National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


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

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

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

January, 2014 - Week 5
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.


Mother of alleged victim in Harrington speaks out about dealing with child sexual assault

by Nok-Noi Ricker

HARRINGTON, Maine — The mother of a local child who allegedly was sexually assaulted said she saw in her son the harmful effects of keeping what happened to him a secret, which is one reason she is pressing state lawmakers for new guidelines regarding juvenile sex offenders in public schools.

An 11-year-old boy in Harrington was charged with felony gross sexual assault at the end of December in connection with the reported incident. Both children attended Harrington Elementary School at the time of the alleged assault, which did not happen on school property. The younger boy's parents since have removed him and a sibling from the school to protect them from the accused boy after the school system did little to keep them separated.

The mother said she learned in a November phone call that her then-8-year-old son allegedly had been sexually assaulted by an 11-year-old boy two months before at a birthday party.

“It was probably the hardest call she ever had to make,” the Harrington woman said, referring to another woman in town who heard about the incident from her own child and decided to pick up the phone. “It was certainly the hardest call I've ever taken.”

The mother, who is not being named by the Bangor Daily News to protect her son's identity, said she noticed changes in her son's behavior after the September birthday party. She said he became introverted and started to act differently.

“The period between the incident and me getting the call was difficult,” the boy's mother said. “He was angry. If we said ‘no' to him it was like dealing with a 2-year-old with temper tantrums and crying. He had a lot to hold in.”

In retrospect, “I completely understand why,” she said.

She since has learned through discussions with her son and the investigating detective that her child reportedly was forced to perform a sex act on the accused boy while two other boys watched.

After reporting the incident, the alleged victim's parents immediately contacted a counselor for themselves and another one for their son.

“We've been going to counseling and have learned how to deal with him,” she said. “It's more about understanding that he's doing the best that he can right now.”

Hiding the secret of the sexual assault did nothing but put the child in more pain, the boy's mother said.

“Once the secret comes out — [the child is] much better off,” she said. “Now we do talk about it. We've kept it open and honest and he knows he did nothing wrong and those who did will be punished. I pray it goes that way.”

She added later that, “by not talking about it — by internalizing it — it creates shame. That is why you have to talk about it.”

Most child sexual abuse, an estimated 90 percent of all reported incidents, involves people known to the young victims, and of that number, 60 percent are family members or friends, according to Beverly Fortson, a behavioral scientist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortson made a presentation last year at a conference in Florida for reporters covering child sexual abuse stories.

After the Harrington investigation began, a temporary protection from abuse order was issued to keep the boy accused of the assault from contacting her son, who is now 9, but it did not prevent the two from attending the same school. At that time, both boys were enrolled at Harrington Elementary School, a small Washington County school with only 159 students.

The mother went to school officials, asking that the accused fifth-grader be suspended until the criminal case had made its way through the court system, but they said their hands were tied because “he is entitled to a free and fair education,” she said.

After her son came home from school upset about being in close proximity to the boy charged with assaulting him, his parents again went to school officials about keeping them separated.

They removed their son and a sibling from the Harrington school shortly after the meeting with school officials and enrolled them in private school to protect them from the accused boy, the mother said.

“No one was listening. That is why Sarah [Strout] organized this whole thing,” she said, referring to a protest earlier this week where more than a third of the students stayed home from school and parents presented a petition to have SAD 37 officials review school rules.

“We have to talk about it. It has to be dealt with so we can make changes,” the boy's mother said. “It's a very difficult subject. I understand that.”

Christine Morris, client services advocate for the Atlantic Mental Health Clinic, which serves Aroostook, Hancock and Washington counties, has offered to educate school officials and the community about sexual abuse and how to detect and prevent it.

The goal is to provide “a safe place to ask questions and get answers,” she said. “Right now, everybody feels that what is most important is for the community to heal.”

The Harrington mother of two also has asked state lawmakers and enforcers to look into the matter and create statewide guidelines to deal with juvenile sex offenders who are enrolled in public schools.

“I sincerely hope that there is legislation passed so that when things like this happen in the future there is no gray area for school leaders to hide behind,” the mother of the alleged victim said Thursday. “When a kid is charged with a felony, this is what you do.”

To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.


United Kingdom

Male survivors of sexual abuse in Plymouth launching new self help group


MALES victims of sexual abuse are being thrown a lifeline with a self-help group.

The trauma of sexual abuse often continues for many years afterwards with flashbacks and depression. Over the years, many succumb to substance abuse or suicide and psychologists have claimed many suffer post traumatic stress disorder years later.

Victims of predatory paedophile William Goad, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to a string of vile sexual assaults on young boys, were among the first to group together to organise treatment for the trauma they suffered.

Over time, they found other men who suffered at the hands of other abusers also wanted to speak and share their tales, meet with others who understood and find shared ways of dealing with their awful experience.

Now two survivors of sexual abuse, Richie Hawkins – who has waived his legal right to anonymity – and Gary, whose wants to keep his identity private, have launched Male Survivors South West and are urging others to get the support they need.

The aim of the group is to allow men to be able to talk openly in a safe and secure environment. They have recently met with prospective parliamentary candidate and Afghan veteran Johnny Mercer to gain support for the group.

Richie said the group have also been working with Steve Bevan of AMSOSA (Adult Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse) who has more than 23 years experience of holding workshops across the world with male survivors.

Richie said: “Therapy is not about getting rid of it, it's about living with it.

“That is the difference between us as a group and professionals. It can take up to two years for a person to reveal their abuse to a professional, but people have sat with us as a group and within two hours they are talking because we understand – we've been there. It's a huge difference in how people reveal.”

Gary said many men in Plymouth and surrounding areas had been “surviving” for years, getting by and trying to deal with it alone.

He added: “Therapy is about new ways of thinking, about how you recognise the triggers.

“We talk to each other, talk about the similarities and the differences. For many this goes back decades and they've been left to deal with it alone. Some have gone onto have partners and children.

“If you went to a doctor in the 1980s they would not have understood and have just given you tablets. You may have just given up and tried to bury it because you didn't know who you could talk to who would understand.

“With a lot of therapy on offer, it runs for a short time, maybe 12 weeks and that's it. The problems survivors want to tackle are long term because the guilt and shame can come back years later.”

The MSSW group are looking for support from businesses in the area, including access to printing and a committee member for the group who has experience as a treasurer.

The first group meeting will be held on Wednesday February 19 from 4pm to 5.30pm.

Attendees are urged to contact the group in advance either via a direct message on Twitter at their feed @M_S_S_W or email them on or via their website:

If you need support and advice you can ring MSSW on 07092 988178 or email them at the above address.


United Kingdom

Child rape cases up by 98 per cent in five years

The number of reported child rapes has jumped 98 per cent across the Thames Valley in five years, figures yesterday revealed.

New Government figures published show the number of child rape offences recorded rose from 144 in 2009 to 226 in 2013.

They also showed adult rapes reached a five-year high in 2010, with 369 attacks reported, before they dropped to 286 last year.

Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre service manager Natalie Brook said: “Supporting survivors of sexual violence here in Oxfordshire, we know that these statistics show only part of the picture. The majority of those who experience sexual violence – over 80 per cent – never report to the police.”


North Carolina

Child abuse, starvation focus of new NCSU research

by Jason deBruyn

Forensic scientists from North Carolina State University will use their research expertise to identify and hopefully prevent child abuse and starvation.

Ann Ross, a professor of anthropology at NCSU, has served as an advisor to medical examiners and says that children die from neglect and starvation more often than society might like to think or believe.

By compiling forensic information in one location, Ross and her team say they “hope that we can save the lives of some children and find justice for others.”

Proving that a child was starved to death is difficult because it's essentially impossible to assess normal indicators of starvation once a body has decomposed, says Ross, but there are ways like comparing teeth to other bones to determine whether a child was severely malnourished. Also, stunted growth of a child's tibia can be a strong indicator of starvation, for example, according to NCSU.

There are other ways of determining abuse. For example, rib fractures are very rare in accidental trauma, so the presence of rib fractures in children is highly suggestive of abuse, says Ross.

The NCSU team's paper, “A brief history of fatal child maltreatment and neglect,” was published online Jan. 28 in the academic journal Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology.



House panel approves bill requiring child abuse awareness training for doctors

by Sam Youngman

A bill that would require more training to help Kentucky doctors recognize and prevent abusive head trauma in children won approval Thursday from a legislative committee.

House Bill 157 would require the State Board of Medical Licensure to include training on recognizing head trauma caused by child abuse in its continuing education requirements for pediatricians, radiologists, family practitioners, and emergency medicine and urgent-care physicians.

Melissa Currie, a child-abuse pediatrician and member of the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel that Gov. Steve Beshear created in 2012, told lawmakers earlier this year that the new legislation was crucial to helping doctors recognize child abuse.

"Our medical professionals, specifically our physicians, ... are missing child abuse," Currie said. "They simply don't have the information they need."

The House Health and Welfare Committee approved the bill unanimously, sending it to the full House.



Hundreds Of Vt. Children Sexually Abused, Report Says

by Taylor Dobbs

Special police units that investigate sexual abuse, sexual assault and serious child physical abuse see hundreds of cases every year. Most striking, though, is the number of child sex abuse cases the units see.

In fiscal year 2013, the 12-month period ending last June, the state's Special Investigation Units worked with 1,414 Vermonters who were victims of abuse or in high-risk situations, according to a report filed this week the the legislature. Of those, 1,164 were children.

Statewide, the units saw 945 cases of child sexual abuse – 83 percent of all child cases. In the majority of those cases, the offender was the child's parent.

“Over half of all reported child victims are 12 years of age or younger,” the report said.

The legislature mandated the Special Investigation Units (SIUs) in 2005 with the intent of making them available statewide by 2009. The SIUs are overseen by Bram Kranichfeld, the executive director of the Department of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs. Since the Addison County unit launched operations in January 2013, Kranichfeld said, 12 units serve all 14 counties of the state.

“The premise,” he said, “was to replicate the multi-disciplinary team concept that had proven successful in Chittenden County and Franklin County and Bennington County.”

That approach calls for close coordination between victims' advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, medical and mental health professionals. Kranichfeld said that in most cases, the units are made up of professionals that already exist in the community, but may not have been coordinating their efforts before.

“There really wasn't that core,” he said. “There wasn't a ‘there' there, and the Legislature sought to establish that center piece for each one of the units to develop around.”

With office space and part- or full- time executive directors, the SIUs often double as child advocacy centers. Kranichfeld said that often, interviews with victims ­– a sensitive process that requires special training ­­– are conducted in the SIU offices.

While 945 cases of child sex abuse is higher than advocates would like, that number has fallen since the previous report. According to the Fiscal Year 2012 report, SIUs statewide saw 1,046 such cases despite having less coverage in Addison County.

“The resource really didn't exist on a consistent basis prior to the last few years,” Kranichfeld said. Now, “they have become more of a solid entity within each one of their respective communities, and we continue to support that development.”

That support comes in the form of state grants. Between fiscal years 2013 and 2014, the state gave $2,860,810 to the SIUs and associated law enforcement agencies to help advance their investigative capacity.

Last September, the grants funded a seminar on interview and interrogation techniques for child abuse cases, this year's report said. The three-day seminar, put on by an Illinois-based consulting company, taught best practices for interviewing child victims. The report said 30 people from across the state attended.


New Jersey

Super Bowl surge in sex trafficking? Maybe not, but issue grabs the spotlight

by Monica Alba

The idea of helping sex-trafficking victims came to Theresa Flores when she was naked and freezing on the floor of a motel bathroom, after being gang-raped by at least 10 men, maybe more. She says she lost count when she passed out from the pain.

Decades later, Flores, a sex-trafficking survivor, has made good on her promise to herself. The founder of SOAP, or Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution, is trying to make at least a small dent in a national problem this week with a modest act: distributing bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number on the wrapping to hotels and motels in New York and New Jersey.

"There are three things in every motel: a Bible, toilet paper and soap," said Flores. "Every girl cleans up after every man and it's often the only time she's allowed alone. Who knows? The soap could be the difference. I wish there had been one in that motel room all those years ago."

Flores, 48, is making her rounds because the Super Bowl will be held on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., and many of the fans will stay in New York before and after the game. Her presence is just one indication of the unwelcome role football's marquee event has assumed in the debate over sex trafficking and prostitution.

Some experts and organizations that advocate for sex-trafficking victims and/or prostitutes say that big sporting events like the Super Bowl provide a major boost to the illicit businesses by providing a ready-made customer base. That view gained ground after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott labeled the game the "single-largest human-trafficking incident in the United States" in 2011, when it was held in his state.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie indicated on Wednesday that the law enforcement is taking seriously the possibility of an influx of prostitution and sex trafficking surrounding the game.

"We are only a few days away from the Super Bowl. A time where sex trafficking is at a high risk," he said in the first of a series of tweets, shortly before appearing at an anti-sex-trafficking news conference in Bergen County, N.J., with Cindy McCain, wife of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, and others.

"So to anyone out there that is even thinking about it. Don't even try it. We have eyes and ears on the ground and on the web."

But other victim advocacy groups reject and resent this characterization. Among them is the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, which produced a 2011 report that concluded there is no evidence indicating that major sporting events result in increased sex trafficking. On the contrary, it speculated that anti-prostitution campaigners were actually promoting the connection to force authorities to crack down on the sex trade.

Many advocacy groups draw a sharp line between prostitution and sex-trafficking, referring to adult prostitutes working on their own as "sex workers" and contrasting them with those pushed to provide commercial sex through force, fraud or coercion.

Flores is among those who believe big sporting events do draw more sex-trafficking victims and that Sunday's game provides an opportunity to reach at least a few who may find the soap she and others leave behind and call the hotline to be rescued.

Flores started SOAP decades after her ordeal in the motel room, which occurred when she was only 16 years old.

Flores tells a familiar story about her descent into the trade. She said it began when she was date raped at 15 by a classmate in an upscale suburb of Detroit, who drugged her and took illicit photos. He then blackmailed her by telling her she would have to have sex with other men to buy back the photos, she said. Flores said she never told her family or police during the two years she was forced to have sex for money, because she worried that she would get in trouble. By the time she did tell someone, the statute of limitations to prosecute her assailants had long since expired.

Toshia Kimbler, a SOAP volunteer and herself a sex-trafficking victim, said she understands Flores' silence, since she, too, was trafficked by someone she knew and initially trusted. Later, though there were chances to escape or call the police, she thought her captor would kill her if she did.

"What many people don't realize," Kimbler said, "is that it's not your body that's enslaved. It's your mind."

Kimbler, who was trafficked for almost 10 years, said she also knows first-hand that the sports and sex-trafficking connection is real, as she was shuttled around to big events in cities such as Chicago, Boston and New York.

"For all I know, I could have been at a Super Bowl, but we were rarely told anything," she recalls.

Now, Kimbler, a former SOAP employee who now volunteers while attending college full-time, and Flores travel all around the U.S., attending events like the Detroit Auto Show, the Final Four, NASCAR races and the national Democratic or Republican Conventions. Flores will also be traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June for the World Cup, marking the organization's first international outreach effort.

On Sunday afternoon, Flores, Kimbler and hundreds of other volunteers gathered in the frigid cold in Paramus, N.J., before fanning out to distribute thousands of bars of soap to hotels and motels, along with missing children posters and pamphlets outlining the telltale signs of human trafficking. That way, even if a sex-trafficking victim doesn't call the hotline, a hotel or motel owner might call if they witness any suspicious activity when guests check in – like someone who doesn't speak for themselves, isn't in control of their own identification or has no luggage.

More soap and posters will be distributed in New York hotels and motels this week and by game time, Flores estimates, 100,000 bars of soap will have been handed out in the two states.

But if past Super Bowls are any indication, the dividends from their efforts at outreach will be small.

At the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, SOAP distributed 40,000 bars of soap at 200 hotels.

Meantime, back-page ads for commercial sex in local alternative newspapers went from an average of 22 before the event to 269 the week of the game, it said. And only two trafficking victims were identified and recovered, according to the Indiana Attorney General's Office.

But the increase in awareness that comes from efforts like SOAP's is worthwhile, said Clemmie Greenlee, a sex-trafficking survivor who now works at Eden House in New Orleans, site of last year's Super Bowl.

"I don't have anything against the Super Bowl. I'm a football fan myself but I need people to know this is one of the greatest activities going on at the Super Bowl," said Greenlee, who says she also remembers being moved around for large events, including doctors and lawyers conferences.

And the awareness may also keep some traffickers at home, said Rachel Lloyd, who runs a New York nonprofit called GEMS.

"Pimps read the news and watch TV too," said Lloyd, another sex-trafficking survivor. "When you start talking about thousands of law enforcement out there, pimps know there's a lot of increased focus on the Super Bowl so can people then point to a lack of numbers as being prevention? Not really. They just didn't come to your city."

Bradley Myles, the CEO of the Polaris Project, a nonprofit founded to combat human trafficking and "modern-day slavery," said better data is needed to establish the scope of the problem—both in the U.S. and around the world. But he said no one should think that human trafficking is only a problem at big events like the Super Bowl.

