California man who fled to Mexico is latest fugitive added to ICE app to locate at-large child sex predators
(Picture on site)
MEXICO CITY – A Mexican national residing in Modesto, Calif., who absconded to Mexico following his arrest Dec. 4 for sexual abuse of a minor is the latest fugitive to be profiled on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) smartphone app, seeking public tips on at-large and unknown child predator suspects.
Eladio G. Ramirez Tizoc, 22, was arrested by the Turlock Police Department in Stanislaus County, Calif., on two counts of sodomy, two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior, penetration with a foreign object and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.
Tizoc allegedly met the minor victim when he started following and then commenting on the girl's social media postings when she was 13 years old, and eventually he arranged to meet up with her.
ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Mexico became involved in the case this week when special agents were provided credible information that Tizoc may have fled to Mexico to escape prosecution in the United States.
Tizoc's mug shot, along with his biographical information, are now posted on ICE's Operation Predator App, which has been downloaded more than 80,000 times since its launch in mid-September. The app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or from iTunes. Tips from the public can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Within hours of its launch, the app resulted in the capture in the capture in Detroit of one of the profiled fugitives.
Eladio G. Ramirez Tizoc, born Aug. 30, 1991, is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds. He has brown hair, brown eyes and is believed to be in Mexico.
HSI requests that anyone with information about Tizoc, or any of the other fugitives profiled on the app, contact the agency though the app; or by calling the HSI Tip Line, which is staffed 24-hours a day at (866) 347-2423 from the U.S. & Canada or (802) 872-6199 from anywhere in the world, or submitting an online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips/.
Individuals should not attempt to apprehend the suspect personally.
ICE's Operation Predator App allows users to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. Additionally, the app allows users to view news about the arrest and prosecution of child predators and obtain information about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.
This case is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Child sex-abuse suspect ‘missing' for 15 years found in Montana
by Seattle Times staff
PORTLAND — A man suspected of faking his death in a fishing accident 15 years ago to avoid a trial on child sex-abuse charges has been arrested, the Oregon State Police said Friday.
Daniel Clement Chafe, 55, was taken into custody Wednesday in Bozeman, Mont., where he had been living under a different name, Lt. Gregg Hastings said.
Back in 1990s, Chafe was known in Roseburg, Ore., as Stryder Styafyr. The FBI said the married man was recruiting girls between of the ages of 14 and 16 to form what he dubbed the “Cobalt Clan.”
“His reported goal was to have sex with these young girls in order to produce a large number of children over which he could rule,” according to the FBI's most-wanted poster.
Police arrested him on charges of rape, sodomy and sex abuse of two teenage girls, and said they had identified other victims.
In 1998 — 10 days before his scheduled trial in Roseburg — a friend with whom he had gone fishing in Washington state told authorities that Chafe fell overboard and was missing.
A search failed to find him, and investigators considered him a fugitive. He became the subject of several television shows, including “America's Most Wanted,” and was in consideration for the FBI's Top 10 list, Hastings said.
Chafe remains in a Montana jail pending extradition to Roseburg, where he faces six counts of third-degree rape, five counts of third-degree sexual abuse and seven counts of third-degree sodomy.
DAs push for stringent child sex abuse laws
The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference will continue during the 2014 legislative session to push for changes in state laws which it says will better enable prosecution of serial child sexual abusers and increase punishment for child neglect.
The district attorneys will also continue seeking legislative approval for additional Assistant District Attorneys in judicial districts that have seen the largest caseload increases since 2006, when the General Assembly last added new prosecutors.
"My fellow District Attorneys and I, along with our Assistant District Attorneys and staff members, have the tremendous responsibility of protecting our community and the public at-large, specifically including children, by prosecuting all criminal cases on behalf of the State," said Robert Carter, District Attorney General for the 17th Judicial District, in a news release. "This is a difficult and challenging task but it is extremely difficult without the appropriate resources. Our need for additional staff continues to grow, as our State and District's caseloads have continued to grow."
The 17th Judicial District is comprised of Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore Counties.
One change being requested by the prosecutors would allow a serial child sexual abuser to be prosecuted with a single trial even if the abuses occurred in multiple judicial districts. Currently, defendants accused of multiple counts of child sexual abuse in different jurisdictions must be tried separately in each of those jurisdictions.
"This duplication of efforts is a tremendous burden for victims and their families," said Guy R. Jones, deputy director of the conference.
The legislation, Senate Bill 1362 by Sen. Ken Yager and House Bill 1293 by Rep. Vince Dean, was approved by the respective judiciary committees, but funding was not included in the 2013-2014 state budget and must now be considered by the Senate and House Finance committees.
The district attorneys are also seeking to increase the minimum amount of time that must be served before a prisoner is eligible for parole to 85 percent for two specific crimes, aggravated child neglect and attempted first degree murder where there is serious bodily injury.
"In 2014, we will continue our push for stronger laws to protect our kids," said Carter. "If the legislature approves these proposed changes, I'm confident we will be able to accomplish that goal."
"Most crimes in Tennessee require only 30 percent of a sentence to be served in jail or prison," Carter said. "Right now, there are individuals who are convicted of extremely serious child neglect -- cases in which children suffer as much as those who are victims of physical abuse -- who end up serving relatively short sentences."
Other legislative priorities that the conference will support during the upcoming session include:
*Requiring both the prosecution and defense to disclose a list of potential witnesses prior to trial. The district attorneys say this will provide greater fairness to crime victims and to juries.
*Allowing a photograph of a homicide victim to be introduced during trial depicting the victim prior to the homicide.
*Allowing search warrants to be requested and issued electronically. The standards and criteria for issuance of search warrants would be unchanged.
The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference is composed of the district attorneys general from the state's 31 judicial districts, who are responsible for the prosecution of criminal cases on behalf of the state. The group's web site is www.tndagc.org
Children's Assessment Center empowers sexually abused children, helps them heal
by Angie Jackson
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – After an 11-year-old Grand Rapids area girl was molested by her best friend's father, she kept it a secret for nearly a year.
Her silence took a terrible toll. The girl's mother saw her once-close relationship with her daughter deteriorate. The child became distant, guarded. She blamed her attitude change on lack of sleep. But the girl's mother knew it ran deeper when, after trying to help her daughter with homework, the girl scratched her mother.
“She and I had gotten into a little dispute because she wasn't really talking to me and I had wanted to help her with a spelling test,” the mother said. “And next thing I knew she was clawing at my arms, wanting to get away from me. She was very upset.
“ … It had been a year of her and I battling and not getting along very well – and I finally said ‘Enough is enough.'“
The girl's mother took her to a counselor who, after talking to the child, told her family to contact authorities. They were directed to the Children's Assessment Center in Grand Rapids. It was there the girl finally was able to share her painful secret and find solace – and justice – at age 12.
"I just remember feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” said the girl about talking to counselors and a detective who works out of the center. Her name is being withheld to protect her privacy, and in accordance with the center's policy.
“For a year it was like a huge boulder was hanging over my head. I could breathe again – it's the easiest way to put it."
Now 16, the girl is in the midst of a fundraising effort that has collected more than $13,000 for the assessment center, a nonprofit agency that brings medical staff, counselors and police together to help Kent County's youngest victims of suspected sexual abuse.
The teen began fundraising last summer. She sent letters to 100 relatives and friends, sharing her story of how the center had helped her out of her nightmare. A runner, she asked them to sponsor her participation in six local 5K races.
Her initial goal was to raise $1,000 – roughly the cost of counseling for one child for a year. Her goal expanded as generous donations rolled in. Her new goal: $15,000. She one day hopes to direct a race specifically to benefit the center.
“For a long time, I've been wanting to give back somehow,” the teen said. “And I love running, so I wanted to incorporate that.”
“THE GIRL I WAS MISSING”
The center on Michigan Street NE has long had a unique approach to making children feel comfortable while talking about the ingredients of nightmares. Children are encouraged to open up to a forensic interviewer or detective in a non-intimidating environment. In-house detectives and Child Protective Services workers follow up with criminal charges and help for the families, while counselors begin the child's healing process.
The center helps bypass the anxiety young victims could experience if they were visiting a police station. The center's walls are bright and its staff is warm, so much that the teenager's mother first mistook it for a pediatrician's office.
The Children's Assessment Center has helped close to 14,000 children in its 21 years, Executive Director Pam Doty-Nation estimated. It currently sees about 1,000 kids annually, some of whom find help by way of the center's KIDZ Have Rights program that teaches Grand Rapids Public Schools third-graders how to protect their bodies.
The 16-year-old's mother remembers what an immediate effect the center had on her daughter. She saw it after the first time her daughter spoke with a detective there.
“That's the first time I had actually seen her smile in a long time. Like a true, genuine smile," the woman said. "That was the girl I was missing."
Staff strive to empower victims and give them back control after incidents that have left them vulnerable and scared, Doty-Nation said. That holds true through every step of healing, from the initial forensic interview to counseling sessions. A child decides when and how much he or she wants to disclose.
The Grand Rapids area teen didn't fully tell her parents about the assault until after a jury convicted her assailant of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
"It was her decision when she wanted to tell us what happened. It wasn't the counselor's, it was her's," the mother said. "When she was ready to share, she shared.”
AN ARRAY OF RESOURCES
The Children's Assessment Center is one of a handful of resources created to help the community's smallest sex abuse victims. Center staff have a strong relationship with the YWCA West Central Michigan team, which provides free, 24-hour assistance and emergency forensic exams to sex assault victims.
Since 2012, the YWCA program has provided these emergency exams to children as well, helping to fill the gap during hours when the assessment center is closed. The YWCA team also receives referrals from area hospitals, with its nurse examiners traveling to hospitals to conduct the exams. Area hospitals do not have in-house forensic exams.
Staff with both organizations meet monthly to talk about cases and assure that victims' needs are met, Doty-Nation said.
INSIDE THE ASSESSMENT CENTER
The Assessment Center houses a multidisciplinary team made up of four Child Protective Services workers, three Grand Rapids Police detectives and two detectives from the Kent County Sheriff's Department. They have offices in the basement and collaborate on cases.
Marianne Boykin, clinical supervisor and interview specialist, interviews kids younger than 7, while law enforcement officers interview older victims. Cozy, bright rooms with fish and flowers painted on the walls are the setting for Boykin's work.
She and detectives follow state protocol for forensic interviewing. One of the ground rules is that kids correct Boykin if she says something incorrect, and they can stop the interview at any time. Children are allowed to color while they talk, and Boykin draws alongside them to help minimize the intensity of the interview. The back and forth motion of coloring has a calming effect and helps the child feel that the attention isn't all on them, Boykin said.
“It's just a friendly relationship. I prefer them to be in charge," she said. "The more they feel in charge the less likely they are to see me as an authority figure and just go along with things I say as an attempt to please me."
Investigators watch through one-way glass while Boykin works. They listen and chime in over a headset to offer reminders when needed.
Kent County Sheriff's Detective Joel Roon, part of the center's team for two years, builds rapport with a child or teenager for as long as it takes to establish trust before delving into the sensitive issue of why they're at the center.
Roon sits on a small chair or the floor when talking to young children.
"I think another form of control for the child is letting them speak," Roon said, noting the stark contrast between talking with young victims and interviewing criminal suspects. "We hand control to the child in a forensic interview by asking questions and shutting up and letting them talk."
When a sexual abuse disclosure is made, detectives obtain a warrant for the suspect's arrest. If the suspect is a parent or guardian, CPS workers take steps to remove the suspect from the home.
"The goal for us is to start the healing process," Doty-Nation said. "A lot of kids will be in therapy for quite a while here.”
THE ROAD TO HEALING
Victims receive free counseling at the center, as long and as often as they need it, up to age 18.
A counselor emotionally prepared the Grand Rapids teen for testifying in court, reminding her it was OK to cry and that it was important she tell the truth. The counselor gifted the teen with stones inscribed with the word 'hope' that she held when testifying.
The teen shed a lot of tears. She was worried about speaking out against her attacker because he was a family friend. She also worried about what would happen to the suspect's children if he was sent to jail. But her life became easier once she could talk openly with her counselor at the center.
"That was the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life is telling, and telling and telling again," she said. "But each time you tell it gets a little bit easier. And you feel a little bit more free."
She now sees herself as a happier, more open person. She credits the center's caring staff for helping her gradually move past the assault.
"Everyone here is always smiling and welcoming," she said. "That definitely made it easier to come because it's hard to come back every week and knowing that you're coming here to talk about that ... They did everything to make it as welcoming and as positive as they could."
• Parents who suspect their child is the victim of sexual abuse are encouraged to contact the center at 616-336-5160.
• The YWCA has a new support group for female teen sex assault victims, ages 13 to 17. That group begins meeting Feb. 6.
• Donations can be made to the Children's Assessment Center at 901 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids, 49503.
Child abuse in Flagstaff off sharply
by Michelle McManimon
The number of child abuse reports in Flagstaff dropped sharply last year.
According to the Flagstaff Police Department, there were 170 incidents of child abuse, child neglect and similar crimes reported in 2013, down from 240 in 2012. Around a third of all cases resulted in at least one adult being arrested in both years.
“It definitely went down,” said Flagstaff Police Department Sgt. Cory Runge.
The drop in child abuse reports came the same year Child Protective Services came under fire for deliberately failing to investigate 6,554 reports of child abuse and neglect in the state of Arizona. Most of the backlogged reports were in the Phoenix area, but Governor Jan Brewer's independent Child Advocate Response Examination team identified 17 uninvestigated cases in Flagstaff.
The police department reached out to CPS after the scandal broke.
“We spoke to CPS and asked if they wanted our assistance multiple times,” Runge said. “We were informed they had assigned all of the cases to a CPS investigator and would be able to investigate all the cases in this area.”
It is unclear how child abuse cases will be handled in the city following Brewer's decision to abolish CPS, which was housed within the state's Department of Economic Security. Brewer issued an executive order Monday establishing a new Child Safety and Family Services Agency, which will report directly to the governor.
In the past, Flagstaff Police Department and CPS would notify each other about reports of child abuse and neglect in the city. Both agencies would then run independent investigations into each case.
“As far as a new agency goes and what it means, it is too early to say,” Runge said. “It will be determined by any new laws generated, policy and procedure of the new department, interagency agreements, etc. Our role will have to develop as the working relationship is hashed out.”
In the meantime, the police department will continue to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect.
“We do investigate child abuse as a crime and will continue to investigate all crimes brought to our attention,” Runge said.
Brewer asked the Legislature to allot nearly $90 million to the new Child Safety and Family Services Agency in her FY 2015 Budget Friday. It would include $21.5 million to hire 212 new caseworkers and a one-time investment of $25 million to facilitate the transition to the new agency. Brewer also asked for 93 new criminal investigators to ensure cases are actually being investigated.
Michelle McManimon can be reached at 556-2261 or MMcManimon@azdailysun.com
|Child Abuse in Flagstaff
Child abuse/neglect reports
Cleared by adult arrest
Cleared by juvenile arrest
— Source: Flagstaff Police Department
Battling child abuse and neglect in Missouri
by Charles Jaco
The Missouri Department Of Social Service's Children's Division is in charge of investigating accusations of child abuse and neglect. But, according to the Springfield News-Leader, the agency is short of money and people. So short that the newspaper says the head of the Children's Division sent out a memo last summer ordering staff to stop any abuse or neglect investigations that take longer than 90 days. Critics say this means a lot of abused and neglected kids in Missouri will continue to be abused and neglected.
In Missouri and around the country, private agencies are taking up the slack as state child welfare agencies are short of personnel and money. But abuse and neglect allegations are increasing. In 2008, the Children's Division in Missouri fielded 50,500 complaints of neglect and abuse. By 2012, those complaints had jumped to 62,500.
But the division faces almost constant threats of budget cuts. Its budget for training abuse and neglect investigators has been repeatedly cut and then partly restored. This yea, the budget for the Children's Division remained stable. And while all that goes on, child abuse and neglect remains a huge problem. But many lawmakers are reluctant to give much money to agencies that investigate child abuse fearing that it amounts to government interference in the family.
So where does all this leave us as we try to protect kids from abuse and neglect? Dr. Melissa Jonson Reid with the Center for Violence and Inury Prevention at the George Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, talks it over with Charles Jaco.
Internet facilitating global child abuse
29 people have been arrested for paying to watch children as young as six years old being abused on live webcam. These arrests are part of a global effort named 'Operation Endeavour', designed to break a paedophile ring operating out of the Philippines.
Many experts say that easy access to videos and images of sexually abused children are one of the main factors driving the rise of child exploitation. In 1990 in the UK the estimated number of indecent images of children in the country stood at 7,000. By 1999 that had reached 41,000. Today, that number is in the millions. In one case the police confiscated 4 million images from a single offender.
Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, spoke to Jonathan Mann on Connect the World about how the movement online has increased the levels of child abuse.
"A number of years ago they'd have travelled to Cambodia or Laos or the Philippines. Now they can travel to those countries where children are vulnerable because of the deprivations that they face, and their parents are desperate, to access them via webcam from what they perceive as the safety of their own home.
Gamble also praised the work of the UK police force, who kicked off this investigation. "Professional detectors will say 'always clear the ground beneath your feet'. This case came to pass because Northamptonshire Police, a small police force in the UK, did their job properly around defender management. They visited the home of a guy they knew was on the sex offenders register, they checked his laptop. So they were able to come in from that end and work through and see who he'd been talking to and what videos he had accessed, because he was copying them and sharing them. So they then took that to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the UK, who coordinated the global response."
He also emphasized that more priority needs to be placed on protecting children. "We've got to turn the tables on these predators so that they fear going online. We need more undercover activity taking place from our international law enforcement partners."
"In a world where law enforcement activity is prioritized on the basis of terrorism, of drugs, and organized criminal activity, we've got to bring the child to the top of that pile. We've got to see the right type of concerted effort, so that similar to the war we fight on terrorism we need to fight this war against child abuse, and we can only do that if we are ruthless and sustained in our approach to ridding the world of these individuals who sit in the comfort of their dirty back rooms, reaching out and harming children and then sharing the abuse with other likeminded individuals."
Manila vows crackdown on online child sex abuse
Authorities are checking tourist establishments to ensure they are not catering to foreign paedophiles.
The Philippines on Saturday vowed to crack down on online child sex abuse, days after a global police operation dismantled a paedophile ring that streamed live sexual abuse of Filipino children over the Internet.
Police in Britain, Australia and the Philippines on Thursday said they had jointly cracked a paedophile ring which exploited children as young as six. In some cases the victims' parents were involved.
“We will not countenance any syndicates that will (prey) on our minors and that they will be used... as sexual instruments. That is something that we will really pound the hammer on,” President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters. “Certainly, actions will be taken to address the situation. This is really a concern for us because we've always said that the youth is (the) future of the nation,” he added.
Lacierda conceded that the problem had been “under the radar” but said law-enforcement agencies were now placing greater emphasis on fighting the crime.
Authorities are checking tourist establishments to ensure they are not catering to foreign paedophiles, and parents who push their children into abuse will be prosecuted by the government, he warned.
He also said that an anti-cybercrime law — passed in September 2012 but later blocked by the Supreme Court — could have helped the Philippines in its efforts to tackle the crime.
