From the FBI
(Pictures on site)
Have You Seen These Kids? -- National Missing Children's Day 2014
In observance of National Missing Children's Day on Sunday, May 25—which honors the memories of those who are lost and focuses attention on the issue—the FBI is highlighting the names and faces of the children listed on our Kidnappings and Missing Persons webpage and asking for your continued help to locate them.
We'd also like to remind everyone about the committed efforts the Bureau undertakes—in conjunction with our federal, state, local, and organizational partners—to help rescue the most vulnerable of crime victims, to bring to justice those who would harm them, and to educate parents and kids about the all-too-real dangers of violent and sexploitation crimes threatening children.
Those efforts include our:
National Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team, ready to travel anywhere at a moment's notice to assist in missing child investigations;
Innocence Lost National Initiative, a partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) that addresses domestic sex trafficking of children;
Child Exploitation Task Forces, cooperative ventures with federal, state, and local partners around the country that investigate individuals and criminal enterprises responsible for victimizing young people;
Endangered Child Alert Program, a joint effort with NCMEC that seeks national and international exposure of unknown adults whose faces and/or distinguishing characteristics are visible in child pornography images and videos;
Safe Online Surfing initiative, a web-based program that teaches kids how to recognize and respond to online dangers like sexual predators and cyber bullying; and
FBI Child ID App, which provides parents with an easy way to electronically store pictures and vital information about their children in case they go missing.
Recently, the NCMEC paid tribute to a number of Bureau employees —along with their state and local partners—for their extraordinary work on missing or exploited children investigations. We congratulate all the honorees, but we know our work is not done. The FBI will continue to make investigating violent crimes against young victims a priority, working side by side with our public and private partners to ensure the safety of children nationwide.
Lawmakers confront state's struggles with child abuse
by Daniel J. Chacón
More than half of abused and neglected children in New Mexico repeatedly passed through the state's child welfare system during a nine-year period, according to a new report.
A majority of kids seen by the Child Protective Services division between 2004 and 2012 were visited by caseworkers up to four times after their initial contact with the agency. Other children had so many referrals they became known as “frequent fliers.”
“Some of the kids had more than 23 referrals over time,” Charles Sallee, deputy director of the Legislative Finance Committee, told state lawmakers Friday.
The number of re-referrals was among a long list of sobering facts presented to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee on Friday about New Mexico's abused and neglected children.
“Probably bad things are happening to a lot of kids in the state. Not all cases are being referred, so that number is probably much higher,” Sallee said.
In 2012, about 45 percent of victims were under the age of 6, he said.
“These are very high-risk cases because these kids are not generally out in the community as much as their older peers, who are in school, for example,” Sallee said. “They're much more vulnerable … because it's not as easy for them to tell an adult that they're being harmed.”
The legislative committee also received a report on several programs that could help reduce child abuse and neglect.
For instance, Sallee said, the state allocates about $113 million to Child Protective Services, and less than $1 million is spent on prevention services.
“The bulk of the spending when it comes to child welfare is what I call the back end of the system,” Sallee said. “This is where the state needs to intervene and remove a kid and place them into foster care.”
The federal government provides matching funds for placing kids into foster care and adoption, but “very little money” to prevent abuse and neglect.
The Children, Youth and Families Department received nearly 33,000 referrals alleging abuse and neglect of children in 2012. Through its investigative process, it determined about 6,500 children were victims of abuse or neglect. Of those, about 2,600 were placed in foster care.
“The federal government places strong incentives on waiting to intervene until you need to remove the kid, and then they provide open-ended entitlement funding to do that,” Sallee said.
Yolanda Deines, secretary of the Children, Youth and Families Department, which oversees Child Protective Services, agreed that the department's mandate is intervention, not prevention.
“Part of the issue is funding for prevention comes to us in a very difficult manner,” she told the committee. “When we're talking about prevention, we have no way of proving what we prevented if it never happened. … It's much easier to show outcomes when you're doing intervention than it is when you're doing prevention.”
But Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, said Deines could change priorities. “The department has the authority to do prevention,” he said. “ … I don't understand her dilemma about that.”
Sallee told the committee that New Mexico faces several “risk factors,” including a higher percentage of children in poverty than in 48 other states, and a high number of children whose parents or guardians are battling addictions.
“We rank the highest among all states on children with a drug-abusing caregiver that's involved in the child welfare system, so our ability to deliver effective behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services is critical to the ability of Child Protective Services to help families in the state,” he said.
“If we're not good at that,” he said, “it's going to make their job a lot more difficult and result in a lot more kids needing to be removed and placed into foster care and eventually adopted.”
Adding to the problem is an increase in substantiated cases of abuse and neglect. While physical and sexual abuse cases have remained steady, cases of physical neglect are up.
“Neglect cases are on the rise, which indicates that families are struggling to provide for the basic needs of their kids,” Sallee said.
Threshold of abuse is tricky to define
by Anita Wadhwani
Two boys. Two belts. Two different whippings, leading to two very different outcomes after police and the Department of Children's Services investigated the unrelated cases for possible child abuse.
In both instances, families claimed corporal punishment was used to discipline a child.
In one case, a 16-year-old boy was removed from his parents' custody last summer after his father admitted hitting him with a belt. His sister was removed, too. Neither has been returned home.
The father, Metro police chaplain Henry Davidson, is furious about the intervention, calling his actions a form of biblically based discipline used as tough love to steer his troubled son away from gangs. Davidson faces criminal child abuse charges, and the DCS case involving the children remains open.
In the second case, a 6-year-old Rutherford County boy was disciplined by his mother's fiance, who is a pastor and a Metro schools special education teacher. Pictures of the child's injuries show large, purple bruises covering his buttocks, lower back and upper thighs. The boy told an emergency room doctor that his mom's boyfriend used a belt to punish him. DCS asked the boy's mother to temporarily keep the boy away from the fiance, but the case has since been closed. No one has been arrested or charged, and the boy's mother is going forward with her plans to marry her fiance.
The boy's father, Carl Turnbow, is equally furious about the outcome, saying he believes authorities charged with protecting his son have instead kept him in harm's way.
The two cases raise questions that confront law enforcement officials and DCS caseworkers every day — when does corporal punishment cross the line into abuse? When does "tough love" go too far?
"These cases are not based on our moral judgments," said Kate Greer, a special investigator with DCS, who said the department follows legal guidelines in determining whether child abuse has occurred.
"They're based on laws."
But state laws leave wide room for interpretation.
Corporal punishment is legal in Tennessee. In fact, it is one of 19 states that extends the authority to physically punish a child to public school teachers and principals.
Law enforcement and DCS rely on state laws that define abuse, but subjective assessments are made every day.
'It's a fuzzy line'
Every state permits the use of "reasonable" corporal punishment, while at the same time making it a crime to intentionally inflict a serious injury on a child.
Few states, including Tennessee, define what "reasonable" is, making it difficult to draw the line, said Doriane Coleman, a law professor at Duke University who has studied child abuse and corporal punishment.
"It's a fuzzy line and somebody always has to make a judgment call," she said.
Separating abuse from corporal punishment requires assessing the severity and type of punishment, where on the body it was inflicted and whether there were bruises or injuries. Acting to intervene depends on whether the child has someone at home to keep him safe.
DCS doesn't keep a list of objects used to hit a child that automatically equate to child abuse. Children who report being beaten or whipped may mean abuse — or that their parents exercised the right to inflict corporal punishment.
Bruises and marks don't automatically equal child abuse, DCS officials noted.
"There's lots other questions that go (beyond) 'did an object reach contact?' " Greer said. "Corporal punishment has to do with severity and type. We would never present to the community that corporal punishment is not OK."
The only children specifically exempt from corporal punishment in Tennessee are children in DCS custody, where corporal punishment is not allowed.
DCS officials note that Tennessee is one of 18 states that requires any adult who suspects child abuse to report it.
Child abuse prevention advocates acknowledge that parents have different philosophies about child rearing and some may choose corporal punishment, but they urge parents to be thoughtful about whatever disciplinary measures they take.
"To be a successful parent, you really need to have more than one option on disciplining your children," said Kristin Rector, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee.
"We want parents to be nurturing to their children, to provide nurturing guidance and nurturing discipline. We're a child abuse prevention agency, so we're not going to encourage parents to use corporal punishment in any way, shape or form, but we want to be respectful of every parent and where they're coming from to discipline a child in a way that guides and nurtures them."
The 6-year-old boy, bruised from a beating
Since his divorce three years ago, Carl Turnbow has made the round trip from his home in Norcross, Ga., every other weekend and on holidays to pick up his 6-year-old son in Murfreesboro, where the boy lives with his mother and other family members.
Late last year, a few days before Christmas, Turnbow picked up his son for the holidays. Helping the boy into the shower that night, Turnbow saw extensive bruising.
The bruises were "on the patient's right waist/kidney area, both buttocks and back of both thighs," according to a hospital emergency room doctor's report. The bruises appeared "significant and extensive," and the boy said his mother's fiance had beaten him with a belt, it said.
Photographs Turnbow captured on his cellphone show five purple bruises 2 to 3 inches in diameter on the boy's back, bottom and legs.
The Gwinnett Medical Center reported suspected child abuse to a social worker and Gwinnett police, which lacked jurisdiction because the incident took place in Tennessee. Turnbow was told to report the suspected abuse to Rutherford County law enforcement and Tennessee Department of Children's Services officials.
Turnbow didn't want to return the child to his mother on Christmas Day, but DCS officials said they had visited the boy's mother, who assured them her son would be safe and signed a temporary agreement to keep her fiance out of the home. A DCS official met Turnbow and his son in Murfreesboro to take pictures of the bruises, which had faded since his initial report to Georgia officials. And so he reluctantly sent his son back to the mother's home to comply with his court-ordered visitation schedule.
Turnbow said he repeatedly contacted Rutherford County law enforcement and DCS asking what action would be taken, but was told it was a case of "excessive corporal punishment." Law enforcement and DCS officials said state confidentiality laws bar them from discussing the case further.
"I feel like if I had been the one beaten like (my son), the guy who did it would have been arrested," Turnbow said. "But because it's a little kid, nothing happens. If I was a teacher and didn't report the bruises, like my son's mother didn't, I would be in trouble. But nothing has happened to her either."
The boy's mother, Shalonda Grimes, did not return phone calls requesting comment. Her Facebook page contains recent posts about her continued engagement with her fiance, who is no longer barred from contact with her son.
In a telephone meeting with DCS officials and the boy's mother that Turnbow recorded, a caseworker said the boy was interviewed four separate times by caseworkers and an interviewer with the Child Advocacy Center, which works with DCS to provide private counselors to interview children who may have been abused.
"All his statements were consistent," the caseworker said. "He did say he did catch a whooping ... he did say that he liked (his mother's fiance) but was a little bit scared with the whoopings. As far as safety, he did say he felt safe at home."
Turnbow insistently asked officials to do something: "I want some action taking place. My son got abused. He had bruises. He had contusions....
"What actions are you going to take? He's still in a dangerous situation because there's a perpetrator, and then there's a person who knew about it."
The DCS caseworker's answer: "Mr. Turnbow, every case is different. We can't give you a cookie-cutter answer."
DCS officials said the case is now closed.
The teenage boy, beaten with a belt
Last May, when their then-16-year-old son didn't get off the bus from school, Henry and Betty Davidson went looking for him.
The teen had run away twice in the past. His parents feared he was hanging out with people who abused drugs. He was one of five siblings the couple had adopted out of the custody of the Department of Children's Services 10 years earlier after they suffered severe sexual and physical abuse by their biological parents.
Both Davidsons are ordained ministers who take to heart the biblical proverb: "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him."
Discipline in the Davidson household is prompted by poor grades, school referrals, disobedience or other misbehaviors. Discipline, Henry Davidson said, consists of whippings with a belt on a child's back or hands, withholding privileges such as TV or sports, and enforced exercise. The Davidsons say they require exercise for a short period, but their teenaged son reported to DCS workers that he sometimes had to do push-ups for up to three hours, with short breaks.
"We discipline our kids — we don't abuse them," Davidson said.
When they found their son at a local community center, Davidson wanted to teach him a lesson. He followed him into the bathroom and hit his son with a belt on his back "five or six times," according to the police report. Betty Davidson called police after she said the boy tried to strike back. Henry Davidson was cited and faces child abuse charges.
The teen was placed in foster care. His 16-year-old sister was removed as well, sent to live with her older sister. The rest of the Davidson children are adults who no longer live at home.
Their teenaged daughter reported she, too, was disciplined by having to do push-ups and "if they do something bad enough ... a whooping with an old black belt" — about 15 licks. She told a DCS caseworker she wasn't scared of her parents. But since she left, she has refused to return home.
Since the Davidsons' son was removed from their home, he has lived in three different foster homes and enrolled in three different schools, the Davidsons said. They keep up with his grades on the Metro school grading website and noticed his grades went from A's last year to all F's this year.
DCS officials say they cannot comment on the specifics of the case because of confidentiality rules, but they say evidence they gathered makes clear they made the right call in the Davidsons' case.
"We would like to tell the full story of everything," said Greer. "As you know, that's not possible."
As part of the Davidsons' ongoing legal battle with DCS, the couple asked their other children to write letters in support of their parents. They raised five biological children — two from Betty Davidson's former marriage — in addition to the five siblings they adopted.
"When you did wrong, you had to face the consequence," Victor Davidson, 25, wrote. "Nothing abusive, it would be what I knew back then as a whooping, a talk, some sort of punishment.... Visiting my dad's home and socializing with my step-siblings, they would complain and say that dad was being too strict. I would tell them that if they did what was right that they had nothing to worry about."
Henry Davidson Jr., 29, wrote: "I don't know what a jail cell looks like because I have never been to jail thanks to the proper parenting by my father."
Department of Children's Services
Non-accidental physical trauma or abuse inflicted by a parent or caretaker on a child. Physical abuse also includes but is not limited to:
• A parent or caretaker's failure to protect a child from another person who perpetrated physical abuse on a child.
• When an injury goes beyond temporary redness, e.g., a bruise, broken bone, cut, burn.
• When a child is allegedly struck on parts of the body in such a way that could result in internal injuries.
• Munchausen syndrome by proxy could be considered physical abuse or psychological abuse.
» Also included:
An infant/child who has been exposed to a drug or chemical substance (e.g., alcohol, cannabis, hallucinogens, stimulants, sedatives, narcotics, meth, heroin, inhalants or any other illegal substances), as verified by a positive drug screen.
Source: DCS Work Aid - 1 - CPS Categories and Definitions of Abuse/Neglect
Sold into sex slavery: Lawmakers work to end underground sex trafficking
by Halimah Abdullah
Washington (CNN) -- The 17-year-old girl was lured in by a pimp and forced to have sex for money.
She worked for three nightmarish weeks, until the pimp told her that he'd sold her to another pimp in Dallas.
He said he would hurt her, hurt her family if she didn't go.
"This is the point when you can give up on me," the girl told her mother, and disappeared into the night.
"I'm not giving up. I'm not quitting. I'm not going to lose you," vowed her mom, who asked not to be identified for her own safety.
And she didn't.
Not when she got a tip that her daughter was being advertised online. The mother says her daughter's former classmates, who'd been looking for a stripper for a 21st birthday party, found the ad on a website and posted it on their social media pages.
Not on the nights when she received text messages that swore the girl was fine, but that just didn't seem to come from her daughter.
The girl's mother pressed police, family, friends and anyone who would listen to her pleas for help. Finally, the man who'd helped supply her daughter with heroin, who sold her daughter to men for sex, and who had planned to send her to Dallas, was arrested.
The girl was returned to her family.
The emotional scars would take years to begin to heal, for both mother and daughter.
"I'm so angry about what these people did to my kid," the mom said, her voice breaking.
According to the FBI, an estimated 293,000 American youth are at risk of being trafficked in the nation's underground sex trade.