"I think that it's important to strike a balance. On the one hand, it's absolutely true that this is a 365-day-a-year issue and community preparedness and community mobilization needs to happen 365 days a year," he said. "On the other hand, if people are more likely to get involved through the catalyst of some large rallying point like the Super Bowl, I think some good can come out of that."

The national human trafficking toll-free 24-hour hotline is 1-888-373-7888. Authorities urge those who suspect trafficking to also contact local police.


New York

NYPD conducts pre-Super Bowl crackdown on sex trafficking

by Shimon Prokupecz

Nearly 200 arrests for sex trafficking and related crimes have been made in New York in operations leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl, law enforcement officials say.

New York Police Department vice units trained in dealing with sex trafficking and prostitution have converged on certain parts of the city in the last two weeks, conducting both street busts and high-end, undercover call girl stings to try and curtail some of the sex trafficking business in anticipation of the Super Bowl.

The 200 arrests are in line with the number of arrests made in previous sweeps in New York, according to police Det. James Duffy.

For years, federal and local authorities have been concerned about increased prostitution around major sporting events such as the Super Bowl.

The NYPD and the Federal Bureau of Investigation say they're dedicating more resources to the issue and have been working cases to target traffickers who victimize young women and men in the sex trade.

Most of the operation has focused on johns and sex traffickers. The police department has stressed that in most cases, they treat sex workers as victims.

Homeland Security details Super Bowl safety plan



‘Porch light' to rescue sex-trafficking victims


Florida Baptist Children's Homes in January opened the first of its kind “porch light” homes for minors—a sanctuary for child victims of human sex trafficking in Florida. The move came less than a year after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law the Florida Safe Harbor Act, changing the way victims of sex traffickers are viewed in the state.

LAKELAND (FBCH)—Lighting the way in the sunshine state, Florida Baptist Children's Homes (FBCH) will be among the first to start a program in Florida to immediately rescue and restore child victims of domestic sex trafficking.

Dubbed “The Porch Light, “ the first phase of the program will include one home where victims can live, receive specialized care by Christian staff, and learn to begin a new life.

While the location of the “porch light” safe home has been selected, it will remain undisclosed for the safety of the girls.

Domestic minor sex trafficking occurs when children under the age of 18 are forced into prostitution or are victimized in other illicit activities. A chilling and horrific industry, human sex trafficking terrorizes and abuses young girls for profit and is happening in cities and neighborhoods across the state.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services currently estimates that there are 199,000 incidents of sexual exploitation of minors annually in the United States. According to the Department of Children in Families (DCF), in the state of Florida there are only 20 beds open for children/adolescents to receive specialized care to overcome the emotional impact of sex trafficking.

The first “porch light” home will be staffed by a director, female caregivers, and a licensed mental health counselor. It is set to open during the first quarter of 2014. Designed to comfortably hold up to five girls at one time, each girl's stay will be approximately 9-12 months, depending on her individual and specific needs.

To limit the future number of victims, the first phase will also promote education on sex trafficking prevention and advocacy efforts throughout the state. FBCH representatives will partner with law enforcement to enter schools, churches and community groups throughout Florida to prevent more girls from becoming victims of the growing sex trade.

The first phase is simply the beginning of an unrelenting movement to rescue young girls, victimized and abused by sex trafficking.

In January 2013, Governor Scott's signature on the Florida Safe Harbor Act changed the way victims of sex trafficking are viewed in the state of Florida. Now, rather than victims being treated as criminals, they receive help from welfare professionals.

Organizations like the Department of Children and Families (DCF) immediately stepped in to offer help and hope to these victims. In March 2013, DCF asked Haag to open safe houses where these victims could find shelter, unconditional love and a safe environment to begin something they never thought possible: a new life.

“We immediately knew our answer had to be ‘yes,'” said Haag. “We want to use our expertise in helping children to make a real, tangible and immediate difference in the lives of innocent girls who have been victimized in this way.”

On Jan. 23, FBCH hosted the Light the Night Gala to bring critical funds and awareness to The Porch Light. To spread awareness, all guests were asked to intentionally turn their porch lights on before they went to bed that night in an effort to show support of victims of sex trafficking.

A former sex trafficking victim shared her heartbreaking testimony, and she is one voice among hundreds of thousands.

“For four and a half years, I sold my body in 15 different states and in 21 cities. It was because of the manipulation of a pimp who I believed loved me. I didn't really know love as a child, especially from a male figure. I craved what I thought was real love at any cost,” said Telisia Espinosa, a Tampa resident, during the Light the Night Gala.

While the Gala helped draw in funds for the launch of the program, FBCH continues to seek financial gifts of all sizes from individuals, businesses and churches. The anticipated cost of the first home is $700,000. For those who would like to make a difference in the lives of the young girls who pass through this safe haven, specific sponsorship levels can be found on the organization's website at

This year Florida Baptist Children's Homes celebrates 110 years of caring for and changing the lives of children. In 2013, they served nearly 71,000 children and families through their campus, community, compassion and international programs. FBCH has more than 18 locations in Florida and in an additional 10 countries in the developing world.

In 2014, through its safe homes program, FBCH and those who come beside them will boldly work to help rescue and restore child victims of domestic sex trafficking physically, emotionally and spiritually. Also, through prevention efforts, FBCH will make strides to stop domestic trafficking before it starts for the next child.

For more information on The Porch Light ministry, email the Florida Baptist Children's Homes at



Local doctors say child sex abuse is happening at 'alarming rates'

(Video on site)

by Kaitlyn Bolduc

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -- Every day, there's a new case, children emerging from all corners of Multnomah County that are young victims of sex abuse in need of help, according to doctors.

"Over the course of the week, we will see what is about the average size of an elementary classroom of kids. That's a lot of children," said Kevin Dowling, CARES Northwest executive director.

One in every four girls and one in every seven boys are victims of child sex abuse, according to doctors, statistics, they say, that are clearly troubling.

"I've worked here for 19 years, and I think you get the sense that, shouldn't we have seen all of the kids by now?" said Dowling. "Not a week goes by that there's not a case, and I think about how we are doing this to our children? How come we let this continue to happen to our kids?"

FOX 12 sat down with a panel of doctors at CARES Northwest, a child abuse assessment center in North Portland. These are the doctors that work day in and day out with the region's most vulnerable kids.

"We know the abuse is happening. We know it's happening at alarming rates," said Kim Jacobowitz, CARES Northwest family support team member.

Doctors say there aren't necessarily more instances of sex abuse happening now. Rather, more kids are beginning to feel comfortable reporting the abuse than ever before.

"I think what [it]  is, is that people are doing a better job listening to kids," said Dr. Linda Lorenz, retired CARES Northwest and Kaiser Permanente Northwest Pediatrician.

"So when they make a disclosure, people are more likely to give kids help than they were 20 years ago. I think it's hopeful," she said.

What hasn't changed in the last 20 years, doctors say, is who usually commits these crimes.

"We see people that the families trust and allow into their households. That's who is sexually abusing kids, and that hasn't changed," said Lorenz.

A trusted friend, youth leaders, teacher, coaches and, more often than not, family members - doctors say those are the most common predators, not strangers.

"Sometimes I wish people were aware of how common abuse is. If they knew I think they'd want to do something about it," said Dowling.

To protect kids, these doctors say, the focus should be on providing kids with a safe place to always share their feelings.

"Most importantly, we need to get kids and parents to talk about the event and what happened and helping them to create an environment where it's not too shameful to talk about it," said Lorenz.

Above all else, doctors say, prevention is key.

That means teaching kids how to protect themselves from abuse and what to do when they need help, says Lorenz, who believes that is the only way to truly stop the cycle of abuse.

"Ultimately, that would be the way," said Lorenz. "We'd like to put ourselves out of business."

Doctors at CARES Northwest teach classes on the topic of prevention. For more information, visit

There are countless other community organizations that support victims of abuse, including:

To view part one of FOX 12's investigative series on child sex abuse, click this link: Woman abused by priest speaks out

Copyright 2014 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.



Experts say children sexually abusing children is not that rare

by Nok-Noi Ricker

HARRINGTON — The 11-year-old boy in this Washington County town accused of gross sexual assault is perhaps the youngest person in Maine history to be charged with this serious crime, according to Maine law enforcement officials.

The accused boy and his alleged victim, an 8-year-old boy, were both students at Harrington Elementary School, where outraged parents staged a protest earlier this week after learning the accused was allowed to remain in school.

The criminal charge and the subsequent outcry also placed renewed attention on a seldom discussed issue in Maine: a child sexually abusing another child. Experts say the incidence of kids molesting or raping other kids is not that rare.

“Juvenile sexual offenses are an issue anywhere,” said Sue Righthand, a Rockland-based clinical psychologist who works with the Department of Corrections and has published several reports on sexual offenders in Maine.

Pre-teen and teenage boys account for more than one-third of sexual crimes involving other children reported to police in the United States, according to a 2009 U.S. Department of Justice study about juveniles who commit sex offenses against children.

“Although those who commit sex offenses against minors are often described as ‘pedophiles' or ‘predators' and thought of as adults, it is important to understand that a substantial portion of these offenses are committed by other minors,” the study states.

The study also found that over 90 percent of juvenile perpetrators of child sexual crimes are boys, and that when the victim is a boy, he is usually younger than 12. This is because male juvenile offenders “tend to focus on much younger and sexually immature boys rather than their peers.”

“There appears to be a peak around age 13 or 14 with offenses against younger children,” said Righthand, who also is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Maine.

Educating young people about what is appropriate behavior and helping offenders develop healthy relationships are keys to preventing recurrence and should be a statewide goal, she added.

“There is a lot we could do as a society,” she said.

This sentiment rings true with the mother of the 8-year-old boy in Washington County, who is now enrolled in private school. The Bangor Daily News is not naming her to protect the identity of the alleged victim.

She said this taboo topic must be discussed, so parents can better protect their children.

“It's been all over that school for a month and everybody needs to talk about it,” the mother of two said. “(Parents and school staff) need to learn how to deal with it and they also need to be taught about safety and sexual abuse.”

A lot is done about “stranger danger” but not enough has been done to educate people about others who could hurt them, she said. The Harrington mother, who knows the accused boy well, believes the boy charged will only change his ways with proper psychological treatment.

“He needs a lot of therapy and a lot of help,” she said. “I really do hope he gets it.”

Crimes often unreported

Between 2003 and 2012, there were 156 Mainers age 17 or younger charged with committing rape or attempted rape, according to data in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

Juveniles accounted for 19 percent of the 815 arrests for those crimes in Maine during that period. Statutory rape and other sex offenses are not included in the FBI data.

The federal crime data reveals nothing about who was sexually assaulted, so there is no way to tell how many of the victims were children. Anecdotally, however, police say that in cases of juvenile sexual assault, the victims are often other juveniles.

“Juveniles likely offend against other juveniles, although I don't have any actual data to back that up,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Of the 368 reported rapes in Maine in 2012 — the last year data is available — police arrested five teenage suspects — all males — out of 53 people charged, the crime index shows. Of the five, two were 13 or 14, one was 15, one was 16 and one 17, according to data provided by McCausland.

Although determining the exact figures for sexual assaults involving child perpetrators and child victims in Maine is difficult, said Cara Courchesne, communications and outreach coordinator for the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, it's clear the crime is a major issue.

“Almost 50 percent of our calls that we get on the crisis and support line are regular people who are calling on behalf of a child or are adults who were sexually abused as children,” she said. “It's a big problem.”

One of every 12 high school students in Maine — 13.3 percent of girls and 10.4 percent of boys — report they have been physically forced to have sex, Courchesne said.

A recent national study estimates that 42.2 percent of female rape victims were children when the crime happened and 27.8 percent of male victims were age 10 or younger, she said.

Victims should know it was not their fault and they are not alone, she said, adding that several sexual assault support centers in Maine are ready to help both boys and girls.

Rape and other sexual crimes often go unreported, Courchesne and other experts say.

“It's still a very daunting process, after just going through something that traumatic,” Courchesne said, explaining why sexual assault victims often don't come forward. “It's definitely safe to say a vast majority of sex assault crimes are not prosecuted. People feel a lot of shame and … the idea of facing a criminal justice system is difficult.”

To help overcome the stigma, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault gave thousands of prevention education programs in 2013.

“We reached about 30,000 students last year in Maine,” Courchesne said.

Treating young sex offenders

A dozen juveniles are incarcerated at Mountain View Youth Development Center in Charleston and Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland for sex offenses, according to Scott Fish, spokesman for the Department of Corrections.

Those convicted of sexual crimes and others with identified deviant sexual behaviors are enrolled in the two facilities' Sexual Behavior Treatment programs.

The program has four phases: identifying and assessing youth with sexual behavioral problems, providing therapy about sexual abuse and its effects, deciding what charges are necessary against each individual to prevent future crimes, and assessing the risks associated with community reintegration.

“We get involved at the point of arrest — at the point of referral,” said Dave Barrett, the Juvenile Community Corrections administrator for Region 3, which includes Bangor, Calais, Dover-Foxcroft, Ellsworth, Houlton, Lincoln and Presque Isle.

Juveniles convicted for sex crimes make up only a small portion of those incarcerated in the youth programs, he said.

When young people charged with sexual assaults are presented to the court, they are usually given an opportunity to avoid entering a juvenile corrections facility by entering a treatment program and “engaging in counseling that would address the issues presented in the case (so) we don't see them do this again,” said Melanie Portas, assistant district attorney for Androscoggin County. “If they were victims, we try to get treatment for that.”

If they do land at Mountain View or Long Creek, they'll enter the treatment program that includes “intensive clinical interventions with not only the youth but the family,” Barrett said. “The family is at the center of what is going on here.”

Intervention treatment is effective, according to data about therapy program graduates that was analyzed by the University of Southern Maine's Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service. “Between 2006 and 2009, 78 kids were treated and released, and one person was charged [with a sex crime] as an adult,” Barrett said. “With effective treatment, the recidivism rate is extremely low.”

Righthand, who co-wrote a 2010 report “Reducing Sexual Offending Among Juveniles in Maine,” said effective treatment programs work with teenagers and young adults because their “brains are still developing up through at least age 25.”

“The keys are to help these youth to develop prosocial and respectful and caring lifestyles,” she said. “There is reason to have hope.”

And for victims, Righthand added: “It's not their fault if it happens to them. If somebody does perpetuate sex abuse, they do need to be helped to take responsibility (for the crime) and not do it again. These are our kids and our future.”

To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.


Government Report Calls for More Vigilant Reporting of School Sexual Abuse

Many school officials are 'unaware of their roles and responsibilities' in preventing abuse

by Allie Bidwell

A federal watchdog agency is challenging other departments to better disseminate information to help schools prevent and report sexual abuse, and to more vigilantly track and analyze incidents of sexual abuse committed by school personnel, according to a report released Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office found in its report – requested by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. – that although 46 states have laws requiring school officials to report child sexual abuse and 43 have penalties for not reporting incidents, many states and school districts vary in how they promote awareness and prevention training for school personnel, as well as in how they report suspected abuse.

"Children have a right to be safe in schools and schools have a legal and moral obligation to fulfill that promise," Miller said in a statement. "We must take every available and reasonable step we can to ensure that the people and schools that are entrusted with our children every day protect them from abuse."

Those discrepancies in policy and reporting measures have led to many schools being unaware of their responsibilities in preventing abuse, the report says.

Title IX, an education law that prohibits sex discrimination in any education program receiving federal funds, also has provisions prohibiting sexual harassment. That means sexual abuse of students and sexual misconduct by school personnel are prohibited under Title IX, the report says.

"Schools have the responsibility to prevent sexual abuse under Title IX, but too many of them do not fully understand or comply with the existing requirements, leaving kids vulnerable to abuse and harassment," Miller said. "Protecting kids from sexual abuse in schools is not a choice; it's the law."

But just 18 states require school districts to provide awareness and prevention training on sexual abuse and misconduct, the report found. And of those 18, fewer than half required that Title IX coordinators (school employees who oversee compliance procedures), cafeteria and janitorial personnel, and bus drivers take that training. In only five states did the awareness and prevention training cover the applicability of Title IX to sexual abuse against students.

The report also cites a 2004 report from the Department of Education, which found nearly 1 in 10 students are sexually abused by school personnel – such as teachers, principals, coaches and bus drivers – at some point during their academic careers.

"However, the prevalence of sexual abuse by school personnel remains unknown, in part, because some cases go unreported," the report says. "Further, the term sexual abuse may not capture the full spectrum of the issue."

Some inappropriate behaviors that may not be captured under the umbrella of sexual abuse in state laws include "grooming behaviors" like giving extra attention to one student or giving gifts to a student's family. Using sexual language and gestures, committing written or verbal sexual advances and sharing sexual photos and videos are classified as "sexual misconduct," according to the study – but they still can fall outside the sexual abuse category. However, these definitions vary from state to state.

