National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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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

August, 2014 - Week 4
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.


Sold for sex at 5 years old


At 5 years old, Margeaux Gray was a sex slave living in southcentral Kentucky.

Her trafficker, whom she declined to identify, first exploited her and then trafficked her for sex in and out of the state until she was 18. He was someone she and her family trusted.

Gray, who is now 35 and has changed her name, is living in Louisville where she works as an artist, advocate and public speaker.

Before she became a teenager – Gray doesn't remember the year – she contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Between 12 and 13 years old, she tried to kill herself for the first time. She developed an eating disorder as a coping mechanism and tried again to commit suicide.

Gray remembers money changing hands between her trafficker and the criminals here in Kentucky and elsewhere who paid to have sex with her as a child.

Gray is one of thousands of human trafficking survivors in the country. Since 2008, 160 victims of human trafficking have been identified in Kentucky. Of those, 94 were trafficked as children, and the youngest was a 2-month-old. There were 113 cases of sex trafficking.

In 2007, the Kentucky legislature passed laws making human trafficking a crime in Kentucky, and in 2013 passed the Human Trafficking Victims Rights Act. This year, state legislators passed Senate Bill 184 which allows trafficking victims to use that status as their defense for committing crimes they were forced into committing. It also allows victims of trafficking to have their criminal records expunged if they were charged with crimes while being trafficked. But experts agree there is still more work to be done.

One of the strongest aspects of the Human Trafficking Victims Rights Act is that now in Kentucky, authorities must report any child victim of trafficking to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, where the children will be treated as crime victims rather than potentially face legal action against them for status offenses such as truancy or being a runaway.

This type of legislation is commonly called a safe harbor law, something that had it been in place when Gray was being trafficked would have protected her from being charged with any crime. Since the law went into effect, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has received more than 80 reports of child trafficking.

An unhealthy bond

Gray's trafficker gave her attention as the “bait.” He bought her clothes and took her out to eat to develop a bond between them.

“It was creating that bond, and that's what often happens between a trafficker and the victim. That is often what happens because it makes it harder for a victim to escape or want to get away because that person has this bond with his victim,” Gray said. “You get that attention. You get that quote, unquote love. From the perspective of today I see that was extremely unhealthy, but when you are infused in that violence, it becomes foggy.

“I was really, really young when it began. It happened before my brain was fully developed. I didn't have a complete adult perspective,” she said.

After the attention and the gifts came the threats of what would happen if she told anyone. Her family would suffer harm. Her pets would be hurt.

“One of the biggest threats is he brainwashed me into believing that I was just as much a part of what was being done to me so I felt guilty and ashamed and didn't want to ever say anything because I thought I would be the one that would get in trouble,” Gray said.

Gray didn't question if she was a crime victim until about nine years into her abuse.

“I never identified as a victim, not until around 14,” she said. “I still didn't identify as one, but around 14, it was taking its psychological toll on me. I started seeing more in the media about child abuse, and I started questioning and connecting the dots but still not identifying as a victim.

“I started wondering if that's what was happening to me,” she said. That's when she first disclosed to a health care provider what was going on in her life. The abuse lessened for a while after she first disclosed it, but it continued until she broke free from her slave trader at 18 years old.

“I physically became free at 18,” Gray said. “But the psychological effects of trauma doesn't end when the physical trauma ends. It can be long-lasting. In my case it has been.” Gray was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Her trafficker has never been charged. A commonwealth's attorney and police detectives wanted to go after the man who traded Gray's innocence for money but she said at the time she was too traumatized to talk about the years of abuse. “I was extremely fearful. I was told time and time again if I said anything, I would go to jail. I felt guilty, and I wouldn't talk that much,” Gray said.

Now that Gray is a grown woman living on her own, she is speaking out and educating others about human trafficking. Her first public speaking engagement was during a congressional briefing in Washington in January about combatting modern-day slavery.

“I'm leap years away from where I was at 14 or even 18. It still affects me to this day. I believe it always will, but I am grounded. I have the confidence with myself. I don't let what happened to me have me. I know it was done to me. I know it wasn't my fault. I've risen above the violence,” Gray said.

Gray is “proud” of what Kentucky has done so far to combat trafficking. But she and others see a need to do so much more.

Addressing demand

Kentucky has addressed the demand side of the supply/demand equation in child sex trafficking, but some say not enough.

“The 2013 Human Trafficking Victims Rights Act did include tougher consequences for both those who sell and buy victims of trafficking,” said Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris. Overly sponsored the act, also called House Bill 3.

“In both labor and sex trafficking, consumers and the public need to be aware of the consequences of their choices,” Overly said. “The demand for cheap goods and services, and the demand for commercial sex, has dire consequences on the well-being of children and families in our communities and abroad.

“Without the demand side of human trafficking being addressed, there exists the possibility of a never-ending cycle of victimization. And, unlike drug trafficking, in which a drug can only be sold and used once, a human being can be bought and sold again and again.

“Those who traffic adults and children may be charged with the crime of human trafficking, while those who buy or obtain a victim for (the) purpose of forced labor or commercial sex may be charged with the crime of promotion of human trafficking. Conviction under both human trafficking and promotion of human trafficking now carries a $10,000 fine as well as jail time.

“After the passage of (House Bill) 3, assets of the convicted trafficker or buyer may be seized and forfeited.

“The challenge we face is training law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to understand that the buyers as well as the sellers may be charged under our human trafficking laws,” Overly said.

Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Cohron earlier this year prosecuted the county's only state-level human trafficking case to date, a woman who was charging men to have sex with her 13-year-old relative. She received a 20-year sentence. Unlike some other cases across the state, Cohron also prosecuted the men who paid to have sex with the underage girl. Those men also received 20-year sentences.

“That's an example of what we should be doing,” said Marissa Castellanos, human trafficking program manager at Catholic Charities of Louisville. “In so many cases that wouldn't happen. It's really substantial that folks in Bowling Green made those charges and they stuck. I think that is something that we will have to continue working on.”

Under Kentucky law, a person accused of sex with a minor can claim in his or her courtroom defense that he or she didn't know the victim was underage.

“I think the next step is to look at strict liability for those who solicit prostitutes that are underage,” Cohron said. “With prostitution on its surface being illegal and patronizing prostitution being illegal, to help combat children being used for this purpose, I think Kentucky needs to get to a strict liability so that if someone patronizes a prostitute who turns out to be underage, they will be responsible for the statutory sexual offense due to the age of the child and not be able to use the mistake-of-age defense.

“I think it will be difficult to achieve this legislatively,” he said. “I still don't think there is a full understanding by the legislature in regard to this issue. Law enforcement as well as the advocacy groups will continue to push for this.”

Castellanos agrees.

“We still need to do more to hold the buyers accountable. In sex trafficking, there wouldn't be a supply of victims without the demand to purchase mostly women's and children's bodies for sex, and this demand is provided by the buyer,” Castellanos said.

“While we have many men as allies in the fight against human trafficking, there is also the reality that many men in our communities are buyers, purchasing various sex acts, including sex trafficking. And unfortunately we usually don't hold the buyer accountable for various reasons, most likely including the unfortunate reality that some of the buyers are in positions of power, authority and influence in our communities. And we just don't believe they could do that, so we look away. Or we think ‘boys will be boys,' and we let it continue without question.

“We must see the buyers for the true horror that is the crimes they are committing in purchasing sex acts from trafficking victims. And we must hold them accountable. Only then will we see human trafficking crimes decrease,” Castellanos said.

Drug abuse ties to trafficking

Gretchen Hunt, staff attorney for the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs and chairwoman of the state's Human Trafficking Task Force, said a comprehensive approach to Kentucky's drug abuse problem is also needed to fight trafficking.

“Children are being traded for drugs by parents or caregivers who are addicted,” Hunt said. “You also have traffickers or pimps who get young women or men hooked on drugs as a way to get them dependent. Drugs play a role in different ways.”

There are two separate issues with children being used as commodities, Cohron said.

“There's the commercial sexual trafficking that thankfully is much more of a rarity here. What we do see more often is a child being used as currency in a drug transaction, meaning individuals to obtain illegal drugs will in essence prostitute their child,” he said.

Address the drug problem and that will in turn have an effect on human trafficking.

“The more we can build up child protection and the more we can address the drug problem, heroin, meth or pills, the more we can keep our communities safe and keep people from being exploited in the first place,” Hunt said.

That means having resources in place such as drug treatment, safe housing, safe schools and jobs taking away the very vulnerabilities that traffickers can exploit, Hunt said.

“We still have a long way to go in finding the resources necessary to serve these victims adequately and to respond to their unique needs appropriately,” Overly said.


The sexual exploitation of children: What if anything is the Church going to do about it?

by Boz Tchividjian

In the past few years, a there has been a growing interest amongst many Americans in raising awareness and combatting the international commercial sexual exploitation of children. This is when an adult solicits or engages in a sexual act with a child in exchange for something of value. Many incredible individuals and organizations are focusing on this global horror and are beginning to make a real difference in the lives of untold numbers of vulnerable children around the world. Only recently are our eyes beginning to open to the ugly fact that this evil also permeates in the small towns and big cities of this nation. This has been clearly evidenced in a report released this past week by SharedHope, a Christian organization that is combating sex trafficking and serving abuse survivors. The Demanding Justice Report is one of the first comprehensive studies of its kind that examines the domestic commercial sexual exploitation of children. The heartbreaking and eye-opening findings of this study are a loud call to action to every American. Especially to those of us who call ourselves Christ followers.

Everyone should take the time to read this report. In this short post, I want to highlight just a small sample of its findings and what they mean for those of us who are a part of a faith community:

Who are the buyers? The age of those who commit these sexual offenses against children ranged from 18-89 years of age, with the average age being 42. Ninety-nine percent of these offenders were male. In the cases where the profession of the perpetrator was available, over 65 percent were in professions of authority such as attorneys, police officers, and ministers. Fifty-six percent were identified as working in occupations that had regular access to children, including teachers, coaches, and youth service organizations.

Who are the victims? Of the cases studied, almost 80 percent of the child victims were female. Approximately 10 percent of the victims were under the age of eleven, while almost 42 percent were between the ages of 11 and 15. The rest were between the ages of 16 and 18. In at least five of the cases reviewed during this study, children who were abused were actually charged with prostitution! Surprisingly, in only a small number of the cases were the young victims identified as being a runaway.

How do perpetrators access the child victims? The study found that the most common way those who engage in the commercial sexual exploitation of children access their prey is through direct contact in person, via text message, email, or phone. In almost 50 percent of the studied cases, the perpetrator was given access to the child through a third party such as a parent, older sibling, or a pimp.

What happens to buyers who get caught? This report studied four large urban locations and identified 134 cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children offenses. Of those cases, 118 were officially prosecuted. Unfortunately, only 44 of those prosecuted cases resulted in convictions for offenses related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. For example, 38 of the perpetrators arrested for paying to engage in sexual contact with a child were only convicted of a prostitution solicitation offense! What does our society communicate to child sexual abuse offenders when they get caught and only get charged with a prostitution related offense? Even worse, what are we communicating to precious children when they learn that the adult who violated them merely got convicted of soliciting a prostitute?

Only five percent of the 118 prosecuted cases resulted in the defendant receiving a sentence that included incarceration. This means that 95 percent of the buyers who were prosecuted for some form of commercial sexual exploitation of a child never served a day behind bars!

This past week, I have spent a bit of time struggling with what these extremely disturbing results mean to those of us who identify ourselves as Christians? Though I am still struggling, here are just a few of my initial thoughts that I'd like to share:

We often think of the commercial sexual exploitation of children being perpetrated by large organized trafficking rings upon children who are almost exclusively runaways. Though that is tragically true in way too many cases, this report seems to indicate that this abuse is being perpetrated by the adults in our community that we least expect upon children that we so often assume are not at risk. This report opens our eyes to the grave reality that the commercial sexual exploitation of children has no boundaries. All children are at risk.

There is little doubt that those who will pay money to sexually victimize a child are not limited to just those whom they pay to abuse. For every lawyer, doctor, coach, teacher, or pastor who is paying for sexual contact with a child, one can only wonder how many are doing so without the need to pay anything. This tells me that the prevalence of this heinous crime is far greater than we can determine. Furthermore, this study reminds us of how it is very common for perpetrators to intentionally seek out professions of trust and that most make direct contact with their victims in person, or using some form of technology. Do we truly grasp these alarming realities about dangerous adults who are members of our faith communities? If so, what if anything is the Church going to do about it? Aren't we the Church?

This report confirms the horror that no age is off limits to those who sexually assault children. We are also exposed to the lesser-known horror that a large number of these child victims are being delivered into the hands of offenders by their very own family members. Do we truly grasp these dark realities about the precious child victims who are members of our faith communities? Should we not be equally concerned about the children who are outside of our faith communities? If so, what if anything is the Church going to do about it? Aren't we the Church?

As a former prosecutor, I was extremely bothered to learn that so few offenders are sent to prison for raping children in exchange for money. What does it say about a culture when an adult who pays to sexually victimize a child is only charged with prostitution solicitation? What does it say about a culture that actually prosecutes sexually victimized children as prostitutes? Do we truly grasp these dark realities that demonstrate such little concern about those who sexually exploit children? If so, what if anything is the Church going to do about it? Aren't we the Church?

Questions are a certainly a good starting point. However, simply asking questions isn't enough. It's too easy for many of us to feel like we have sufficiently responded to these dark realities by simply asking tough questions. In my experience, questions that are not followed up by actions are nothing more than indifference hiding behind a pretty mask. As Christians, we embrace a different reality. A reality about a God who doesn't simply respond to the dark realities with questions. He actually poured himself out to the point of death in order to bring light to that darkness. That is the beautiful redemption story. Our response to this mind-blowing truth is to follow Jesus into the dark realities places as we pour our own lives out in actions that will make a difference. Actions that expose the dark deeds of offenders, protect and serve children, and help to transform a culture that all too often protects those who must be punished and punishes those who must be protected.

May each question propel us forward into action. It's time to get moving.

Boz” Tchividjian is a former child abuse chief prosecutor and is the founder and executive director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Boz is also an Associate Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law, and is a published author who speaks and writes extensively on issues related to abuse within the faith community. He is the 3rd-eldest grandchild of the Rev. Billy Graham.


United Kingdom

Rotherham child sex abuse: my shame has gone. Now I'm angry for the thousands of us who've been abused

The Rotherham scandal has exposed shocking flaws in the protection of children

by Anonymous

It was an overcast October day during the half-term school holiday and I was 11 years old. I found myself sitting alone, on a plastic chair, in the empty bedroom of a terraced house. Behind me was a large, one-way mirror, in front of me a video camera on a stand. There was a small box of broken toys in the corner.

I'd been taken there in the back of a police car and told to wait until the officers were "ready for me". I wasn't sure if I was being filmed or watched secretly. I wasn't sure of anything, except that I was scared stiff. So I tried to avert my eyes from the blinking red light on the camera and sat frozen and silent, staring intently at the book in my hands. I didn't read a single word.

Some time later, I was led downstairs and told that I had been brought to the police house to be questioned about allegations of sexual abuse. I could hardly breathe. The officers offered me a rich tea biscuit. I'm not sure how long I was questioned. An hour perhaps, maybe two. We sat at a dining table, while questions were asked and I gave quiet, monosyllabic replies – when I could. But some of the questions I found especially difficult to answer.

"What were you wearing that night?" asked one of the officers. "Um, a nightie?" I mumbled, confused by the question. "Yes, but what sort of nightie?" she continued. "Er, I don't know, just an ordinary nightie," I offered apologetically, still not understanding. The officer pressed me harder: "How short was it, though?"

And then the penny dropped. As I indicated a point halfway up my thigh and swallowed back tears, I realised that I must have done something wrong when I – 11 years old, let's not forget – was sexually assaulted by this 32-year-old man. Done something wrong by wearing a short night-dress.

As I felt myself flooded with feelings of shame and guilt, the questions went on. Had I touched him? Where did I touch him? How did I touch him? For years afterwards, those questions echoed in my head, followed by a relentless, inner voice of my own that said: "You must be a dirty little whore".

I was reminded of it again last week when I read about the horrifying abuse and exploitation suffered by 1,400 girls in Rotherham. Many of those girls came into contact with the police, but very few of them were treated as victims who needed support.

Some never got any attention from agencies at all and, according to Alexis Jay's report, they were seen as "undesirables" and "slappers" who were best left alone.

There's been public outrage over the systematic failure of protection and rightly so. I was angered too. But I wasn't particularly shocked – and not only because I'd experienced first hand how abuse victims can be treated. Now, just in my thirties, I still see this kind of failure all the time, from another perspective. Knowing the harm sexual violence can do to people's lives – and how much difference it makes to get the right support – I ended up working for an organisation that supports those who've been through abuse and exploitation.

We deal with teenagers who've been exploited, raped and subjected to gang violence. Some have fallen prey to gangs of Asian men, as in Rotherham, but elsewhere the perpetrators have been white men, black men or mixed gangs.

What the victims often have in common is that they were either not believed or they were ignored or, worse still, blamed. We have had 13-year-old rape victims described by police as "promiscuous", 14-year-olds called "slags" and countless others who won't speak to the police at all because they are too scared and ashamed. For girls who have already suffered abuse, this victim blaming or, in some cases, total denial and disbelief, serves to crush further what little is left of their sense of self-worth.

I've spent years trying to understand where these attitudes come from. Why are some victims seen as unworthy of help? Why is the label "streetwise" applied to them as if it's an excuse for doing nothing? Is it because many are from rough council estates? Is it because they often come from troubled backgrounds and have already been written off? Is it cultural? Class prejudice? Is it straightforward sexism?

I do understand that it's difficult for police to handle sexual abuse, exploitation and rape. Very often, the victims can't or won't give evidence; they have sometimes got caught up in criminality themselves and frequently show misplaced loyalty to their abuser. For many victims, it's a long time before they can see that what is happening to them is wrong and they don't have to endure it.

When I was questioned by police, they focused on one event, but never asked me about any of the other incidents of abuse I'd experienced over the years. And I didn't mention them either. I'd been well trained to keep "our little secret", to play things down and twist the truth.

That's what the psychological grooming process does to you. It's part of the damage abuse does and I've no doubt it does make it harder to elicit "reliable evidence" from a "reliable witness" in the usual way, whether they're pre-pubescents, as I was, or older teens.

That's why it's so crucial that agencies dealing with those who've been groomed are properly trained to understand it. Police, judges or council budget managers… if they don't get it they'll never stop it happening.

To be fair to front-line workers in Rotherham, they did try to get senior managers to take action. But those senior managers never did. Somewhere along the line, in juggling budgets and priorities they made a compromise – and they compromised on child rape.

That decision to take no proper action in Rotherham wasn't just heartless, it was a false economy. I've no doubt that, like me, those victims will struggle with the consequences for years, at great human cost to themselves, and financial cost to the taxpayer. For me, it was depression and PTSD that I battled – with help from the NHS. For countless others, it's alcoholism, drugs, serious mental illness, abusive relationships and costly disruptions to their education and employment.

It costs money to stop abuse and exploitation and it costs money to support survivors to recover. But if we want a society that values and protects children and teenagers from all backgrounds, it's money we can't afford not to spend.

I was one of the lucky ones. After a few false starts with an idiotic counsellor ("How much do you like boys? Would you say you liked boys too much?"), eventually I got decent support and recovered from the trauma of abuse. In the end, I was able to understand it wasn't my fault. Many years later, I no longer feel ashamed.

But I do feel angry. I feel angry for the thousands who have suffered and been let down. It's no good wringing our hands about the past. Yes, failure to understand and respect survivors of sexual violence has been a problem for decades. But it remains a problem right now up and down the country. It must change now.


United Kingdom

Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal - the lessons: We need solutions, not scapegoats

The media's blame game is avoiding the issue of safeguarding

by Paul Vallely

"Gang rape is a usual part of growing up round here," one girl said, with chilling understatement, to the inquiry into child sex abuse in Rotherham which has shocked Britain. There is no need to repeat here the full ghastly litany of brutalities inflicted on more than 1,400 girls in the 16 years covered by the report. The media has taken a grim satisfaction in doing that in great detail before enthusiastically leaping to the task of hunting down the perpetrators of the outrage.

Sadly, journalists have not had in their sights the gangs of men who physically raped and mentally tortured their children as young as 11. Rather, the tabloid hue and cry has been in pursuit of a much easier quarry – the bureaucrats and functionaries whose inaction, incompetence and prejudices permitted these chilling abusers to flourish unchecked.

Certainly there are many among the local police and at the borough council who have serious questions to answer. The inquiry by Professor Alexis Jay spoke of "blatant failures" there. Councillors and senior managers in social services "underplayed" child sexual exploitation. Police officers treated "many child victims with contempt", regarding them as promiscuous teenagers having consensual sex rather than victims of child abuse.

Yet despite that it seems perverse that the dominant media dynamic in the week has been the pursuit of scapegoats. The man most in the sights of the righteous has been South Yorkshire's police commissioner Shaun Wright, who was Rotherham's lead councillor for children's services between 2005 and 2010 when evidence on the scale of abuse became unambiguous. Most people with any sense of honour in his shoes would have resigned unprompted on the publication of last week's report.

Outraged by Mr Wright's brass-necked refusal to resign, the media worked its way down a list of other officials and demanded that they too should go – even when they had already gone. So fevered was the witch-hunt that Mr Wright's deputy police commissioner, Tracey Cheetham, resigned despite the fact that she has no connection with Rotherham at all.

There is an understandable instinct at times of crisis of public outrage that "something must be done". Scapegoating satisfies that urge. But it does not necessarily do much to safeguard children still at risk.

The same can be said of the impulse to stereotype a whole community. Almost all of the rapists uncovered in Rotherham were from Pakistani backgrounds, as they were in cases of street grooming in Oxford, Rochdale and Derby. The Jay report described a widespread perception that council and police dared not act against Asian criminals for fear of allegations of racism, though interestingly, Jay added, "we found no evidence" of that.

There are clearly distinct problems in Kashmiri culture; the novelist Bina Shah has criticised racism, misogyny, tribalism and sexual vulgarity among men "who hail from the poorest, least educated, and most closed-off parts of Pakistan". The UK Muslim Women's Network produced a report last September which showed that the sexual abuse perpetrated on white girls in Rotherham is virtually identical to the molestation of Asian girls across the UK by groups of men from their own communities. A few brave male Muslim leaders are beginning to address this within their own communities.

The danger of the emphasis on race in much of the reporting on this issue is that it invites the inference that the problem can be laid at someone else's door. Readers' comments on newspaper websites reveal that "it confirms everything I always thought about Islam", said one of the more repeatable. Yet chauvinism and misogyny are to be found in white communities, where wives are still beaten on Saturday nights when the wrong football team loses, and in black communities as "choke this bitch" rap lyrics reveal.

The Jay report bemoans an overall macho and bullying sexist culture in South Yorkshire – "not an appropriate climate in which to discuss rape and sexual exploitation" – which is far more likely to explain the lack of action than some politically correct oversensitivity to race. It makes no more sense to blame Islam than it does to look at Gary Glitter, Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall, Max Clifford and Rolf Harris and say they reveal something dodgy about Christian culture. Scapegoating may make bigots feel better, but it doesn't do much for safeguarding children.