Lawmakers in the House passed a broad package of bills on Tuesday aimed at trying to shut down the nation's multi-million dollar sex trafficking industry.
While the measures, which have bipartisan support, include a resolution condemning the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram -- an armed terrorist group that has threatened to sell the girls into forced marriages -- the legislation also addresses exploitation much closer to home.
The measures include a bill sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri, which would make it a federal crime for advertisers to knowingly allow those in the sex trade to sell children and adult trafficking victims on their pages and websites. They also include a bill that would urge states to put laws in place that treat minors who have been sold for sex as victims when they are arrested, rather than as criminals.
"As a parent, I can sympathize and only imagine how horrible it is as a parent to have a child that has been subjected to this horrific crime," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, who worked to help bring attention to the measures, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The package of bills includes:
-- H.R. 573: Condemns the April 14th kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
-- H.R. 4058: Requires states to identify and address sex trafficking of minors in foster care.
-- H.R. 4573: Directs the State Department to give "advance notice of intended travel" of those convicted of sex offenses against children and asks other nations to reciprocate.
-- H.R. 3530: Imposes additional financial penalties on sex traffickers and helps increase the amount of restitution victims could receive.
-- H.R. 3610: Encourages states to put in place laws that treat minors who have been sex trafficked as victims rather than criminals.
-- H.R. 4225: Makes it a federal crime to knowingly advertise for the commercial sexual exploitation of minors and trafficking victims.
The Department of Justice will also honor seven people who helped rescue abused or missing children as part of its annual National Missing Children's Day commemoration on Wednesday. One of the speakers, Holly Smith, was sex trafficked when she was 14, and has written a book, "Walking Prey," about her experiences.
"This is beginning to reach critical mass in the U.S. and people are paying attention to it," Cindy McCain, a longtime advocate for the victims of human trafficking and the wife of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told CNN in an interview. "It is part of the dialogue on social media and in Congress as well."
Cindy McCain, who is a co-chair of the Arizona governor's Task Force on Human Trafficking, testified before Congress in February that during the Super Bowl, advertisements on websites for sex in the greater New York area included women and children forced to perform those acts by sex traffickers.
The statistics were based on research conducted by Arizona State University and Praescient Analytics, for the McCain Institute for International Leadership, a Washington-based think tank.
She also traveled with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, in April to meet with Mexican government officials to discuss ways to end sex trafficking across the nations' shared border.
The two senators worked together on a measure aimed at ensuring minors who are sexually trafficked are treated as victims and helps them sue the perpetrators for damages.
The bill also offers employment assistance for victims through the Jobs Corps program, encourages cooperation on all levels of government in tracking traffickers, provides more resources to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and would require sex traffickers to report to authorities every three months, have their photos taken and appear on the National Sex Offender Registry for life.
"We can't lead worldwide unless we clean up our own house first," Cindy McCain told CNN.
Cleaning house is a complicated effort. Sex trafficking is an insidious and lucrative business -- one that relies on the exploitation of vulnerable children and adults, porous borders and the anonymity of the Internet to feed a seemingly insatiable demand, according to lawmakers, members of law enforcement and victims' rights advocates.
Human trafficking ranks as the third-largest international crime industry behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking, according to 2000 figures (some of the most recent comprehensive data available) from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Profits from human trafficking are estimated at $32 billion, $15.5 billion of which comes from industrialized nations, according to a 2005 report from the International Labour Organization.
"These guys are making millions and millions of dollars on the backs of women and children," Cindy McCain told CNN.
"I'd stopped crying"
The quota was $1,000 a night.
That's how much Katie Rhoades, then 19, was forced to make having sex with men for money. Every night. For three years.
"If you got good at manipulation, you didn't have to turn as many tricks," said Rhoades, adding that beatings and emotional abuse befell the women who did not obey the sex trafficker's commands or bring in the $1,000. "If you don't think there is an out, you learn to survive within it."
In 2002, she was a homeless, drug-addicted stripper barely out of high school when the pimp and his "bottom girl" -- the one responsible for luring girls and women, training them and enforcing the "rules" -- trapped her with promises of a better and more glamorous life as their recording studio production assistant. Instead, 72 hours after she moved from Portland to San Francisco with them, she was held captive and forced to strip and have sex with men for money.
The home where she and the other women were held had a six-foot high fence topped with barbed wire, cameras on every corner, two pit bulls in the yard, and an alarm system which only the pimp knew how to fully disarm. She spent the next three years bouncing between this home, hotels in Las Vegas where she was rented out and the pimp's home.
The night she was judged by her pimp as "out of pocket" was the night that changed everything.
Her crime: She'd dared to look another pimp in the eye.
"I found out that night that wasn't the thing to do. I was told I couldn't do that 'cause I could have been kidnapped and held for ransom," Rhoades said. "I didn't know, I was a child and had just worked 16 hours."
"So he put me outside of the gate in Oakland and these guys could approach me and get me to go with them. It's called a 'pimp circle,'" she said. "I couldn't look at them, I couldn't talk to them and I couldn't cry either because that would show weakness."
"That was the moment I had a conscious thought that if I didn't get out of here I'd never get out. I'd stopped crying."
Eventually, she was able to escape and get help from a former family physician to enroll in a drug rehabilitation program miles away in Minnesota. She got clean, earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work and now runs a victims' advocacy group, Healing Action. She also helps train hotel staff to recognize sexual trafficking.
"We need stronger laws penalizing folks who facilitate the sex trade," Rhoades said. "If a hotel manager consciously turns a blind eye to allow this to occur in his hotel then he needs to be penalized."
Rep. Wagner wants to add just one word to section 1591 of the U.S. criminal code: advertise.
That change would make it a federal crime for advertisers to knowingly allow those in the sex trade to sell children and adult trafficking victims in their publications, websites and other forms of media. She knows the effort is controversial, but she reasons that if it is illegal to advertise products that are banned by law, then "surely people shouldn't be able to advertise a child or exploited woman for sex."
There are myriad local, state and federal laws on the books designed to deter sex trafficking. And federal authorities have made tremendous progress in helping crack down on those types of crimes, advocates say.
But while advocates acknowledge they've seen a lot of success over the years from reauthorizations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a federal law which offers protections to those who have been trafficked, they also worry that programs authorized to investigate trafficking have not received adequate resources.
"It's a balance, we have a certain amount of money and there is a lot of need," said Britanny Vanderhoof, policy counsel for Polaris Project , one of the world's leading organizations in the fight against human trafficking. "What we've been hearing about government spending and what the budget should look like does play a part in this discussion."
Those funding issues do make a difference at the grassroots level, said Dedee Lhamon, executive director of The Covering House, a St. Louis shelter for children who have been trafficked for sex.
"Two of our children were trafficked online," Lhamon says of her residents. "One was 13 and the other was 15. The 13-year-old, after nine months of being trafficked, her mother found me and The Covering House and I was able to provide her with some resources in her area."
But "there are few resources once they are rescued," Lhamon said. The 13-year-old was placed in a residential home for victims where she tried to commit suicide.
And while resources to help victims are limited, the Internet has expanded the reach of those who operate sex trafficking rings, Lhamon said.
Traffickers use a variety of tactics -- both online and in person -- to trap their victims, she said.
"You have your stereotypical cases of a trafficker who lures in a girl and holds her in a place and sells her online," Lhamon said. "One was a girl from a good family who was homeschooled. She thought she was being sent to a study abroad program, but when she got there she was sex trafficked. She was able to call her father and he went and got her."
Another girl was befriended by an elderly couple and was then held captive and sold for sex. Her father was able to rescue her as well, Lhamon said.
"There are girls who are going to school or church and being rented out by a parent or someone who needs to get their drug supply," she said. "Don't live in denial and think it couldn't happen to your child, (saying) 'We live in a suburb or small town.' Most of our cases are in small towns and suburbs."
"Anger, hurt and regret"
The girl who was sold to the pimp in Dallas -- but rescued before being sent there -- is 19 now. She started school last week. She dyed her blond hair dark. She's starting to wear makeup again.
But she still can't bring herself to sleep in her own bed after her three-week ordeal. She sleeps instead on the couch and tells her mother, "I'm scared to be alone."
When her mother has to leave the house, the girl sends frantic texts asking where she is, and when she'll be back.
She can't bring herself to fully embrace male relatives and friends. She offers a sideways, one-armed hug instead.
She cries a lot, her mom says, and she won't tell anyone, not doctors, therapists or even her mother the full details of what happened to her when she was forced to prostitute.
Her mom lives in a world of "anger, hurt and regret," replaying over and over in her head the night her daughter left and begged her mom to give up on her.
"There's got to be somebody who can help her," the mother said.
Her daughter came back from her ordeal addicted to drugs, and, though she has been clean since February, her mom worries she'll have a relapse when the "bottom girl" who helped keep her captive goes on trial this fall.
"When your kids fall, you can put a Band-Aid and antibiotic on their hurts, but there's nothing I can do," the mom says, her voice breaking. "When something like this happens to your child you're supposed to protect them."
Dracut grandfather pushes to prevent child abuse
by LISA REDMOND
DRACUT, Mass. (AP) - When Bob Logan's 6-month-old grandson, Devin, died of a severe brain injury in 2005 as a result of being shaken in a fit of rage by the baby's father, it would have been easy for Logan to remain angry for life and do nothing.
Instead, he turned his tragedy into a mission to prevent other babies from suffering the same fate.
“I have an opportunity to help reach people, directly and indirectly, who may not know that it's not OK to shake a baby,” Logan said from his Bridle Path Road home.
Logan is achieving that goal through A Child's Light Inc., a nonprofit education and advocacy group.
The group's mission is to prevent the abuse and neglect of children, whether physical, sexual, educational or emotional.
“I firmly believe that abusive head trauma/shaken-baby syndrome is a purely preventable form of child abuse,” Logan said.
On June 16, 2006, Devin's biological father, 20-year-old Andrew Roberts, was arrested for the baby's death. The charge was second-degree murder. Roberts pleaded guilty on May 24, 2007, and became known as Inmate 79057 in the New Hampshire State Prison system. He was sentenced to 15 year in prison. He won't be released until July 12, 2022.
“I do not believe there was intent to harm Devin, but the rage he exhibited is despicable,” Logan said. “I do not believe a child who is the victim of abusive head trauma/shaken-baby syndrome is intentionally harmed. I believe AHT/SBS is the result of an act of frustration and a lack of education. AHT/SBS is a purely preventable form of child abuse.”
While it is too late for his grandson, Logan said, “Devin is the inspiration for the work that we do and the reason we formed A Child's Light.”
The Infant Cap program and The Period of Purple, which is used by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in Utah, uses the infant knit caps as a symbol to educate parents and caregivers of newborns about normal infant crying and the dangers of shaking a baby.
Purple is an acronym for: Peak of crying, Unexpected crying, Resists soothing, Pain-like face, Long lasting, and Evening. The word means that crying has a beginning and an end.
“Frustration with a crying infant is the number-one trigger for the shaking and abuse of infants. New parents need to understand that just because the infant is crying; it does not necessarily mean something is wrong,” Logan said.
Logan has collected about 650 knit caps made by 120 individuals, businesses and organizations, who have put their knitting needles to the task of trying to save babies.
The groups that have been donating infant caps, include: Aunt Margaret's Yarn & Gift Shop in North Chelmsford; Aldersgate United Methodist Church Knitting Ministry in Chelmsford; Elizabeth Seton Crochet and Knitting Group in Bedford, New Hampshire; Knitting Connection at Dracut Public Library; Stitching Up The World in Candia, New Hampshire; A Knitter's Garden in Chester, New Hampshire; and the Lowell Senior Center.
Aunt Margaret's Yarn & Gift Shop and A Knitter's Garden are offering a 10 percent product discount to individuals who are helping knit or crochet the purple caps.
Logan praised Judy Breitmaier, owner of Aunt Margaret's Yarn & Gift Shop, who has recruited over 35 people. Breitmaier has also contacted many of her suppliers who in turn donated yarn for the Infant Cap program.
New Hampshire currently has 80 percent of the birthing hospitals in the state implementing the Period of Purple Crying program, educating parents about the dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Logan is trying to make inroads with hospitals in Massachusetts.
“If through our efforts we help save one child from being abused, I'll be very happy,” Logan said.
For more information about A Child's Light Inc. and its Sept. 6 fundraiser at Lenzi's restaurant in Dracut, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Child abuse numbers aren't pretty
by Patsy Kelly
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Local children are suffering every day. It's a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect.
Nationally, more than three million reports of child abuse are made in the United States each year and the U.S. has one of the worst records in the world.
More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse. And it can have long-term effects throughout the next generations.
About 30 percent of abused or neglected children will later abuse their own children continuing this cycle.
So what can we do?
The numbers don't lie and they're not pretty.
A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
It seems you see talk of molestation and neglect every day in the news…like these shown on your screen.
To law enforcement, every case they see is alarming.
But they can't protect the children in this community without you.
“If you suspect abuse or you suspect an inappropriate relationship that you report that,” said Assistant Chief Shawn Keen.
Unfortunately, the world has changed so much in the past few decades.
Now, predators can reach your children even easier.
“With the internet, with social media sites, you've now given a predator the avenue to come into your home basically and communicate with your child directly which is something we weren't dealing with 25 years ago,” said Asst. Chief Keen.
Reporting it is the most important thing.
You as a community member don't need concrete proof like the prosecutor's office does.
Use your good judgment.
“We know there is always more cases than what's reported to us… A lot of times people hesitate if it's not a complete, in-your-face offense, but maybe they suspect it. We would encourage those people to report it,” said Asst. Chief Keen.
You could change that child's life.
“That one person could make the difference between something far worse happening down the road,” said Asst. Chief Keen.
For information on how the numbers add up, check out this website.
Judge in California orders serial rapist's release
A man who raped and assaulted at least 40 women has been ordered to live in a remote California community, despite objections from residents there.
Christopher Evans Hubbart, who police believe may have had as many as 100 victims, will rent a small house in a rural area near the city of Palmdale.
A Santa Clara judge heard objections at an all-day hearing on Wednesday but issued his order two days later.
Hubbart, 63, will have to wear a GPS ankle bracelet when released on 7 July.
He admitted raping and assaulting about 40 women between 1971 and 1982, when he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Police believe the number of victims to be closer to 100.
Released on parole in 1990, he was arrested two months later for a new attack and returned to prison until 1996, when he was transferred to a state mental hospital.
Doctors there recently concluded he was fit for release, but few options were available - in California, sex offenders must not live within 2,000 feet (600 metres) of schools and other places where children congregate.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey spent months fighting the decision to release him to live in her county.
"I am extremely disappointed with the court's decision," she said. "Now we are preparing for his arrival.
"We will do everything within our authority to protect the residents of Los Angeles County from this dangerous predator."
Judge Gilbert Brown would only say that the court had reviewed all the emails, petitions, cards and letters submitted in protest before it had reached its decision.
County Supervisor Michael Antonovich called it "an unconscionable threat to public safety", while the mayor of Palmdale, James Ledford, said it was very disappointing that a man with this record would be put into any community.
California mom charged in killing of 3 daughters
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A mother was charged Friday with three counts of murder in the stabbing of her three young daughters, whose bloody bodies were found arranged on a bed at her California home.
Carol Coronado, 30, also faces one count of attempted murder after trying to kill her mother, said Sarah Ardalani, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
The bodies of the girls, ages 2, 16 months and 2 months, were discovered by their grandmother on Tuesday when she visited her daughter near Torrance, authorities said.
The charges carry special allegations of multiple murders and personally using a knife that would make Coronado eligible for the death penalty if convicted. Prosecutors had not decided whether to seek capital punishment.
No motive for the killings has been released. Investigators were checking Coronado's medical and mental health history and trying to determine whether she may have suffered from postpartum depression following the birth of her youngest child, sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman told the Los Angeles Times.
Neighbors and authorities say the girls' grandmother arrived for a visit then frantically ran outside, threw a bloody knife to the ground and told the girls' father, who was working on a car, that his wife had gone crazy. Then she called 911.