"Sexual abuse of students by school personnel raises particular concerns because of the trust and responsibility placed with schools to ensure a safe and productive learning environment," the report says.

In response to the report, Deborah Delisle, the Department of Education's assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, said the department is revising its Adult Sexual Misconduct training module to target a wider audience that will include school volunteers. She also said that "to the extent possible," the department will look into ways to better track the prevalence of child sexual abuse by school personnel.

"The Department shares the view, outlined in this report, that sexual abuse by school personnel raises particular concerns because of the trust placed with schools," Delisle said in her response. "Child sexual abuse has a wide array of significant detrimental consequences on the physical, psychological, academic, and behavioral development of children. ... Still, there remains much that needs to be done."



Victim's Long Silence Didn't Help Rapist Priest


A Tennessee priest was properly convicted of criminal sexual abuse and aggravated rape related to decades-old attacks, a state appeals court ruled.

An altar boy at St. Dominic's Church in Kingsport testified that his pastor, William Casey, starting abusing him in 1975 when he was 10. The abuse included oral sex and anal penetration, according to the victim's testimony.

The victim said he had been reluctant to speak out because his mother told him that she was in love with Casey, who was supposedly going to leave the priesthood to marry her. He also felt nobody would believe him and that he had been taught that priests were God's representatives on Earth.

Casey meanwhile professed to love the boy, with whom he claimed to have a "special" relationship, the victim later testified. Casey gave him a medallion and 10 shares of Piedmont Airlines stock, he said.

The abuse ended in 1980 when the victim's "uncontrollable" behavior landed him in jail, and his father moved him to Louisville, Ky. He testified that he pushed the memories "down deep," leading to problems with drugs, alcohol, anger, divorce and bankruptcy.

In 1999, when he was 34, the victim opened up for the first time to his third wife. He had just watched an HBO special that claimed that more than 100,000 survivors of clergy abuse were in the United States, along with 4,000 priests who had been credibly accused.

The victim then told his mother two years later. She advised him to consult a priest and not to pursue anything against Casey.

In 2009, he told his father, who told him to "get over it."

He told a representative of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the police that same year, and he told the captain of the Knoxville Diocese in April 2010.

Father David Boettner, vicar general of the Knoxville Diocese, testified that he, a bishop and a deacon then confronted Casey with the accusations. Casey had replied, "unfortunately, I'm guilty."

Sue Frazier-Bear, a therapist with the Children's Advocacy Center, testified that an average male who is the victim of child sexual abuse will not disclose what happened until his 40s.

The victim's testimony detailed three instances of Casey sexually abusing him. Casey did not testify in his defense.

A Sullivan County jury convicted Casey and sentenced him to 35 to 40 years in prison.

He appealed, but the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the victim's testimony contained sufficient evidence to support the conviction.

Casey also failed to show that his due process rights were violated by the decades-long "pre-accusatorial" delay.

"The abuse that occurred in this case was homosexual in nature, a fact which the victim testified weighed heavily on his mind throughout his extended silence," Judge John Everett Williams wrote for a three-member panel. "During the time that the victim was abused, and to a lesser extent even today, the social stigma attached to male rape may reasonably increase the likelihood that there will be a delay in the reporting of any such abuse."

"As this victim became an adult, his own mother's love for his abuser could only serve to reinforce his concerns that anyone whom he told about being raped would find his allegations incredible and refuse to believe him," he added. "Consequently, we agree with the trial court that although the victim's delay in reporting the sexual abuse was considerable, the reasons for the delay were reasonable and understandable."



A lost boy finds his calling

Romanian orphanage survivor hopes his documentary can spare children from suffering

(Video on site)

Someone dims the lights, and an old video clip begins to roll. In a dank room, dozens of children with shaved heads crouch naked in puddles of urine, fight over a bucket of gruel, lie tethered to radiators. One little girl's leg juts up at a grotesque angle; she uses her hands to scoot across the wet floor. Several kids rock back and forth or hit their heads against the wall.

The footage is not easy to watch, even for those who remember seeing it on television more than two decades ago. The Berlin Wall had just fallen, and Eastern Europe's communist dictatorships were rapidly collapsing. A few months after the execution of Romania's leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, in 1989, Western journalists discovered a desperate underworld of abandoned children warehoused in unheated orphanages.

Around 180,000 were estimated to be living this way, and seeing them on ABC's “20/20” spurred thousands of Americans to rush to save Romania's forgotten children.

Some of those Americans are sitting here on an October afternoon in 2012, at the Homewood Suites hotel in Davidson, N.C., along with the Romanian children they adopted. Now in their teens and early 20s, these adoptees are too young to remember much of their home country.

But one person in the room remembers.

“That's Izidor, in the red sweater,” someone interjects as a little boy with a big smile appears on the screen. The boy is 10, but he is the size of a much younger child, stunted by malnutrition.

Izidor Ruckel, 32, is still small, with haunted brown eyes and close-cropped hair. He is the reason everyone is here today.

As a child, his fierce determination to get out of the orphanage propelled him into the arms of an American family. As a newly adopted adolescent, he fought for his orphanage friends to come to America, too. As an adult, he has become an activist for the tens of thousands of children who still languish in Romanian institutions.

Determined that they should not have to relive the nightmares he endured, he wants to help them in the same way he was once helped: by taking their story public.

‘It set off a wildfire'

The ABC crew arrived at Izidor's institution on a cold morning in 1990 and talked its way past a befuddled gatekeeper.

It was not the first Romanian orphanage the “20/20” team visited, but it was the worst.

“It was like an insane asylum,” recalls Janice Tomlin, a producer who was there that day. “We saw kids in straitjackets, we saw kids in a cage. .?.?. We saw this boy who was literally starving, dying.”

Under Ceausescu, birth control and abortion had been banned, and women were pressured to bear at least five children to provide workers and fighters for the nation. Countless children were institutionalized, sometimes because of disabilities but often simply because their parents couldn't afford them.

The children wrapped their arms around the visitors' legs. There was Marin, a dark-haired Roma boy with an infectious smile; Ana, who was blind and bedridden but sang with plaintive, perfect pitch; and Izidor, a bright-eyed boy with a limp.

The journalists produced a multi-part exposé that shocked American viewers and helped trigger an unprecedented surge in international adoptions in Romania and throughout the Eastern Bloc.

“My phone was ringing literally nonstop,” said Tomlin, who later adopted two infant girls there herself. “American couples, all of whom had the saddest stories of trying to adopt, specifically wanting to adopt a particular child they had seen in our report.”

News organizations across the world presented Romania's orphanages as a symbol of a decayed empire.

“It set off a wildfire,” said Adam Pertman, executive director of the New York-based Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

Thousands of Americans flew to Romania to rescue children. In the post-revolution chaos, there was almost none of the regulation and oversight usually required for adoptions.

Many adoptive parents knew nothing of the effects that sensory deprivation and neglect had wrought. Many of the children had become emotionally marooned, unable to process or return affection. “People didn't know that they should prepare themselves to raise a child who may have special needs,” Pertman said. “People just sort of figured generally that love would conquer all.”

In 1990, 121 Romanian children received American adoption visas. The following year, the number shot up to 2,594. Americans continued to adopt there until early 2004, when Romania banned most international adoptions amid charges of corruption and rumors that U.S. families were trafficking children and selling their organs. By then, Americans had adopted about 8,000 children from Romania and tens of thousands more from Russia, Kazakhstan and other former East Bloc countries.

Izidor's challenge

Speaking before the audience in North Carolina, with just a touch of an accent and an edge of anger, Izidor describes life in the drab concrete Hospital for Irrecoverable Children in the remote Transylvanian town of Sighetu Marmatiei. His diction is formal and a little stiff, even as it is sprinkled with casual expressions like “bro” and “Jeez Louise.”

“If you did anything that even slightly annoyed them, they would either drug you, beat you or put you in a straitjacket — anything to keep you quiet,” he says. The back of his head is lashed with scars.

“A healthy child placed in one of these orphanages?” he says, his voice catching. “Give it one year and that child's hopes and dreams and future have been taken away from him.”

Izidor opens the floor for questions. People congratulate him on his successes, so impressive because they are so unlikely: At age 11 he was plucked out of the orphanage by an American family in California and now lives in Denver, where he supports himself with two low-wage jobs. Being a “professional orphan” is, as he wryly calls it, his third job.

He is the rare one from that original cohort who can live on his own, and certainly the most activist. From personal experience, he knows what a powerful tool a video camera can be. And so, along with another Romanian American adoptee, Izidor plans to make a documentary about Romania's current “orphans.” This gathering is a fundraiser to pay for their trip. They figure they need $30,000.

“This is something that can maybe change the course of history for the next generation,” he tells the audience. “Or even for the present one.”

Izidor visited some government-run institutions in 2005. Though the children were no longer dying of starvation, he says, many were neglected and abused. When these institutionalized children grow up, child welfare advocates say, there are few services to help them adjust to life as adults. Many end up homeless, shut out even from the facilities they grew up in.

Izidor even recognized some of his Sighetu friends, grown now and living on the streets. “I feel terrible for them,” he says. “Some of these kids have never stepped a foot out, and when they're 18 they don't have any skills.”

After the presentation, as Izidor accepts donations and signs copies of a memoir he wrote about his life in the orphanage, a square-jawed 14-year-old with straight black hair tucked under a backward baseball cap approaches and grins shyly.

“I'm Jared Smith,” he says. “I'm from Romania as well.”

“So,” Izidor asks, “how's your life going?”

“Um, it's been very good,” Jared says. He and his brother were adopted as toddlers by a couple in North Carolina, he tells Izidor, and he is interested in helping abandoned children in Romania. Izidor tells Jared to consider volunteering with a local organization that plans to send American students to work with children in Romania.

“I feel like I have it really good,” Jared says, “and I should do something about it.”

Izidor knows the feeling. But he isn't sure how good he has it. When a woman in line asks what he is doing now with his life, he lowers his head.

“I work at not the greatest place,” he says softly. “I work at the airport, and the other place is — ” he whispers: “Wal-Mart.”

“That's not a bad place,” the woman says. But Izidor has loftier goals.

After everyone leaves, he counts up the cash and checks.

Eight hundred and twenty dollars. It's a start.



Ariel Castro's nephew indicted on child porn charges

by Jonathan Grass

CLEVELAND -- Jeremi J. Alicea, the nephew of Ariel Castro, was charged with 22 counts relating to child pornography Thursday, according to Cleveland NBC station WKYC.

Court records reveal Alicia, who turns 27 today, faces 21 counts of pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor and one count of possessing a criminal tool, which the news station reports was a laptop.

The alleged crimes occurred between Sept. 17 and Oct. 8.

Alicea's uncle made national headlines last year after he was revealed to have held three women captive in his Cleveland home while repeatedly raping and assaulting them for a decade. He committed suicide in his prison cell in September after pleading guilty to his crimes.

Alicea lives in Bedford, a suburb of Cleveland.

Read WKYC's report here.


Gacy survivor Dati on life and new book, I Am Me

by Carrie Maxwell

As a 9-year-old, Patrick Dati's life changed forever when serial killer John Wayne Gacy raped him in the men's bathroom of the now defunct Goldblatt's department store on a winter morning in January 1972.

It took Dati, who is openly gay, 35 years to reveal this information; he details that event as well as other events that have shaped his life in his debut book, I Am Me: Survivor of Child Abuse and Bullying Speaks Out.

The genesis of the book began about six years ago when Dati's psychiatrist suggested that he write his thoughts down in a diary so he could release therapeutically what he'd gone through. Dati started writing the diary; then about three-and-a-half years ago his best friend and mentor Bob, who is a writer, asked to read and review his diary. About three weeks later Dati got together with Bob, who insisted that Dati's story would be a New York Times bestseller that would help save lives if he turned his diaries into a book.

"In March of last year Bob retired from his job and he offered to take on the manuscript again," said Dati. "He knows me better than anyone else in my life. We found a technical writer who could take the manuscript and translate it into a book format. From there we found a publisher and the book has been out for about three weeks. I've had a number of people reach out to me and thank me for the book already."

The book begins with a prologue where Dati shares how Bob, who is also gay, helped him break free from the constraints that Dati's family and society put on him. Dati also recounts the years of anti-gay abuse and bullying that he faced at the hands of his older brother, Marco, beginning at the age of 5 as well as what happened to him on that fateful day when Gacy raped him.

Dati chose the title of his book because "I am finally myself after all of these years." He prefers to think of himself as a survivor, not a victim.

"I really appreciate the opportunity I've been given to be a voice for the LGBT community by sharing my story," said Dati.

The most important lessons Dati wants readers to glean from reading his memoir is not to hide who you really are as a gay person because by being closeted he made his life miserable. "I wanted to please the people who I thought loved me," said Dati.

With the book Dati also wants to be the voice of all of the Gacy victims who lived and feel like they can't come forward about what Gacy did to them. He has heard from two of Gacy's victims who found Dati's website and reached out to him via Facebook to thank him for what he is doing, however, they haven't come forward.

"Eighty-five percent of men and boys don't come forward about being abused. I want to show them don't be ashamed, don't be fearful of what people think and come forward. You can survive this," said Dati.

Through his website, Dati noted that he has heard from many people who have been bullied, abused and/or molested/raped.

An advocate for several organizations, Dati does a radio show once a month for the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse and is a member of the speakers bureau of Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network [RAINN]." Where I lead with my advocacy is to tell people that it gets better and you need to have hope," said Dati.

"My technical writer does social work with individuals such as myself and what we are looking to do is an educational book for parents, teachers and the general public about the warning signs to look for when a child has been abused or bullied," said Dati of his future writing plans. "For example, after Gacy raped me in the third grade my grades dropped and that caused me to have to repeat third grade. I developed obsessive compulsive disorder [which wasn't diagnosed until I was an adult] as a result of the rape."

Along with his desire to continue writing, Dati has plans to become a public speaker.

Today Dati shares his life with his partner, Greg, and his 17-year-old daughter from a previous marriage to a woman. "My life is amazing. It will be two years in August 2014 since I met Greg. We met on a Sunday when I took a bike ride along the lakeshore to clear my mind since I was writing my book at the time; I thought I had finished my last chapter, which is different now," said Dati.

Dati will be holding book signings at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St., on Feb. 21 at 6-9 p.m., and the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., on March 22 at 12-3 p.m.

I Am Me is available in both book and Kindle formats at and at Unabridged Bookstore, 3251 N. Broadway.

Visit for more information about the book and Dati.



Grandfather Warned CPS About Toddler's Safety

The maternal grandfather of a toddler who was found unconscious and died earlier this month says he loved his granddaughter.

Plano police arrested 25-year-old Melinda Lynn Muniz on Tuesday and charged her with capital murder in the death of 2-year-old Lillian Grace Ford. Muniz is the fiance of Ford's biological father and lived at the home where the toddler was found unconscious, police said.

Doug Reeves, Ford's grandfather, delivered a letter to Child Protective Services two days before the child's death and apparent staged home invasion. The letter expressed concern about "physical injuries that Grace had suffered in the past."

"I had written up a three and a half page letter spelling out incidents along the way things that should be troubling to CPS," Reeves said. "I was hoping they's reopen the case."

CPS had already gotten involved in the family's life over bruises Reeves discovered, and over a Benadryl overdose.

"We were saying to ourselves, talking, something really bad's gonna happen to Grace," Reeves said. "We just had a gut feeling."

Reeves said he wanted his granddaughter in a safe place.

CPS acknowledged the letter and told NBC 5 that it will be a part of the internal review of Ford's case.


'American Idol' judge says abused need to be heard

Kara DioGuardi isn't ashamed about what happened to her, and she's certainly not going to hide it.

The 43-year-old is a mother, a wife, an award-winning singer-songwriter, music producer and “American Idol” judge and she is also a sexual abuse survivor.

It's taken DioGuardi a lifetime to come to terms with what happened to her, and to heal, but luckily, it gets easier with age, she said.

“I can absolutely stand here and say, yes, I'm healed,” DioGuardi says, speaking by phone. “But you know, I'm 43 years old, I had a lot of years to work on it. And I had a lot of perspective as well.”

DioGuardi will share her experience and her perspective Feb. 6 at the fourth annual Julie Valentine luncheon.

The event this year is the largest fundraiser for the local nonprofit, and it helps fund the center's day-to-day operations, including emergency and long-term services and advocacy to victims of sexual assault and abuse.

This year's event is sponsored by Silent Tears, a collaborative effort funded by Greenville philanthropists Lisa and Bob Castellani to address child sexual abuse in South Carolina.

The nonprofit presented a yearlong study this past May that revealed statistics for this state as well as suggestions for improving them.

DioGuardi, with her entertainment industry credentials, is a bit of a change for the fundraiser, which has in the past brought in speakers such as Ed Smart and Elizabeth Smart. But DioGuardi's message, and her life, match well with that of the Julie Valentine Center.

“The one thing we tell all of our clients is that when abuse or assault happens it might be a defining moment in their lives, but it's not going to define who they are,” said Shauna Galloway-Williams, executive director of the Julie Valentine Center.

