain herself to majority culture. And so she can't even imagine how much worse it is if you're young, if you're poor, if you're abused.

“I can see that going into a police station where almost everybody is not like you, or going into the hospital where almost everybody is not like you, and feeling like there's a cultural divide, there's an income divide, there's an educational divide and then there's a race divide. You know, how am I going to be perceived?” says Lucille. “Are people going to really understand that I'm here for help? Are they really going to help me and not maybe somehow trip me up because of something that I've done that is not like how they would do it?”

In the twenty-five years she's worked as a counselor, she's seen a greater interest and sensitivity to issues like these, but she still remains one of the only Black women in her field in Madison. She can feel the way some of her Black students relax in her presence and it makes sense to her, this need, the importance of it.

“I really do feel that Lilada has a pure heart for this and a sincerity and that she just wants to make room, you know?” says Lucille. “Make room for this and have people understand that there is a need. I don't think it should be a strange thing that an African American provider would want to meet that niche.”

Betty Banks is retired now from a career in early childhood development, and she's also the co-founder of the nonprofit Today Not Tomorrow. Although her background is in parenting, she says she's learned a lot from Lilada about the pervasive impact of sexual abuse on families and “fully agrees” with Lilada's Afrocentric approach.

“I think in good parenting practices, there also has to be some attention paid to who we are as African Americans and how what has happened to us does impact our families and the kinds of values that we need to give to our children,” says Banks. “So that they know how to navigate systems that may not always be fair. That are, in fact, racist.”

Banks is supporting Lilada because, as the leader of a nonprofit, she knows how hard it is to get the attention and the focus of community that may or may not understand your mission. Because she thinks she's courageous, and relevant, that her work is vitally important.

“She is smart and she is a warrior,” says Banks. “She's going to stand for what she believes in and there are all kinds of things she's up against but she's willing to do it, and I feel strongly that I need to stand with her.”


It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I think about it. Lilada Gee, willing to expose herself so thoroughly so that other women know they're not alone, even when—especially when—she risks further trauma within a city that, for whatever reason, seems to squirm away from the idea that Madison has a race problem, that America has a rape culture problem. Seven more bold Black women—every single one that I contacted—talking to a perfect stranger about incredibly painful, incredibly complex things, just because Lilada asked them to. None of them had to talk to me. Every one of them said yes.

Their voices rise up together and we pluck all those words from the charged air, gently press them firmly upon these pages. To be shuffled and relaid, edited and fact-checked, scrutinized and, finally, yes, sanitized. With any luck and grace, the power in speaking out remains intact. Maybe things might even change, because the catalyst for the biggest movements can come in what seem at the time to be the tiniest, simplest things. Because for all she has seen and all she has heard, for all the women and girls and all the ground they've covered together, for all the accolades, triumphs and setbacks, for all the thrills and all the pain, nothing in Lilada's life has been more critical than that moment thirty-some-odd years ago when that bruised and muzzled little eleven-year-old girl finally spoke out.

“That day when I was able to tell my mother as much as I was able to tell her, I was able to find my voice again,” she says. “And so much of our strength and our being and our identity and our dignity, all that courage, is in our voice.”

Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz is a frequent contributor to Madison Magazine .

Lilada's Livingroom is launching the Black Woman Heal! Tour this spring to inform, inspire and initiate a healing movement in the Black communities of Wisconsin. For more information, contact or visit . Lilada's Livingroom is located at 655 W. Badger Rd., Madison, WI, 53713.



Center helps victims escape abuse

When Teresa Loffer hid from her husband in her basement with a gun, she realized it was time to make some major changes in her life.

by Josh Arnett

When Teresa Loffer hid from her husband in her basement with a gun, she realized it was time to make some major changes in her life.

Loffer, like many people, had found her way into an abusive relationship. In her case, her husband would physically beat her from time to time and convince her it was her fault.

“The first time, I blew it off,” Loffer said. “I didn't think he was really violent.”

However, as her husband became more controlling, she found herself trapped in a relationship she didn't think she could escape. After being hit with a car, dragged home and kicked with steel-toed boots, Loffer armed herself and hid until she could get out of the house.

“I thought, ‘I'm going to be dead or in jail for the rest of my life. How the hell did I get here?'” Loffer said.

Loffer said getting out wasn't easy, but once she made the decision, she never looked back. Now, she works as a victim advocate for the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Center, helping other people get out of abusive relationships.

The center runs on grants and community donations and helps people recognize patterns of abuse and take steps to end them. It provides a 24-hour crisis hotline, shelter, education and support groups, as well as child visitation and exchange centers.

It also helps people with legal documents, such as protection from abuse or stalking orders, and advocates attend court cases with victims should criminal charges against the abuser arise. Except for child visitation and exchange, all services are free.

Loffer said her role usually begins when a person goes looking for help.

“They usually come to our office or a police station or a hospital,” Loffer said. “Those agencies will contact us.”

Candace Anderson Dixon, the center's executive director, said 144 cases of domestic violence were reported to McPherson law enforcement in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. She said the need is greater than the numbers suggest.

“Only 57 percent of those cases resulted in an arrest, and those were for the instances reported,” Dixon said. “During that time, we provided assistance to 66 percent of those people. There's a bigger need than we're currently receiving.”

Dixon said underreporting of instances of domestic violence or sexual assault keeps people from getting the help they need. She also said while law enforcement officials will provide violence victims with the center's contact information, not everyone will call or come in.

Dixon said those who have advocates will have an easier time taking steps to prevent future abuse. Advocates also can help people fill out protection from abuse or stalking orders, which are 21 pages long.

“People that have contact with an advocate are more likely to look for help,” Dixon said. “Some people aren't aware that they have that option of filing a protection order. Having an experienced advocate to talk to can help them decide if it's the most effective thing to do.”

Loffer said most of the time, she takes a supporting role for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. Often this includes visiting them in the hospital and helping them escape the cycle of abuse.

“The whole purpose of my job is to move them from a victim to survivor and empower them,” Loffer said.

History of abuse

Dixon said many times, abusive relationships are hard to spot. Abuse may have been going on long before the first blows were struck.

“Often you find out there's this whole power and control thing that's been going on,” Dixon said. “When women can talk to someone, an advocate can point out how much control the person has over them.”

Dixon said abuse often begins with one person trying to restrict what the other does, such as not letting them have a job or close friends, and that violence is just an escalation.

“Part of the advocate's job is to help them determine if they can improve the relationship, and if not what their options are,” she said.

Dixon said people shouldn't wait until physical violence occurs. If a person believes their relationship is unhealthy, Dixon said they should seek help early.

Community outreach

Dixon said the center hopes to visit high schools and educate teenagers about what healthy relationships look like, as well as signs of an abusive relationship.

“There's a lot of dating violence among teens,” Dixon said. “It's important to teach them about healthy relationships and how to make good choices.”

Dixon said about 70 percent of the center's funding comes from federal and state grants. The remaining 30 percent comes from organizations like United Way and donations.

“As a local agency, we do rely on local funding,” Dixon said.

Loffer said the center is also in need of volunteers. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old. No prior training is required, but abuse survivors are asked to wait one year before applying to volunteer. A background check also may be necessary.

There are three tiers of volunteers. The first tier includes one-time offers and some on-going positions, including community outreach, office aide, media aide and maintenance.

Tier two volunteers commit to ongoing service. These positions include the board of directors and support groups for adults and children.

Tier three volunteers are trained for direct response to victims of sexual assault or domestic violence in crisis situations. They are on-call from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. and on weekends and receive specialized training totaling 40 hours.

Internships also are available.


Humans Not For Sale: Federal and State Trafficking Legislation

by Theresa Fisher

In 1998, Laura Abasi was a Kenyan-born teenager from Queens who dreamed of a modeling career. As a high school junior, she got college pamphlets from leafy liberal arts schools and worked after school at a nearby market. She also got her first boyfriend, a charming 20-something who courted her with flowers and movie dates. Unfortunately, her trustworthy boyfriend turned out to be a pimp.

By the time Laura's friends marched to pomp and circumstance, she was turning tricks on Manhattan street corners. And by the time Laura fled her violent pimp in 2004, she had 24 prostitution-related arrests on her record. Under New York State law, Laura was a criminal. It didn't matter that she'd been inveigled into “the life” as a teenager, exploited for sex, and treated like property.

Today, however, it does matter.

Sex trafficking is a global, national and local epidemic. As of 2013, according to Havocscope, a resource for Global Black Market Information, there are 20.9 million trafficking victims worldwide. Every hour, 34 people in America are forced into prostitution. And each year, almost 3,000 children in New York State, the country's fourth-largest trafficking hub, get sucked into this version of modern-day slavery. - Since Laura left the life, New York State has created a new legal framework that treats many people charged with prostitution as victims rather than blameworthy criminals. New York criminalized sex trafficking in 2007 in a landmark anti-trafficking law. Simply put, sex trafficking is the exploitation of people for the purposes of sex.

Subsequent anti-trafficking efforts have contributed to the shifting perspective that people who sell sex often deserve protection and social services, not criminal records and confinement. Recent victories include a 2014 law designating all minors engaged in prostitution as victims and a statewide system of specialized prostitution courts implemented last fall.