The court is still hearing a legal challenge over the law's provisions on online libel and giving the state the power to shut down websites and monitor online activities.
Lacierda said the law's provisions were “a ticklish issue” but expressed hope that telecommunications companies and officials could reach an agreement over how to proceed.
Anti-sex trafficking campaign begins in Fairfax
by Associated Press
FAIRFAX, Va. — Many people think teen sex trafficking happens somewhere else.
But it's on the rise in northern Virginia. Fairfax County police say on average two new potential victims are identified each week.
To fight back, the community is being armed through a new awareness campaign. You need to be able to recognize trafficking in order to report it and that's where the public awareness campaign comes in. It's called the “Just Ask” Prevention Project and includes a new interactive website to help in the battle.
Detective Bill Woolf says sadly he's not hurting for cases. He's with the human trafficking unit of the Fairfax County Police Department.
He says, “When you look into the eyes of these victims, when you recover them from the situations they're forced to endure, that you see the pain, the hurt.”
He says the best way to fight this heinous crime of our children is awareness.
Besides an interactive website, the campaign includes a 10-minute film on sex trafficking to be shown to all sixth through 12th graders in Fairfax County public schools, and as you'll be seeing posters on backs of buses, at schools and at other locations.
“Traffickers count on the community not doing something about it,” says Bradley Miles. He's with the Polaris Project and is an expert in the fight against sex trafficking.
January is sex trafficking awareness month.
Many think that sex trafficking mainly happens to runaways and people from other countries, but it is also happening to teenagers in northern Virginia.
The hope is the website and the awareness campaign will inspire residents to get involved in prevention by learning how to spot and identify potential victims and to report them.
10 Things You Didn't Know About Slavery, Human Trafficking (And What You Can Do About It)
by Eleanor Goldberg
(Slideshow on site giving the top 10 states with the strongest trafficking laws)
You may know that in far-off countries, like Cambodia and India, children are prime victims for sex trafficking. You probably also know that trafficked workers are forced to toil for long hours, with little or no pay, to produce such everyday items as bricks and chocolate.
But what you may not know is how prevalent the crime of trafficking is right here in the U.S. and just how varied the victims are.
The $32 billion business of modern-day slavery coerces adults and children into the sex trade or into working against their will. Trafficking cuts across gender and ethnicity, with some slaves being brought to the U.S. with false promises of a better life. Others are often vulnerable citizens who may have been abused.
During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we're raising awareness about these unspeakable crimes in the hopes that one day we will no longer have to.
1. Slavery and human trafficking can mean two different things:
Modern-day slavery involves exploiting people, often through forced labor or sex. Human trafficking is when a person is recruited, harbored, provided or obtained for the purposes of exploitation -- often sold as an object. Trafficking victims, two-thirds of whom are women and girls , are recruited by means of threat and are often sent into the sex trade or forced to get involved in manual and servitude work, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
2. There are more slaves around the world today than ever before in history.
Though slavery has been banned across the globe, more than 29 million people are living in slavery, the greatest number in history. Some 15,000 people are being trafficked each year right here in the U.S. for purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation.
And they're working for you. Even if your shelves are lined with fair-trade and locally produced items, there's a good chance that a number of slaves have contributed to making the food you eat, the clothes you wear and the laptop on which you're reading this story, according to Slavery Footprint. Find out how many slaves you employ by taking the Slavery Footprint quiz and then learn how you can urge major retailers to be more transparent.
3. Sex trafficking victims are often treated like criminals.
Trafficking laws vary from state to state, with victims often being arrested and treated like criminals, reinforcing their belief that the police can't be trusted. Advocates are calling for a “Uniform Law,” one that will allow all agencies to properly identify victims, provide rehabilitative services, and prosecute traffickers.
4. Your state could be doing a lot more to put a stop to trafficking.
Shared Hope, a nonprofit that works to bring justice to victims of sex trafficking, has graded each state on the way it responds to sex trafficking crimes. Find out how your state ranks and then reach out to your state representative and urge him or her to do more.
5. You support trafficking when you watch porn.
Yes, while some experts say watching porn with your partner could improve your relationship, it could also enable traffickers to exploit their victims. Even if a porn explicitly states that all actors are over 18 and have consented to being filmed, that just may not be true, Yahoo News reported. The trafficked actresses may simply be trained to look and act older.
6. Forced laborers are making some of your favorite things.
There's a good chance that the Christmas decorations you recently packed away and the shoes you're wearing right now were made by slave workers. But there's an easy fix for that. The U.S. Department of Labor has devised a list of countries and the items they export that are produced by child and forced laborers. Peruse the list so you can effectively change the way you shop.
7. Slaves are working at the very hotels where you vacation.
Many trafficking victims are forced to work grueling hours at hotels and motels for little or no pay and children are often exploited sexually at hotels because employees are not trained to spot such crimes. To educate hotel workers, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking has devised a training course to teach staff how to identify a victim and to properly react. Find out if your hotel has completed the course before you book your next trip.
8. The Super Bowl is the single largest incident of human trafficking in the U.S.
Because hundreds of thousands of fans descend upon the Super Bowl host city, it becomes the optimal breeding ground for forced workers, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told USA Today back in 2011.
Sex trafficking victims are brought to the city to work, and one survivor told the Times-Piscuyane that she was expected to sleep with around 25 men a day during such events. As the Super Bowl nears, authorities in New Jersey say they've redoubled their efforts and are training law enforcement personnel, hospitality workers, high school students, airport employees and others in how to identify and protect a trafficking victim.
9. Some are working against their will at "massage parlors" that you frequent.
We've all heard the term "happy ending," but the truth is, it isn't so happy for both parties. While the masseuse may seem complicit, even eager to please, oftentimes these businesses are just commercial-front brothels where the women can be forced to have sex with men six to 10 times a day. Learn about the signs you should look out for when you're getting a treatment and how you can help if you spot something suspicious.
10. Identifying –- and helping -- a victim is easier than you might think.
Learn to look out for some of the red flags -- a worker who lives with her employer, someone who won't speak unaided and shares what appears to be a scripted speech -- and call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center if you have information that may be valuable. You can also get involved with a number of organizations, including the Polaris Project, Not for Sale and the Project to End Human Trafficking , which are all working to put an end to modern-day slavery.
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this post defined human trafficking as a situation where a victim is physically transported for the purposes of being exploited. A trafficking victim can be transported, recruited, harbored, provided or obtained.
Maryland mom kills 2 of her children during attempted exorcism
by Faith Karimi and Joe Sutton
A Maryland mother stabbed two of her children to death and wounded two others while attempting an exorcism, authorities said.
Zakieya L. Avery, 28, was charged Saturday with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder , Montgomery County Police said in a statement.
A second woman, who was briefly hospitalized after the incident, was also charged in the two deaths. Police believe she is not related to the family, but lived at the same residence in Germantown.
Norell Harris, 1, and his sister, Zyana Harris, 2, suffered fatal stab wounds while their siblings, ages 5 and 8, were hospitalized with injuries, authorities said.
"Cases like this are heartbreaking," county Police Chief Tom Manger said. "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims."
Police said they found the four children Friday morning after a neighbor called 911 to report suspicious activity at the home. The neighbor reported seeing a car with a door open and a knife next to it.
Exorcism is a ritual aimed at defeating purported evil spirits or demons. Authorities did not provide additional details on why they suspected exorcism.
"Investigators have learned that the two defendants believed that they were performing an exorcism. The investigation into this motive and other aspects of the crime continue at this point," police said.
Police were called to the home Thursday over reports of an unattended child in a car. By the time they got there, the child was not in the car and no one came to the door, authorities said.
"Prior to officers arriving, two women exited the townhouse, retrieved the child and re-entered the home," Montgomery County Police said. "Officers attempted to speak with the residents, but received no response at the door. "
After the neighbor's call, authorities notified county child protective services and asked them to follow up. It's unclear whether they did.
Both women are being held without bond. Information on their attorneys was not immediately available.
Inquiry into abuse in NI children's homes and borstals begins
Victims have waited years to tell their stories, senior counsel to the biggest public inquiry into child abuse ever held in the UK has said.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) is examining abuse claims in Northern Ireland children's homes and juvenile justice.
It was set up by Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive to investigate allegations dating from 1922 to 1995.
To date, 434 people have contacted the inquiry to allege they were abused.
It is investigating claims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as childhood neglect.
The senior counsel to the inquiry, Christine Smith, said many victims of abuse "have waited years for this day to come".
"This inquiry, both through the work of the acknowledgement forum and these public hearings, is giving a voice to those who feel the system let them down," Ms Smith said.
She said it was "a human story about how a society treated its most vulnerable members - its children".
"By examining how vulnerable children living in children's homes between 1922 and 1995 were treated, this inquiry will examine the soul of Northern Ireland in that period," she added.
Ms Smith said "abuse in childhood leaves a legacy which can destroy their adulthood as well".
She said one of those who contacted the inquiry said: "Those who suffered abuse were deprived of a normal childhood and haven't been normal since."
'Experiences listened to'
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, said it would try to establish if abuse in children's homes was systemic.
He said he hoped those who had given evidence to the inquiry "will have the satisfaction of knowing that their experiences are being listened to and investigated".
Sir Anthony said many of the witnesses had told the inquiry that when they made complaints in the past they had been ignored.
He said where the inquiry believes criminal offences have taken place it will pass the evidence onto the police.
If prosecutions are imminent, evidence relating to them will be aired in closed sessions of the inquiry so as not to prejudice trials, Sir Anthony said.
The inquiry will also speak to 61 child migrants who were sent to Australia on how they were treated before they left Northern Ireland.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, said it would try to establish if abuse in children's homes was systemic.
He said he hoped those who had given evidence to the inquiry "will have the satisfaction of knowing that their experiences are being listened to and investigated".
Sir Anthony said many of the witnesses had told the inquiry that when they made complaints in the past they had been ignored.
He said where the inquiry believes criminal offences have taken place it will pass the evidence onto the police.
If prosecutions are imminent, evidence relating to them will be aired in closed sessions of the inquiry so as not to prejudice trials, Sir Anthony said.
The inquiry will also speak to 61 child migrants who were sent to Australia on how they were treated before they left Northern Ireland.
So far, it is examining claims against 13 children's homes and borstals.
Some of the institutions were run by state authorities, others were staffed by voluntary organisations and the remainder were run by the Catholic Church.
Since October 2012, the inquiry has been taking evidence in private sessions from former residents who claim they were abused.
People making abuse allegations were asked to tell their personal stories to the inquiry's Acknowledgement Forum and those called to give evidence in public will be offered anonymity.
Of the 434 people who have made a formal application to speak to the inquiry, the majority still live in Northern Ireland.
About a third of the applications are from people who are now living elsewhere, including Australia, Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and other countries.
To date, 263 people have met members of the Acknowledgement Forum to have their allegations recorded.
The HIA inquiry is independent of government and has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.
It does not have the legal authority to find anyone guilty of criminal acts, but where it does receive evidence that a crime has taken place, the details will be passed to police.
The public hearings opened at Banbridge Courthouse in County Down on Monday afternoon, when the chairman, retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, delivered an opening address.
Over the next three days, the inquiry's legal team is due to provide a general overview, outlining the proceedings and the issues they are expected to address.
When the opening remarks are complete, the first stage of public hearings will concentrate on allegations made against two Catholic children's homes in Londonderry
Nazareth House Children's Home in Bishop Street and St Joseph's Home in Termonbacca were both run by the same order of nuns - the Sisters of Nazareth.
The public hearings are due to finish in June 2015, and the inquiry team has been given a further six months to report its findings to the Stormont Executive.
Institutions under investigation
Local authority homes:
• Lissue Children's Unit, Lisburn
• Kincora Boys' Home, Belfast
• Bawnmore Children's Home, Newtownabbey
Juvenile justice institutions:
• St Patrick's Training School, Belfast
• Lisnevin Training School, County Down
• Rathgael Training School, Bangor
Secular voluntary homes:
• Barnardo's Sharonmore Project, Newtownabbey
• Barnardo's Macedon, Newtownabbey
Catholic Church-run homes:
• St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca, Londonderry
• Nazareth House Children's Home, Derry
• Nazareth House Children's Home, Belfast
• Nazareth Lodge Children's Home, Belfast
• De La Salle Boys' Home, Kircubbin, County Down
Advocates launch all-out campaign to stop child sexual abuse
by Tony Gonzalez
Following a blueprint created by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a Nashville group wants the same high-intensity, “It's not OK” attention paid to child sexual abuse.
Mobilizing such an effort won't be easy.
A group of local nonprofits known as the Nashville Child Protection Coalition says reducing sexual abuse will require a major shift in how parents talk with their children and better training and policies for institutions such as schools and day cares — the same kind of all-out effort that MADD used to change culture and laws about drunk driving.
The coalition has agreed on one key tool in its effort: a cutting-edge training program called “Stewards of Children.” Its member groups want some 30,000 Nashvillians to experience the video-based lesson — a goal set because researchers say influencing 5 percent of the population can lead to real change.
“It's going to take a movement” was the refrain during a recent class hosted by the Nashville Sexual Assault Center, one of the nonprofits in the coalition.
“What we hope happens as a result of trainings like this, that we will get ‘MADD', and we will take a position that we want to shift the culture,” said Sharon Travis, community outreach director. “Somebody needs to stand up and say, ‘No, this is not alright.' ”
Trainers from the Tennessee chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers have been teaching Stewards of Children for about three years. In 2013, more than 11,000 adults took the class statewide, said Bonnie Beneke, executive director of the chapter.
In Nashville, they teach a free public class once a month, typically targeted at professionals who work with children. But the campaign will spread this year, especially in April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, with a goal of taking the training from events put on by the nonprofits to large companies and the community.
“We want people to open up their doors in business communities,” Beneke said. “We'd like to get into workplaces.”
Class teaches policies
Speaking to a class last month, Sexual Assault Center Executive Director Tom Tohill told the 40 participants that individual nonprofits can't stop sex abuse on their own.
He said Stewards of Children can help the community coalesce around a united strategy.
“To really protect children, the adults in the world are the ones that are truly going to be able to protect them,” he said.
Staff members from the Boys and Girls Club, Metro Schools, the city police department, churches and other nonprofits sat in on the class Tohill led.
The class breaks down sexual assault prevention into five steps. It features video testimonials from a diverse group of assault survivors. Through emotional stories, the survivors discuss abuses by coaches, relatives and mentors they once trusted.
The training video and booklet suggest policies that organizations serving children can use to protect them: Not allowing one-on-one interactions behind closed doors; how to handle locker room interactions; how to escort young children to the bathroom.
Partway through the film, instructors led a 40-minute discussion that grew candid. Some shared examples of policies at their nonprofits, talked about background checks for volunteers, and told stories of when children broached the delicate subject of abuse they had experienced — and how they helped.
“What I've liked so far in the training is the frankness of the language,” said Beverly Whalen, a Metro Schools psychologist. “A lot of this is still kept quiet.
“I wish it were more common in our conversations, so then it wouldn't be so scary.”
State AG agrees to Baker probe
by Kathy Mellott
EBENSBURG — State Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office will investigate sexual abuse allegations involving Brother Stephen Baker while he was on staff at Bishop McCort High School.
Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan received a letter from Kane's office Friday in response to A request Callihan made last month asking for an agency with greater resources to take over the investigation.
Word that Kane's office will investigate the Baker case was met with elation by some victims' organizations, while there was little response from some others.
“My clients hope that the attorney general will find answers as to why Brother Stephen Baker was allowed to sexually abuse several hundred innocent children,” said attorney Mitchell Garabedian.
The Boston attorney, who is believed to be representing several dozen mostly men who claim they were abused by Baker while he taught at Bishop McCort between 1992 and 2001, said the big question the state's top prosecutor needs to look at is who were the supervisors.
“Brother Stephen Baker had free reign in his wholesale sexual molestation of innocent children,” Garabedian said.
Callihan said the most important issue is who at the school and in the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown was aware of Baker's actions with the students and failed to report him to authorities.
A law has been in place since 1992 mandating that those in supervisory positions over children report abuse or suspected abuse to their supervisors or to police.
“It is a standard letter saying the attorney general's office is going to assume jurisdiction of the Brother Stephen Baker case,” Callihan told The Tribune-Democrat.
Baker was a religion teacher and member of the athletic staff at the Johnstown Catholic school for about nine years.
However, alleged victims and former employees have reported that Baker was seen on the school's grounds for several years after he left.
Word of the sexual abuse of mostly male students surfaced about a year ago on the heels of reports from Youngstown, Ohio, regarding financial settlements by the diocese there with 11 Baker victims.
Former Bishop McCort students began contacting attorneys. At last count, there may be more than 80 who alleged Baker sexually molested them.
In late January, Baker was found dead in his room at St. Bernardine Monastery near Hollidaysburg, where he lived for a number of years.
The Blair County coroner ruled his death a suicide.
Any potential criminal case against Baker ended with his death. But Callihan stepped in, expressing concern about why mandated reporters at the school and the diocese did not come forward.
Bishop McCort had been operated for decades by the diocese. But in 2008 it became independent and is now run by a board of trustees made up of primarily of private citizens from the Cambria County area.
Tony DeGol, the diocese secretary of communications, said he had no comment on this latest development.
“We are not aware of any such action,” DeGol said in an email.
In a statement late Friday, the Bishop McCort trustees said through spokesman Matt Beynon that they are committed to cooperating with the state investigation.
“Since the allegations against Brother Baker first surfaced, the Bishop McCort board of trustees has been committed to learning all the facts involved and taking steps necessary to ensure that the school remains a safe learning environment for its students.
“This has included its own internal investigation into the Baker allegations and cooperating with local and state law enforcement officials.
“Bishop McCort is committed to cooperating with the attorney general's office in their investigation,” the statement concludes.
Callihan told The Tribune-Democrat about two months ago that she was briefed by a representative for the board of trustees who, along with two former state police troopers, had conducted an internal investigation into the Baker matter.
That representative told Callihan that she would make available to the attorney general's office information the investigation revealed.
Callihan said Friday she provided Kane's office with a “pretty big packet,” which included police reports along with media reports on the case.
“It was everything we had on the case,” she said. “I provided them with everything we had.”
Altoona attorney Richard Serbin, who has handled priest-sex abuse cases for 25 years and represents a number of Baker's victims, said he had heard rumors that Kane's office was stepping in.
“This means that they're taking control,” Serbin said.
Exposure of the facts can only prove helpful to any civil litigation, he said.
“When there is a criminal investigation, it can expedite the discovery of information,” he said. “I support any investigation that leads to any exposure of how this priest was given the title and authority to abuse so many young individuals.”
Robert Hoatson, a victims advocate and head of Road to Recovery, praised the state for stepping in.
“This is great news. A pedophile of his stature, he abused hundreds of children in Pennsylvania alone,” Hoatson said. “The wider the net can be thrown, the more victims will come forward.”
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a nationwide group working to expose priest sexual abuse, applauded involvement by the attorney general and said this aggressive approach is the only way to expose and hold accountable those who knew of Baker.
Joe Peters, a Kane spokesman, had little to say about the case.