It is something else that should most disturb in the Jay report, but it won't make newspaper headlines. The report reveals a safeguarding co-ordinator who had seven changes of manager in a year, management reorganisations diverting staff from contact with vulnerable children, professionals working as individuals where they should be co-ordinating with other services, and systems which need an inordinate number of meetings before approving action. It underlines the need to improve the standard of records, reports, referrals and assessments. Performance management and staff monitoring need strengthening. Better two-way communications between senior leaders and the front line are required. And Professor Jay highlights tricky decisions at a time of spending cuts. How much money should go to preventive work vs post-abuse care? Do hundreds of dramatic child abuse cases need more resources than thousands of cases of child neglect which draw public attention only when a child dies?

To be fair, the report says there have been improvements in the past four years by both the council and police. But if safeguarding children is to improve, it is on unsensational issues such as these that society needs to focus rather than on a media blame game.

Paul Vallely is visiting professor in public ethics at University of Chester



Sex trafficking a major source of youth homelessness

by Janae Francis

There's another group of vulnerable kids just as invisible as Utah's estimated 5,000 homeless youth.

They are the victims of sex trafficking.

Those who study the issue believe any steps to address sex trafficking in Utah also will help solve the problem of youth homelessness.

But they say in the past, Utah laws have not helped solve the problem and the victims have remained largely invisible.

“We do have a trafficking problem,” said Tammie Garcia Atkin, director of the Utah Attorney General's Office of Victim Services. “It is very hard to find victims who will come forward. If she is forced under coercion, she would be considered trafficked.”

Atkin said girls often are introduced into prostitution by men who they believe are their boyfriends.

The men show them attention for a while and then tell them they need money and ask them to earn it by sleeping with someone.

“That's how it starts,” she said. “It's all sweetness and likes and then it turns into this violent relationship.”

Those closest to the issue in Utah say homelessness and trafficking have a symbiotic relationship.

Often a homeless youth falls victim to the sex trade industry because of his or her vulnerability, they say.

But also a common scenario ending in homelessness, they say, is recruitment into the sex trafficking trade.

This recruitment, they say, often begins as a result of pre-existing vulnerability, which can be the result of many factors including homelessness, abuse, economic pressures and neglect.

A Standard-Examiner visit to two emergency youth shelters in Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon revealed that social workers in those states pride themselves on the sex trafficking laws there that decriminalized youth victims who are prey to the industry.

The laws in both states allow for police who find young prostitutes to take them to shelters instead of jail.

Utah's law, under the title of Safe Harbor, changed in the last session of the Utah Legislature.

At the moment, Utah's policy says that a child is not subject to delinquency proceedings for engaging in prostitution unless a law enforcement officer has referred the child to the Division of Child and Family Services on at least one prior occasion for an alleged act of prostitution or sexual solicitation.

Previously, all who were suspected of prostitution were taken to jail.

Fernando Rivero, a volunteer education chairman of the Utah Coalition of Sexual Assault and a frequent presenter about human trafficking, said Utah has stepped in the right direction but before changes can actually begin, Utahns need to be educated.

“Our laws are new enough — there's still going to be a lot of training for police,” he said. “It's going to be a while before that law really takes effect.”

Rivero said the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault has been going for almost three years. “We're still learning about combating sexual trafficking in Utah,” he said.

Rivero hopes to make a difference through frequent lectures on the subject.

“Education is huge,” he said. “Parents need to recognize the signs.”

And he said the more everyone knows about the issue, the better equipped they will be to recognize it when they see victims of trafficking.

Professionally a fire captain, Rivero said because he was educated on what to look for, he was able to recognize a sex trafficking business once when he visited an area doing a building inspection. He said firefighters are in an excellent position to help with this issue.

“We go into many homes and businesses in the community and we have opportunities to report,” he said.

He's hoping to get more education on this subject into Utah schools.

Rivero is hoping to eventually steer Utah's thinking more toward a victim mentality as seen in other states.

“In the state of Washington, they are clearly victims,” said Alaire de Salvo, administrative coordinator of Washington services of Janus Youth Programs in Washington state. “In other states, they are charged.”

Working out of the Oak Ridge emergency shelter in Vancouver, de Salvo said the reasoning in seeing young prostitutes as victims is the belief that they are tricked into the business.

“Really, who needs to be charged are the customers and the pimps,” de Salvo said. “We treat them with respect and compassion.”

Kevin Donegan, program director for homeless and runaway youth programs at Janus Youth Programs in Portland, said he works with many who have been in the business of prostitution from a very young age.

He displayed a part of his office where youth are brought by police, often in handcuffs, to be taken into the program. He outlined ways the different youth are kept separated from those who have committed more violent crimes. He said youth also are brought to the programs by volunteers who are trained to recognize homeless youth and prostitutes on the streets.

Donegan sends out a strict warning to parents who think their children are hanging out at the mall, because they could be in a situation where they are being recruited into sex trafficking and are unprepared.

“It's not normal for an adult male to come up to you and tell you that your hair looks pretty,” he said of how the scenario often begins.

He said parents need to care enough to keep close track of their children in order to keep them safe.

In Portland, the street name for prostitution is “The Life,” he said, noting how the experience can seem exciting for those youth who fall prey.

“I get them and I tell them to do their social studies,” he said. “It's not the same.”

Peter Thorpe, lead case manager of the Oak Ridge shelter in Vancouver, said he was so proud of his state's effort in this area as he continually is given opportunities to work with youth picked up on the streets for prostitution.

“If you are tricked or manipulated into trafficking, you are not a criminal,” he said. “In other states, it's not the john, not the customer, not the pimp, it's the girl that goes to jail.”

He said the average age for a girl to enter prostitution is 13. “It just keeps going down and down,” he said.

According to the Freedom Alliance, the average age for victims to enter the sex trafficking trade is 12 to 14.

“People are discovering that it is a renewable resource,” he said. “You can sell a girl over and over again.”

Those who suspect they know of a situation where sex trafficking is occurring are asked to call the Polaris Project Tip Line at 1-888-373-7888 or the Utah Trafficking Task Force Tip Line at 801-200-3443.

The Standard-Examiner Young & Homeless Initiative is an effort to find ways to get the community to come together and lift up youth who are at risk of becoming homeless or who become homeless.

The Standard-Examiner is donating $1 for efforts to fight youth homelessness for every donation made online as part of the Standard-Examiner Young & Homeless initiative, up to $10,000.


UK - Rotherham

(Video on site)

Rotherham child abuse scandal: 1,400 children exploited, report finds

At least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, a report has found.

Children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated, it said.

The report, commissioned by Rotherham Borough Council, revealed there had been three previous inquiries.

Council leader Roger Stone said he would step down with immediate effect.

Mr Stone, who has been the leader since 2003, said: "I believe it is only right that as leader I take responsibility for the historic failings described so clearly."

The inquiry team noted fears among council staff of being labelled "racist" if they focused on victims' descriptions of the majority of abusers as "Asian" men.

'Doused in petrol'

Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the latest report, said there had been "blatant" collective failures by the council's leadership, senior managers had "underplayed" the scale of the problem and South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritise the issue.

Prof Jay said: "No-one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013."

Revealing details of the inquiry's findings, Prof Jay said: "It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered."

The inquiry team found examples of "children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone".

Five men from the town were jailed for sexual offences against girls in 2010, but the report said police "regarded many child victims with contempt".

District Commander for Rotherham, Ch Supt Jason Harwin said: "Firstly I'd like to start by offering an unreserved apology to the victims of child sexual exploitation who did not receive the level of service they should be able to expect from their local police force.

"We fully acknowledge our previous failings."

Ch Supt Harwin said the force had "overhauled" the way it dealt with such cases and had successfully prosecuted a number of abusers.

But he admitted: "I accept that our recent successes... will not heal the pain of those victims who have been let down."

'Racism' fear

The report found: "Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought as racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so."

Failures by those charged with protecting children happened despite three reports between 2002 and 2006 which both the council and police were aware of, and "which could not have been clearer in the description of the situation in Rotherham".

Prof Jay said the first of these reports was "effectively suppressed" because senior officers did not believe the data. The other two were ignored, she said.

The inquiry team found that in the early-2000s when a group of professionals attempted to monitor a number of children believed to be at risk, "managers gave little help or support to their efforts".

The report revealed some people at a senior level in the police and children's social care thought the extent of the problem was being "exaggerated".

Prof Jay said: "The authorities involved have a great deal to answer for."

A victim of abuse in Rotherham, who has been called "Isabel" to protect her identity, told BBC Panorama: "I was a child and they should have stepped in.

"No matter what's done now... it's not going to change that it was too late, it should have been stopped and prevented."


James Vincent, BBC Look North

The scale of this report is simply staggering and some of the detail extremely hard to read.

It lays out how Rotherham Council and the police knew about the level of child sexual exploitation in the town, but didn't do anything about it.

They either didn't believe what they were being told, played it down, or were too nervous to act. The failures, the report says, are blatant.

The report estimates 1,400 children were sexually exploited over 16 years, with one young person telling the report's author that gang rape was a usual part of growing up in Rotherham.

The processes for dealing with these crimes have got better in the last four years, but still improvements need to be made.

There were more apologies from the council today but the report's author says they are too late.

Speaking about her abuser, Isabel said: "I think because the police were aware and social services were aware and he knew that and they still didn't stop him it I think it encouraged him.

"It almost became like a game to him. He was untouchable."

Speaking after the publication of the report, Victims' Commissioner Baroness Newlove said: "I'm appalled by the extent of the horrific abuse endured by these vulnerable victims.

"It's deeply distressing how the authorities failed to protect these young people and their voices were not heard.

"Everyone involved needs to take responsibility for the shocking failings that this report has exposed. This must not happen again.

"I want to see every one of these victims getting the right support now and for as long as it takes them to help them on the path to recovery."

Maggie Atkinson, children's commissioner for England, said the number of identified child victims was "largely consistent" with the findings of their own national inquiry into "child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups".

'Horrific experiences'

Rotherham council's chief executive, Martin Kimber, said he accepted the report and the recommendations made and apologised to the victims of abuse.

He said: "The report does not make comfortable reading in its account of the horrific experiences of some young people in the past, and I would like to reiterate our sincere apology to those who were let down when they needed help.

"I commissioned this independent review to understand fully what went wrong, why it went wrong and to ensure that the lessons learned in Rotherham mean these mistakes can never happen again.

"The report confirms that our services have improved significantly over the last five years and are stronger today than ever before.

"This is important because it allows me to reassure young people and families that should anyone raise concerns we will take them seriously and provide them with the support they need.

"However, that must not overshadow - and certainly does not excuse - the finding that for a significant amount of time the council and its partners could and should have done more to protect young people from what must be one of the most horrific forms of abuse imaginable."



New group to support victims of childhood sexual abuse

by Anna Jeffries

NEWARK – Bethany Stanley was sexually abused by someone she knew when she was a child and never told anyone until she was 16.

Even then, she felt she was all alone and no one understood how much she was hurting.

She doesn't want anyone else to feel that isolated.

Stanley recently became the co-leader of a new support group, geared toward supporting adults who were abused by someone they knew when they were children.

"When this happens, you feel all alone, you feel shameful and disgusting," she said. "Being around other people who have been through it can help take that away."

Working closely with the group's other leaders, Pam Roberts and Shari Johnston, who also are abuse survivors, Stanley has spent the past few weeks preparing for the first meeting on Sept. 11.

The group will meet at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at Mental Health America of Licking County, 65 Messimer Drive in Newark.

The meetings are open to anyone older than 16 who was abused by someone they knew and trusted when they were young, Stanley said.

"There is a need for it, and we want people to know that we are here," she said.

Stanley struggled with the pain of her abuse for many years before realizing she needed to work toward recovery.

As she read and talked more about child sex abuse, she was amazed by how many people she met who were victims just like her.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be abused at some point in his or her childhood. Only 30 percent of cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

In as many as 93 percent of abuse cases, the child knows the person who commits the abuse.

Many victims are too afraid to talk about their abuse, especially if it involves a family member. Even if they do come forward, that doesn't make the pain go away, Roberts said.

"Sometimes, it's a lifetime of trauma that affects everything you think and do," she said. "I felt like it was woven into my pores."

Stanley was inspired to tell her story after she found a Kickstarter campaign to fund an independent documentary called "Rewind to Fast Forward."

The piece tells the story of Sasha Neulinger, who was abused by his two uncles and his cousin when he was a boy. He used home movies of his childhood and interviews with family members to share his story.

"I thought, 'Look how brave this guy is,'" she said. "It gave me the courage to say, 'I'm a survivor.' "

She realized how important it was to speak out so she could help others.

"Let's get it out in the open so people are talking about it, so it loses its power," she said.

Stanley decided to look for a support group to share her experiences.

She contacted Roberts, who is associate director of MHA, and asked whether there were any groups she could connect with.

"Pam told me, 'We don't have one for adult survivors,' " Stanley said. "I thought, 'They need to have one.' "

Pam offered to be Stanley's mentor, but the two women decided they wanted to do more to help others.

"I had a longtime struggle with recovery," Pam said. "If you can get on the other side of it, it's good to help someone else."

Johnston, who was recently hired as MHA's Compeer coordinator, offered to be the art facilitator for the group. She plans to use her 25 years of experience helping teens to introduce art projects that can help with healing.

The three co-leaders plan to use "The Courage to Heal Workbook" to guide the group's discussion. Because it's peer led, participants will be encouraged to talk about their experiences but could simply listen if they feel more comfortable, Roberts said.

If the support group goes well, the three co-leaders are hoping to start a support group for the loved ones of sexual abuse victims. They are also planning several educational events for April, which is both Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness month.

The more information is out there, the more victims will realize they aren't powerless and they can take steps to break the cycle of abuse, Stanley said.

"So many people are dealing with this on their own, and we want them to know they don't have to," she said. "Let's all help each other to deal with it."

If you go

• What: Survivors of Sex Abuse Support Group

• When: 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month

• Where: Mental Health America of Licking County, 65 Messimer Drive, Newark

• Cost: Free and open to any survivor older than 16

• FYI: For more information about the group, call Pam Roberts at 740-788-0301 or email:


How 13-year-old Marta fell prey to human traffickers

by Chris Ann Kehner

Abandoned by her parents at 13, Marta fell prey to human traffickers in her native Guatemala.

Forced to work in the sex industry for two years, she fled, undertaking a long, arduous journey in search of safety.

Marta – who is real – was found by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and transferred into the care of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

During her several-month stay in HHS custody, trained child welfare experts screened her. They identified her as a human trafficking survivor and connected her to appropriate social services.

Marta is currently applying for a Special Immigrant Juvenile visa, a special protection visa for children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents.

Marta received the help and services she needed because of important due process protections provided in a 2008 law: the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. This law recognizes that children from non-contiguous countries who arrive at our borders without adults require specialized screening to assess their protection needs. Many of them are victims of sexual abuse, severe maltreatment or human trafficking. In 2008, Congress unanimously agreed to support this screening process so that children like Marta would not fall back into the hands of their abusers. After its passage, President George W. Bush signed this bill into law without hesitation.

With the enactment of federal laws like the TVPRA, the United States has made great strides in combating modern slavery and aiding victims like Marta. Not only is human trafficking now a federal crime, but state governments have also enacted laws to fight this crime and help victims. Delaware has helped lead the way: In June, Gov. Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 197 into law, which provides increased safeguards for victims, toughens penalties for traffickers and raises awareness of this crime.

Unfortunately, as we praise legislative victories in states like Delaware, the U.S. Congress is considering rolling back the important 2008 protections for vulnerable children like Marta. Overwhelmed by the arrival of large numbers of unaccompanied children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, some members of Congress want children like Marta to be processed within 72 hours, before facing deportation. This proposed policy change would eliminate the key screening Marta underwent, undermine due process and further penalize children who already have limited access to legal counsel. If these changes take hold, children like Marta will face uncertain and dangerous futures.

The influx of so many unaccompanied children is a reflection of the serious humanitarian crisis in which Central American countries are currently consumed. According to a recent United Nations report, no less than 58 percent of unaccompanied children from these countries indicated they were displaced because of abuses that warrant international protection. This number has steadily increased over the last several years and is indicative of a greater need for regional humanitarian intervention. And while the increase of unaccompanied minors arriving at our border in recent months might seem overwhelming, they actually comprise only 0.35 percent of the world's 17.9 million refugees, a disproportionately small percentage when compared to the collective ability of the United States to protect these vulnerable children.

Marta's initial screening while in HHS custody was critical in identifying her as a trafficking survivor, and providing her with the help she needed. If Congress removes these essential protections next month when it reconvenes, children like Marta will fall through the cracks and are at risk of being trafficked again.

Delaware has shown its solidarity with trafficking victims. Now, it can do so on a national scale. Join me in calling on Congress to protect the provisions in the TVPRA. Eliminating such minimal protections for expediency's sake is shortsighted and puts already vulnerable children in increased danger. Congress can and should uphold current policy, and fulfill the promise it made to these children in 2008.

Chris Ann Kehner is the Director of Policy for Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Polaris equips communities to identify, report and prevent human trafficking.



Associate pastor breaks silence on abuse

by TK Barger

Kristopher Schondelmeyer, 30, is the associate pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Toledo, responsible for youth and small-group ministry and adult education. When he was a teenager, a minister touched him sexually, he alleges, but even so, he became a minister. And though he serves the Presbyterian Church, he is suing it. He claims that repressed memory kept him from realizing until November 2012 that he was a victim of clergy sexual abuse in July 2000.

His attorneys filed a legal petition in Fulton, Mo., on April 14, and an initial hearing was held in Columbia, Mo., Aug. 18, for a lawsuit against Fulton's First Presbyterian Church and the larger bodies that Fulton's church is a part of, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Presbyterian Foundation, which holds church funds, is also a defendant. And Jack Wayne Rogers, 69, at the time an ordained Presbyterian lay minister, now a federal prison inmate convicted in 2004 of child pornography and obscenity, is named as the abuser and is also being sued. The Rev. Schondelmeyer is asking for “compensatory and punitive damages” and “other and further relief,” the lawsuit says.

Rev. Schondelmeyer's allegations include that Rogers and the Presbyterian Church established a ”trust relationship” with him and, exploiting that, Rogers “engaged in non-consensual sex acts with the plaintiff” on a church trip to a youth conference in Maryland. Rogers had been convicted of child pornography in 1992, and the lawsuit alleges the church knew, yet made him a chaperone for youth, and also that the church was “encouraging [Rogers] to commit the abuse and battery” and “actively concealing the abuse after it occurred.” The Church also violated its own policies and procedures regarding sex abusers, the lawsuit says.

His Toledo congregation is very supportive of Rev. Schondelmeyer, said its pastor, the Rev. Tom Schwartz. “Our governing body, or session, had talked with Kris about it,” and a letter was sent to all members. The alleged abuse, cover-up, and lack of accountability, response, and help by the Church is “out of line. It's why we would agree that his desire to litigate would be something we would be in support of.”

Attorneys Sarah Brown and Rebecca Randles of Kansas City, Mo., are representing Rev. Schondelmeyer. “Our firm for many, many years has handled cases for victims of childhood sexual abuse” and focuses on both clergy and psychiatric sex abuse, Ms. Brown said. “We thought he had a compelling case.”

Rev. Schondelmeyer would not comment and referred The Blade to David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), as his spokesman. Mr. Clohessy, of St. Louis, is also a sex abuse survivor. He said that Rev. Schondelmeyer “is a wonderful, brave man who is deeply and justifiably concerned about others who may have been hurt by this awful predator, and he tried very hard to get church officials to do outreach to others who are suffering, with little success. So he felt almost morally compelled to take legal action for the sake of others.”

In a SNAP press release, Rev. Schondelmeyer is quoted, “My biggest fear isn‘?t whether or not Presbyterian Church officials will do what is good, and right, and just. It'?s that there might be other victims who are suffering in silence.”

Mr. Clohessy said, “If anybody has been or is affected or suffered Rogers's crimes, we want them to know that they are not alone, it's not their fault, and recovery is possible. But it's crucial that they share their burdens with someone they trust and not try to bear this pain alone.”

A victim of clergy abuse might become a minister because “a lot of people go into ministry in order to heal their own wounds,” said the Rev. Barbara Lee of Grand Haven, Mich., who calls herself “the sex minister” and wrote a book on sexual ethics. “Sometimes that's not very conscious.”

Rev. Lee, a survivor of sexual abuse, said, “A lot of that need for healing comes from that sense of how we've broken our interpersonal bridge to ourself, and so we don't have that awareness—which is probably where some of [Rev. Schondelmeyer‘?s] memory lapse comes from. And our culture is so shame-based around sexuality, so then we don't have those healthy outlets to explore that, to share it openly, and so we repress.”

“Repressed memory happens in a minority of cases, but far more than most people expect,” Mr. Clohessy said. “It's a common, though often misunderstood, psychological coping mechanism.”

Mr. Clohessy said that abuse is not a faith killer. “Kris is like a number of clergy sex abuse victims who are able to separate the actions of one or a few men from the rest of the belief system. ... He really very much loves the Presbyterian Church and faith.”

“There is so much compassion and mercy in my heart, and I would rather stand with church leaders, than against them, to work together to create safe and sacred space for children and youth,” Rev. Schondelmeyer said in the SNAP press release.

The Presbyterian Foundation “does not have any comment at this time,” Rob Bullock, its vice president for marketing and communications, stated in an email.

Rogers has not responded to a written request for comments.



Dover schools' child-abuse awareness, reporting policy to get update

Officials said the review is unrelated to ex-teacher Matthew Puterbaugh's arrest earlier this year

by Angie Mason

The Dover Area School Board will be updating its child and student abuse policy, but school officials said that's unrelated to the arrest of a former teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student.

The agenda for the board's safe and supportive schools committee meeting Tuesday includes the item "child/student abuse policy #806."

According to Dover's online policy manual, that policy relates to district employees' obligation to help identify possible child abuse or victimization of students and procedures for reporting such abuse.

Former teacher Matthew Puterbaugh was charged earlier this year with sexual assault, possession of child pornography and other crimes. Court records show the district investigated Puterbaugh for inappropriate conduct with students on at least three occasions, and that he was reprimanded as recently as 2010, but police and the state department of education say they were not notified of any incidents.

Supt. Kenneth Cherry, who joined the district in July, was asked if, in light of the Puterbaugh case, the policy was something the district particularly wanted to have up to date. "I'd think all jurisdictions would want to have this up to date," he said.

Terry Emig, school board president, said some district policies need to be updated, so the board is doing that.

"We want to make sure everything is up to date, everything is the way it should be," he said.

He said updating that particular policy is not a result of what happened with Puterbaugh.

"It's just that some of our policies haven't been looked at for a while, so now we're going to look at them," Emig said.

The online policy manual indicates the current policy was adopted in 1996 and updated in 2003. Cherry said the district wants to make sure the policy matches law coming into effect.

The current policy says employees should make reports to their supervisor or to the superintendent, he said. It would be changed to say that they should make a report to ChildLine first, then contact their supervisor or the superintendent.

In April, Gov. Tom Corbett signed laws expanding and further defining the mandatory reporting process, including immediate reporting to the Department of Public Welfare, and expanding those required to be mandatory reporters, among other things. Some of those laws took effect in June while others take effect in December.


How to protect your child with special needs from sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is every parent's nightmare, exceeded only by the idea of losing a child completely. The vulnerability of children with special needs makes them the ideal predator target.

A mother of a child with Down syndrome — who we will call Jane — chose to share with SheKnows her family's experience. Jane's son was sexually abused by a friend when the boys were 16 years old.

Months passed before he found a way to tell his parents. The predator had groomed him to believe that if he told his parents, they would think he was a "bad boy" and they wouldn't love him anymore.

On the night the truth emerged, Jane clutched her frightened child and promised him again and again that he was absolutely a good boy, and Mommy and Daddy would never stop loving him.

