Security officer fired after alleged attack on student in wheelchair
by Fox News
The Oakland Unified School District has fired a high school resource officer who is also facing a felony charge after he slapped and dumped a student out of his wheelchair.
KTVU-TV reports the district announced the firing of Marchell Mitchell Thursday, while also apologizing to the parents of the injured Oakland High School student.
Mitchell became angry when a group of students were lingering in the school's hallway earlier this month. District spokesman Troy Flint says Mitchell grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and began to push Martinez toward class. Martinez objected and began to slap the officer's hands.
"He then responded in an extremely emotional manner, basically by snapping and punching the student several times and dumping him out of his wheelchair and onto the floor," Flint told KTVU.
Prosecutors have charged Mitchell with child abuse.
Human trafficking a blight in progressive Bay Area
The Bay Area prides itself on its progressive politics, forward-looking culture and concern for human rights around the globe. So why is this one of America's top markets for human trafficking?
In a 2009 report, the FBI identified 13 areas with the largest incidence of child sex trafficking in the nation - and one of them was San Francisco.
In July 2013, Bay Area law enforcement worked with the FBI on an operation to rescue a dozen children here and charge 17 adults with exploiting them. While very little research has been done to determine the extent of human trafficking on a state-by-state basis, the U.S. attorney general's office reported that California identified 1,277 victims between mid-2010 and mid-2012, and that those numbers are assumed to be very low.
Human trafficking earns an estimated $32 billion worldwide per year, and that number is growing. While other industries have pulled back during a tough economy, the sale of the world's most vulnerable human beings - overwhelmingly women and children - shows no sign of flagging.
The Bay Area has become a magnet for such exploitation. It's a diverse, affluent area that has been an early adopter when it comes to technology and globalization. It's a global hub for travel - both business and leisure - and well-connected to communities all over the world, thanks to the large number of immigrants who live here.
Our freewheeling culture may be one of the factors in why such exploitation goes undetected. There is general laissez-faire attitude toward the activities in massage parlors and other adult-oriented establishments that human traffickers can use to their advantage. And it's not just about sex. Cheap labor for everything from construction to pedicures to landscaping is sought and received with few questions asked.
The Internet and the evolution of easy plane travel have facilitated the exchange of people for money in ways their inventors could have never fathomed.
"The Internet and technology has made all of this much worse," said Nola Brantley, executive director of the Oakland nonprofit organization MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting, and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth). "Digital photography, cell phones and text messaging have all made it far easier for traffickers to find and organize customers and to keep tabs on their victims."
The technology may be new, but human trafficking is as old as recorded history. The United Nations defines it as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation."
In today's world, that usually looks like forced prostitution, forced labor, forced servitude, or even - as horrific as it is - the forced removal of organs.
Most cases of human trafficking are not so dramatic. "The imagery of handcuffs and chains is not really happening for most victims," said Jadma Noronha, the Human Trafficking Program coordinator at the SAGE Project, a survivor-led antitrafficking organization in San Francisco. "The exploitation is usually far more subtle, but that doesn't mean it's not happening."
Sexual trafficking happens in homes, airport hotel rooms, and the massage parlors that have mushroomed all over Bay Area downtowns. Labor trafficking happens in restaurants, nail salons, child care facilities, in the construction industry and in rackets for drug sales. In both instances, you've probably seen a victim and just didn't know it.
"Getting the tools to fight this is not our challenge," said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag, who is based in San Francisco. "Awareness is our challenge. We have to get people to understand how this works and what it looks like."
Many of the best-publicized cases in this country concern international victims: girls or young women who were tricked into applying for a job in this country, only to find themselves stripped of their identification and forced to become sex workers or in-home labor. But an enormous number of victims were born and raised in the United States. Most of them fell victim to traffickers because of poverty, previous experiences with abuse, and a lack of stability in their lives. The vast majority of these domestic victims had previous experiences with the child welfare system.
"Average" cases, though underreported, can have catastrophic consequences. For example, Nancy O'Malley, Alameda County's district attorney, shared one of the typical cases prosecuted by her office: that of a local pimp named Andre Moncrease. Moncrease, already a convicted felon, had exploited a 19-year-old woman as a sex worker for many months when she said that she wanted to find a way to leave him and to return to her family. On July 12, 2012, Moncrease shot the woman in the face and fled, leaving her body. He was convicted of second-degree murder on Jan. 23 of this year.
"When someone says - and we see this in domestic violence cases, too - I'm going to leave, I'm going to get out of here, that's when violence can start to escalate," O'Malley said. "And we see a lot of violence around sex trafficking, because it's commercial. It's a way for (pimps) to make a lot of money."