“Our place is to neither confirm or deny the existence of an investigation,” Peters said.
Speaking of general procedure, Peters said the attorney general's office often is called upon to handle investigations because of a conflict of interest by the office of the county district attorney or that office's limited resources.
Peters was unable to expand on how long investigations can take.
Callihan sought the state's involvement not only because of her limited resources in the county office, but also because the Baker case involves the diocese, headquartered in Blair County. Additionally, there has been talk that some of the abuse may have occurred outside of Cambria County.
Responding to a request by Callihan in 2013, the attorney general's office already has agreed to investigate sexual abuse allegations made by now-adult men against The Rev. George Koharchik.
He served at two parishes in Cambria County and at parishes in other locations in the diocese.
Vatican City Subjected to UN Investigation on Child Sexual Abuse
by Grace Stephen
The United Nations investigation of the Roman Catholic clergy in the sexual abuse of children has finally reached Vatican City. The Holy See — seat of the world's largest Christian denomination with over 1.2 billion faithful followers has been rocked by a child-sex scandal that has shattered the veneer of immaculate purity maintained by the church. In the face of damning charges of the rampant sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in over twenty-five countries, the United Nations has reacted strongly by launching an investigation. The investigation is to be conducted through the Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that directly targets the only credible source of data about these cases: The Vatican City.
The history of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests and nuns has been documented as far back as the mid-1950s with the case of the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest who was accused, censured but never convicted of drug abuse and sexual dalliances with children, adolescents and adults in his congregation. However, the scandal exploded in 2002 after decades of abuse by American and Australian priests came to light. The alleged mishandling of cases by the Vatican City and a line of popes since Pius XII, has prompted the United Nations' investigation of the Vatican City in the hope of understanding the spread of the scandal.
The UNCRC, an international body of human rights legal experts is said to be investigating Vatican City church officials and demanding data that reveals the actual number of documented cases where children as young as 11 have suffered sexual abuse. Since the 2002 revelations, victims around the world—many in their mid-40s and mid-50s have been vocal in their criticism of the Vatican's silence and apparent abetment of the sexual abuse of minors. Barbara Blaine, former victim and founder of the self-help organization Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in an interview with TIME lamented: “Many of us who were abused by an assistant pastor looked to the pastor to make things right, then the bishop, then the Vatican. No one fixed the problem. What authority in the world can hold the Vatican accountable?”
The UN seems to have stepped in to investigate this sex scandal by holding the Vatican City responsible for the submission of data that could reveal the true extent of a scandal that has been smoldering for over half a century. Even so, it remains unclear as to who will actually answer the UNCRC demand. While Pope Francis is celebrated around the world as the changing face of the Catholic Church, the church itself is seen as a powerful, layered and secretive organization that exercises control over its own city-state, its own protection, and importantly, a vast and unknown reserve of wealth. While the pontiff himself may never be called to answer the world's largest inter-governmental organization, it is a matter of speculation as to which of the Curia agencies (that include the custodians of the Vatican Secret Archives and the Vatican Diplomatic Corps) will be involved in framing a response.
The difficult task of articulating this response seems to have fallen to Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, representative of the pontiff as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Preliminary investigations have placed the Holy See on the defensive, with UNCRC chairperson and lawyer Kirsten Sandberg commenting on the Vatican's lack of procedure in the investigation of sexual abuse by its own clergy. Whether the Vatican will truly be able to respond to an irrefutable body of evidence that extends for over 60 years is a matter that only time will tell.
Pope Benedict Defrocked 400 Priests in 2 Years for Child Abuse
by AP / John Heilprin and Nicole Winfield
(VATICAN CITY) — A document obtained by The Associated Press on Friday shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children.
The statistics for 2011-12 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Prior to that, it had only publicly revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received.
The document was prepared from data the Vatican had been collecting to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of oftentimes pointed criticism and questioning from the U.N. human rights committee.
The statistics were compiled from the Vatican's own annual reports about the activities of its various offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases. Although public, the annual reports are not readily available or sold outside Rome and are usually found in Vatican offices or Catholic university libraries.
An AP review of the reference books shows a remarkable evolution in the Holy See's in-house procedures to discipline pedophiles since 2001, when the Vatican ordered bishops to send cases of all credibly accused priests to Rome for review.
Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took action after determining that bishops around the world weren't following church law to put accused clerics on trial in church tribunals. Bishops routinely moved problem priests from parish to parish rather than subject them to canonical trials — or turn them into police.
For centuries, the church has had its own in-house procedures to deal with priests who sexually abuse children. One of the chief accusations from victims is that bishops put the church's own procedures ahead of civil law enforcement by often suggesting victims not go to police and keep accusations quiet while they are dealt with internally.
The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from raping again.
According to the 2001 norms Ratzinger pushed through, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reviews each case sent to Rome and then instructs bishops how to proceed, either by launching an administrative process against the priest if the evidence is overwhelming or a church trial. At every step of the way the priest is allowed to defend himself.
The Congregation started reporting numbers only in 2005, which is where Tomasi's spreadsheet starts off. U.N. officials said Friday that the committee has not received the document.
'PH lacks resources vs child sex rings'
by Aie Balagtas See
MANILA, Philippines - In this Lucena orphanage, two boys were reportedly raped, while young girls complained of being forced to kiss an official on the lips.
Last Monday, acting on a tip from the US Homeland Security, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raided the Sankey Samaritan Missions Inc. Orphanage and arrested its American owner and two Filipino officials.
They are among the few alleged child sex abusers arrested in this country.
Lack of resources is hampering the government's drive against human trafficking rings including those engaged in child sex abuse, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday.
De Lima's admission came on the heels of reports that British police are working with their counterparts in the US and Australia to break a pedophile ring that has been streaming live scenes of child abuse on the Internet.
“There's always scarcity in resources in terms of law enforcement,” the DOJ chief, who also chairs the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), lamented.
She said the budget of IACAT, while increasing, is spread out to different operations like those against human trafficking in general as well as labor trafficking.
But she clarified the campaign against cybersex has had continuous logistic support from the office for cybercrime in the DOJ and from the cybercrime division of the NBI.
De Lima also said a Supreme Court temporary restraining order on the implementation of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act is hindering the tasks of the DOJ's anti-cybercrime office.
She said the high court has yet to decide on a plea seeking to strike down the controversial law, which would give additional authority to the DOJ in tracking down online criminal activities.
While hailed for penalizing illegal acts done via the Internet, the law has been criticized for its provision criminalizing libel.
“But with or without the ruling on the Cybercrime Act, the office has already been working on these offenders,” the DOJ chief told reporters yesterday.
She also stressed the IACAT and other relevant agencies had been vigorously fighting cybersex syndicates long before foreign authorities stepped in.
“This is not something we address only now, just because the effort of foreign authorities got media attention. We have been doing this all along but their intensified effort would be a big help,” she said.
Malacañang also said it was not caught off guard by reports on the global investigation into the operations of a pedophile ring in the Philippines.
“This is a matter of high priority for our government that is not prompted by recent media reports,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. pointed out.
Arrested in the Lucena raid were orphanage owner Thomas Randall, executive director Perfecto Luchavez and board member Mark Jayrold Luchavez. The abuse reportedly began in 2005.
Melvin Garcia, a former dorm parent and suspected sex abuser, remains at large.
Randall was charged with obstruction of justice, and the Luchavezes for violating the anti-human trafficking law. Garcia and Mark Luchavez were charged for rape.
Thirty-one orphans, eight of them minors, were also rescued and turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Randall was reportedly informed of his men's misdeeds but did nothing about them.
The victims did not report the abuse, reportedly for fear of getting kicked out of the shelter.
“This dependency is what makes the kids vulnerable to abuses,” an NBI report said.
Britain's stepped up campaign against child sex abuse netted 17 British nationals, five of them convicted, after an inquiry by Britain's National Crime Agency into the cybersex incidents.
The agency reported 15 minors aged between six and 15 were rescued in a raid in Angeles City in Pampanga. Several parents were also arrested.
In December, a UK court sentenced a 67-year-old pedophile to 14-year imprisonment for directing filmed rapes of young children live on the Internet.
Michael Eller, a grandfather, set up a Skype link from his Hertfordshire home to instruct adults in the Philippines to rape and abuse young girls.
Others paid to watch the broadcasts, St. Albans Crown Court heard.
In a BBC News report, Judge John Plumstead said victims “will spend their whole lives knowing that, for the pleasure of grubby pedophiles, they have undergone abuse.”
He said “the cold-hearted cruelty of it is beyond comprehension.”
The grandfather also admitted possessing indecent photographs of a child and breaching a sexual offenses prevention order.
Akbayan Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez said the NBI and the Department of Foreign Affairs should take immediate action on the findings of Britain's NCA.
“It is extremely disturbing, in fact terrifying, that our children can be subject to this type of exploitation even from thousands of miles away,” he said.
“The recent report of the National Crime Agency of United Kingdom presents a significant opportunity for our own government to crack down on the growing number of online sex abuse and child exploitation in the country,” he said.
“The government, through the NBI, must immediately respond to this discovery and be at the forefront in ensuring that this operation is carried out smoothly and successfully,” Gutierrez said.
“This is our country, and the victims are our children who need intervention and protection. We must take the lead in ensuring they are kept safe. Even as organizations in other countries work hard to combat the problem, we must ensure that our own efforts do not lag behind,” he added.
Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of the Gabriela Women's Party said based on data gathered by local and international non-government organizations, hundreds of thousands of children have suffered sexual abuse.
She said the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center earlier said rape and attempted rape cases involving 3,861 children and minors were reported in 2012.
“Foreign and local pedophiles and syndicates are just around, ready to pounce like very hungry wolves, especially in poor communities hit by disasters where families want to return to normal lives,” she said.
Sen. Loren Legarda, for her part, emphasized the need for Congress to approve her proposed anti-cyber pornography bill.
Legarda, who filed the measure as Senate Bill 532 or the proposed anti-computer pornography act, said that this would complement the existing Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act that the government could use to go after these syndicates.
UK-based Plan International children's charity, for its part, said it will expand an anti-human trafficking project in the Philippines, as fears grow that young survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda are becoming easy prey.
“Advancements in the Internet and other technological media allowing communication to cross geographic and national borders in a matter of seconds, everything has now become reachable with the click of a button,” Legarda said.
Meanwhile, PNP's Anti-Cybercrime Group head chief Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa reiterated his proposal to require the registration of SIM cards as means of tracing individuals involved in sex crimes and other offenses.
“There is no subscriber on record because prepaid subscribers are not required to register their personal information,” Sosa told reporters in a briefing yesterday afternoon. With Edu Punay, Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy
Preventing sexual abuse is a public health issue
by Carol McNaughton Nicholls and Strphen Webster
We are in a time when the focus on allegations of sexual abuse is intense. Accurate and comprehensive statistics on the prevalence of sexual abuse remain elusive, but the figures that do exist indicate sexual abuse is widespread. Up to one in five adult women, and one in twenty children have been sexually abused. Adult men are also victimised, with figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales showing on average 72,000 men a year are victims of a sexual offence.
We have been working in this field for more than ten years, researching the experiences of victims, perpetrators, professionals and those at risk of committing abuse. From this vantage point, the time is right to revise our approach to sexual abuse that focuses less on the criminal justice system response (though that remains important), and more on sexual abuse as a public health issue.
Put another way, we could see sexual abuse as a disease that affects society. It can lead to long-term problems for individuals affected. Substance misuse, depression, suicidal ideation, are just some examples of this. Looking at the prevention of abuse from a disease perspective requires a focus on three groups: actual or potential perpetrators, victims and their families, and ourselves, the public.
Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements were in place for more than 40,000 people registered as sex offenders in England and Wales in 2012.
On this scale, of course we need a criminal justice system response, but also provide appropriate and effective treatment to those who are convicted for sexual offences. The focus must also be on how to prevent these offences occurring in the first place by providing support to those concerned about their own sexual thoughts and behaviour before they become offenders.
We are currently evaluating the Stop It Now! Campaign in the UK, which offers advice to those who are concerned they or someone they know may sexually abuse a child. It also supports families and partners when sexually harmful behaviour is identified. It is hoped this approach could be adopted across Europe, and we are working with project partners from Germany, Finland and the Netherlands to identify ways in which to reach potential sexual offenders effectively. Prevention is essential, from work with offenders, to those who are concerned that they may offend.
We must always ensure the needs, rights, and voice of victims/survivors of sexual abuse are heard. Victims ultimately want to prevent sexual abuse happening to others. One of our recent studies with victims (or survivors as many prefer to be called) and the public was undertaken on behalf of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales. Some people that we spoke to accepted that, once in prison and where it works, treatment should be offered to offenders in order to reduce the chances of re-offending.
We know from our separate study of sexual offenders against children that many regard Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as enormously helpful in enabling them understand what led them to commit their crimes, come to terms with what they have done, and make better choices in the future.
While it may be beneficial for some offenders to receive psychological and behavioural support, it is only right that victims are equally supported. Indeed we know that the extent to which they have access to advice during the investigation and judicial process greatly influences their satisfaction with the outcome once the case ends. Significant steps have been taken to address these issues in recent decades, yet victims' experiences still vary greatly.
As the victims we work with make clear, their needs do not stop along with the court case and some do not wish to report the offence: they should be able to access long-term counselling whatever their circumstance. Across the country budget cuts are leading to the closure of services for victims, and as media focus on sexual abuse continues unabated the number of victims coming forward and seeking support increases. Rape Crisis, for example, has a waiting list to provide counselling despite their best efforts to expand and meet need as more and more people come forward seeking support for abuse that may have happened many years ago, or yesterday.
Again if we see sexual abuse as a public health concern, we must ensure that appropriate, effective treatment to reduce symptoms and help people fully recover are available across the country. We know from our research with survivors of abuse that this support needs to be long-term, intensive and consistent for it to be effective. This is not a quick fix.
There is a third element to this too, which touches on the responsibility professionals have to report abuse, and also the role we all can play in preventing and responding to sexual abuse. The Savile case and others currently in the media has cast light on opportunities that were missed by people and organisations to intervene.
Passive acceptance does not help. Nor does the demonisation of sexual offenders; this means we cannot see them when they are people we trust or know. We can educate ourselves and others on the risk factors to look for, we can listen to victims when they try to disclose abuse, and challenge behaviour we do not think is appropriate. It may be difficult, but we must try to help sexual offenders integrate back into society so they can make a positive contribution, not just revile them. We must all also bear the responsibility for preventing abuse and doing all we can to help victims or those at risk.
We need a responsible, open discussion that acknowledges the part we all can play, not to just stand by watching each story unfold.
The Real 'Public Health Emergency' in the UK Is Domestic Violence, Not Divorce
by Janey Stephenson
Documentary filmmaker and campaigner, Masters graduate in Human Rights at University College London
Fiona Bruce MP recently stated that the breakdown of marriage was a "public health emergency". She couldn't be further from the truth. The real public health emergency in the UK is domestic violence, from which two women die per week. MPs like Bruce should be supporting women for leaving abusive marriages, not judging them.
However, in their rush to preserve the ideal of 'marriage', Bruce and fellow Conservative MPs Gerald Howarth and Edward Leigh overlook the fact that divorce can save a woman's life. In abuse cases there is a trade-off between the two, and saving the life of the victim and her children is unarguably the priority.
Howarth encouraged MPs to judge people who decide to split up, branding them 'dysfunctional'. MP Edward Leigh condemned family breakdown as a 'modern plague'; yet has he considered what may be causing it? Could domestic abuse be a key culprit? Either way, this judgement of other people's life decisions is shameful, proving these MPs know nothing of the complicated and agonising circumstances that marital separations occur under.
A woman's decision to leave an abuser is already difficult, as perpetrators are reluctant to lose control over the victim and children. For this reason, it is generally the victim who initiates the marital separation. However, sustained abuse leads victims to believe that they are worthless, weak, stupid and utterly unable to survive on their own. On average, a woman will undergo 35 assaults before calling the police. She will make several attempts to leave before leaving permanently and safely.
Victims of domestic violence find themselves trapped in seemingly unavoidable situations of financial helplessness and fear; for some women, the only escape is death. A woman's decision to separate is something to be admired and supported; one study showed that 60% of women leave their abusive relationships because they fear they will be killed.
I speak from personal experience. My mother endured an abusive relationship with my father for 11 years. For years she blamed herself for the abuse. Her feelings that nobody would want to know her, as both a domestic violence victim and then single mother, made her afraid to leave. She chose to stay quiet and stay in the marriage. She didn't want to disappoint her parents. She desperately attempted to keep up appearances amongst what she saw as "perfect families" around her, whilst holding onto the belief that it just 'wouldn't be right' to separate children from their father.
However, as the years went on, the risks to both my mother's and her children's lives increased until they hit a breaking point. After a number of temporary stints at my grandparents' house, we left home for good. After over a decade trapped between fear and social obligation, we were free. In retrospect, my family was much more 'dysfunctional' living under the same roof than we were in separate houses; finally I could sleep at night, concentrate on school and my mother didn't have to tolerate daily threats. Separated from abuse, we were stronger and healthier.
Families do not separate in order to spite the traditional ideal of eternal matrimony, or to deliberately put economic strain on society (as the aforementioned Tories claim). Actually, in direct contradiction to this latter accusation, the charity CAADA (Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse) have published reports showing that improving domestic violence services, instead of ignoring the issue altogether, is more cost-effective for the public purse. Nevertheless, separation is often the last resort in a string of painful, traumatic and even violent events. As long as they stay within abusive relationships, the mental and physical health of women and children will be devastated.
These MPs' comments are merely another indicator of the UK government turning its back on domestic violence victims. They are shutting off women's options by cutting vital funding for domestic violence services and safe houses. This is where the real harm to families and public health lies; due to a dearth of support services, women are now at risk of being separated from their children. The brunt of legal aid cuts are borne by domestic violence victims who are desperately trying to divorce their partner; it is estimated that 50% of domestic violence victims will no longer qualify for legal aid . These reductions in public services are failing the vulnerable and deterring women from leaving relationships that endanger their life.
If politicians are genuinely concerned about public health and the wellbeing of both adults and children alike, they should support individuals' choices, not hold them up against an impossible one-size-fits-all social ideal that puts lives at risk, and then shame individuals for not making it work.
When it comes to domestic violence, it's no exaggeration to call it a matter of life and death. When a woman has had her confidence crushed, her financial resources wholly depleted and is living in fear of her life in her own home, the last thing she needs is judgment and stigmatisation from others. Abuse survivors that divorce their partners need the support of solid public services that will protect, not blame, them. They have not failed; they have succeeded.
These MPs must face the uncomfortable reality that marriage does not guarantee love. If all marriages were truly loving then that would be wonderful for everyone. However, the fact is that abusive relationships exist. When abuse victims muster the astonishing strength to leave their relationship, the idea of state judgment coupled with deteriorating women's services may well prevent them from making that terrifying first step to freedom. It is the role of the government to support and protect vulnerable people, not judge them.
So, what's more important? Marriage or human safety? Lives are worth saving more than marriages.
America still has much to learn from Elizabeth Smart
by Gene Lyons
If I had to describe Elizabeth Smart with a single adjective, that word would be "sane." If allowed a second, I'd add "courageous."