Jane's disbelief was as overwhelming as her confusion. This was a family she trusted — a boy her family knew, loved and trusted. Yet, he had committed the ultimate betrayal. Why? How? Hadn't she done everything right?

Who is at risk?

Children with special needs are perfect prey because they may not understand what is happening, know to speak up or have the communication skills to do so.

"I've learned a lot about this dark world," Jane says. "Our kids with special needs are the most vulnerable and the most abused. This is something that we should want to talk about and learn about."

More on risk

•  According to a 2012 report for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a risk factor is if "the parent is unaware his or her child with disabilities is at greater risk of maltreatment and may be unprepared to identify and protect the child from risky situations."

•  Boys with disabilities or children with disabilities who are in preschool or younger are more likely than children without disabilities to be abused.

•  Children who rely on their caretakers may not understand inappropriate touching.

•  Emotional dependence on caregivers may stop a child with special needs from speaking up.

Protect your child

Jenny Thompson has a daughter with Down syndrome and supports a nonprofit called Step Up, Speak Out.

"A big key… is creating a community of freedom where victims can tell their story and not feel guilt, shame, persecution," Thompson explains. "[Then] perpetrators are more likely to get convicted."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends:

•  Help others see children with disabilities as valued and unique individuals.

•  Promote inclusion of children with disabilities into everyday life.

•  Develop leadership skills in parents and family members of children with disabilities.

For more information on how to create a safer community, access the report.

Risk at school

Nearly one in 10 typical students (not just those with a disability) experienced unacceptable sexual behavior by a school employee while in school, according to a 2004 report for the U. S. Department of Education.

Which educators are likely to molest?

•  Any employee or volunteer

•  Well-liked and respected teachers

•  Those with access to students before or after school or one-on-one (e.g., coaches, physical therapists)

What should I look for?

•  Physical signs include:

•  Difficulty walking or sitting

•  Torn clothing, stained or bloodied underwear

•  Pain or itching in the genital area

•  Venereal disease, pregnancy and changes in weight

Behavior red flags:

•  Age-inappropriate sexual behavior (e.g., Jane's son had taken a picture of his penis)

•  Changes in personality

•  Increased time at school with one adult

What might the molester do?

•  Develop close relationships with students

•  Spend time alone together

•  Spend time before or after school together

•  Spend time in a private space together

If you suspect abuse, the nonprofit Committee for Children provides information on next steps.


See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

An utterly shocking—and distinctively British—child sex abuse scandal

by The Economist

OVER the past few years it has sometimes seemed as though no news bulletin goes by without an awful account of child sex abuse. Celebrities and children's entertainers, including Rolf Harris and the late Jimmy Savile, have been revealed as molesters; so have some teachers and clerics. The latest horror was laid bare on August 26th, in a report into the sexual exploitation of children in Rotherham, a poor northern English town. The report is also painful for what it suggests about race relations in Britain.

The investigation by Alexis Jay, a former chief inspector of social work, uncovers a catalogue of offences, mostly by Pakistani men against white girls. Children as young as 11 were plied with drink and drugs, raped, beaten and trafficked to be abused by men in other cities. One was doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight. Another told the investigation that gang rape was a usual part of growing up in her district. The report estimates that some 1,400 children—some from fragile family backgrounds, some in the care of the state—were abused between 1997 and 2013.

All of which is grim enough. But the local council knew at least ten years ago of widespread abuse and yet appears to have downplayed the problem. Nor did the police pay much attention to it. On one occasion, officers attended a derelict house and found an intoxicated girl with several adult men. They arrested the girl for being drunk and disorderly but detained none of the men. Some fathers tracked down their daughters and tried to remove them from houses where they were being abused, only to be arrested themselves.

Three reports had been commissioned in 2002, 2003 and 2006 to investigate early allegations. These found that some of the Pakistani men who were exploiting girls were also involved in gun crime and drug-dealing. Ms Jay noted that the reports “could not have been clearer” about the sexual abuse, yet the first one was suppressed because senior officers disbelieved the data it contained and the other two were ignored. As the council belatedly got to grips with the situation, five men were convicted in 2010 of sexual offences against girls, the only convictions to date.

Roger Stone, the leader of Rotherham council since 2003, resigned as soon as the report was released. Others, such as the man responsible for the regional police force—and formerly for children, as a council officer—are under great pressure to go. More than a dozen victims announced plans to sue the council and the police.

Ms Jay's report also suggests, rather tentatively, that one reason the abuse was downplayed for so long was the fear that local officials might be fingered as racist. Rotherham is largely white (Pakistanis are only 3% of the population) but other northern towns have been torn by fights between whites and Pakistanis. Several local councillors suggested opening up the issue of race could “damage community cohesion”. Staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators. Others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.

What the report does not spell out, but which is true, is that the horrors in Rotherham fit into a pattern. In other northern towns such as Oldham and Rochdale, as well as in southern cities such as Oxford, gangs of Asian men have been convicted of grooming and abusing young, mostly white girls. This is a specific ethnic issue more than a religious one, says a community worker in a city near Rotherham. Young Pakistani men are increasingly alienated from their conservative parents, who want them to marry girls from back home (often the Mirpur district in Kashmir) and also from religious leaders, who often cannot speak English. Discussions of sex are taboo at home and in the mosque, so some learn about it from pornography, about misogyny from rap music and come to view white women as fair game (though the report also suggests Pakistani girls were abused, and that this was hushed up).

In Rotherham, this ethnic misogyny then ran up against the institutional misogyny of the police and the mostly white council. Ms Jay writes of one female employee at the council being told that if she wore shorter skirts to meetings “she'd get on better” and other senior male officials making explicit sexual remarks to female workers. Some senior police officers clearly saw the abused girls simply as sexually precocious young women.

In apologising to the victims, Rotherham council's chief executive, Martin Kimber, said he had commissioned the review to understand what went wrong so that it could never happen again. But there is probably much more to come, from other cities. The sound of accusations flying in Rotherham could just be the sound of the floodgates opening.



State police arrest sex offender for sexually abusing a child

by Sussex County Post

MILLSBORO – Delaware State Police on Wednesday arrested a Tier 2 sex offender after an investigation reveals he sexually abused a child in his care.

According to state police spokesman Cpl. Gary Fournier, detectives with the Troop 4 Criminal Investigations Unit in Georgetown arrested John T. King, 65, of Millsboro, Aug. 27 after an investigation into the sexual abuse of a three-year old female ensued after she was examined at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital on Friday, Aug. 22 due to some complaints of soreness to her lower region.

The examination and investigation revealed the three-year-old child had been sexually active for a period of time and that she had been under the periodic care of John King, who is a non-familial friend of the victim's mother, when these sexual encounters occurred, Cpl. Fournier said.

Mr. King, who is a medium risk Tier 2 sex offender, responded to Troop 4 on his own accord and was charged with unlawful sexual contact by a sex offender, and three counts of sexual abuse by a person of trust. He was arraigned and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $220,000 cash bond.


Celebrity child molesters: Is their fame a factor?

by Leora Arnowitz, Sasha Bogursky

“Sons of Guns” star Will Hayden was arrested on Wednesday on charges of aggravated rape for allegedly sexually abusing a minor “almost daily.”

Former “Cake Boss” cast member Remy Gonzales is currently serving 9 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

Lostprophets rocker Ian Watkins was recently sentenced to 35 years in prison after he was found guilty of multiple child sex abuse charges, including trying to rape a baby.

Of course only a tiny fraction of those committing this kind of heinous crimes are famous, but experts say fame can be a factor with celebrities who prey on children.

“Of course every situation is unique, but today when we look at the stars… we hear it all the time, that they begin to abuse their positions,” said Dr. Wendy James, who focuses on the early diagnosis and treatment of psychological issues. “As a society we tend to glorify stars...and society sees them as doing no wrong and a lot of time I see the frequency of narcissistic behavior in stars.”

She said that can lead to stars acting out in sexually inappropriate ways, with child molestation being an extreme situation.

“We allow stars to start to feel like they are above the law or above certain behavior,” she added.

Dr. Fred Berlin, the director of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Behavior Consultation Unit, said there is no definitive statistic that shows pedophiles are more prevalent among Hollywood's elite.

“I don't know of any evidence that it's more common among celebrity than others,” he told FOX411. “I think we pay more attention to it and are sort of more surprised in many ways because we think [we know these people based on what we see on TV].”

So does their a celebrity's status simply bring their awful behavior into the limelight?

“They are scrutinized if something is found out,” said James, while Berlin noted that celebrity abuse cases get much more attention than the average sex crime.

“Most of these cases get a certain amount of attention, and the public is rightfully concerned and when people are arrested in their local community,” he said. “It becomes a bigger, national story when someone is arrested who is a celebrity.”

And the stars mentioned above are not the first to be accused of sexual misconduct against children. Here are five more celebrities slammed with sex abuse allegations:

•  Peter Yarrow of the musical group Peter, Paul and Mary was convicted of taking "improper liberties" with a 14-year-old girl in 1970. Yarrow, who served 3 months in jail was later granted a presidential pardon in 1981 from former President Jimmy Carter.

•  A mother who appeared on TLC's "Cheer Perfection pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sexual assault and engaging a child in sexually explicit conduct. Andrew Clevenger received a two 10-year prison sentence and two 10-year suspended sentences for her sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy.

•  Comedienne Paula Poundstone was charged with three counts of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a girl under the age of 14 in 2001. She was found guilty of a felony child endangerment charge for driving while intoxicated with children in the car. She pleaded no contest to avoid jail time as part of a plea that placed her on probation for 5 years.

•  Once a judge on "America's Best Dance Crew" and a choreographer on "So You Think You Can Dance," Shane Sparks was charged with six counts of a lewd act on a child and two counts of oral copulation of a person under 16. His attorney called the claims "extortion" and claimed Sparks' accuser of only coming forward due to Sparks' fame. He pleaded not guilty in 2010 and again in 2011 on a single felony count of having unlawful sex with a minor. He eventually accepted a plea deal which sentenced him to 270 days in the country jail, five years of provation and 52 sessions of sex-offender counseling.

•  MTV's “Jackass” spin-off “Viva La Bam” star Vincent “Don Vito” Margera was found guilty on two counts of sexual assault on a child in 2007. Margera had been accused inappropriately touching one 14-year-old and two 12-year-olds at an autograph signing at a Colorado mall in August 2006.


North Carolina

Sanctuary Outreach a ministry for sexual abuse survivors

by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan

DURHAM — Sanctuary Outreach Ministry tries to provide just that – a sanctuary, a safe place for women to come who are survivors of sexual abuse. Almost a year old, the nonprofit operates out of Shepherd's House United Methodist Church on Driver Street. The Rev. Tammy White Rodman, founder and director, talked about her ministry this week at the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham's roundtable, which also meets at Shepherd's House.

Sanctuary Outreach Ministry is a Christian-based ministry, she said, but does not exclude anyone. There are events like Saturday morning prayers, Friday night social gatherings and Thursday night Bible studies. The ministry evolved from Rodman's doctoral dissertation at Union Theological Seminary and from her own experience as a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Rodman calls Sanctuary's program “Walking Wounded Willing Witness” and references 2 Samuel 13, in which Tamar is raped and out of that lived a desolate life because of the abuse. Rodman also references Luke 8:1-3 and the many women who were followers of Jesus.

Sexual abuse is a subject a lot of people don't want to talk about, Rodman said. One moment of abuse could be a lifetime of desolation for that child, she said. Millions of women never say a word about it, she said.

If trauma and abuse is not acknowledged, she said, it manifests in different ways including anger and addiction. She put up a façade for long time, too, Rodman said.

“If we do not address it, it will take over a person's life,” she said. Sanctuary Outreach uses four elements of Jesus' ministry to address it: prayer, teaching, preaching and healing.

“Jesus loves you no matter what,” she said. “There's healing in just being able to acknowledge your pain.”

Women in the group share their lives through multiple activities and eventually talk about the abuse, and at that point she begins to minister to their specific needs.

“Part of the healing process also is testimony,” Rodman said. Gatherings also include just talking, and “you come into a safe place, you feel comfortable and can breathe.”

Rodman said that she appeared successful on the outside, but inside was hurting.

“It's going to come out eventually, one way or another. If you've been hurt, it's going to come out,” she said. “Thank God, he accepted me in the middle of my mess … and turned me around.”

Sexual abuse of children is a major issue, she said, and, “we need to stop the silence.”

For information about Sanctuary Outreach Ministry, call 919-638-5163, email or visit:



California bill defines what it means to say ‘yes' to sex

by Gail Sullivan

The California state senate unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that defines when “yes” means “yes” to sex.

Instead of “no means no” – the phrase commonly associated with sexual assault prevention – the law would require “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement” by each party to engage in sexual activity. If Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signs the bill into law – he has until the end of September – colleges and universities would have to adopt the so-called affirmative consent standard to continue receiving state funds for student financial aid.

The move comes as universities across the country are under pressure to improve how they handle sexual assault allegations. Several California colleges are on the Department of Education's list of 55 institutions under investigation for allegedly mishandling sexual assault complaints. The language of the bill is based on the recommendations of a White House student sexual assault task force.

Under the proposed standard, the fact that a person didn't say “no” is no defense in a campus sexual assault investigation.

In addition to consenting up front, the bill requires affirmative consent to be “ongoing throughout the sexual activity,” meaning that sexual partners must agree to each step of a sexual encounter as it progresses and consent can be revoked at any time. The standard would apply to all sexual encounters regardless of whether the parties are having a one-night stand or are in a long-term relationship.

One thing the bill doesn't say is that affirmative consent must be verbal. The bill's original language warned “relying solely on nonverbal communication can lead to misunderstanding,” but that language was removed as was the requirement that consent be “unambiguous.” Nonetheless, as Slate's Amanda Hess pointed out, this fact was lost on commentators, some who lamented the standard would redefine most sex as rape and would require students to agree to a verbal or written contract before sex.

Students, too, were somewhat confused. “I feel like their hearts are in the right place, but the implementation is a little too excessive,” Henry Mu, a 24-year-old biology major at California State Long Beach told the Press-Telegram. “Are there guidelines? Are we supposed to check every five minutes?”

While the bill doesn't spell out what “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement” looks like in practice, it's very clear what doesn't count as consent: lack of protest or resistance, silence, unconsciousness or being asleep or too intoxicated to understand what's going on.

The bill also requires colleges to implement “victim centered” sexual assault prevention and outreach programs to teach students about “the practical implications of an affirmative consent standard” that would “hopefully,” Hess wrote, “spark honest conversations about what is and isn't over the line.”

Sexual assault prevention advocates welcomed the bill, which challenges the idea that victims have to resist an assault in order to have a valid complaint. “The survivors [of sexual assault] are going to be positively affected because they are going to be going into a system that no longer asks them why they didn't do something,” Denice Labertew, the director of advocacy services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, told Inside Higher Ed in June.

But critics say the proposal unfairly burdens those accused of sexual assault. “How does a person prove they receive consent “shy of having it videotaped,” Joe Cohn, the legislative policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told Inside Higher Ed. Cohn said the policy reverses the presumption of innocence for the accused, which he called a “dramatic and important shift.”

The California state university system supports the bill and has already updated its policies to include similar language. Other universities including Dartmouth and Yale have also adopted affirmative consent policies.



Official Texas Department of Public Safety mobile app now available on iOS, Android

AUSTIN – MicroAssist, a technology service provider specializing in facilitating the delivery of State and Local services to the public, has created a mobile app for the Texas Department of Public Safety that provides up-to-date details on most wanted fugitives and sex offenders and information related to human trafficking.

Another real-time feature allows app users to submit suspicious activity through iWatch Texas for further analysis and processing.

MicroAssist's CEO Sanjay Nasta said that following an 18-year track-record of excellence in helping DPS find innovative ways to deliver public safety services to the citizens of Texas, his company was selected to create the department's app.

“It's the first statewide mobile app of its kind in the U.S. that helps citizens track, identify and report on potential criminal activity. With the rise of the mobile generation, organizations with mission critical content – like DPS – greatly benefit from expanding their reach to a wider and technology-oriented audience. Fortunately, we were able to leverage the work we previously performed for DPS, including the DPS Sex Offender Registry, to create a highly intuitive and easy-to-navigate app that runs on smartphones and tablets running both iOS and Android operating systems,” Nasta added.

The new Texas DPS app has a very clean, organized look with four main programs – Fugitives, Sex Offenders, Human Trafficking, iWatch Texas – immediately viewable from the home-page. There is also a Featured News section at the very top that offers breaking news on a variety of DPS-related topics.

“With a more mobile citizenry comes a host of new development challenges, including adding interactive elements like mapping and geolocation functionality, so that users can retrieve information from addresses or current location of the mobile device – which we were pleased to be able to do with this app,” said Nasta. “This Texas DPS mobile app is designed to provide immediate value for the citizens of Texas, and is also flexible enough for DPS to add other features and services in the future.”

The mobile app is available for download on Android and iOS. Search for Texas DPS.


United Kingdom


This culture of silence and denial around child abuse must end

I know from my own experience how difficult it is for victims to speak up, so when they do it is vital that we listen, believe and treat them with respect

by James Rhodes

Horror creates the before and after – Dunblane, Columbine, Hungerford, Rotherham.

Rotherham stands apart for many reasons: the sheer number of perpetrators; the sheer numbers involved (some survivors, some, sadly, inevitably victims) – 1,400 conservatively estimated – the contents of two state secondary schools or 127 school football teams. But there is a more devastating reason it stands alone: the resounding silence. The countless children who were brave enough to come forward at the time and afterwards, who were disbelieved, punished, mocked, accused and summarily dismissed.

We are told to keep quiet from the earliest, pre-verbal stages of life. Children should be seen, not heard. Don't answer back. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Don't speak until spoken to. Put up and shut up.

And then a child, doused with petrol and threatened to be set alight, gang-raped and forced to watch others suffer the same, digs deep down and somehow finds the extraordinary courage to stand up and say “this happened to me”. She risks the all-encompassing shame, the reliving and recounting of unimaginable horrors, the video evidence, diagrams of who did what and where, being questioned repeatedly by adults trying to pick holes in her story, the blame, recrimination, taunts, insults; the final, ghastly ripping of the child out of a child. She does it anyway.

I didn't. I wasn't that brave. I waited 25 years before going through all that. I was finally heard and believed, and the police tracked down and charged the teacher who raped me. But pick any one of those 1,400 children and look at their experience of the aftermath of abuse and hang your heads in shame.

There is a large section of society for whom talking about child abuse is in itself as bad as child abuse. We are complicit in the shaming, silencing, blaming and castigating of those who are our most defenceless and vulnerable, and it must not, can not, should not stand any longer.

No good can come out of the Rotherham inquiry. There are no mitigating circumstances or silver linings. There is no upside. But there is, once again after the Westminster paedophile dossier, Jimmy Savile, Kincora, Rochdale and too many others, an opportunity to make a commitment, clearly and compassionately, that any child who is brave enough to say the unspeakable will be heard, believed and treated with respect.

That does not mean those accused should be tried through the media, castigated or emotionally lynched before due process has been afforded. It means that those who commit these acts will be held accountable, not shielded and protected. And that the starting point for those dealing with the alleged victims will be one of credibility and honour.

Abuse thrives on silence. It exists because those who have endured it believe at a cellular level that they are in the wrong. They believe they are inherently evil. They believe it is their fault. Is that any surprise given the monstrosity of the Rotherham case?



Grant offers tuition help to victims of abuse

by Christina R. Garza

Some survivors of domestic abuse will be able to reach their educational goals thanks to a tuition assistance award from the Brownsville non-profit organization Friendship of Women.

Executive Director Gloria Ocampo said the Health and Humane Services Commission gave the agency a $3,500 grant to promote economic stability. Ocampo said only one person has received the tuition assistance funds so far but she urges more people to apply before the Aug. 31 deadline. The assistance may be used at any CameronCounty secondary public or private institution.

Ocampo said Friendship of Women served 1,500 survivors of domestic abuse from 2012-2013.

Victims Service Director Daisy Lopez said the organization offers a variety of services like counseling, temporary housing, food, education, relocation services and shelter services to men, women and children who have suffered domestic violence.

“We have many children that come through our shelter that are not eligible for other services but are victims of secondary trauma from seeing their mother victimized,“ Lopez said.

The Texas Council on Family Violence reports 12,356 adults stayed at domestic violence shelters in 2006.

Ocampo said client safety is the No. 1 priority at Friendship of Women, which leads the organization to operate under a low profile.

“We have to maintain the safety and security of our clients; a lot of people don't know about Friendship of Women, so we might be missed here and there by donors,“ Ocampo said.

Lopez said the shelter can house up to 30 people.

Ocampo described as rewarding the moment the first person received tuition assistance funds.

“She wouldn't stop smiling,” Ocampo said of the recipient.

Lopez said applicants must meet the following requirements before they are awarded assistance:

Must be an adult or child survivor of domestic violence.

Must be registered in a vocational or secondary education program.

Must register with Friendship of Women Inc. as a client.

Tuition must be incurred by Aug. 31.

For more information or to apply, call (956) 544-7412.



Actress, child abuse survivor Jan Broberg speaks out with new documentary 'Stolen Innocence'

by Erin Zeltner

At some point during their childhood, one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused, and an estimated 85% of those children are abused by people they know. At age 12 and age 14, actress Jan Broberg was kidnapped, repeatedly sexually abused, and raped by a close family friend, and was so brainwashed that she believed that her abuser was her soulmate. Now, a grown-up and well-adjusted Broberg is currently filming a documentary to tell her story, in hopes of educating families about how to protect their children from being preyed upon, especially by those they know.

On Oct. 17, 1974, 12-year-old Broberg went with a close family friend to go horseback riding after her piano lesson. She didn't return home to her family in Pocatello, Idaho. Broberg was drugged, strapped down in a motorhome, taken to Mexico, brainwashed, and repeatedly sexually assaulted before being able to go home.

Unbeknownst to her family, the stage had been being set for that horrifying day for over two years by her abductor. Robert Berchtold, a charismatic father of five, fellow Mormon church member, and the Broberg family's closest friend, had managed to seem perfectly harmless and even loving to all of the children in the Broberg family.

“We were so close to him and his family," Broberg said. "If you were going to will your children to someone in the event of your death, my parents would have willed us to him. That was the level of trust that was there.”

Berchtold was beloved by all of the Broberg children. He took them boating and played with them by giving them piggyback rides and "rough-housed" with them around the Brobergs' living room. He was the perfect picture of the perfect family friend, and over two years he had gained the trust he needed to be able to make his move.

After abducting Broberg, Berchtold brainwashed her by keeping her drugged for four days and played recorded alien-sounding voices, which had a specific message for her: She was only half human and they, the owners of the voices, had been watching her since her birth. She had a special mission to complete -- she needed to have a child that was destined to save the world. The father, of course, was to be Berchtold, and she needed to keep the aliens a secret at all costs. Anyone she told would be instantly vaporized, and if she failed to complete her mission, there was a fallback plan -- her sister was also half-human, and they could use her instead.

“There was no way I could have had a baby. I was completely undeveloped at that time, very prepubescent, and I still was at age 14," Broberg said.

When Broberg returned to consciousness, she saw Berchtold in the motorhome, covered in blood. He called her by his pet name for her, Dolly. "Dolly, what happened to us?” he asked. In her disarray, and after hearing the strange voices for so long, Broberg believed that they had both been kidnapped by aliens and that they were to complete a special mission together. She was willing to comply with anything that was necessary to conceive her child, and she felt a closeness and a camaraderie with Berchtold which attached her to him for the next two years.