“That's how she's handled every challenge in her life. It's something she uses creatively for her music and she never lost sight of what her ultimate goals are — being a leader in the music industry.”

DioGuardi was a well-known face in the music and entertainment industry when she went public about her personal history with abuse in her 2011 memoir, “Helluva High Note.” The book detailed her experience including being molested as a child and later being raped as a young adult.

A media frenzy ensued, for which DioGuardi still is frustrated.

“That was never the intention of my book,” DioGuardi said adamantly. “The intention was to show how my life events influenced my songs.”

Indeed, DioGuardi's songs are an apt reflection of how her life has changed.

Growing up in a music-oriented family with the sounds of her father's Frank Sinatra albums, or a relative playing the piano or singing, “Music was part of the fabric of every day,” DioGuardi said. It has remained a reliable constant throughout her life and a measure of her healing as well.

“It helped me kind of find those places inside that were in need to healing and that I needed to discuss,” DioGuardi said. “Because you can't really heal unless you bring it to the surface.”

But healing is a process, and DioGuardi has worked hard to do that.

She has continued to climb higher in the music industry. Google Top 40 lists over the past decade and you can find DioGuardi's name attached.

Through her work with Warner Brothers and as co-CEO of Arthouse Entertainment, she's worked with everyone from Pink, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to Rascal Flatts and Santana.

“The thing we want to show with our speakers is that this happens everywhere and to everyone; anyone can be impacted by sexual abuse and sexual assault,” Galloway-Williams said. “And the outcome doesn't have to hold you back forever.”

The Julie Valentine Center has held its fundraiser on or around Valentine's Day as a way of illuminating issues most can't imagine, but ones the center faces daily.

Julie Valentine was the name given to an abandoned baby who was found 23 years ago by a man who was picking flowers for his wife for Valentine's Day. The name has come to represent the center's work to give a voice to silent victims and to provide a path toward healing.

“When you've been assaulted or abused you often feel alone, ashamed, guilt and frustration, and you feel like you're in that all on your own,” Galloway-Williams says. “And I think the most powerful message is you're not alone in this.”

At the luncheon next week, her message will be twofold, DioGuardi said, for victims and to the public — speaking up is necessary. She's incredulous about statistics that show the rate of sexual assaults similar to statistics for breast cancer.

“Somehow with sexual abuse we don't want to talk about it, and that's part of the issue,” DioGuardi said.

“Victims feel shamed and they feel like they did something wrong and it has nothing to do with something they did or didn't do. Me talking about it in the book was like I don't feel bad that I'm telling you this; this has nothing to do with me, I didn't do anything wrong.”

Healing isn't always fast, and it's rarely easy, but it does happen.

“I don't define my life through that I was abused,” DioGuardi said. “I feel like it was a challenge in my life that I had to work through, and I wanted to show people that you can work through it and you can get to the other side.”



Officials urge unified effort against child sex trafficking

by Karen Florin

Hartford — A Connecticut girl was sexually abused by her biological father at age 2 and removed from her home by the state Department of Children and Families.

By age 9, she had been raped by her adopted father and was once again removed from the only home she knew.

“By 14, she was out on the streets, prostituting,” said Stefania Agliano, a social work supervisor from DCF.

Presenters at a forum on sex trafficking of children Wednesday told stories meant to spark outrage and action among the audience of nearly 300 people at the Connecticut Convention Center. The state has documented 198 cases of domestic minor sex trafficking in the past five years, and those, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy pointed out in his introductory remarks, are just the cases that came to light.

Most of the 198 victims, who were 11 to 18 years old, were runaways who had been involved with the child welfare agency at some point in their young lives. Commissioner Joette Katz, referring to the victims as “our kids,” called on the judges, prosecutors, social workers, lawmakers and law enforcement officers in the audience to work with the agency to prevent children from being sexually exploited for commercial gain. No new state money has been allocated to fight the problem, but legislators have passed new laws with tougher penalties for those who purchase advertising for commercial sex acts involving people under 18 and those who pay for sex with those under 18.

The most compelling testimony Wednesday came from Audrey Morrissey, associate director of an organization called “My Life My Choice,” and a survivor of sex trafficking. She was in “the life” from ages 16 to 30, starting from a street corner in Boston's red-light district, known as the Combat Zone, and moving “up” to a local strip club when her pimp went to jail.

“I had finally found a world in which I belonged,” said Morrissey, now 51. As a child living in the “hood,” she didn't fit in as a light-skinned black woman whose parents owned a three-family home. Her mother was not the nurturing type, Morrissey said, and she was bullied at school. She lost her virginity at 14 to a boy who told her not to come back to his house if she would not have sex, Morrissey said.

“I literally felt my childhood draining from my body,” she said. A month later, she was pregnant. By 16, she said, her daughter's father, whose cousin was a pimp, talked her into selling her body, saying she would do it if she loved him and that they could use the money to get a car and apartment.

By 26, Morrissey was pregnant again and addicted to heroin. By 30, pregnant with her third daughter, she went into treatment and left “the life.” She said she couldn't count the number of times she was raped and robbed.

Today, Morrissey works with young girls to keep them out of prostitution. After Wednesday's program, she was en route to a DCF group home to speak with children in the agency's custody.

“This has been going on since before your time, my time,” Morrissey said. “The only difference is, we're aware of it and trying to take steps to help these children.”

The presenters referred to prostitution not as “the world's oldest profession,” but as “the oldest form of oppression,” and said women and children are criminalized and sometimes have their mugshots published in newspapers while little attention is given to “johns” who patronize them.

“The demand drives the supply,” said Agliano, who estimated that on any given night in the United States, 100,000 to 300,000 children are having sex with five to 25 customers.

While most victims are girls, presenters said that boys are also involved in sex trafficking. Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician, said children who are victimized are in a “perfect storm,” with a society that is not shocked by explicit sexual matter and pervasive online bullying, sexual violence, drug addiction and social network recruiting. They come from homes where there is physical or psychological abuse, family dysfunction, alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness and incarceration, she said. They also come from all parts of the country, including cities, suburbs, rural areas and Indian Country. Many use illegal narcotics to cope.

Girls are reaching puberty earlier, Cooper said, and their brains are not fully developed until they are in their 20s. The average age for boys who see their first adult pornography is 11, and “the neurons in their brain is convincing them that they are experiencing what they are seeing,” she said.

“When a child sees (him or her) self only as a sexual object, it is easy for them to be manipulated,” she said. Pimps recruit from homeless shelters, hubs of transportation, jails, street corners, villages and through sexually oriented businesses, including, sometimes, the hip hop music industry and reality TV.

The “finesse pimp” lures children under the guise of romance or by promising a better life, she said. The “gorilla pimp” abducts victims or purchases them from another pimp and controls them through intimidation or violence.

The “life” often results in a number of illnesses and early death, Cooper said.

Officials from the FBI, state police, Department of Homeland Security and Chief State's Attorney Kevin T. Kane stressed that a unified response is necessary to stop sexual trafficking of minors. In December, local, state and federal agencies teamed up to investigate sexual trafficking on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation and charged a Providence woman with transporting a 16-year-old girl to the Two Trees Inn in Ledyard to have a paid sexual encounter.



Man To Stand Trial In Fayette Co. Fatal Child Abuse Case

by Ross Guidotti

UNIONTOWN (KDKA) – A man will stand trial in connection with a case of child abuse that left his 20-month-old daughter dead in November.

Domer Burkholder, Jr., 30, of Uniontown, is charged with criminal homicide and child endangerment in the death of his 20-month-old daughter, Kaylee Jo Burkholder.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, Burkholder is accused of striking the child in the abdomen. The incident happened at the Holiday Mobile Home Park in North Union Township.

The little girl was taken to Uniontown Hospital, and then transferred to Children's Hospital where she died from her injuries.

On Wednesday, District Justice Wendy Dennis' parking lot became a rowdy scene of nasty accusations by friends and supporters of the suspect and those supporting his wife and the child's mother, Jessica Burkholder.

Both Burkholders faced preliminary hearings. Domer Burkholder waived to court charges in connection with the death of his 20-month-old baby girl in November of last year.

“It should have never happened. It just should have never happened,” said Jessica Burkholder.

She was initially charged with endangering the welfare of a child by not taking the little girl to the hospital.

On the stand Wednesday, Jessica said she watched husband allegedly punch the child in the stomach, the injuries eventually fatal.

Her testimony came in exchange for a plea deal of child endangerment.

“Walk in my shoes,” said Jessica. “Yeah, there's going to be people that hate me. Till they really know, they have no idea.

Katie Ritenour spoke after the hearing, which included testimony that the family's four children were living in a poorly kept house with strangers also staying there, sometimes 11 people at a time.

“She lied the entire time; everything she said was a lie,” said Ritenour. “She did not take that baby to the hospital to get the baby help, and she should face the same charges as him.”

The couple's three remaining children are now in foster care.

“I'm fighting to get my kids back. I'm doing everything – taking classes, counseling,” said Jessica.

But that reunion may be a long way off as part of the plea has Jessica serving six to 23 months in prison followed by two years' probation.

While Jessica remains free till her formal sentencing, her husband remains in the Fayette County Prison without bond. His trial date has not been set.



Workshops on reporting child abuse offered in Red Bluff

by Staff Reports

RED BLUFF — Reservations are being taken for the third annual Child Abuse Reporting Workshop on Feb. 4, presented by Tehama County Child Abuse Prevention Council.

Two identical sessions will be conducted: 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Red Bluff Community/Senior Center, 1500 S. Jackson St.

Sessions will be led by professionals in the legal and social services fields, with time for questions after presentations.

Workshops are open to anyone in the hopes that training will help people recognize physical, emotional, sexual or neglectful child abuse and encourage reporting to authorities. Participants will learn about the legal aspects of child abuse, procedures practiced in Tehama County and services available for children and families affected by these behaviors.

Advance registration is required for the free workshops. To register, contact Mike Lindsey at 529-1500, ext. 114, or visit .



Tax returns to aid child abuse prevention efforts

by Daily Press & Argus

Livingston County residents have the opportunity this tax season to directly increase funding to local child abuse prevention efforts.

In filling out Form 4642, LACASA encourages residents to place a check mark on Line No. 6: Children's Trust Fund - Preventing Child Abuse in Michigan. Donation amounts of $5, $10 or more can be made, and will be deductible on 2014 federal tax returns.

The agency's Child Abuse Prevention Council is a designated local council of the Michigan Children's Trust Fund, which provides grant funding for child abuse prevention programs provided by the CAP Council in Livingston County.

The Children's Trust Fund will boost CAP's grant funding this year and next according to the number of residents from Livingston County who make a donation.


Reporting of school sexual abuse plagued by confusion, spotty data, GAO says

by Gil Aegerter and Joel Seidman

Sexual abuse of children by teachers or other public school employees is likely underestimated because of a patchwork reporting system and involvement of numerous local, state and federal agencies in investigating such claims, according to a new government report obtained exclusively by NBC News.

The report by the Government Accountability Office raises numerous questions about how closely public schools are following federal requirements for mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse allegations or suspicions involving the public school employees who oversee the 50 million children enrolled in the nation's public K-12 schools. The report also raises doubts about the accuracy of the data on the scope of the problem.

"While Education, HHS and Justice all have data systems that capture information from state and local entities about child abuse, none capture(s) the extent of sexual abuse and misconduct perpetrated by public K-12 school personnel," the report said.

One key issue is who receives reports from educators. Under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, each state is required to have a law for mandatory reporting requirements, along with procedures for screening and investigating reports. Most states require that allegations be reported to a state or local child protection service, the GAO report said, while about two-thirds designated law enforcement (there was overlap in the two categories).

"I was quite stunned by the fact that there's still several states that don't have that requirement to report to law enforcement," said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who requested the report. "They report to each other but that doesn't necessarily solve the problem. It may in fact lead to problems."

Even when state law requires reports to be made to outside agencies, sometimes the information never goes beyond a school district, the report said – whether because of uncertainty about whether a report is necessary, delays in reporting or outright failure to report allegations or suspicions of abuse. Miller said such confusion was unacceptable.

"Many school districts believe they just have a need to report to their school principal, to the superintendent of the school," Miller told NBC News. "They don't recognize that under state law, where they have the laws, they have an obligation to report this to law enforcement officials."

The GAO report cites a case in which an elementary school teacher who had been suspected of inappropriate behavior in one district was allowed to resign, then went to work at a school in another district. After he again was accused of inappropriate behavior, school officials in the new district investigated but then reported to the parents that the investigation had been closed. Only when a teacher reported rumors to her police officer husband did a criminal investigation begin: The teacher eventually pleaded guilty to eight counts of aggravated sexual abuse in the second district and two counts in the first district. Neither district reported the allegations to state authorities.

The GAO report does not name the school where the abuse occurred or the teacher, but by comparing details from the GAO report with published accounts NBC News identified it as a case involving the Urbana, Ill., school district and Jon White, who was sentenced in 2008 to 60 years in prison.

The Urbana school district superintendent and the elementary school principal were convicted of misdemeanors for not reporting the allegations, and the district's human resources officer pleaded guilty to the same charge. All received sentences of court supervision and community service, and all retired after the police investigation began. The former principal and former HR director declined to comment to NBC News. The former superintendent did not respond to a request for comment.

Urbana attorney Tom Bruno, who represented three of the families who sued the school district after their daughters were abused, said the law on reporting requirements is clear enough – as long as it's followed.

"Why struggle so hard to say 'I was confused about my duty to report'? Just report it," he told NBC News. "There's no punishment for reporting a suspicion that turns out to be nothing."

Bruno said the families are still grappling with the psychological effect on their daughters.

"I'm not sure they know the damage yet," he said. "It might be analogous to being exposed to a toxic chemical. You sit back and hope that 20 years from now nothing bad is going to happen. But you just don't know."

The GAO report found that the confusion involved not only state laws but also the reporting requirements under Title IX, part of the federal education law that prohibits sex discrimination -- including sexual harassment -- in federally funded education programs. Investigators visited school districts in several states and found that some were interpreting Title IX to include mandatory reporting of adult-to-adult or student-to-student incidents, but not adult-to-student incidents.

GAO investigators said they also found that most states do not require training of educators on sexual abuse, even though experts say it's critical to preventing abuse. The report said such training might keep school officials from discounting their own suspicions or observations. Such was the case in Urbana, said Denny Mickunas, a plaintiffs personal injury attorney who assisted Bruno in the lawsuits.

"They essentially blew off those complaints," he said. "As with many pedophiles, Jon White was very adept at manipulating not only children but the adults around them."

There was a discrepancy in the report about how many states make reporting mandatory for educators. "According to GAO's survey, 46 states have laws that require school personnel to report child abuse and designate the agency that investigates reports (local law enforcement and/or child protection services (CPS), and 43 establish penalties for not reporting," the report said. But the five states identified by GAO staff as having responded "no" or not having responded to the survey questions do indeed have such laws. It was unclear if the responses were a result of the wording of the questions, a misunderstanding of the questions or some other issue.

The GAO report said its survey found that background checks were the primary tool used by states to prevent sexual abuse, but the report added that there was wide variation in what those checks encompassed. Five states reported having no background checks for school employees, the report said. Six reported consulting only state law enforcement data, and three said they consulted only federal data.

Forty-two states reported having professional standards or codes of conduct, and 22 of those reported that those codes helped to define boundaries between students and teachers or staff, including the use of cell phones and social media. Fifteen states said they specifically address "grooming" – "behavior intended to establish trust with a student to facilitate future sexual activity."

The report says the federal government, led by the education secretary, should:

•  Develop comprehensive materials for states, districts and schools that outline steps to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse by school personnel.

•  Identify mechanisms to better track and analyze the prevalence of child sexual abuse by school personnel through existing federal data collection systems.

•  Clarify responsibilities of personnel in public K-12 schools under Title IX.

In a letter responding to the GAO, the Education Department said it:

•  Was "taking action to revise its Adult Sexual Misconduct training module … to target a wider audience, including school volunteers."

•  Would "explore methods to track and analyze the prevalence of child sexual abuse by school personnel."

•  Would make clear that Title IX applies to sexual harassment at K-12 schools and prohibits sexual harassment of students by school employees.

The department also said "it is vital that all states have a policy requiring background checks of all adults working with students."

Neither the Justice Department nor Health and Human Services provided formal responses to the GAO.



Child Advocacy Center Reacts to Sexual Assault By Teacher

by Andrea Flores

The Child Advocacy center says it's the comments condoning, and even praising the male student who says he was sexually assaulted by Carrie Miller, that perpetuate the problem of male victims not reporting abuse. It's a problem they're trying to put an end to.

One in every six men experience sexual abuse before the age of 18, but many of the cases go unreported.

"They don't come forward, they don't talk about it, for the fear of the types of comment and judgments that are going to be passed," said CAC Executive Director, Lynn Ayers.

The Child Advocacy Center says it's negative responses from the community that continue the problem of silence in victims.