Sheriff's officials have said the children had been deliberately placed on the bed and their mother was found naked next to them.
Coronado has been hospitalized with self-inflicted wounds and was expected to be transferred to the jail ward at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
"When she is able to leave the hospital, she will be arraigned," Ardalani said.
Steubenville School Official Accused of Erasing Emails in Rape Case
Court documents say the superintendent of an Ohio school district where two high school football players were found guilty of rape erased computer hard drives and emails and lied to investigators about the case, The Associated Press reported.
Superintendent Michael McVey, 50, was charged with tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice in the aftermath of the incident at the center of the case: the sexual assault of a drunken 16-year-old girl by two high school football players after a booze-fueled party in August 2012.
The players were found guilty in juvenile court and sent to youth detention. McVey has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
McVey is accused of misleading authorities about the school investigation of the rape allegations and of concealing knowledge about rumors of sex and drinking at an earlier teen party, the AP said.
The court documents released Thursday say McVey erased emails and data on computer hard drives, the AP said. The AP said attempts to reach McVey's attorney were unsuccessful.
In addition to the charges against McVey, a volunteer assistant coach was charged with allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business and making a false statement. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges.
Two elementary school principals, one of whom was a strength coach for the football team, were charged with failure to report child abuse but the charges were dropped in return for community service and certain training, the AP said.
The Steubenville schools technology director also was charged with tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice.
A city of 19,000 about 40 miles from Pittsburgh, Steubenville and its high-school football team, Big Red, became the center of a firestorm after the rape allegations surfaced.
After charges were brought against the two players, activists questioned why more people weren't charged — including other students who sent photos, videos of texts about the assault, or adults who may have known about it but didn't report it.
Parents charged with child abuse after emaciated teen dies of pneumonia
by Karen Florin
Norwich — A Dunham Street couple whose severely malnourished 14-year-old son died from complications of pneumonia on May 2, 2013, was arraigned Friday in Superior Court on child abuse charges.
Julie L. Carlos and Mark S. Carlos, both 59, of 112 Dunham St. pleaded not guilty to charges of cruelty to persons and risk of injury to a minor. Free on a $150,000 non-surety bond, they left the courthouse with their attorney Bruce B. McIntyre and declined speak to a pack of reporters and cameramen that followed them to their vehicle.
Norwich Police Detective Damon R. Wallace launched an investigation last year after first responders to the Carlos home found the unconscious and critically ill Justin Carlos lying in the driveway and his five siblings, ages 11 to 22, looking thin and unkempt.
Justin Carlos and his 16-year-old brother were taken to The William W. Backus Hospital with symptoms of pneumonia. Justin was airlifted to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center, where he died that day.
State Medical Examiner Dr. Susan Williams conducted an autopsy and ruled the cause of death was sepsis due to bronchopneumonia complicating malnutrition and the manner of death was homicide. In her report, she noted Justin's body was severely wasted and he had bed sores. She noted also he had a subarachnoid subdural hemorrhage, a condition usually associated with traumatic brain injury. She said he appeared in general ill health, with a type of malnutrition usually associated with a chronic infectious disease.
The 16-year-old was treated and released, and the Department of Children and Families took custody of all the minor children.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the mother homeschooled their children. Mark Carlos worked a day shift at the Naval Submarine Base and Julie Carlos worked second shift at Mohegan Sun. The two sick children had been sleeping on couches in the living room during their illnesses and were “in the general traffic area of the residence and were seen everyday by both parents.”
On May 2, 2013, Julie Carlos told her 22-year-old son, Michael Carlos, to call 911 shortly after 6 a.m. because Justin Carlos was sick and possibly fainted, according to the affidavit. When American Ambulance paramedic Zachary Gauthier arrived, Julie Carlos was performing CPR on the teen, who was lying in the driveway. Gauthier said the boy appeared “tiny” for a 14-year-old, had gray skin color and looked unhealthy. His mother said he had no medical conditions but had “cold-like symptoms, diarrhea and a cough for a couple of weeks.” The first responders checked his blood sugar, which they said was very low.
Christopher Pitman, an emergency medical technician, told Wallace that Julie Carlos “came across as monotone and unemotional” as she was treating her son in the driveway, telling him, “Hang in there,” and, “You'll be OK.” He said the other children appeared to be in shock. The first responders were able to get a pulse on the teen en route to the hospital.
Another EMT, Paul Refuse, reported that Julie Carlos told her son, in a monotone voice, to “be a soldier” and “you can do this,” as he was being examined at Backus.
Dr. Fredericka Wolman, director of pediatrics for the Department of Children and Families, reviewed the case and reported that if the parents had sought medical treatment much earlier, Justin's death may have been averted. She said she had never encountered that level of illness associated with pneumonia in an outpatient setting.
Julie and Mark Carlos are due back in court on June 27.
Shocking video of baby PARAGLIDING leaves parents facing child abuse charges
by Jessica Haworth
Witnesses at the beach in Kerala, southern Indian, looked on horrified as the terrified child was dragged along the beach by a truck and sent up in the sky
An Indian couple could face child abuse charges after they forced their 11-month-old baby to fly solo in a paraglider.
A shocking video has emerged which shows the parents strapping their screaming child into the paraglider and sending her 50 feet into the air.
She can clearly be seen kicking her legs in fright as the glider takes her higher at an event held at Muzhipillangad beach.
When she touched down, the screaming child was quickly whisked away but didn't appear to be physically harmed by the traumatic ordeal.
Police have now launched a case against the baby's parents under the Juvenile Justice Act for child abuse.
They've already taken statements from the parents and a group who organised the event, reported the Times of India - who also said the stunt was aimed at increasing the popularity of paragliding.
But this publicity stunt has caused outrage in the area, where Kerela's Human Rights Commission is said to have registered a case against both the parents and the organisers.
Second UN panel criticizes Vatican on sex abuse
by John L. Allen Jr.
ROME — For the second time, a United Nations panel has criticized the Vatican for its response to the child sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, charging it with failing to mandate that abuse charges be reported to police, moving clergy to evade discipline, and failing to see that victims obtain adequate compensation.
“Clergy . . . were transferred to other dioceses and institutions where they remained in contact with minors and others who are vulnerable,” the United Nations Committee against Torture charged in a new report, “and in some cases committed abuse in their subsequent placements.”
The report follows a similar indictment from the Committee on the Rights of the Child that appeared in February, which asserted that the Vatican had fostered “impunity” for abusers.
The document from the Committee against Torture was to be released in a press conference in Geneva Friday. The Boston Globe obtained an advance copy Thursday.
Unlike the earlier UN assessment, the new report mixes criticism with praise for steps taken by the Catholic Church over the last decade to combat child abuse, including tougher legal sanctions for clergy and the creation of a new papal commission in December 2013 to press for reform. That commission includes Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston.
The committee lauded an April 11 statement by Pope Francis on the subject of child abuse, in which he said, “We will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger.”
The report follows a May 6 hearing in Geneva of the Committee against Torture in which Vatican officials disclosed for the first time that over the past decade, 848 clergy have been removed from the priesthood for acts of sexual abuse and 2,572 assigned lesser sanctions, most of the latter priests who were elderly or in ill health.
At the same time, the committee suggested that pledges of zero tolerance by church officials aren't always effectively translated into action.
The panel cited several specific cases, including Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, a priest who returned to his native India after being charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota in 2004 and is currently being pursued by American prosecutors, and Archbishop Josef Wesolowski of Poland, a former papal envoy in the Dominican Republic accused of sexual abuse both in that country and in Poland who has not been extradited from the Vatican to face charges.
The Committee against Torture also cited the so-called Magdalene laundries in Ireland, institutions for indigent women during the 19th and 20th centuries in which abuse was allegedly widespread. The panel asked the Vatican to ensure that victims “receive fair, adequate and enforceable compensation and as full rehabilitation as possible, regardless of whether perpetrators of such acts have been brought to justice.”
In its report, the panel said it was “concerned by reports'' that Catholic officials “resist the principle of mandatory reporting'' of abuse allegations.
Among other specific recommendations, the panel suggested the Vatican ensure that abuse complaints are pursued by independent prosecutors so there's “no hierarchical connection between the investigators and the alleged perpetrators,” and also insisted that officials who fail to respond appropriately to abuse complaints are subject to “meaningful sanctions.”
That recommendation echoes the complaints of critics that while the church now imposes discipline on clergy who abuse, it does not have equally strong accountability for bishops and other officials who don't take appropriate steps when abuse reports surface.
The committee called for “an independent complaints mechanism'' where victims or others can “confidentially report allegations of abuse.''
The UN panel also advised that a new commission established by the pope in 2013 to lead a process of reform should have “full power to investigate cases of alleged violations of the convention, [and to] ensure that the results of any of its investigations are made public and that they are promptly acted upon.” The committee asked that the Vatican respond to its concerns in a follow-up report by May 2015.
Unlike the earlier report from the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the new report does not venture into matters of Catholic moral teaching on subjects such as abortion, homosexuality, or contraception.
The Vatican ratified the Convention against Torture in 2002, and its appearance before the UN panel in May was part of a regularly scheduled series of hearings to monitor implementation in various nations.
In comments to the Globe, the Vatican's top envoy to the United Nations in Geneva said the report is different from the earlier document from the Committee on the Rights of the Child, calling the new document “more technical and professional.”
“It takes into account the positive steps taken by [the Vatican] and the church in general,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi of Italy, expressing gratitude that it does not accuse the Vatican of having violated the UN's 1984 convention against torture.
Tomasi also expressed relief that the report does not imply the Catholic Church's antiabortion stance amounts to a form of torture.
At the same time, Tomasi disputed what he called two “incorrect assumptions” that he said are in the report.
First, although the report never directly asserts that the child sexual abuse scandals in Catholicism constitute a form of torture under international law, Tomasi said such a conclusion could be inferred and claimed that it is not consistent with the text of the UN convention.
Second, Tomasi said the report assumes that “all priests around the world are legally subject to the Vatican,” when in fact, he said, the Vatican is only directly responsible for personnel serving in the small territory of the Vatican City State.
Critics, meanwhile, expressed little confidence in the Vatican's response to the new UN report, saying it largely ignored the earlier series of recommendations from the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
“It has now been 12 weeks since another United Nations panel released a lengthy report about the Church's on-going clergy sexual violence and coverup crisis,” said a statement Thursday from the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, the largest victims' advocacy group in the United States. “As best we can tell, every Catholic official is ignoring every one of those recommendations,” the group's statement asserted. “That is shameful.”
The Vatican on Friday released a formal statement in response to the UN report, largely expanding on the points Tomasi made in his Globe interview, and pledging to give “serious consideration” to the committee's recommendations.
7 Other Celebrities Who Were Sexually Abused As Children
by Ashley Yang
On Friday at the launch of her animal rights charity, former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson revealed that she suffered sexual abuse throughout her childhood. The abuse began when she was molested by her female babysitter at age six and continued two years later when she was raped by a friend's boyfriend. She was again assaulted in the 9th grade, this time gang raped by her boyfriend and his friends.
Although she "just wanted off this earth" after this nightmarish childhood, Anderson states that she found real purpose in her work to protect animal rights, for which she has fervently advocated for the past 20 years.
Anderson's story is horrifying, but sadly by no means unique. Here are seven other celebrities who suffered from sexual abuse as children.
1. Oprah Winfrey was raped by a relative when she was nine years old. Winfrey states that the abuse continued until she was 13, at which point she became sexually promiscuous and pregnant at the age of 14 with a baby that died in infancy.
2. Julianne Hough was abused by various adults during her time at boarding school, beginning around the time that she hit puberty. Although she declined to reveal specific details about her experience (claiming "what's past is past"), she attributed the abuse to the nature of her work as a dance student and the older facade that she adopted.
3. Tyler Perry was molested by a number of adults, both male and female, while also suffering extreme physical abuse at the hands of his father. Perry admitted to attempting suicide at age 11.
4. Teri Hatcher spoke out about having been sexual abused by an uncle from the time she was five years old. After she learned that another victim of her uncle's had committed suicide, she told her story to prosecutors, resulting in a 14 year prison sentence for her abuser.
5. Queen Latifah was sexually abused by a childhood babysitter.
6. Ashley Judd was molested as a pre-teen by a stranger, and later experienced attempted rape while working as a model in Japan.
7. Mo'Nique was repeatedly molested by an older brother, beginning at age seven. During her acceptance speech, she dedicated her Golden Globe award for her role in Precious to victims of abuse.
All too often, we feel that sexual abuse—especially when suffered during childhood—is a tragedy we see in the news, something that happens to "other" people. The names listed here, however, are public figures; people whose faces we see on TV, movie screens, and magazine covers all the time. And never for a second have we associated them with being victims of such horrors.
Just like there are many more survivors of sexual violence among us than we know of, there are probably more household names who have had similar experiences than these few who have dared to speak out.
Not only has their bravery challenged the way we think of who is targeted for sexual violence, they have also changed the ways we see victims themselves. After surviving what is arguably the worst kind of trauma for any child, these individuals did not shut down and retreat from the world. Instead, they have led productive lives and successful careers in an industry that attracts millions but offers real opportunity to only a chosen few.
Yes, these celebrities were victimized. But they did not permanently assume the identity of victims.
They became survivors, and did the work best done by survivors themselves: educate others about how they wish to be viewed. Perhaps we should consider that the gains they have made in this respect for all victims of sexual violence rival, and even surpass, the importance of their prominent works in the entertainment industry.
New York City
Video on site
Police chief, rabbi among 71 nabbed in child porn bust
by Marisol Bello and Yamiche Alcindor -- USA Today
NEW YORK — Two police officers, a rabbi, a registered nurse, a nanny and a Boy Scout den leader are among 70 men and one woman arrested on charges of trading child pornography in what federal officials say is one of the largest-ever roundups in the New York City area.
The arrests included a woman charged with producing and distributing child pornography involving her own child and a man who used hidden cameras to secretly film his naked stepdaughter.
Still another defendant was already on bail following his arrest last year on charges that he used the Internet to direct women to record sex acts with young children. Court papers allege he "indicated the last video he had downloaded and viewed depicted a mother sexually abusing her 3- or 4-year-old child."
One had been convicted and sentenced for raping someone younger than 11 years old.
The arrests were part of a federal investigation that resulted in the seizure of nearly 600 desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations said in a press release Wednesday. Some of those possessed libraries with thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of children.
At a press conference announcing the 71 arrests, officials laid out tools used by the suspects to acquire the illicit materials.
On a long table, 22 hard drives, 5 tablet computers, 7 discs, 4 SD cards and one laptop sat as evidence of wrongdoings. A large map with red dots showed that the suspects were from all over New York state and parts of New Jersey.
A poster board displayed photos, names and occupations of five men arrested as part of the operation: Brian Fanelli, a former police chief; Samuel Waldman, a rabbi; Yong Wu, a police officer; Jonathan Silber, a Boy Scout leader and Little League baseball coach;and Aaron Young, a paramedic.
At a press conference, James Hayes, the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations New York office, said officials are certain there will be more charges against the 71 people arrested and possibly more arrests.
"These defendants came from all walks of life," Hayes said. "Many of these defendants are well-educated and successful."
None of the victims in the images found on the computers has been identified, Hayes said.
The expansion of the "Dark Web," where pedophiles hide using websites that encrypt their computers' identifying information, has fueled an explosion of child pornography.
"The sheer volume of confirmed and suspected instances of individuals engaging in the sexual exploitation of children … is shocking and the professional backgrounds of many of the defendants is troubling. We can no longer assume that the only people who would stoop to prey on children are unemployed drifters," Hayes said. "Clearly, this criminal activity has reached epidemic proportions."
He said the announcement of 71 arrests should send a message to predators: "that they are going to be identified and found."