Most people recognize Smart as the 14-year-old Utah girl who was kidnapped from her bedroom by a self-proclaimed Mormon "prophet" and his equally deranged wife and used as a sex slave for nine months before police apprehended the oddly dressed trio walking down a Salt Lake City street -- en route to a mountain hideout where Smart had been kept tethered to a steel cable like a dog and raped on a daily basis.
What they may not understand amid the fog of gossip, misinformation, and fixed ideas that attach to high-profile sex crimes are the crucially important things she's saying about rape, sexual violence and recovery. Moved by Margaret Talbot's excellent profile in the New Yorker, I decided to read Smart's book "My Story."
If I could, I'd require every high school and college-aged kid in America to read and talk about it -- although people who allow their children untrammeled access to the Internet and cable TV often freak out at "adult content" being permitted in schools.
Not that there's an ounce of titillation in it; quite the opposite.
Now 26, Smart heads her own foundation for the prevention of child sex abuse and gives about 80 speeches a year. She's said that one of her goals as a public figure is to make "talking about rape and abuse not such a taboo."
But there's more to it than that. Smart's speeches, Talbot reports, "reliably end on a note of quiet resilience ... 'Never be afraid to speak out. Never be afraid to live your life. Never let your past dictate your future.'"
No doubt Talbot is correct that "Smart's Breck-girl beauty had been part of what fascinated people about her kidnapping, and now that beauty seemed to confirm her triumph as a survivor."
Quite so. Smart isn't ruined; she's not a psychological wreck; she hasn't let being the victim of a grotesque crime break her. She rides her horses; she plays her harp. She's loving and beloved. The monster tried to destroy her, but she won.
However, there's a double-edged aspect to her cover-girl looks that Smart herself never discusses, partly out of modesty, I imagine.
If TV audiences saw her as a symbol of innocence brutalized, then so did her captors. The "holy man" who took her -- a psychopath using religion to mask pedophilia, she believes -- clearly got off on defiling and degrading her, while his wife's collaboration just as obviously stemmed from insane jealousy over her girlish beauty.
The fact that she came from a close-knit, loving family also contributed to Brian David Mitchell's destructive obsession. And it was precisely his constantly repeated threats to murder her parents and siblings if she ran that prevented Smart from bolting. Remember, the child was 14.
"I'm just a little girl," she begged that first terrible night. "I haven't even started my period. I'm still a child."
So it comes as more of a disappointment than a surprise to see people who ought to know better talking nonsense. Commenters to a sympathetic article in Jezebel, an online magazine also featuring articles on "Creatively Exposed Skin at the Golden Globes After-Parties," sneered that she belonged in "the category of 'how a wealthy white woman rises above a truly horrible experience,'" and doubting that her family had to beg for help.
Actually, family members were treated as suspects for a time.
Meanwhile, the comparative silence of the feminist left has been noticeable. I suspect Smart's religiosity has a lot to do with that. Anyway, too bad, because she's talking about sexual victimization and shaming in ways that young people of every persuasion need to hear.
Today a married woman, Smart spoke to the New Yorker with disarming frankness. "There's a huge difference between rape and sex. Having experienced both, I know it's not the same thing."
But she also told a conference at Johns Hopkins last year how "dirty and filthy" she felt after her assailant first raped her. She believes that church teachings about sexual "purity" are a terrible mistake.
"I remember in school one time I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence, and she said, 'Imagine, you're a stick of gum and when you engage in sex, that's like getting chewed, and if you do that lots of times, you're going to be an old piece of gum, and who's going to want you after that?' And that's terrible, and nobody should ever say that."
However, thinking of her mother's love caused Smart to reject feelings of worthlessness and made her determined to survive. And no, she never grew to love her captors. Terror, not Stockholm syndrome, prevented her from fleeing until police had Mitchell in handcuffs.
Then she removed her disguise and said, "I'm Elizabeth Smart."
Courts Order Restitution To Victims Of Abuse
Next week the Supreme Court will take up a case to determine how restitution for a victim of child pornography will be paid out.
Doyle Paroline was sentenced to two years in prison after he was caught with child pornography on his computer.
He was ordered to pay $3.4 million dollars to one of the victims, who is now a grown woman.
But Paroline is arguing that he should not be responsible for the full damages, because other people also had the photos.
This comes as another woman recently became the first in Massachusetts state courts to receive restitution from a man convicted of having pornographic images of her on his computer.
The Violence Against Women Act has provisions that provide victims of sex crimes the right to compensation equal to the full amount of their losses.
In the Massachusetts case, the woman was awarded $8,000 in damages.
“The federal statute and state statute provide for out of pocket losses,” Carol Hepburn, the attorney who represented the Massachusetts woman, tells Here & Now's Robin Young. “But the tremendous emotional damage that is done, that is so amorphous, is not compensated under these statutes.”
Hepburn says it is the symbolic meaning of a winning verdict for for survivors of child pornography that is meaningful.
“You have to realize that for the children and young adults — and there are men as well as women who are in these circumstances — the affirmation by a court of merely entering an order that says ‘Yes, what this defendant did is wrong, and it has harmed you, and we recognize it has harmed you,' that is a tremendous emotional boost,” Hepburn said.
Guest -- Carol Hepburn , Seattle-based personal injury attorney.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
It's HERE AND NOW. Courts across the country have been ordering defendants in child pornography cases to pay restitution to people who were victims of that online child pornography. Now, next week, the Supreme Court will take up the case of Doyle Paroline. He was sentenced to two years in prison, ordered to pay $3.4 million to a victim in photos found on his computer.
The Fifth Circuit Court told him that he could collect some of that amount from others in possession of the images. Paroline is arguing that shouldn't be his responsibility, and the Supreme Court will decide that, but also might rule on whether people convicted of viewing child pornography should have to pay anything at all.
That would affect victims like the one who recently became the first in Massachusetts state courts to receive restitution from a man convicted of having pornographic images of her on his computer. By the way, we're not using any of the victims' names because we've learned that when the names are rebroadcast, it increases the number of searchers for their pictures that are still online.
We learned that from Carol Hepburn, the attorney who represents the woman in the Massachusetts case. That victim's pictures were featured in a series that's been viewed millions of times around the world. And Carol, again, the restitution is about paying these most of them adult women for pictures taken when they were young.
CAROL HEPBURN: Well, yes, but let me be clear. This is not about what happened to them when they were young. This is about what is happening every day, right now, yesterday, today and tomorrow. This is about the consumption of the - what are really crime scene photos of their rape and molestation as children. And these pictures are being traded around the Internet every day, and it's like a Pandora's box that can't be closed.
YOUNG: It can't be closed.
HEPBURN: And this causes untold harm to all of the children and young adults who are the subjects of these images right now.
YOUNG: Well, in fact some of them find out that their pictures are being circulated when investigators pick up their trail and come and tell them. Some of them didn't even know that this abuse, which might have taken place years ago, was distributed.
HEPBURN: That's sort of what happened with my client. She was in the course of a prosecution against her birth father for the molestation that took place, the rape that took place, and she had some idea that there might have been pictures, but there was no idea that these had been circulated on the Internet.
In fact he had basically made these videos to order, taking the requests of other pedophiles for whatever type of images that they would like to see. And as these were circulated around the Internet, they were seen by law enforcement. Of course the number one objective of law enforcement is to stop the abuse of any child if it is continuing to go on. And so they do their best to identify who these children are.
And through the work of a number of really dedicated law enforcement officers on both sides of our country and in Canada, my client was identified, and it was the day, she says, when her world came crashing down, when she found out that these images were on the Internet.
YOUNG: How horrible, I mean to be dealing with the abuse is enough, and then to realize that it's out there, and you - as you said, it will only multiply. Well, the idea of restitution for women in this situation is a provision in the Violence Against Women Act. It gives the victims of sex crimes, including child pornography, right to compensation for the full amount of their losses.
How do you figure out what that full amount is? I know Congress listed psychiatric care, lost income, legal costs. But there's a more amorphous thing, I'd imagine.
HEPBURN: Well, there's a more amorphous thing, certainly, but that's not provided for in compensating the survivors of child pornography under these statutes. The federal statute and all of the state statutes that I've looked at, at least, only provide for out-of-pocket losses, and those are things like the medical expenses, psychological counseling, lost income.
There's - my client has increased schooling costs because of this. She's not able to attend school in the normal manner that most young people would. She has found it's impossible for her to sit in a room full of strangers, as you would in a normal college class. So she's taking longer because she has to take time out when she finds she's stricken with disassociation or panic attacks or things like that.
And she's taking online courses, for instance, so that's another type of loss that is provided for under these statutes. But the tremendous emotional damage that is done, that is so amorphous, that is not something that's compensated under these statutes, only the costs of therapy to try and learn coping skills.
YOUNG: Well, in the case of your client here in Massachusetts, we understand your client was awarded $8,000, which was hailed as a victory because it is the first, as we said, but it doesn't seem like a lot.
HEPBURN: No, it's not very much, but for state prosecutors it was a tremendous victory. And you have to also realize that for the children and the young adults, and there are men as well as women who are in these circumstances, the affirmation by a court of merely entering an order that says yes, what this defendant did is wrong and it has harmed you and we recognize that it has harmed you, that is a tremendous emotional boost for them as well.
Many of the orders that are entered are against defendants who have no money. They - some of them will be deported. I've - there's one order we got where the defendant has actually passed away already and paid nothing. And so there's an important symbolic victory in the orders being entered, as well as the fact that there is compensation that is paid.
YOUNG: So your client here in Massachusetts received some restitution. As we said, another young woman received a huge award from the court, but it was appealed. That's going to the Supreme Court. What happens from there? Because of course their images can continue showing up on other pedophiles' computers?
HEPBURN: I would like your listeners to know that there are advocates in all of the prosecutors' offices that I'm aware of. There are lawyers who will help the individuals who are in these circumstances. The federal system does have a notice, the victim notification system that's set up, and so there are notices that come.
And in fact one of the very important services that I provide her, and any lawyer would provide a person in this circumstance, is to receive those notices and to be a buffer for them. Even better would be if law enforcement or some tech guru could figure out how to put a stop to the images because I think that what each of these people would want more than anything else is to just have the distribution of these pictures stop altogether.
YOUNG: How's your client doing?
HEPBURN: You know, she has good days and she has bad days. She's a beautiful and intelligent young woman, and she's encountering the milestones that all young people do, and she does that with a very large burden that others don't have. But she is working towards becoming a child psychologist. She very much wants to help other victims of child abuse. And she's doing the best she can with the lot that she's been given to give back and to be a good citizen, a good wife, a good mother, hopefully a good therapist and psychologist.
YOUNG: Carol Hepburn represents a child pornography victim who received restitution from the defendant in her case. Carol, thanks so much for talking to us about it.
HEPBURN: Thank you so much for letting me talk about it. I do appreciate it.
YOUNG: And let's circle back to next week's Supreme Court case. To review, a lower court ordered Doyle Paroline to pay $3.4 million in restitution to a victim on pictures in his computer, and the court said he could find other people who also viewed those pictures to help him pay.
We asked the National Center for Victims of Crime how he'd do that. They said that since these images are shared on peer-to-peer networks, the people viewing them know each other, and Paroline could decide to turn in other people as a way to avoid paying the full restitution himself.
Strip clubs to help fight sex-trafficking
by Christina Villacorte
In an unlikely alliance, strip clubs are touting themselves as law enforcement's new partners in the fight against sex trafficking.
Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking assembled about 125 strip club owners and employees, including dancers, bartenders, waiters, bouncers — even cooks — from across Southern California for a three-hour briefing Wednesday on how to spot pimps and their victims, and what to do about it.
COAST co-founder Michael Ocello, who owns 16 nightclubs in several states, stressed they could save lives.
“Each one of you has an opportunity to do something unprecedented, and that's to make a difference in someone's life,” he told the strip club workers at the gathering in Burbank.
“You may be in a place where you may have the opportunity to see something that nobody else in the world has the opportunity to see, and you may be the one person that's able to make a difference in someone's life.”
Special Agent Dwayne Angebrandt from Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations directorate, ran down a list of telltale signs.
“One of the things to look at is how an entertainer comes to and leaves work,” he said. “Does she have her own transportation, or is somebody bringing her? Is it the same person every day?”
“And when she gets picked up, is the first thing that happens a hug or a kiss, or is it ‘Give me the money'?”
Angebrandt also urged workers to keep a lookout for entertainers who have bruises, possibly from a beating; have no control over their identification and travel documents; are deprived of contact with family and friends, as well as food, water, sleep, medical care and other necessities; and are forced into prostitution.
He said Wednesday's meeting helped “break the ice” between the feds and the strip club industry, some of whose patrons may be the very same johns who pay pimps for sex with human trafficking victims.
Ocello believes meeting Angebrandt helped give strip club workers “a certain comfort level to be willing to make that phone call” to report what amounts to modern-day slavery.
Homeland Security Investigations has more than 60 active investigations into human trafficking in the Los Angeles region, including on commercial sex trafficking and forced labor. In the previous fiscal year, it made more than 140 arrests and rescued a dozen juvenile victims.
Rachel Thomas, 29, the daughter of a Los Angeles lawyer, was attending college in Atlanta when a pimp posing as a modeling agent forced her into prostitution by threatening to kill her and her family.
The pimp, who victimized at least six other women, was later sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Thomas founded the Sowers Education Group and now goes to schools and organizations to offer advice on how to prevent human trafficking and how to help survivors recover.
She has a cynical view of strip clubs, believing they also exploit women.
“A lot of times, working in any commercial sex trade is the very thing that's destroying a woman's life,” Thomas said.
“And I know that lots of strip club owners know the girls are prostituting illegally,” she added. “They're not as innocent as they'd like to seem, allowing and even facilitating human trafficking.”
A 22-year-old student who dances at an Anaheim strip club and goes by the stage name “Alyssa” said she has met several women she believes were human trafficking victims.
“I've talked to girls personally about it but I've never gone to the cops, because you don't really want to get too involved,” she said. “After this (briefing), I'll definitely learn how to handle that situation a little better.”
When asked whether she would call the authorities when she realizes a fellow stripper is being victimized, however, Alyssa wavered.
“I don't know,” she said. “It really depends. I'd like to say that I would, but honestly, when you're in that situation …”
She shook her head and didn't finish the sentence.
Survivors hope to 'Break Every Chain' of trafficking
by Pamela Willis
The four survivors who spoke at the "Break Every Chain" Human Trafficking Awareness Day Conference in Reynoldsburg over the weekend revealed a way of life that many people don't think exists close to home.
Barbara Freeman, Monica Linder, Stephanie Rollins and Sharyl Silva told of running away as teenagers from abusive homes or being coerced by promises of money and a better life, only to be sold on the streets of Columbus, Reynoldsburg and other parts of Ohio, descending into a world of prostitution and drugs.
The conference at Reynoldsburg High School's eSTEM Academy Jan. 11 was coordinated by Reynoldsburg City Councilman Cornelius McGrady III and a group of Reynoldsburg high school students called the Reynoldsburg Youth Human Trafficking Coalition (RYHTC).
McGrady said he has been criticized by some colleagues for organizing the awareness effort.
"I was shocked by someone telling me we don't have to worry about that, so why are you bringing this attention to Reynoldsburg," he said. "This is a safety and economic issue in Reynoldsburg and beyond Reynoldsburg. If you deny the problem exists, there is no plan for action."
The issue of human trafficking is gaining attention at the state level. The day before the conference in Reynoldsburg, the fifth annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day was held at the Ohio Statehouse.
Gov. John Kasich has unveiled plans for a statewide campaign to increase awareness of the problem. It includes placing posters at 14 service plazas along the Ohio Turnpike listing the signs of human trafficking and contact information on how to report suspected cases. In addition, the Department of Public Safety will distribute 5,000 posters; the Department of Youth Services and Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will post materials in youth and adult prisons; the Department of Health has made materials available in all sexually transmitted disease clinics; and the State Library of Ohio will distribute posters to 732 libraries in the state.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office and the State Highway Patrol have both taken stances against human trafficking and legislation introduced in the Ohio House by state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) was co-signed by 90 other lawmakers. House Bill 130 would increase both the penalties for those convicted of human trafficking and protections for the victims.
According to statistics from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, an estimated 1,078 Ohio youths are recruited and trafficked each year.
An estimated 100,000 children are victimized by the commercial sex industry each year in the United States; 14,500 to 17,500 foreigners are trafficked into the U.S. each year, according to the Rescue and Restore Coalition of Central Ohio.
Rollins, a Columbus resident, was 12 when she ran away from home.
"I started running to different areas of town and drugs and alcohol led me to a life on the streets," she said. "I was sold on the streets of Columbus, Reynoldsburg and different parts of Ohio."
Linder said her life spiraled out of control at age 24, when alcohol and drug addiction led her to people on the streets who "promised a lavish life filled with money and drugs."
"Each day, I was doped up and sold to the highest bidder," she said. "I felt like an animal that was kept locked in a cage, only to be beaten at the first sign of defiance."
Silva grew up in Yuma, Colo., but at the age of 12 was "coerced and raped by a 32-year-old man."
"I became his girlfriend," she said.
By age 18, she said, she was hooked on crack cocaine and "hitting the track" as a prostitute. She moved to Columbus in 2008 but quickly "found out where the dope boys were and ended up on the track here, as well."
"I was being trafficked not only in Columbus but in Reynoldsburg," she said.
Freeman said she was 16 when she was introduced to crack cocaine by a man eight years older, who showered her with gifts and money.
"Once I was strung out on drugs, he set me up with an older lady to set me up on the streets," she said. "This man put me in a basement and held me hostage for years and transported me to different houses to have sex for money.
"I've been in suburbs, garages, in hotels downtown and arrested for prostitution numerous times," she said. "No one asked me, 'Are you OK?' Two police officers stopped me once just to ask how much money I had made that day."
What all the women had in common, besides being trafficked and abused, were their arrests for prostitution. They ended up in C.A.T.C.H Court (Changing Actions To Change Habits), a program begun by Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Paul Herbert.
Herbert said he saw so many women in his court charged with prostitution that he thought, "I need to find out why so many women would sell themselves to vile strangers."
His research into the problem included reading a book called Pimpology , written by a former pimp.
"The bottom line in this book was this comment, 'Make her believe in heaven and she will follow you to hell,' " Herbert said. "You have about 1,000 women arrested every year for prostitution in Ohio and at least 920 of them are human-trafficking victims."
Herbert's CATCH Court is a two-year program that gives women a path to exit prostitution, placing them in safe houses and into long-term drug and alcohol treatment programs.
Freeman has become a motivational speaker and an advocate for girls and women on the street.
"We need to help these young ones break free," she said. "Don't go home and forget about what you heard today. Let us stand together and make an impact to do something about this."
Britain disrupts Philippines online child abuse ring
by Kim Hjelmgaard
LONDON — Britain's National Crime Agency has broken up an international crime group that live-streamed child sexual abuse from the Philippines.
The agency said the joint investigation with authorities in the United States and Australia yielded 29 arrests for people in 12 countries who had paid to watch the online abuse, which in some cases was arranged by members of the children's own families.