It's maddening - though not unusual - that Moncrease was convicted on the charges of murder and illegal firearm possession instead of being successfully put behind bars earlier for having exploited the victim.
"We've worked really hard to improve our processes around prosecuting this," O'Malley said, and indeed her office is considered to be a national leader for its success against human traffickers. "But it's a difficult crime to prosecute. Our laws around demand are terrible. It's looked at like a nuisance crime. And on the other side of it, the psychological hold traffickers have over victims is incredible."
That goes for domestic as well as international survivors.
"Initially we had more international survivors, but as we got better known in the community we started getting referrals - and now 90 percent of our survivors are domestic," said Jaida Im, executive director of Freedom House, a nonprofit that runs the first safe house in Northern California for adult survivors of human trafficking. That safe house has been open on the Peninsula since August 2010.
"I was definitely one of the people who had no idea that this was going on in my community," Im said.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
With all of the skills, energy, resources, and innovation in this area, there's no reason why the Bay Area can't be a global leader in the fight against human trafficking.
There are plenty of concrete things that need to be changed. On a state level, we need to get rid of the legislation that has allowed massage parlors to operate with impunity in our communities. We need mandated medical reporting, so that people who are on the front lines know how to recognize trafficking victims and can urge them to get help.
On a local level, we need better data, transitional housing, 24-hour hotlines, better regional coordination, and vigilant, educated communities.
Even though human trafficking is an old practice, there's room for optimism. Just as the Bay Area has emerged as a leader in the market for human trafficking, it's also emerged as a leader in the fight against it. There are dedicated people who are making impressive efforts to educate the public and help survivors overcome unbelievable trauma.
"We were the first to talk about domestic trafficking, as far as we know, in the country, in 2002," O'Malley said. "In 2003, I sponsored antitrafficking legislation in the state Legislature, and no one paid attention to it. In 2004, we launched a statewide conference about trafficking and I started pushing for specialists to prosecute these cases, because they're incredibly complicated."
Part of the reason why they're so complicated is that it's historically been easy for the public to be blind to a crime that happens in plain sight. We need to shed the delusion that human exploitation is something that only happens far, far away.
On-the-job training isn't working
by Boz Tchividjian
The on-the-job training of pastors and other faith leaders in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse isn't working – it is dangerous and all too often has devastating consequences. A problem with on-the-job training is that it allows for mistakes. That is okay when you are cooking hamburgers, but not when it involves the safety of children. It is not okay when it involves an abuse survivor who quietly suffers in the pew. It is not okay when it involves a perpetrator who exploits ignorance in order to victimize children and avoid getting caught.
Inadequately trained leaders are simply not equipped to protect the children under their care from offenders who spend a lifetime perfecting their ability to gain the trust of adults in order to access children. According to a national survey conducted by Christianity Today, 20% of Christian church leaders said they knew of at least one convicted sex offender who was attending or was a member of their church. This doesn't include the sex offenders in their midst who have never been caught! Without pastors receiving substantive training about the dynamics of child sexual abuse and those who abuse, churches will never be safe places. On-the-job training all too often results in greater harm to the very individuals who are most in need of protection and help.
When it comes to responding to abuse, the Christian community has been shackled by inadequate preparation and training. For example, most pastors don't know how to recognize abuse, report abuse, or to work with families impacted by abuse. I once read about a study of 143 clergy of various faiths in which 29% believed that actual evidence of abuse, as opposed to suspicion was necessary before a report could be made. Such a mistaken belief naturally results in the under-reporting of suspected abuse cases. This same study concluded that at some level, the 143 clergy participants impacted the lives of 23,841 children!
The issues related to the sexual abuse of children are many and complex. All the more reason that training must begin before-the-job, not on-the-job. Training must begin at the same time church leaders are being equipped to study scripture, preach, counsel, and administrate. What I am trying to say is that the equipping of pastors and church leaders on how to understand and address child sexual abuse must begin in our seminaries. And that's exactly what we are going to do.
GRACE recently convened a team of Christian theologians, pastors, counselors, educators, and child protection professionals who have each demonstrated a commitment to protecting children and serving survivors. This historic committee has embraced the task of developing the first substantive seminary curriculum designed to educate and train Christian leaders on effective prevention and ministry responses to child sexual abuse. Our objective is to develop this curriculum in such a way that it can be easily adapted into virtually any seminary curriculum. Here is just a sampling of topics that this curriculum must cover if we are going to equip the next generation to help transform our churches into safe communities for children and survivors:
Characteristics of child sexual abuse and its many permutations
The profile and common behavioral characteristics of sexual offenders
Common spiritual impacts of child sexual abuse
A child's perception of sexual abuse
Biblical and theological foundations for child protection Best practices in child protection policies
Mandated reporting laws
Best practices in responding to active sexual abuse allegations in a Christian environment
Basic understanding of the current techniques clinicians use when working with abuse victims
Understanding of the purpose and value of professional mental health care for victims and perpetrators
Characteristics of the abusing families
Confronting past abuse within a church
I've never encountered an abuse victim who was grateful that their pastor had no training on how to prevent abuse. I've never encountered a parent who was relieved to learn that their pastor had no idea how to address the many spiritual questions associated with the sexual abuse of their child. I've never encountered a survivor who preferred that their pastor not understand the hell they have been stuck in for years as a result of being violated as a child.