Child pornographers have a compulsion to trade images and videos like baseball cards. The more graphic the image, the more they trade it. That leads investigators to convoluted cases where one defendant leads to another who leads to others.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown emphasized that the children pictured in pornographic images are victimized in serious crimes.
"These are real children involved in despicable acts," Brown said. "Each time an image is viewed, traded, printed, or downloaded, the child in that image is victimized again."
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said, "This case underscores the crucial importance of internet surveillance initiatives by law enforcement to protect children from sexual predators."
This case started with the arrests of a police chief and a rabbi who had been using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs to exchange images, Hayes said.
He said the investigation began because officials, after making several child pornography arrests, became concerned about the number of people in the New York area actively searching for sexual images of children.
"Our investigation revealed that at any given point in time there are as many as 3,000 users searching for pornographic images of children on a variety of peer-to-peer networks," Hayes said.
Hayes said investigators went on peer-to-peer networking sites and pretended to be users looking for images and videos. They came across search terms like, "real child rape," "mom daughter family sex," and "3-year-old gets it every way imaginable."
In January, investigators arrested Fanelli, the police chief of suburban Mount Pleasant, N.Y. He pleaded not guilty this week to federal charges of knowingly receiving and distributing child pornography.
Court papers allege that Fanelli, 54, told investigators that he taught sexual abuse awareness classes to elementary and middle school students. He said he began looking at child porn as research for the classes and that it grew into a "personal interest." Court documents say two of his computers had 126 graphic video and photo files of children as young as 7 engaging in sex acts with other children and adults.
Investigators say they caught Fanelli by using software available only to law enforcement that identifies IP addresses of computers that have downloaded files known to be child pornography. Agents used the software to match Fanelli to a computer that shared sexually explicit images of children.
Two months later, HSI agents arrested Waldman, 52, a Brooklyn rabbi and Judaic studies instructor at a girls' seminary. The rabbi home-schooled his children and others. Court documents showed investigators found at least three graphic videos on Waldman's computer.
Given the positions of public trust held by Fanelli and Waldman, federal officials said investigators ramped up their investigation into other pornographers the men may have been in touch with.
A torrent of arrests followed in April and May, several of which were of defendants with high-profile positions in the community, federal officials said.
The arrests included Kenneth Gardner, a registered nurse at Westchester County Medical Center and Eduardo Salcedo Urzola, a nanny.
It was startling to find evidence that a woman made lewd videos of her son, Hayes said.
"It's very rare for us to identify women who are involved in this type of crime," he said.
In total, investigators nabbed people in all five boroughs and the surrounding suburbs to the north of the city, in Long Island and in New Jersey.
Those arrested are between 20 and 60 years old. They traded photos of children as young as 2.
Some face federal charges and others state charges. Hayes said officials in some cases decided to partner with local police departments to ensure that suspects would be arrested and charged as quickly as possible.
Agents are still examining the computers and other devices for evidence — an arduous task that could result in more arrests, HSI said. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will review the images to try to identify children using databases of known victims.
'THE DARK WEB': Untangling cybercrime
STORY: N.Y. police chief faces child pornography charges
STORY: File-sharing network key in police chief's child porn arrest
STORY: Child porn sting: Local scout leader, nurse among 70 arrested
Man Arrested For Abducting Girl, Marrying Her And Keeping Her Captive For 10 Years
by Fox News
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) – A woman says she has been held against her will for a decade by a man who abducted her, forced her to marry him and fathered her child. In an interview with KABC-TV, she says she's happy now and blessed to be back with her family.
Police described a decade during which the woman — abused mentally, physically and sexually by her captor — was moved at least four times and given multiple fake identities to hide her from family and authorities.
The woman, who wasn't identified, said she often thought about escaping but was fearful of her abductor.
"I was very afraid about everything because I was alone," she said in the interview that aired Wednesday night.
Isidro Garcia, 41, of Bell Gardens, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the Santa Ana Police Department said.
His now 25-year-old accuser — who came forward to police on Monday after finding her sister on Facebook — told the station that her neighbors believed her captor was a good man because he worked hard.
"He worked hard for me and my daughter and he bought everything I want. But I didn't want that," she said with her mother, sister and daughter at her side. "I need love from my family, not things."
KABC-TV didn't identify the woman because is a victim of sexual abuse. The station had interviewed the woman's mother when she went missing 10 years ago.
In the Los Angeles suburb of Bell Gardens — 20 miles from where the girl originally vanished — stunned neighbors who knew the suspect as Tomas Medrano found the woman's portrait of him hard to reconcile with the man they knew.
"He treats her like a queen. He does his best to do whatever she wants," next-door neighbor Maria Sanchez said in Spanish on Wednesday after police announced Garcia's arrest.
Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said his department's investigation concluded the following:
The girl — whose name was withheld by police — arrived from Mexico in February 2004 to join her mother and sister in Santa Ana, about 30 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. She had entered the United States illegally and spoke no English.
Garcia was her mother's boyfriend. After one fight between the girl's mother and Garcia in August 2004, the girl's mother left the house and the girl went to a nearby park.
Garcia followed the girl. When he caught up with her, she said she had a headache and wanted to go home.
Garcia began threatening the girl.
"He told her then, 'You can't go home. You're here illegally, you don't speak the language, your mom's called the police, they will send you back. I'm your only hope,'" Bertagna said.
Garcia gave her five pills that he said would help her headache but instead knocked her out. When the girl awoke, she was locked in a garage in Compton, a city between Santa Ana and Los Angeles.
The mother "filed a police report and for 10 years (police) did due diligence. But they were changing their names and dates of birth and physical locations so that made it exceedingly difficult," Bertagna said.
In 2007, Garcia got documents from Mexico that gave the girl a new name and date of birth. Using those documents, he married her at a courthouse. Police said their daughter was born in 2012.
Police said the woman tried to escape twice but was severely beaten.
The case comes just over a year after kidnapping and rape victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, three women who had gone missing separately about a decade earlier while in their teens or early 20s, were rescued from a house in Cleveland.
Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Utah bedroom at 14 and held captive for nine months, told The Associated Press that people cannot know what victims are going through and should not question why the woman didn't escape sooner.
"We don't know what these evil people are holding over them — whether it's their families' lives, their lives, whatever it is," Smart said.
Garcia lived in Bell Gardens for about four years. The family had the second-floor corner unit of a stucco apartment building in a quiet working-class neighborhood across from a park.
Neighbors said Garcia always said hello, joked with neighbors and sometimes brought them fruit. His wife worked for a nearby janitorial service and he held at least two jobs — including one making egg rolls — and also collected cardboard and recyclable items to sell.
Garcia said he wanted to save money so that his wife didn't have to work, said Lourdes Hernandez, who babysat their child for a year.
The family threw elaborate parties that included costumed characters and raffle giveaways. A video shot at their daughter's birthday party last year shows the mother with the girl in her arms, line-dancing behind her husband as he wiggles his hips.
Hernandez said the woman took Zumba classes in South Los Angeles and sometimes invited her along.
She said she found the woman's story hard to believe.
"He worked hard for her," she said.
Maria Sanchez said the woman had her own car.
"Sometimes she just leaves with her daughter in the car, she never looked scared," she said.
Neighbors said the family took trips together to Disneyland and the beach, and even up north to visit Garcia's family.
"I'm astounded she waited so long to say something," said Rita Salazar.
Police said Garcia repeatedly told the victim her family had given up looking for her.
Only recently, she contacted her sister on Facebook on the woman's birthday and they started to communicate, police said. She also learned that her mother had indeed tried to find her, going to a Spanish-language television station and newspaper in 2004.
Small gifts of kindness from a captor, a bit of food, a trip to the bathroom, can create positive feelings within the victim, said Dr. Frank Ochberg, an expert on the psychology of captives.
"Someone takes away the fear, the isolation, and we have positive feelings," he said. "That could be the beginning of a trauma bond."
Defrocked priest arrested on sexual abuse charges of child, then 10 years old
by Cheryl K. Chumley
A defrocked Catholic priest who admitted in 2007 to abusing five children has now been arrested and charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Chicago law enforcement confirmed.
Daniel McCormack was taken into custody over allegations that involve another victim who was 10 during the alleged abuse, which took place in 2005, Cook County State's Attorney spokesperson Sally Daley said to NBC 5.
McCormack admitted he abused five children years ago and was sentenced to five years in prison and booted from the priesthood. He's been staying at a state mental health facility, NBC 5 reported.
The details of the latest abuse allegation haven't been released, but McCormack is set for a bond hearing on Thursday, NBC 5 reported.
Child abuse survivor fights for change through awareness
by Val Fortney
Two years ago, Rayne ten Vaanholt's happy childhood came to an abrupt end when her father died in a snowmobile accident. “I was one of those spoiled kids who could rely on my parents for everything,” says the 18-year-old. “The next thing I knew, I was a high school dropout filled with self-pity.”
The emotional and vocational derailment was short-lived. The following year, ten Vaanholt enrolled in the Fresh Start program at St. Anne Academic Centre, an alternative learning environment run by the Calgary Catholic School District. Today, she's not only working toward her goal of becoming a child care professional, she's also signed on to help tackle one of society's most taboo subjects.
“Childhood sexual abuse is something we all need to talk about if we want it to end,” says ten Vaanholt, who speaks with poise and candidness of her own personal struggles. “Silence is the enemy.”
On Wednesday morning, ten Vaanholt is among 18 other teen leaders at Bishop McNally High School sharing the stage with Sheldon Kennedy, the former NHL star turned child rights advocate. Joined by a crowd that includes high school students, federal and provincial politicians, education officials, famed athletes and leaders in the disparate worlds of business and crime prevention and enforcement, the crowd of more than 160 is participating in a first of its kind event.
Called the Youth & Community World Café, it consists of community and corporate leaders having face-to-face discussions with young people about child abuse and solutions to help combat it.
As he watches the action unfold around him, Kennedy's expression alternates between serious focus and unbridled joy. “It's not the Sheldon Kennedy show anymore,” says the charismatic 44-year-old, as kids and adults speak animatedly about the issues surrounding the cause so dear to his heart. “With an event like this, it's about everybody pulling on the rope together.”
It's an amazing cast of local characters he's managed to assemble — a group that includes bull riding champion Cody Snyder and Calgary Stampeders running back Rob Cote, to MP Joan Crockatt, provincial minister Sandra Jansen and Albi Homes' Debra Mauro, a longtime supporter of Kennedy's endeavours.
“If we had been allowed to talk about child sexual abuse when I was a kid, I never would have met Graham James,” says Kennedy of the teacher and hockey coach who abused him and several other young hockey players over a period of several years. “Someone would have stopped him earlier.”
It's a comment Kennedy has made many times over the years and one he returns to throughout the morning. He's more than earned the right, though, to repeat himself.
After being abused by James when he was a junior hockey player, Kennedy stayed silent for years, a silence that nearly destroyed his life. He got in trouble with the law, was in and out of addiction treatment centres and even spent time in a psychiatric ward. “Not once did anyone back then ask me if I had been sexually abused as a youngster,” says the man who this year celebrates a decade of sobriety.
This week, Kennedy is also marking another successful milestone: exactly one year ago, he invited this journalist to tour his newly opened Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, a 25,000 square foot facility on the fourth floor of the University of Calgary's Child Development Centre.
The centre that harnesses the collective brainpower and expertise of those front-line personnel dedicated to the prevention, assessment and treatment of child victims of sexual abuse, along with the criminal justice professionals assigned to ensuring justice is done, was the first of its kind in the country when it opened its doors last May.
“Sheldon is a man who has proved he can move mountains,” says centre CEO Bonnie Johnston in a break between group discussions. “He is a true visionary.”
The vision for this latest endeavour — one Kennedy hopes is just the first of many over the coming years — came a few months ago during a discussion with members of the centre's team. “I think an issue like child sexual abuse needs to be owned by the entire community,” he says. “We now have a centre in Calgary where we can show and tell these issues, but the whole community needs to work together to fight it. Talking about it is the first step.”
For the young people participating on this day, the experience is invigorating. “It was a learning opportunity and a blessing,” says ten Vaanholt of an event that is classic Sheldon Kennedy.
“Getting all these walks of life together in one room to have this conversation just furthers inspires me to pursue my dreams.”
Prostitution in Los Angeles: Programs like Children of the Night are all too rare
by Susan Abram
The children come through the doors with blackened eyes and broken teeth.
Some are branded; gang members tattoo their marks on a girl's jawbone to show she's their property. Once, a 13-year-old was brought in with breast implants. Her pimp's idea.
Lois Lee has seen all kinds of youth walk into Children of the Night, the organization she founded 35 years ago, first as a drop-in center in Hollywood, then as a 24-bed residential shelter in Van Nuys for prostitution's youngest victims. It is one of only a handful of its kind in the nation.
In the early days, law enforcement wasn't prepared to deal properly with the youngest teens who were selling their bodies for money, Lee said. No one wanted to admit that adults were paying to have sex with 14-year-olds.
But in the last two years especially, the attitude toward children sold for sex has changed. The word “prostitute” has been replaced with the phrase “sex traffic survivor.” Awareness has grown through billboard campaigns, marches down Los Angeles streets and government-backed task forces. And state legislators have introduced more bills that would penalize pimps with longer jail sentences and higher fines. But while Lee praises the increased awareness, the posters of doe-eyed children and proclamations to end sex trafficking still don't translate into the kind of complex help and funding many youth and adults who have sex for money need.
“People only want to help the little children,” Lee said. “They don't want to help my kids. My kids are teenagers who put earrings in places they don't belong. Their favorite word starts with the letter F.”
Especially lacking are the number of residential facilities that provide specialized long-term care and rehabilitation. Those services include helping teens and young adults obtain high school diplomas, therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, and life skills that can help them live on their own. Of the 10 state and federal legislative bills proposed this year to combat sex trafficking, for example, only one directly addresses the need for government funding for long-term and residential services.
Lee runs Children of the Night through private funding. Children who come to the program are referred by police from across the nation.
There are relatively few other facilities around the country that provide similar services — and the numbers are hard to track, researchers say, because programs open and close, while others may offer help for sex-trafficked victims as just one of many services.
One study, in 2008 by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, found only four residential treatment centers in the United States for sex trafficked children with a total of 45 beds, including Children of the Night.
Another one, last year by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, found 33 residential programs nationwide with 682 beds that worked exclusively with trafficking victims. California had the most with nine residential programs offering 371 beds for victims.
“We need more services and shelters for juvenile and adult victims,” said Donna Hughes, a leading international researcher on human trafficking and professor of Gender and Women's Studies Program at the University of Rhode Island. “We don't have nearly the support for victims of trafficking that exist for victims of domestic violence.”
She said while there are experts who know how to work with victims of sex trafficking, their specialized knowledge may not be widely accessed among service providers. She too has noted the change in attitude for victims of “sex trafficking,” but not victims of “prostitution.” The terminology makes a big difference on funding.
“If people see the issue as one of prostitution, then they don't want to give support for services,” she said. “Sex trafficking is called ‘modern-day slavery' and the traffickers are seen as brutal criminals. Change those words to ‘prostitution and pimps' and people assume that everyone involved is consenting to the activity. Prostitution and sex trafficking have different definitions, but in practice, they are often the same thing.”
Nearly 150 youth were arrested last year for prostitution in Los Angeles County and of those, 94 were from the Compton and Long Beach areas, county officials said. About 89 percent of those arrested were known to the foster care system.
“All counties currently lack capacity to provide enhanced supervision and support to protect victims through the regular foster care programs,” according to a February report by the County Welfare Directors Association of California to the state Senate Budget Committee. “Victims have immediate needs for clothing and safe shelter away from the abusive pimps and require long term services.”
The association says at least $20 million in state funding is need to establish an adequate infrastructure in California to raise awareness, increase prevention and provide long-term care. An additional $14 million annually would be needed to maintain such a program.
Long term residential homes continue to be a big issue for Los Angeles County, agreed Nick Ippolito, the children and social services deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. Along with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Knabe has worked to raise awareness about the issue of sex trafficking across the county.