These achievements offer next generations of Lauras a better chance to leave trafficking with support and without criminal records. State anti-trafficking laws, however, are far from complete. Traffickers target vulnerable populations—young, poor, abused, homeless. A recent Covenant House study found that one in four homeless kids had either been trafficked or believed they'd have to trade sex to survive. To protect susceptible kids—and adults—from sexual exploitation, New York, among other states, must increase penalties for traffickers and johns. And, victims need more access to social services and greater protection from re-traumatizing prosecution to help restart their lives.

The Federal Model:

In 2000, Congress passed the “Trafficking Victims Protection Act,” the country's first comprehensive anti-trafficking law. The TVPA enabled easier prosecution of sex and labor traffickers and provided protective and legal services to victims.

The TVPA modernized the Thirteenth Amendment's framework for slavery. Beyond physical coercion and involuntary solitude, 21st-century traffickers exploit other people through psychological coercion and document withholding, among other tactics.

The TVPA also sparked awareness of trafficking as more than a scourge on developing nations. But federal law enforcement focused mostly on larger trafficking rings and couldn't tackle the growing incidence of smaller-scale, intra-state trafficking.

New York Anti-Trafficking Laws:

In 2007, New York became the first state to pass a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. It criminalized two forms of human trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking, defined as the use of force, fraud or coercion to traffic others for the purposes of sex, or labor or services.

The law characterized some people as trafficking victims, who, under previous laws, would have been prosecuted for prostitution. Victims became eligible for social services including health care, job training, shelter, therapy, immigration assistance, and general protection. The law, though monumental, had big gaps.

The following year, New York passed a Safe Harbor law to address one such gap: criminalizing sexually exploited kids. The anti-trafficking law permitted prosecution and detention of children who couldn't legally consent to sex with adults. The Safe Harbor law classified sexually exploited youth under 15 as victims—entitled to services and protected from criminal charges.

Together, the 2007 law and the Safe Harbor law broke ground, but they didn't match the breadth of the federal law. Assemblyperson Amy Paulin and Senator Andrew Lanza, who co-authored the Safe Harbor law, recognized loopholes and weaknesses they'd need to address in future laws.

For starters, the Safe Harbor law didn't protect 16-and-17-year-old minors, who had to prove coercion to earn trafficking victim status.

Additionally, the Safe Harbor law did not criminalize the act of buying sex from minors. Johns could only get charged with commercial sexual exploitation of children, which carried lower penalties than statutory rape. In many cases, having sex with a child was a worse crime than buying sex from a child. This loophole didn't make sense, and legislators sought to align penalties for trafficking and statutory rape in subsequent legislation.

In 2010, an amendment to the New York Vacating Convictions Law let trafficking victims retroactively vacate prostitution-related arrests, offenses and convictions from their records.

Vacatur “thus provides increased protection and a second chance for survivors of human trafficking to begin living normal lives,” according to The Polaris Project, an anti-trafficking organization.

A work in progress: The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA)

Paulin and Lanza co-authored the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), a bill intended to fix and strengthen the existing anti-trafficking law and address new issues. Unfortunately, the bill failed to pass through the assembly in June 2013. But, one part of the bill became a separate law last month.

On January 10, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill classifying all minors who commit prostitution as PINS (Persons in Need of Supervision).

The Safe Harbor law only recognized 16-and-17-year-old children in prostitution as victims if they proved coercion. The process of proving coercion could re-traumatize sexually exploited kids. Federal trafficking law considers all minors in prostitution victims, so the PINS law aligns state and federal requirements for victim status.

Paulin plans to reintroduce the TVPJA's other provisions soon.

“To that end, I will continue to work this session to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act to increase the accountability of the real criminals,” she said in a press release. “The buyers and traffickers, who continue to fuel the growth of this massive industry that preys on our most vulnerable members of society. Remember, people are not for sale.”

TVPJA pending provisions:

Greater penalties for traffickers and johns: Trafficking would become a violent felony (up from a regular felony), on the basis that sex traffickers subject victims to repeated rape by johns, and rape is a violent crime.

To hold johns more accountable for buying children, the TVPJA creates the offense of “aggravated patronizing a minor,” which would carry equal penalties to statutory rape.

Protecting victims from prosecution: Going further than the 2010 vacatur bill, the TVPJA establishes sex trafficking as an affirmative defense to prostitution. This would eliminate the need for post conviction challenges to clear victims' records.

Prosecuting traffickers' helpers: Traffickers have increasingly relied on livery and town car drivers to transport victims. The TVPJA proposes amending the penal law so the state can prosecute anyone “engaging in the business or enterprise of transporting people to sell them for sex.”

Broadening the definition of trafficking: Because traffickers commonly use ecstasy to impair and control victims, the TVPJA proposes that “providing ecstasy with the intent to impair judgment” constitute trafficking.

Retiring the word prostitute: The use of “prostitute” is the only instance where state law refers to someone by the crime he or she allegedly committed. The TVPJA proposes replacing the word “prostitute” with the phrase “person for prostitution.” Using “prostitute,” according to the TVPJA website, amounts to blatant gender bias and unnecessary stigmatization of trafficking victims.

Trafficking reform in the Court Room:

Chief judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman announced in September 2013 a statewide system of Human Trafficking Intervention Courts. The 11 courts take all prostitution related cases that go past arraignment. Judges, defense attorneys and prosecutors jointly evaluate cases with a focus on providing social services and training programs to reboot victims' lives. This court system is new, but New York's two other specialized court systems, for domestic violence victims and minor drug offenses, have been successful.

Sex Trafficking at the Super Bowl:

All 50 states have some kind of anti-trafficking law. According to the Polaris Project, an anti-human trafficking organization, New York and New Jersey have among the most comprehensive trafficking laws in the country. But the tri-state area criminal justice community is bracing for February 2, when the Super Bowl takes place at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

On average, 77,987 flood the Super Bowl arena on game day – it's easy to blend in, and sex traffickers do. For about five years, various law enforcement entities and anti-trafficking organizations have declared the Super Bowl “the Super Bowl” of American sex trafficking. Though statistics are hard to come by, The Florida Commission Against Human Trafficking estimated that tens of thousands of women and children were trafficked at the 2009 Super Bowl In Tampa.

Elected officials and advocates started planning in October to cut down on game-time trafficking. Acting Attorney General John Hoffman created a task force of law enforcement, advocacy organizations, social workers, and community members. Employees of nearby hospitals and hotels have undergone training to spot victims.

“As with all victims of human trafficking, adolescent girls may display symptoms of Stockholm syndrome,” according to a 2007 Department of Health and Human Services report. “[They] express extreme gratitude over the smallest acts of kindness or mercy (e.g., he does not beat her today), denial over the extent of violence and injury, rooting for her pimp, hyper vigilance regarding his needs, and the perception that anyone trying to persecute him or help her escape is the enemy.”



Kristine Aznavoorian, RN, MS—Working to Heal Sexually Abused Children

Kristine Aznavoorian, RN, MS, had been a practicing pediatric nurse in Boston for about five years when she became aware of the subspecialists known as Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, or pedi-SANEs.

"It fascinated me," Aznavoorian recalls. "These children are looking for certain help, and I really enjoyed that thought of helping them in a very crucial and traumatic time of need."

Now, in addition to her work as a pediatric emergency nurse at Boston Children's Hospital, Aznavoorian also works part-time as a pedi-SANE for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at the Essex County Children's Advocacy Center, where she investigates two or three sexual abuse cases each week.

For pedi-SANEs, there is no such thing as routine. The one constant, though: Dealing first-hand with the young victims of heinous crimes is never easy.

"Every case is different," says Aznavoorian, who has been a pedi-SANE for two years. "Every child deals with a traumatic event a little differently. It depends on the developmental level of the child, how old they are. It plays into how they are going to handle the situation, but it is across the board."

In some cases, if there is an opportunity to gather physical evidence of sexual assault for prosecutors, Aznavoorian asks the victim or their families for permission to perform a physical examination.

"The older the children are, the more they kind of get what is going on exactly," she says. "And depending upon what their unique situation is depends upon if they are going to be open to coming to see me, or if they are open to having an exam done. I never know what kind of child we are going to get and if they are going to be willing to see me or even talk to me."

"I try to go in as if I were with any of my patients, such as when I work as a staff nurse in the emergency room. I go in. I introduce myself. I am as friendly as possible. Children feel afraid if they feel certain vibes from medical professionals so I try to give off an open and friendly vibe. Every child reacts a little differently," Aznavoorian says.

"We try to keep the parents in the room. As the children get a little older and become adolescents then maybe they want a little more privacy and they don't want the parents around. But when they're younger we typically have the parents stay because they know their child well and they know best how to comfort their child," she says. "It takes a lot of patience, especially with younger children. But you work as slowly as possible just to make sure they are not afraid. We have a 'stop' rule. If the child is scared or upset or crying, we stop. We don't force the children to do anything they don't want to do. When it comes to evidence collection and an examination, we just try to do it as efficiently as possible without traumatizing the child any further than they already have been."

It's important work. But it is also stressful.

"The burnout factor is actually a concern within our program. It's tough work. I definitely don't take things home with me. I do my job. I focus on the family and the child," Aznavoorian says. "We have monthly meetings where we share our feelings with the rest of the pedi-SANEs and talk about the struggles that we having doing the job and the work that we do. We rely on each other to talk about the tough days and the good days."