After being discovered by Mexican police five weeks after the kidnapping, Broberg was returned to her family and Berchtold entered a mental institution, and to plan, not a word was uttered to her family or to police about the sexual contact. Her family, their neighbors, and even the police believed that Berchtold had temporarily lost his mind due to too much stress.

Berchtold sent her hand-delivered notes by using his connections with other patients at the mental institution. Often, she was told to wait for his calls at payphones, and she complied by telling her mother that she was going for a bike ride. After being released, Berchtold was able to easily gain physical and sexual contact with her by having her meet him secretly. Two years after the first abduction, Broberg was taken by Berchtold again and was secretly enrolled in a Catholic school in California, where she was finally found by the FBI.

Berchtold again resurfaced in Broberg's life many years later, when she spoke at a Bikers Against Child Abuse conference at Dixie State College of Utah in St. George, where he hit a conference participant with his van in protest. Not long afterwards, he took his own life.

Aside from her activism on child abuse awareness and prevention, Broberg has enjoyed a successful career in Hollywood, guest starring on such television shows as "Touched by an Angel," "Criminal Minds," and "Everwood," and in movies, including Elijah Wood's 2012 thriller "Maniac." She is best known to Southern Utah audiences for her work in theater, having performed at Tuacahn and the Neil Simon Festival.

Since Broberg came out with her story, six other women have come forward as childhood victims of Berchtold. Because so few children are able to speak out, Broberg said that pedophiles will act again and again without jail time.

“Why are we making this documentary? So often, child victims don't have the words or communication skills to talk about anything that's frightening in a sexual manner. They feel scared and threatened, and there is usually some subtle brainwashing that takes place, which makes it difficult for them to out the person they're being abused by," Broberg said. "I think it's especially difficult when, and this is the case more often than not, the child is being abused by someone who has a place in their lives. They don't want to address the problem because that might mean that someone they or their family loves may be removed from the picture, and may suffer consequences.”

Because sexual abuse often happens to children who know their abuser, Broberg wants to warn families about how to prevent possible issues or stop abuse that's ongoing. She urges parents to pay attention to their children and what they say about specific people in their lives, and that parents should be engaged in watching their children's behavior when they're around other adults or teenagers. She said that because most kids won't speak up when they're being abused, parents have to closely watch and listen for warning signs.

“Some people might criticize my family and how things were dealt with, but I really hope that people learn from the documentary. We were a very normal family who trusted another seemingly normal family," Broberg said. "Pedophiles look normal. They're usually very well-groomed and well-kept. They're friendly to everyone, but what people don't usually realize is that they're being friendly for a reason. They're often very intelligent people who understand how to manipulate good people's emotions and trust.”

“What I'm hoping will happen with this film is that people will have an ‘aha!' moment. I want parents to watch and think, ‘Do I have a susceptibility in my life? Why does my daughter always act a little different around Uncle Joe, or why does my son say he doesn't want to go to Grandpa's house?' Is there a certain person in their lives who goes above and beyond to do nice things for their children?" Broberg said. "Truly, truly, it can happen to anyone. I just want people to start listening to their gut about these sorts of things. Just because it's someone you know doesn't mean it's safe.”

Broberg and her documentary team are still looking for funding to finish the film and get her message of warning and hope out to as many people as possible. To be a part of the cause or for more information, visit:,-child-abuse-survivor-Jan-Broberg-speaks-out-with-new-documentary-Stolen-Innocence-.html


It Must Be My Fault

by Elisabeth Corey

When I was a child, I was told that everything was my fault. Eventually, I believed it.

In reality, none of it was my fault. As an adult in recovery, I intellectually understand that now. But my unconscious parts are still working that out. My unconscious parts are still trying to make sense of the illogical.

I have struggled with self-worth my entire life. While I don't see myself as capable of doing good things, I do see myself as powerful at manifesting the bad. More than likely, this comes from my understanding of the abusive adults in my childhood. I felt the same way about them. And I internalized that.

So, when bad things happen in my life, as they inevitably do, my overactive brain finds a way to make it my fault. I find a way to make it punishment for something I did or for who I am. And this happens unconsciously.

When I ended relationships with people in the past, I spent weeks or months attributing every negative experience in my life to the pain I caused that individual. Many of these relationships were abusive, and yet, I was not allowed to make the best choice for me. I was not allowed to be so selfish. On an unconscious level, I saw it necessary to experience punishment for the act of standing up for myself.

This continues today. When I make a parenting mistake, which happens more often than not, I believe I deserve to be treated poorly because I am a bad parent. When I say one wrong thing, I assume people will never want to interact with me again. When I muster the courage to write an article with a strong opinion, I expect an on-line backlash of massive proportions. I expect followers to leave in droves.

And while that is bad enough, it doesn't stop there. My innate “badness” is also the cause of a world of problems … the world of problems. My unconscious can attribute almost anything to me.

There's a tornado in Oklahoma? It is probably because I yelled at the kids yesterday. There's an earthquake in Asia? I am sure that would not have happened if I hadn't messed up that presentation. And honestly, the world would just be a better place if I had never been born. And yes, that is an exact quote from my childhood.

With these bizarre attempts at “cause and effect” running through my unconscious, it is not surprising that motivation is challenging. If I am innately bad, how will I ever do good things? That would be impossible, right? What is the point of all this writing? What is the point of that interview? What is the point of all my parenting research? If I am meant to be bad, how can I ever be anything else?

Unfortunately, this underlying current of futility follows me wherever I go. If something looks like it might be an amazing opportunity or a chance for success, I have to pass that up. I can't get my hopes up because it can't work out. In my life, it just isn't allowed to work out. I am not a good enough person for that to work out.

This unconscious child part of me keeps things as mediocre as possible to avoid the downfall that is inevitable. And it battles everyday with that part of me that knows I can do amazing things.

But I keep working to convince that child part otherwise. I gently point out the amazing things I am doing. I make it a point to take in the difference I am making. I do my best to be hopeful and optimistic. I do my best to understand that I am capable of creating a positive future. And I work to forgive myself for the little things, even the big things.

But sometimes, I hurt others. In those times, I need help from others to move forward.

I have written in the past about the importance of believing survivors of sexual trauma. There is nothing more healing that hearing the words, “I believe you.” But there is a phrase that finishes a close second. If you are working with a survivor to help them heal, and they do something wrong, even something you take personally, remember the words “I forgive you.”

If a survivor is able to find the strength to say they are sorry and they receive forgiveness in return, it can be life changing.

It can give them the strength to forgive themselves in return.




How to respond to horror of child abuse

by Matthew Tully

On the list of troubling things in this world, things that are nearly impossible to fathom, the top line must be reserved for the sick reality that people are willing to hurt little kids.

And when those people are the parents and caregivers of kids, the feeling of disbelief is even stronger.

But here we are, week after week, hearing horror stories about children in this city being abused by the people whose most important role is to protect them. The stories have come out of homes and a day care, and anyone who has spent time around police, child advocates and courthouses knows that the stories that rise to the level of front-page news represent only a fraction of the problem.

A father (a title he holds in name only) this week was arrested after his 4-year-old son died. The man, police say, beat the child over and over, with his fists and belt, causing injuries so severe and waiting so long to call for help that there was nothing doctors could do. The 29-year-old father, with a long criminal history, will, I hope, never see a day of freedom again.

I know everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but come on. The man has admitted his actions to police. He's not only guilty, he is evil personified. We can sit and talk about the root causes of crime, and I do all the time and it is important, but what the hell is going on when vile people like this are allowed to spend even a minute around any child?

It doesn't get worse than this case. Please remember, though, amid the current debate over public funding of preschool for at-risk children, that for every victim who suffers as horribly as little Derick Jones did, many more suffer lesser yet still cruel levels of neglect and abuse. And even more children simply don't receive the life experiences that every child deserves. They need our help.

Most of us read about Derick, or the 22-year-old woman who recently left her newborn child in a trash can on the Westside, and are as heartbroken as we are unable to imagine such situations. That disbelief and distance are probably why the horrific child-molestation case coming out of a Far Northside day care has so infuriated many of us. After all, we all at some point trust others to watch over our children.

How could a day care employ a man whose actions had, according to police, raised concerns in the past? How could day-care workers not follow basic procedures requiring that they report incidents immediately? How could they allow the suspect in this case to spend time with the victim after the abuse was reported?

Heads must roll.

I probably need to acknowledge that I am not sure why I am writing this column. I guess I'm doing so because I sense that recent headlines have left fellow Hoosiers and fellow parents shaking their heads, wondering what the hell is going on. I guess I needed to vent, and I appreciate those of you who were willing to listen.

I wish I had the answer to this problem. I don't.

But I do know this: We can't let the horror stories stop us from trying to break the cycle of violence and dysfunction that traps too many children. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said it well this week when he told me that nothing is more powerful than an army of people willing to mentor, support and encourage children who come from unjustly challenging homes, families or neighborhoods.

So here are ideas of how to help.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis is trying to raise millions of dollars to increase the number of children it serves. The United Way of Central Indiana's ReadUP program, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana , are seeking volunteers for programs that have been proven to keep more children on a path toward success. The Women's Fund of Central Indiana is working to help young at-risk women find a path toward economic and personal stability. Giving time or money to these groups, and so many more, would be a worthwhile move. Or you could call City-County councilors (327-4242) and encourage them to support the mayor's proposal to send thousands of 4-year-olds to high-quality preschools.

It's easy to be discouraged by horror stories, and those stories can make it easy to wonder if anything can be done to help our city's kids. But it also is important to remember that the answer to that question is a resounding yes.


United Kingdom

Who can child abuse victims turn to if they are not believed?

A report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has highlighted examples of victims not being taken seriously by police and the council's child protection service. Although the abuse that took place between 1997 and 2013 may have been identified and investigated on occasions, its seriousness is said to have often been "underplayed" or even "disbelieved".

Some of the more than 1,400 victims of abuse by gangs of men of predominantly of Pakistani origin identified by the report are now speaking out about their experiences.

But what can a child or young adult in a similar situation do if they feel they have exhausted all official lines of help?

Some victims are moved to contact their MP about their case or make an official complaint to the police force they have had contact with.

Victims can also complain about social services, in the first instance through the relevant local authority .

But charities working with victims say having an independent voice to speak on their behalf is important.

"Any children who feel they are not being listened to can turn to a charity which can speak up and lobby on their behalf to get the support they deserve," a spokesman for the Children's Society said.

In cases where victims have reported the matter to police only to be told the case is not being taken further, social services themselves may be a point of contact, the Children's Society spokesman suggested.

"Where a victim has been told there is 'no realistic prospect of a prosecution' it is important to recognise that they could be getting help from social services, which may still be in a position to put child protection measures in place," he said.

Victim Support says the situation highlighted by the Rotherham report is one its case workers have heard all too often.

Karen Froggatt, who is in charge of the charity's specialist work with children and young people, said: "It can be utterly devastating, to have revealed intimate details of sexual abuse, to then find they do not believe you or you are treated with contempt."

She said: "If any crime victim feels they have not been believed by the authorities, then they can come to us for help and support. We will never pass judgement and anything we're told is always kept completely confidential.

"We make sure crime victims get the respect they deserve and the support they need, whether that help is practical or emotional."

She added: "Our case workers will follow up with social services and the police to check if everything is happening as we would expect."

'Long-lasting effect'

The Office of Children's Commissioner for England produced a report last year into child sexual exploitation entitled If only someone had listened.

An abridged version of the document was written specifically for children and young people and suggests they contact a trusted adult, an independent advocacy service or charity such as the NSPCC's ChildLine if they were victims of abuse.

When police or prosecutors decide to stop an investigation, victims can seek a review of the decision through the Crown Prosecution Service's Victims' Right to Review scheme.

The College of Policing, meanwhile, says training is designed to avoid the type of situation that arose under South Yorkshire Police's watch in Rotherham in the last 16 years.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, chief executive of the college, said: "The guidance highlights warning signs officers should be using to identify risk to children who may be exhibiting behaviour that they are already being sexually exploited and it also provides advice on investigations involving those victims who may not want to pursue an allegation.

"Investigators should also adhere to the Victims' Code which is very clear that victims should be at the centre of police, prosecutors and partner agencies' work.

"The way in which victims are spoken to, the language and terminology used, will have a long-lasting effect on the individual and victims need to sense belief straight away to have confidence in the police."



Lawsuit accuses Vermont of ignoring child abuse

by Dave Gram

MONTPELIER – A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Vermont Department for Children and Families alleges that social workers failed to act on reports of abuse and neglect of two Ludlow children for four years until local police intervened.

Brattleboro lawyers Tom Costello and Sharon Gentry provided copies of the suit and other documents to The Associated Press as it was being filed in Windsor Superior Court.

The suit alleges that a 12-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister living with their father, stepmother and several disabled adults frequently had to sleep on the floor, were repeatedly physically abused, and were exposed to inappropriate sexual activity in the home. The suit alleges the children were so poorly fed that the boy would ask to do the dishes so he could eat scraps from the plates. It says the boy was kept locked in a room much of the time.

According to the lawsuit, the department's Springfield office began getting reports from the children's grandparents of likely abuse in 2008. The department opened a case in 2010, but the children's troubles intensified during the next two years before they were removed from the home, according to the lawsuit.

DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone said Wednesday he could not comment on the lawsuit or cases involving juveniles. The lawsuit comes as the department has been under the spotlight following the deaths of two toddlers whose families had been under its supervision.

According to the lawsuit, the grandparents told the state agency that the children were not being properly bathed and their clothes were filthy and that the children often spoke of being beaten with hands, shoes and a backscratcher.

The lawsuit also alleges the couple, Richard and Krista Hudson, kept the disabled adults against their will to collect Social Security and other benefits. Ludlow police began investigating allegations of abuse of vulnerable adults in March 2012. Their attention turned to include the children, who were removed from the home by May of that year.

Krista Hudson later pleaded guilty to abusing both her children and the adults. She is serving a three-to-eight-year prison sentence. Richard Hudson struck a plea deal in which he agreed to testify against his wife for a shorter sentence. Gentry said he was released from prison this month.



'Child Abuse': Kids As Young As 12 Receiving Govt-Funded Contraceptive Implants

by Donna Rachel Edmunds

Children as young as 12 are being given contraceptive implants by government health boards in Scotland, many without their parents' knowledge, raising concerns over their vulnerability to sexual exploitation.

The drugs have not been tested on minors, and the long term health effects of using these drugs on children are not known. But still almost 3,500 minors have received the long term contraceptive implant since 2010, the Daily Mail today reported.

The manufacturer, MSD, has confirmed that the “safety and efficacy in adolescents under the age of 18 has not been established”.

A Freedom of Information Act request established that 3,562 implants were prescribed to under 16s between 2010 and 2014. Greater Glasgow and Clyde issued the most, fitting 1,523 of the implants; the other four health boards were Grampian, who fitted 397, Ayrshire and Arran, 382, Lanarkshire, 291 and Borders, 131. However, five other boards including NHS Lothian refused to release full details so the true figures may be much higher.

At least 20 of the implants were given to 12 year olds across those five boards, despite side effects being common amongst adults who use them.

The plastic implants are inserted in an arm just under the skin, and work by releasing progesterone to prevent pregnancy. They last for up to three years, and can be inserted by nurses or doctors.

“To provide schoolgirls with long-acting reversible contraception is to play with fire,” said Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust.

“It is effectively giving them a licence to engage in illegal sexual activity and denies them the protection that the law on the age of consent is intended to give.

“Not only does prescribing the drugs to underage girls make it more difficult for them to resist sexual pressure from their peers, but it also makes them more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by older sexual predators.'

“It is deeply disturbing that parents are frequently left in the dark and know nothing about the high-stakes gamble being taken on the physical and emotional well-being of their daughters.”

Patricia McKeever, editor of the Catholic Truth newsletter, highlighted the hypocrisy of the state, saying: “This is child abuse. I am not a medical person but it cannot possibly be helpful. Parents need to be more vigilant – you cannot trust the state with your children.

“It is hypocritical of the Government to say they want to protect children from abuse in the home and then at the same time they are setting them up to be abused.”

Last February the Scottish Parliament passed the Children and Young People Act, which legislates for every child in Scotland to be appointed a state guardian to safeguard their interests and oversee their safety. The guardians have legal authority to access information from the local council, the police, the NHS and so on.

In 2010, Highland Council piloted the scheme and since that date have designated a remarkable 8,000 children to a “child's plan”, suggesting that many thousands of families are having their privacy invaded.

Commenting on the new law, Emma Carr from Big Brother Watch wrote “Resources should be focused on those families in genuine need and on those children in real danger. As soon as you create an army of guardians they are going to have to justify their positions and that will mean more paperwork, more intrusion and more families being treated as suspects when they have done nothing wrong.”

Christian groups were again vocal in their belief that families, not the state should be granted responsibility for their own children, with a spokesman from the Church of Scotland saying “The concept of a named person diminishes the role of parents, with no obvious benefit for the most vulnerable in society, a point we have consistently made in our responses to the Scottish Government and to the Parliament's Education Committee.”


20% Report Child Sex Abuse Downloads at Work

by Tara Seals

While it may seem horrifying to believe, a full 20% of respondents in a recent survey of UK professionals said that they were aware that someone in their workplace had downloaded child sexual abuse (CSA) material while at work.

That's according to NetClean, which added that shockingly, of those, just 3.5% lead to criminal investigations and in the vast majority of cases (69%) nothing happened.

“We know from experience that child sexual abuse content (CSA) is not an issue that ceases at the entrance to the workplace,” the company said in a statement emailed to media. “However, part of the problem with tackling the spread of CSA material is that people still underestimate the scale of the problem. There's an inherent belief that it is the ‘local weirdo' accessing illicit images and not the person sat opposite them in their day-to-day jobs.”

Indeed, the figures run counter to conventional wisdom. A third (33.3%) of respondents believe that just one in every 10,000 people look at child sexual abuse sites at work. A further 34% estimate that the number is just one in every million.

“This is simply not true,” the company said. “From our experience, one in every 1,000 employees will look at CSA content at work so the problem is much more commonplace.”

Part of the issue is increasing mobility, NetClean noted. The growth in portable USB devices and mobile storage means there is a disturbing trend of offenders increasingly bringing illegal images or videos into the workplace.

“In fact, many businesses are already unwittingly storing, and allowing the movement of, illegal images and videos across their networks,” it said

On a positive note, organizations have started proactively introducing measures to prevent the spread of CSA content in the workplace. The majority of those surveyed (78.7%) have an internet use policy in place that covers child sexual abuse sites, and in a quarter of businesses (24.1%) the drive to purchase blocking software is coming from the board of directors.

However, more still needs to be done. Just 9.2% of those surveyed believe that it is employers that have a responsibility to stop child sexual abuse content. Instead, the majority of respondents believe that responsibility to tackle the issue lies with individuals (34.8%), government (29%) or ISPs (22%)—a view NetClean disagrees with.

“Today's employers have a moral duty to tackle child abuse images on corporate networks,” the firm said. “The people who view these images are participating in a cycle of abuse; perpetuating a market for ringleaders to continue producing material that makes more children suffer. Relying on web filters alone won't solve the problem.”

Regardless of where one feels the responsibility lies, organizations can certainly easily go one step further and use proven methods, such as file matching, to flag indecent images and cross reference them against existing ones on police databases to keep corporate networks clean from illegal content.


Is UK child sex exploitation 'endemic'?

Report on child sex abuse in British Asian community highlights issues that may affect the entire nation.

by Simon Hooper

The true extent of child sex exploitation in British Asian communities has been underestimated because of taboos about discussing the subject and reporting abuse, campaigners have warned following the publication of a shocking report exposing how hundreds of girls were systematically raped in the town of Rotherham.

The investigation estimated that at least 1,400 children, typically "young white girls", were groomed and sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013 by "large numbers of male perpetrators" mostly from Rotherham's small Pakistani-heritage community.

But the report by Alexis Jay, a former chief inspector of social work in Scotland, also raised issues about under-reporting within British Asian communities, citing concerns that abuse affecting ethnic minorities was often "hidden from sight".

Shaista Gomir, chair of the Muslim Women's Network UK and author of another report into child sex exploitation, told Al Jazeera that many British Asian victims were still falling through the net because traditional notions of shame and honour made them less likely to come forward.

"This is being played up as a racial crime, that it is Asian men on white girls, but there are girls from their own community also involved. That shows very clearly that they don't differentiate and they will try and get their hands on any girl they can," said Gomir.

"These girls have specific vulnerabilities because there is still a tendency to hold girls responsible for the honour of the family. The number of Asian girls involved could well be a lot higher but they will not be reporting it because they don't want to bring dishonour on their families."

Jay's report criticised local officials, politicians and police for a "blatant" collective failure of leadership, and said they had suppressed and ignored three earlier internal reports that should have set alarm bells ringing long before the convictions on child sex offences of five local Asian men in 2010 brought the town into the media spotlight.

It also found officials had sought to play down the ethnicity of perpetrators because of concerns of being accused of racism, with some local councillors seemingly unwilling to address the issue because they feared it would damage community cohesion and "give oxygen" to far-right groups.

"Councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue," the report said.

"Some councillors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so... This was at best naive, and at worst ignoring a politically inconvenient truth."

A failure to act

Muhbeen Hussain, a local political activist and founder of a group called British Muslim Youth, said it was unacceptable that officials and political leaders appeared to be using political correctness and community relations as an excuse for their failure to take action.

"We accept that there were a large number of Pakistani men involved. The Rotherham Muslim community did not know what was going on, I can assure you, and it is a shock to all of us," Hussain told Al Jazeera. "But the police knew, the social services knew and the council knew and they failed to react and that is what is so disgusting and devastating."

Hussain said the Muslim community needed to do more to break down barriers to talking about sexual issues through education programmes and greater awareness of the dangers that young people faced.

"The fact is that, in the Pakistani Muslim community, sexualisation in general is a taboo subject. So you have something that is undercover because it is taboo, and then when you have someone acting in a criminal manner it is even more undercover."

Gohir said British Asian girls were also at risk because men from within their own communities were able to manipulate cultural norms to prevent them from reporting abuse, and called for more research into why men of Pakistani heritage kept cropping up in child sex cases.

"Our report indicates that where Asian men can get hold of Asian girls they will probably prefer Asian girls because they are deemed lower risk and less likely to report. Predators know these girls are really, really vulnerable because of honour and shame issues. They will rape them and photograph and film it and then blackmail them."

She believes the Rotherham report has highlighted issues affecting communities all over the UK and said that searching questions needed to be asked of every local authority and police force in the country.

'Endemic' abuse

Sheila Taylor, chief executive of the NWG Network, a charity working to tackle child sex exploitation, agrees, describing levels of abuse in the UK as "endemic". She said that more resources needed to be invested in giving victims lifetime-long support to help them recover from their experiences.

"We are whipping Rotherham, but I could name you other areas where the situation is worse and they are doing nothing," Taylor told Al Jazeera.

But she fears the focus on Rotherham, and other well publicised cases of exploitation involving Asian men and white girls, may distract attention from other groups at risk and allow perpetrators preying on less visible victims to escape detection.

She cites a case in the central UK town of Derby in 2012 in which the convictions of a group of mostly white middle-aged British men attracted little media attention, and a new report by the children's charity Barnado's which found that one in three sexually exploited young people were male.

"We are perpetuating one model because every time there is a court case [involving Asian men] there is media scrutiny and there is an inquiry. So if you are looking for sexual exploitation you look for Pakistani males and white girls, and when you look for something you find it. But, all the time we are focusing on Pakistani males, we are allowing somebody else to get on with it."