“I don't want anybody to think we're just putting up posters,” Ippolito said. “We are actively working to put those services in place.”
Los Angeles County currently contracts with Crittenton Services for Children and Families in Orange County, which provides residential treatment services for abused children and homeless and/or troubled adolescents.
“The closest things we have (in Los Angeles County) are group homes and foster homes,” Ippolito said. “What's generally done and we're trying to change that, is a cookie-cutter approach. We need to do something more specialized.”
What Ippolito and others say has improved are the relationships that have formed between law enforcement, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, the probation department and non profit organizations all working to decriminalize prostitution.
“As more awareness comes into place and as we do start looking at the girls involved not so much as suspects but as victims, you'll start to see those changes,” said LAPD Capt. Todd Chamberlain, who heads Mission Division. “But like so many social service aspects there is always a funding issue.”
Chamberlain said the goal is to look beyond the criminalization of prostitution, to understand that while there's a difference between children forced into prostitution and those tough-talking teens and women who say they made a choice, the underlying needs are the same.
“Underneath that exterior is still a child or a young woman that we can't take at face value,” Chamberlain said.
Stephany Powell, executive director of the Mary Magdalene Project, said she has seen the shift as well. The Van Nuys based organization helps adult women leave prostitution.
“I'm amazed by the shift,” said Powell, a former vice detective with LAPD. “It's a good shift to an age-old problem. I think what has driven it is the spotlight on children.”
The same kind of awareness grew to help victims of child abuse and domestic violence 30 years ago, Powell said.
But she too said there are many complex reasons why teens and women turn to prostitution.
“For some it's a choice, but it's made because a family is not stable or solid,” she said. A bad home life and other causes are “fueling the fire,” she added.
Even fewer long term services are available for older women who want to leave prostitution than for children, Powell said. Mary Magdalene has enough funding to operate a residential home with six beds.
“Services are not so organized with the 20, 30 or 40-year-old,” she said. “They are the end result of what happens when we don't care for the children. Somebody needs to catch them too. That adult woman has multiple arrests. Where's she going to get a job?”
What would help too is legislation that would support the victims rights and protect them from pimps, Powell said.
“These women need more legislation that's going to help them if they roll over on a pimp,” she said.
For Lee, running Children of the Night means protecting the youth and educating them. Some girls leave the program before graduating. Some come back.
On all the beds inside the facility are piles of stuffed animals.
Some of the girls who live there now say they turned to prostitution after running away from a foster home. Others said a friend lured them into having sex with men they met on the Internet. Most said they don't think of themselves as sex-trafficking victims.
“I didn't know I was trafficked until I was told,” said one 17 year old, who said she thought the word trafficked had more to do with drugs.
Another said the word trafficking didn't quite fit.
“I didn't feel like it pertained to me,” a 16-year-old said. “I feel like it's something for someone who was taken against their will and not going along with it.”
Lee said their responses reflect the complexity of prostitution and those involved. Not all are young children who are kidnapped from faraway places, waiting to be rescued, she said. Some are like her girls, those who can never go home. And that's the challenge, she said.
“These children are not seen as other children,” Lee said. “I want to change their lives and give them everything that other children have had.”
N.C. Senator Gladys Robinson will introduce version of Erin's Law to General Assembly
by Lindsey Brunson
North Carolina may enact a mandatory child abuse education curriculum — potentially joining the 13 other states with child abuse education and prevention laws.
National statistics estimate one in four girls and one in six boys will be a victim of sexual abuse by the time they turn 18, fueling conversations about child abuse education and prevention.
Support for state child abuse education curriculums gained momentum when Erin Merryn, a child abuse survivor, launched an awareness campaign and worked with Illinois legislators to enact its curriculum in 2011.
The movement for child abuse education has since spread to other states. Bills supporting the child abuse curriculum are commonly known as “Erin's Law.”
N.C. Senate Deputy Minority Leader Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, is introducing a version of Erin's Law to the N.C. General Assembly in the short session this summer.
North Carolina's version of the bill outlines the formation of a 17-member task force to study the prevention of child sexual abuse. The task force will examine and propose an educational child abuse curriculum that could be integrated into the basic kindergarten to sixth grade education program in public schools.
Child abuse expert Bud Lavery, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse N.C., said he thinks the best versions of Erin's Law have been comprehensive and holistic, heavily involving the education of families and potential offenders as well as educating young children.
“We think that working with the adults is one of the major things that needs to happen,” he said.
The task force would also identify techniques for increasing parent, student and teacher knowledge of warning signs and preventative measures of child sexual abuse.
According to a study done by Pennsylvania State University, while educational prevention programs are successful in increasing children's knowledge of sexual abuse and self-protection skills, programs that target parents and community members are much more effective in actually reducing the likelihood of child sexual abuse.
North Carolina's bill proposes to include both senators and representatives, a public school teacher and representatives from local children's advocacy centers in the task force.
Robinson said she feels comfortable in having bipartisan support for the bill. The bill is co-sponsored by state Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover.
“I think this is a serious enough and urgent enough issue,” she said. “A lot of people are concerned about this.”
North Carolina has previously passed sexual abuse education legislation. In 2009, under the Healthy Youth Act, N.C. replaced its abstinence-only sexual education program in seventh through ninth grade with one that includes awareness about sexual abuse and assault.
Deana Joy, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Centers of N.C., said discussion between educators and students has helped with sexual abuse prevention.
“We have seen firsthand the benefit of that.”
President Obama signs Kilah Davenport child abuse act into law
by Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
President Barack Obama signed the federal Kilah Davenport act into law on Tuesday.
The law pressures states to increase their punishments for the worst child abuse. The legislation would direct the U.S. attorney general to issue a report detailing each state's penalties for child abuse, including whether the laws provide enhanced penalties in cases of severe child abuse.
Kilah died in March from complications from the May 2012 assault at the hands of her stepfather, Joshua Houser, that fractured her skull and left her with permanent brain damage. She was 4.
In February, Houser was convicted of felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily harm. He was sentenced to a minimum of seven years and a maximum of 10 years in state prison.
Kilah was also the inspiration and namesake for a North Carolina law that increased sentencing punishments for five child abuse-related felonies. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law last year.
If Kilah had been beaten after Kilah's law was enacted, Houser could have been sentenced from 25 years to life in prison.
The federal law was sponsored by Robert Pittenger, a Republican from Charlotte.
“It provides the real hope that children in the future will be protected,” Pittenger said. “I'm very happy for the Davenport family that has been through a long and difficult journey. ... They fought hard and this has been on their mind that Kilah's life would end up having great meaning.”
3 McIntosh County school leaders indicted in child sex abuse case
MCINTOSH COUNTY, Ga. -- A grand jury indicted three school leaders in connection with a child abuse investigation at McIntosh County Academy.
Principal Terrance Haywood, Assistant Superintendent Larry Day and Superintendent Ernestine Kirby are all facing a misdemeanor charge of failure to report child abuse. Kirby has also been charged with obstruction of an officer, a misdemeanor. Haywood faces an additional felony charge of making a false statement.
Reports from the McIntosh County Clerk of Court show the officials did not report alleged abuse between a teacher, Lori Quigley, and a child.
Quigley, who was arrested in April, is accused of having sex with two students from McIntosh County Academy. One sexual encounter took place at a Waffle House, according to investigators.
In April, a motion by the McIntosh County School Board to suspend the three officials was not seconded and they were able to keep their jobs.
Pennsylvanians unsure on child abuse
by Scott LaMar
There seems to be some uncertainty about child abuse in Pennsylvania.
A new survey commissioned by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance shows that only 17% of those responding believe that child abuse is a serious problem. Of those polled who had witnessed child abuse take place, only one third reported the abuse to Childline at the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
Part of the issue is that adults witnessing an instance of abuse may not know what constitutes abuse. Many recall the type of disciplinary measures they received as a child, and are unsure where the line should be drawn. Others fear that reporting abuse or neglect would make the situation worse for the child or would bring legal repercussions to themselves.
Pennsylvania recently enacted several pieces of legislation to combat child abuse based on recommendations from the Task Force on Child Protection.
On Tuesday's Smart Talk, Angela Liddle from the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) will be joined by Attorney Jason Kutulakis, who was a member of the Governor's appointed Task Force on Child Protection.
If you have witnessed child abuse please contact Childline at: (800) 932-0313
HSI extends job offers to 15 graduates of 'HERO' internship
Program's military vets successfully completed a one-year computer forensics internship with HSI to help identify victims of child sexual exploitation
MIAMI — Fifteen military veterans who successfully completed a one-year intensive computer forensics training program with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) have all been offered permanent positions with the agency to continue working in the fight against online child sexual exploitation.
The program, called Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Child Recue Corps, or HERO Corps, trains, equips and embeds wounded warriors into computer forensics country to assist special agents with criminal investigations involving child pornography and online sexual exploitation. The HERO program is the result of a partnership between HSI, U.S. Special Operations Command's Care Coalition and the National Association to Protect Children
Most of the 15 HEROs participating in the pilot program are wounded, injured or ill special operations forces veterans. All but one of the interns has accepted the job offer. The 14 who did accept jobs officially began working as HSI employees Monday.
Since graduating from the initial 10-week training in October 2013, HERO Corps participants have been conducting on-the-job training at HSI offices in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Fairfax (Virginia), Las Vegas, Memphis (Tennessee), Miami, New Haven (Connecticut), New Orleans, Orlando (Florida), Phoenix, Savannah (Georgia), Seattle (Washington) and Tampa (Florida). There, they have been working under the direct supervision of HSI special agents, conducting computer forensic exams, assisting with criminal investigations and helping to identify and rescue child victims.
Prior to being deployed to field offices, the HEROs spent six weeks learning computer forensic analysis and evidence gathering at HSI's Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Virginia. They also attended four weeks of intensive training at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee where they learned about child exploitation cases and the federal and state criminal laws that they would be helping to enforce.
The next class of HEROs has already been selected and will begin training later this year. Anyone interested in learning more about the program or applying should send an email to email@example.com. All applicants are interviewed and vetted to ensure a good fit with the HERO Corps.
The HERO program is made possible by a five-year $10 million initiative funded with private sector money that underwrites training, logistics and equipment.
In fiscal year 2013, more than 900 victims of online child sexual abuse have been identified and more than 2,000 child predators arrested by HSI on criminal charges related to the online sexual exploitation of children. Since 2003, HSI has initiated more than 29,000 cases and arrested more than 10,000 individuals for these types of crimes.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
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.
DCF faces scrutiny in Kissimmee child abuse case
Child under state supervision since her January birth suffered skull fracture, five more broken bones with burns and other injuries in past month, police say.
by Henry Pierson Curtis
A 4-month-old girl's fractured skull, broken bones, burns and cuts are under investigation in Kissimmee as records raise questions about whether a DCF investigator missed signs of child abuse after receiving an anonymous tip early last month.
The newborn's injuries were discovered May 8 after Kissimmee police received a call about an intoxicated woman pushing a stroller on North Michigan Avenue. Mouna Mrichcha, the 30-year-old mother, tried to walk away but was stopped when an officer looked into the stroller.
"[The newborn] was bleeding from both nostrils, had marks all over her body, bruises and a rash that was on her neck, back, buttocks and genital area," a report states. "The rash around the genital area looked to be into the third layer of skin."
Kissimmee firefighters immediately took the child to Osceola Regional Medical Center, where it was determined that some of the injuries were more than a month old, including a broken femur and collarbone and deep skin loss from unchanged diapers, according to records.
Mrichcha blamed the cuts on the infant scratching herself despite a recent clipping of her fingernails, the report stated. But doctors at the Kissimmee hospital attributed the injuries to prolonged child abuse and neglect.
Records show the newborn had been under the supervision of the state Department of Children and Families since the day after she was born on Jan. 19. That's when Child Protective Investigator Yecenia Zamora was assigned to monitor the newborn after opiates and marijuana were found in her blood, records say.
On April 2, DCF received an anonymous tip that Mrichcha had shaken and dropped her baby "causing a possible head injury," the report stated. A copy of the DCF report on that tip given to police "showed the case had been investigated and closed with no indicators of physical abuse by Zamora." Police have not been able to speak with Zamora, who is on leave from the state agency, records show.
DCF announced Friday it will review its handling of the case.
"Any and all possible involvement with this family and child is going to be looked at very, very closely. And we're going to look at how that investigation was handled, what our response was and whether the course of action taken was appropriate," DCF spokeswoman Kristi Gray said Friday afternoon. "I'm sure we will have some of the same questions about this."
The state agency recently came under fire for re-uniting four Sanford children with their mother after the earlier death of a fifth sibling. Rachel Fryer is now charged with murdering 2-year-old Tariji and trying to hide the crime by burying her miles away in a suitcase.
On Friday, Kissimmee Police Chief Lee Massie expressed his gratitude that someone had called 911 last week about the child.
"We are thankful that a concerned citizen brought this incident to the attention of law enforcement," Massie wrote in an email to the Orlando Sentinel. "Our officers, who did a fantastic job, were able to not only get the infant the necessary medical attention but remove the child from an environment that may have led to further physical injuries or worse."
Mrichcha was arrested May 8 and charged initially with child neglect. She bonded out of the Osceola County Jail but was arrested again the next day on aggravated child abuse after doctors determined the gravity of the child's injuries, records show.
The infant's father, Juan Snow, 54, twice declined to be questioned by police and did not return calls from investigators, the report states. But he did speak briefly with detectives while they waited on May 9 to conduct a second interview with Mrichcha, who has an older son.
"She can't take care of the kids, but what choice do I have?" Snow said, according to the report. "I know she's rough with them at times, but I didn't think it was this bad."
Mrichcha told detectives that Snow cared for their daughter on a daily basis, which led to his arrest Thursday. A member of the Child Protection Team that examined the infant told police that a regular caregiver could not have missed the injuries she suffered over days and weeks, records show.
Snow was charged with child neglect with great bodily harm and failing to protect the child. He and Mrichcha both remain held in the Osceola County Jail in lieu of $11,000 bail each.
The child's condition was not available. She was transferred Friday to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando for more extensive X-rays, according to police.
The Myth of the “Normal” Childhood: Why are you a Sex Addict?
by Linda Hatch, PhD
It is not unusual for sex addicts to ask “How did I get this way? I had such an ordinary childhood.”
Nobody survives childhood unwounded. And many kinds of stressful or frightening experiences can become sexualized along the way, leading to problems later on. And yet whether or not there is lasting damage depends on a myriad of factors such as the age of the child, their temperament, the presence or absence of support outside and inside the family, birth order, and the particular traits of the caregivers and many others.
So given the child's unique developmental trajectory, a seemingly ordinary set of circumstances can be very damaging, leading to addiction or other problems for some or it can leave no lasting scars for others.
The sex addict's typical childhood
Many sex addicts report being abused as children or teens. And in fact a relatively high proportion of people seeking help for sex addiction had some sexually inappropriate or abusive experiences in childhood. According to Patrick Carnes, 81% of sex addicts in treatment experienced sexual abuse in early life and 72% experienced physical abuse. However a whopping 97% reported experiences of emotional abuse.
In addition, 77% of sex addicts reported coming from a rigid family system but 87% reported having grown up in a disengaged family system.
What does this mean? If we accept that early relational trauma is key to the formation of addictions, and if we need to understand it in recovery, then some addicts will be unable to pinpoint any memories or events that were obvious instances of abuse.
Defining relational trauma
Childhood relational trauma does not always involve physical or sexual abuse. Emotional abuse, shaming, emotional neglect, touch deprivation, abandonment experiences and medical trauma, among others, are all circumstances which disrupt the child's ability to feel consistently safe, supported and nurtured, sometimes called attachment injury . The lack of an emotionally nurturing and supportive attachment with a caregiver is by definition a form of abuse or trauma, even when there is no overt act of abuse.
Forms of childhood trauma in “normal” families
In healthy parenting, there is a great deal of energy flowing from the parent to the child.