The rewards aren't monetary. The satisfaction comes with knowing you have played a role in helping a child recover from a potentially devastating ordeal.

"The older the children are the more they realize that what happened was wrong or wasn't supposed to happen. They tend to think that as a result something is wrong with their body and that people can tell what happened to them just by looking at them," Aznavoorian says.

"This particularly is true with the adolescent population and the young teens. They think something is wrong with them. It's happened to me on numerous occasions where I examine these children and they look at me and say, 'Really? You can't tell something happened?' I say 'No, I can't tell. Your body is perfectly normal just like every other 11-year-old body would look like.' And they are so excited about that. That is what keeps me doing what I do every day."


Sexual Assault Can Happen to Anyone

by Carol Anne Costa

When we begin to unpack the facts about sexual assault in 2014, did you know?

•  Women and girls are the vast majority of victims: nearly 1 in 5 women – or nearly 22 million – have been raped in their lifetimes.

•  Men and boys, however, are also at risk: 1 in 71 men – or almost 1.6 million – have been raped during their lives.

•  Women of all races are targeted, but some are more vulnerable than others: 33.5% of multiracial women have been raped, as have 27% of American Indian and Alaska Native women, compared to 15% of Hispanic, 22% of Black, and 19% of White women.

•  Most victims know their assailants.

•  The vast majority (nearly 98%) of perpetrators are male.

•  Young people are especially at risk: nearly half of female survivors were raped before they were 18, and over one-quarter of male survivors were raped before they were 10 years old.

•  College students are particularly vulnerable: 1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college.

•  Repeat victimization is common: over a third of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults.

This according to a newly released report entitled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, prepared by the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office of the Vice President. These statistics are staggering, frightening and this report should become an important source of information, but more, a cry for Americans to mobilize. I can tell you personally as a retired Superior Court Clerk that cases of sexual assault were some of the most difficult trials to sit through. The pain, embarrassment and shear terror that lived on the faces of the victims who testified and the agony of family members present in the gallery was palpable. But as a community, state and nation what is a path forward to slash the incidents of assault and how can we better protect and heal the victims.

Who is at Most Risk

The report lays out the most vulnerable populations: teens and young adults, people with disabilities, the incarcerated, the LGBT community, the homeless, undocumented immigrants and particularly college campus communities. As my niece and so many other young people in my life are preparing to make their way to college next year, it sends shivers down my spine. The report research indicates that 1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college. It states further that the dynamics of college life appear to fuel the problem, as many survivors are victims of what's called “incapacitated assault”: they are sexually abused while drunk, under the influence of drugs, passed out, or otherwise incapacitated. Perpetrators often prey on incapacitated women, and sometimes surreptitiously provide their victims with drugs or alcohol. From my perspective, we all have a big stake in this troubling problem. The conversations must begin with a responsible adult talking honestly with our college age kids, providing, not only admonitions but support and education. This process should begin way before they are decorating the dorms. That is why funding our school's resource programs and arming our teachers and guidance counselors is such a valuable cog in the machinery.

As a nation we have faced problems and through education and proactive measures and change has come on issues like smoking and lead paint. More recently the scourge of bullying is being exposed and we are moving collectively to empower our children to fight back and take a stand. We now require a head on collision with rape. In April of 2012 President Obama said, “It is up to all of us to ensure victims of sexual violence are not left to face these trials alone. Too often, survivors suffer in silence, fearing retribution, lack of support, or that the criminal justice system will fail to bring the perpetrator to justice. We must do more to raise awareness about the realities of sexual assault; confront and change insensitive attitudes wherever they persist; enhance training and education in the criminal justice system; and expand access to critical health, legal, and protection services for survivors.” I totally agree Mr. President.

The Numbers Don't Lie

According to the report, the economic costs of a rape include medical and victim services, loss of productivity, decreased quality of life, and law enforcement resources. Each entity surveyed used a slightly different methodology, but all found the costs to be significant: ranging from $87,000 to $240,776 per rape. It makes economic sense to attack this problem with gusto. Take into account some of the other stats revealed and remember every stat is a person and each bears an economic cost but more than that each carries a huge emotional toll:

•  A study found that in the mid-1990s, women with severe disabilities were four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women with no disability. A more recent study made similar findings, reporting that individuals with a disability were three times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than individuals without a disability.

•  People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are also uniquely vulnerable. One study found that 13.2% of bisexual men and 11.6% of gay men were raped in adulthood, compared to 1.6% of heterosexual men.

•  One study found that 13% of homeless women had been raped in the previous year, and half of these women were raped at least twice.

We can only fix this with a plan of action. The White House and Vice President Biden launched the 1is2many initiative in 2012. This is another resource available to educate, motivate and help us all to craft a path forward.

As the news is filled with the politics of traffic jams and traffic tickets, let us not lose sight of this new research. Let us use this report as a call to action and I will keep my eyes trained on Smith Street with the hope that a visionary Legislator or Executive in conjunction with many of our motivated victims' rights advocates will provide more tools in this fight.

Carol Costa is a public relations and community outreach specialist; she has experience in both the public and private sectors. She is the Chairwoman of the Scituate Democratic Town Committee and has extensive community affairs and public relations experience. She previously served in the Rhode Island Judiciary for nearly 17 years. Carol also enjoyed a successful development stint at the Diocese of Providence as Associate Director for Catholic Education and is currently a public housing manager. Her work has been published in several local outlets including GoLocal, Valley Breeze, The Rhode Island Catholic, and Currents Magazine.



Missing girl believed to be heading west

(Picture on site)

The Missouri Highway Patrol has issued an endangered person advisory for a four year old girl.

Troopers are worried because the girl, Cassandra Robertson, needs medical treatment because of an eye infection.

What's even worse is authorities believe she may be with her mother who has a history of suicidal tendencies and substance abuse. They believe the two may headed to New Mexico or Colorado.

Cassandra is described as two feet and six inches tall, 40 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes...wearing a gray zipped shirt with a Hello Kitty logo on it. Her mother is five feet and six inches at 145 pounds with brown hair and green eyes. She was last seen wearing a black shirt and blue jeans.

They may be in a silver 2006 Nissan Quest with Missouri tag FG2D5J. Anyone who sees them is urged to call police. A picture of her is up on our website.



Barack Obama turns spotlight on campus rape

by Nedra Pickler

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama shone a light yesterday on a college sexual-assault epidemic that is often shrouded in secrecy, with victims fearing stigma, police poorly trained to investigate and universities reluctant to disclose the violence.

A White House report highlights a stunning prevalence of rape on college campuses, with 1 in 5 female students assaulted while only 1 in 8 student victims report it.

“No one is more at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted than women at our nation's colleges and universities,” the report by the White House Council on Women and Girls said.

Nearly 22 million American women and 1.6 million men have been raped in their lifetimes, according to the report. It chronicled the devastating effects, including depression, substance abuse and a wide range of physical ailments such as chronic pain and diabetes.

The report said campus sexual assaults are fueled by drinking and drug use that can incapacitate victims, often at student parties at the hands of someone they know.

Perpetrators often are serial offenders. One study cited by the report found that 7 percent of college men admitted to attempting rape, and 63 percent of those men admitted to multiple offenses, averaging six rapes each.

Obama spoke out against the crime as “an affront on our basic decency and humanity.” He then signed a memorandum creating a task force to respond to campus rapes.

Obama said he was speaking out as president and as a father of two daughters, and that men must express outrage to stop the crime.

“We need to encourage young people, men and women, to realize that sexual assault is simply unacceptable,” Obama said. “And they're going to have to summon the bravery to stand up and say so, especially when the social pressure to keep quiet or to go along can be very intense.”

Obama gave the task force, composed of administration officials,

90 days to come up with recommendations for colleges to prevent and respond to the crime, increase public awareness of each school's track record and enhance coordination among federal agencies to hold schools accountable.

Records obtained by the Associated Press include anonymous complaints sent to the Education Department alleging that universities haven't accurately reported crime or appropriately punished assailants as required under federal law.

One former Amherst College student, Angie Epifano, has accused that school of trivializing her report of being raped in a dorm room in 2011 by an acquaintance. She said school counselors questioned whether she was really raped, refused her request to change dorms, discouraged her from pressing charges and had police take her to a psychiatric ward. She left Amherst while her alleged attacker graduated.

The Education Department has investigated and fined several schools for not accurately reporting crimes. Most notable was a 2006 case at Eastern Michigan University, in which the government eventually fined the school a then-record $357,000 for not revealing that a student had been sexual assaulted and murdered in her dorm room.

Violent crime can be underreported on college campuses, advocates say, because of a university's public-image incentive to keep figures low and because crimes can occur off campus and be investigated by local police. Other times, schools put such suspects before a campus court, whose proceedings are secret and not subjected to judicial review.

The White House report calls the criminal-justice response to sexual assault too often inadequate and lays out a goal of increasing arrest, prosecution and conviction rates.

The report blames police bias and a lack of training to investigate and prosecute sex crimes and says the federal government should help police increase DNA testing.



Second accuser in YouTube teacher abuse case talks to police

by Frank Shyong

Riverside police say a second person has come forward to make allegations against an educator who was accused in a YouTube video of molesting a student more than a decade ago.

Police say they are investigating both allegations but would not provide more details.