In Rotherham, Hussain called on local Muslims to join him in demanding that every case of abuse dating back to 1997 should be reinvestigated and perpetrators prosecuted.

"Our community believes in the rule of law, and our community believes that criminals should be brought to justice. But we need to speak up because our community has been labelled," he said.

"We need a collective initiative saying we want prosecutions, because if that doesn't happen a lot of people are saying relations will never be the same, or will take generations to mend."


New York

Why The Times Identified and Photographed Teenagers in a Sex Abuse Article


Several readers wrote to me concerned about a Times article earlier this week that told the stories of some Dominican teenagers who described sexual abuse by a former priest and Vatican official. They told me they were surprised and dismayed to see the young people identified by name with their photographs used in an accompanying gallery.

One reader, Julio César Diaz, who said he read the article with particular interest because he is Dominican, said in an email:

I can't help but feel a little sickened by the fact that several child sexual abuse victims are named in the article. Their photographs also appear in the gallery accompanying the article. I don't think it's ethical to do this. I think sexual abuse victims' identities should be protected, especially if the victims are still children, as is the case of Darwin Quervedo, who is 14 right now, according to the article, or Francis Aquino Aneury, who is 17. Or do these protections apply only if the victims are Americans?

And Dan Hortsch of Portland, a former ombudsman for The Oregonian, wrote, in part:

Were the boys named as victims in the story given the opportunity to not have their names reported and their faces photographed for use with the story? Presumably they knew that they were being photographed, but did The New York Times explain that they could remain anonymous? If not, the matter is definitely disturbing.

Presumably, too, that is the practice with other victims of sexual abuse unless the victims approve use of their names and photos. And then the articles normally would explain that they were willing to be named and photographed.

I understand the need for credible sources, but these victims of sexual abuse are no different from anyone in this country. The fact that one boy, 14, is described as speaking “haltingly, with eyes downcast” about his experience makes clear the embarrassment.

These readers raise important concerns. I asked the article's author, Laurie Goodstein, who covers religion for The Times, to explain how the teenagers were approached on this subject.

She responded:

The teenagers identified in the story as abuse victims not only gave us permission for us to use their names and take their photographs, but wanted their stories to be told. There is no double standard here. I have found that some victims of sexual abuse feel that by going public, they may help prevent other people from being victimized by their abusers, and in this they find some purpose in their suffering. In the case of these specific children, they wanted to give their testimony to someone because they had not been interviewed by the authorities. We interviewed them on multiple occasions, made it clear that their names and pictures would be published in a newspaper and on the Internet, and they were sure that they wanted to proceed.

Ms. Goodstein told me that the article was scrupulously edited and also read by a Times lawyer, and that all involved were attentive to the issue of identification. She added that, in general she takes great care with not identifying abuse victim who do not wish to be identified, and that she has never broken the confidence of one who asked to remain unidentified.

“We don't identify abuse victims when they want to remain anonymous, or it there's any question about it. We preserve their anonymity. But in cases where victims want to speak out, and they sometimes do, we honor that too.”

Speaking generally, she said that parental consent is a more difficult matter, often impossible in the case of indigent children, some of whom live on the street.

I'm satisfied that the matter of identifying and photographing these teenagers was handled properly, and I hope that readers will be reassured as well. My only quibble here is that a sentence or two that described the knowledge and consent of the teenagers would have been a welcome and useful piece of transparency with Times readers.


North Carolina

Forty years of strengthening ‘Our Voice'

by Carrie Eidson

In the summer of 1990, Anne Heck was riding her bike in northern Virginia when she was attacked and beaten before being dragged into the woods and raped.

In the months that followed, Heck began her physical recovery and even volunteered with a rape crisis center in Virginia. But she also experienced frequent episodes of post-traumatic stress that left her struggling to breathe. The episodes continued after Heck moved to Asheville in 1991, and she was referred to the Rape Crisis Center.

“I spoke with a volunteer and I just remember feeling this sense of calm,” Heck says. “Having someone who knew what it was like to be in a trauma situation — it helped just to know there was
someone who could understand and support me.

Heck went on to become vice chair of the board of directors at the Rape Crisis Center — or Our Voice, as it's known today. The organization, which started as an all-volunteer, grassroots endeavor in 1974, will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Thursday, Sept. 4. Though the early focus was on crisis intervention and counseling referrals, today Our Voice provides a 24-hour crisis line, counseling services, community outreach and youth programs maintained by a small paid staff and over 50 volunteers.

“We're working to create a community that says, ‘Sexual violence is not OK against any individual,'” says Executive Director Angélica Wind. “And we're working to make a community where those who have experienced sexual violence feel safe to disclose — where they don't have to endure victim-blaming or attacks on their credibility.”

Behind the lines

“When I talk to people about what it is I do, a lot of the time they say, ‘Oh, I could never do that! You're so brave,'” says Pam Wellman. “But I feel like a lot of people could do this. It's just about being a regular person in the room for something that is a scary and uncomfortable experience.”

Wellman has volunteered as a crisis response advocate with Our Voice for almost two years. She serves on the organization's 24-hour crisis line, where she says it's not uncommon to receive calls from survivors experiencing post- traumatic stress similar to what Heck experienced.

“We do get calls from people in acute crisis, as in actual physical danger, but also people who have had a previous trauma triggered and just need to talk to someone,” Wellman says. “Sometimes people just call to find out more information.”

Wellman says people may hesitate to call the crisis hotline out of fear that it will commit them to taking action before they are ready to do so, but she says this isn't the case.

“It's very low investment to call the hotline and talk to someone,” Wellman says. “You're not committing to going to the hospital, you're not committing to going to court. You can choose the level of investment you want and what feels right for you in your healing.”

Volunteers at Our Voice also accompany individuals affected by rape and sexual assault to the emergency room to provide support during examinations and wait times, which Wellman says can take up to six hours.

“Your job is just to show up and witness this act of strength that is happening,” Wellman says. “There is bravery that is required to be a witness and be a support, but it's not that much different from being a regular person. And in many cases, that's exactly what survivors need — a normal person who isn't a medical person, to help it feel less alien.”

Our Voice volunteers also work in community and school outreach programs including Climbing Toward Confidence, which focuses on confidence-building exercises for low-income girls ages 12-14, and Bar Outreach, which promotes bystander intervention by training bar staff and patrons how to spot someone under the influence of a date rape drug.

Wellman says if someone is interested in volunteering but feels uncomfortable being in the hospital or speaking to large groups, Our Voice will still have a volunteering niche that can be filled.

“It's just about making the clients feel supported,” Wellman says. “It's a wide range of people who come through our doors and some have family support, or community support, but some don't have any at all.”

A voice for everyone

John Langlois was 50 years old when he sought therapy for stress he thought was related to his job. But shortly after beginning the counseling process, Langlois began to realize how his mental health had been affected by being sexually abused by three different perpetrators as a child, something he had never discussed with anyone.

“I always kept quiet about it because I thought I was OK,” Langlois says. “I went to counseling for job burnout, but I realized that a lot of what I was experiencing was compensation from not dealing with those issues.”

As a medical professional, Langlois says he was aware of Our Voice as a resource for women, but, like many men, he was hesitant to speak out about his experience and unsure what services were even available to him.

“I do think there is shame involved for everyone, but shame is a very big issue for men,” Langlois says. “We're raised that we're not supposed to talk about things. That's a stereotype, but it's very true.”

When Langlois first contacted Our Voice, he found that a men's group had existed but it was not active. In an effort to make sure other male survivors knew they could find help, Langlois became a volunteer and speaker at Our Voice events and wrote columns in local publications. In 2011, Our Voice gained funding to establish the One in Six program, which takes its name from a study from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention that found one in six men have been victims of abusive sexual experiences. The program provides one-on-one and group counseling for adult males, and, according to Wind, is currently the only program of its kind in Western North Carolina.

“We have had survivors who have driven to Asheville from Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina to participate in the program, which shows that there just aren't many programs of this kind,” she says.

Wind adds that though Our Voice grew out of the feminist movement, the organization's mission has always been to serve all of Buncombe County.

“Sexual violence does primarily affect women, statistically, but in reality it affects all communities,” she says.

Langlois says that he was surprised to see how many men had been affected by sexual assault. “It was an awakening and a comfort to know that I was not alone,” he says. “But it is also sad to see how many others out there had experienced it.”

Looking forward

When asked what she would like to see Our Voice accomplish in its next 40 years, Wellman pointed to increased support for sex workers and more programs like Kelly's Line, the organization's voicemail system that allows sex workers to anonymously report sexual and physical assault. She also hopes to see an increased awareness of victim blaming, which she says is pervasive and ranges from seemingly innocent comments such as, “She shouldn't have gone there alone,” to more appalling and graphic statements.

“You hear children say, ‘She was asking for it,' because they're repeating something they've heard,” Wellman says. “That needs to stop, all the way.”

Langlois says he hopes to see consistent and secure funding for men's programs, as well as an increase in public awareness of sexual abuse against males. “There have been these public issues with Penn State, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, and people will talk about it for a few weeks and then forget that it's a bigger issue. We need to not ignore this.”

Heck says that she has seen an increased focus on education and prevention since 1991 and would like to see that continue.

“Our Voice has done an exceptional job creating these programs,” Heck says. “People are more willing to talk about sexual violence today, but we still try to put it away and not address it. It's ugly and it's uncomfortable to discuss, but it doesn't get better unless we bring it to light.”

Wind says that Our Voice's focus on prevention will continue as the organization adds new programs, including Teen Tech Safety, which focuses on the consequences of sexting and sharing explicit photos, and an extension of Bar Outreach, which will teach college students about the increased risks that come with drinking and the importance of consent in sexual activity. She adds that the organization will also continue its support for programs geared toward minorities, including Latinos, people of color and the LGBTQ community.

“Hopefully, in another 40 years, we won't exist because sexual violence has been eliminated,” Wind says. “But that's a perfect world. In 40 years, we want the rates of sexual abuse to be lower because the community as a whole is talking about this and taking a stand to prevent it.

“We started this program to create a better response to individuals who have already been impacted,” she continues. “But what we've also done is develop strong, innovative prevention programs that are helping us change that paradigm.”

Our Voice will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the Diana Wortham Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 4, with a keynote address by Anita Hill, a law professor at Brandeis University and an advocate for sexual harassment laws. Tickets are $50 or $100 for VIP tickets, which include a meeting with Hill. For more information, visit or call 252-0562.



Falling Apart and Staring Blankly

by Jean-Paul Bedard

I like to think of myself as an empathetic person, and that probably has a lot to do with my having to close myself off to people for so long as a coping strategy to get through daily interactions as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I've recently returned from a speaking engagement in Ottawa, and once again I was reminded of two things. One is the prevalence of childhood trauma in so many families. The statistics in Canada are that one in three girls, and one in six boys are directly affected by childhood sexual abuse. And the second thing I was reminded of is how uncomfortable we are as a society to openly and honestly discuss and confront this issue.

It was clear from the questions that we panelists faced that there was a shared sense of outrage and anger amongst the audience about how we can protect our children from this trauma. It would be so much easier, and I believe more palatable, were we able to demonize an abuser as some evil "stranger" to be avoided, and ultimately eradicated from society. The stark truth is that 95 percent of victims of child sexual abuse know their perpetrator. We all like to delude ourselves that we are raising our children in "safe" neighborhoods, but the overwhelming danger comes from within our so-called "safe" communities and families.

As is typically the case when I speak openly about this issue, after the event, I was approached by some of the participants who disclosed the trauma they had lived through as children. I feel so drained and deflated after speaking or writing about my childhood experiences, but I know that I have to somehow find the courage and energy to "be present" to listen to someone who openly shares with me. There are never words to adequately articulate my understanding to a fellow survivor, or a partner of a survivor, but I know from my own experience that the words "I'm sorry," though well-meaning, only serve to perpetuate feelings of shame and inadequacy. I think our deep-seated desire to try to "fix" everything and everyone is a by-product of our post-modern society in which we expect there to be a cure or a "quick fix" for everything. My wife and I often talk about how sometimes the "best thing" is doing "nothing" -- simply being witness to someone else's pain and acknowledging that pain as being "real."

Despite being surrounded by family and friends who care deeply about me, I left Ottawa feeling an intense loneliness, that to be perfectly honest, has blindsided and derailed me. I was reminded of something I read by F. Scott Fitzgerald, another tortured soul who battled addiction throughout most of his life. "There's a loneliness that only exists in one's mind. The loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly." The tragedy of childhood trauma lies in its disempowerment, and subsequently, its tenacious ability to reverberate and sabotage an individual's life from childhood through adulthood. There has been much written about how by disclosing childhood sexual abuse, an individual gains his/her voice -- thereby a sense of empowerment. But what is seldom discussed is what happens when there is no one there to acknowledge that "voice" or to process all the emotions that come with that disclosure.

During the speaking event in Ottawa, I had the opportunity to raise an important issue that I continue to struggle with daily. As a community, we tend to look at past childhood trauma "theoretically," something that holds less impact once an individual is older and out of "immediate" danger, and this is why most resources go to helping children who are in crisis, or recently removed from crisis. What we fail to acknowledge is that more often than not, these children, even those who received intense therapeutic intervention, grow up to be "struggling" adults, who enter relationships in which the underlying issue of childhood trauma continues to reverberate. I know far too many alcoholics, addicts, and people with anger issues, who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. From my own experience, I am aware of the futility of treating the symptoms associated with being a survivor of abuse, rather than addressing the self-esteem and shame issues that lie beneath the surface.

Just as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, I too, am feeling very alone, and all I can do is "stare blankly." Not a day goes by where I don't get messages from people all over the world telling me how "brave" I am, and how they admire my "resilience." But as I write this, I can't help feeling like a "fraud" because the "hope" I profess, and attempt to exhibit, feels like it is definitely in short supply.

Whenever I've struggled like this before, I've always found it helpful to simplify what I'm facing in order to find a way through it rather than around it . I stumbled upon my next "beacon" late yesterday when a friend sent me a picture with a simple message on it: "Be the person you needed when you were younger." Such a simple sentence, yet so profound in its wisdom -- I believe you would have to search long and hard to come up with a better governing principle. As a child, all I wanted from the adults around me was unconditional love, consistency, and a "soft place to land" when things went wrong.

When I dig deep enough into any uncertainty or discomfort in my life, hiding below the surface fueling this pain is one thing, and one thing only -- fear . If I "unpack" that fear a little bit more, I invariably find an absence of connection to those nearest me. It's ironic that we are purported to be the most "connected" society in human civilization, yet all the text messages and social media, at times, only accentuate the loneliness that many of us feel. I'll leave you with the words of the poet Christopher Poindexter:

"Sometimes, I sit alone under the stars and think of the galaxies inside my heart, and truly wonder if anyone will ever want to make sense of all that I am."

As I end this post, my hope for each of us is that we connect with at least one intrepid traveler willing to take the time to explore, and make sense of, the wonder of the "galaxies inside [our] heart."


United Kingdom

Rotherham child abuse scandal: 1,400 children exploited, report finds

At least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, a report has found.

Children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated, it said.

The report, commissioned by Rotherham Borough Council, revealed there had been three previous inquiries.

Council leader Roger Stone said he would step down with immediate effect.

Mr Stone, who has been the leader since 2003, said: "I believe it is only right that as leader I take responsibility for the historic failings described so clearly."

The inquiry team noted fears among council staff of being labelled "racist" if they focused on victims' descriptions of the majority of abusers as "Asian" men.

'Doused in petrol'

Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the latest report, said there had been "blatant" collective failures by the council's leadership, senior managers had "underplayed" the scale of the problem and South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritise the issue.

Prof Jay said: "No-one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013."

Revealing details of the inquiry's findings, Prof Jay said: "It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered."

The inquiry team found examples of "children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone".

Five men from the town were jailed for sexual offences against girls in 2010, but the report said police "regarded many child victims with contempt".

District Commander for Rotherham, Ch Supt Jason Harwin said: "Firstly I'd like to start by offering an unreserved apology to the victims of child sexual exploitation who did not receive the level of service they should be able to expect from their local police force.

"We fully acknowledge our previous failings."

Ch Supt Harwin said the force had "overhauled" the way it dealt with such cases and had successfully prosecuted a number of abusers.

But he admitted: "I accept that our recent successes... will not heal the pain of those victims who have been let down."

'Racism' fear

The report found: "Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought as racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so."

Failures by those charged with protecting children happened despite three reports between 2002 and 2006 which both the council and police were aware of, and "which could not have been clearer in the description of the situation in Rotherham".

Prof Jay said the first of these reports was "effectively suppressed" because senior officers did not believe the data. The other two were ignored, she said.

The inquiry team found that in the early-2000s when a group of professionals attempted to monitor a number of children believed to be at risk, "managers gave little help or support to their efforts".

The report revealed some people at a senior level in the police and children's social care thought the extent of the problem was being "exaggerated".

Prof Jay said: "The authorities involved have a great deal to answer for."

A victim of abuse in Rotherham, who has been called "Isabel" to protect her identity, told BBC Panorama: "I was a child and they should have stepped in.

"No matter what's done now... it's not going to change that it was too late, it should have been stopped and prevented."


James Vincent, BBC Look North

The scale of this report is simply staggering and some of the detail extremely hard to read.

It lays out how Rotherham Council and the police knew about the level of child sexual exploitation in the town, but didn't do anything about it.

They either didn't believe what they were being told, played it down, or were too nervous to act. The failures, the report says, are blatant.

The report estimates 1,400 children were sexually exploited over 16 years, with one young person telling the report's author that gang rape was a usual part of growing up in Rotherham.

The processes for dealing with these crimes have got better in the last four years, but still improvements need to be made.

There were more apologies from the council today but the report's author says they are too late.

Speaking about her abuser, Isabel said: "I think because the police were aware and social services were aware and he knew that and they still didn't stop him it I think it encouraged him.

"It almost became like a game to him. He was untouchable."

Speaking after the publication of the report, Victims' Commissioner Baroness Newlove said: "I'm appalled by the extent of the horrific abuse endured by these vulnerable victims.

"It's deeply distressing how the authorities failed to protect these young people and their voices were not heard.

"Everyone involved needs to take responsibility for the shocking failings that this report has exposed. This must not happen again.

"I want to see every one of these victims getting the right support now and for as long as it takes them to help them on the path to recovery."

Maggie Atkinson, children's commissioner for England, said the number of identified child victims was "largely consistent" with the findings of their own national inquiry into "child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups".

'Horrific experiences'

Rotherham council's chief executive, Martin Kimber, said he accepted the report and the recommendations made and apologised to the victims of abuse.

He said: "The report does not make comfortable reading in its account of the horrific experiences of some young people in the past, and I would like to reiterate our sincere apology to those who were let down when they needed help.

"I commissioned this independent review to understand fully what went wrong, why it went wrong and to ensure that the lessons learned in Rotherham mean these mistakes can never happen again.

"The report confirms that our services have improved significantly over the last five years and are stronger today than ever before.

"This is important because it allows me to reassure young people and families that should anyone raise concerns we will take them seriously and provide them with the support they need.

"However, that must not overshadow - and certainly does not excuse - the finding that for a significant amount of time the council and its partners could and should have done more to protect young people from what must be one of the most horrific forms of abuse imaginable."



Child abuse signs and awareness

by Dan Lampariello

JACKSON, Tenn. -- The death of 7-month-old Joseph Hilliard in Benton County last Friday is the second case of suspected deadly child abuse in West Tennessee this month.

But according to Pam Nash, the executive director of The Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center For The Prevention of Child Abuse, a simple phone call could have made all the difference.

"You might be the only eyes or ears that see or hear what's going on in a child's life," Nash said. "If you suspect child abuse, please report it."

Pam Nash said she knows it is not easy to make the call.

"I know it's uncomfortable to report," Nash said. "But you can call the Department of Children Services and report that anonymously."

You can also report abuse through the center's 24-hour hotline, or get help yourself. Nash said parents rarely intend to hurt their children.

"All those stresses can contribute," Nash said. "If you don't have anyone to help, sometimes it turns into a very bad situation."

On August 2, 4-year-old Asher Dillworth died from suspected abuse at the hands of his father's girlfriend. Kyrie Kyle is charged with first degree murder in McNairy County.

Then on August 22, investigators say 7-month-old Joseph Hilliard was severely abused by his mother's boyfriend in Benton County. Westlee Yates is charged with first degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

"We see a lot of times where it is a girlfriend of a parent or the boyfriend of a parent or a step-parent," Nash said.

Nash said she has not seen this many suspected abuse deaths in her 24-year career.

"We don't want to see anymore child deaths because of child abuse," Nash said. "Especially when there are resources available in your community to call."

If you suspect child abuse in your community or if you need help yourself call the Carl Perkins Center at (800) 273-4747.



Genesee County medical examiner joins nationwide conversation on child abuse

by Sarah Schuch

GENESEE COUNTY, MI – Genesee County's chief medical examiner is part of an effort to draw more attention to the issue of child abuse deaths.

Brian Hunter will be one of six members on the panel to discuss the process and mechanics of counting child maltreatment fatalities in Michigan during a public meeting hosted by the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) on Aug. 28 in Plymouth.

Hunter said he's worked with the Michigan Public Health Institute on the child death review team for many years and that this is an extension of his work there.

Having many conversations across the country on this top is a good place to start, Hunter said.

"I certainly think that having people at the federal level (meet with us) is a great opportunity to talk to them about getting our perspective. Not just Genesee County but professionals from different areas to talk to people at very high levels about these issues," Hunter said. "Getting our perspective can only help the conversation."

Hunter is happy to be a part of the conversation, he said.

He simply hopes to be a resource to help officials understand the process of what a medical examiner does and the role they play in child abuse investigations.

"I think (child abuse is) a significant problem in the sense that anything that's killing kids needs to be addressed because children are our future," Hunter said. "I'm just going to try and be a resource for the representatives of the federal government that are looking at new policies that can be drafted."

Hunter, who has been the Genesee County chief medical examiner for seven years, said there are a lot of questions around what medical examiners or forensic pathologists do in regards to child death cases.

He speaks to many groups throughout the year to increase awareness of his job, he said.

The biggest thing when it comes to a child death and determining cause of death and manner of death is that a lot of perspectives of what went on is helpful to Hunter, he said.

"Working together is going to give you a better outcome. There's just a lot of ways organizations can share information," Hunter said.

The purpose of the meeting is for Commission members to gather national and state-specific information regarding child abuse and neglect fatalities, according to a press release.

The Commission will hear from researchers and issue experts regarding the scope of the problem, strategies for improving national data collection, policy barriers and opportunities to reduce maltreatment fatalities, confidentiality issues, and potential solutions. Experts from such disciplines as child welfare, law enforcement, health, and public health will present strategies for addressing the issue of child abuse and neglect fatalities.

Hunter was recommended by officials from child protective services because he sits on the Michigan state child death advisory team, said Jennifer Devlin, media specialist for the CECANF.

Child abuse fatalities are no small issue in the Genesee County or throughout the state or country.

In May The Flint Journal-MLive took an in-depth look at the child abuse problem in the county, speaking with many local and national experts, victims and advocates.

By no fault of their own, nearly 3,000 children in the county have been abused in just the past five years – a number about equal to the size of the entire senior class at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Over the past three years, 21 children have died from abuse – seven confirmed cases and two suspected cases in the last year alone.

The number of children who die from child abuse in the county has been rising, the nine last year is up from the six who died in 2012 and the six who died in 2011, according to the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Another 35 children under the age of 5 were reported as severely beaten in 2013.

In 2011 – the most recent year for national data – 21 of every 1,000 children in Genesee County were abused. That's higher than the state average of 14 and more than double the national average of nine, according to Kids Count data.