What I have encountered are children who were victimized in churches that refused to acknowledge the importance of taking proactive steps to protect. What I have encountered are survivors and their families who are unable to find a pastor who is equipped or even interested in working through their deep spiritual questions associated with this horrific offense. What I have encountered are scores of survivors who spend years searching for someone inside the church who understands their dark journey and is willing to walk with them. Most of these aching souls eventually lose hope, stop searching, and walk away.
I realize that not all pastors and church leaders attend seminary. However, this curriculum is a major step in the right direction. A direction that leads to a Christian community that will better protect children as well as connect with survivors and walk alongside them.
There is no reason any of us should accept the status quo of on-the-job training when it comes to the protection and care of God's children. We can do better. We must do better. The invaluable lives of those made in God's image deserve nothing less.
Pope Francis takes first step in tackling child-abuse crisis
Over the years, we have harsh- ly criticized the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church for their wishy-washy response to the sexual abuse of thousands of children worldwide by priests, which is why we take some solace in this week's pronouncements by Pope Francis.
To be sure, Francis' declaration of “zero tolerance” for members of the clergy who would violate man's law and God's law will ring hollow unless there's actual punishment meted out to the pedophiles.
However, it's premature to dismiss what the pontiff announced on Monday without giving him a chance to prove his sincerity.
Indeed, his revelation that three bishops are currently under investigation provides hope that finally those in positions of power who aided and abetted members of the clergy in their criminality are being called to account.
If we've said it once, we've said it a dozen times, the child-abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church would never have gone on for so long had there not been bishops and archbishops protecting the pedophiles. There have been many credible news stories of priests caught abusing children and then being reassigned to other parishes and again committing the most grievous of sins.
“We are now considering the penalty to be imposed,” Pope Francis told reporters flying with him to Rome on his return from the Holy Land. “There are no privileges.”
He described the abuse of children by priests as an “ugly” crime that betrays God.
In a gesture that was immediately dismissed by the main U.S. victims' group, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the pope will meet next month with a group of victims at the Vatican.
He plans to celebrate Mass with the eight victims in the small church inside the Vatican guesthouse where he lives, the New York Times reported.
The pope is being advised by members of the commission he created last year to help him formulate a policy on sex abuse. One of the members is Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston.
“On this issue, we must go forward, forward. Zero tolerance,” Francis said. What that means will become clear as the Vatican responds to a report from a United Nations human-rights committee that has accused the church of a “Code of Silence” in dealing with the thousands of incidents of sexual abuse of children by priests.
The code enabled the abuse worldwide to continue for decades and provided blanket protection to the bishops who aided and abetted in the criminal acts.
The U.N. has called on the Vatican to immediately remove all priests known or suspected to be child molesters, open its archives on abusers and the bishops who covered up for them, and turn abuse cases over to law-enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution.
The human-rights committee brushed aside the Vatican's claims that safeguards already have been instituted, and it accused the church of still harboring criminals.
Pope Francis must know that his announcement this week about the investigation of bishops and the invitation to the eight abuse victims are only the first step. As head of the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, he has the responsibility to set the moral tone for the church.
Francis must show through his actions that he's prepared to get rid of the priests and bishops who have sinned, thereby permanently tainting the church.
Where is God in child abuse?
by Jane Siebert
She was brusque. She had managed a bar “in the rough part of town.” But she admitted that when it came to her grand baby Olivia, she was jelly.
A single tear ran down her hardened face as she looked at the lifeless figure of her 18-month-old “grand baby,” the fair-haired, chubby little girl with part of her curls shaved off where they inserted a tube to measure the pressure in her brain. That was just one of the many tubes and IV's and catheters in place trying to give this little life enough support to stay alive.
The problem is that brains don't handle being kicked, or thrown, or bashed, or whatever happened to this child. They are delicate instruments, encased in hard bone that is made to withstand childhood falls and mishaps. “She fell off the bed and hit her head,” the babysitting boyfriend said. But that excuse does not fit the level of injuries that this child sustained. Experience and medical science tell a different story. Somebody's going to jail for this atrocity, but that's not going to bring Olivia back or make her whole again.