On Friday, a 28-year-old woman posted a video on YouTube in which she purportedly calls her former teacher and accuses her of molestation. The woman says in the video that the alleged abuse occurred when she was a teenager in Riverside.

The video names the alleged abuser and identifies her as an employee of Alhambra High School.

Alhambra Unified School District Superintendent Laura Tellez-Gagliano said school staff received an email with a link to the video on Friday and immediately reported it to the Alhambra Police Department.

Alhambra police contacted the accuser before referring the complaint to the Riverside Police Department, according to a news release.

Later that day, Tellez-Gagliano said, Alhambra High School's vice principal of student services, Andrea Cardosa, resigned. Officials did not say why Cardosa resigned and did not specifically link her resignation to the video.,0,963533.story#axzz2rDpm78C3


New Jersey

Speakers Shed Light on Human Trafficking


When the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks meet in Super Bowl XLVIII at Met-Life Stadium in East Rutherford on Feb. 2, the metropolitan area will be buzzing with media, celebrities, well-heeled sports fans, gala parties and other events. And just not on game day – there will be a whole week of festivities.

But all this glitz and glamour could come with a bad side, which is why the American Association of University Women has ratcheted up an awareness campaign on human trafficking, where people through the use of force, fraud or coercion become victims of sexual exploitation or forced labor.

“Having the Super Bowl in North Jersey could potentially be a hot spot for human trafficking because there will be so many people coming to the New York-New Jersey (area) and some will be looking for some good times,” said Vilma Applegate, president of the Barnegat Light area of the American Association of University Women.

Applegate and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove (R-Ocean/Atl./Burl.) were speakers at a Jan. 15 program on human trafficking awareness at the Long Beach Island branch of the Ocean County Library in Surf City.

A Long Beach Township resident, Applegate said anyone can be a victim, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, such as runaways or illegal immigrants.

She knows first-hand that people can be randomly abducted. Applegate recalled when she was growing up in the Bronx, a 5-year-old girl was snatched off the street and “was never seen again.” She said someone once tried to lure her son Billy, who was 7 at the time, into a vehicle when they were living in North Jersey.

“He came running up the driveway saying that someone tried to pull him into a van,” she said. “He was able to escape. But unfortunately, not all people can escape, and they're never heard from again.”

Many years later, Applegate recalled, a 17-year-old boy who had come from a broken home took a bus ride out to Los Angeles.

“He went to Hollywood with the offer of a modeling job,” she said. “Within a year, he was dead from AIDS. I don't doubt that he was exploited by human traffickers.”

Applegate said New Jersey launched a special task force and a website ( to educate the public in ways to identify and help victims. It has also established a special 24-hour hotline, 855-363-6548, where victims could seek help. In addition, faith-based organizations, nonprofit groups and law enforcement agencies have joined forces to form the Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Referring to literature from the task force, Applegate cited several red flags that could indicate someone is a victim of human trafficking. She said potential victims typically have someone with them at all times, and the person seems very controlling and tries to speak for the victim. Victims may exhibit signs of physical abuse such as bruises, scars, burns or malnourishment, or show signs of psychological abuse such as severe anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition in which hostages express empathy and sympathy for their captors.

Applegate said people need to understand the mindsets of victims, who may be filled with shame and self-blame.

“Human traffickers reinforce that kind of thinking,” she said. “They'll be told that nobody will believe them, and they use threats of violence to keep them under their total control. These people are in a constant state of fear and obedience because they are told they may face beatings, torture and rape if they try to get away.”

Applegate recalled how Americans last year were horrified to learn of three women who had escaped from a house in Cleveland where they were held captive for nearly 10 years, and lived in “absolutely horrific” conditions. They were often restrained with chains and padlocks. The main suspect in the case, Ariel Castro, had a child with one of the women and physically forced another to end two pregnancies. Castro later committed suicide in prison.

“People often wondered why these women did not escape earlier and stayed so long,” she said. “They were probably brainwashed and lived under constant threats.”

She said hospitality professionals should be wary of an individual who is checking in with multiple young guests, does not have luggage, and leaves the hotel or motel. Within the group of guests checking in, there may be one who appears very controlling over the rest of the group and will not let others in the group speak.

Last month, Applegate made a presentation to the Long Beach Township Board of Commissioners, and as a result, officials adopted a resolution that proclaimed Jan. 11 as “Human Trafficking Awareness Day.”

In the resolution, it is noted that the United Nations International Labor Organization has estimated that at least 12.3 million adults and children worldwide are currently in forced labor, bonded labor or forced prostitution.

“It is estimated that more people are now harmed by human trafficking worldwide than have been at any other point in human history,” the resolution sys. “Approximately 80 percent of the victims are women and girls and 50 percent are younger than age 18.”

The township also recognized that New Jersey is a “prime location for human trafficking because it is a major national and international transportation corridor and a culturally diverse state.”

“The township commends the work of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking for its statewide efforts to end human trafficking through education, advocacy and assistance for survivors and to increase coordination and visibility of New Jersey's commitment to ending human trafficking.”

The resolution pleased Gove, a former township commissioner and mayor. She said that in May, New Jersey passed a law that will aid the apprehension and conviction of people caught engaging in this crime, which carries a 20-year state prison sentence. Key components of the legislation include establishing the crime of knowingly assisting in a human trafficking crime and enhancing the penalty for conspiracy of committing such a crime.

“Additionally, the Human Trafficking Assistance Fund and Prositution Offender Program were established,” she said. “A procedure was established to vacate and expunge a criminal conviction for prostitution and related offenses due to being a human trafficking victim. Human trafficking was also made a bail-restricted crime.”

She said prostitution victims have been as young as 9 years old.

“Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery that you will often hear experts warn is a hidden crime in our society,” said Gove. “To counter this alarming increase, the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force has prioritized and dedicated tremendous resources to educating the public to identify the signs of human trafficking. The federal government estimates that between 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the United States each year, with 50 percent of those victims being children.”

But countless others are being trafficked within state borders. She said all over the country, hotels and other hospitality establishments have placed hotline numbers on amenities located in women's restrooms.

“The number could be inside a lipstick vial by the sink or on the covering of a bar of soap,” said Gove. “Someone could open it with a message saying that if you are a victim of human trafficking, call this number. Putting it in a ladies room is a good place because if a girl is a victim, the man who is using her won't go in there. It might be her best chance to get away.”

At the end of the program, AAUW member Gerry Perko played a song, “Burn Bright” by Natalie Grant. The Christian music recording artist often uses her concerts to spread awareness of human trafficking

Lyrics include,

There will always be somebody in the dark

Ready to rain down on your last spark

Try to blow out your flame again

They will do it if you let them

Oh, so don't you let them.

“It's great that a singer like her is getting the message out,” said Applegate. “She talks about how slavery still exists today, and she is right.”



New legal help for juvenile sex and labor trafficking victims


According to the Washington D.C. organization Free the Slaves, 21 to 30 million people around the world today are living in slavery, victims of human trafficking, which generates an estimated $32 billion for traffickers each year.

Ohio is ranked number four in the nation by STOP (Stop Trafficking of Persons) for arrests of traffickers and the rescue of victims, many who are under 18. In fact, a report by the Ohio Attorney General's office found that age 13 is when most youth in Ohio become child sex trafficking victims.

In 2011 Attorney General Mike DeWine reconvened the Human Trafficking Commission. The commission worked in conjunction with Ohio House Representative and Human Trafficking Commission member Teresa Fedor to help pass House Bill 262, known as the Safe Harbor Law. Fedor sponsored the law, which increases penalties for traffickers and improves care for victims. Still for many of these young people their nightmares don't end upon being rescued. In addition to the emotional and physical trauma, many face legal problems.

Last summer, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law received a four-year grant from the Greif Packaging Charitable Trust to finance a legal fellowship dedicated to helping juveniles who are survivors of sex or labor trafficking.

“Getting legal help for trafficking survivors is essential to restoration,” said Nikki Trautman Baszynski, greif fellow in juvenile human trafficking at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. “In addition to resources like shelter, food and clothing, survivors might also need immigration help, an order of protection, assistance getting custody of a child or returning to school.”

The program is housed in the school's Justice for Children Clinic and is overseen by Kimberly Jordan, director of the Justice for Children Project. “These survivors can be difficult to find and our hope is to provide legal assistance to help free them permanently from their abusers,” said Jordan.

Trautman Baszynski is the first fellow and a graduate of the law school, which is a requirement for anyone interested in applying for fellowship. She has been charged with establishing referral processes with law enforcement, nonprofit organizations and state agencies, raising awareness about the new legal resources available and providing advice and representation to clients who need it.

“With this being the first year for the fellowship, my time is balanced between increasing our effectiveness in identifying clients and then representing them,” said Trautman Baszynski. “I have about 10 clients right now, but we know there are many more survivors out there who could use this help,” she said. “We are based in central Ohio, and for right now, have the capacity to take on clients throughout the state.”

Although a person must be under 18 to qualify for services, once accepted into the program, the individual can continue to receive help as an adult. Additionally, the fellowship will provide services to individuals needing immigration help if they are under 21 and adults who have juvenile warrants or pending juvenile delinquency cases.