"For male victims, there's just a lot of stereotypes that go with it in terms of that they wanted it, somehow they were asking for it, somehow they caused it to happen," said Ayers.

Counselors at CAC say sometimes there's confusion about what constitutes sexual abuse, but the definition is clear.

"If the victim is under the age of 16, and the perpetrator is 19 years of age or older, it's sexual assault," said Ayers. "They are manipulating the child based on the relationship of power and trust, a position of respect and admiration."

And when kids do come forward, the CAC says the work to regain trust has just begun.

"It causes a lot of self-doubt, a lot of shame, a lot of confusion," said Ayers. "It will impact male victims, as well as female victims, down the road in their adults years when it comes to trust and intimacy in relationships."

That's why the CAC says it's important for the community to understand the implications of sexual abuse.

"This is tough stuff, but you can't have anything but respect for the courage it takes for someone to come forward and talk about it," said Ayers.

The CAC says female perpetrators are rare, making up less than 5 percent of abusers, but they do exist. Out of the more than 1,000 clients the CAC helped in 2013, only 35 percent were male victims.



Remains of 55 bodies found near former Florida reform school

by Bill Cotterell

TALLAHASSEE (Reuters) - Excavations at a makeshift graveyard near a now-closed reform school in the Florida Panhandle have yielded remains of 55 bodies, almost twice the number official records say are there, the University of South Florida announced on Tuesday.

"This is precisely why excavation was necessary," said USF professor Erin Kimmerle, head of the research project. "The only way to truly establish the facts about the deaths and burials at the school is to follow scientific processes."

On a hillside in the rolling, tall-pine forests near the Alabama-Georgia border, a team of more than 50 searchers from nine agencies last year dug up the graves to check out local legends and family tales of boys, mostly black, who died or disappeared without explanation from the Dozier School for Boys early in the last century.

The school, infamous for accounts of brutality told by former inmates, was closed by the state in 2011.

The University of South Florida was commissioned to look into deaths at the school in the Panhandle city of Marianna, after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced the presence of 31 official grave sites in 2010.

Excavation began last September with bones, teeth and several artifacts from grave sites sent to the University of North Texas Science Center for DNA testing.

Members of 11 families who lost boys at Dozier have been located by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for DNA sampling and researchers hope to find 42 more families for possible matching.

State investigators initially located 31 suspected graves in the woods across a busy highway from the shuttered reform school. Kimmerle's more detailed probes raised the number to 50 or 51 last year, and USF announced on Tuesday the searchers had found remains of 55 bodies.

"Locating 55 burials is a significant finding, which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team," said Kimmerle.

"All of the analyses needed to answer these important questions are yet to be done, but it is our intention to answer as many of these questions as possible."

Research will continue in areas adjacent to the graveyard, dubbed "boot hill" by school officials and inmates a century ago.

Greg Ridgeway, acting director of the National Institute of Justice, praised Kimmerle's work. He said the discoveries made by the USF team "will not only bring resolution to these cases but will add to our knowledge about investigations of missing and unidentified persons in jurisdictions throughout the country."



Ex-doctor terrorized girl for years


GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) — A former Delaware pediatrician accused of waterboarding his female companion's daughter by holding her face under a faucet terrorized the girl for several years and exercised total control over her, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

In opening statements in the trial of Melvin Morse, deputy attorney general Melanie Withers portrayed Morse as a brutal and domineering ‘‘lord and master'' of his household, abusing the girl for years while her mother acquiesced in silence.

‘‘The defendant controlled every single aspect of that child's life, including whether she had the right to draw breath,'' Withers told jurors.

Defense attorney Joseph Hurley told jurors that the girl and her mother, Pauline, have told many conflicting and false stories to authorities over the years and that the waterboarding charges are unfounded.

Hurley said Pauline Morse herself told investigators that the alleged waterboarding was nothing more than hair-washing, which the girl did not like, and that it was sometimes threatened as a form of punishment.

‘‘There was no water on her face cutting off her breath,'' Hurley said.

Melvin Morse, 60, has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment and assault charges. He has specifically denied police claims that he may have been experimenting on the girl. Morse has authored several books and articles on paranormal science and near-death experiences involving children. He has appeared on shows such as ‘‘Larry King Live'' and the ‘‘The Oprah Winfrey Show'' to discuss his research, which also has been featured on an episode of ‘‘Unsolved Mysteries'' and in an article in ‘‘Rolling Stone'' magazine.

The allegations of waterboarding came after Morse was accused of grabbing the girl by the ankle in July 2012 and, as her younger sister watched, dragging her across a gravel driveway. He was arrested on misdemeanor endangerment and assault charges and released on bail.

When the girl, then 11, was subsequently interviewed, she told investigators that Melvin Morse also had disciplined her by holding her face under a running faucet at least four times since 2009, a punishment she said he had called ‘‘waterboarding.''

Withers said the alleged abuse surfaced after the girl fled her house and showed up on the doorstep of a girl with whom she rode the school bus.

Withers said the girl decided to run away the day after Morse dragged her across the driveway, threw her on her bed and spanked her, then told her she would be punished the next day like she never had been before.

‘‘That threat is what spurred her to action. ... She feared the worst,'' Withers said.

In a videotaped police interview shown to jurors Tuesday afternoon, Morse denied abusing the girl but recounted how he struggled to get the recalcitrant child into the house after the family arrived home from a trip to Montreal.

‘‘She was kicking so much at times I dropped her,'' Morse told an investigating officer. Morse also told the officer that the unprecedented punishment he warned of was telling the girl she would have to clean her room thoroughly, and threatening to throw away her Harry Potter books.

At the same time, Morse acknowledged that family services officials became involved with the family in 2009 when the girl said he had slapped her.

The jury also was shown photographs of the girl taken by a forensic nurse after the July incident. One photograph showed the girl, with dark shadows underneath her eyes, smiling broadly. Others showed several areas of slight bruising and abrasions on her legs, arms and back.

Hurley said the girl has been questioned repeatedly by child protection officials over the years since saying that she had been sexually molested by a female half-sibling and that she gave no indication that she was being abused by Melvin Morse.

Pauline Morse agreed last year to plead guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges and to testify against Melvin Morse. Hurley told jurors that Pauline's testimony is motivated by her desire to be reunited with her daughters, who currently remain in foster care but with whom she is allowed to have supervised visits.


North Carolina

Rape crisis center marks 40 years of healing

by Zoe Schaver

When he was sexually abused by a family member at age eight, Dean Coglaiti had nowhere to turn.

Education about child abuse prevention didn't exist in his school in the 1960s or in many other schools in the United States, and he had no way of knowing if other services existed for him where he lived in California.

But a few volunteers on the other side of the country — in Chapel Hill — saw the need for a local rape crisis hotline and began fielding survivors' calls in 1974. That effort eventually became the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, which helped Coglaiti, now a Chapel Hill resident, heal more than 40 years later.

Today, 10 paid staff members and dozens of volunteers provide rape crisis services to more than 600 clients per year at the center, which is entering its 40th year.

The center runs a 24-hour crisis hotline, houses support groups and workshops, holds community education sessions and trains adults in child abuse prevention.

Shamecca Bryant, the center's executive director, said the center's goal is to maximize support for sexual assault victims in multiple areas of their lives.

“One way the center has grown is in doing more work with professionals in the community — doctors and therapists and other individuals that may come in contact with survivors of sexual violence,” Bryant said.

“We want to make sure that any organization or entity that a survivor might be faced with, they are getting the same level of care, and that it doesn't re-traumatize them.”

To celebrate the center's 40th anniversary, volunteers will be traveling around the state between January and March to train people in sexual violence prevention.

Coglaiti, like many other survivors, buried his trauma for a long time. A few years ago, he started therapy and joined a support group at the center.

“When you're with a therapist, it's one-on-one. In a group situation, you're exposing yourself to whoever else is in the room of this secret that you've kept for a long time,” he said. “It gave me confidence, it took away the shame of what happened to me. It's transformative.”

Today, Coglaiti works as a “companion” on the center's hotline. To work the hotline, volunteers must undergo almost 70 hours of training.

“Being able to live in a county that has a center like that is pretty amazing because it's not available in a lot of places,” he said.

A sexual assault survivor named Kate, who wishes to be identified by her first name, has been trying to bring her case to trial for two years, but many such cases never make it. Kate said the center is what has kept her going.

“It's good to be able to go there and say, ‘I'm having a weak moment,' and have them be there and encourage me,” she said. “They remind me why I'm doing this.”

Bryant said the center will continue to strive to be a vocal presence in the Orange County community as it moves forward with its next 40 years.

“We want to make sure that we take time to acknowledge the 40 years of survivors, volunteers, staff members (and) board members who have committed time and energy to the agency, as well as thank all the donors who have supported our work for so long,” she said.

“Our services are still needed, and we want to let people know we are still here.”


From Philly to Dallas, ex-priest a 'brutal abuser' without remorse


WHEN BILL Johnson moved into a Dallas apartment complex in October 2012, a neighbor named James rolled out the welcome wagon. Sort of.

"Oh, great, another old queen moving in," James said as Johnson and his friends unloaded his belongings at Crescent View Apartments in the Texas city's Oak Lawn section.

Johnson, 54, an unemployed financial adviser, figured that James was just being nice, one gay man to another in the "gayborhood."

"I think he was trying to be friendly and joking," Johnson said. "He doesn't have a muffler on his mouth, as my mama used to say."

Johnson had no way to know it at the time, but the neighbor was James Brzyski, a defrocked priest described in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office's 2005 grand-jury report as one of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's "most brutal abusers."

The 6-foot-5 Brzyski allegedly preyed on at least 17 altar boys in the 1970s and '80s, subjecting them to "unrelenting abuse, including fondling, oral sex and rape," according to the report.

Brzyski, 62, has managed to leave all that behind. In Dallas, he reinvented himself as a jovial former Xerox employee who'd lost millions after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Johnson initially had no reason to doubt that backstory. You don't automatically suspect that your new neighbor is a child rapist.

"He said before he retired that he worked for Xerox for 30 years," Johnson said.

Brzyski is able to move from one community to another in relative anonymity - at least until his behavior gives him away - because the Archdiocese won't disclose his whereabouts, or the whereabouts of 23 other Philadelphia priests who have been defrocked for abusing minors.

So Johnson and Brzyski became friends last spring. They were part of a small group at Crescent View that would relax at the pool, or get together for dinner or wine. None of them knew at first that they'd let a "monster" into their circle, Johnson said.

"He puts on a great front, and he's a great guy to hang around with," Johnson said. "Until you find out about him."

In the pool, on the Web

Over the summer, Brzyski's neighbors realized that something was wrong.

They saw him playing with young boys in the pool. He bragged about going online to find males who appeared to be underage and said he liked "fat boys," Johnson said. A Facebook page that Brzyski has used - with a different name and corresponding email address - includes a photo of a shirtless overweight boy with an obscene caption.

Brzyski, neighbors say, was acting like a pedophile - the same man who the Archdiocese acknowledges abused boys at St. John the Evangelist School in Bucks County and St. Cecilia School in Philadelphia's Fox Chase section decades ago.

But in Dallas, he was just a retired Xerox worker.

"There are people in the complex that always have their nieces and nephews over, and he would get in the pool and pick the boys up and throw them and play with them," Johnson said. "But he wouldn't pay any attention to the girls."

Maggie Caster, a friend of Johnson's who lives at Crescent View, also found Brzyski's behavior suspicious. She said he had given one child candy and money.

"He was the only one that was really interacting with them in the pool, which we found unusual," Caster recalled. "There was a group of us adults, and just the kids playing among themselves, and he was over with the kids."

Johnson said that Brzyski had been reaching out to boys he met online and that some of the pictures he'd received were of males who appeared to be underage. Caster also saw some of the photos and said the males seemed to be minors.

After Brzyski sent a box of candy to one of them, Johnson said, the kid "texted him telling him not to send things to his house because his parents open his mail."

"I said, 'James, that tells you right there he's not 18,' " Johnson said.

Even at dinner, Caster said, Brzyski would steer conversations toward young males and it quickly would become an "inappropriate situation."

"We would be talking about something random and he would take his computer or phone out and show us pictures of these boys," Caster said. "He just seemed like he was a pedophile. His characteristics were very much that way."

Attempts by the Daily News to reach Brzyski were unsuccessful. He did not respond to an email or a voice mail left on his last known phone number.

'We were horrified'

Alarmed by his behavior, Brzyski's neighbors went online a few months ago and found news stories about his past, including a 2008 Daily News article about Brzyski and other pedophile ex-priests cut loose by the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Prior to that, no one at Crescent View had known the real James Brzyski. Not even the apartment manager.

"We were horrified by the stories we read about him. When I asked him about it, his reply was that he was abused by priests in the seminary so he thought that was OK," Johnson said. "I said, 'James, that's not saying you're sorry. That's making excuses for horrendous behavior.' "

They spread the word to their friends, including those whose nephews Brzyski had targeted in the pool over the summer. Brzyski tried to do "damage control," but ultimately moved out last month, Johnson said.

"I was a victim of child abuse, and I don't play that game or put up with people that have done it, especially with people that have no remorse," Johnson said. "He said, 'Yeah, that went on a long time ago,' and 'I can't believe you looked me up on Google,' and 'Real friends don't do that.'

"But real friends don't go around raping people," Johnson said. "He never said sorry or felt guilty about it. That, to me, is despicable."

Public records show that Brzyski, the son of a Philadelphia police officer, has traveled coast to coast since leaving the Archdiocese, with addresses including Virginia Beach, Va., and West Hollywood, Calif.

He surfaced on a dating website as "JUSTINBLUE," asking potential dates whether they would "mind putting on some weight" and "enjoy the company of more mature men." He's recently used an email address under the name "Joshua," according to Johnson.

"He's considered a sex offender. He should register," said Adriana Ramirez, Crescent View Apartments manager.

But Brzyski, who attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and was ordained in 1977, doesn't have to register as a Megan's Law sex offender because the Archdiocese kept his case under wraps in the 1980s, when allegations that he was sexually abusing children were first reported to church leaders, according to the city's 2005 grand-jury report.

In an Oct. 31, 1984, letter to then-Cardinal John Krol, the Rev. John W. Graf, an assistant chancellor, provided an update on "the Father Brzyski situation." Graf told Krol that he had advised a psychological counselor at Bishop Egan High School not to treat one of Brzyski's alleged abuse victims "because of the sensitivity of the situation" and in order to retain "confidentiality."

Archdiocese officials did not notify police, and Brzyski continued to abuse children, according to the grand-jury report. He left active ministry in 1985, but it wasn't until March 2005 that the Archdiocese formally kicked him out of the priesthood - laicized him, in church terminology - after concluding that he had sexually abused minors. By then, it was too late to file criminal charges, because of the statute of limitations.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Brzyski is among a diaspora of unregistered sex offenders unleashed by the Roman Catholic Church since 2002. Few safeguards prevent the former priests from abusing again.

"The reason these guys are walking free is because church officials shielded them. Were it not for the actions of the church hierarchy, many of these guys would be in jail," Clohessy said. "I think that increases the moral and civic duty of bishops to say more than, 'Well, he's not in the diocese anymore.' "

Philadelphia Archdiocese spokesman Kenneth Gavin said the Archdiocese maintains current addresses for sex-offender priests who receive a pension and tries to keep track of those who, like Brzyski, are not receiving a pension.

"Like any other organization, we do not release that type of personal information publicly," Gavin said.

Gavin said the Archdiocese tries to protect communities from defrocked priests who abused minors.

"Although a laicized priest is no longer serving the Archdiocese or under its supervision, steps are taken to notify local law enforcement when a priest who has been laicized due to a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor changes residency," Gavin said.

That information, however, is not typically distributed to neighbors. For Brzyski, the last place of residence that the Archdiocese has on file is in Virginia in 2007, Gavin said. Public records show that he later had addresses in Wisconsin and California before moving to Dallas. On the Archdiocese website, Brzyski's residence is listed only as "private."

"The Archdiocese has worked vigorously over the past three years to reform the way it protects the people it serves, including new policies and procedures, new standards of ministerial behavior, new Archdiocesan review board members and mandated reporter training for tens of thousands of clergy, staff and volunteers," Gavin said. "All of the steps taken will continue to be announced publicly. Additionally, they exceed what is currently required by law in many instances."

Gavin said Brzyski is too young to receive a pension from the Archdiocese, but would be paid if he becomes eligible.

"As with any other former employee, should he be eligible and apply for a pension in the future, we would proceed as required by the law," Gavin said.

'He's out of control'

Brzyski's choice of Dallas is ironic, because the man who blew the whistle on him in the 1980s lives only a half-hour away. The Rev. James Gigliotti, pastor of St. Maria Goretti in Arlington, Texas, said he was unaware that Brzyski was living nearby and was disturbed to hear neighbors' reports about his behavior around kids.

In 2002, Brzyski was charged in Virginia with attempted sexual battery involving a 17-year-old boy, but the charges later were withdrawn, the Inquirer reported in 2005. He previously had run a children's-birthday-party business from his East Falls home, the paper reported.