In a statement, the NCA said that the "use of web cams to stream live abuse, particularly from the developing world, is a significant and emerging threat."
The investigation was started after a routine visit by police in the English county of Northamptonshire to a registered sex offender, the NCA said. The probe began in 2012 and resulted in 15 children aged between 6 and 15 being safeguarded from abuse.
"This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with. Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt. In my mind they are just as responsible for the abuse of these children as the contact abusers overseas," said Andy Baker, the deputy director of the NCA's Child Exploitation and Online Protection unit.
The NCA said it was joined in its investigation by Australian Federal Police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"This kind of end-to-end operation is only possible when law enforcement agencies work together," Baker said.
Separately Thursday, the Vatican acknowledged there can be "no excuse" for child abuse. The Vatican is being confronted for the first time, at length and in public, over the global priest sex abuse scandal involving allegations of the rape of thousands of children.
Country Music Performer Facing Child Abuse Charges
by Ross Guidotti
DERRY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A Derry Township man is behind bars, facing several counts of child abuse.
Thomas Deglau, 54, is in the Westmoreland County Jail.
He's a country music entertainer in the Latrobe area.
He is facing charges of possessing child pornography and aggravated indecent assault of a minor.
Police say Deglau's wife turned him in after she says she found him naked, videotaping a young girl dancing in their basement. He was supposed to be babysitting the young girl.
“She discovered the videotapes after first witnessing the initial act which brought it to her attention. She discovered several tapes in the basement where the acts occurred, viewed the videotapes, and then took the tapes to the Latrobe Police Department,” police said.
“As a mother I'm suspicious of people, I never would have thought that of him,” said Mary Lowry who knows Deglau.
There's much admiration from police for Deglau's wife who chose to turn him in.
He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for later this month.
Hundreds Of Ignored Child Abuse Complaints Led To Removals
by Nick Blumberg
Three hundred eighty-five children have been removed from Arizona homes that were the subject of ignored complaints about abuse or neglect. At least 316 children have been removed from homes that were the subject of a report to a Child Protective Services hotline that went uninvestigated. Those removals came after a subsequent abuse complaint. Sixty-nine children have been removed since the problem of ignored cases was discovered.
That is the latest update from the independent team Gov. Jan Brewer appointed to investigate the problem. The so-called CARE Team said about 90 percent of the ignored cases have been assigned to a caseworker as of late Tuesday. More than 3,600 have been investigated in person.
In her State of the State speech Monday, Brewer called on the legislature to make the division charged with child safety a standalone agency.
Utah prosecutors file sex abuse charges 24 years after alleged crimes
by Geoff Liesik
DUCHESNE — A Duchesne County resident is behind bars following a 14-month investigation into allegations of child sex abuse that date back to 1989.
Susan Elizabeth Rye, 60, is charged in 8th District Court with three counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, a second-degree felony. The charges stem from alleged abuse that took place two decades ago when Rye was known as Randall Donald Rye.
"He said his name was Susan Elizabeth Rye, so we addressed him as Susan," Duchesne County sheriff's detective Dela Rowley said.
Court records show Rye changed names in January 2009. When he was booked into jail last week under his legal name, Rye identified himself as male, Duchesne County Sheriff's Lt. Jeremy Curry said.
Rye is accused of sexually abusing a female relative in 1989 and 1990, when the girl was about 5 years old. The alleged victim came forward for the first time in October 2012 after months of counseling, Rowley said.
"She was afraid there might be other victims," the detective said.
Over the next year, investigators interviewed a number of people, including Rye. He provided detectives with corroborating information about one alleged incident of abuse, Rowley said.
"He remembers bits and pieces of it, but he says he doesn't recall all of it," the detective said.
Once the investigation was completed last month, Rowley presented the case for prosecution.
"We gave it to the county attorney, and he had to go back in the law books to the years 1989, 1990 to be able to prosecute," the detective said.
A phone message left for Rye's defense attorney Wednesday was not returned. A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 23. Rye remains in the Duchesne County Jail.
Valley View Prepares to Launch Child Sexual Abuse Awarness Program
A new piece of legislation known as 'Erin's Law' requires Illinois schools to tackle a sensitive issue and teach students to raise their voice of someone is violating them.
by Ron Kremer
Submitted by Valley View School District 365U:
Valley View School District 365U will soon implement a state-mandated child sexual abuse awareness program for students in pre school through fifth grade.
Required by new legislation known as “Erin's Law” which the Illinois legislature OKd last year, the program includes two preliminary meetings to explain content and procedures to parents and the community, age-appropriate 45-minute sessions in every pre K-5 classroom in the district provided by experts from Guardian Angel Community Services, and training for VVSD staff members.
“We teach children on bullying intervention, stranger danger, internet safety and drug abuse yet we fail to give them a voice if someone is violating them,” said Erin Merryn, the nationally recognized champion of child sexual abuse prevention whose efforts led to the passage of the new Illinois law. “Unfortunately without being educated, children will be repeatedly abused for years because often the only message they get comes from their abuser threatening them into silence.”
VVSD parents are receiving letters this week briefly explaining the new law and how Valley View plans on complying with the mandate. The letters include an invitation to one of two community meetings at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 29 at the VVSD Administration Center, 755 Dalhart Avenue in Romeoville or 7 p.m. Jan. 30 at Jamie McGee Elementary School, 179 Commonwealth Drive in Bolingbrook.
Spanish language materials and interpreters as well as child care will be available at both sessions. No reservations are necessary.
Faculty and staff training has already begun.
Student sessions will begin in February.
For more information on VVSD's plans to implement the new law, please contact Michele Bochnak at BochnakML@vvsd.org or 815-886-2700 Ext. 297.
New study reveals childhood abuse prolongs depression recovery
Childhood abuse has been linked to poor brain development and depression.
Earlier this month, University of Toronto researchers released a report in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology that suggests recovery from adult depression is significantly delayed in adults who were abused as children. It did not matter if the abuse was physical, mental or a result of neglect: The study illustrated an average delay of nine months in the recovery process for people who survived abusive situations while growing up.
The researchers followed a sampling of 1,128 depressed adults for up to 12 years, documenting when their depression went into remission and the kind of family life they experienced while growing up.
Co-author and MSW graduate student Marla Battiston says, “Numerous studies have shown that childhood abuse and parental addictions make individuals more vulnerable to depression. Our research highlights that these factors also slow the recovery time among those who become depressed.”
Researchers theorize that the abuse stalls development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which is directly linked to stress regulation. Co-author and graduate student Sarah Brenmenstuhl says, “In many studies, adult depression has been characterized by HPA axis hyperactivity. This link is an important avenue for future research.”
Perhaps it's too little, too late for people like Sharon Smith*, who endured physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the very people she should have been able to trust. To this day, she struggles with self-esteem issues, and seeks validation for her efforts from anyone she can.
What many people don't realize is that physical and mental abuse can have far-reaching effects in survivors' lives. Children of narcissists, for example, have difficulty forming healthy relationships, often seeking to please their partners over themselves, adapting themselves to situations as a means for survival. In his 2005 article, Dr. Alan Rappoport deftly describes the predicament adult children of narcissists face:
|“Children of narcissists tend to feel overly responsible for other people. They tend to assume that others' needs are similar to those of their parents, and feel compelled to meet those needs by responding in the required manner. They tend to be unaware of their own feelings, needs, and experience, and fade into the background in relationships.”
Children in abusive home lives have very little hope for leading normal lives where they feel valued and validated. While this study investigates the effects of physical abuse, it doesn't really touch on the emotional and mental abuse: The manipulative, degrading, walking-on-eggshells maltreatment by those whose main weapons are words.
However, there's still plenty of research in that vein. In June 2013, Time published an article detailing new research that showed how emotional and sexual abuse affect women's brains in specific ways. In that study, 51 women in Atlanta participated. While 28 of the women suffered significant physical, sexual and emotional abuse, 23 of the women reported not experiencing any abuse while growing up.
Each participant's brain was scanned and assessed. The women who reported being abused as children had less cortical thickness than those who did not. Emotional and physical abuse manifested themselves in different areas of the brains, though. Women who were sexually abused experienced far greater sensory pain in their genitals. Some women could not even bear to be touched.
While women who were primarily emotionally abused experienced a thinning of the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal love – areas that control self-awareness and emotional regulation – those who experienced emotional abuse had difficulty forming meaningful relationships because their responses aren't healthy.
In January, the Observer, issued by the Association for Psychological Science, released a new article revealing how love and painful relationships can actually damage the heart. Stress cardiomyopathy is literally “broken heart syndrome,” but the link is real.
During an MRI study led by APS Fellow Naomi Eisenberger of the University of California Los Angeles, researchers discovered that active exclusion from social activities activated a portion of the brain often found in studies of physical pain. In other words, prolonged emotional pain can literally scar the brain and in some cases can even lead to physical health issues.
These combined studies illustrate how damaging emotional abuse is, most people, including child welfare experts, continue to ignore it unless it is accompanied by physical or sexual abuse. Unfortunately for Smith, she hit the trifecta of abuse: She was physically abused by her father, emotionally and verbally abused by her mother, and sexually abuse by her father and two of his brothers.
Today, she struggles with feelings of self-worth based on her appearance, her weight, and her sex life. She is 50 years old, and still seeks positive reinforcement. She continues to struggle with depression and feelings of worthlessness. She has overcome anorexia and bulimia, but still falls victim to weight loss scams in an effort to "be skinny." She is 5 feet 2 inches tall and barely 110 pounds, but what she sees in the mirror is a reflection of her mother's harsh words.
Once, she sent her mother a photo of herself after she had lost nearly 100 pounds.
“Do you love me, now, Mom?” she wrote. After years of being told she was fat, disgusting and ugly, all she wanted was a mother's love.
Her mother never replied.
RenoBerkeley is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
Youth capture stories with documentary
Radio program sheds light on survivor experiences
by Chris Bolster
Two Tla'amin (Sliammon) First Nation radio producers are helping to resonate reconciliation with a recent documentary which tells stories of survival from Canada's residential school system.
Producers Devin Pielle, 22, and Shelby George, 19, received a standing ovation for their work entitled We Are Still Here , from approximately 70 people in attendance at the Salish Centre in Tla'amin for the community listening celebration last month.
Both producers are pleased with the way the documentary came out. “I think it's actually a little better than I envisioned,” said Pielle, who had little experience with producing radio programming before she stepped up to this project.
George helped organize the Idle No More action last year in Powell River and contacted Pielle to work together on the project.
“I've never done anything like this,” said George, who set up and conducted two of the interviews for the documentary. “It was pretty cool.”
Participants from the documentary and the community were invited to the listening celebration, given gifts and brushed with cedar boughs, said George.
The documentary, one of 40, was produced as part of the National Campus and Community Radio Association's (NCRA) Resonating Reconciliation, a project designed to help all Canadians come to terms with the history of the residential schools, to build a record of survivors' experiences and to bring more First Nation voices into media production.
“We wanted to shed light on first nations' history because in high school you don't learn about the residential schools,” said Pielle. “One of the things I've heard growing up is residential schools were so long ago and people just need to get over it. We wanted people to understand what their full impact was—to understand the truth and understand our people better.”
Gunargie O'Sullivan, a Vancouver-based community radio producer, suggested the idea for the project. She sits on NCRA board of directors and heads up the organization's native caucus. O'Sullivan spent a year living at St. Michael's Indian Residential School in Alert Bay when she was six years old. She never forgot the experience and as an adult has used her radio programs to help tell previously untold stories.
“If you are first nations, you are in some way a product of residential school,” said O'Sullivan. She sees the lasting effects in Canadian society those schools had both on the former students who were taken from their families and subjected to abuse and in the children who were raised in the shadow of those experiences. “The absence of our perspectives in the media is rampant, and that needs to change.”
In the 1870s the Canadian government partnered with Anglican, Catholic, United and Presbyterian churches to establish and operate over 130 boarding and residential schools for First Nation, Metis and Inuit children. Of those, 29 operated in BC and were closed between the 1950s and the early 1980s. The last schools, in Saskatchewan, were closed in 1996.
It is estimated that approximately 150,000 children, some as young as four years old, were removed from their families, often forcibly with the help of the RCMP. The program, under the federal Indian Act , was to educate, assimilate and integrate children into Canadian society. They were forbidden to speak their language, were forced to do manual labour and were fed poor quality food. Between 90 to 100 per cent of those children suffered severe physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of the federal government in 2008 and the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established to gather stories and inform all Canadians about what happened in the schools. It is estimated that there are currently 80,000 survivors alive today.
The TRC and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada funded the 40 documentaries from producers across the country as part of the commission's mandate to acknowledge residential school experiences, impacts and consequences and create a lasting historical record with a focus on the lived experiences of former students and their families.
“This is something all Canadians need to know more about,” said Shelley Robinson, NCRA executive director. “We can't reconcile until we acknowledge the truth of what happened.”
Pielle and George, who have known each other since childhood, started work at the end of November and quickly realized that the project would be a challenge. Over two weeks the women approached a number of elders in their community at Tla'amin and were able to interview eight people with tape rolling.
“For some people this was the very first time talking about their experiences ever,” said Pielle. “They were hesitant to answer and really emotional. Others we didn't even have to ask questions, they were just so ready to share.”
CJMP public radio station manager Courtney Harrop taught Pielle and George how to use the recording equipment and volunteers Emma Belle, Claudia Medina and Zoë Ludski helped shape the work.
“It was really exciting,” said Pielle. “I feel like I learned so much from the people interviewed and from the radio station.”
Pielle's grandmother and George's mother were two survivors who were among the first to be interviewed. Pielle's grandparents on both her mother's and father's side of her family attended residential schools and she said it is hard to meet anyone who hasn't been affected by past experiences at the residential schools.
“There are a lot of issues that are still very real,” she said.
They wanted to make sure that the documentary reflected the community, so they made sure that they were also interviewing people from other families in Tla'amin.
They interviewed elder Dr. Elsie Paul who commented to Pielle, “Not until we fully acknowledge [the experiences] can we make it right within ourselves and move forward as a people.”
After transcribing their interviews, the women had hours of material they could use and started the editing process to select the best clips to tell their story.
Pielle, who has a five-month-old daughter Amaya, said she hopes that her and George's work can contribute to people reconciling with the past by helping to shine a light on what happened.
“I hope my daughter listens to it some day,” said Pielle, “and she can tell her kids about her ancestors and what they went through.”
We Are Still Here can be found online.
Sisters of Nazareth become second Catholic order to admit to child abuse
Nuns join De Le Salle Brothers in admitting at institutional child abuse inquiry that children in their care were abused
by Henry McDonald
Two Catholic orders have now admitted children were abused in their care at the largest inquiry into institutional child abuse in UK legal history.
The Sisters of Nazareth nuns joined the De La Salle Brothers in their admissions on Tuesday that girls and boys were subjected to physical and sexual abuse in institutions in Northern Ireland that they controlled.
On day two of hearings at the Northern Ireland historical institutional abuse inquiry, Turlough Montague, a barrister representing the nuns, said: "They recognise the hurt that's been caused to some children in their care. They apologise unreservedly for any abuse suffered by children in their care. They go forward hoping that lessons will be learned, not just by them in the provision of care but also by carers generally in society and in wider society at large."
Earlier at Banbridge courthouse, Kevin Rooney, a barrister representing the De La Salle Brothers, told the inquiry the religious order accepted there was abuse at its boys' home in Kircubbin.
Rooney said: "They accept and deeply regret that boys in their care were abused. They wish to offer their sincere and unreserved apology to all those whom they failed to protect.
"The Brothers recognise the human pain and suffering caused to those victims that have been abused."
These were the first two religious orders to give evidence at the inquiry, which is estimated could cost up to £19m and is expected to run until June 2015. More than 400 people will give evidence with up to 300 witnesses ready to speak in person at the tribunal.
It was set up to investigate claims of widespread sexual and physical abuse in 13 institutions ranging from orphanages to young offender institutions. The inquiry will examine claims relating to the Kincora boys' home in east Belfast where a senior Orangemen, the late William McGrath, along with a number of loyalist extremists, repeatedly raped young children.
The tribunal may also have to explore allegations that the security services MI5 and RUC special branch knew about the abuse in Kincora but failed to act because some of those responsible were state agents.
Chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, the inquiry will also investigate the practice of shipping 120 local children from these institutions to Australia between 1947 and 1956.
Christine Smith QC, the senior counsel for the inquiry, said today that post-war welfare reforms in Britain were not adopted by many of the institutions now under scrutiny.
Smith said: "The evidence suggests that those homes operated as outdated survivors of a bygone age."
Shock new figures show rise in child sex abuse
SHOCK new figures show the number of children suffering sexual abuse in the Thames Valley has jumped by 14% in the last year.
The NSPCC is urging parents to protect their children after police recorded 293 child sex crimes against children under 11 in 2013, compared with 257 the previous year.
It is re-running its 'Underwear Rule' campaign, making clear that the parts of the body covered by underwear are private. It provides parents of children aged five to 11 with advice about keeping their children safe from sexual abuse.
The campaign, which originally launched last summer, was hugely successful in giving parents the confidence to have an easy conversation about what many originally saw as a difficult area for discussion.
More than 2.3 million people viewed the online video and nine out of ten parents said they now knew how to broach the subject.
Colin Peak, NSPCC regional head of services, said: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won't heal by
itself. Our campaign has started to make inroads in giving children the protection they need but there is obviously still a long way to go. The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young.
“This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age.
“Parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe”.
Offences included rape, sexual assault, abuse through pornography and grooming. Some victims were only one year old.
A total of 1,103 sex crimes against children under 18 were recorded by Thames Valley Police last year, with 917 against girls.
In England and Wales, 22,654 sexual offences were reported to police with four out of five cases involving girls.
The majority of crimes were against children of secondary school age, with about a quarter – 5,547 against those under 11.
This number of sex offences against under 11s was a near-20% rise on the previous year's total of 4,772.
For more information on the campaign visit www.nspcc.org.uk/underwear
Creepy emoticon ad against child sexual abuse
(Creepy pictures on site)
“Who's really chatting online with your child?” is the tagline of Innocence in Danger's new campaign.
Nonprofit organisation, Innocence in Danger , teamed up with French agency ROSAPARK to bring widely recognised emoticons to life in a chilling campaign against child sexual abuse.
Established in 1999 Innocence in Danger now operates in 29 countries.
The organisation “brings together militants, Internet specialists, jurists, political decision-makers, businessmen, media and national action groups to sensitise world opinion on the increasing problems of paedo-criminality” it said on its website.
Teen dating, domestic violence too common; experts say there should be more awareness, education
by Danielle Salisbury
JACKSON, MI – Even after he dragged her by the hair, leaving her scalp swollen and starting to bruise, she talked to him.
Even after he threw her down and punched, chocked and kicked her, creating abrasions all over her body and “severe scratching” around her sternum and neck, she willingly met him for a final, secret get-together before he went to jail.
People ask: Why would she do this?
“They are always asking the question ‘Why did she stay?' and that is the wrong question,” said Rebecca Mayer, executive director of AWARE Inc. in Jackson, which offers shelter, advocacy and services for domestic and sexual violence survivors.
The right question is: “Why did he batter?”