The parent is tuned in to the child's feelings and needs; the parent is most often ready, willing and able to respond to the child appropriately when there is a need to. And the parent is helpful and protective and promotes the welfare of the child. All of this demands that energy flow from the parent to the child for the benefit of the child. In the examples below, it is evident that the energy is flowing the wrong way ; it is flowing from the child to the parent as much as or more than the other way around.
Parents may be disengaged because they are narcissistic. That is they see their child in terms of what that child can do for them. They may put undue pressure on the child to perform in various ways, to achieve, to look or behave in ways that the narcissistic parent believes reflect positively on them as a parent. This may be presented to the child as a good thing; i.e. “we want you to be the best, you are exceptional, you can do anything.” This puts pressure on the child to measure up to the parent's image and expectations for them. And this can work in reverse if the child is seen as reflecting badly on the parent. The child will then experience extreme emotional abuse and lack of support due to the parent's wounded narcissism.
And narcissistic parents are often likely to be over-indulgent. Being over permissive fails to provide needed support and is a form of neglect which sometimes leads to the child getting hurt a lot and having to fend for him/herself.
Enmeshment and role reversal
The blurring of generational boundaries is a clear form of abuse. When a parent makes a child into an extension of him/herself they are violating that child and interfering with his/her ability to individuate and form a self. When a parent makes a child into a confidante or tries to be part of the child's life as an equal, they are not only failing to act as a caregiver, they are violating that child's right to be a child. Children are not ready to be burdened with the responsibility of being a caregiver to their parent. In addition, treating a child like a friend or partner makes the child into an object to be used. Unfortunately this is often mistaken for being loved or being “special” to an adult. (See also the important books by Dr. Ken Adams on covert incest.)
Emotional dysregulation in parents
As with the children of alcoholics, the highly emotional parent causes serious attachment injury to the child. Instead of providing a consistent, nurturing environment, a parent to becomes unpredictably volatile, rageful, or negativistic puts an inordinate amount of stress on a child. Many children in these situations become very fearful and anxious, and often play the role of attempting to regulate their parent and make everything OK.
In addition to the above examples there are other unusual circumstances which can lead to relational trauma and it's after-effects in children. A parent can be disengaged in some way due to a prolonged illness or some other challenge. And children who experience medical trauma, serious illness or surgery in childhood, are deeply affected. And the presence of addictions in parents or caregivers is very common among sex addicts, which itself provides an emotional and possibly genetic basis for addiction in a child.
The bottom line is that childhood trauma of one sort or another is evident in the lives of most sex addicts if look carefully enough. Often the addict needs to cut through the fog of childhood and look at their early experiences with new eyes. Re-interpreting the formative events becomes the key to understanding their power.
Program links bullying, substance abuse and mental health
by Susan Emery
VALPARAISO | Children who bully and are bullied are more likely to have mental health issues and engage in substance abuse, according to research presented this past week at the Family & Youth Services Bureau.
Tom Moeller, assistant director of clinical services with the bureau, presented "Mental Health, Bullying and Substance Abuse: Exploring the Links" to an audience of parents, educators and other professionals.
Bullying, substance abuse and mental health issues don't occur in isolation, but co-exist with one another and share a common set of risk factors, Moeller said.
Risk factors include adverse childhood experiences such as family dysfunction, abuse and neglect, difficulty following rules, being aggressive or easily frustrated, and a lack of parent involvement.
Children with mental health disorders are more likely to be identified as bullies, and they are more likely to suffer from depression and engage in substance abuse, Moeller said.
"The long-term outcome for bullies is not good," he said.
Children who are bullied may suffer from depression and anxiety, and they also are at risk for substance abuse, Moeller said.
Protective factors for bullying, mental health issues and substance abuse are the same and include a safe school environment, positive adult role models and close parent-child relationships, he said.
Moeller began the presentation by sharing statistics about bullying. He said Indiana ranks third in the nation for incidences of electronic bullying and bullying on school property.
"Indiana has kind of a dubious distinction in terms of having more bullying than in some places," Moeller said.
In 2013, the state passed a law that changed the definition of bullying and established bullying prevention and intervention program requirements for the Indiana Department of Education and school corporations.
The state's low ranking may be due to the lag in enacting this law, Moeller said.
Bullying has been shown to have lasting emotional and behavioral consequences, and it should not just be looked at as an inevitable part of growing up, he said.
"I hope we dispel the myth that bullying is a rite of passage," Moeller said.
For more information about the Family & Youth Services Bureau, call (219) 464-9585 or visit www.fysb.org
Child Sex Abuse: 3 Ways to Protect a Child
by Malinda Fasol
The media's erupted with news of William Vahey, who some name among the worst known child sexual predators. For 40 years, Vahey, who was married with two grown sons, used his position as a trusted teacher at international schools to serially drug, molest and photograph as many as 90 young boys.
A stolen computer flash drive exposed his decades of abuse as he moved from one international school to another in Europe and Asia. As the FBI closed in on him, Vahey took his life.
If only that were the end of the story. The truth is, it's the beginning of a years-long process of healing for his victims and their families and just one more in a series of all-too-similar tales.
Last month was Child Abuse Prevention Month, and never has there been a more important time to wear the blue ribbons, to stand in the fight for the health and safety of our children. Each person as a story, so do the combined statistics:
Last year in Texas alone 66,398 children fell victim to child abuse.
60 percent of those were younger than 6 years old.
156 children died of abuse in Texas.
And that's one state of 50.
Who can sit by now? And how can we protect our children from predators? No system is failsafe, but there are ways you can put a dent in those stats.
First, if you suspect it report it. If a child is in physical danger, if his or her overall well-being appears threatened, if you are simply uncomfortable with something you see . . . make a call. Call Child Protective Services (CPS-often called Social Services, Human Services or Children and Family Services). If you fear immediate danger for a child, call police or 911 immediately.
Second, help disrupt the cycle of abuse. Many abusers were themselves abused; they lack the skills or life mentors to model healthy parenting and relational behaviors. So we support local advocacy and family service agencies. Parents able and willing to learn from mental health professionals and parenting educators will gain resources, direction, encouragement, support. (Poverty and abuse feed one another. Poverty, says the American Humane Association, is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect. Add a parent's depression, substance abuse and social isolation, and the likelihood of abuse shoots up.)
Third, we must help the victims. The hard truth is survivors of childhood abuse and neglect likely face long-term challenges. Many abused and neglected children grow into teenagers and adults who struggle with trust and intimacy issues, develop unhealthy coping patterns such as eating disorders and addictions, engage in self-harming behaviors and may even battle anxiety or depressive disorders.
This list is not comprehensive, but problems litter the wake of abuse and neglect.
How do we disarm it – the societal time bomb? Answers: We respond to calls for help. We advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. To significantly reduce tragic stories and statistics, we educate ourselves about how to protect children. And when we see or know of something amiss, we must step into the gap and cry out.
On the flip side, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services lists six factors that spell prevention – healthy circumstances to encourage:
1. Children must experience nurturing relationships and have healthy attachments to parents and other family members and friends.
2. Parents must be knowledgeable about good, healthy parenting and child development.
3. Parents must be resilient, seeking resources and support to provide a healthy environment.
4. Parents and children must have strong and healthy social connections.
5. Concrete support must exist for parents.
6. Children must be socially and emotionally competent, which results from the knowledge and resiliency of parents.
How many more William Vaheys must suffer? Child Abuse Prevention Month reminds us to be both vigilant and to take action. Now is the time to make a difference in children's lives and your world. Learn about agencies like CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and become a child advocate. Help parents find support resources, especially when you're aware of a history of abuse or the family struggles with poverty. Become a friend--help parents who need support. Get involved and speak up for children. You could save a life. You could change worlds.
Tempe woman accused of child abuse for allegedly forcing girl to eat excrement as punishment
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PHOENIX — A Tempe woman is accused of child abuse for allegedly forcing a 3-year-old girl to eat feces as punishment.
Nicole Renee Candelaria had her initial court appearance Monday and her bond was set at $5,400. She doesn't have an attorney yet.
The 27-year-old Candelaria was arrested Saturday. Authorities say she's the boyfriend of the girl's father and she often takes care of his three children while he is at work.
Court records show Candelaria became upset when the girl defecated in the bathtub and Candelaria allegedly forced her to eat the excrement.
The child was taken to a Tempe hospital where doctors also noted some bruising on her chest, back, sides and legs.
Police say Candelaria was booked into the Tempe City Jail on one count of child abuse-domestic violence.
California mother arrested for allegedly grabbing boy by the throat for bullying daughter
by Elizabeth Learned
A California mother has been arrested after she attacked a boy she thought had been bullying her daughter. However, she may have targeted the wrong child.
According to the Associated Press, the incident happened on Friday at Olivet Elementary Charter School in Santa Rosa. Delia Garcia-Bratcher is alleged to have asked her son who was responsible for bullying his sister.
She grabbed the 12-year-old boy by the throat and several students saw the incident. She has since been charged with felony child abuse.
A deputy was reportedly informed of what happened, being told the boy had been threatened of alleged bullying. However, according to Sonoma County sheriff Lt. Steve Brown, there is no evidence he was the one who bullied the girl.
“We were unable to determine if bullying ever occurred. We don't know if this kid bullied this girl at all. It looks like he did not. We can't find anybody to say he did.”
According to ABC News, Brown also said there doesn't appear to be a connection between the boy and the girl, who don't even ride the same bus or have a class with one another.
When school officials were made aware of what happened, they took pictures of the boy's throat to document red marks that were seen on his skin.
Garcia-Bratcher was released on $30,000 bail. The Associated Press also reported the school was investigating whether or not the girl was a victim of bullying.
LAPD changes its game to combat sex trade
Officers are targeting johns and pimps more often and with harsher penalties
by Kelly Goff
LOS ANGELES — A white Ford F-150 cruises into the parking lot of a nondescript strip mall across from the train tracks on San Fernando Road in Pacoima. The driver, a heavyset guy — built like a linebacker, clad in a Michael Vick jersey and jeans — lumbers out and then pauses.
A brunette in tight jeans and high heels standing on the corner has caught his eye. He takes a good long moment to look her up and down, then ducks into the convenience store.
After his purchase, he backs up his truck and pulls up alongside the woman. The two chat, a deal is struck, and he heads out of the parking lot to meet her on a dimly lit side street.
It's a scene that happens all-too-often in certain parts of Los Angeles, police and community members say. A handful of main drags in the city are plagued by prostitutes walking the streets at all hours, and men cruising for them with little regard for the legality or impact on the community.
On this particular night in March, the script takes a different twist.
From seemingly out of nowhere sirens scream and lights flash as two uniformed police officers on motorcycles roll up behind the man's truck.
The woman is an undercover cop, part of a periodic police task force designed to send a message to the streets. With a furtive gesture, the brunette in tight jeans had signaled other officers that the man had solicited her for prostitution.
But being arrested may not have been the worst thing to happen to him this evening. As officers order the man out of his truck and pat him down, an older woman charges down the street toward the scene yelling, followed by a second, younger woman and a little boy and girl.
"Why are you taking my daddy?" the little boy cries, as the women — apparently his mother and wife — yell at the officers, not yet realizing why the man is being hauled off in cuffs.
He'd allegedly tried to pay for sex on the same block as his own family home.
That hardly fazes Sgt. Scott Murray, who oversees the vice division at the Los Angeles Police Department's Foothill Division. He's seen plenty of brazen solicitations: would-be johns with their babies strapped into child seats in the back of the car. City and county employees in their taxpayer-owned vehicles.
"These guys are so focused, they don't see anything around them," Murray said as the two women on San Fernando Road continued screaming.
And the story, once caught, is almost always the same: "I didn't know she was a prostitute."
New Approach To An Old Problem
That's one of the oldest excuses for the world's oldest profession. And in some parts of the city, it's being heard a lot more often these days.
Los Angeles police and prosecutors are cracking down on prostitution. But this time they have a new mindset. They are targeting johns and pimps more often and with harsher penalties, but aiming to treat the women as victims of sex trafficking who need counseling and a way off the streets more than a night in jail.
"No one chooses to be a prostitute. No little girl wakes up and says 'This is what I want to do with my life'," Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas, who oversees operations in the San Fernando Valley, said. "We can focus on helping the girls most by getting the men who are taking advantage of them off the streets."
There are plenty of would-be johns to be caught. In one three-hour sting in mid-March along two known tracks for prostitution in Sun Valley, vice officers arrested 10 men. Every time an undercover officer went out to the corner, it was mere minutes before a customer pulled up, made an arrangement, and then either drove down a darkly lit street off San Fernando Road or pulled into the driveway of the shabby Corona Motel just off Lankershim Boulevard. Each one was all too eager to book a hotel room for the $18 hourly rate and pick up a condom for $1 at the front desk. Safety first, after all.
A similar sting in Van Nuys the same month netted 18 arrests of men for solicitation.
The stings focused on the demand side of the ongoing prostitution problem plaguing 17 tracks across the city of Los Angeles — areas where pimps direct women under their control to work and where johns know they can find prostitutes willing to take money for sexual acts.
Not too many years ago, officials acknowledge, the fight against prostitution was mostly focused on street-level vice cops arresting women off the streets, jailing them for a night and adding another misdemeanor to their record. Counseling was minimal. Johns sometimes were caught and embarrassed, but little happened to them in the way of actual penalties.
And pimps were rarely, if ever, caught or prosecuted, and side-stepped most of the shaming left for the women and johns, despite their explicit role in perpetuating the violent trade in human flesh.
But recently in Los Angeles, police brass and city leaders have been embracing new tactics — ones long championed by social workers who have heard brutal stories of women beaten, raped and sold — that portray prostitutes as victims, and the johns and pimps as the real criminals.
Across Los Angeles County, a string of diversion programs designed to lead prostitutes — mostly female, but also male — away from the streets and into education, counseling and job opportunities are getting off the ground.
Police officers and sheriff's deputies are working closely with social service providers to connect women with nonprofit groups that can help take them off the streets. Social service workers are present during LAPD task forces and every woman arrested in the San Fernando Valley for prostitution gets a list of phone numbers for help. And in what many say is a fundamental shift in how the justice system combats prostitution, law enforcement is going after the pimps in ways unheard of in the past.
One telling statistic: Just three years ago in Foothill Division, there were exactly zero arrests of pimps. Last year, there were 37. This year, there have already been 19.
"This is a priority," Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. "And naturally, when it's a priority, you see people getting creative. Now, with cell phones, we can see if they've texted pictures of underage girls they are making arrangements for. That can be child pornography charges. Texting girls. There are a lot of things we can do, and we've got some ideas — as well as just simply not ignoring it."
Along the northern stretches of San Fernando Road and Sepulveda Boulevard, in particular, where cheap motels and liquor stores dot the urban landscape, solo women can be seen walking the corners at all hours. Some dress in absurdly tight, short dresses that hide little. Others do equally well just clad in T-shirts, flat shoes and jeans.
The pre-dawn hours are also surprisingly popular, vice cops say, as workers on their way to early morning job sites cruise by the girls hanging out in front of strip malls and motels.
The ritual is the same almost every time: a car slowly pulls to the side of the road. A woman hanging out cautiously approaches to see if the driver is interested. Sometimes the driver is just pulling over to check directions or make a call. Other times, they make eye contact, she approaches and begins negotiations, then arranges to meet the john somewhere close. Typically rates can cost as little as $15 for some types of sexual favors, ranging up to no more than $100 for a full hour of any service, police say.
"I'm appalled with how young these girls are, and how many men are willing to do this," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez. "So many different types of men at all hours of the day and night. It's just wrong."
Martinez lives in a quiet suburban neighborhood not far from the Valley's other main prostitution track, a segment of Lankershim Boulevard in Sun Valley that has long been a center of the vice trade.