"These people have chutzpah, I'll tell you. They have no sense of decency. There are no boundaries," Gigliotti said of ex-priests like Brzyski. "That man has hurt so many kids. He's out of control."

Gigliotti, 66, said he told Graf, the assistant chancellor, about Brzyski's abuse in the early 1980s.

"I was told to keep my mouth shut and that it's being taken care of," Gigliotti said.

Gigliotti said he understands that civil and canon law may limit what information Philadelphia Archdiocese officials believe they can release about Brzyski and other defrocked priests, but he said that doesn't absolve them of responsibility.

"They shoot themselves in the foot. There is an opportunity to be transparent here," he said. "It's a moral imperative. You have to protect the public, too, just like you have to protect the flock."

Brzyski's former neighbors in Dallas want to warn his new neighbors and their children, but they don't know who they are.

"We don't know where he is now," said Caster, his former neighbor at Crescent View.



Local doctors say child sex abuse is happening at 'alarming rates'

by Kaitlyn Bolduc

PORTLAND, OR -- Every day, there's a new case, children emerging from all corners of Multnomah County that are young victims of sex abuse in need of help, according to doctors.

"Over the course of the week, we will see what is about the average size of an elementary classroom of kids. That's a lot of children," said Kevin Dowling, CARES Northwest executive director.

One in every four girls and one in every seven boys are victims of child sex abuse, according to doctors, statistics, they say, that are clearly troubling.

"I've worked here for 19 years, and I think you get the sense that, shouldn't we have seen all of the kids by now?" said Dowling. "Not a week goes by that there's not a case, and I think about how we are doing this to our children? How come we let this continue to happen to our kids?"

FOX 12 sat down with a panel of doctors at CARES Northwest, a child abuse assessment center in North Portland. These are the doctors that work day in and day out with the region's most vulnerable kids.

"We know the abuse is happening. We know it's happening at alarming rates," said Kim Jacobowitz, CARES Northwest family support team member.

Doctors say there aren't necessarily more instances of sex abuse happening now. Rather, more kids are beginning to feel comfortable reporting the abuse then ever before.

"I think what [it] is, is that people are doing a better job listening to kids," said Dr. Linda Lorenz, retired CARES Northwest and Kaiser Permanente Northwest Pediatrician.

"So when they make a disclosure, people are more likely to give kids help than they were 20 years ago. I think it's hopeful," she said.

What hasn't changed in the last 20 years, doctors say, is who usually commits these crimes.

"We see people that the families trust and allow into their households. That's who is sexually abusing kids, and that hasn't changed," said Lorenz.

A trusted friend, youth leaders, teacher, coaches and, more often than not, family members - doctors say those are the most common predators, not strangers.

"Sometimes I wish people were aware of how common abuse is. If they knew I think they'd want to do something about it," said Dowling.

To protect kids, these doctors say, the focus should be on providing kids with a safe place to always share their feelings.

"Most importantly, we need to get kids and parents to talk about the event and what happened and helping them to create an environment where it's not too shameful to talk about it," said Lorenz.

Above all else, doctors say, prevention is key.

That means teaching kids how to protect themselves from abuse and what to do when they need help, says Lorenz, who believes that is the only way to truly stop the cycle of abuse.

"Ultimately, that would be the way," said Lorenz. "We'd like to put ourselves out of business."

Doctors at CARES Northwest teach classes on the topic of prevention. For more information, visit

There are countless other community organizations that support victims of abuse, including:

To view part one of FOX 12's investigative series on child sex abuse, click this link: Woman abused by priest speaks out


Evaluating a Fracture - When is it Child Abuse?

by Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

"Bone broke, me fix."

That's the running joke in medical school about orthopedic surgeons. Of course, there is a lot more to treating broken bones than that, especially when a suspicion of child abuse comes up. That is even more true when that suspicion of child abuse is wrong and the child instead has a rare disorder causing their fractures.

A new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics which will be published in the February issue of Pediatrics , "Evaluating Children With Fractures for Child Physical Abuse," will hopefully provide more guidance to doctors who evaluate children with fractures since "although the consequences of failing to diagnose an abusive injury in a child can be grave, incorrectly diagnosing child abuse in a child whose fractures have another etiology can be distressing for a family."

The report provides a review of:

•  fractures with a high and moderate association with abuse

•  common fractures with a low association with abuse and which may instead be caused by a short fall

•  preexisting medical conditions that make a child more vulnerable to having fractures, including osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), preterm birth, rickets (vitamin D deficiency), osteomyelitis, disuse secondary to severe disability, scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), copper deficiency, Menkes kinky hair syndrome, and chronic kidney or liver disease

•  things to look for in a medical evaluation that might indicate a fracture is suspicious for child abuse

•  laboratory tests that can help diagnose preexisting medical conditions that might be causing the fractures

•  the radiographic or imaging approach to evaluating a child for abuse, including the twenty-one image skeletal survey, four view skull series, chest CT to look for rib fractures, and bone scans, etc.

•  the importance of evaluating siblings for abuse

Most importantly, the report states that while "physicians should keep an open mind to the possibility of abuse and remember that child abuse occurs in all socioeconomic groups and across all racial and ethnic groups," they should also "consider and evaluate for possible diagnoses in addition to other signs or symptoms of child abuse."

As we sometimes read stories of false accusations and children misdiagnosed with child abuse, such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or osteogeneisis imperfecta (OI), it is important to keep in mind that "child abuse is more common than OI, and children with OI and other metabolic or genetic conditions may also be abused." At least 1,570 children died from child abuse and neglect in the United States in 2011.

Tragically though, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome isn't even included in this new report. I've seen kids with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I don't think I have ever seen one with scurvy.



Tulsa Woman Convicted Of Child Abuse Freed 10 Months Into 12-Year Prison Term

by Lori Fullbright

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A woman sentenced to 12 years in prison for abusing two different children is out after serving only 10 months. The judge told Meredith Howard she could do the rest of her time on probation as long as she spent the next two years at a ranch type setting out of state.

The families of the victims are outraged. They don't believe 10 months is long enough to punish Howard for what she did since she broke the thigh bone of a little boy and hurt a little girl so badly, she needed three surgeries.

One of those children is Sophie. She's 4 and loves to play in the kitchen and pretend she's driving, but any time she sees a hospital or an ambulance, she cries in fear. Her dad says that's because of the surgeries she endured after being hurt by daycare worker Meredith Howard.

Sophie was 19 months old and attending John Knox development center where Howard was a worker.

Howard penetrated Sophie with such force, Sophie nearly bled to death on the way to the hospital, then had repeated surgeries - and they still don't know the long-term impact.

Sophie's father, Matthew Stafford was shocked to learn that two years before Sophie's injury Howard had broken the leg of a 9-month-old boy at the Kirk of the Hills Mothers Day Out program where Howard was also a worker.

Howard pleaded no contest to both cases and the judge sentenced her to 12 years in prison.

But 10 months later, the judge released her.

"I haven't gotten justice for my child," said Matthew Stafford. "Ten months in prison for that? People are getting offenses for marijuana and going away for 20 years."

The judge agreed to send Howard to the Rainbow Acres in Arizona for two years. The website says it's a place where adults with developmental disabilities receive loving care on a ranch-style campus.

"They get to go on shopping trips, sporting events, go on vacation," said Sarah McAmis of the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office. "I would like that, but if you've been convicted of abusing two kids, that shouldn't be an option for you."

Rainbow Acres' website says it doesn't admit anyone with a history of hurting others, but Howard is to report there March 1. Her attorney says Howard's disabilities require something other than prison.

A psychologist who examined Howard says while she has low to average intelligence. Socially, she functions more like a child. The DA says the issue is the safety of other children.

"We sincerely hope this defendant is not allowed to hurt any other innocent, helpless babies," McAmis said.

When I asked Rainbow Acres why they're accepting someone with two felony child abuse convictions, they told me, "no comment."

Howard is allowed to be around the children in her own family, but not other kids.

Howard's attorney sent us a statement that says in part, Judge William Kellough is familiar with all the facts in this case and has a reputation for fairness and integrity.

Here is the statement from attorney Allen M. Smallwood:

Judge William Kellough has been the assigned judge in this case for over two years. He is as familiar with all of the facts and legal issues in this case as anyone involved in it. His reputation for fairness and integrity are above reproach. Armed with all the facts at his disposal he made his decision in this case which all parties are required to accept and live with.

Judge Kellough has, in the past, made decisions in other cases in which I was involved with which I might not have agreed. However, I always accept Judge Kellough's decisions as being well thought out and justified by all the facts and circumstances. I am unaware of any lawyer who practices before Judge Kellough who has any opinion different from mine about his good faith, integrity, and fairness.



L.A. County delays child protection changes

Board of Supervisors votes to wait to revamp child protection system until getting a special panel's final report. Some express dismay.

by Garrett Therolf

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has decided to delay action on the interim recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection until a final report is issued in April.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas signaled that he would continue to press to immediately begin a restructuring of the county system to protect children from abuse and neglect, but the four other supervisors said they were not prepared to join the effort until they can fully assess the commission's vision and the accompanying cost.

The commission chairman, David Sanders, had said that he would be disappointed if the board did not begin taking action this month, and other proponents expressed dismay that the board is not moving more quickly.

"Time lost is time wasted," said Dr. Astrid Heger, who leads a system of county clinics for health evaluations of foster children that would be greatly expanded under the interim recommendations.

The commission began its work last summer to improve the county's child welfare system after the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.

Gabriel was found in May with his skull cracked, three ribs broken, and his skin bruised and burned. BB pellets were embedded in his lung and groin, and two teeth were knocked out. County social workers had investigated six reports of abuse but allowed Gabriel to stay with his mother and her boyfriend.

In recent weeks, the commission released a report calling the county's child welfare system "dysfunctional" and in need of "fundamental change."

"Our interim recommendations should be implemented immediately," Sanders said in an interview this month.

The commission recommended that the county's system of clinics overseen by Heger be used to screen all children entering foster care, as well as children under age 1 who may be victims of child abuse.

The clinics are designed to expertly detect child abuse and provide comprehensive medical and mental health assessments so that children receive the correct services in foster care.

Additionally, the commission said public health nurses should work with investigators in all cases involving children younger than 1.

They also proposed that the district attorney's office act as a clearinghouse for child abuse cases, working with the county's 46 law enforcement agencies. The commission said central coordination is needed because it found that police agencies frequently do not cross-report child abuse complaints with county child welfare officials and fail to properly train officers on how to handle child abuse cases.

Heger acknowledged that some proposals come with an undetermined price tag, but she said the county should begin to assess the cost now.

"They should start doing the preliminary analysis so that they can move forward on the final recommendations in April," Heger said. "The recommendations are not going to change.",0,3802188.story#axzz2rnRPnvpV



Chadwick Center Conference Draws World Experts in Child Abuse and Family Violence

Topics Include Teen Bullying, School Shootings and Help for Military Families

(San Diego, CA) – The San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, a global forum for presentations and discussions by experts on child abuse and family violence, will be held January 26 – 31 in San Diego.

“Many of the world's brightest professional and leaders in the area of child abuse and maltreatment are brought together at the annual Chadwick Conference,” said Charles Wilson, who is the Senior Director of the Chadwick Center for Children and Families and the Sam and Rose Stein Endowed Chair in Child Protection at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. “The work these individuals are doing translates into improved outcomes that will help abused and traumatized children and their families.”

Close to 2,000 professionals from 30 countries will attend the conference, which is sponsored by the Chadwick Center at Rady Children's. Its programs include more than 150 workshops and presentations on topics that include child abduction, teen bullying, school shootings, sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children.

Speakers at the Chadwick Conference, which will be held at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, include:

Carrie Epstein from the Yale University School of Medicine, who will analyze the Tragedy in Newtown and how professionals respond in the aftermath of a school shooting. (Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 8 to 9:30 a.m.)

David Finkelhor from the University of New Hampshire, who will moderate a symposium on peer victimization; topics include teen bullying, dating and violence. (Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.)

Anna Salter with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, who will give a presentation on the topic of Children Who Kill. (Thursday, Jan. 30, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.)

Stephen Cozza with the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, who will coordinate two sessions. The first is on Risks and Resilience in Military Families (Thursday, Jan. 30 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.). The second is on meeting the parenting challenges in Military Families affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.. (Friday, Jan. 31, from 8 to 9:30 a.m.)

Eric Elbogen with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, who will present on the topic of Aggression in Combat Veterans. (Friday, Jan. 31, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.)

The Chadwick Center is a recognized leader in the assessment, detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of child abuse and family violence. It offers a variety programs and services from its facilities on the campus of Rady Children's, and in fiscal year 2013, it served more than 12,400 children, families and professionals. Its programs include trauma counseling, forensic and medical services and Kids and Teens in Court, a countywide program to reduce the fear of minors testifying against people who hurt them.

For additional information about the Chadwick Center and the conference, visit: .




Changes in law enforcement vital to sexual assault response

by Lary Kuhns

As many are aware, Alaska has the highest per capita rate of domestic violence, sexual assault as well as child sexual abuse.

When I began my law enforcement career in 1991, investigative resources were limited for law enforcement, medical doctors and support services for victims of sexual assault and child sexual abuse. And yes, sexual abuse of a minor is a violent act and covered under the domestic violence statutes. In most cases — but not all — adult males are the main suspects in sex assault cases, and the idea of a male police officer interviewing an adult female or child victim was theoretically and potentially awkward for all parties involved. Since the late 1990s, times have changed for the better with adjustments in the law.

Historically, most sex offenses are committed by individuals known to the victim. That's not to say there are rarely any stranger assaults, because they certainly do occur. However, when interviewed, most victims relate that the perpetrator was someone either known to them or their respective family whom they had regular or occasional contact.

In the mid 1990s, law enforcement gained a valuable tool when Homer became the first city in Alaska to utilize the SANE/SART Program. (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team). This program consists of highly trained forensic nurses, law enforcement, mental health, Office of Children's Services, the District Attorney's office and support service advocates from the Haven House, as well as highly trained forensic interviewers who now work in concert to apprehend and hold suspects accountable.

On the other hand, the SART/SANE program also ensures that those mistakenly accused can have a fair and impartial investigation of the allegations so their reputations are not tarnished.

Now popular and utilized around the state, SART/SANE is a valuable tool law enforcement employs during the initial response to sexual offense investigations. Forensic nurses collect microscopic evidence that before may have gone undetected and uncollected. Forensic photography from injuries and bruising can now be documented days after the injuries occurred and the interviewing of victims has now been streamlined so they can keep their exposure to the process at a minimum.

I can honestly say that, without SART/SANE, many sex offenders currently on the State of Alaska Sex Offender Registry would not have been apprehended and held accountable.

In addition, the State of Alaska in the late 1990s enacted laws pertaining to domestic violence and sexual assault that removed the statute of limitations on sexual offenses. From that moment on, sexual offenders could not hide behind the law anymore, and victims are now in control to reveal their story to law enforcement any time they feel free to — and in their time.

This law is of great value to the victims, because many times victims refuse to report they have been abused or will only provide law enforcement with the partial information they feel may be just enough to stop ongoing abuse. This is in no way an indication the victim is being untruthful or their story lacks credibility; it merely is all the victim is willing to tell at the time for reasons only known to them.

Members of the victim's family, law enforcement and others must respect the victim's choice, because many times they feel a great deal of shame about what has happened to them.

To emphasize this point, I once gave a talk to a small group of folks about sex crime investigations. As I began to talk, I asked them to individually talk about any sexual involvement they had experienced; consensual or otherwise. I recall laughter initially among the group that quickly turned to a look of panic on several faces after they realized I was serious.

When I saw the look of dread on the person who would have been the first confessor, I stopped them and told everyone to hold that thought and feeling, and explained to them that now they can imagine how a victim of sexual assault might feel when they have to tell a forensic interviewer, police officer and jurors in a court room about their sexual experiences.

Extreme? Probably. Effective? Absolutely.

The point being made is that, when investigating sexual assault or child sexual abuse, it is important for investigators to understand the feelings of the victim, and recognize that — just as when a criminal makes a “full” confession — many times victims also fail to reveal everything that happened.

I don't bring this comparison of a victim's statement and defendant's confession as a parallel in terms of credibility or character. I am comparing the two as a means of understanding. Many times, when revealing their innermost secrets, individuals will only reveal enough to stop the discomfort they are experiencing.

In closing, I hope those who choose to read this understand that most law enforcement officers and agencies that we at the Homer Police Department interact with regard “crimes against persons” as the most important function of our agencies. Individuals who have been the victim of sexual offenses can rest assured their case will be handled in a very professional and understanding manner when making a report to HPD.

To make a report of child abuse, call OCS at: 1-855-352-8934. To make a report of any crime against a person, contact HPD at: 907-235-3150 or the Alaska State Troopers at: 907-235-3000.

Sgt. Lary Kuhns has worked in law enforcement on the Kenai Peninsula for more than 20 years. He has lived in Homer with his wife and children since 1982.