While juvenile trafficking exists throughout the state, Toledo is a major hub, ranking fourth in the nation in the number of arrests in connection with the youth sex trade, according to STOP. The organization says one of the main reasons seems to be its highway system, which provides numerous connection points to sell and purchase “sex slaves.”

Trautman Baszynski said one common misconception is that the majority of these victims are kidnapped off the street.

“There is no average victim or survivor when it comes to these crimes,” she said. “Sex trafficking is present across income levels, ethnicities, genders and locations. Some high-risk groups, however, are kids who were previously abused, kicked out of their homes, have a history in foster care or juvenile detention or are homeless.

“Traffickers are clever; they know who to target,” said Trautman Baszynski. “In sex trafficking, they often begin by grooming their victims as girlfriends. They'll treat them well, develop relationships, and then they will start selling them.” Traffickers will use to sell younger girls, with meetings often taking place in hotels, she said. Fortunately, she added, undercover officers sometimes show up instead.

“As time goes on, the trafficker may withhold food, clothing, or other needs,” she said. “Some use subtle coercion, while others use violence and fear to keep their victims from escaping. I've also heard that now, some traffickers, instead of assaulting the victim, will buy her a pet and hurt the animal if she refuses to cooperate.”

Despite the inhumane treatment, Trautman Baszynski said it could often be difficult to separate the victim from the trafficker because of the preexisting bond between the two.

“It is like the Stockholm Syndrome and it can be difficult to convince them that they are actually victims and need to escape,” she said, adding that fear and forced drug addictions can also inhibit a victim's ability to leave the trafficker.

Men and boys can also be victims of trafficking. “Unfortunately, some teens identifying as LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/Questioning) are kicked out of their homes. These kids will be on the streets, incredibly vulnerable, without food or shelter and people will use that to exploit them, too,” said Trautman Baszynski.

“One thing we do know is that many adult prostitutes started well before their 18th birthday,” said Jordan. “If we are going to curb the problem we need to intervene early and hopefully prevent someone from suffering years of abuse and trauma.”

In the case of labor trafficking, Trautman Baszynski said many of the victims are undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally with promises of a good job and a better life, and instead are forced to work off a never-ending debt.

“The victim is told he or she owes $10,000 for instance, but the amount constantly goes up,” said Trautman Baszynski. “Money for food and shelter or other items is added daily. If the victim tries to leave, deportation or arrest is threatened,” she said. “They are often forced to work from the moment they wake up until they go to sleep with very little food and no freedom. They may also be raped or sold for sex.”

One key to combating these tragedies, Trautman Baszynski said, is educating the public. “Everyone needs to know how to spot a trafficking victim. There are plenty of trainings offered throughout the state and there are online webinars people can use to become more knowledgeable about the signs,” she said.

She advised people who see someone or something suspicious, to immediately call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to report it. “Public vigilance is essential to helping more victims become survivors.”

Individuals who want to refer a trafficking survivor to the Greif Fellowship for legal assistance should call 614-292-3326 or visit



Child advocates put ZIP code data to work

Coalition studies ZIP codes to help understand trouble spots, develop area-specific solutions

by Tony Gonzalez

Child advocates have a new way of pinpointing Nashville neighborhoods that have high rates of child abuse and neglect.

And by also examining the reasons that children are removed from homes and placed into protective state custody, they hope to bring new and improved parenting classes and programs to those neighborhoods.

For the first time, data about abused children are being grouped by ZIP code, showing where problems such as drug abuse, parental incarceration and truancy are concentrated. The numbers, which also hint at how family strife strikes at children of different ages, have spurred questions among the family service providers who want to analyze the data and confront problems where they find them.

“The good news is that Nashville has a lot of providers,” said Nikki Swann, co-chairwoman of the Parent Forward Coalition. “But are they in the right areas?”

Swann oversees foster care and in-home family programs for the nonprofit Youth Villages, one of about a dozen agencies taking part. The agencies have two goals set by the Department of Children's Services: improve parenting education and reduce father absenteeism in Davidson County.

Swann said the group wants to know whether parenting classes are lacking, or aren't being publicized, or if other hurdles, such as too few language translators, leave parents without support.

Early findings have shown:

• Areas with the most children in custody are scattered across East, North and South Nashville, typically in low-income areas;

• The 37207 ZIP code along Dickerson Pike has the most children in custody, and;

• The 37115 ZIP code, surrounding Madison, saw the largest increase in child custody numbers between 2011 and 2012.

'We need to do something'

Although some numbers confirm what those on the front lines could have guessed, other realizations have triggered action.

Early last year, after getting a glimpse at preliminary data, one member of the parent coalition started free parenting classes in two underserved ZIP codes. Georgianna Hooker, a former DCS employee who now heads up the nonprofit GParadigms, focuses on teaching parents of kids 10 and older — an underserved group, she said.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, we need to be doing something for these families that have school-aged children,' ” Hooker said.

Teaching at the C. E. McGruder Family Resource Center (37208) and Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (37207) in North Nashville, Hooker meets parents who struggle with proper discipline for teens who act out. Some may have spanked their children. Others refused to pick up teens from school detention or juvenile court after they got into trouble, a form of neglect investigators mark as “abandonment.”

“They have lost temporary control,” Hooker said. “The lower income, they tend to be highly stressed. And some may have additional issues, like alcohol and drugs, and many are single parents.”

About four of five participants were ordered into classes by DCS. Others choose to attend.

In class, parents learn communication skills, walk through exercises to develop empathy with their children and hear lessons about adolescent brain development.

Hooker pushes parents to be as honest as possible. She'll ask: What about parenting do you like least? Then they talk about those challenges. She shares personal stories, too, often opening the floodgates for parents to speak about sensitive subjects.

Ripe for analysis

Hooker's call to action was exactly what Jennifer Drake-Croft envisioned when she first sought out the child abuse statistics more than a year ago.

Drake-Croft, director of parent education at the Exchange Club Family Center, said the numbers were ripe for analysis, just waiting for someone to look closer. Plus, she said, DCS can gather numbers quickly and by ZIP code, which stands out from other data sources.

“Just two years ago, not even, we had to rely on (statewide) Kids Count data to inform us what was happening,” she said. “It's always 2 years old, and it's not localized.”

But by pairing the state's own “big data” with local advocates who want to understand it, Drake-Croft said families dealing with state custody cases could be healed and reunited faster.

Better yet, they might get help before touching the state system at all.


Don't stay silent on sexual abuse

by Allison Brennan

Editor's note: Allison Brennan is an editorial assistant at CNN.

(CNN) -- I was 5 years old when the person who took my innocence touched me inappropriately. What he did to me went on for a period of time, though I don't remember how long exactly.

He was a teenage babysitter. His sister also participated in the abuse. She taught me things that no child should know about sex. To this day I don't understand why they did what they did. I'm not sure I care why they did it.

What matters to me now is talking about it. As a victim, I want to start a conversation about sexual abuse. As a society, I'm well aware that many people -- victims like me -- are afraid to speak out because they feel ashamed or scared.

But by remaining silent, victims like me feel like we're taking responsibility for a crime committed against us that we know is wrong.

I wanted nothing to do with the abuse. I didn't want it to be a part of me, so I ignored it for almost 25 years. During that time, the memories haunted me and I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms to compensate for the negative way I saw myself. I tried to be outwardly perfect. I withdrew and became defensive when I faced criticism.

But in order to heal, victims need to be able to talk about what happened to them, to acknowledge the horror of it, to condemn it and to demand punishment.

For example, if we pretend that armed robberies don't happen because they are bad, we would probably have Bonnies and Clydes running around everywhere.

By talking about sexual abuse, we send a message to society to pay more attention to this problem.

It's not easy for me to disclose this part of my life. But with the love of my family and friends, I have begun to address the problem. Part of that includes seeking the help of a therapist to understand the impact of the abuse.

And then something happened the other day.

When Woody Allen received a lifetime achievement award and got a standing ovation at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, his ex-wife Mia Farrow and her son Ronan Farrow sent out tweets that alluded to alleged sexual abuse of Mia Farrow's adopted daughter Dylan, who was 7 when Allen and Farrow were married. Allen denied the allegation and was never charged, but Mia and Ronan believe otherwise.

Their tweets made me think of my own past. I remember reading an article a few months ago about the allegation. When I read about Dylan and the Farrows trying to put forward her voice and her story, I wondered what was holding me back in telling my story.

Now, I'm revealing to the public something so personal I'm not sure what's going to happen as a result. I am not sure how people will treat me. I don't know if people will think I am damaged. I hope not. I've been told I am brave for talking about it. But I wish I never had to be brave. I wish it had never happened.

It's a punishment to me every day knowing that the people who abused me -- who impacted my life in such a harmful way -- escaped justice. As much as I want to bring my case to justice, it is difficult to do so because it happened more than two decades ago in a foreign country. At the time, I didn't understand what was happening to me. I was 5, and I wasn't going to take anyone to court.

I am not entirely sure that going public with my story is a good idea. I do know that the alternative - denial and silence - is no way to live. I felt ashamed of something I didn't do. But as I have begun to talk about the abuse, I have discovered that I have no reason to feel ashamed.

There are many adults who may feel ashamed about sexual abuse in their own life. They may be confused about what to do. They may think -- "what if I am wrong and I accuse this person and create a mess" -- and they balk at action.