People don't understand that going back is behavior born of domestic or dating abuse – intentional, controlling and aggressive acts perpetuated by manipulative men or women – and it affects more than married or cohabitating adults.
It is affecting teens.
Kaley Brooks was a victim.
The 19-year-old died Dec. 21 or 22 of multiple stab wounds believed to have been inflicted by her former boyfriend, Nicholas Jackson, an 18-year-old who had badly beaten her less than three months before her death. Jackson was on probation for domestic violence and was to begin a jail term Dec. 23.
They had a final rendezvous, despite a court order that prohibited their contact, on Dec. 21 and police believe he killed her and dumped her body in the Portage River near Wooster Road in Leoni Township. He then shot himself to death Dec. 22 in the home he shared with his parents on Seymour Road.
It was the worst possible conclusion to a too-common story.
“These tragedies happen more and more,” Mayer said.
All too prevelant
About one in five high school girls reports being abused by a boyfriend, and physical aggression occurs in one in three teen dating relationships, according to information prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women.
“Think about a slumber party,” said Kathryn Williams, clinical director at AWARE. “One of those kids will be or has been a victim of domestic violence.”
Williams and Mayer and other experts would like to see more education in schools that define healthy and unhealthy relationships and teach young people the signs of abuse.
“You are not taught in junior high. We are not taught in high school. We are not taught in college. So where are we supposed to learn it?” said Williams, who does presentations at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center in Jackson. AWARE staff members also speak at area schools whenever they are asked.
House of New Beginnings, which opened last year with the hope of helping teenage victims, recently instructed students at da Vinci Institute and is beginning a course at T.A. Wilson Academy in Jackson.
Williams rarely talks to a group of students without someone raising his or her hand and giving her an example of abuse.
Young men and women need to be able to define wrongful conduct, said Jackson County District Judge R. Darryl Mazur, who heads the county Aggression Court, a program that aims to help reform domestic violence offenders. “Jealousy is not acceptable. It doesn't mean he loves you; it means he wants to possess you.”
The more information that can be distributed, the better, because the repercussions of trauma are so far-reaching, Mayer said.
Brooks' family is devastated. Jackson's family is devastated.
“It just affects the whole community,” Mayer said.
“The mutual friends,” added Williams. “And people wondering what they could have done.”
She and Mayer did not have information specific to Brooks' case. They were speaking generally about the issues of domestic and dating violence.
Brooks and Jackson
Brooks and Jackson attended East Jackson High School. She graduated last spring and was going to Jackson College with hopes of being a social worker.
He left the school after his junior year and was taking classes provided by an online charter school. He was interested in music production.
Her parents said they never approved of the relationship, but the two spent much time together.
“If you found one of them, you found the other one,” said Jackson's friend, Kaitlin Smith, who graduated with Brooks.
Brooks and Jackson attended the school prom and Brooks' signature on her phone listed the date their relationship began, coupled with a smiley face or heart, her parents said in December.
An effort to speak with them for this story was not successful. A man who answered the door Wednesday at Jackson's home declined comment.
Earlier, Brooks' parents said Jackson would send their daughter inappropriate or dirty messages. They didn't think him to be honest or trustworthy.
In October, when a deputy talked to Brooks at Allegiance Health, where she was treated for injuries Jackson inflicted, she said he had “put his hands on her” two or three times in the past.
She knew he was capable of violence.
After a while, victims learn that perpetrators' threats are serious. For good reason, they are often frightened. They might have been made to feel alone or to blame.
They stay or return because they hope for change. Their boyfriend or girlfriend is not always hurtful and the two have a history. “Maybe it's your first love … or it's all you know,” Mayer said.
There are good memories with the bad and the bad starts to feel all right. “If someone is told over and over again that they are worthless, if you are told that violent sex is OK, you don't understand that is not the way things are supposed to happen. It becomes normal,” said Blackman-Leoni Township public safety Detective Sgt. Christopher Boulter, who has studied psychology, violence and trauma and is involved with AWARE. He was the agency's 2013 volunteer of the year.
Right when they decide it is best to go is when it is most dangerous, Williams and Mayer said.
“That's when things get ugly,” Williams said.
Their abusers have lost control and one theory of violence says people act aggressively or violently to maintain that control, Boulter said.
Another theory says batterers are demonstrating behavior they learned from a role model or parent who expresses physical anger with aggression or violence.
Children who grow up viewing abusive male-female relationships begin to see that as status quo, said Kimberly Colligan, a probation officer who works with offenders in Mazur's Aggression Court.
Efforts to treat offenders
Jackson, never before in criminal trouble, had been in the program about five weeks.
He is the first probationer involved with the court who allegedly killed a victim, said Mazur, who called the case “disturbing.”
Mazur has presided over the court since its inception nine years go. At the close of 2013, 755 people had graduated, which means they successfully finished a 26- to 52-week batterers intervention program and met all the terms of their probation without serious violations.
About 8 percent of those graduates have been charged or convicted of another assaultive crime, Mazur said.
An estimated 30 to 35 percent of offenders do not complete the 15-month program, Colligan said.
Some participants show significant progress.
Colligan has heard from victims who tell her the court changed their marriages.
About 25 percent of the caseload involves people who are 22 or younger, Colligan said.
Look for signs
Domestic violence can affect all types of young people, including those with perfect parents or upbringings. “It can happen to any child,” Williams said.
She encouraged parents to talk and listen to their sons or daughter and look for the signs, such as excessive messages or calls, changes in activities and isolation from friends or usual groups.
“Don't brush it off and call it puppy love,” Williams said.
Until everyone stands up and calls abusive behavior unacceptable, it is not going to change, Boulter said. As soon as it appears there is a problem, get authorities involved, he said.
Adults have to protect children. “It is not our children's responsibility to keep themselves safe,” Mayer said.
Teen dating violence facts
About one in five high school girls reports being abused by a boyfriend.
Young women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of relationship violence.
Date rape accounts for almost 70 percent of the sexual assaults reported by adolescent and college-age women; 38 percent of those women are between 14 and 17 years old.
Sexual assault victims experience more anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide than non-victims.
Physical aggression occurs in one in three teen dating relationships.
Nearly 75 percent of girls have reported some sort of emotional partner violence.
Intimate partner violence is so serious the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify it as an epidemic.
Sources: AWARE Inc. staff, U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women
Questions and answers
What is relationship abuse?
A pattern of abusive behavior that someone uses against a partner. This does not have to be physical. It can involve insults, isolation from friends and family and controlling what someone wears or with whom they socialize.
Why is teenage relationship abuse hidden?
Teenagers typically have little experience with relationships, they can be under pressure from their peers to act cool and have “romantic” views of love.
Why does it occur in some relationships?
Abusers have a sense of entitlement. They believe they have the right to behave this way, that they are entitled to all of their partner's attention, affection, loyalty and time, and they make a choice to engage in this behavior.
Sources: United Kingdom's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board
Warning signs that a teen is involved in an abusive relationship
Isolation, a teen is no longer spending time with usual friends
Constant phone checking; mass texts or calls
Fewer male or female friends on Facebook
Less bubbly or engaged; acting withdrawn or quieter than normal
Being angry or irritable when asked about how things are Changes in appearance or style
Changes in activities
Making excuses for a boyfriend or girlfriend
Physical signs of injury, such as unexplained bruises
Missing school or failing grades
Warning signs that a girlfriend, boyfriend or partner is abusive
Shows extreme jealousy
Displays controlling behavior
Monitors calls and emails
Believes in rigid gender roles
Blames others for problems or feelings
Sources: Aware Inc. staff; “Teenage relationships abuse, a parent's guide to violence and abuse in teenage relationships,” a publication of the United Kingdom's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Who to contact
AWARE Inc., which offers shelter, support and other services for survivors of domestic or sexual violence, has a 24-hour crisis hotline, 517-783-2861.
For information about the agency's Teen Club, which meets Mondays at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 1107 Adrian St., or its Kids Club, aimed at children ages 6 to 12 who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence, contact Angela McCreary at 517-783-1638, ext. 123.
Have a question or wish someone would talk to a teen or group? Call Kathryn Williams, AWARE clinical director, at 517-783-1638, ext. 136.
House of New Beginnings, which lists its purpose as empowering teens to live safe, independent lives, can be reached at 517-962-5177. Its staff has taught a course on safe dates and healthy relationships at da Vinci Institute.
Visit the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board site on teen dating violence. Call the Michigan Family Violence Prevention Helpline at 800-996-6228.
Gov. Scott: Boost Spending To Prevent Child Abuse
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBSMiami/AP) — In response to a string of child-abuse related deaths in the State of Florida, Governor Rick Scott wants to hire more than 400 additional investigators in the coming year—an effort that will cost millions.
On Tuesday, Scott will outline a proposal to boost the budget of the Department of Children and Families by nearly $32 million. Also included, he wants an $8 million increase for sheriff's departments handling abuse cases.
“While DCF has made significant changes to protect children, we still have much to do to protect the most vulnerable among us,” Scott said in a statement. “Even one child's death is a death too many.”
If approved by state legislators during the annual session that starts in March, the funding would reduce the caseloads of child abuse investigators to 10 cases each.
Scott's proposal also calls for extra funding to allow for two-person teams to handle cases involving children the most at risk of abuse. DCF has already launched a pilot program with two-person teams in Miami-Dade and Polk counties.
The governor's budget proposal also calls for hiring additional state workers to do reviews of ongoing child abuse investigations, as well as reclassifying 50 current positions to higher-paid positions.
The move comes after the state's child welfare system has come under increased criticism and scrutiny due to a series of deaths in the past year.
A report released in November said Florida was failing in its efforts to prevent child abuse deaths because welfare authorities aren't picking up warning signs in families at risk.
The report reviewed the deaths of 40 children and concluded that welfare authorities who were involved with the families had overlooked danger signs like drug abuse or domestic violence. Most of the children who died were less than 5 years old.
The causes of death include suffocation, drowning and physical abuse. The most common cause was suffocation or asphyxia where most of the parents or caregivers had histories of drug abuse or tested positive for drugs following the child's death.
The budget recommendations endorsed by Scott mirror ones already suggested by Interim DCF Secretary Esther Jacobo.
“Armed with input from national experts and data to back up our proposals, we are prepared to ensure that these funds will be laser-focused on protecting children who are most at-risk,” Jacobo said in a statement. “With Governor Scott's steadfast support of DCF initiatives to improve child safety, I am confident that these strategic investments will be made to keep Florida's children safe.”
In the wake of recent deaths, Democrats last month called on Scott to shield DCF from any more budget cuts. Scott said last fall he planned to cut spending by $100 million in state agencies in 2014.
The Scott administration said Monday that the governor also plans to recommend that funding for state subsidized substance abuse and mental health programs remain at current levels because they also help prevent child abuse.
Child abuse, neglect rises in ND, drops in Minnesota
by Helmut Schmidt
FARGO – Child abuse and neglect is on the rise in North Dakota, a report release by North Dakota KIDS COUNT shows.
Meanwhile, Minnesota's KIDS COUNT Data Center reports that the number of abused and neglected children there has dropped since 2007.
In 2012, 1,402 children were victims of maltreatment in North Dakota, according to the report “Insights on Children” and the North Dakota Department of Human Services. That is about 9.1 victims for every 1,000 children in the state, the agency reported.
Child abuse in North Dakota increased in the late 1990s from 6.9 victims per 1,000 children, to a high of 11.2 per 1,000 in 2004, KIDS COUNT reported. Then it dropped to 7.6 victims per 1,000 children in 2010.
That trend is now reversed, KIDS COUNT said, with the rate increasing to 8.5 victims per 1,000 children in 2011 and 9.1 victims per 1,000 in 2012.
The national average was about 10 victims per 1,000 children in 2007, dropping to about 9 per 1,000 children in 2012.
Cass County reported 209 cases of abuse or neglect in 2012, for a rate of 6.21 victims per 1,000. That's down from 222 children in 2011, for a rate of 6.74 victims per 1,000.
North Dakota's Ramsey and Divide counties had abuse and neglect rates far above the U.S. average. Divide County reported 15 abuse and neglect cases in 2012, for a rate of 38.46 victims per 1,000 children. Ramsey County reported 69 abuse and neglect cases in 2012, for a rate of 27.48 victims per 1,000 children.
“Insights on Children” says the numbers are conservative because not all cases of abuse and neglect are reported. Also, cases of child maltreatment on tribal lands are processed through separate tribal systems, and not included in reports by the North Dakota Department of Human Services.
It is also difficult to determine whether abuse and neglect is on the rise, or if reporting of abuse and neglect has improved in a community, says Karen Van Fossan, spokeswoman for Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota.
Minnesota's KIDS COUNT Data Center reports that the state recorded 6,277 child victims of abuse or neglect in 2007, or about 4.9 victims per 1,000 children. The number of victims and the rate dropped over the next couple years.
In 2011, Minnesota reported 4,434 children as victims of abuse or neglect, or about 3.5 victims per 1,000 children.
In 2008, Minnesota reported about 4.3 victims of child abuse or neglect per 1,000, and 3.7 victims per 1,000 in 2009. In 2010, the rate was 3.5 victims per 1,000 students.
Clay County reported 40 cases of abuse or neglect in 2011 (the latest year figures were available), for a rate of 2.9 victims per 1,000 children. That was up from 2010, when 28 children were abused or neglected, or 2 victims per 1,000 children.
Karen Olson, program director for North Dakota KIDS COUNT, said abuse and neglect directly affects the futures of the victims.
“The effects of child maltreatment can be seen long after the abuse takes place. It can lead to a variety of long-lasting impacts well into adulthood,” she said.
North Dakota, Minnesota and national victims per 1,000 children. Latest data available. Data is from the KIDS COUNT Data Center.
2008 – 9 victims per 1,000 children
2009 – 8.7 per 1,000
2010 – 7.6 per 1,000
2011 – 8.5 per 1,000
2012 – 9.1 per 1,000
2007 – 4.9 per 1,000
2008 – 4.3 per 1,000
2009 – 3.7 per 1,000
2010 – 3.5 per 1,000
2011 – 3.5 per 1,000
2007 and 2008 – approximately 10 per 1,000
2009, 2010 and 2011 – approximately 9 per 1,000
Suggested head: Child abuse, neglect on rise in N.D.
Minnesota rate down since 2007, KIDS COUNT report
Sex sting raises entrapment issues
by Daytona Beach News Journal
The question of entrapment can be a sticky one and it may have snared the prosecution against a Longwood man recently acquitted of charges in a Deltona sex sting.
A jury acquitted Michael Llorca, 46, on Dec. 17 of three felonies: use of a computer to solicit, seduce parent/guardian consent, traveling to meet a minor and unlawful use of a communications device. Llorca was accused of traveling to Deltona to have sex with a 28-year-old woman and her 14-year-old sister.
The 28-year-old woman was actually Alachua County Sheriff's Office Detective April McCray who, along with a task force of law enforcement, had gone to a Deltona home as part of a Volusia County Sheriff's Office Operation Cyber Sting in September 2011.
Despite the acquittal, the Sheriff's Office and State Attorney's Office praised the sting in which Llorca was arrested, along with 14 other men, a number of whom are now in prison.
Llorca, though, walked out of the Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand on Dec. 17 a free man accompanied by his girlfriend.
“There's a lot of things I wish I would have done differently,” Llorca said after wiping away tears at the time. “That's a life-changing event.”
The life-changing event began when Llorca responded to a Craigslist ad: “Sisters seeking a fun night! - w4m - 28 Otown.”
Llorca responded with an email which included a picture of his face and his genitals and invited the sisters to meet him at an Orlando hotel for sex.
Detective McCray responded to Llorca on Sept. 4, 2011, that her “baby sister” was 14 and asked whether he had a problem with that. Llorca responded with “Send me some pics and let's talk!”
In another exchange, McCray said that “Amber” wanted to know what Llorca was going to teach her. Llorca responded that “Neither of you look 14 - not that I care about age ...” and talks about positions he will teach Amber and later also texts that he will teach her oral sex, according to testimony.
But Llorca's defense attorney Craig Sonner told the jury that the police had created the situation.
“It comes down to a case of really who solicited who?” Sonner said.
Sonner said that the initial ad did not have the age of the second sister or mention a child was involved.
“The state created the situation and then when (Llorca) responded they changed the situation,” Sonner said.
Prosecutor Jim Disinger told the jurors that Llorca did not back off when he was told a 14-year-old girl was involved.
“This case became about what Mr. Llorca decided to do or not do in response to that,” Disinger said. “You are not going to read anywhere where he says ‘14 are you crazy? That's illegal. Goodbye. I'm not interested.' That's not in there. ”
‘NO RUBBER STAMPING'
Public Defender James Purdy said the possibility of entrapment is an issue.
“The question of entrapment is always going to be a sticky one in these types of cases, because you never know whether the individual was willing to have sex with the child before being solicited by the adult,” Purdy said in a phone interview. “Entrapment is a defense that can be raised in these cases but anytime you are talking about a child sex abuse case that is a very difficult defense to convince the jury to accept.”
The jury's decision is a sign the system is healthy, he said.
“It is an indication that the jury system does work when you see that the jury comes back and makes a decision in a case like that,” Purdy said. “It indicates there is no rubber stamping going on.”
Cases like this ask jurors to read minds, said Tamara Lave, an associate professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law.
“These kinds of cases make people question whether law enforcement is being fair,” Lave said. “And in these types of cases when no sexual contact happens and the person isn't even a minor, you are trying to get into the head of the defendant: what he is thinking and whether he is trying to entice a juvenile into sex?”
Lave said that law enforcement can create a fictitious 14 year old.
“That's trickery and that's allowed under the law,” Lave said. “What's not allowed under the law is for the police to try to get someone who would not otherwise do something illegal to do something illegal.”
The investigation was flawed by the ages of the sisters, she said.
“When the initial contact was made the person said she was 28 years old,” Lave said. “Most people don't have sisters who are 14 years younger.”
Lave said the jurors got it right.
“Based on the burden of proof the jurors did the right thing and that's brave in this world in these types of cases, and I give them kudos,” she said.
About 20 minutes into deliberations which took just over an hour, the jury of three women and three men sent a question to Circuit Judge Randell H. Rowe III: “Is it still solicitation if the defendant did not initiate it?” the jury asked.
Rowe discussed it with Sonner and Disinger and then told jurors that they would have to decide that.
Volusia County Sheriff's Office spokesman Gary Davidson said no changes have been planned since the jury's decision, but investigators will huddle with prosecutors to evaluate protocols.
“While we're disappointed with the verdict, we respect the jury's decision,” Davidson wrote in an email. “However, in our view, the jury acquittal wasn't the result of any fundamental flaw in our operational techniques. Rather, it seemed to be based on the jury's analysis and interpretation of the facts and circumstances specific to this one case as well as questions they appeared to have regarding the relevant legal principles. The overwhelming majority of the cases from these cyber-stings have resulted in successful prosecution.”
David Smith, chief of operations for 7th Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizza, said that prosecutors would learn from the jury's decision.
“The VCSO did a great job with highly skilled deputies and a thorough investigation,” Smith wrote in an email. “We do not discuss investigative techniques, but we learn something every day above ground, and working together with the VCSO and our other law enforcement partners we will put today's lesson to good use going forward.”