Salvation Army ‘deeply regrets' sexual abuse of children in its care

Charity acknowledges ‘failure of the greatest magnitude' before public hearing into its response to abuse at four of its homes

by Australian Associated Press

The Salvation Army says it feels deep regret for every instance of sexual abuse inflicted on children in its care.

The statement comes as representatives of the Salvation Army prepare to appear before the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse on Tuesday.

The commission is preparing to investigate the charity's movement of staff linked to sex abuse between children's homes in New South Wales and Queensland.

"The early phase of the hearing will be a time for former residents to share their experiences with the royal commission – it is our role to listen," the Salvation Army said in a statement.

"The Salvation Army feels deep regret for every instance of child sexual abuse inflicted on children who were in our care.

"We are grieved that such things happened. We acknowledge that it was a failure of the greatest magnitude.

"The Salvation Army now has policies and procedures to ensure the protection of children is the most serious of our obligations."

The focus of the public hearing will be the response of the Salvation Army to child sexual abuse within four homes: the Alkira Salvation Army Home for Boys, Indooroopilly, Queensland; the Bexley Boys Home, Bexley, NSW; Riverview Training Farm (also known as Endeavour Training Farm), Riverview, Queensland; and the Gill Memorial Boys Home, Goulburn, NSW.

At a child abuse inquiry in Victoria last year it was revealed that since 1997 the Salvation Army had received 474 abuse claims, 470 of which arose from its children's homes, over 30 to 40 years.

It has also been reported that the Salvation Army Australia has privately paid out more than $15 million settling abuse claims.



Fort Campbell soldier, wife stand trial for abuse of newborn

8-year-old girl testifies she witnessed dad hit baby

by Tavia D. Green

CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — The 8-year-old little girl bashfully hid behind her red sweater sleeves as she took the witness stand Monday morning. In an innocent, small voice, she spoke to Judge John H. Gasaway and promised to tell the truth as she testified in the child abuse trial of her parents.

Otis Quirino Loyola Sr., 25, and Penselynn Benden Loyola, 27, are both charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect and began bench trials.

Both of them pleaded not guilty to abusing and neglecting their 5-week-old son, Otis Loyola Jr. Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 19, 2011, the newborn suffered multiple skull, rib and leg fractures, malnutrition and permanent brain damage.

The second grader, the state's first witness, spoke softly yet candidly about her little sister, who she sometimes plays with, and her “chubby” baby brother, Otis, now 2, who can't walk or play with his toys normally.

“He eats with a tube,” she said.

She shyly nodded yes when asked if she saw anything happen to him when he was a baby.

“My daddy hit him,” she said and demonstrated with her small hand how he had allegedly hit Otis Jr., with an open hand. She said Otis Jr. cried after being hit.

The little girl said her mother witnessed the abuse.

“She did mostly nothing. She just went to the bathroom,” she said. “It made me feel sad.”

Her foster mother sat in the front row and smiled at the little girl. Orson, the courthouse dog, laid in her view.

The 8-year-old played with her fingers as Assistant Public Defender Charles Bloodworth asked her several questions about the alleged abuse.

She answered “no,” when asked if anyone else had hit Otis Jr.

On Dec. 19, 2011, Otis Jr. was taken to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital after becoming unresponsive. He was then taken to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital where a brain scan was performed. His many injuries were discovered, and doctors believed the serious injuries were caused by intentional trauma. The Department of Children Services and Clarksville Police Department began to investigate.

Laughter silenced

Clarksville Police Detective Tyler Barrett arrived at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital on Dec. 20, 2011, to find Otis Jr. in critical condition. He questioned the parents about how the child could have ended up in the condition he was in. It was 2:30 a.m. when the Loyola's returned to the hospital, and Barrett spoke with Otis Loyola Sr.

“He stated the only thing he could think of was his 2-year-old would crawl in the baby bed with the infant and attempted to pick the infant up and dropped the infant. … He would laugh in between statements. I thought that was odd, and I didn't know if he realized the seriousness of the injuries of the child. I explained it was a serious matter, and everything I've been told, it would have took a lot more force than what he described. When I explained the seriousness of it, the laughing stopped. ... The only explanation he gave was the 2-year-old may have dropped the baby.”

Due to the language barrier, Barrett did not question Penselynn Loyola at the hospital. He said Otis Loyola relayed what was being said to her in her native language, Pohnpeian.

A Pohnpeian speaking interpreter, Will Nelper, translated the trial for Penselynn.

Admissions made

Detective DeMone Chestnut, lead investigator, who interviewed the mother and father, said both were nonchalant during their interviews. Otis Loyola Sr. denied causing the injuries to the baby and denied knowing who did. Loyola told Chestnut he was not active in raising the children and worked almost 12 hours daily as a soldier in the U.S. Army.

Chestnut said Penselyn, a stay-at-home mom, told him she may have accidentally injured her infant son.

“She initially denied causing the injuries. I asked her if she could have accidentally caused the injuries, and she said, ‘Yes,'” Chestnut said. “She stated on more than one occasion she dropped him while holding him.”

Chestnut said Penselyn told him she dropped the baby in the shower and he hit his head on the side of the bathtub, and at another time dropped him down the stairs. She said her 2-year-old had hit the baby in the head with a remote control. She became emotional when talking about the “accidental” injuries, Chestnut said.

Otis Loyola also became upset when he heard his wife had admitted to accidentally causing some of the injuries.

Who Did it?

Otis Jr.'s injuries are not disputed in the trial, but the big question is who did it.

During opening statements, Bloodworth, Penselynn Loyola's attorney, said she made false admissions to protect her husband and his job.

“We believe the state and doctors recognized when Penselynn Loyola made a statement about dropping the child in the bathtub or down the steps she was lying to protect her husband,” Bloodworth said. “When they realized her attempt to take the blame was false, he was was charged. You will see it was Otis who slapped the child hard in the head, causing the injury ... He told her to take the blame. He was a soldier on active duty and the sole source of income. She did what she thought she was supposed to do and took the blame. She found herself put in jail and him disappearing for a while.”

Eric Yow, Otis Loyola Sr.'s attorney, said his client was rarely home and Penselynn, a stay-at-home mom, was the sole caregiver of their three children. Yow said Penselynn's admissions of dropping the baby in the tub or down the stairs were consistent with his injuries.

“Suddenly, she remembered she had accidentally caused these injuries. Mr. Loyola did not cause these injuries,” Yow said. “She's covering up. I would submit on day one of the investigation she was covering up for herself. Two years later, she's pointing the finger at the husband.”

The trial will continue Tuesday with the state, represented by Kimberly Lund, assistant district attorney, putting on more evidence to include the testimony of a Vanderbilt Children's doctor and social worker. It was indicated by defense attorneys that the Loyola's may testify in their own behalf.

Judge John H. Gasaway will determine the final outcome of the case.

Under Haley's Law, aggravated child abuse and neglect of a child younger than 8 years old is Class A felony punishable by 15-25 years in prison.



Mother, 15-year-old son arrested for child sex abuse charges

TULSA - Tulsa police say they arrested a mother and juvenile son after he allegedly molested his biological sister over 20 times.

Investigators say the boy's mother, 33-year-old Melissa Rocha, allowed her two children to be alone together after reported molestations in 2011 and 2012.

According to arrest records, Rocha left the children alone while she left to play pool for a few hours a couple of times a week.

The 15-year-old suspect told police he had had sexual contact with the 10-year-old victim one to two times a night, two or three times a week.

Police say Rocha admitted to sending the girl to a friend's house so she would not be at home while Rocha reported the molestation to police.

Police overheard Rocha telling one of the children not to answer any of the investigator's questions, according to the booking report.

Rocha was arrested for permitting sexual abuse of a minor and outstanding traffic-related warrants.

The teenage boy was arrested for first-degree rape of a minor, lewd molestation and forcible sodomy.



This joke's punch line isn't funny

Best-selling author brings battle against bullying to Muscatine

by Ky Cochran

MUSCATINE, Iowa — Jodee Blanco, best-selling author of "Please Stop Laughing at Me ... One Woman's Inspirational Story," is coming to Muscatine next month. She will be giving anti-bullying presentations to Muscatine community schools Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 10-12, as well as a seminar open to the public on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

"Please Stop Laughing at Me" is a memoir of Blanco's experiences being bullied as a student, which she wrote after the school shooting at Columbine in 1999, in which two teenagers shot 13 people before killing themselves.

“When Columbine happened, I became very enraged, because, I said to myself, ‘America doesn't get it,'” said Blanco.

What she didn't expect was her book's intense and immediate popularity, which became a New York Times bestseller within 48 hours of its release.

The very personal response readers had to her book was evident in the hundreds of emails she received. Student after student asked her to come intervene on their behalf at their school and, initially, she responded to those pleas one at a time by going to their schools as requested. Eventually, the demand for her help became so great that she quit her job and began her career as a survivor-turned-activist, which saw her traveling the country to give specially designed presentations to students of all ages and to the communities the students belonged to.

It is those presentations, titled “It's NOT Just Joking Around” which Blanco will give in Muscatine.

A committee of community members and school district members have been working in conjunction with students to have Blanco come speak to local schools since last fall and have been working on a bullying prevention program for about a year and a half. Blanco's presentations are part of the committee's efforts to have an event about bullying prevention every year. Diane Campbell, a member of the committee who works in the school district office, said the cost of having Blanco has been covered by fundraising, with the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine and United Way helping as sponsors.

Blanco's presentations for students last about 90 minutes and are built around her three-part message, the components of which she describes on her website as “bullying is not just joking around, it damages you for life; bullying just isn't the mean things you do, it's all the nice things you never do; and if you're being bullied or shunned, there's nothing wrong with you, it's everything that's right about you that makes you a target, and that you shouldn't change for anyone, it is those who put you down who need to change.”

The free presentation for the community will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 11, at the Muscatine High School auditorium, 2705 Cedar St.

During the first part, Blanco says she “takes the audience back to school with [her]” as a way to provide points of reference for the audience. The second part is a workshop where Blanco gives specific advice about interacting with children who are victims of bullying and those who are the perpetrators. She also facilitates interactive exercises during that time.

Afterwards, Blanco will sign copies of her books and she'll even stay behind to talk to people — every last one, she said. Blanco encourages all members of the community to attend, especially adult survivors of peer abuse, and encourages parents to bring their children.

Success, for Blanco, she said, “is when I do a student presentation… and at the end of it, I have students coming up to me in tears.” Half of those teary-eyed students she sees at the end of a presentation are the victims, but the other half are what Blanco calls the “elite tormentors” — students who are the bullies — who are expressing a desire to make amends with the peers that they've hurt, a desire Blanco sometimes gets to see make its way into action as well.

Mike Fladlien, a member of the district-wide Bully Prevention committee and business teacher at the high school who believes strongly in Blanco's ability to make an impact, said he knows it'll take more than just this program to solve the bullying problem .

“We have plans,” Fladlien said, recalling Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's anti-bullying summit in Des Moines where ideas about how to deal with bullying were given to eager students, including Muscatine students.

Fladlien hopes that Blanco's presentation will be the catalyst to a student-driven movement and said the ultimate goal is “to have students wanting to help students.”

“Bullying impacts a kid for life. And if we as educators want to help kids, we also have to help them in non-academic areas” Said Fladlien.

Campbell widens the circle of responsibility, saying “We all have a responsibility, to not only to prevent bullying, but to stand up and play a part in changing the culture so that it becomes a supportive, safe environment, not only in our schools but in our entire community.”

As for Blanco herself, she hopes her work helps battle bullying, a problem in schools everywhere. But on a personal level, the rewards are simpler. “Every time a lonely child comes up to me and says ‘Can I give you a hug?' that's the most rewarding thing.”



3 more alleged victims report being sexually abused as children by removed priest Seculoff

by News-Sentinel staff reports

Three more people have contacted the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to report they allegedly were sexually abused as minors by the Rev. James F. Seculoff, the diocese reported on its website,

The alleged victims each contacted the diocese separately by telephone after published reports in mid-January that Seculoff, a Fort Wayne native, had been removed from public ministry after the diocese received what it determined to be a credible report he abused a minor about 40 years ago, Sean McBride, diocesan communications director, said Monday via email.

The new allegations involve a separate location from the first report, McBride said. To protect the identify of the victims, the diocese is not stating whether any of the victims are male or female or where specifically the alleged abuse cases took place.

After receiving the new allegations, the diocese conducted a preliminary investigation and forwarded those results to the diocesan review board and to diocesan leader Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

“The diocesan review board found these allegations, separately presented, to be highly credible and supported by substantial evidence, and so advised Bishop Rhoades,” the diocese said today in a news release.

As required by church law and by procedures spelled out in U.S. Catholic Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Rhoades directed that the new allegations be forwarded to the Indiana Department of Child Services and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican in Rome, the news release said.

Rhoades also asked for prayers for all parties involved, especially the alleged victims, Seculoff, diocesan priests and parishioners “during these painful and difficult days,” the news release said.

The diocese followed the same process with the first allegation against Seculoff.

To protect the alleged victim in that case, who reported the abuse Dec. 16, the diocese also has declined to say if the person is male or female and where specifically within its boundaries the abuse allegedly took place.

That case already has been referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican in Rome, McBride said previously. Possible decisions by the Vatican body could include removing Seculoff from the priesthood.

The diocese also reported the case to the Indiana Department of Child Services.

At the time he was removed from public ministry, Seculoff was serving as pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Walkerton, which is northwest of Plymouth and about 80 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. Seculoff also offered his resignation as pastor, which Rhoades accepted, and officially retired.

Seculoff, who was ordained a priest May 26, 1962, served from July 2007-July 2013 as pastor at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Haven. Rhoades appointed him to take over Aug. 1 as pastor at St. Patrick in Walkerton.

Rhoades visited St. Patrick parish on Saturday to help the parish with healing, McBride said. The diocese also is providing pastoral care to the alleged abuse victims.

To report abuse

Anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is encouraged to call the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Mary Glowaski, at 399-1458 or the Vicar General, Monsignor Robert Schulte, at 422-4611.


U.S. Official: Elder Abuse Is 'Broad and Widespread'

by David Heitz

As an aging nation grapples with elder abuse, a patchwork of state and local organizations are on the front lines.

Elderly people in New York City now have a powerful ally watching out for them—the all-knowing unionized doormen of the metropolis .

But although this group has joined a small army of other organizations working to prevent elder abuse, statistics show that this type of victimization is more common than ever.

In an interview with Healthline, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee said she has an idea why. “Compared to other social movements, you have survivors who have led the charge. For the elderly, that's not the case," Greenlee said. "These people are frail and often have cognitive impairment. It's the rest of us who need to raise the voice for them.”

Numbers provided by the National Center on Elder Abuse , which is part of the Administration on Aging overseen by Greenlee, show that as many as 10 percent of elderly people suffer from abuse at least once per year. That number does not include financial exploitation, which is an increasingly common form of elder abuse.

The New York State Elder Abuse Study in 2010 showed that 41 out of 1,000 elderly people surveyed reported “major” financial exploitation, a higher rate than other forms of abuse, including neglect and emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

“People think [abuse] is isolated, and only in nursing homes,” Greenlee said. “In fact, it is broad and widespread, and it's often family members.”

Family Members Are Often Perpetrators

Sixteen years ago, the National Center on Elder Abuse conducted the only national study ever of the scope of elder abuse. That report showed that 90 percent of abusers are family members. Greenlee said it remains one of the fastest-growing aspects of elder abuse, a problem that is snowballing as America ages.

In 2010, people 65 and older made up 13 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census. By 2050, that number is expected to reach 20 percent.

The Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at Hebrew Home Riverdale in New York teamed up with the doormen's union long ago to train them on what to look for in cases of elder abuse. But a recent grant has allowed them to expand the program and train workers at other New York City agencies, such as Meals on Wheels.

Joy Solomon, director of Hebrew Home, told Healthline that they are working with the union to expand the program up and down the Eastern seaboard. Elderly people often become isolated, and most do not report incidents of abuse, he said.

“I think isolation is a key component of how abusers continue the abuse,” Solomon said. “It's the engine that enables it. The doormen are in a very unique position to help identify risky situations, as well as situations that may already be occurring. They're also a very caring group of people.”

But nationwide, many elderly people do not live in urban high-rises with doormen, and exploitation of the elderly remains a serious problem. Unlike children, who are protected against abuse by a federal organization, the elderly are often left to fend for themselves.

“I think people falsely assume we have created a federal infrastructure,” Greenlee said of state-run Adult Protective Services programs. “This is not Child Protective Services. We do not have sufficient services.”

Funding remains the biggest hurdle to ramping up federal programs for the elderly. The Elder Justice Coordinating Council was established in 2009 as part of the Affordable Care Act. The group has made several recommendations for increased federal involvement to curtail elder abuse, including:

•  Launching an elder justice website and creating a national resource center for investigating and prosecuting elder abuse

•  Developing a national Adult Protective Services system

•  Helping financial institutions like banks detect financial abuse

A Florida Family Torn Apart

Bryan Mingle of Jacksonville, Fla., knows all about financial exploitation of the elderly. He moved across the country four years ago to care for his parents after his brother went to prison for stealing from them.