They should take action -- when they are ready. Whether that means taking their perpetrator to court, speaking out about how to help victims, discussing with their communities about ways of prevention, or advocating for more resources to help those who are being sexually abused or were sexually abused.

The therapy I have been lucky enough to have access to has changed my life. An important part of overcoming sexual abuse is addressing the stigma of seeking the help of a therapist, because some people may think you're crazy or unstable. I am not. But I was wounded. Therapy has helped me begin to heal that wound.

According to National Center for Victims of Crime, one in five girls and one in twenty boys are victims of sexual abuse. Such abuse causes children to "develop low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex." And when they grow up, they can become withdrawn and suicidal.

As a journalist, every day when I show up for work, I ask other people to tell their stories from staring down the Navy Yard shooter to surviving the Moore, Oklahoma tornado. I ask these people to be fearless in telling the world about their stories.

But when it came to my own story, I haven't done it...until now. I believe in telling the truth -- and I believe telling the truth can set you free, however trite that is. If you can find your words, you should use them. I hope it helps.



Local Author Educates Children About Sexual Abuse

by Kellie Hourihan

A local author is teaming up with Alachua County schools to minimize the number of child sexual abuse cases.

About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to Darkness to Light, an organization dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse. Author Kandra Albury is teaming up with Alachua County Public Schools Head Start program to familiarize children with the subject through the publication of her new children's book “Don't You Dare Touch Me There!”

Head Start is a program that provides early childhood education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income students and their families. Having gone through the Head Start program as a student and later as a parent, Albury recognizes the potential the program has as a platform for change.

“Head Start gave me a voice, and I learned to become an advocate with that voice,” she said.

Drawing inspiration from her own struggles with sexual abuse, Albury wrote her book to encourage young children to value their bodies and to understand they have the power to protect themselves.

She introduced the book to Head Start teachers and faculty Friday at an assembly at Prairie View Elementary School. In addition to a reading of the book, she offered advice and different approaches for teachers to implement when addressing the topic with their students.

The book also features a contract for parents and children to sign called the “Promise to Tell and Listen Agreement” upon completing the book, opening up a line of communication for students and parents.

Ann Crowell, director of Alachua County Head Start, said the program is going to issue the book to 12 Head Start centers for teachers to familiarize themselves with the book before bringing it to the classroom. Because of the book's sensitive nature, Croswell said teachers can opt out of reading the book to their classes. Crowell said she's also working to organize a meeting with Head Start parents to discuss the book before it's shared in any classes.

“I think this book will open the door for conversation,” Crowell said.

After Friday's mock reading, Albury encouraged teachers to repeat the book's title.

“Six simple words, one powerful message,” she said.


New York

Glens Falls man sexually abused child, videotaped assault

GLENS FALLS -- A Glens Falls teen videotaped himself sexually abusing a young child, then sold the phone to a friend who contacted police after finding the video, authorities said.

The 18-year-old suspect, Joshua M. Heym, 18, of Fifth Street was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child after an investigation by Glens Falls Police, according to police.

Glens Falls Police detectives determined he had sexual contact with a young child who is younger than 11 years old, and child pornography charges are possible after State Police computer experts analyze the phone, Glens Falls Police Detective Lt. Peter Casertino said.

Heym knows the child, and is accused of having sexual contact with the child earlier this month, Casertino said.

The incident had not been reported to police until Heym sold his cell phone to an acquaintance, but failed to erase the video that shows him having sexual contact with the child, Casertino said.

The acquaintance did the right thing and contacted police, who investigated the discovery Sunday and arrested Heym, Casertino said.

Investigators were able to determine who the girl was, and Heym made admissions when interviewed by police, he added.

Heym was also wanted on two arrest warrants and a criminal summons in Glens Falls for criminal possession of a controlled substance and trespass, Casertino said.

He was arraigned and sent to Warren County Jail for lack of bail.


West Virginia

Child abuse alleged at private center in Romney

by The Associated Press

ROMNEY, W.Va. -- State police are investigating child abuse allegations at a nonprofit Romney center that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources removed 24 children from the Potomac Center last week after upper management reported the allegations, media outlets reported.

The children, who lived in three residences on the center's campus, were taken to other facilities across the state.

"Children in the department's care were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment by some employees of the Potomac Center Inc. facility,'' DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling said in a news release. "DHHR took immediate action to remove the endangered children from the facility.''

Details of the alleged abuse haven't been released.

"I am outraged and deeply saddened by the exploitation of children and lack of compassion by some employees at this facility,'' Bowling said. "Let me reiterate, in the strongest terms, my condemnation of this behavior.''

The Potomac Center will cooperate with the investigation and support prosecution of any employees who mistreated children entrusted to its care, said Rick Harshbarger, who has served as the center's CEO since it was established in 1980.

"No one cares more for the children we serve than I do,'' Harshbarger said in a statement. "I am appalled and saddened that the actions of a very few have affected so many.''

He said the Potomac Center remains open and will work with the DHHR to reopen the residences where the children lived.

The private center provides residential assistance and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities, along with respite for caregivers. It also manages a foster care program in Romney, Moorefield and Elkins.



Child abuse program stays open — for now

by Teri Figueroa

ESCONDIDO — The only program in North County designated as the first stop for child victims of abuse or molestation will keep its doors open this year thanks to financial support from donors.

Now the move is on to find consistent funding for Forensic Health Service, which on Tuesday opened its Escondido office to its donors for a tour and a thank you.

It costs about $550,000 a year to run the forensic center, which interviews child victims — as well as adult victims of sexual assault — to gather information for criminal prosecutions.

More than $300,000 of its budget is covered by fees charged to law enforcement agencies. In the past, most of the rest its funding had come from the Palomar Health public hospital district.

But last year, the health district said it could no longer afford the $200,000 annual subsidy and that the program would end in December.

The decision left the forensic center scrambling to find enough money to stay open in 2014.

Kimberly Rideout Cardoso from the Palomar Health Foundation said about 100 new donors — corporations, foundations and individuals alike — were found to keep Forensic Health Service operating this year.

To find more permanent funding sources, county Supervisor Dave Roberts has put together a meeting on Feb. 13 with sheriff's officials, the District Attorney's Office and Supervisor Bill Horn's office to talk about a community and government partnership.

Fundraiser planned

The Junior League of San Diego is hosting a Casino for a Cause fundraiser to benefit Forensic Health Services.

When: 6 p.m to 10 p.m. Feb. 1

Where: Marriott Del Mar, 11966 El Camino Real, San Diego

Information: Go to

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis called the Escondido site “a critical component for law enforcement.”

“And its the only place in North County — which means it's absolutely necessary to keep the doors open,” Dumanis said.

North County law enforcement officers take victims to the center for forensic interviews. The site is one of only two accredited Children's Advocacy Centers for forensic interviews in San Diego County, with the other at Rady Children's Hospital in Serra Mesa.

Since the Escondido center opened 28 years ago, more than 15,000 people, many of them child abuse victims, have been interviewed at the site.

To learn more about the program or to make a donation, go to


North Carolina

Union Co. starts to detail DSS changes in wake of child abuse case

by Adam Bell

MONROE Union County human services officials announced on Tuesday night the first significant changes they are making in the aftermath of a former DSS supervisor indictment on child abuse charges.

The changes include adding a new quality assurance coordinator, strengthening conflict of interest guidelines and adding new rules for dealing with certain foster care cases.

Richard Matens, executive director of the county human services agency, which includes the Department of Social Services, updated county commissioners about the moves.

In November, Wanda Larson, who worked as a DSS child protective services supervisor, and longtime boyfriend Dorian Harper, were arrested after authorities found an 11-year-old boy handcuffed to their porch with a dead chicken tied around his neck. Larson, who was fired by the county, was the legal guardian for the boy, a former foster child of hers who had lived with her since he was about 3.

Larson and Harper were indicted by a county grand jury in December on felony child abuse and related charges.

The 11-year-old, and four other children whom Larson had adopted and were living in the Monroe-area home, are now under the care of Davidson County DSS. Union County investigators are looking to see if any or all of the 36 children who were under foster care by the couple over a 12-year period were abused or witnessed abuse.

Soon after the arrests, Union County asked the state Department of Health and Human Services to review the county's DSS operations and how the county handles adoptions, foster care and child-abuse investigations. The state is also studying records of all children placed under the care of Larson and Harper.

The state's report is not finalized.

“I really want to emphasize this is just the beginning” of the changes, Matens said. “We didn't want to be sedentary until (the state) came out with the final report.”

Matens said the changes were in response to preliminary findings by the state as well as his department's own initiatives.

For instance, he said the state raised concerns about the “intake process” for the initial handling of child abuse cases.

There were documentation problems, such as confusion over who was legally in charge of a child in certain cases. And because of the volume of cases, the county also had staff who were not experts with intakes handling some of those reports.

The state also faulted the child protective services unit – Larson's old unit – for problems with documenting how cases were finalized and failing to properly document how they contacted absent parents.

“Our public has lost confidence in DSS,” commissioner Jonathan Thomas said, but he added that the moves the agency is making will help restore some level of confidence.

The changes Matens detailed include:

• The new quality assurance coordinator will audit child protective services, foster care and adoption work to provide accountability throughout the department.

• Before a case is potentially farmed out to another county over a possible conflict of interest, the case will be sent to Matens or the DSS director for review.