Where Hunter sees child abuse as an issue in Genesee County, he said it's not any worse than other large cities and the issue as a whole needs to be addressed.

As the Commission undertakes its work, it seeks to launch a national dialogue on the issue of child abuse and neglect fatalities and to raise visibility and awareness about the problems, according to a press release. CECANF is also charged with studying data and best practices, and with engaging both stakeholders and the general public in discussions about what is working and what isn't to help identify solutions for reducing child fatalities.

The public meeting, which will take place at The Inn at St. John's, Grande Ballroom, 44045 Five Mile Road in Plymouth on Aug. 28, will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with opening remarks starting at 8 a.m. followed by youth and parent presentations at 8:10 a.m.

The stop in Plymouth is the third stop the Commission made in order to gather input and recommendations on best practices and how data can be better understood all with an eye toward coming up with federal policy that can help move officials in a better direction, Devlin said.

The Commission was established by the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 and it became operational earlier this year. The first stop was in San Antonio, Texas in June and Tampa, Fla. in July.

Locations are determined based on places where the issue is extremely relevant and states where the Commission has connections, Devlin said. Public meetings will be taking place over a two-year period with roughly one meeting a month.

"We are tasked with issuing a report with the president and Congress within two years," Devlin said. "Overall it's raising visibility and awareness of the problem, studying data and best practices and putting out a series of recommendations with a focus on reducing deaths form child abuse and neglect."

Where being able to part of the panel discussion could be seen as a big deal, Hunter said he's simply taking it as another opportunity to get more information out there.

"I'm sort of treating this as another opportunity to speak about the medical examiner position and how it relates to child abuse and neglect," Hunter said. "I'll be their resource that they need. ... To me this is an exchange of info a dialogue and I think that's good."

Here is the schedule for the rest of the day during the public meeting:

8:40 to 9:40 a.m.: Process and Mechanics of Counting Child Maltreatment Fatalities in Michigan – Panel Discussion (including Genesee County Chief Medical Examiner Brian Hunter)

9:50 to 10:50 a.m.: Fatality Reviews in Michigan: Implementation of Recommendations and Outcomes – Panel Discussion

10:50 to 11:20 a.m.: Maura D. Corrigan, Director, Michigan Department of Human Services

11:20 to 11:45 a.m.: Congressional remarks by U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp

12:15 to 2:15 p.m.: State and Federal Strategies to Improve Data Collection for More Effective Child Maltreatment Fatality Research, Practice, and Policy – Panel Discussion

2:15 to 3 p.m.: Prevention Strategies: Are They Reducing Child Fatalities and How Do We Know? – Panel Discussion

3:15 to 4:15 p.m.: Local organizations and speakers

4:15 to 4:30 p.m.: Commissioner dialogue and reflection


New York


Federal law is needed to criminalize child abuse

by Daniel Leddy

Most kids are born to parents who love and care for them. Perusing images of youth league games, summer vacations, birthday parties, shopping sprees for school, and the like on social networking sites, it's easy to understand why the law presumes that parents generally act in the best interests of their children.

In fact, it's this very presumption that underlies the constitutional right of parents to raise their children as they see fit. And it's this constitutional right that mandates tolerance for the differing ways in which parents deal with such things as inculcating moral standards, providing health care, supplying food, imposing discipline, setting curfews, overseeing homework and monitoring their children's choice of friends.

Parental rights are not without limitation, however, since children are people too and endowed with rights of their own. Thus, when parental actions or inactions constitute a significant risk to children's health and welfare, the government may properly intervene to protect them.

A persistent problem in child-protective law involves parents who treat their children as indentured servants, and employ severe, even draconian, discipline to keep them in line.

Parental prerogatives

When challenged by law enforcement, they often react with defiance and indignation at what they perceive to be unwarranted government interference with their parental prerogatives.

A decision handed down this month by a federal appellate court involved this very issue, but with an unusual twist.

Jean Claude Kodjo Toviave immigrated to the United States from Togo in 2001, settling in Michigan. Five years later, he used fraudulent immigration documents to get his girlfriend and her four kids, whom he falsely claimed to be his own, into the United States from that West African country.

Although the two adults soon separated, Toviave assumed the role of parent to the children, demanding their absolute obedience, requiring them to do endless chores and beating them regularly and severely for any real or perceived deviation from his orders.

Thus, among other things, he made the children cook, clean, do the laundry, iron his clothes, clean his van, serve food to his guests and babysit for his various girlfriends' kids. The beatings were doled out both with his hands and various implements, such as plunger sticks, ice scrapers and broomsticks.

Creative theory

The children's plight came to the attention of the child protective service when their teachers suspected abuse. Federal involvement followed the discovery of fraudulent immigration documents in Toviave's home. He later pleaded guilty to mail and visa fraud, while an additional human-trafficking charge was dropped by prosecutors.

What makes the case controversial from a legal perspective, however, was the decision by prosecutors to also charge Toviave with violating a federal statute prohibiting forced labor. After a jury convicted him on that charge, the trial judge ordered that he pay the children $130,000 in restitution, an amount based on the minimum wage for the work he had forced them to perform.

On Aug. 4, a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overturned that conviction, holding that, although Toviave's conduct toward the children was "reprehensible," it did not constitute forced labor under the federal statute. To hold otherwise, the court reasoned, would turn millions of American parents into federal criminals for requiring their children to do routine household chores such as taking out the garbage or cleaning up their rooms.

Child abuse is not a federal crime, the court continued, and prosecutors couldn't properly make it one by trying to prosecute it under the forced-labor statute. The court's opinion has garnered enthusiastic support from some law professors, but indignant condemnation from others.

While the concerns voiced by the court are certainly not frivolous, they could easily be addressed with a little common sense. Typical chores given to children by responsible parents, whether to teach self-sufficiency, to contribute to the household, or both, obviously don't constitute the type of forced labor contemplated by the federal statute.

Forced labor

Toviave's conduct, in sharp contrast, suggests a man consumed with turning the children — and they weren't even his own — into slaves, requiring them to do all kinds of work for him all the time, even babysitting his various girlfriends' kids. Moreover, he impressed that labor upon them with constant threats and vicious beatings.

Under these circumstances, the forced-labor charge seems appropriate and Toviave's conviction should have been affirmed. He remains in jail today on the other charges to which he pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors shouldn't be relegated to devising creative theories to punish child abuse at the federal level.

Every year, more than three million reports of child abuse, involving more than six million children, are made in the United States. In fact, more than four children die every day in this country from this unspeakable horror.

To pretend that it's not a national problem, indeed a national crisis, is to ignore these sad realities. Which is why Congress must enact legislation criminalizing child abuse, not to supersede state jurisdiction, but to compliment it.

Not all states are equally zealous about safeguarding children from the various ways renegade parents abuse them. The federal government shouldn't be powerless to act when the need arises.



Law groups back child sexual abuse amendment


JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- Missouri law enforcement groups are teaming up in support of a proposed constitutional amendment that they said Tuesday could make it easier to gain convictions or guilty pleas in child sexual abuse cases.

The November ballot proposal known as Constitutional Amendment 2 would create an exception to the general prohibition against using evidence of past crimes against defendants facing new criminal charges.

It would allow past criminal acts — even alleged crimes that didn't result in convictions — to be used to corroborate victim testimony or demonstrate a defendants' propensity to commit such crimes when people face sex-related charges involving victims younger than 18.

"This is a measure that I think everybody who supports Missouri's kids ought to be in favor of," said Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, a past president of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Zahnd also is co-chairman of the Protect Missouri Children committee formed to support the measure. State associations representing prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs all expressed their support Tuesday for the amendment.

The proposal, which was referred to the ballot by the Legislature, is a backlash against a December 2007 Missouri Supreme Court decision that struck down a state law allowing evidence of past sexual crimes to be used against people facing new sex-related charges involving victims younger than 14.

The court said using prior acts to show a defendant's likelihood of committing an alleged crime violates state constitutional protections meant to ensure that people are tried only for the offense with which they are charged.

"Evidence of prior criminal acts is never admissible for the purpose of demonstrating the defendant's propensity to commit the crime with which he is presently charged. There are no exceptions to this rule," the court said in a unanimous decision written by then-Judge Michael Wolff, who now is dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law.

Zahnd said federal courts and some other states already allow evidence of past criminal acts and that Missouri's court precedent is the most restrictive nationally.

The campaign for the Missouri ballot measure has been relatively low-profile so far. As of the end of June, the supporting committee reported having a little over $1,300 in its campaign account.

There is no organized opposition group registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Officials at the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers did not immediately respond to phone messages Tuesday seeking comment.



Human trafficking experts praise Connecticut's progress helping victims

by Mary E. O'Leary

Sex trafficking enslaves millions of people around the world, with thousands in the United States, including children, a panel of experts agreed as they talked about the need for better training for police and educators to help the victims.

The youngest victim ensnared in a sex trafficking ring in the state was a 12-year-old, said Krishna Patel, deputy chief of the National Security and Major Crimes Unit in the U.S. attorney's office in the state.

“We have a huge domestic trafficking problem,” Patel said as she joined a panel of advocates Monday who deal daily with the child victims.

They met at the new offices of Love 146 in New Haven, a group that worked to help international victims, but since 2010 has been running education programs and trauma-informed support services with offices Baltimore and Houston, as well as New Haven.

Tammy Sneed, director of gender responsive adolescent services for the state Department of Children and Families, said she has had 250 referrals of potential trafficking victims since 2008.

“They often don't see themselves as victims,” Sneed said of the children and young adults she encounters who usually have been subjected to abuse and neglect in dysfuntional homes before they become part of the sex trade.

These kids trade sex for food or a place to sleep, the panel agreed.

She said these children are similar to domestic violence victims years ago that didn't identify as victims.

Dave Tompkins, vice president of program services, Klingberg Family Centers, said the key is to get them to trust them as for most of their lives, adults have only abused them,

Tompkins said they work with the police to explain that these children will often go AWOL.

“That's what they do. Our job is to be there and accept them when they come back, help them come back so they go AWOL less,” Tompkins said.

Hartford police Officer Deborah Scates has worked in this field for years and helps train other police on how to approach child sex victims.

She said the state has come a long way. Ten years ago she said there never would have been the network that was present at the Love 146 offices. “There were no victim services,” she said. “We were being questioned by law enforcement as to our purpose.”

Police wouldn't always understand that if a teen would go back on the street, that they were still victims being abused either by johns or by pimps, she said.

Scates said making a case against traffickers takes a long time and departments need to dedicate resources to it. The officer said not all police departments are willing to take officers off the street to get the necessary training.

Beyond that, “I think a lot of officers don't understand what trafficking is.” She said it is hard for some to open their doors to the experts to teach them what to do.

Patel said they were doing pretty well until the recession in 2008 hit and they lost personnel.

Erin Williamson, Connecticut survivor support coordinator at Love146, said the education system is the first to see children at highest risk, and they go into the schools to tell teachers how to recognize the signs.

Scales made a pitch for more Job Corp programs to get the young adults in a positon where they can support themselves.

U.S, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said one of the most visible examples of sex trafficking involves the unaccompanied children coming over the border from Latin America. He said they are often fleeing trafficking in their countries and can encounter the same situations with the coyotes bringing them into the country.

Blumenthal said these issues have to be addressed in a “wholistic and comprehensive way.”



Q&A With Man Selected To Investigate Clergy Abuse

by Esme Murphy

(Q&A video on site)

MINNEAPOLIS The embattled Twin Cities archdiocese has appointed a former top cop to investigate allegations of clergy abuse.

Tim O'Malley is not only the former Superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, he is also a judge and a former FBI agent. Archbishop John Nienstedt announced O'Malley's appointment to the new position of Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment.

“I'm hoping that by these steps we are taking, we can regain the trust of our clergy and victim survivors,” Nienstedt said.

O'Malley said he's honored to have the job.

“The first step is to make sure that it doesn't happen again,” O'Malley said, referring to the clergy sex abuse scandal that's rocked the Catholic Church.

O'Malley says while he is deeply troubled by the church's handling of abuse claims, he is confident he will have the full authority to investigate all misconduct cases. Nienstedt said O'Malley will have the power to investigate all alleged misconduct.

“He is his own man. He is a man of great integrity and experience and he will report directly to me,” Nienstedt said.

The Archdiocese press release quotes from prominent admirers of O'Malley, including Patty Wetterling, whose son Jacob was kidnapped and disappeared in 1989. Wetterling said O'Malley “has proven his commitment to building a world without sexual violence.”

University of St. Thomas professor Charles Reid, who has been highly critical of the Archdiocese's handling of abuse cases, said this could be a turning point.

“The Archdiocese needs someone with Tim O'Malley's background,” Reid said.

O'Malley said he'll take steps to investigate past cases, and work to stop further abuse. He said his background in law enforcement should help.

“We do it by doing background checks, and raising awareness,” he said. “Unfortunately there are people out there who abuse children, and when it happens we need to be prepared to help the victims, and then get to the bottom of it, and get to the people and make them accountable for what happened.”

O'Malley will be responsible for making sure the Archdiocese is in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and related federal and state laws.

While the Archdiocese clearly hopes the O'Malley appointment helps set a new direction, there are still many issues remaining. Among the most prominent are allegations that Archbishop Nienstedt himself acted in a sexually inappropriate way with adult seminarians.

The Archbishop has denied the allegations and would only answer questions today about O'Malley. In fact, the Archdiocese has never given a clear indication if any or part of the investigation surrounding himself will ever be made public.



Study: Soliciting sex from minor results in little prison time

by Megan Cassidy

The crime of soliciting sex from a minor in Arizona carries a sentence of up to 24 years behind bars, but a Phoenix suspect convicted of the crime may more realistically expect a term of three months, according to a new study released by anti-sex-trafficking group Shared Hope International and Arizona State University.

The outcome for a Phoenix convict hovers around the average median when compared with the sentences of counterparts nationwide. The median actual time served in Phoenix for soliciting sex from a minor was 90 days, in D.C.-Baltimore it was 180 days, 14 days in Portland and 88.5 days in Seattle.

The data indicates that the average time served in Phoenix, however, is drastically higher than the rest of the country, at an average of 4.7 years as compared to 1.3 years in D.C.-Baltimore, 154.3 days in Portland and 86.3 days in Seattle.

None of those studied was charged with a sex-trafficking crime.

The study's results indicate judicial leniency for a crime that is responsible for fueling the sex-trafficking market, said Linda Smith, president and founder of Shared Hope International.

"The research shows that when they're arrested … at state level, that they're not facing the full force of the law," Smith said.

The study's results were presented Monday at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix.

The study was the first of its kind to focus on the criminal outcomes of the demand side of sex trafficking, the "johns" who are arrested for soliciting sex from a minor or an undercover decoy claiming to be one.

It has only been in the past three to four years that most states have enacted severe penalties for the buyers of minors, Smith said, and the study had limited subjects with which to work. So researchers tapped into 134 cases from four sites whose agencies have devoted extensive resources to anti-demand law enforcement: those in the D.C.-Baltimore corridor, Phoenix metro area, Portland metro area and Seattle metro area.

Maricopa County attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb said his office is concerned about the methods of the research.

"We believe that this is faulty research that is based on an extremely limited number of cases, most of which did not involve an actual victim," he said. "We welcome a public policy discussion on this serious crime, but it must be based on sufficient data that accurately reflects these crimes and how they are handled."

The Phoenix-area results align with those of the more highly publicized cases, many of which were pleaded down to lesser offenses.

Michael Gilliland, former Sunflower Farmers Market CEO, was sentenced to two 15-day terms after pleading guilty to misdemeanor pandering.

Jerry Marfe, a former high-school chemistry teacher who was caught in a December teen prostitution sting was sentenced to 15 days in jail followed by 10 years of probation.

Marfe was one of 30 who were netted in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office operation. All were initially charged with one or two counts of class-2 felony child prostitution, but of those sentenced to date, 18 ended up pleading to lesser counts of pandering, class-6 child prostitution or child/vulnerable adult abuse. Three others pleaded to charges of class 2 or class three felony child prostitution.

Researchers focused on the criminal justice outcome of each of the 134 cases and found that they resulted in 119 arrests, 118 of those arrested prosecuted and 113 of those prosecuted eventually found guilty.

Of those found guilty, 26 percent served no time and 69 percent of the sentences were suspended by an average of 85 percent.

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research at Arizona State University, said she was particularly troubled that only 66 of the 113 cases were registered as sex offenders. The outcome, she said, would have been different if there wasn't a dollar amount involved.

"How we categorize them is going to be very important for our culture moving forward," she said.

Former sex-trafficking victim and survivor advocate Rebecca Bender encouraged law enforcement to focus on the buyers rather than the traffickers, as it is extremely difficult to break a victim's bond with her trafficker.

"One thing that's not difficult is to get the victim to to turn on her buyer," she said. "They are less than scum to us."

In a separate portion of the study, researchers found 99 percent of 407 buyers studied across the country were male, the median age was 42.5 years, and 21.6 percent of the total buyer cases where a profession was identified involved someone in a position of authority or trust, including law enforcement, attorney or military personnel.

Smith said it is up to police, prosecutors and judges to enforce the laws to their fullest extent, but said a culture of tolerance for buyers is pervasive.

The study operates on the notion that tougher, enforced penalties will act as a deterrent for buyers. So researchers view the issue in terms of economics: Shrink the demand, reduce supply.

"If there's no market because the buyer stayed home with his own family, then the traffickers would not be out there preying on the children in our neighborhood," Smith said.

Researchers point out that the buyers are often overlooked by police in favor of extracting minor victims from a dangerous situation or arresting traffickers. The amount of time and resources it takes to investigate buyers is often disproportionate to the penalties, which are substantially higher for traffickers.

"The problem on the law-enforcement end is making it a priority to go back and do the buyer end of it," Sgt. Clay Sutherland of the Phoenix Police Department's vice unit says in the report. "Our emphasis on going back after the buyers is limited. We have our hands full."

Defense attorneys and several suspected buyers involved in these cases have rebuked the "predator" designation due to the method police use for arrests.

Law enforcement agencies often rely on decoys to sweep the streets of would-be buyers. Undercover officers post ads on 18 and over websites but later make it known that the "girl" is underage. Many defendants say they were seeking an of-age prostitute—a misdemeanor offense that turns into a serious felony when the girl is underage.

"Ninety-nine percent (of johns) — they're looking for an adult," said defense attorney Mark Nermyr in an earlier interview with the Arizona Republic . "At some point, the officer sneaks age in the conversation, and that changes it from a misdemeanor — 10 days in jail — to a felony. It's not doing anything to combat child prostitution."

Smith argued that there are signs of intent from many of the defendants, but said intent should be irrelevant.

"You're not allowed to run over somebody while under the influence of alcohol and say, 'Oops, I didn't know I drank too much,'" she said. "You should stand and take the punishment for hurting the child."

Researchers say while state laws are catching up to the reality of the business, work needs to be done as a culture. The study says anti-trafficking push could benefit from a public-awareness campaign like those of MADD and texting-and-driving, to make the practice more shameful in the public eye.

"When people start seeing that this is the crime of a man or a person who is buying an innocent child, it will change," she said.

Study: Soliciting sex from minor results in little prison time

Researchers studied 134 cases from four sites whose agencies have devoted extensive resources to anti-demand law enforcement.






Cases that made it to sentencing phase





Average total sentence

4.7 years

2 years

5.25 years

228.9 days

Average actual time to be served

1.3 years

154.3 days

4.7 years

86.3 days

Median actual time to be served

180 days

14 days

90 days

88.5 days

Average time on probation

3.26 years

2.57 years

2.29 years

1.31 years

Avreage fines, fees





Sex offender registration






South Carolina

As Darkness to Light grows, volunteers express concerns about leadership

by Lauren Sausser

Two hours before committee members were scheduled to discuss plans for the upcoming Darkness to Light gala during a June meeting, they learned that the November event - long considered one of Charleston's biggest black-tie parties - had been canceled.

A series of smaller, "grassroots" events would do a better job reaching a national audience, Darkness to Light President and CEO Jolie Logan told the group in an email. A local gala wasn't a good fit anymore.

"We have had so much growth over the last several years, and there's one thing that hasn't changed - the gala," Logan said in a recent interview. "It served its purpose."

While Logan and her Board of Directors insist this was simply a strategic business move - particularly because a $300-per-ticket party no longer seemed like the best way to spread their message about preventing child sexual abuse - some longtime supporters and ex-employees interviewed by The Post and Courier worry that Darkness to Light is unraveling and that canceling the gala was simply the latest in a string of poor management decisions. Local volunteers who remain deeply committed to the cause believe Logan is alienating the community that nurtured this organization from the ground up in favor of becoming a national brand.

"It just feels like they're turning their backs on the hand that fed them for so many years when they were getting started," said Katie Shayda, who started volunteering for Darkness to Light more than 10 years ago as a College of Charleston student. She said she felt compelled to walk away after the gala was abruptly called off. "It was literally hours before one of our scheduled meetings."

Darkness to Light was founded in Charleston 14 years ago by Anne Lee, a survivor of child sexual abuse. She has since left the organization, but it continues her mission - developing training programs for adults to detect signs of sexual abuse among children. An estimated 6,700 facilitators now teach the Darkness to Light curriculum in all 50 states and in an additional 16 countries.

But recent staff departures and the fact that only one local member remains on the Board of Directors concerns some volunteers and former employees - and they believe Logan is to blame. An executive coach that the board hired to improve her management skills isn't working, they said.

"The community and the issue deserve better," said Doug Warner, who resigned in March as director of development.

Logan contends that the organization's balance sheet is strong, that its influence is growing and that a disgruntled, but vocal minority is simply reluctant to embrace change.

"Every company goes through growth. That leads to change," she said. "All of that sometimes comes with detractors, but we're focused on making a difference - and we are."

'A big vision'

When Lee, Darkness to Light's former president and founder, quit in 2011 - citing "philosophical differences" with the Board of Directors - Logan was promoted to the position.

Meanwhile that fall, conversations about child sexual abuse - locally and nationally - were forced to the forefront when allegations surfaced that Skip ReVille, a former Citadel summer camp counselor, and Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach, had molested dozens of young boys. Both men have since been convicted for their crimes.

Immediately after Lee left, Logan told The Post and Courier that Darkness to Light intended to train more than 10 million people in the next decade. She estimates the organization sold 185,000 training packets during the past fiscal year, up from 76,000 in 2011.

"We have a big vision and we need to be focused on it," she said.

In 2012, Penn State students organized a high-profile "Walk for Prevention" following the Sandusky sex abuse scandal to benefit Darkness to Light and Logan brokered a deal with The Citadel to train everyone on campus, including cadets, to notice signs of sexual abuse.

Logan, who is paid $120,000 a year according to tax records, regularly offers expert commentary on child sexual abuse to national news outlets and helped forge partnerships with more than 200 YMCAs across the country.

"We are this little Charleston organization supported by amazing people in Charleston, but with a reach that is really sometimes mind-boggling," Logan said. Darkness to Light was recently named a Top 5 Child Rights program by the United Nations Foundation. "We're so proud of that. The community should be very proud of that."

Local volunteers have "given selflessly for years," said David Repinski, the Darkness to Light Board of Directors chairman, who lives in Atlanta. Still, the organization needs to continue broadening its scope, he said, and that includes nixing the gala in favor of other events that can be replicated across the country.

"We don't mean it at all as a slap in the face to Charleston," he said. "We worried about that."

'What's going on?'