Some Catholics wary after cardinal announces release of sex-abuse files
by BRIAN SLOYDYSKO
Churchgoers emerged from Mass at Holy Name Cathedral on Sunday wary of an impending release — announced by church leaders here — of documents detailing the sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests, but optimistic that the Catholic church could finally move beyond the past.
Cardinal Francis George, the head of Chicago's Roman Catholic Archdiocese, penned a letter distributed Sunday at Masses across the city and suburbs announcing the release of the documents. “The church struggles with the past but it's a way of providing some healing people need,” said Andy Luther, 33, of Villa Park. “Either way, it's a painful experience bringing things to the light.”
The church files on sex-abuse cases, sought for nearly seven years by plaintiffs' attorneys, will be handed over Wednesday under the terms of court settlements, according to the cardinal's letter.
The documents detailing sexual abuse by priests, along with information about church officials who may have covered up the abuse, will be turned over Wednesday to attorneys suing the Archdiocese of Chicago. But those files will not become public for at least another week in order to remove victims' information, according to Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., attorney involved in a lawsuit filed by the abused.
“Publishing for all to read the actual records of these crimes raises transparency to a new level,” George wrote in his letter. “It will be helpful, we pray, for some, but painful for many.”
Mike Kiely, 32, said the priest saying a Sunday afternoon Mass at the cathedral told churchgoers to read the letter, but the priest said little else about it.
“I'm all for it no matter how nasty or ugly it is,” said Kiely, who lives in Ukrainian Village.
Kiely said the abuse of children by priests was a horror and hoped the release will be a healing moment. The issue was previously “swept under the rug,” which Kiely said ultimately drives people away from the faith.
“It seems like they are talking publicly about the actions that occurred by providing a formalized statement as well as asking for forgiveness from parishioners,” said Jeff Beck, 33, of Uptown. “I think that is a good thing.”
Meanwhile, members of the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said George's letter was largely self-serving at the expense of his predecessor, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. On Sunday, the group protested outside the cathedral, handing out fliers that urged Catholics to “ignore Cardinal George's spin.”
George's letter also addresses the handling of ex-priest Daniel McCormack, who was convicted of abuse allegations that occurred on George's watch. In his letter to the faithful, George points to Bernardin's role in promoting the now-defrocked priest, noting that Bernardin ordained McCormack and later elevated him to a “position of trust.”
McCormack was sentenced to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children while he was a parish priest at St. Agatha Catholic Church on Chicago's West Side. In court filings, several abuse victims have blamed George for ignoring allegations lodged against McCormack over the years.
“This letter is a way for him to escape his own personal responsibility,” said Kate Bochte, a member of SNAP. “He's trying to wash his hands of any accountability and he's blaming Bernardin for ordaining” McCormack.
In a statement, archdiocese spokeswoman Colleen Dolan took issue with SNAP's criticism of the letter.
“Neither Cardinal George nor any of his predecessors, particularly Cardinal Bernardin, would knowingly ordain a pedophile,” Dolan wrote in an emailed statement. “The Cardinal has repeatedly and publicly accepted responsibility for the McCormack tragedy. In this letter today, he again apologizes for the crime and sin of child sexual abuse within the Church.”
Safe space for child abuse victims opens at Allen
by MacKenzie Elmer
WATERLOO | Victims of child abuse in Northeast Iowa will not have to travel far to receive care and collect clinical evidence to prosecute their attackers in court.
Northeast Iowa's Child Protection Center found a new home inside Allen Hospital last month after moving from its previous location on Cedar Heights, tripling its former size and doubling its capacity to assist law enforcement investigate allegations of child abuse.
Police and department of human services officials take children to the Child Protection Center for interviews and medical examinations in cases of suspected physical, mental or sexual abuse. That information can be essential evidence during a court hearing.
"We hope some day to be out of business," said Katie Strub, one of the center's forensic interviewers. Unfortunately, their case load isn't dropping.
Staff saw 80 children in 2010 at the former Cedar Heights location, compared to 451 in 2012.
"We now have the ability to see at least twice as many children and families as we did before," Strub said.
The CPC is one of five nationally accredited centers of its kind in the state. Though children and some dependent adults are brought to the center under grim circumstances, it's a bright, cheery space designed to make them feel comfortable and safe.
Teens and children are interviewed in age-appropriate rooms with high-tech cameras and microphones that record their conversation with investigators. Every step of the investigation is explained to them. Officials can observe the interview from an adjacent room with updated equipment. Staff are elated they can conduct two cases at once with the added rooms.
It also serves 27 counties, easing the burden for rural victims who would otherwise be forced to visit the next nearest Child Protection Center in Cedar Rapids or Des Moines. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers for investigating abuse.
Ann Swisher, a newly hired nurse, said it's very rare they find evidence of physical harm because children's bodies heal so quickly. That's why it's important the child is assessed by the center's staff as soon as possible.
If an allegation involves sexual abuse, children are taken into one of two new medical examination rooms. The nurse examines that child's genitals for evidence of harm using what's called a Colpo scope. It's a kind of high-definition microscope with a camera attached. While a family advocate distracts the child with a book or singing, the nurse can take pictures of injuries without touching the body at all.
"It's an uncomfortable truth, but we need to verify if the sexual abuse was real," Strub said.
Most primary care providers do not have the equipment needed to provide such examinations, and most emergency rooms do not have specially trained staff to perform examinations on victims younger than 14.
Iowa's five centers got about $245,000 in state money for fiscal 2014 and 2015, but Allen spokesman Jim Waterbury said they would be "hat in hand" if it weren't for donations from various county associations, charitable foundations and individual donors. One anonymous giver donated one of the center's two Colpo scopes.
In 2012, the Child Protection Center won accreditation from the National Children's Alliance, which helped secure a grant from the Iowa Department of Public Health. With that money, they were able to hire the additional medical examiner and family advocate.
Taylor Smith, the advocate, meets with families while children are being interviewed and examined. She provides support through the entire investigation process and helps connect them to outside services.
Ninety percent of the time, a child knows their abuser, and 60 percent of the time, it's a family member. That family advocate can help collect additional information the investigators were unable to divulge from the victim.
"We were sometimes trying to squeeze people in and now we can offer continued support," Strub said.
Before Smith's addition, the center's staff agree, they could not perform duties under what they feel were "best practices."
"We can't undo what's been done, but we try and focus on healing," said Strub.
Navigating Relationships & Abandonment Fears: Losing Others, Losing Me
by Elisabeth Corey
As I have struggled through some very dark days of trauma recovery, I have come to understand some universal laws that have helped make sense of my chaotic life. The most basic law is that the inner child will recreate the challenges of the childhood until the challenges are resolved. To the inner child, the perception of resolution may be very different from the adult's logical brain.
But I have learned that the resolution can come in many forms.
For a sexual violence survivor, this law holds no more true than when navigating adult intimate relationships. Sometimes, this law is referred to as “women will always marry their father.”
But it manifests in other ways too. It would be easy to address if it weren't happening unconsciously. Unfortunately, we rarely know we are recreating our childhood. In the case of memory repression, it is worse because we don't remember the events we are recreating. Sounds like a losing battle, doesn't it?
When I reached adulthood, my self-esteem was non-existent. I was convinced that I was not worthy of a partner who had the potential to love me or make me happy. I was convinced of the opposite. I was sure that the only partner for me was an abusive addict who would eventually leave. Of course, all of these beliefs were unconscious. In my conscious mind, I was convinced that I was deserving of a great partner. Unfortunately, the unconscious always wins.
And so began my series of painful, impossible relationships. But never fear — my inner child had a plan.
I knew exactly how to avoid being abandoned or abused. If there weren't any guys who wanted me, I would just find guys who needed me. I would find guys who could not hold a job, or could not find a better girl than me, or had no spine, or had the exact same issue with their self-esteem. That sounded easy enough. There were plenty of those guys. And this wasn't about love anyway. I didn't even know what love was. My heart had gone missing when I was a young child. This was about circumstances. This was about logic. This was about what would look good to the rest of the world.
But there was a problem with my plan. I could not sustain a loveless relationship. Sometimes, they left despite all my attempts to keep them around. Sometimes, I could not contain my deep longing to find something more — a longing that surpassed all of my fearful attempts to play it safe. Then one day, I actually woke up. I realized that my life and relationships were eerily familiar.
During my awakening five years ago, I came to an understanding that my unconscious was running my life, and that my unconscious was unhappy. These realizations started my journey through a series of memories that were so horrific, it was everything I could do to stay alive. I slowly realized that my abusive, addicted partners of the past were a spitting image of the men in my family. I just had not remembered them in that way.
But there was one question I could not resolve: the abandonment. My father never left. Honestly, I often prayed that he would. The men in my family were not the type that left. They were the type that stuck around until they sucked the life out of everyone around them, sometimes literally. I just didn't understand why I was faced with so much abandonment. It didn't make sense.
And then I remembered. My unconscious was not trying to recreate my relationship with my father (not entirely). Even a child's mind can understand pure evil. My unconscious was trying to recreate the relationship my would-be rescuer, the young college student who was supposed to remove me from my family madness. I was expecting a savior, but instead he left for college. My emotional reaction to the abandonment was so intense that it provoked my memory repression. It was in that moment that I chose to forget.
He did come back. But it was too late. I had already forgotten him. The damage was done.
And so, with a deeper understanding of my unconscious abandonment struggles, I move down the scary road toward intimacy. And I face a man with every reason to leave. And I watch the fearful, unconscious thoughts as they pass through my head, the thoughts that can only be noticed through intense awareness.
“He will leave if he doesn't like my kids.”
“He will leave because I have so much trauma to overcome.”
“He will leave if he doesn't like where I live.”
“He will leave if he doesn't like the way I look with no make-up.”
“He will leave if he doesn't like my dog.”
“He will leave because he can.”
The list of doubts is endless. And it is not based on an educated analysis of his character. It is based on one historical fact. I was abandoned when it counted most.
I have been a slave to abandonment for most of my life. If I continue to feed these unconscious insecurities, I will fall into the trap once again. I will become someone who I am not, in an attempt to keep someone around who may or may not like who I really am. Of course, he can't like who I am if he never knows who I am.
So I will work hard to stay me. I will remind myself that, although abandonment may have destroyed my childhood, it can't do that damage now. There is only one thing worse than losing another. It is losing me.
Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry: Survivors speak out
The biggest public inquiry into child abuse ever held in the UK is due to begin its first public hearings in Northern Ireland later. Some of those who suffered physical, sexual, and emotional abuse tell BBC News NI what they hope the inquiry will achieve.
Kate Walmsley - abuse survivor
"The sexual abuse as a child, to me it became normal, it was going to happen. And I couldn't stop it. And then being an adult now, nobody realises that it hurts me much much more than it hurt me when I was a child.
"I just wish someone had asked me if I was happy. I was classified as a delinquent child and today that still really hurts because I was an abused child. I was a child crying for help. I was a hurt child.
"The word sorry to me doesn't mean anything anymore. In my life I've had that many sorrys that they don't mean anything."
Michael McMoran - abuse survivor
"I was constantly getting beaten by the nuns and if they couldn't do it they got the older boys who left the place to come up and they would fix you.
"It's very important to let people in the outside world know exactly what has been going on behind closed doors and people didn't believe it. They didn't believe nuns or brothers could do these things."
Margaret McGuckin - Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA)
"There was no love or care whatsoever in those places. It was constant humiliation or beatings and just being roughly pushed about and bullied. The bullying was carried out by the nuns and then the children took that from the nuns, and that was a way of life. Because they were the example. And then they carried on the bullying and it was a horrible, horrible place.
"We just don't want them to find that there was systemic abuse. We know that already but what else is going to happen? Is there anybody else going to be held accountable? The state are as guilty as the church here, in many ways, maybe more, because the state did not, as far as we're concerned, investigate these matters."
MP John Hemming tells parents suspected of child abuse to flee abroad
by Euan Stretch
The LibDem chairman of the Justice for Families campaign group claims they cannot expect a fair hearing at family courts on Panorama tonight.
A leading MP is advising parents suspected of child abuse to flee abroad.
John Hemming, the LibDem chairman of the Justice for Families campaign group, claims they cannot expect a fair hearing at family courts.
Mr Hemming makes the comments on tonight's Panorama on BBC1.
He says: “All the cards are held by the local authority. My advice is to go abroad if you can lawfully.”
"You can't get a fair trial here, because you can't rely on the evidence being fair. It's best simply to go if you can, at the right time, lawfully.”
But Children and Family Court Advisors and Support Service chief executive Anthony Douglas said: “We can't play poker with children's safety.”
Last year, local authorities made 10,000 applications to take children into care.
UK politicians accused of child abuse
Alleged victim Andrew Ash said a female former MP and prominent male MP sexually abused him and several other children as young as 13 during drug-fuelled parties in Westminster in the 1980s, the tabloid newspaper The Sunday Express reported.
Ash, who was in care at the time, said he had been taken down to London from northern England to attend parties organized by disgraced former British TV host Jimmy Savile's ex-chauffeur David Smith.
The abuse victim has given the name of the ex-MPs to the Metropolitan Police, but the politicians' identities can not be made public because of legal constraints.
Ash also demanded justice and truth, adding his alleged abusers “have been protected for far too long.”
"It wasn't just politicians. There were also a number of celebrities, including Jimmy Savile, who seemed to have a lot of good links to MPs and powerful businessmen. There were usually drugs like cocaine and speed available," he said.
Savile died in 2011 and following his death, hundreds of allegations of sex abuse and rape of minors became public.
Several high-profile figures have been arrested in connection with the multiple investigations into the abuse scandal surrounding the BBC's former presenter.
In January 2013, in a report by the police and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Savile was branded as one of the UK's most prolific known sexual predators, who used his celebrity status to “hide in plain sight.”
According to the report, titled “Giving Victims a Voice,” some 214 crimes, including 34 cases of rape during 54 years of abuse committed by the former TV presenter, were recorded across 28 police force areas.
NSPCC: Sexual abuse against primary school age children rises
The number of primary school children sexually abused in Wales rose by nearly a quarter last year, the NSPCC said.
The charity said 376 cases were recorded by police in 2012-13, an increase of 75 (nearly 25%) on the previous year, compared to a 16% rise across Wales and England.
The figures were described as "disturbing" particularly because victims were often so young.
The charity said parents should do more to warn children about sexual abuse.
The NSPCC is re-running its Underwear Rule campaign, which aims to provide parents with a guide on how to discuss the issue.
Des Mannion, national head of service for NSPCC Wales, said: "Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won't heal by itself.
"Our campaign has started to make inroads in giving children the protection they need but there is obviously still a long way to go.
"The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young.
"This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age, and parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe."
The NSPCC said its figures were obtained from 41 of the 43 police forces across England and Wales under a Freedom of Information request.
In total, there were 1,282 sex crimes recorded against children in Wales, 1,061 of them girls. There were 376 cases recorded against children under 11.
Mr Mannion added: "It's a startling fact that most children are abused by someone they know so it's vital that we communicate to children that it's not right for anyone to touch the places that are private to them, no matter who they are."
Claire Bevan, from Swansea, said she used the NSPCC's guide to talk to her daughters.
She added: "It was really easy for us and the girls picked up it really well.
"They are really clear on what should happen and are telling Nanny and the rest of the family about it on their own."
The charity said 5,547 sex crimes in England and Wales were recorded in total against children under 11 - a 16% rise on the previous year's figure of 4,772.
In total, 22,654 sexual offences against under-18s were reported to police - a slight fall on the previous year - with almost four out of five cases (77%) involving girls.
East Manatee's 'Full Belly' works against sex trafficking
by RICHARD DYMOND
EAST MANATEE -- When he meets the parents of children, especially 12- to 14-year-old girls, Garrett Makeever of the Palmetto Police Department offers a piece of advice based on his experience.
"Be the parent," Makeever said Sunday. "If you don't, someone out there is ready to act like the parent and be their buddy."
Makeever and his wife, Sarah, don't just talk the talk when it comes to issues involving sexual exploitation and human trafficking among children.
The couple donated roughly $60 during a fundraiser Sunday for Selah Freedom, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "bring light into the darkness of modern day slavery."
The fundraiser, which the Makeevers attended as part of a crowd of 275, was held as part of Full Belly Stuffed Burgers' first birthday celebration Sunday at 8742 State Road 70 E. in Ranch Lake Plaza.
The event raised about $500 for Selah Freedom, which operates a home in Sarasota for runaway girls, said Allison Kummery, whose fiance is Matt Holt, one of three Full Belly Stuffed Burgers owners.
Sexual exploitation of children is disturbing, Kummery said.
"It's not something people like to talk about, but Florida is in the top three states for human trafficking," Kummery said. "It's No. 2 for sex trafficking."
According to Selah Freedom, up to 300,000 children are taken into sex trafficking each year.
"The traffickers are organized," Kummery said. "They are moving girls from Tampa to Miami to meet the demands for sex. The reason it is so prevalent here is that Florida is a big runaway state, having mild weather so kids can hang outside near bus stations."
Selah Freedom reports many young girls drawn into sex trafficking have been
abused in their homes from a young age and are waiting for a chance to run away.
"Between 12 and 14 for girls is the entry age into this situation," Kummery said.
"It's definitely getting bad," Makeever said of sexual exploitation of youths locally. "Palmetto officers have gone to school about the problem. We don't ignore it if we see a situation where it could exist. There are so many runaways now and these people prey on runaways."
Garrett Makeever grew up in Bradenton and graduated from Southeast High in 1986; his wife, Sarah, is from a small town called North Collins, N.Y. She grew up playing sports and met Garrett Makeever while playing co-ed softball for the Red Barn team.
"Every kid needs to be involved in something like sports where they have support and mentors," Sarah Makeever said. "I think Boys & Girls Club and the Police Athletic League are so important. If there is just one positive person in a child's life, they may not fall prey by all of this."
Sarasota's Ryan Carney, hired to perform his original reggae-inspired music for the event, said he will consider writing a song for Salah Freedom.
"I have three little sisters," Carney said. "I am an advocate for them."
There were prize giveaways, games for children and loads of stuffed burgers.
The high point was the unusual "Burger Cake" made by local photographer and baker Kimberly Keech. It was a cake that looked like a burger, complete with bun and cheese.
"It's so realistic we can't be sure it's made of flour until we cut into it," said Full Belly co-owner Shane Keinz.
Information: Elizabeth Melendez Fisher, president/CEO of Selah Freedom, 941-348-9141 or selahfreedom.com
Sex trafficking awareness campaign launches in Fairfax
by Kathy Stewart
WASHINGTON - Many people think teen sex trafficking happens somewhere else. But it's on the rise in Northern Virginia. Matter of fact, we are a hot spot for the sex trafficking of teenagers, of our own teenagers, of literally the girl next door. Fairfax County police say on average two new potential victims are identified each week.
To fight back, the community is being armed through an new awareness campaign. You need to be able to recognize trafficking in order to report it and that's where the a new public awareness campaign comes in. It's called the "Just Ask" Prevention Project and includes a new interactive website to help in the battle.