After World War II, male workers were drawn to the area by the railroad cargo yards and the 5 Freeway, and motels for travelers and truckers sprung up nearby. Now those aging post-war motels have become cheap rent-by-the-hour joints, while truck stops catering to drivers headed for the Central Valley have also become hubs for illicit activity, police say.
When Martinez took office last summer, she met with residents who voiced their concerns about what some say had become a blatant, in-your-face flaunting of prostitution laws.
"About 10 years ago, a lot of the pimps from other areas of L.A. started bringing their girls up here and it got so out of hand," said Jesse Torrero, a community activist and real estate agent who has lived in Sun Valley for more than 60 years. "They were flashing people, doing degenerate things with their bodies. The pimps were sending their youngest-looking girls over to the high school. It was absurd."
Martinez responded by meeting with LAPD officers, joining them on task forces along the Sepulveda corridor in Van Nuys — a stone's throw from her district office and the San Fernando Road corridor near her home. She said she had to see what residents were seeing, and was appalled by what she found.
"They see it and they don't know what to do," she said. "This goes on all day long. It's one thing to read about it and it's another thing to see it.
In February, Martinez stood in a median on Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys between two motels considered notorious hubs of prostitution-related activity to announce a new partnership between the city and two arms of law enforcement to combat the problem. One of the motels, The Voyager Motor Inn, was shuttered late last year after a suspicious fire, but officials say there are many more to choose from, and the corridor attracts vice at all hours.
Martinez stood side-by-side with Villegas, City Attorney Mike Feuer and representatives from local nonprofit and community groups to announce a partnership to tackle the San Fernando Valley part of the larger problem from multiple angles: dedicated Prostitution Enforcement Detail officers assigned to the Sun Valley and Sepulveda corridors; expanded diversion programs for adult trafficking victims through social service partnerships, which could help keep them out of jail and in education programs; and a renewed commitment to targeting pimps, who are increasingly affiliated with gangs.
It also includes enforcement actions against businesses that support prostitution and a stepped-up effort to make soliciting prostitution less attractive for johns, including a mandatory $600 one-day "john school."
The programs will complement citywide and countywide efforts, including Lacey's First Step program, launched in January, that allows juvenile trafficking victims to avoid prosecution for prostitution if they agree to an 18-month wraparound program to get them out of street life.
Also legislation is winding its way through Sacramento that would stiffen penalties for pimping and soliciting, and similar legislation is also being introduced on the national level. In 2012, California voters passed Proposition 35, which increased fines and sentences as well as requiring human traffickers to register as sex offenders and disclose Internet activities and identities.
Victims, Not Criminals
The new mindset is driven by the realization by city and county leaders of something that long-time social workers in the area say has always been true: most prostitutes didn't choose the life as a career. They are victims, often of violent criminals who have seduced, tricked and trapped increasingly younger women.
Stephany Powell, executive director of the Van Nuys-based Mary Magdalene Project, which has partnered with LAPD, said she saw this during her previous career as a vice cop.
"Being out there I used to wonder 'why are we always arresting the girls?' So I would make sure that I would do more john stings and that we would actively look for pimps because I understood just by working with the women that it was not something you could just arrest your way out of.
"I'm really happy about this paradigm shift because I think people are getting that what we used to see out there on Sepulveda, in our heads, everybody was out there by choice. Young, old, whatever, every one was out there by choice. It isn't really by choice, even if it seems like that."
The language is also changing. The term "hookers" — implying women who lure men to sin — is frowned upon now, and even "prostitute" is iffy in the new lexicon of the fight to stop human sex trafficking.
While the momentum has been building for years -- driven by an increasing number of studies and anecdotal proof human trafficking is spreading, and affecting younger and younger victims — the last two years have proven pivotal, say police officers and case workers charged with connecting victims to resources.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who has launched a public awareness campaign on billboards and digital displays near bus stops, train stations, airports and other locations where pimps troll for runaways, said stronger legislation and the focus on the demand side of the problem is key.
"No child grows up wanting to be bought and sold for sex in the streets of their community," Knabe said. "They are victims, often forced into this life by brutal violence and threats."
"The true criminals are the scumbags that buy and sell young boys and girls for money, and get off with a slap on the wrist."
Families Open Up About Trauma at Conference for Survivors of Institutional Abuse
by Roxanna Asgarian
NEW YORK — Erica Harvey began displaying signs of mental illness in the eighth grade. Her mother, Cynthia, says Erica began cutting herself, became depressed and then suicidal, and started medicating herself with illegal drugs, which were made even more harmful by mixing with the psychotropic drugs she had been prescribed by her psychiatrist. That psychiatrist, along with Erica's therapist, recommended to Erica's parents that she be placed in a residential treatment facility.
When Erica was 15, her parents, desperate to find help for their oldest daughter, signed her up for Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Program in Nevada. After comparing several programs, they chose Catherine Freer because it was a leader in the industry, and they said they had experience working with youth on psychotropic medications. They were advised not to tell their daughter where she was going until they had arrived.
“Of all the many profound and tormenting regrets we have about our terrible decision,” her mother said, “agreeing to deceive Erica is one of the worst.”
Cynthia Clark Harvey was one of a group of parents on a panel last week, made up of family members of kids who have been abused in institutions. The Survivors of Institutional Abuse conference, which hosted the panel, is in its third year of raising awareness for systemic abuse in drug rehabilitation programs, foster homes, and wilderness camps like the one Erica went to.
But Erica wasn't lucky enough to be a survivor.
On Erica's first day of her wilderness trek, she became ill and was forced to keep hiking for hours. She died that afternoon of heat stroke and dehydration.
Clark Harvey testified before a congressional committee in 2007, and she re-read her testimony for the panel and the groups of survivors and their supporters gathered at the New Yorker Hotel. She recounted the horrific details of her daughter's death.
“When Erica's eyes rolled into the back of her head and she fell off the trail head-first into rocks,” Clark Harvey read, “she was left to lie where she fell for 45 minutes while two Catherine Freer staffers, still unwilling or unable to recognize what was happening, watched Erica die a slow painful death.”
“I am grateful to be here to talk to survivors,” Clark Harvey told the crowd. “I wish my daughter was a survivor. Even if we didn't have a relationship. But I would rather have her here on this Earth disappointed in what her parents chose and what happened to her, than not have her here.”
The panel was put together and moderated by Nick Gaglia, a survivor of abuse at a drug rehabilitation center called Kids of North Jersey, where he lived from ages 14 to 17. He's now a filmmaker whose films focus on institutional abuse, including one, “Over the GW,” that's based on his own story.
He said the panel is extremely important to understanding this kind of widespread abuse.
“You never hear the parents side of the story,” Gaglia told the crowd. “It's easy to understand, ‘Well I was a kid, I was abused, I was raped'; that's an easy argue. But you don't hear how the parents are deceptively marketed to, how they're manipulated, and in a lot of cases how they're abused as well.”
Because parents are the ones who seek the treatment programs for their kids who are often troubled and acting out, they can be vulnerable to claims made by these programs that they can “fix” their kids — for a price. Many of these camps and treatment centers cost thousands of dollars and many aren't covered by insurance. And a Government Accountability Report found that 33 states reported a total of 1,619 cases of abuse in 2005 alone, and the report notes that without solid nationwide statistics, the number is most likely much higher.
“It's an incredibly important part of the story, because it's the parents who are in charge of the kids and they are the ones who make the decisions,” Gaglia said. “In the US, if you are a human under the age of 18, you don't have the constitutional right to sign yourself out of someplace and get yourself out of there if there's trouble. You're trapped.”
Joan Maso, whose daughter also was a part of Kids of North Jersey for two and a half years, said she tried the inpatient facility after her oldest daughter's mental illness became too much for her family to handle. Maso said the company used fear and manipulation to discourage her from taking her daughter out of the program.
“They grab you when you're desperate,” Maso said. “Every time I would have a doubt, they'd come back at me and say, ‘Do you want your child to die?'”
Maso said the program took a toll on their whole family, including her younger daughter, who was also manipulated and encouraged to “report” bad behavior to the program.
“Although the experience was different for me as a parent, the mind control was the same,” Maso said.
Maso lives with a lot of guilt about her decision, but said she's lucky that her daughter made it through the program. Bob and Sally Bacon aren't so lucky. Their son Aaron was killed in a Utah wilderness camp in 1994. They'd sent him away to gain a new perspective and get away from drugs; his emaciated body was returned to them less than a month later, more than twenty pounds lighter and almost unrecognizable.
Through Aaron's diary entries and testimony during a trial of the owners and counselors brought by the state of Utah, the Bacons found out their son had been periodically starved, forced to sleep with no blanket or sleeping bag in freezing temperatures, and had lost control of his bodily functions days before his death, all the while still being forced to hike.
“As we went through the trials and watched these young kids as counselors on the stand it became really clear that these kids were abused, too,” Bob Bacon told the crowd. “They were led to believe that this is how you treat people in the name of love. That this is how you should behave when you have your own children. This is how you discipline. And that was heartbreaking.”
The trial resulted in community service for all but one of the counselors, who was jailed briefly. The program, North Star, has since shut down. The wilderness program where Cynthia's daughter Erica died shuttered their Nevada program but continued to operate in Oregon until late 2012. Through their tragedy, the families have become aware of the scope of these programs and the harm that they've done.
“What we learned is that there's actually an industry that abuses kids in the name of love and in the name of therapy and in the name of helping. It was an awful awakening,” Bob Bacon said. “And that industry operates largely in the regulatory cracks. They're not too good from what I can tell at actually helping children, but they're great at marketing, great at mind control, really excellent at abuse.”
Now they take part in panels like this one and take calls from concerned parents who are thinking about sending their kids to programs like the one in which Aaron Bacon spent his last days.
“Our hope is that we have opportunities like the one we have today to awaken parents to the risks involved in these programs,” Bacon said. “We tell them: Do not put your child in a program where the policy is no communication. Do not put your child in a program where they are in isolation. There are so many things to look out for that parents are just unaware of.”
Nigeria: Handling Abduction Related Trauma
by Yinka Shokunbi
There is a strong psychological view that when bad things happen to people, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But with the right treatment, self-help strategies, and support, Psychiatrists say this can speed up recovery.
Whether a traumatic event happened years ago or yesterday, it is possible to heal and move on.
However, recent happenings in the country have made many to argue if it is indeed possible for anyone who has experienced the magnitude and degree of the trauma many Nigerians are passing through to heal and move on.
Each time the deadly Boko Haram sect releases video recording to justify their act of terrorism; there is always a wide condemnation.
When the video recording of the abducted Chibok girls was released last Monday by the Boko Haram abductors, there was a wide outburst of emotions especially among families who were already in pains and anguish for over a month the girls were forced into captivity from their school dormitory.
Some of the parents of the girls were reported to have fallen sick and many going through medical therapy to fight emotional and psychological depression.
Our correspondent sought to know from a renowned Child Psychiatrist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Professor Yinka Omigbodun, what really could be responsible for the level of terrorism exhibited by members of the Boko Haram sect?
According to Omigbodun, "several of those who perpetuate crimes are suffering from mental illnesses. When 'terrorists' say they hear voices instructing or commanding them to carry out acts of violence or wickedness, they may actually be responding to what we describe as auditory hallucinations (hearing voices of unseen persons) which is indicative of the presence of a severe psychiatric illness which fortunately responds to treatment".
She noted, "Several of those who carry out these crimes, have also experienced multiple traumatic experiences in childhood.
"Many would have experienced attachment disorders especially if they were uprooted from their families at a very young age for various cultural reasons as it's found with the Almajiris in Northern Nigeria.
"It could be that the Almajiri children of yesterday, who grew up on the streets begging, greatly traumatised are now the Boko Haram of today with distorted minds, deluded and depressed and angry against the same society that raised them" Omigbodun argued.
"We are deeply in sorrow," said Mary Dawa, whose 16-year-old daughter, Hawa Isha, is missing.
"Every day, I am in deep sorrow. I don't even feel like eating." When asked how she was coping, she said, "How can I start?"
"I'm not happy at all," said Yana Galang, the mother of 16-year-old Rifka another vicitm.
"She's in the bush. I don't know where she is right now", because, according to the mother, the girl had recently been recovering in a clinic after surgery for appendicitis, and had come to the school only to take an exam.
Desperate parents have reportedly entered the forest themselves, armed only with bows and arrows.
The governor, Shettima has equally expressed deep frustration at the lack of progress, and anxiety over the fate of the girls. "These girls are from the poorest of backgrounds," he said. "They are the poorest of the poor", he had said.
Indeed, "Chibok is deeply troubled," said Mrs Galang, the mother of Rifka. "All we are hoping is to have the girls back here."
An account of one of the escapees, Sarah Lawan, 19, succinctly explained why majority of the girls couldn't escape. She told Associated Press that more of the girls could have escaped but they were frightened by their captors' threats to shoot them.
She said: "I am pained that my other colleagues could not summon the courage to run away with me. Now I cry each time I come across their parents and see how they weep when they see me."
Lawan said other girls, who escaped later have told her that the abductors spoke of their plans to marry them. She said the thought of going back to school terrifies her -- neither the burnt out ruins of Chibok Government Girls Secondary School nor any other school.
"I am really scared to go back there; but I have no option if I am asked to go because I need to finish my final year exams which were stopped half way through".
Watching some of the mothers of the victims on television and reading the accounts of many others show the extent of trauma they are passing through especially with the daily 'Bringbackourgirls' protests that go on around the world .
We then sought to know from another Psychiatrist at UCH, Dr Yetunde Adeniyi, the possible feelings the children could be going through, effects of act of terrorism on their psyche, families and the nation; as well as how best to work out a possible treatment?
According to Dr Adeniyi, "The experience of abduction or kidnapping can be emotionally traumatic to the victims especially children. It is more traumatic in children who are held for long period of time and who experience sexual and physical abuse. They could experience a wide range of feelings such as shock, denial, anger especially towards their relations and sometimes acceptance of the abduction state.
"Victims of abduction and their families could experience a wide range of mental health problems. The victims can experience an initial period of shock and intense fear.
"Children tend to be more affected, some can loss already established milestones like a loss of bladder/bowel control, and some can develop eating and sleep disturbances, aggressive behaviour, and anxiety symptoms.
"They can also develop distrust of authority figures and relatives and a fear of personal attachments.
"Many victims of abduction develop post-traumatic stress disorder which can manifest with difficulty sleeping because of nightmares, anxiety and frightening thoughts.
"They may isolate themselves in an effort to avoid reminders of the traumatic event. Children who experience abduction are also at heightened risk of substance abuse like alcohol, cannabis and cigarette and other high-risk behaviours. Experiences like physical and sexual abuse can make the symptoms worse.
"Some victims could develop what is called Stockholm Syndrom where the victim comes to identify with their kidnappers or abductors and they start to feel that they deserve their current state.
"Parents equally experience feelings of loss, rage, and disturbed sleep. Many of them can develop feelings of loneliness, fear, loss of appetite, or severe depression.
"Sometimes the stress and trauma of the experience did not necessarily end when the child is recovered, some parents' psychological distress could be higher after reunification with their child than it had been prior to the abduction, possibly because of concerns about a re-abduction and the stress associated with the reunification.
"It can predispose many to marital conflicts and break down of marriages among parents of victims", she explained.
The effect of this trauma no doubt robs on the entire people of the country Adeniyi pointed out.
"People are distracted from productive activities as a result of the fear and uncertainties especially in areas where there have been attacks. These experiences could lead to an increase in the rates of psychiatric disorders like anxiety disorders especially post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep problems.
"The rate of other disorders like depression and psychotic disorders can also increase. There can be an increase of psychoactive substance use and other mental health problems among adolescents and young adults", Adeniyi noted.
Specific therapies a survivor of an abduction or kidnap especially a child, would need to go through after his or her release is secured to enhance rehabilitation.
"The process of recovery for a victim of abduction or kidnapping is gradual and it depends on a number of factors such as length of stay in captivity, experiences during the abduction; like sexual or physical abuse.