Prior to Logan's 2013 performance evaluation, several of her employees shared their feedback on her abilities in a series of emails obtained by The Post and Courier. The comments were overwhelmingly negative with staffers expressing doubts about her effectiveness, leadership skills and fundraising abilities.

"I have serious doubts about the current effectiveness of the executive management of the organization," wrote Beth Anne Crane, a former gala committee chairwoman, in an email.

Crane laid out those concerns to the Darkness to Light Board of Directors chairman on May 6 - a full month before she found out the gala was canceled. "I have benefactors and volunteers asking me 'What is going on at D2L?'"

Ralph Mellard, a local real estate agent and the only Charleston representative on the Board of Directors, would not disclose how much the board spent on Logan's executive coach.

"I know many executives in many companies that do have coaches and it helps them develop and that's the sole purpose of it," Mellard said.

Repinski, the board chairman and CEO of a claims management firm, said, "If we didn't have confidence, she wouldn't be leading the organization."

But Crane said recent staff departures speak for themselves. The director of operations left last September. The special events manager and the programs prevention manager left May and June.

"I didn't feel comfortable raising money," Crane said. "I saw, sort of, the writing on the wall."

Evolution and growth

Tax records show Darkness to Light raised $2.3 million during the 2013 fiscal year. Most of it - about $1.4 million - came from the training kits.

By comparison, special events, including the annual gala, raised $154,000 after expenses. During the 2012 fiscal year, proceeds from the gala were even lower - only $84,000 after expenses.

"It's not just about the money, otherwise no one would do events," Logan said. "That's the tough part - they don't raise as much money as other efforts, but they do other things. It's the community interaction. It's all the reasons that the gala has been important to us over the years."

Previous galas drew hundreds of people with deep pockets and featured well-known names - supermodel Lauren Hutton and TV host John Walsh, for example.

When Logan announced that the 2014 gala was canceled, committee members were confused. Some felt her email was flippant and that she seemed ungrateful for work that they had already invested. Companies had committed to buy several $2,500 tables. A designer was working on the "Alice and Wonderland" themed invitations.

But the gala no longer seemed the best way to spread Darkness to Light's message, Logan said, partly because it "lent itself to a fairly exclusive audience."

Darkness to Light will host a Charleston event in April during which Matt Sandusky, one of Jerry Sandusky's adopted children and abuse victims, will speak. Tickets will cost about $40 - significantly less than the $300 gala tickets - making the event more affordable for many people. It's an example of a local event that may be more easily copied in other cities, Logan said.

Even so, deciding to cancel the gala this year was not made lightly, she insisted. The board debated the idea for months, reviewing decisions that other organizations have made and pouring over best practices, including a national report called "Breaking the Gala Addiction," which explains that galas are among the most expensive and riskiest ways to raise money.

"The decision was not an easy one," Repinski said. "I hope we got it right."

Still, Shayda said volunteers are upset about the change.

"Some people care, some people don't," she said. "It's just sad because we are all very, very passionate about the actual cause."



Woman pleads guilty to child sex abuse committed while she was a man

by Geoff Liesik

DUCHESNE — A Duchesne County woman has admitted she sexually abused a child in the early '90s while living as a man.

Susan Elizabeth Rye pleaded guilty Monday in 8th District Court to a single count of sex abuse of a child, which was reduced from a second-degree felony to a third-degree felony. Judge Samuel Chiara agreed to dismiss two other child sex abuse charges at the request of Duchesne County prosecutors in exchange for Rye's plea.

Rye, 61, was arrested in January following a 14-month investigation into allegations that she had sexually abused a 5-year-old girl. The alleged abuse took place over the course of several months in late 1989 and early 1990 while Rye was still living as a man.

Court records show Rye legally changed her name from Randall Donald Rye in January 2009. Defense attorney Bill Morrison said his client identifies herself as a woman. Her driver's license also lists her as a woman, Morrison confirmed.

Rye's victim came forward for the first time in October 2012 after months of counseling because she feared there might be other victims, according to Duchesne County sheriff's detectives. Over the next year, investigators interviewed a number of people, including Rye, before prosecutors reviewed the case and filed charges.

Following the entry of Rye's plea Monday, Morrison asked Chiara if his client could be released from jail pending sentencing. The defense attorney told the judge that a recent psychosexual evaluation conducted as part of the case showed that Rye does not pose a danger to the community.

Duchesne County prosecutor Grant Charles objected to any kind of release from jail prior to sentencing. Charles said during their investigation detectives obtained a copy of a book Rye was writing around the time of his arrest.

"It's a fictional book about incest and the sexual abuse of children," the prosecutor said. "I don't think the psychosexual evaluation went into enough depth to tell us how dangerous (Rye) really is."

Morrison countered that Rye's book was part of a therapeutic exercise meant to "purge inclinations toward behavior outside societal norms," but Chiara declined to reverse the decision he'd previously made to have Rye held in jail without bail.

The judge ordered Rye to undergo a second psychosexual evaluation in advance of an Oct. 22 sentencing hearing.



Child sexual abuse in Newcastle Anglican diocese in 1970s to be investigated by new police strike force

by Lucy Carter

New South Wales Police have begun a new major investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse within Newcastle's Anglican Diocese in the 1970s.

Strike force Arinya-2 has been established to investigate alleged child sexual assaults in the Newcastle region, dating back 40 years.

The Anglican Church in Newcastle has been investigated before, most recently in 2012 when the then Newcastle Anglican Bishop, Brian Farran, defrocked three priests over what he described as "disturbing" allegations of abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.

At the time, the Professional Standards Board of the Anglican Church of Newcastle accepted that the former dean of Newcastle, Graeme Lawrence, and the reverends Bruce Hoare and Andrew Duncan engaged in sexual misconduct against a male teenager.

Mr Lawrence challenged the professional standards board investigation in the NSW Supreme Court but was unsuccessful.

The current Bishop of Newcastle, Greg Thompson, said he would support the police in their investigation.

"I continue to be saddened by the reality of abuse experienced by people and I am committed to ensuring justice and support for each of them," Bishop Thompson said.

He encouraged of victims of abuse to contact the police.

He said they could also contact the diocesan director of professional standards, who could arrange counselling or other support, on 1800 774 945.

Bishop Thompson said the diocese would refrain from making further comments while the investigation was underway.

Police are now urging anyone who has been a victim or has knowledge of child sexual assault by a member of the diocese during the 1970s to contact the Newcastle police station or Crime Stoppers.



Catholic Church strives to protect children

I have researched and found what steps the Catholic Church has made in order to repair the damage that has occurred regarding the sexual scandal. For example, since the sexual abuse scandal, the Catholic Church has done more to protect children than almost any other organization in the United States.

Consider safe environment training that is taking place in 194 dioceses/parishes across the country. More than 2 million adults have been trained to recognize the behavior of offenders and what to do about it. More than 5 million children are being equipped with the skills to help them protect themselves from abuse.

Background checks are conducted on church personnel who have contact with children. That is more than 2.3 million volunteers, employees, candidates for ordination and clerics.

All dioceses/parishes have codes of conduct spelling out what is acceptable behavior. This serves to let people know what can and cannot be done as well as letting others know what behavior can be expected. It encourages the reporting of suspicious behavior.

All dioceses/parishes have victim assistance coordinators, assuring victims that they will be heard. In 2012, $8,015,842 was spent on therapy for the victims of clergy sexual abuse. All dioceses/parishes have safe environment coordinators who ensure the ongoing compliance to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Bishops are meeting with victims. Dioceses/parishes have healing Masses, retreats for victim/survivors and other reconciliation events. There is a zero-tolerance policy on abusers since 2002.

When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accordance with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants. Dioceses/parishes require intensive background screening as well as psychological testing for those wishing to enter the seminary.

The Catholic Church has worked hard to protect children. Much has been done, but more needs to be done. Until child sexual abuse is no longer a part of society, the church will continue its efforts to stop it.

And personally, I believe that once a person, group or organization willingly and openly admits their failures and/or crimes, seeks forgiveness and places corrective actions in place, there is no room for cheap shots in the form of satirical cartoons, which in this instance serves no purpose but to inflame instead of letting much-needed healing take place.

Katherine Doe Johnson
Sackets Harbor



Back to School: Increase Your Awareness of Dating Abuse

by Karen Nein, Berks Women in Crisis

Imagine this scenario… Your ninth-grade daughter comes home from her third day of school with a smile on her face and hearts drawn on her notebook. You notice, but she makes no announcements, so you simply make a casual remark about how well school seems to be going for her this year. She has always been communicative with you, but not today. You shrug it off, knowing she's growing up and finding her own way.

A few months later, and she's not smiling as much anymore. You notice that she jumps when she hears the ‘ping' of a text on her phone. You haven't seen her BFFs around for quite some time, and she appears to be sneaking around. What is happening? What has changed?

These could be some normal signs of the trials and tribulations of adolescence. But do you know that they could be signs of dating abuse? Dating abuse, like domestic violence, is a pattern of power and control of one person over another in a relationship. For vulnerable and inexperienced youth – those who start a new school, who are anxious to fit in, find love, or increase their popularity – the chance of being drawn into a relationship quickly by someone is high.

What are some of the red flags that a relationship is becoming abusive? If you notice any of the following, express your concern and let your young person know that you are there to help.

•  constant phone calls and/or texts

•  fewer/no contacts with long-standing friends

•  struggling academically or failing grades

•  spending all free time with boyfriend/girlfriend

•  leaving the room to take call or text this ‘friend'

•  sneaking out of the house

•  suspected drug or alcohol use

•  fighting (with siblings or at school)

•  unexplained bruises or signs of physical violence

•  trouble with the law

•  depression or other signs of mental distress/disorders

•  any behavior that is out of character for your young person

To many, especially to those inexperienced at relationships, some red flags, such as constant phone calls or texts, or spending all of your time together, may seem flattering at the beginning of a relationship. The desire to find ‘true love' as well as being constantly told that this person only wants ‘what's best' can be confusing for a young person. Finally, an abusive partner may tell their victim that if they go for help or break up, they will ‘pay.' Fear is a powerful control tactic.

Some statistics to ponder:

•  About 72% of eighth and ninth graders are “dating."

•  Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.

•  One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.

It was found that females involved in violent relationships typically suffered from post-traumatic stress and disassociation, while males suffered from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.

It is the responsibility of parents and other adults to model and reinforce healthy relationships for children and youth. Love your child, communicate and stress safety and security in the home. Be there for your young person.

A lot of information about healthy and abusive relationships, as well as how to help a friend who may be involved in an abusive relationship, can be found online. Here is one good place to go: The Red Flag Campaign.

If you notice any of the red flags in your youth, talk to her or him. Call the Berks Women in Crisis (BWIC) hotline at 610.375.9540 to discuss your concerns and learn about our resources. All BWIC services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault are provided free of charge.

BWIC's Education and Community Outreach department offers educational presentations on this topic for adults and young people, including the Shifting Boundaries curriculum for middle school students, designed to prevent dating violence and sexual harassment by discussing boundaries, mapping safe and unsafe zones in schools, and highlighting the consequences of this behavior for perpetrators.

For more information about bringing this curriculum into your middle school, contact Tasha Isaac, Director of Education and Community Outreach, at 610.373.1206 x125.



Kansas uses more rigorous evidence standard for child abuse than other states

by Deb Gruver

Kansas is the only state in the country that requires clear and convincing evidence to substantiate an allegation of child abuse or neglect.

That standard could be putting children at risk, some in the child welfare field say.

When the Kansas Department for Children and Families substantiates abuse or neglect, it places the perpetrator on a registry that bans him or her from living, working or regularly volunteering in a child-care facility – including foster homes – regulated by the state Department of Health and Environment.

No other state requires such a high burden of proof, according to “Child Maltreatment 2012,” a study by the Administration for Children and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A survey of states found that most use a preponderance of evidence, a less rigorous standard in which evidence shows it is more likely than not that abuse or neglect occurred.

Kansas used a preponderance of evidence standard until 2004. Since then, it has required clear and convincing evidence that an alleged perpetrator's actions or inactions meet the legal definition of abuse or neglect.

“It is concerning,” Diana Schunn, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, said of the higher standard now in place.

“It seems odd to me that all of the investigation and services that are done are focused on the child and when we get to the finding, that focuses on the offender and not so much on the safety of the child,” she said.

Brian Dempsey, director of protection and prevention services for the DCF, said the department doesn't require a substantiated finding to request a child's removal or to offer services to families.

“Another state may substantiate for the purpose of removing a child from a home or prohibiting someone from fostering children,” DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said. “Our effort is for the purpose of prohibiting the person from working in a licensed child care facility. It can't be said enough, so the public understands, recommending a child be removed from a home is not the same as substantiating.”

But because the DCF substantiates so few cases — about 6 percent of all reports of child abuse and neglect — for the purpose of putting people on the registry, the state “could ultimately put children's safety at risk — not intentionally,” Schunn said.

There are 31,077 people on the central registry, Freed said. To find out if someone is on the registry, you must have the written permission of the person you wish to search. State child welfare agencies making such requests are not required to submit a signed release form.

The Eagle began looking into how the DCF reviews cases in February as part of its “In Need of Care” series, which featured a 14-year-old girl who was kept in a windowless locked basement room.

Her parents, who took her in as a foster child and later adopted her, are accused of abusing the girl from the time she was 9, beating her with a foam hard-core bat and a broken curtain rod. The girl weighed 66 pounds when police removed her from her home in March.

A social worker told a judge that a doctor had diagnosed the girl as a victim of child torture.

Before police removed her and her siblings from their home, the DCF had taken eight previous reports about suspected abuse and neglect. None was substantiated.

The girl's adoptive parents would not be on the registry because the DCF did not substantiate any of the reports of abuse.

Validated findings

The DCF makes a finding for every report of child abuse and neglect that is assigned to social workers. The finding either is substantiated or unsubstantiated.

The DCF used to have three categories of findings – unsubstantiated, substantiated and validated.

The “validated” finding, which was used from 1997 to 2004, meant the incident was severe enough to add the perpetrator's name to the registry. Substantiated meant that the evidence showed the incident occurred but wasn't severe enough to place the person on the registry.

Schunn said she wishes Kansas still had validated as a finding.

“To me, the general public has a presumption that it's unfounded,” she said of reports of child abuse deemed unsubstantiated by the DCF.

She said she would support a lower standard of evidence to substantiate a case and another option, such as validated.

“It gives a more accurate and clear depiction from a public's eye of what the abuse situation is in Kansas,” she said.

The state switched to a clear and convincing evidence standard in 2004 to be more consistent with state law, Dempsey said.

“We wanted to ensure that we met an appropriate burden of proof before placing someone on the central registry,” he said.

‘A more rigorous standard'

In 2012, Pennsylvania was the only other state using the clear and convincing evidence standard. But that state's legislature amended the law, effective at the end of this year, to make “substantial” evidence the standard in child abuse cases.

Virginia used a clear and convincing evidence standard until the '90s and used three categories of findings — unfounded, founded and reason to suspect, Virginia Department of Social Services spokeswoman Patrice Hagan said in an e-mail.

The reason to suspect finding was “used when we didn't have the clear and convincing evidence to say founded but we still suspected a problem,” said child protective services policy specialist Mary Walter.

When the state took away that option, Virginia moved to a less rigorous standard of evidence to protect children.

“We had to eliminate by regulation the reason to suspect finding,” Walter said. The state then asked, “Is this the evidentiary standard we want to maintain?”

The clear and convincing evidence standard, Walter said, “is a more rigorous standard, and it's more difficult to reach that.”

Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs for the Child Welfare League of America, said of the clear and convincing evidence standard: “I never thought there was a reason to have it to begin with.”

It could, potentially, put children at risk, she said.

‘No easy answer'

Rep. Connie O'Brien, R-Tonganoxie, is chairwoman of the House Children and Seniors Committee. She said she hears more from people upset that their children have been taken away than she does from people upset about the standard the DCF uses to substantiate cases.

“But I'd almost rather err on the side of the kids since that baby died in Wichita,” she said.

Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita and the ranking minority member of the Health and Human Services Committee, said it's time for the state to take a critical look at its child welfare policies.

“I've done every job in child in need of care except for being a judge,” said Ward, a lawyer. “I think on a lot of levels we should have a conversation about how we are dealing with abused and neglected child in our state. We are getting stories and stories about children falling through the cracks. Have we created a law that makes it difficult to protect children?”

Ward said the state must balance the protection of children and the rights of alleged perpetrators.

Being on the state's central registry is a “pretty big scarlet A,” he said, alluding to “The Scarlet Letter.”

“I think it's a very delicate and complicated issue. There's no easy answer,” he said.

Standards across the states

Here is a breakdown of the evidence standards used by states to substantiate allegations of abuse or neglect.

Kansas is the only state that uses a clear and convincing evidence standard to substantiate allegations of abuse or neglect. That is a more rigorous standard than preponderance of evidence, which is what most states use. Here is a breakdown:

Clear and convincing: Kansas

Credible: District of Columbia, Illinois, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma

Probable cause: Arizona

Preponderance: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania*, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Reasonable: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Vermont

Source: “Child Maltreatment 2012,” a study by the Administration for Children and Families, an office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

*Pennsylvania changed its standard after the study was published.

"In Need of Care"

This story is part of our ongoing "In Need of Care" series. As reports of child abuse and neglect rise locally, the stakes are huge – for the children and for the community. The Eagle takes readers inside two cases to examine how the system works and to show the problem's extent.



Darwin's Retta Dixon Home former residents to speak at child sexual abuse royal commission

by Rick Hind

A Darwin boarding school where many former residents identify themselves as members of the Stolen Generations is to be the focus of an inquiry into child sexual abuse.

Men and women who were sexually abused as children at the Retta Dixon Home will recall their experiences as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The public hearings, which start in Darwin on September 22, will examine the abuse that took place at the mission boarding school where hundreds of Indigenous children grew up after they were taken from their families as children.

In a statement the royal commission said it would hear from men and women who were sexually abused at the home between 1946 and 1980.

The royal commission will also investigate the response by the Australian Indigenous Ministries (AIM) and the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments to allegations of child sexual abuse against AIM employees.

The response of the Northern Territory Police Force and the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1975 and 2002 to allegations made against Donald Henderson by residents at the home will also be examined during the hearings.

The statement said the royal commission would inquire into the current laws, policies and procedures governing children in out-of-home care in the Northern Territory and any redress schemes available to victims of child sexual abuse while they were living at the home.

Applications for leave to appear before the public hearings can be made by September 8 on the royal commission website.



Russia's Investigative Committee advocates child sex abuse law shake-up

MOSCOW – Sexual abuse of children by members of the family should be considered an aggravating circumstance, official Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told RIA Novosti in an interview on Monday.

A thorough examination of criminal cases showed that most frequently children are sexually abused by persons whom they personally know and with whom they live in the same flat, Markin said.

In these circumstances the Investigative Committee advocates toughening penalty for sexual assault of children. Notably, abuse of children by members of the family, including parent's spouse or partner, should be considered an aggravating circumstance, according to Markin.

Moreover, the investigating authority suggests toughening penalty for efforts to cover up crimes against children involving sexual assault.


Sobering Video by "Spider" Revealing Sex Abuse as a Child Going Viral 2 Years After Posted on Facebook

by Matt Coker

Remember how Jonah Mowry's anti-bullying video went viral after it was posted in December 2011--and led to the Lake Forest teen becoming a national celebrity and inspiration to millions? Wonder if the same fate will befall "Scott Spideralamode," a man in his 50s who employed the same cue-cards-on-video strategy as Mowry in a video that's now catching fire on Facebook--even though it was first posted a month after Mowry's.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, the video had 795 comments, 1,344 likes and 20,066 shares. By the middle of that same afternoon, those figures were pushing higher.

The keen interest at this late date seems to be attributable to child molestation survivors spreading links to it. (The Weekly was tipped off by Joelle Casteix of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests-SNAP.)

The video has the man nicknamed "Spider" silently holding up cue cards ala Mowry about his "dirty little secret." He goes on to say he loved attending Brookhurst Junior High School in Anaheim but later moved away to another school, around the time his personal nightmare began.

It happened after the then-12-year-old Spider played pinball next to a grown man in an arcade at the Orange shopping mall that in those days was called The City, later was renamed the Block and now goes by The Outlets at Orange. The pair became friends, the man invited the boy to his apartment to play with a pinball machine there and the lad went along ... and discovered the man had no pinball machine in his residence.

It's more dramatic to read the whole story as Spider tells it in the video, so click here to watch it. Needless to say, the experience ruined his childhood, turned him into a bully, led to future arrests, drug abuse, toxic relationships with women and the breakup of his family.

Near the end, Spider reveals why he shared his dirty little secret for the first time ... and with the world: to encourage other children with such secrets to tell someone so they can get the help they need and not have to live the hard life he has lived. (He also almost identifies his tormentor, who as of the video being posted was still living in the Santa Barbara area.)

This comment left with the video Tuesday afternoon by Amanda Allen pretty much sums up the hundreds of others that are being left: "God bless your heart for going out and posting this. These things that hurt from our past can hurt deeply and for years. It's hard to talk about something so traumatic. It is a comfort if you can help someone else. I am sure you're not alone."

The YouTube video..


Emotional abuse is the hidden hurt

Victims may be left with no physical marks, but it is one of the most common and harmful forms of abuse

by Patricia Casey

A reader recently contacted me to inquire what was meant by the term "emotional abuse". Indeed the query did not surprise, since the phrase if often used, but less often defined. -

It is used synonymously with psychological or mental abuse. Emotional abuse must be distinguished from physical and sexual abuse although it may often occur in association with these. Emotional abuse can occur on its own and this makes it elusive and difficult to detect; there are no physical marks. Indeed, victims themselves often fail to appreciate that the behaviour they are experiencing is abusive since is more subtle than other types of abuse.

The form it takes depends on the setting and the age of the victim. In the home, a child victim may experience emotional neglect, constant criticism and a gross absence of nurturing. Women or men exposed to emotional abuse at home may be subject to constant undermining, to prolonged periods of silence, to possessiveness and jealousy. Elderly people may be subject to name calling and verbal humiliation.

In the school, children and adolescents may face constant criticism or undermining from a teacher. They may be singled out for negative comments and wrongly blamed for the misdeeds of others. Their peers may taunt them. In the workplace, a pattern of disparagement and humiliation may be evident. And social media is now responsible for the much vaunted cyber-bullying.

There is no accurate data on how frequently emotional abuse takes place since it occurs in such disparate settings and age groups. In the US, emotional abuse represents about 7pc of reported child-abuse cases. In general, emotional abuse is regarded as the most common type of abuse although mostly it is unrecognised.

It is accepted by most researchers in this field that in respect of sexual or physical abuse, a single event can constitute abuse while for emotional abuse to be so defined it must be part of a pattern, occurring over time. So, a single act of criticism, say at work or in school, no matter how thoughtless or inaccurate, would not constitute emotional abuse.

As with other types of abuse, there is now a clear recognition that emotional abuse takes place in the context of a power differential. The perpetrator acts in this way because he/she is in a position of power or authority over another. In the case of peer bullying, this differential seems less obvious and the differential usually relates to the personal fragility of the victim.

The impact of emotional abuse depends on the age at which it commenced, whether the person was believed or not and on the level of support offered in combating it. Clearly, children exposed to emotional abuse are the most vulnerable to adverse consequences, especially if it is perpetrated by their parents. Schoolchildren who are intimidated by teachers are also vulnerable but if their parents believe them and address the problem with the school and through therapy, the impact is significantly lessened. Adults themselves also need professional help in coping with emotional abuse. Irrespective of the environment in which the abuse occurs, whether it is at home, school or the workplace, exiting it is strongly recommended.