• DSS reassigned two social worker positions to the child protective services' intake unit. The change doubles the unit's capacity to handle intakes.



Chicago archdiocese releases child sex abuse files

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has released thousands of documents related to its handling of sex abuse scandals involving 30 priests. Many of the cases date back decades.

More than 6,000 documents were posted online Tuesday as part of a settlement with abuse victims who've filed lawsuits against the church, although the data covers only about half of the 65 priests with credible allegations against them.

Church officials stated that most of the abuse described by the documents occurred before 1988, and none after 1996, when Cardinal Francis George became head of the archdiocese. The files depict the behavior under George's predecessors, who often sheltered accused priests from the public, reassigned them to other parishes when new allegations surfaced, and only removed priests from their posts decades after knowing they molested children.

In one such case in 1970, then-Cardinal John Cody downplayed allegations that Rev. Raymond Skriba sexually abused a girl at St. Walter Catholic Church. Skriba was reassigned to another church, where more accusations surfaced later. He died earlier this month, according to the

“I feel that this whole matter should be forgotten by you as it has been forgotten by me,” Cody wrote to Skriba in a letter at the time, according to the Chicago Tribune. “No good can come of trying to prove or disprove the allegations, and I think that you will understand this.”

Another priest, Rev. Vincent E. McCaffrey, was reassigned four times by church leaders. At one point in 1989, the vicar for priests Rev. Raymond Goedert wrote to then-Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to convey his concern over churchgoers potentially learning about McCaffrey's past misconduct.

"Unfortunately, one of the key parishioners ... received an anonymous phone call which made reference by name to Vince and alleged misconduct on his part with young boys," Goedert wrote, according to the Associated Press. "We all agreed that the best thing would be for Vince to move. We don't know if the anonymous caller will strike again."

Although the priestly misconduct occurred before George's tenure as leader of the archdiocese, some accusations did surface after he took over, and attorneys for the victims say it's the church's response that is most important.

"The issue is not when the abuse happened; the issue is what they did once it was reported," Chicago attorney Marc Pearlman, who has represented about 200 victims of clergy abuse, told AP.

For his part, George admitted that he mishandled three cases during a deposition in 2008, including his failure to remove Father Daniel McCormack, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2007 for molesting five children. The church paid nearly $13 million to settle cases filed by 16 sexual abuse victims in 2008.

"I apologize to all those who have been harmed by these crimes and this scandal, the victims themselves, most certainly, but also rank and file Catholics who have been shamed by the actions of some priests and bishops," George wrote in a letter to parishioners last week.

The document dump in Chicago follows a similar move last month by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which revealed the identities of 30 priests accused of sexual misconduct. That list covered accusations that date back to the 1950s. Although the church stated that none of the priests are still in active ministry, it did not detail the specific claims against them.

Earlier this month, RT reported that Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for molesting children in his final two years as head of the church. More than 170 were defrocked during the two years prior to that.



Letter to the Editor

Catholic child abuse: A personal plea to Pope Francis

I am longing for the moment when Pope Francis will name the greatest scandal in church history for what it is and not skirt the issue. Francis has yet to utter the words, “The priest abuse of children.” ["Vatican comes under sharp criticism for sex abuse," Nation & World, Jan. 16]

Rather, he avoids the words and calls these crimes and sins “those failings of priests.” That does a great disservice to victim and survivors, like myself. Francis must name these priests' sins and apologize on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis asked, “Are we all ashamed?” Yet he doesn't ever answer. Again, he waters the issue down by adding, “So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know.”

No matter how much the Vatican wants to divorce itself from the abuse of children, the buck stops with Pope Francis. He is the one to give the final permission to defrock a priest. He is also the one to defrock Bishops who have sheltered priest pedophiles and passed them on year after year.

Of course it is the civil authorities' responsibility to mete out punishments for sexual crimes to children. The Pope has the ultimate responsibility to mandate bishops to defrock priest pedophiles, release records and to speak boldly about the ongoing problem of the abuse of children in the Catholic Church. To date he has failed his moral responsibility to do so.

Mary Dispenza, Bellevue



Los Angeles-area operator of youth 'boot camp' gets jail for child abuse, teen sex assault

PASADENA, Calif. – A man who ran a Southern California "boot camp" for troubled youngsters has been sentenced to nearly 4 1/2 years in prison for child abuse and kidnapping, and for sexually assaulting two 14-year-old girls.

Forty-three-year-old Kelvin McFarland also was ordered last week to register as a sex offender. Los Angeles County prosecutors say he pleaded no contest in July to nine charges, including extortion and false imprisonment.

Authorities say McFarland, who called himself "1st Sgt. Mac," ran a camp in Pasadena and Altadena that supposedly used military-style discipline.

Videos made at the camp showed instructors shouting at a boy wearing a heavy auto tire and several kids vomiting after being repeatedly ordered to drink water. Prosecutors say McFarland also handcuffed a truant girl.


What is Defrocking?

5 Things To Know About 384 Catholic Priests Defrocked In Recent Child Sex Abuse Scandal

by Dennis Lynch

Yesterday the Associated Press reported that the Vatican defrocked a total of 384 priests in 2011-12 for sexual abuse of children. That's more than twice as many as the Vatican defrocked between 2008 and 2009. Here are some of the facts related to the recent revelations about the Roman Catholic Church.

1. “Defrocking” is a common term used to describe the dismissal or loss of the clerical state of a priest. A loss of the clerical state means the offender is forbidden from exercising any powers or rights granted via ordination. Priests can be defrocked for a number of reasons, but the punishment is considered the harshest penalty within the church.

One such offense is the violation of the Sixth Commandment, ‘thou shall not commit adultery'. A priest can be defrocked for child abuse via Can. 1295.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which specifically mentions abuse of minors under 16. Can. 1295.2 does not require a cleric to be defrocked however, only that the offender be “punished with just penalties.”

2. 2011 and 2012 were the last two years Benedict XVI served as pope. The 384 cases of defrocking and came after reports of abuse exploded in 2010. That year they doubled the statute of limitations on abuse within the church, allowing victims to report abuse up to 20 years after the offense.

Washington Post in 2010.

4. Prior to 2001, cases of abuse were handled locally within dioceses by bishops. This changed because many priests accused of abuse were moved instead of punished. Victims reported that many times they were told to not turn their accused to the police, and to instead allow the church officials to handle it internally. No clerics responsible for the cover-up of abuse cases have been defrocked, only those who committed the abuses.

5. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador, told the U.N. human rights committee that 418 new sex abuse cases were reported to the Vatican in 2012. In that same committee hearing, the Vatican's former sex-crimes prosecutor, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, admitted that things needed to change. He went on to urge prosecutors to go after anyone who helps obstruct justice within the church, possibly signaling a change in the Vatican's stance on holding bishops accountable for failing to properly handle abusers.


United Kingdom

Teachers at dozens of leading public schools, including Eton and Marlborough, 'implicated in child sex abuse cases'

•  Teachers at 62 independent schools convicted of sex crimes over 20 years

•  Crimes range from indecent assault to gross indecency against 277 boys

•  In some cases, schools where teachers abused boys can't be named

by Daily Mail Reporter

Teachers at 130 leading public schools - including Marlborough and Eton - have been implicated in child sex abuse cases, it has been revealed today.

Over the past 20 years, teachers at 62 independent schools have been convicted of sex crimes. The crimes range from indecent assault to gross indecency and buggery, against 277 male pupils.

The schools include Haberdashers' Aske's, Wellington College, King Edward's School Birmingham, Ampleforth, and The Oratory School, Reading, The Times reports.

Among 20 other schools where a male teacher has been convicted of possessing child abuse images are Eton, Marlborough, Millfield, Oundle and Tonbridge.

And the Downside School, in Somerset, appears in both categories.

A further 36 private schools have also been linked to child abuse, including unresolved prosecutions, actions for damages after an alleged abuser has died, teachers convicted of abusing boys who are not connected to their school. It also included police investigations that led to arrests but no charges.

In some cases, schools where teachers allegedly abused boys cannot be named, as their identification is protected by law. The Times reports that they include two leading London public schools.

Earlier this month, the Mail revealed that dozens of victims came forward in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Some of the country's leading institutions, including those attended by Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson and Tony Blair, face accusations of covering up abuse for decades. The allegations include rape.

Lawyers acting for the alleged victims are demanding up to £400,000 in compensation for the years of abuse they suffered.

Those seeking redress include former pupils at Beeston Hall, a £21,000-a-year prep school in Norfolk.

Mervyn Rush, 68, who taught science at the school in the 1970s, was jailed for 14 years in August last year after pleading guilty to 18 charges of sexual abuse against ten boys aged between eight and 12.

With compensation claims of up to £400,000 per victim, the financial repercussions of these historical cases could cause the closure of some prep schools, Tony Little, head of Eton College said at the time. 'It is possible [some will have to close] but it is absolutely right this problem is exposed,' he said.

Some 20 former pupils of Ashdown House in East Sussex, which was attended by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Homeland actor Damian Lewis, claim that staff committed ‘very serious abuse' on children aged between seven and 13 during the 1970s. The £23,000-a-year boarding school is a feeder school for Eton and Harrow.

Liz Dux, head of the abuse department at Slater & Gordon, said: 'Sadly these sickening figures do not shock me at all. It has been clear for some time now that there has been a culture of silence around the abuse of children and vulnerable people in our society for many decades.