Detective Bill Woolf says sadly he's not hurting for cases. He's with the Human Trafficking Unit of the Fairfax County police department. He says, "When you look into the eyes of these victims, when you recover them from the situations they're forced to endure, that you see the pain, the hurt." He says the best way to fight this heinous crime of our children is awareness.
Besides an interactive website, the campaign includes a 10-minute film on sex trafficking to be shown to all 6-12th graders in Fairfax County public schools and as you'll be seeing posters on backs of buses, at schools and at other locations.
"Traffickers count on the community not doing something about it, " says Bradley Miles. He's with the Polaris Project and is an expert in the fight against sex trafficking. (Link: http://www.polarisproject.org/) January is sex trafficking awareness month.
Many think that sex trafficking mainly happens to runaways and people from other countries but it literally is happening to your teenage neighbor. The hope is that through the website and the awareness campaign that it will inspire residents to get involved in prevention by learn how to spot and identify potential victims and to report them.
Group uses online ads to map sex trafficking
by Mark Curnutte
The Imagine Foundation plotted the location of adult services in the Cincinnati area and found the highest-concentration areas followed interstate highways.
CINCINNATI -- Commercial sex and sex trafficking in the Cincinnati area and Northern Kentucky follow the region's spine on Interstate 75 from Florence, Ky., north to Sharonville, Ohio, before bending west to track I-275 through Springdale and Fairfield and onto I-74 to Batesville, Ind.
That map and concentrations of commercial sex hot spots along the interstates emerged from a three-month investigation into the location of adult services advertised on a website of classified ads. The Cincinnati Enquirer obtained a copy of the report, compiled by the Cleveland-based nonprofit Imagine Foundation, which will be released Friday at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
"This is real," foundation Executive Director Jesse Bach said. "There are women and girls who are being bought and sold for sex in the Cincinnati area."
Bach, whose organization has completed similar investigations in Cleveland and several Iowa cities, contacted the Freedom Center because of its anti-trafficking work to partner on a study of trafficking in this area.
Bach will meet Friday with Freedom Center officials, several regional police agencies and social services organizations working with sex trafficking victims.
"We are going to share more specific information with law enforcement, such as exact phone numbers and places, so they can investigate it if they want to," Bach said Thursday, the same day Ohio Gov. John Kasich's office launched a statewide human trafficking awareness campaign.
Imagine Foundation researchers found 2,965 advertisements for commercial sex within the region from June 1 through Aug. 31 at the website. The ads represented 602 distinctive phone numbers from 104 area codes.
When plotted on a map, the highest-concentration areas followed interstate highways.
"It seems that the interstate does hold a role in the facilitation of commercial sex and sex trafficking," the study reads. "This may be due to the observation that there are often numerous hotels and motels located within close proximity of these areas and the potential to quickly move unwilling victims across city or state lines via the highway system."
• Most of the advertisements for commercial sex on the website (261, or 18.5 percent) were listed on Sundays.
• The price for commercial sex in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, whether the client drove to a specific location or the service was delivered to the customer, was about $150 an hour. Studies of other areas by The Imagine Foundation found that sex services delivered to the customer were normally more expensive.
• Another difference in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky from other areas studied was that a larger number of white people were featured in advertisements for commercial sex. In other areas, Bach said, whites and African-Americans are more evenly represented in the ads. During the three-month study span, 1,966 of the photographs in the ads were white people, 541 were African-American, 77 were Hispanic and 38 were Asian, among other designations.
Bach said that the region must focus more attention on the customer. The "john," whether male or female, must be exposed for seeking to purchase sex from a person being trafficked.
"It's usually just the trafficker or the victim who is shown," he said.
He also suggests that social groups and faith-based organizations, as well as individual citizens, take an active role in combating sex trafficking.
"We see this all the time," Bach said. "There are cars in and out of a house all the time and nobody bothers to report it."
Bach said the study's association with the Freedom Center adds to its stature. The Freedom Center, initially focused on the Underground Railroad and 19th century abolitionism, in 2010 won national and international acclaim for creating the first permanent, museum-quality exhibit examining contemporary slavery, "Invisible: Slavery Today." Contemporary slavery ensnares 12 million to 17 million people worldwide, with practices ranging from forced child labor to sex trafficking of girls and women.
Center officials welcome the affiliation with The Imagine Foundation and its report.
"This is certainly the direction we're going in," said Luke Blocher, Freedom Center Director of National Strategic Initiatives. "We're focused on bringing these voices much more to the forefront and giving them a platform."
Legislators, organizations look curb sex trafficking in Cincinnati
by Jane Andreasik
CINCINNATI -- Ohio state officials are furthering efforts to curb sex trafficking across the state, drawing attention to the growing problem that could be in your neighborhood.
Despite passage of anti-human-trafficking laws set forth by Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine and supported by nearly 90 legislators, the problem persists.
“We may not want to admit it -- it's almost too horrific to imagine -- but the fact is that human trafficking is real and is happening across Ohio,” Gov. Kasich said in a statement. “Over the past two years, we've improved our laws to fight trafficking and begin getting victims the help they need, but we must do more.”
As a part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the Cleveland-based organization, Imagine Foundation, presented a report on commercial sex trade in Cincinnati at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Friday morning.
The report was based upon a two month research study of a known Cincinnati escort website. During this period, the IF researchers found 2,965 advertisements for commercial sex within the area.
"One of the biggest things in Cincinnati is that most everybody would think this occurs in the inner city, in the seedy area. But we found it was in the fairly affluent suburbs," said Jesse Bach, director of the foundation.
The highest areas for the sex advertisement were found from Sharonville, downtown Cincinnati, Springdale, Northgate, Norwood, Fairfield, Harrison, Western Hills and Covington and Newport, Ky.
"One of the biggest surprises here was the inordinate amount of people coming from far away places. You have hundreds, thousands of miles and they're being brought into this area. Why?" he asked.
He said areas that have easy access to hotels along the 275, I-75 and I-71 roadways are target areas.
"The results of the study do not definitively identify sex trafficking," said Bach. "However, one can assume that sex trafficking occurs within markets for commercial sex, and by understanding those markets, we can infer behaviors and patterns related to sex trafficking in Cincinnati."
As described by experts to WCPO's Jason Law, there is a distinction between prostitution and trafficking. Trafficking includes a pimp who orchestrates the acts and controls the person.
Erin Meyer, Coalition Manager for 'End Slavery Cincinnati,' says she believes where there is prostitution, there is usually a high amount of sex trafficking.
The report also found that Sunday was the most popular day for advertisements; unique to the Cincinnati area with 18.5 percent of ads on that day. The median price for escort service was marked at $150.
The Human Trafficking Commission's report stated that 13 years old is the most common age in Ohio for youth to become victims of sex trafficking. From the study's sample of 207 individuals, 49 percent were under 18 when they were first trafficked.
In the last August stats report from DeWine's office, out of 30 human trafficking investigations, 15 arrests were made.
"I am proud of Ohio's efforts to increase attention to the issue of human trafficking," said DeWine. "Viewing victims of human trafficking as victims in need of services, rather than prostitutes deserving of jail time, represents a major paradigm shift for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and the public."
Nationally, over 100,000 children are thought to be involved in the sex trade.
Of those, about 1,000 children in Ohio become victims. The awareness campaign set fourth by the state on Monday will attempt to connect with these victims to learn more about the trade and how to stop it.
Trafficking victims and those with information about trafficking can call a toll-free hot line, 1-888-373-7888, or text "BeFree" to #233733. You can also call BCI at 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446). Call (513) 800-1863 for the Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Hotline
Panel discussion examines the scourge of human trafficking
by EDWARD M. EVELD
The scourge of human trafficking locally and worldwide can be stemmed, but we need a lot of eyes on the growing problem, experts on the issue said Saturday.
The first requirement is awareness that human trafficking could be occurring in places many of us pass every day. Then a conscious effort to watch for signs and report them, they said.
About 80 people attended a panel discussion, Intercept Human Trafficking, presented Saturday by local members of United Methodist Women, a faith organization.
Members of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City and the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood hosted the event at Resurrection's downtown campus, 1522 McGee St.
Saturday was the observation of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Panel participant Rachel Bachenberg, a nurse and member of the United Methodist Women's national human trafficking team, said she was a patron of a shoe store in Overland Park near where authorities raided massage parlors in 2007 for prostitution.
She asked at the store if anyone had suspected what was happening nearby. The raids led to sex trafficking charges by federal prosecutors, who said Chinese women were brought to Johnson County to work as prostitutes.
“ ‘I knew something hinky was going on, but I didn't know what,' ” Bachenberg said she was told.
“At the local level we need to be aware,” she said, “and we need to have a victim-centered approach.”
Also on the panel were Laura Bauer, a Kansas City Star reporter and an author of the newspaper's 2009 investigative series on human trafficking; retired FBI special agent Jeff Lanza; and Kristy Childs, founder of Veronica's Voice, which provides outreach and a “safe center” for victims of sexual exploitation.
“In 20 years of reporting, it was my hardest assignment,” said Bauer, a veteran crime reporter, about the trafficking series. “One of those crimes hidden in plain sight.”
It quickly became clear that the trade in humans wasn't only a coastal issue but that international trafficking had come to the Midwest, Bauer said.
Victims were threatened and tortured, she said. Fear kept them in the shadows. Fear haunted them if they tried to come forward.
“They lived every day in fear that their traffickers were going to come back and get them,” Bauer said.
Tens of millions are trafficked globally, coerced to work in the sex industry or as laborers in factories, in restaurants, on farms and as domestic workers. It's a lucrative enterprise, with an estimated $32 billion in worldwide revenues.
Leaders around the world have called for action. Pope Francis highlighted the issue in December, calling human trafficking “a crime against humanity” that must be stopped.
Lanza noted that the issue arises every year in connection with the Super Bowl. New Jersey expects some 400,000 men to visit the state around game weekend. Some of them will seek out prostitutes, triggering the concern about human trafficking.
But, he said, traffickers don't exploit only the sex trade. Think elder care, housekeeping and labor of all kinds, he said.
Be watchful, Lanza said. Here are a few signs of human trafficking highlighted by Lanza and others:
• Victims of human trafficking may live with their employer or close by. Very cramped spaces are often home to large numbers of occupants.
• Places of human trafficking may have barred windows and electronic surveillance, with locks that keep people in.
• Victims may seem to answer questions with what sounds like scripted or rehearsed answers, and they may be afraid to speak with anyone by themselves. Employers often keep their documents.
For information about human trafficking and how to report it, go to the FBI website, FBI.gov. Additional information is at HumanTrafficking.org.
Soap offers hope for sex trafficking victims in Metro Detroit
by Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
When a man she trusted began trafficking out Theresa Flores at hotels around Detroit, the 15-year-old could only focus on when it would all be over and she could wash off with soap and water.
“Many times we think of the girl as just a prostitute or someone on the street doing it for the drugs,” said Flores, of her experience with sex trafficking. “For many years I didn't know what to call what happened to me, and I had a hard time healing.”
Having broken away from the industry, Flores is now working to raise awareness and prevent other women from being trafficked like she was.
On Saturday, Flores' group Save Our Adolescents From Prostitution, packaged and distributed 130,000 bars of soap with the number for the trafficking awareness hotline on them to 70 hotels and motels in Metro Detroit ahead of the North American International Auto Show. Trafficking can get a boost from large-scale events where many out-of-towners come in to stay at hotels and motels, Flores said.
Flores said the group doesn't call the hotels and motels before members arrive to avoid being rejected outright. The hotel-size bars of soap have a label attached that reads, “Are you being forced to do anything you do not want to do? Have you you been threatened if you try to leave? Have you witnessed young girls being prostituted? If so, please call: 1-888-3737-888.”
Later this month the group will hold the same event in New Jersey, ahead of the Super Bowl, often cited as a prime time for sex trafficking and prostitution. The state has been planning ways to crack down on it in the weeks before and after the big game.
Nationally, leaders are starting to take notice of the problem of human trafficking.
President Barack Obama declared Saturday the National Human Trafficking Day of Awareness, which includes labor and sex trafficking.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 2,515 incidents of human trafficking were recorded nationwide between January 2008 and June 2010.
The federal Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division cited 29 Michigan human trafficking cases in 2011. An FBI national sweep called “Operation Cross Country” in July recovered 10 children and made 18 arrests in Metro Detroit.
Attorney General Bill Schuette says he launched the Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking task force last March in an effort to get a better understanding of the extent of trafficking in Michigan and ways to improve laws, provide victim support and raise awareness of the signs of trafficking.
“I approach it this way: Even if it's one young woman who is being held against her will in a situation of forced employment or, even worse, prostitution, if we can save one young woman's life, I call that success,” said Schuette.
Victims are criminalized
It is impossible to get an accurate picture of the number of people being trafficked, says Bridgette Carr, a law professor and the director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan.
“Right now, we so often criminalize victims,” said Carr, whose clinic has been providing free legal aid to trafficked citizens and foreign nationals since 2009. “We can't have a count of victims if we are arresting them and treating them as criminals.”
Carr says the law must change to allow victims to defend themselves and provide a “safe harbor” for those who are coerced into committing crimes or doing drugs or other illegal activities by their traffickers.
There are bills in the state Legislature to change laws related to trafficking, many of which were spearheaded by state Sen. Judy Emmons.
“It's a human issue. It's an issue regarding humanity, the right to choose and the right to dignity,” said the Ionia Republican.
There are 19 bills in the state Senate that deal with the “safe harbor” issue, as well as expanding housing for victims rescued from traffickers and toughening laws to make soliciting of minors by “johns” a five-year felony. House members also are working on legislation.
Issues go beyond the law
But human trafficking involves issues that go beyond the law, says Jane White, director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force at Michigan State University. Victims “have hardly any support system. … They need to have some kind of long-term counseling available,” White said.
Angela Aufdemberge is the president and CEO of Vista Maria, a mental health treatment facility and residential program in Dearborn Heights for 11- to 18-year-old abuse victims.
Getting out of trafficking can be hard for girls, she says, particularly if they were introduced at a young age, because it's all they know.
“You don't understand what a healthy relationship looks and feels like,” said Aufdemberge. “When the victim tries to leave, (the pimps) tell them they will turn them in ... and that's another form of coercion.”
There is also a stigma attached to those who are trafficked says Leslie King, who was victimized as a 15-year-old by a man she thought was her boyfriend.
“This guy picked me up, told me I was beautiful, wined and dined me,” she said. “He made me feel special, like his girlfriend. Only to take advantage of me. I owed him after that.”
King was involved in the sex trade even after she escaped from the man because she remained addicted to the drugs he had forced her to take. When she was 36, she tried to commit suicide.
“When God didn't take me, I decided there had to be another way,” said the Grand Rapids resident.
King got sober and eventually founded Sacred Beginnings, a support center that has served more than 400 trafficked children since it was opened in 2005.
King, 49, says state officials can only do so much unless the public'sperception changes.
“These women, they're human beings with feelings. These women are somebody's mother, daughter, sister, friend,” she said. “The more you stigmatize these women, the further you push them into the darkness.
“You're no better than the person who is putting them out on the corner.”
Lawmakers target human trafficking in Wisconsin
by WRN Contributor
Legislation being proposed at the Capitol would give police more tools to go after human trafficking.
State Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) says the bill is part of an initiative by the Department of Justice, law enforcement, and legislators to address a problem, which often targets young people. The Marathon Republican says “The FBI rescued 10 children from trafficking in the State of Wisconsin, and this was the second highest total out of all the states in the nation, and so this is an effort to try to tighten things up to maybe close some loopholes and throw a wider net out, and to deal with this issue.”
The Senator says the trafficking problem is bigger than many people realized, and something needs to be done to protect our children. “Many times, young people are lured into calling up and applying to an ad in the paper for modelling, for business, for jobs, for whatever, and they get to a place and they end up being taken in and maybe even drugged.”
The bill would give law enforcement the ability to go after property and materials used in trafficking, increase penalties for people involved, and give better definitions of the specific trafficking crimes. This includes expanding the definition of a “commercial sex act” in the statutes, so the ability to prosecute minors involved in trafficking operations is more limited. It would also allow minors have prostitution convictions vacated or expunged, and giving victims greater confidentiality rights.
Companion legislation is being circulated in the state Assembly and Petrowski says he hopes the bill will receive a hearing quickly. He says “hopefully we'll get this through both houses and onto the Governor's desk before spring.”
FBI: Bay Area one of nation's top places for child sex trafficking
by Vic Lee
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The FBI says the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the nation's top 13 places for child sex trafficking. On Friday, the U.S. attorney and San Francisco city leaders launched a major awareness campaign on modern day slavery.
On Wednesday, Hayward police arrested two men at the Phoenix Lodge and charged them with running a sex trafficking ring. They got a call from Richmond police who said a 14-year-old girl told them she was kidnapped and forced into prostitution at this Hayward motel.
"While we were at the hotel, we discovered two more ladies at the hotel," Sgt. Mark Ormsby said. "We were able to interview them so we had a total of three individuals that were forced into this prostitution -- one minor and two adults.
The discovery of the sex trafficking ring put a punctuation mark on this week's kickoff of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
On Thursday, the Alameda County District Attorney unveiled billboards and posters bearing the faces of former child sex trafficking victims and how they escaped a life of sexual exploitation.
On Friday, San Francisco launched its campaign by unveiling the winners of the anti-human trafficking teen poster contest, using the theme "No One Owns Me." Among the speakers, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag
"The outrage of human trafficking which must be called by its true name -- modern slavery," Haag said.
The anti-sex trafficking campaigns come on the heels of last summer's highly successful FBI sweep called "Operation Cross Country."
More than 100 children were rescued during the three-day law enforcement campaign.
Twelve children were rescued here in the Bay Area. That's more juveniles than any other city in the country.
Our crew from ABC7 News was embedded with the task force here in Hayward, the same city where police made the two arrests this week.
At a hotel, the FBI rescued a 17-year-old. They caught her on a hidden camera soliciting a police decoy for sex. Another girl was only thirteen. And one 15-year-old was so scared she began crying.
All were taken into protective custody because they're considered victims of human trafficking. The goal is to break the vicious cycle so that no one owns them anymore.
MO Group Aims to End Sex Trafficking
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A Missouri group hopes to bring a dark underworld to light by hosting what it says is the first national, comprehensive conference on sex trafficking.
Molly Hackett, principal of the anti-trafficking group Exchange Initiative, is organizing the event.
It's called Ignite: Sparking Action Against Sex Trafficking and she says it will bring together professionals from law enforcement, medicine, education, faith-based and community groups to help better understand the problem and coordinate action.
"Everyone needs each other,” she stresses. “We need the school counselors to understand what they're seeing – much as for law enforcement, what resources are available in safe housing, who can they call – to make everyone's efforts just so much more effective."
The conference takes place March 2 through March 4 in St. Louis. More information is online at ExchangeInitiative.com
Saturday is the 8th annual National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Hackett says while it's clear the problem exists in Missouri, it's difficult to get a handle on exact statistics.
"It hasn't been categorized very well,” she points out. “When you look at police reports, it's different from every state as far as arrests and the victim, or if they're being trafficked, versus the john and the pimp.
She adds it is estimated that there are at least 300,000 children nationwide, and more than one million worldwide, who are at risk of being victims of sex trafficking.