For those who struggle to be believed, to find support and to remove themselves from the situation, the consequences are little different from those experiencing any other type of abuse.

Lack of self-confidence, anger, mood disturbance, self-harming behaviours including cutting, overdosing and substance misuse and impaired interpersonal skills have all been identified. Thus taking steps to alleviate the abuse and having access to therapy is crucial in dealing with the anger and the feelings of hurt and sadness that have resulted.

It will also help turn around the distorted dynamic whereby the victim blames themselves and endeavours to work harder to find a solution. Therapy may also prevent the intergenerational transmission of this pattern of behaviour that has so clearly been described in the scientific literature.

Minimisation is frequent. Perpetrators deny the effect of their behaviour while victims often suppress the idea that they are victims. This is especially true when the power differential seems unusual or counter-intuitive. Thus men are often the hidden victims of the partner's/wife's abuse; similarly older children who are bullied by those who are younger. It is for good reason that emotional abuse is called the "hidden hurt", and one which begs for our recognition and understanding.



Parents and volunteers must follow school policies on anti-bullying

by Kris Kirschner

INDIANAPOLIS -- Now that classes are in full swing parents may be thinking about putting some time in at their child's school.

But before anyone can volunteer, they'll have to be schooled on one of the biggest issues facing children today.

Beginning this year, there are new policies that even parents have to follow with regards to anti-bullying.

Most schools do background checks for volunteers and staff. Now everyone who works with a child at school will also undergo anti-bullying training at schools in Indiana.

It could be an online tutorial, which is what Carmel schools utilize.

Hamilton Southeastern schools require a webinar for their parent volunteers and staff.

Warren Township requires a paper tutorial.

Governor Mike Pence signed new anti-bully legislation into law in the Spring. It requires schools to have specific anti-bully policies. Those schools are just now getting those policies implemented.

The goal, according to those who helped draft the legislation, is to work toward prevention as well as punishment.

"Child abuse is a cycle," said child advocate Tracie Wells. "If we can get into homes when children are younger and identify problems that are perhaps triggering children to come to school and behave in a bullying manner, we can get to those parents and train them and make them aware of different behaviors, raise the level of education, we can stop the cycle of domestic violence and bullying."

According to the Department of Education, which earlier this month released for the first time bullying reports, more than 9000 bullying incidents were reported by Indiana's public schools last year.

Of those, 44 percent were verbal and 21 percent were physical.

Wells says while those numbers seem high, they will drop as more people understand what triggers bullying and how it's defined.

"It's not the same as conflict-resolution or arguments between kids," Wells said. "Bullying is an ongoing perceived or real balance of power. It has real serious psychological and emotional effects to it,' explains Wells.

Schools have until October to get their bullying training in place.



Drugging our kids: Children in California's foster care system are prescribed risky medications

by Karen de Sá

They are wrenched from abusive homes, uprooted again and again, often with their life's belongings stuffed into a trash bag.

Abandoned and alone, they are among California's most powerless children. But instead of providing a stable home and caring family, the state's foster care system gives them a pill.

With alarming frequency, foster and health care providers are turning to a risky but convenient remedy to control the behavior of thousands of troubled kids: numbing them with psychiatric drugs that are untested on and often not approved for children.

An investigation by this newspaper found that nearly 1 out of every 4 adolescents in California's foster care system is receiving these drugs — 3 times the rate for all adolescents nationwide. Over the last decade, almost 15 percent of the state's foster children of all ages were prescribed the medications, known as psychotropics, part of a national treatment trend that is only beginning to receive broad scrutiny.

“We're experimenting on our children,” said Los Angeles County Judge Michael Nash, who presides over the nation's largest juvenile court.

A year of interviews with foster youth, caregivers, doctors, researchers and legal advocates uncovered how the largest foster care system in the U.S. has grown dependent on quick-fix, taxpayer-funded, big-profit pharmaceuticals — and how the state has done little to stop it.

“To be prescribing these medications so extensively and so, I think, thoughtlessly, with so little evidence supporting their use, it's just malpractice,” said George Stewart, a Berkeley child psychiatrist who has treated the neediest foster children in the Bay Area for the past four decades. “It really is drugging them.”

The state official who oversees foster care, Department of Social Services Director Will Lightbourne, concedes drugs are overused, but insists his department is wrapping its arms around the problem: “There's a lot of work to be done here to make sure we do things right.”

No one doubts that foster children generally have greater mental health needs because of the trauma they have suffered, and the temptation for caregivers to fulfill those needs with drugs can be strong. In the short term, psychotropics can calm volatile moods and make aggressive children more docile.

But there is substantial evidence of many of the drugs' dramatic side effects: rapid-onset obesity, diabetes and a lethargy so profound that foster kids describe dozing through school and much of their young lives. Long-term effects, particularly on children, have received little study, but for some psychotropics there is evidence of persistent tics, increased risk of suicide, even brain shrinkage.

Sade Daniels, of Hayward, became so overweight in her teens, that at age 26 her bathroom mirror still taunts and embarrasses her. Mark Estrada, a 21-year-old from Anaheim, said he felt too “zoned out” to focus on high school and so groggy he was cut from his varsity basketball team.

And Rochelle Trochtenberg, now 31 and living in Eureka, still struggles to bring a glass to her lips because her hands are so shaky from the years she spent on a shifting mix of lithium, Depakote, Zyprexa, Haldol and Prozac, among others. When people ask, she tries to cover it up with remarks about a possible hereditary condition.

The truth is too painful to explain, she said. “I don't want to tell people I have a tremor because I was drugged for my whole adolescence.”

Questionable prescribing revealed

Despite the concerns, state officials have been slow to even reveal foster care prescribing patterns in California. This newspaper and its lawyers spent nine months negotiating with the Department of Health Care Services for data that is public under state and federal law, as long as individuals cannot be identified.

The 10 years of data begins in 2004 and — even though the state continues to resist many of this newspaper's requests — provides the most comprehensive look yet at psychotropic medication use on California's foster kids. The newspaper also interviewed more than 175 people, including more than 30 current and former foster youth throughout the state.

The findings, which will be examined here and in future stories, include:

• Growing use of antipsychotics to treat bad behavior: Of the tens of thousands of foster children placed on psychotropic drugs over the past 10 years, nearly 60 percent were prescribed an antipsychotic, the class of psychotropic medications with the highest risks. That figure stunned experts in the field and alarmed officials who oversee the state's foster care system. The Food and Drug Administration authorizes antipsychotics for children only in cases of severe mental illness, but evidence suggests doctors often prescribe them to California foster children for behavior problems — a legal but controversial practice that critics say should be limited.

• Multiple psych meds common but dangerous: In many cases, doctors piled on prescriptions: 12.2 percent of California foster children who received a psych drug in 2013 were prescribed two, three, four or more psychotropic medications at a time — up from 10.1 percent in 2004. These drug combinations often fall in uncharted medical territory, with no scientific evidence that young brains aren't being harmed.

• Psych meds the norm in group homes for troubled kids: More than half of the foster kids who live in California's residential group homes — and as many as 100 percent in some counties with very small numbers in group homes — are authorized by juvenile courts to receive psychotropic drugs. These homes shelter some of the most troubled foster kids, about 3,800 annually, many of whom the system has been unable to place with families. Health care professionals say children are being medicated to sleep to keep them manageable. In these group homes, foster children who refuse medications are often punished, losing basic privileges such as visiting siblings or simply going outdoors.

• Very young kids also medicated: Hundreds of foster children 5 and younger have been prescribed psychotropics, although federal health officials say the drugs are not safe for the very young and other states actively discourage the practice. In California in the last 10 years, an average of at least 275 of these very young children each year have been prescribed psych medications.

• High cost to kids, and taxpayers: California spends more on psych drugs for foster children than on any other kind of medication. This newspaper analyzed Medi-Cal spending on the 10 most costly groups of drugs for foster kids over the last decade. The state shelled out more than $226 million on psych meds for foster children — an astounding 72 percent of the total.

• Illegal marketing drives sales: Company documents show how drug manufacturers misrepresented scientific evidence to maximize the national market for the antipsychotics that are the top five such drugs prescribed to California foster children. The companies eventually agreed to $4.6 billion in settlements with federal prosecutors. Lawsuits revealed that some of the companies' sales reps pitched doctors to broaden the use of their drugs among children while downplaying side effects, such as massive weight gain and breast growth in boys. Eli Lilly, for example, advised its sales force: “The competition wins if we are distracted into talking about diabetes.”

• State is slow to act: California has done little to address psychotropic drug use among foster children. Three years ago, the federal government called on states to develop plans to monitor the use of psychotropic medications prescribed to foster youth. Many states, including Illinois, Texas and New York, have formal plans. Yet California, with more than 60,000 foster children, has a target date for its policy of no sooner than 2016.

State says it's hard at work

Officials with the Department of Social Services say they are working hard on improvements. Two years ago, they assembled statewide experts to act on the federal mandate, and they say that group is making good progress.

Lightbourne said the real story behind the numbers is more positive: As the state's foster care population plunged in the past 10 years — part of a national trend to keep families intact — so has the total number of foster youth prescribed psych medications, dropping by thousands of kids.

In a sharp defense of his department's oversight, Lightbourne insisted those numbers represent progress, even though the percentage of foster children on psych meds has remained roughly the same — ranging from 14 to 16 percent annually — for the past decade.

“Clearly there are some situations in which psychotropic prescriptions may be appropriate,” Lightbourne said. “We have to know that something is being done because it's absolutely necessary, not because it's convenient — that it's not simply behavior management.

“There are things that are much better handled through therapies,” he said. “Psychotropics should be the end, not the start.”

Many on the front lines, however, defend the prescribing, saying the risks are weighed against the benefits and that there are often no alternatives to treating kids with such deep emotional scars. Foster parents and group home directors tend to cast out kids with the most anti-social behaviors, and no one wants them to end up in juvenile halls, psych wards or treatment facilities.

“The goal is to deinstitutionalize the child so he can live safely in the community,” said therapist Randall Ramirez, director of behavioral health for San Jose-based residential treatment provider Unity Care Group. “If one of the drawbacks is they have to be medicated because we don't want to raise kids in orphanages, that's the trade-off.”

To be sure, California is not alone in its questionably high prescribing rates. Growing evidence has revealed alarming rates of psychotropic medication use on foster youth across the country, and particularly antipsychotics. The numbers are difficult to compare from state to state because of differences in methodology, but one recent survey found that in 2009, some states, including Texas, Colorado and Missouri, prescribed antipsychotics at an even higher rate than California.

Overuse concerns date back decades

The state has known about the overuse of psychotropic medication on foster children for years. Legislators first tried in 1999 to address the concerns, passing a law that made California the only state requiring juvenile courts to approve all psych med prescriptions, with reviews every 180 days.

But this newspaper's analysis of a decade of prescribing data shows the court oversight has done nothing on a statewide level to lower prescribing rates. A UCLA study in 1998, cited in the legislation, found that 13 percent of school-age foster children in Los Angeles were receiving psychotropic medications. While the state failed to provide data that would allow an updated look at Los Angeles school kids, this newspaper's study revealed high prescribing rates have persisted statewide for all foster kids and all age groups.

“I don't think there's one substantive thing that we can point to that has ensured that foster children in California today are only receiving psychotropic medications appropriately,” said Bill Grimm, an attorney with the Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law.

Grimm's organization is a central part of the state effort — along with public health nurses, state pharmacists and child welfare directors — to comply with the federal mandate to better monitor psychotropic medications. But he is frustrated that the group has been meeting for two years without producing any reports or policy recommendations, and said it has been hamstrung in part by the state's refusal to provide good data on prescribing patterns.

Doctors' orders rarely questioned

A foster child's path to psych medication can begin innocently enough — for example, when a child can't sit still in class and receives an attention-deficit diagnosis and a prescription for stimulants. But like so many other painful experiences in these children's lives, the drugs are often ramped up during a crisis.

Sometimes, kids end up in the hospital after harming themselves or threatening suicide. Often, though, the prescriptions for stronger drugs come after a child lashes out.

In dozens of interviews with this newspaper, foster youth freely recounted their rash behavior, which they attributed to anger and frustration: They broke furniture, punched people or trashed their rooms. Sade Daniels, the Hayward resident, said she threw a chair at a teacher who had deeply humiliated her — and betrayed her confidence — by telling the class she was in foster care.

Mark Estrada, the former Orange County foster youth, depressed and defiant in his late teens after being separated from his siblings, said he had his behavior subdued by the antipsychotic Seroquel, which is approved only for manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

“They'd make me take it anytime I'd have a tantrum or felt rebellious,” Estrada said. “I felt like I was being controlled. They gave it to me in the morning, and I'd fall asleep all day.”

A juvenile court authorizes each prescription, but the forms the courts use often lack critical details and a doctor's expertise is rarely questioned. Nash, the Los Angeles judge, acknowledges the resulting challenges — even in Los Angeles, where mental health experts now review all applications for prescriptions and in 2013 officials created protocols to curb prescribing of multiple psych meds.

“The last time I looked around, there aren't too many psychiatrists or psychologists on the bench,” the judge said. “So how in the heck are we able to make good decisions about these meds?”

How overprescribing happens

The progression from medication to overmedication is also surprisingly routine, said child psychiatrist Tony Stanton.

At first, psych medications can stabilize moods and dangerous behaviors. Yet once the immediate crisis is over, foster children often remain on a high-dose pharmaceutical course that future doctors are reluctant to reverse.

The drugs “might stun them for a while,” said Stanton, who treated Bay Area foster children for 24 years. “But after two or three weeks they'd stop working.”

Then, if the child seems depressed, they add an antidepressant. “And when that got worse, they'd change the diagnosis — they'd say it's actually bipolar,” Stanton said. “Then, if they said they heard a voice telling them they were bad or something, then they'd say: ‘Oh, they're psychotic.' Then an antipsychotic would be added.”

Aggressive behavior? A second antipsychotic may get added to the mix.

“Usually in my report I'd say, if in fact any of this had been successful, the child should not be in our care,” said Stanton, whose San Leandro group home typically received the most difficult-to-place foster children. “So I think we can safely say this does not work.”

Stanton's reports in recently published articles summing up his work with 450 children ages 5 through 13 are startling: Most children arrived at residential homes run by the Seneca Center for Children and Families on at least four or five — and as many as eight or nine — different psychotropic medications. One 9-year-old shuffled into a Seneca home on a medication dose that was 10 times the amount recommended for a psychotic adult.

“It's a story I've gotten used to,” said Robin Randall, medical director of San Francisco's Edgewood Center for Children and Families, which also offers residential treatment programs for troubled foster youth. “I used to say when I saw kids walk in on eight or nine different medications that I was shocked and appalled — now I'm just appalled.”

Randall said children “stay on the meds for reasons that are not necessarily heinous. It's not that doctors want to get kids on a ton of meds. They're putting out fires, and not allowed the time. The system is set up in a way that everyone is adding, adding, adding, and doesn't allow for a space to safely take them off.”

“They'd make me take it anytime I'd have a tantrum or felt rebellious,” said Estrada. “I felt like I was being controlled. They gave it to me in the morning and I'd fall asleep all day.”

A juvenile court authorizes each prescription, but the forms the courts use often lack critical details and a doctor's expertise is rarely questioned. Nash, the Los Angeles judge, acknowledges the limitations — even in Los Angeles, where mental health experts now review all applications for prescriptions and in 2013 officials created protocols to better monitor psych meds.

“The last time I looked around there aren't too many psychiatrists or psychologists on the bench,” the judge said. “So how in the heck are we able to make good decisions about these meds?”

‘I wanted to take the pill'

When a psychiatrist told Joymara Coleman that medication could help her enjoy life more, “it sounded like magic to me at first, honestly.”

She had been searching for some peace after a decade in and out of foster care in Alameda County.

“It was pretty clear that I was depressed because of all the things that I went through,” said Coleman, now 24 and a senior studying sociology at Cal State East Bay. “I was in the foster care system with folks who weren't very loving. I had a lot of things I needed to heal from — from losing my mom, losing my siblings, from witnessing my mom smoking crack. I was depressed because my father was incarcerated.”

Coleman had seen her roommate in a home for troubled teens wet the bed while on the medications, and she surely didn't want that. “But after experiencing so much tragedy and so much confusion and chaos in my life, when the psychiatrist told me that it would make me happy, I wanted to take the pill.”

She was 17 when a doctor prescribed the antidepressant Prozac for depression and panic attacks, but the list of medications grew to a series of overlapping trials of psych meds, according to court records she shared with a reporter: There were antipsychotics Risperdal and Abilify and mood stabilizers such as Depakote and lithium.

Court files show that when Coleman was 18, she “was put on 300 mg of lithium to help her control her anger; however, it was stopped after client felt dizzy and nauseous.” Psychiatrists who reviewed that diagnosis for this newspaper called it disturbing that lithium, a powerful treatment for bipolar disorder, would be prescribed for anger management.

The cocktail of drugs left her exhausted and “spaced out,” dulling her spunky personality. “When I was on the medication I just didn't act like Joy,” she said.

She said her nurse practitioner seemed to really care about her. But when the self-conscious teen complained about weight gain — she added 35 pounds to her 4-foot-8-inch frame — the nurse simply encouraged her to avoid sugary drinks.

“They were really adamant,” Coleman said of her case workers' insistence that she take medications. “Initially I bought into it, that I needed this because these are professionals — these are all white professionals, with degrees and they're older and they're telling me that something's wrong with me, and they just know this.”

‘It's the behaviors they want treated'

From all quarters, the pressure in favor of the drugs can be intense.

Estrada recalls the consequences at his group home when he refused to take his Seroquel: He couldn't go on field trips, play video games, watch TV or go outside.

But the pressure starts elsewhere, said longtime public health nurse Carol Brown, with the caregivers struggling to control troubled kids. Many of those caregivers are loving and committed, genuinely trying to do the right thing; others are simply overwhelmed.

“Very often, there's pressure on the doctors from the foster parents and the group homes to provide medication to deal with the behaviors that the foster youth are exhibiting,” Brown said. “The foster parents won't take the kids with the behaviors, and it's the behaviors they want treated.”

Child psychiatrist Edgardo Tolentino, a doctor with Pathways to Wellness, a medication clinic that serves foster children in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, conceded he has felt that same pressure from caregivers.

“The expectation is that they'll be given some type of medication,” he said. “If they are already on medications, the only thing I can do is continue them.”

Psych meds indispensable for some kids

Pressure or no, many who are part of the system — while insisting they avoid overmedicating kids — say some use of drugs is essential.

“I wouldn't want people to think as caregivers we are medicating them so they are comatose, or putting them to sleep so we don't have to deal with them,” said Barbara Leiner, who fostered more than 300 children in Los Angeles County over 24 years and runs online training forums for foster parents. On the contrary, she said, in her experience medications benefited a significant number of her children.

“They're better in control of their behaviors. When they're not on psychotropic drugs, they have a tough time in school, the other kids don't like them, they're out of control.”

Psychiatrists concerned about overprescribing acknowledge there are legitimate reasons for some children to take psychotropic medications, and even the riskiest drugs can be lifesaving for the small sliver of kids with psychoses that are clearly diagnosed. Studies show that's no more than 1 to 2 percent of children, depending on the illness.

Marjorie, an Oakland special-education teacher who uses only her first name, adopted two of her students from the foster care system and said antipsychotics have been indispensable in their care.

The two boys, Jakeel, 18, and Smith, 11, take one antipsychotic medication daily to treat symptoms of severe autism. Off the meds, Jakeel tried to leap out of a moving car because he didn't get a toy he wanted. Smith killed a family pet and once tried to climb out a third-story window.

“He talks about the ants in his head without the Abilify,” said Marjorie, who approaches her mothering with a cheerful practicality. “So I say, ‘OK, we don't want ants in your head!' ”

Still, when her sons first came to live with her, Marjorie quickly discovered they were on more medications while they were in foster care than she felt were necessary. So she lowered the dosages and limited the multiple antipsychotics to just one.

That kind of attention can be lacking in the foster care system, and that adds another layer of concern for often-displaced kids on such powerful drugs. More than 60 percent of the children who have been in foster care at least two years have moved two or more times in the system.

So even their prescribers — who may be private practitioners or work at public clinics — often know little about them or their family histories when they meet during office visits. Nash recently reviewed 150 requests for medication in the Los Angeles juvenile court and said he found cases in which doctors prescribed with no medical records or drug history.

The dangers are real. For example, some antidepressants carry a “black box label” proclaiming a high suicide risk for young patients. The FDA advises that children be closely monitored for worsening depression and sleeplessness. Yet for foster kids without parents, the medications are often prescribed even when a watchful eye is absent, said attorney Jennifer Rodriguez, a former foster youth who is now executive director of the San Francisco-based Youth Law Center.

“As a parent, when your child goes on something that's dangerous, the most dangerous drugs that are out there,” she said, “your doctor is relying on you — someone who knows that child, who watches over time.”

‘Treatment for a broken heart'

Many of the foster youth interviewed for this story shared another theme: There was no need for medication when they got the emotional support they needed all along. Often it was an adult who vowed to stick by them no matter what — a long-lost relative, a teacher, a volunteer advocate, an exceptionally devoted nurse, or the foster parent who seemed to see through the raucous behaviors to the kid inside.

Those key relationships — not medications — are what most helped them eventually calm down and start to feel better, the youth said.

“I cannot count the number of times I have seen children on multiple medications who are really suffering from a broken heart,” said Menlo Park child psychiatrist David Arredondo, who has worked with foster youth for 30 years. “And the treatment for a broken heart is not another medication.”

Today, Rochelle Trochtenberg doesn't take a single psychotropic medication. She works with troubled youth in Humboldt County and is working on a master's degree in social work.

But in foster care in Los Angeles, she was diagnosed with a host of mental illnesses, including bipolar, schizoaffective and post-traumatic stress disorders, major depression, bulimia and generalized anxiety.

“They attach all these labels to you in foster care,” she said, “but the bottom line is I come from a home where physical and sexual abuse were my daily norm, where I lived in fear every day, where I felt responsible to protect my younger sister from the abuse.”

Trochtenberg knew she needed help with depression at age 13, when she was removed from her family home in Los Angeles. After suffering years of physical and sexual abuse that drove her to attempt suicide in the seventh grade, she was grateful when social workers rescued her.

Yet while the state freed her from one type of abuse, it delivered her into a life of so many temporary homes and psych meds that she lost count.

When she aged out of foster care with a list of 10 medications and nowhere to stay, she lived on the streets until a friend's family took her in. Then she met Nicoli Tucker, a therapist who helped her see beyond her medicated self to a girl who had simply been failed by her family and by the foster care system.

Tucker treated the troubled teen for six years. It took a year to build up trust, she said, but only a single counseling session to see that Trochtenberg had been horribly misdiagnosed.

“My professional answer is I think that was overboard,” Tucker said of Trochtenberg's drug regimen. “My personal answer is: Big Pharma and Wall Street. There's big money in keeping these kids drugged, and I think it's a travesty.”

Daniels also looks back on her medication history as a terrible miscalculation. In a six-week span when she was 14, social workers moved her to three different group homes in Alameda County, where she spent much of the time worrying about her stuff being stolen. The antidepressants and antipsychotics used to subdue her during that time didn't work for what was really hurting, she said.

“When I look back as an adult at who I was when I was initially diagnosed and given the medication — I needed love,” Daniels said. “Nobody really sees that hurt girl, or the one who truly just wants her mom to get her act together and to get off drugs, or who wants a family, something stable.

“The system relies heavily on medication to do a job that parents are supposed to do.”