"Some may recover with psychotherapy and counselling such as the trauma -focussed cognitive behavioural therapy. Some might need medications for major psychiatric disorders.
"They need a strong support network to help rebuild their sense of security. Other therapies like Family therapy, Assertive therapy can also be useful.
"Rehabilitation of terrorists on the other hand, might involve carrying out a full psychiatric assessment and psychotherapy sessions to find out the basis for the individual's involvement in the first place.
"Cognitive behavioural therapy might be useful in changing the beliefs that are related to terrorism. Some might actually require medications and in- patient care if they are found to have major psychiatric disorders", Adeniyi averred.
Tulsa-based group empowers adults to prevent child sex abuse
by KENDRICK MARSHALL
Tulsa County Sheriff's Office data indicate 269 known registered sex offenders living in the area, but that number does not concern Sharon Doty.
The predators who are unaccounted for — especially those who actively seek out children — are why Doty wants to educate parents who otherwise are unaware of the dangers surrounding them.
“Our vision is a world where no child is ever harmed by someone who says they care for them,” said Doty, a Tulsa-based national expert on child sexual abuse prevention and founder of Empowering Adults-Protecting Children. “We as adults can be proactive in protecting our children.”
Since 1996, Doty has traveled the world speaking about child sexual abuse. In her role as a consultant and researcher, she noticed that most parents played a limited role in child sexual abuse prevention and few knew obvious indicators that potential abusers carried.
“Historically, children have been taught to not talk to strangers and run away if they are at risk,” she said. “We agree that this training is important, and there is more that can be done.
“We tell parents how to recognize when kids are abused and how to report it. We also have to teach them to prevent the abuse before it starts.”
The focus on educating adults is an important distinction from other prevention programs, which normally concentrate on informing children. But child sexual abuse is a community issue, not an individual family matter, she said.
“I don't want my daughter to go through that ... or any other child to go through sexual abuse,” said Angela Mitchell, a Tulsa kindergarten teacher who works as a volunteer for the program. “I've experienced this first hand with people I know.”
Mitchell, who has a 3-year-old daughter, said she was shocked to learn how little she knew about the role parents played in curbing sexual abuse.
“It was eye-opening for me that I could miss all the warning signs,” she said. “Every parent needs to know this. This is the most important work anyone can do.”
That's why the nonprofit organization hosts free presentations at schools, churches or anywhere groups of adults frequently come in contact with children, according to EAPC chairwoman Shannon Wimberly.
Through presentations of an interactive play called “Keeping Them Safe,” adults learn to recognize the potentially risky behaviors used by child molesters to harm children, she said.
“Adults taking an active role in prevention is groundbreaking,” Wimberly said. “These are hard conversations to have because nobody wants to talk about child sexual abuse.”
One of the biggest hurdles in child sexual abuse prevention improvement has been the attitudes of parents who are under the impression they already have provided a safe environment for their children.
“They think they have their bases covered,” Doty said. “But these predators are creative, thoughtful and even work with each other.”
Because many sex offenders engage in grooming not only children, but also entire communities through their unassuming, trusting behavior in leadership roles, the group says it is easy for adults to miss the signs.
Damien Keith Bonner, a senior pastor at Galilee Baptist Church in Owasso, recently was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl. Similar recent cases involved Kellyville High School teacher Kelly Darby Thompson and Thoreau Demonstration Academy teacher Brian Drabek, who were jailed for alleged child sex offenses.
If the accusations are true, Doty said, they would be classic cases of someone taking advantage of a situation where access to a child was granted without adult supervision.
“We have to get out the word so we can create safe environments for our kids.”
Prosecutors Face Challenges In Child Sexual Abuse Cases
by Jeff Arnold
Once an investigation into suspected child sexual abuse is either complete or far enough advanced for a prosecutor to determine the allegation is credible and charges are appropriate, hurdles to prosecution remain.
Although age doesn't automatically disqualify a young child from testifying, the court must qualify the child as competent to testify.
Sebastian County Circuit Court Judge Steve Tabor said children are qualified to testify on a case-by-case basis, and he's seen a child as young as 6 years old qualified.
“Basically (to qualify), they have to understand the oath, their obligation to tell the truth and realize there are consequences if they don't,” Tabor said.
Of course, a child telling his or her story in a room with a forensic interviewer isn't comparable to repeating it in a courtroom with a jury, attorneys, people sitting in the gallery, a judge in his or her robe and being confronted about the abuse, said Fort Smith police detective Kris Deason.
Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney Marc McCune said he tells a jury not to judge a child by how he or she acts on the stand, because a child might not react like jurors expect.
“It's a scary, frightening and tense situation for a child. So they may come off as very programmed or distant, which doesn't make them seem believable, or they get up there and freeze,” said McCune. “You have to keep in mind, you probably wouldn't be comfortable describing consensual sex with your spouse, and this is a child having to describe rape or sexual assault.”
The credibility of accusers is often called into question because of how they disclose abuse.
Children rarely tell the entire story of their experience the first time they disclose sexual abuse and instead tend to reveal more as they become more comfortable, which is painted as being inconsistent to a jury, said Jackie Hamilton, executive director of the Hamilton House Child Safety Center in Fort Smith.
Prosecutors must educate jurors on how children disclose and it's important for jurors to understand that children aren't going to speak with an adult's sophistication shaped by a lifetime of experience.
One question Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue said he always asks in picking a jury for a sexual abuse case is, if a child says one thing and an adult says another, would you tend to disbelieve a child simply because of their age? He says he some people respond, “yes.”
“If they're (the child) competent, it (their testimony) should be weighed like anyone else's testimony,” Shue said. “How is it different than an aggravated robbery case with no witnesses? You have the clerk and defendant. You resolve it with who you believe.”
And because there is rarely physical evidence, McCune and Shue said juries have to be educated on that reality, because the “CSI effect” has exaggerated the role of forensic science and physical evidence in the minds of many people.
However, most child sexual abuse cases never reach a courtroom. Ultimately, the prospect of testifying is too terrifying for many children.
“You understand when mom and dad come into the office and say, ‘we don't want our child to testify, we want it resolved without that.' So when people see a child molester got a suspended sentence, you can't jump to conclusions,” Shue said.
McCune has had the same experience.
“We get a lot of ‘protect our child from going on the stand,'” McCune said.
Chris Newlin, a Fort Smith native and executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Ala., said people who complain about plea bargains for child molesters likely don't realize that nationally, more than half of reported child sexual abuse cases are never prosecuted and prosecution is only one way to protect children.
“The priority is the protection of the child, and sometimes a plea bargain is done looking out for the well-being of the child,” Newlin said. “If it was you and it was your child and you had the choice between prosecution or your child getting help, which would you choose? We'd love to see people held fully accountable, but you have to balance it with the needs of the child.”
Minnesota misses chances to save abused kids' lives
by: BRANDON STAHL
Seven children died last year from abuse or neglect despite prior knowledge by Minnesota child protection agencies that their lives were at risk, records provided to the Star Tribune show.
That total is the highest in the state's records, which go back to 2005. The Department of Human Services said it will study each case to probe whether county social workers missed chances to save the child, but an initial review has found that some counties could have done more.
“In some of the cases, there was nothing to predict a child might die or be at risk,” said Erin Sullivan Sutton, DHS assistant commissioner of Children and Family Services. “In others, more action could have been taken to ensure the child's safety.”
Sullivan Sutton did not elaborate, citing privacy laws that shield the children's identities from the public. Through police, court and county records, the Star Tribune identified four of the seven children who died last year despite previous intervention from child protection authorities.
Beginning in May 2009, Pope County Child Protection received 15 abuse and neglect reports about Eric Dean, 4, and his family. Caregivers took photos of bruises and bite marks on his head. The county conducted one investigation in July 2011 and found no maltreatment. In February 2013, the boy was flown to St. Cloud Hospital, his abdomen bruised and distended from blunt trauma. He died two days later. A doctor found the injuries revealed “uncommon” and “vicious” abuse. Amanda Peltier, fiancée of the boy's father, told police and a doctor that she had slapped the boy, bit him and “launched” him across a room, but blamed his injuries on other falls.
Peltier is currently on trial on first-degree murder charges. Pope County would not discuss its handling of the boy's case.
Over the last nine years, 26 children have died from abuse and neglect in Minnesota, and 79 others have suffered life-threatening injuries despite previous evaluations by child protection agencies. The number of children who were supposed to be protected by counties but died or suffered near-fatal injuries from abuse or neglect averages about one a month.
Some child advocates say the number of child deaths and near fatalities in Minnesota shows the system is failing.
“I'm not surprised, but it alarms me,” ex-legislator and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz said when presented with the Star Tribune's findings. Blatz has spent decades working on child welfare issues. “Every piece needs to improve. Every piece.”
A review of Minnesota's cases would likely reveal basic failures to protect children whose histories revealed multiple warning signs, said Michael Petit, a former commissioner of Maine's Human Services Department and current president of Every Child Matters, an advocacy group that seeks to end child abuse. “It could be that social workers are overworked. It could be that some counties have stronger policies than others when dealing with this,” he said.
Child fatality records are open to the public in many other states. In Minnesota, state laws restrict access to nearly all of the information kept by the counties and DHS. A federal agency notified Sullivan Sutton last month that the state needs to provide more public access to the records.
Minnesota is one of nine states where it's up to counties to decide whether to accept an abuse report and investigate. In 2013, the state's 87 counties received more than 67,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, but closed seven out of 10 cases.
State law requires child protection workers to keep a family intact, unless they feel a child is in extreme danger. They can require parents to get drug or mental health treatment, or enroll in parenting classes. When parents don't comply, a county can remove the child, but only with a judge's order.
Mom, boyfriend charged
Hennepin County social workers began working with Key'ontay Peterson's family in 2012, after receiving a report that his mother's boyfriend was abusing Key'ontay, who needed five stitches above his right eye. Social workers received five abuse calls before the boy died in June 2013. His mother, Sha'reese Miller, faces manslaughter charges and the boyfriend, William Warr, is charged with first-degree murder.
In Ramsey County, social workers had multiple contacts with Freda Perdue before the death of one of her children.
Twice in 2012, officials investigated Perdue for child abuse and neglect. Perdue drank so much in her White Bear Lake apartment that she fell asleep on top of her son, Dontrell Stademeyer, when he was only 6 weeks old, records show. A neighbor heard the baby crying and got the apartment manager to open the door. Social workers closed the case two weeks later, records show.
In October 2012, officials took Dontrell and his three siblings into emergency custody after Perdue was again suspected of drinking and falling asleep on the baby. Four months later the boy lay dead on a mattress, an apparent victim of sudden infant death syndrome, records show. A gift from the county stood in the mother's bedroom: a new crib, neatly made and unused.
Perdue faces sentencing next month after pleading guilty to child endangerment. She declined to comment. Authorities took custody of Perdue's other three children after Dontrell died but returned them to their mother in 2013 for “trial visits,” according to court records.
Ramsey County officials said they could not talk about the case.
Death in a car
Clay County child protection began providing services for Andrew and Shayna Sandstrom in 2010 after Moorhead police responded to a call that two children, ages 2 to 3, were locked out of their home and standing in the rain.
Officers went to the children's apartment and found dirty diapers strewn everywhere. A baby lay face down in her crib. The father, Andrew Sandstrom, told officers that he had fallen asleep when his kids went outside and did not know where they were, according to court records.
Four months later, officers returned to the apartment on a welfare check after a teacher reported that three of the children had not been to school for a week. Sandstrom told police the kids had been sick. County child protection decided that the complaint didn't warrant providing the family with services.
The same decision was made following maltreatment reports in November 2011 and October 2012. A new case on the family was opened following a report in November 2012.
In June 2013, Sandstrom unloaded five of his children from a van, but forgot about 5-month-old Christiana, he later told police. The temperature outside was about 80 degrees; it may have reached 125 inside the van. Sandstrom watched a movie with his kids and took a nap. His wife, Shayna, called twice and asked how the kids were doing. He took another nap. After four hours, Sandstrom realized his mistake and rushed out to the van. Christiana's face was purple. He called 911, but the girl was already dead.
The county removed the other children from the Sandstroms' custody. They moved back into the home two months later.
Sandstrom pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced in January to 10 years of probation.
The seven deaths from 2013 don't include cases where agencies received reports of abuse but did not step in to help the child. Last month, the Star Tribune reported that Minnesota was among the most prolific states.
One screened-out case involved Nicole McKay of Sauk Rapids. She was 32 weeks pregnant and had a 1-year-old child, according to court records, when she contacted Benton County child protection in September 2013. She told the county she used prescription painkillers on a daily basis, did not know if she had a valid prescription, and wanted a drug dependency assessment. Because her child had not yet been born, the county took no protective action and suggested she contact her insurer.
Two months later, a medical clinic reported to the county that McKay had not brought her newborn daughter, Emma Dennis, back for a follow-up appointment after a possible pertussis diagnosis, and McKay wasn't calling the clinic back. The county screened that call out, referring the family to a voluntary program for family support.
Four days later, on Nov. 25, Emma was found on the floor of her parents' bed, a blanket covering her face. The child's parents admitted to police they used drugs before the girl's death. In addition, a son tested positive for meth and a narcotic painkiller after ingesting the drugs.
McKay pleaded guilty to child neglect in Emma's death, and for storing meth near the son. The father has been charged with storing meth in the presence of a child and allowing a child to ingest the drug.
County officials removed the boy from the parents' custody. They would not talk about the case.
Pamela Anderson reveals sexual abuse: 'I just wanted off this earth'
by Alan Duke
Actress Pamela Anderson revealed Friday that she suffered sexual abuse throughout her childhood, starting at age 6 when she was molested by a babysitter.
The former "Baywatch" star talked about it in remarks at the launch of her animal rights charity -- The Pamela Anderson Foundation -- at the Cannes Film Festival in France.
"I feel now might be the time to reveal some of my most painful memories," she said, according to the transcript posted on her online blog.
Although she had "loving parents" while growing up in British Columbia, Canada, Anderson said she "did not have an easy childhood."
She recounted being molested between the ages of 6 and 10 "by my female babysitter," and then being raped when she was 12 by the 25-year-old brother of a "friend's boyfriend." The man "decided he would teach me backgammon, which led into a back massage, which led into rape," she said.
Coincidentally, the Cannes event at which she revealed the rape was a backgammon tournament.
"Needless to say, I had a hard time trusting humans," Anderson said. "I just wanted off this earth."
Although her parents "tried to keep me safe," the "world was not a safe place," she said. Her mother was busy working two waitressing jobs, she said.
"My mom was always crying," she said.
She never told her mother about the molestation and rapes because "I couldn't (bear) to give her any more disruptive information," she said. "I couldn't break her heart any more than it was breaking."
Anderson, now 46, said her love for animals saved her.
"My loyalty remained with the animal kingdom," she said. "I vowed to protect them and only them. I prayed to the whales with my feet in the ocean. My only real friends, till I had children."
Before her acting career took off, Anderson started her career as a Playboy centerfold, appearing on 13 covers of the magazine starting in 1989.
BCSO: 5 charged in connection to teen orgy
by News Herald staff report
PANAMA CITY BEACH - A teen sex party in Bay Point led to felony charges against several teens after photographs of the party surfaced on social media.
Bay County Sheriff's Office deputies have charged 16-year-old William Grimsley of Panama City Beach, 16-year-old Valli Dyanne Bennett of Lynn Haven, 17-year-old Austin Spinks of Panama City Beach and 17-year-old Jay Michael Barbieri of Panama City Beach with either lewd and lascivious exhibition, lewd and lascivious molestation or both. An adult, 21-year-old Jesse Spinks, was charged with open house party and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, both misdemeanors.
They were arrested in March after photographs of several teens having sex surfaced on social media and came to the attention of an administrator at North Bay Haven Academy who reported it to police. The arrests came to light after a 16-year-old, who has not been charged with a crime, appeared on national television this week to discuss the incident with Dr. Phil.