'We look after more than 70 victims of Savile and after spending time with these victims it has become apparent that better legislation would have helped protect people.

'The mandatory reporting of abuse would stop vile predators like Savile in their tracks. The time has come for action to stop hideous crimes like the ones we hear about on a far too regular basis. Silence gives abusers free rein and surely as a society we cannot allow that any longer.'

The Independent Schools Council (ISC), is responsible for 1,223 schools which educate 80 per cent of Britain's private-sector pupils.

It said: 'The safety and welfare of the young people in their charge is the first and most important responsibility of our schools.

'The abuse of trust by a small number of predatory individuals is a matter of the very deepest regret. While these cases are largely historic, this does not in any way lessen the anguish felt by the innocent victims.

'Over the last 20 years independent schools have taken a key and active part in developing the present stringent regulatory regime, including detailed safeguarding procedures and regular inspection.

'Safeguarding now has the absolute primacy in our schools which it so obviously deserves.'



Child-abuse, neglect deaths in Illinois remain high in DCFS-involved cases

Enoch A. Hayslett brought his 1-month-old son to a hospital emergency room in December 2008, saying the baby was constipated.

Instead, doctors found the infant had a broken femur — an injury Hayslett and the child's mother couldn't explain. So the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took protective custody of the baby and his two older siblings, and a Cook County judge ordered that all three children be placed in foster care.

Hayslett and their mother went on to have more children: a daughter, another son, then twin boys — all of whom lived with the couple in the south suburbs as they sought to regain custody of the three older children.

During that time, DCFS twice investigated complaints that Hayslett was abusing his children but found the allegations not credible, records show.

Then — a month after a child-protection investigator closed the second case — the 5-foot-10, 280-pound Hayslett was charged with beating one of his twin sons to death. The 20-pound boy's skull was fractured, and he had multiple bruises.

Authorities said Hayslett also abused the other twin and their toddler brother, too.

They arrested the Lynwood man in December 2012 and charged him with first-degree murder, among other charges.

Last Father's Day, Hayslett hanged himself at the Cook County Jail.

His 8-month-old son Lamar Hayslett was among 27 Illinois children to die from abuse or neglect in DCFS' last reporting year after they or their families already had been involved with the agency, a Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ examination of newly released records has found.

Five more cases are under investigation by the agency's inspector general, which means the number of DCFS-involved abuse or neglect deaths could reach 30 for the third year in a row.

In the 2010 reporting year, there were 15 abuse or neglect deaths in which DCFS had had some involvement with the family within a year of the death, according to a Sun-Times and WBEZ investigation published in November.

The spike in deaths to 34 in 2011, 34 in 2012 and 27 or more in 2013 has sounded alarms with state lawmakers and some child advocates, who say the agency and the private contractors it hires to monitor child safety aren't doing the job they should.

DCFS officials dispute that. They say the increase in reported deaths is largely the result of a policy change in late 2011, when the agency started pressing its investigators to discipline parents whose children had died as a result of unsafe sleeping conditions.

Still, in response to the Sun-Times/WBEZ reports, DCFS' acting director, Denise Gonzales, ordered a review of all child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect between 2009 and 2013. That review revealed errors in the department's tracking of how many children statewide died from abuse or neglect, finding that 11 more children had died in that time than the agency had reported.

Of the 27 DCFS-involved abuse or neglect deaths reported for the 12 months ending June 30, 2013, 12 were caused by abuse and 15 by neglect, according to the Sun-Times/WBEZ examination of DCFS inspector general records.

Of the neglect deaths, 11 involved infants smothered or suffocated after being placed in dangerous sleeping conditions.

In many of those cases, the children died even though their caregivers had been trained on safe-sleep practices, records show. They included a 3-month-old girl who died after sleeping on a mattress with her father, who “tested positive for cocaine, marijuana and prescribed benzodiazepines,” according to the inspector general's case summary. A caseworker had provided the mother with a Pack 'n Play portable crib and saw the baby with the mother in August and October 2012. The baby died the following month.

Among the 12 abuse deaths:

? A 14-year-old autistic boy, Alex Spourdalakis, of River Grove, was found stabbed to death in his bed in June 2013. His 50-year-old mother and 44-year-old live-in caretaker lay unconscious next to him, “having taken pills” and “leaving a letter explaining their actions.” DCFS had opened a neglect investigation into his mother six months earlier but found the allegations not credible. The mother and caretaker survived and are now charged with murder.

? A 5-month-old girl, Angelina Rodriguez, of Chicago's Far North Side, died in April 2013, four days after being hospitalized with a skull fracture and severe brain swelling. Her parents both were charged with murder after her father admitted suffocating her. Three months before Angelina died, school officials called DCFS' hotline to report her 6-year-old brother had “marks and bruises on his face, neck and arms and after getting sick, he expressed fear of going home early.” DCFS cleared the parents of wrongdoing because the child later told an investigator the marks were made by his 2-year-old brother.

? In a case of the death of a child whose teenage mother had been an abuse victim, 3-week-old Emonie Beasley-Brown was killed in August 2012 when her mother ran away from her South Side home, taking the baby to her boyfriend's house. When the police showed up, the mother hid in a crawlspace with the baby and her boyfriend's mother, who placed her hands over Emonie's mouth to keep her from crying. Emonie died two days later as a result of suffocation. Emonie's teenage mother was convicted of endangering the life and health of a child and sentenced to five years of probation. Her boyfriend's mother was convicted of the same charge and sentenced to four years in prison.

In January 2012, DCFS had determined that Emonie's mother had been abused earlier that month by her 17-year-old brother, who was a ward of the state.

DCFS officials point out that they have some level of involvement with about 60,000 families a year. And other child-welfare experts caution the agency shouldn't be judged solely on the fraction of children who die while they or their families are being monitored or under investigation by the agency.

Still, acting DCFS chief Gonzales says she's convened “a team to read every case and tell me what happened. . . . What were the conditions that brought us to that child's death? Was there substance abuse involved? Was there domestic violence involved? Was this just a tired mom with her infant?”

In the case of Lamar Hayslett, Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris says there were “missed opportunities” to stop the abuse. Besides the two abuse investigations against Enoch Hayslett that DCFS closed without finding wrongdoing, a Cook County judge was told in August 2011 of allegations that Hayslett had abused the three older children in foster care.

The judge left it to a private agency, Lutheran Social Services, to determine whether the parents should continue to have unsupervised visits with those kids. Those visits were temporarily suspended and then resumed, leading to more allegations from one of Hayslett's children that he was abusing them — complaints DCFS deemed not credible the month before Lamar died.

A DCFS spokeswoman says agency Inspector General Denise Kane “is conducting a full investigation of this case” and that officials “cannot comment further pending that review.”

Says Harris: “The fact that there was a hotline call that was made just three months before Lamar died, in and of itself, which subsequently was ‘unfounded' a month before he died, is definitely troubling to me, and I question some of the investigator's work in terms of responding to the hotline call.

“I don't just want to say ‘If the caseworkers were doing their jobs.' But if they had kept their eyes open to all of these multiple factors, maybe there could have been — maybe Lamar wouldn't have had to have died.”


New York

Death of Myls Dobson Triggers Child Abuse Awareness Initiative

by NY1 News

The father of 4-year-old Myls Dobson has been temporarily released from jail to make funeral arrangements for his abused son this weekend. The preschooler died on January 8, while in the custody of his father's girlfriend. Meanwhile, statistics show some six million children are abused every year in the United States and five of them die every single day. Social workers are mobilizing to make sure the public knows the warning signs. Cheryl Wills filed the following report.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's had strong words in the wake of the horrific starvation and beating death of 4-year-old Myls Dobson.

"It is very, very painful to know that this child went through such agony,” de Blasio said.

The tragedy has triggered the mayor's office and local agencies to alert the public about identifying signs of child abuse.

"We really wanted to issue this child abuse alert because I think that there's a lot of people in the community who may see things and not necessarily know what they're seeing,” said Joanna Kibel of the Jewish Child Care Association.

The Jewish Child Care Association is taking swift action and mailing booklets free of charge to anyone who needs guidance identifying a child in distress.

The organization spells out four key types of maltreatment: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation.

Signs of physical abuse include bruises, bite marks, burns and broken bones.

"A child may come to school on a very hot summer day with long sleeves on because their parent wanted to hide any kind of indication of abuse,” said Kibel.

In cases of neglect, warning signs include significant weight loss, hunger, clothing that's not in line with the season and poor dental hygiene.

Little Myls, who exhibited many of these signs including burns and loss of weight, was hidden in plain sight inside a luxury high rise in midtown Manhattan, yet no one came to his aid.

That's why the Jewish Child Care Association urges people to call the state's hotline to report cases, even if they don't have all of the facts.

"We really urge people who are in the community who might see some signs really to make the call because that can save a child's life,” said Kibel.

Kryzie King, 27, has been charged in connection with Myls Dobson's death. The boy's father turned custody over to King after he was arrested.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal has sponsored a bill known as "Myls Law," which would prevent children like Myls from falling through the cracks when a parent is taken into police custody.

To get a copy of the free booklet, call 212-558-9972.

To report child abuse, call The New York State Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-342-3720. Anonymous calls are accepted.