His brother, who is nearing retirement age himself, served as a caregiver to his parents, but was caught forging his father's checks.

The state aggressively prosecuted Mingle's brother, who was recently released. He has been treated for drug and alcohol addiction and has been sober for four years.

“I hope my brother can make amends by changing his life and being there now for our mom,” Mingle said. “It can happen."

Mingle's father died while his brother was incarcerated. Both parents went to the same nursing home after his brother's arrest. Both suffered from dementia and other ailments.

“Law enforcement has to be an equal partner with human services, and bring attention [to the fact] that this is a crime,” Greenlee said of such situations. “People with dementia make great witnesses because it is so clear they have been taken advantage of because of their cognitive impairment.”

Tips for Spotting Elder Abuse

The New York Stock Exchange responded favorably last week to a growing online company that matches families with screened caregivers. Stock in , in its initial public offering, soared 43 percent on Friday, closing at $23.40 a share. can help people find caregivers for their pets and children, as well as seniors. Jody Gastfriend, vice president of senior care services for, told Healthline that the business has grown internationally as many countries begin to provide more services for seniors.

She offers these tips for spotting elder abuse:

•  Get to know a senior well enough to establish a baseline for mood, behavior, and personality. Without that, you can't tell when something's wrong.

•  If an elderly person becomes withdrawn or mistrustful, or develops a relationship with one trusted person to the exclusion of others, 'that's a real red flag.'

•  If a senior suddenly becomes secretive about finances, something might be awry.


Understanding their Pain

by Harry Maryles

There were new revelations recently about the scourge of sex abuse in the Catholic Church in Chicago. From a segment of the PBS Newshour broadcast on January 21st.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, the country's third largest, shielded and protected priests who were accused of sexual abuse for decades. Newly released papers document the actions of 30 priests, nearly half of them deceased, the rest now out of ministry. Victims who had long pressed for more information talked about it at a press conference in Chicago today.

I could not help noticing that the reaction of the Church hierarchy in the person of Cardinal George was almost identical to the response of Orthodox Jewish institutional leaders. It goes something like this: These events happened at a time when things like this were handled differently. We understand the problems now and will handle them differently.

What virtually all of the leaders of these institutions are guilty of is not of the abuse itself. But of how badly they reacted to it. The primary concern has always been – and still is to some extent – to protect their institutions. In the past that often meant keeping things quiet (sweeping them under the rug) and discouraging victims from reporting the abuse to the authorities; to quietly dismiss those abusers from their positions and allowing them to find jobs at other locations that involved being around potential victims.

In the past these leaders often did this without informing potential employers elsewhere about the abuse. This allowed the abusers to continue abusing children in new places The thinking seems to have been, that the problem was solved here. What about other locations? Caveat Emptor. Why did they not report these abusers to the police? Because that would have stigmatized those institutions. Better, they thought, to do things quietly and cover it up. What about the victims? They'll get over it.

The problem is that they don't. Survivors of decades old abuse are treated dismissively. As though their errors could be excused because the times were different then, and a lot of time has passed. After all, they reason, they are mostly all functioning members of society now, why are they bringing up these charges now? Why sue us now?

I have had conversations with survivors and every single one of them tell me that they suffer to this day the after effects of that abuse. This is why lawsuits are being brought in record numbers now. Survivors are still hurting and struggling with their pain. They live with it constantly and it doesn't take much to bring them back to the kind of anxiety and pain they felt from the very beginning of their ordeals.

There has been a lot of speculation about whether these lawsuits ought to go forward after so many years. The truth is that I honestly don't know. But one thing I do know is that one cannot question the sincerity of the survivors. I believe them. They still continue to suffer.

So when any religious leader makes dismissive statements like We didn't know how to handle it then and things are better now – with little if any reference to the pain survivors still have – they display an almost callousness to the pain. Their focus is on the institution.

I can't really blame them for wanting to protect their institutions. Many of them are quite worthy and ought to be saved. But whether intentional or not, their callousness is inexcusable. So I can't really blame survivors for seeking a form of solace via financial compensation.

No one has driven home the fact of durable pain survivors of sex abuse have better than former Lakewood Kollel (Chicago Community Kollel) Avreich, psychologist Rabbi Dr. Jerry Lob, PhD – who writes a regular column in Mishpacha Magazine. He too is one of my heroes. I believe if everyone experienced what he recently did, the culture about sex abuse might change. Here in full is what he said:

Several years ago, when visiting a Jewish community in a different city, I was approached by a young woman in her 30s. I had given a talk earlier in the day on the topic of the abuse of children, and she wanted to talk with me regarding my presentation. Before she could begin explaining, she started to cry, which quickly turned into a deep sobbing that shook her whole body. It was very painful to witness. Eventually, she began to speak softly about her preteen years and the abuse she experienced.

Suffice it to say that her story was horrific. The man who abused her, single, in his 40s, was a frequent guest at her family's Shabbos table, and a trusted friend of her father's. She was just 10 years old when it started and it continued for three years, leaving devastation in its wake.

I use the word devastation intentionally because no other word quite captures the breadth and depth of her visible pain. Feelings of shame, self-doubt, guilt, confusion, grief, and intense sadness are some of the emotions she was struggling with. She was quiet for a while and the thought occurred to me that this terrifying period in her life had ended close to 20 years before, and yet the look on her face and the tone of her voice spoke volumes of the horror of that experience.

I waited patiently to see if she would ask me a question, and began to realize that there was more she wanted to say, more she needed to say, and was struggling to be able to express it. I said something like, “It looks like you have something else to add, it's okay, take your time,” which led to more sobbing that seemed somehow more intense, more filled with sadness and loss than the first set of tears.

Between sobs and trying to catch her breath she continued her story: “Those three years were traumatic and they still fill me with terror and disgust, but what came later was, in many ways, worse.” More silence for a few minutes. It looked like she was trying to build up the courage to say what she needed to say. She finally blurted out, almost shouting the words, “I told them and they didn't believe me. They didn't believe me. My parents, they made light of it and told me to stop being so dramatic, he was probably just being friendly.” And forcing out another sentence: “He abused me for years, he was a monster … but my parents betrayed me. I wanted to die, in fact I did kind of die that day, shutting down, feeling alone in the world, afraid to open up to anyone. If my own parents didn't believe me, who would?”

When a child is exploited by an adult, he is betrayed. If the abuser is a family member, or rabbi, or camp counselor, or teacher, it's a bigger betrayal. The closer the person, the more trusted he is, thus making the victim more vulnerable, the deeper the betrayal.

If your child comes to you, and discloses his confusion about someone touching him, your first job is to listen, not judge. And unless you're 100 percent sure that he's lying (and it is pretty much impossible to be 100 percent sure), you must believe him. Your job is not to panic, and to fight your own dread, your own fear. Your role is to provide safety while remaining calm, communicating the message that you believe him and that he did nothing wrong, that you love him and will do everything in your power to get him the help he needs to begin the process of healing.

This means no questions like, “Why would he start up with you?” or, “What did you do to attract his attention?” which imply blame. And if you don't take it seriously, you compound the injury, and the trauma. If a teen comes to a rabbi and he doesn't believe her, saying something like, “I know that man, he is a good person, you must stop exaggerating” or worse, such as teaching her the laws of lashon hara, it does immeasurable damage, and can destroy her faith in rabbis.

Communities, too, must believe the child and support her and her family during this traumatic period, when she is especially vulnerable and fragile. Any complaint from a child should be thoroughly checked. How can we turn our backs on our most vulnerable members?

All of us know that it is our responsibility to protect our children. We need to protect the betrayed, not betray them.


Visualizing Rape Trauma Syndrome

by Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a way of describing post-traumatic stress symptoms that arise from sexual assault. Disclaimer: Individuals are, well, individual. There is no guarantee how someone will respond and the source paper on RTS actually described different ways that each stage might appear. Also, people may have defense mechanisms that prevent them from responding at all to rape trauma for weeks, months, even decades after the assault until one day after the individual is triggered or stable enough or some unknown reason, they will appear.

Speaking of triggers, part of being a survivor means recognizing that we may move in and out of these stages at times in our lives. Certain ages, dates, events, encounters can cause us to revisit a part of our recovery. But we rebuild and move on. Because as individuals, we're hopefully always growing anyway.

The Stages

Acute Phase

This is usually the initial phase after an individual is raped, and usually takes place in the initial moments to weeks after the assault. While outwardly it can appear many different ways, from crying to flat affect to uncontrollable laughter to anger, inwardly the theme is chaos. The individual may be in shock, experiencing disorganized thoughts and/or have difficulty concentrating. It may be hard to make decisions, and the individual may refuse to deal with it. This is one reason many people delay reporting their assaults, though there are plenty of good reasons to not report even if someone is fully capable of making a rational decision.

Chronic Phase

If things were to move in a linear fashion, this phase would last the longest. After the initial crisis wears off, it's time for the body and mind to start piecing things back together. Someone may move to a new place, develop a strategy for avoiding their attacker or the location of the assault, or seek support from friends or professionals. They may learn new coping strategies and/or process their assault.

Integration Phase

I like to call this one “the new normal.” After the hard work of recovery has been done, survivors now work to create meaning from their experience. This may include volunteering for their local rape crisis hotline, writing about their experience or simply not having to think about it everyday—not out of denial but from truly having moved on. It could mean recognizing that certain songs may never be appealing again, but there is no longer an intense trauma response to the trigger.

The History

In the 1970's the sexual violence movement grew out of the feminist movement as a way for women to support other women who had been sexually assaulted. Ann Burgess, a psychiatric nurse and Lynda Holstrom, a sociologist, introduced RTS in 1974 after interviewing 92 adult female rape victims. For perspective, the first five rape crisis centers in the United States were founded in1972. Today the sexual violence movement recognizes that anyone of any age and gender can be assaulted and that treatment can appear in a number of evidence-based forms.

The Legacy

PTSD made its first appearance in the DSM in 1980. It was developed in order to describe the symptoms of thousands of returning veterans of the Vietnam war with a list of exposures that expanded far beyond war experience. While many individuals who experience traumatic situations develop a fairly consistent set of symptoms, trauma experts note that men and women tend to experience different types of trauma, which do lead to different types of symptoms. According to Bessel van der Kolk et al, men are more frequently traumatized by accidents, natural disasters, war and assault. Women, on the other hand are more likely to be traumatized by sexual assault and childhood abuse. Even when men are assaulted, they are more likely to be assaulted by a stranger, whereas the vast majority of traumatized women are assaulted by someone they know, often a family member or intimate partner. People who experience trauma as children, or in repeated incidents of interpersonal violence are likely to have trauma symptoms that aren't captured by classic PTSD symptoms.

Unfortunately this has been classically dealt with by saddling individuals who have a history of complex trauma with several comorbid disorders. By diagnosing people with “unrelated” disorders, not only have we delayed understanding the impact of exposure to repeated interpersonal trauma, but we increase the stigma felt by the individuals–usually women–by suggesting that they have additional mental health issues in addition to their trauma. I have a number of clients who feel defensive about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, panic disorder, etc and insist that their symptoms stem from their trauma. The description of rape trauma syndrome, with its inclusion of shame, guilt, difficulty with trust was an early descriptor that shed a light on the many dimensions of repeated or childhood violence. Esteemed trauma experts such as van der Kolk developed a description of complex trauma symptoms that include these elements as well as the more profound symptoms that accompanies more intimate types of violence.



Georgia child abuse victim interview: 'The Road Beyond Abuse' discussed

by Radell Smith

Sunday mornings are filled with praise and worship in church buildings across the South, but when one grandmother began to jingle her keys to leave her home and go to her place of worship there were three little black grandchildren who began to shake with fear and trembling.

That's because Johnnetta McSwain and her sister and male cousin were forced to endure severe child incest and abuse by three older male cousins while their mother's mother went off to church. And on Jan. 25, in a phone conversation with this past abuse victim, the Atlanta Top News Examiner learned why other children who suffer such abuse ask this question of McSwain when she goes to tell them how she overcame her victimization: How can you believe and talk about God when he allowed this to happen to you and to me?

I can't talk about God to every child of abuse I encounter," Johnetta confessed, "Because some of them can't understand why God would allow such terrible things to happen to them."

Lots of people have asked the question, "If God is good then why does he allow bad things to happen?" So the young women McSwain encounters as she travels the world telling how she overcame her own abuse are just voicing their own version of that question.

A victim of terrible abuse as a five-year-old girl, McSwain could have blamed God for her terrible experiences too. And she admits she did feel let down by the community of faith when they did not realize what she and her sister suffered back then. But families keep secrets and communities, be they black or white, don't always get involved in matters they are not sure are really abusive situations or not. So children fall through the cracks.

Teachers overlook a swollen cheek if a child says they fell. Neighbors overlook the screams next door if they see kids playing joyfully outside hours later, and even grandmothers can be clueless that horrible atrocities are occurring in their own homes when they are gone, especially if a child's abuser makes the child afraid to tell what's happening to them.

How could the church know that three little children in Alabama were having their ankles and wrists tied to chairs so they could not fend off their attackers as their grandmother worshiped God in church on Sundays? They couldn't, of course, just like God was never the author of the evil done to Johnnetta McSwain and her sister and cousin when they were ages five and six. The children's uncles were.

And that's why this survivor of child abuse has made it her life's mission to educate the world about how child victimization is still going on, and how you can spot what a child may be afraid to tell you--and how you can help them get free from such abuse. And she has been sharing that message close to home, in Fulton County, and as far away as Japan and Bermuda.

The author of "Rising Above the Scars" and the Emmy Award-winning documentary "The Road Beyond Abuse," wants to show young women all over the world how they can move beyond the pain and blame that keeps them trapped in despair after abuse. And she knows she couldn't succeed in getting that message across if God didn't help her, just as he helped her find her own way out of her own depression and shame.

God has really blessed me. And recently he let my son tell me how proud of me he was," McSwain said. Actually, both sons told her as much, she confided.

And maybe the greatest accomplishment Johnnetta has made thus far (besides overcoming abuse and becoming the first in her family to achieve a bachelors, masters and doctorate degree), is that she has impacted her two sons to break the negative cycles that ran in her own family. And to know that they see her in the same light millions see Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Isn't that the greatest thing a parent can hope for? To know that regardless of what abuse they have endured in their lives their children did not have to experience it--and will not be perpetrators of it themselves?

To invite Johnnetta McSwain to your church, school or organization to speak on the topic of abuse, contact her on her Facebook page or write to this examiner at The message will be passed along.

To learn more about her and her education and professional achievements check out her Linkedin Profile. Her next speaking engagement in the Georgia area will be at the Kennesaw State University Phenomenal Women's Conference in March, and there are still tickets available. It's a presentation you don't want to miss.



US Agency Eyes Sex Assault Reports at Penn State


The U.S. Department of Education is looking into Penn State's handling of sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints to see if it had responded appropriately to those reports in the years surrounding the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal that engulfed the university.

The federal agency informed Penn State of the investigation in a letter Thursday, and said in a statement Sunday that it had concerns after it reviewed Penn State's sexual harassment policy and saw a huge spike in "forcible sex offenses" reported to the federal government by the university. The spike coincided with the Sandusky scandal that broke in 2011.

"Our initial review of Penn State's sexual harassment policy, compounded by a dramatic increase in the number of forcible sex offenses occurring on campus as reported by the university itself, raised legal concerns that compelled us to investigate," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said in the statement.

The investigation will look to determine whether complaints were improperly handled, thus keeping the numbers artificially low, before the spike, a department spokesman said.

Colleges and universities are required to report campus crimes to the federal government under a 1990 law known as the Clery Act. In 2012, a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh in the wake of the Sandusky scandal found that, outside of the campus police department in State College, Penn State officials lacked "awareness and interest" in the Clery Act.

In the Thursday letter to Penn State President Rodney Erickson, Lhamon said her office had reached no conclusion as to whether Penn State had violated federal law. The department said the time frame for the investigation will start with the most current year of data and generally cover a three-year period. Depending on the evidence, the investigation could include a longer period, the department spokesman said.

A Penn State spokeswoman said Sunday that the school is looking forward to working with federal officials.

Penn State's crime data showed 56 forcible sex offenses on its main campus in 2012. That was more than double the number in 2011 and fourteen times the number reported in 2010.

The investigation will have a particular emphasis on complaints of sexual assault, the federal agency said.

The Centre Daily Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the existence of the investigation Sunday.

If a violation of federal law is found, the school's agreement will be sought to change policies, procedures or training, the Office for Civil Rights said. It said it does not seek or collect monetary damages from institutions, although that would not stop someone from seeking such damages in a civil court case.

In July, Penn State received a preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Education regarding whether its handling of the Sandusky scandal complied with campus crime reporting requirements. Neither the school nor the Department of Education have given details on the findings, and the department said that investigation is ongoing.