Grandma's stare moved from her grand baby to me. “Tell me something, Chaplain. You're a real religious person, right?”
I shook my head in agreement, although her definition of “religious” and mine are probably quite different.
“Well,” she said, “my friend, who is very religious, just called and told me that God could fix Olivia's brain and heal her, if we just pray and pray and believe. Do you believe God can do that?”
I sighed. How I struggle with this one. Yes, God is all-powerful. God heals. But I saw the CT of this child's brain and, as the doctor said, “It is mush. It cannot sustain life.”
So with hesitation I entered into this theological conundrum with the hurting grandmother. “When God creates us, God loves us so much that God gives us free will. The way I see it, God could make us robots, to do exactly what God wants, but that would not be a loving God, that would be a dictatorial and controlling God. And what kind of life would that be for us, God's creation? We have a very loving God. In fact, that is what God is – pure love. And along with that free will comes responsibility for our choices and the consequences of our actions. We have the choice every moment of our lives to do good and kind things to one another or to do mean and horrible things to one another.”
She was listening so intently and gently nodding her head, so I ventured on, trying to think of an example she might relate to.
“If someone leaves a bar drunk, gets into their car and chooses to drive drunk, there is not much one can do about it. And if that person causes an accident in which someone dies, the deepest beliefs or prayers are not going to undo what that person did, right?”
She shook her head.
“The damage is done. Their choice to drive drunk brought irreversible consequences. That doesn't make God any less powerful or less loving. It is just the way it is.”
“That also doesn't mean that the one who was killed in the accident did anything wrong or made a bad decision. He was just there when the drunk driver hit him. He could not get out of the way of the person who made a bad choice.”
“But that doesn't mean we shouldn't pray. We pray that something good comes out of that terrible accident. We pray for the family of the victim and the family of the drunk driver … and the driver.”
She looked over at Olivia and at the number that indicated the pressure in her brain – the number that the doctor had just explained was too high to allow for oxy-gen to get to her brain and keep it alive.
I continued, “I have been praying for Olivia since she came in. My prayers are for this beautiful child, for the best possible outcome of this horrendous abuse, although I do not know what that might be. I know you and her mom and her dad and all the family want her to live. I want her to live, but the reality is as the doctors have told you. Her brain is so damaged it cannot sustain life. And this makes us all – and God – very, very sad.”
Another tear ran down her cheek. “So, what good is God, if God just lets us run around hurting one another? Why couldn't God protect her from that creep?”
I nodded my head, having struggled with these questions myself, and it doesn't get any easier. “It goes back to our freedom. Your son's ex-wife chose to leave Olivia in her boyfriend's care. She knew that he used drugs. She had seen his ugly side. She carries deep remorse for this now and will for the rest of her life. But the reality is she put her child in harm's way. And please know this: God was with Olivia through the abuse; God never left her, even while horrible things were happening to her. I know this is very, very hard to understand. It is for me, too.” I paused and we were silent for a long while as the machines pumped and filled the air with beeps and hums.
“Where does this evil come from?” Grandma broke the silence with her question.
“We are in freedom to turn toward God and what is right or to turn away from God toward what is wrong, or what we call evil,” I replied. “And our choices add up to make us who we are. Take the driver who chose to drive under the influence of alcohol. The first time a person drives while drunk, our conscience (some call it God talking in our heads) tells us, ‘Don't do this. You might hurt someone. It is wrong to drink and drive.' If we ignore our conscience and drive home anyway without incident, the next time it is easier to ignore what is right. Each time we choose to do wrong, it gets easier and easier to do it again and again. We tell ourselves, ‘It is OK. I can make it home. I've done it before.' The wrong choice gets ingrained in us and we convince ourselves that it is the right choice.”
“I don't know why this man hurt Olivia,” I said. “I don't know how anyone could justify in their mind that it is OK to hurt a child. We probably will never know, unless he confesses. We don't know the pain he suffered in his own childhood. We can only see part of the picture.”
Grandma straightened up a bit. “I wanted to do so much for this child. I was going to shower her with my love and teach her about life. I would do anything for Olivia … and now there is nothing.”
“There is something more,” I said. “Because of God, this life on Earth is not all there is. I believe that when Olivia passes from this world to the next, God and the angels will be with her, just as they are with her now. They will be there to hold her and comfort her and teach her, just as you planned to do.”
“That helps,” Grandma quietly murmured. “It really does. Thank you.”
“God right now is reaching out to you, to comfort you. With God you will be able to get through this unbelievable experience. I have seen it in my work here as a chaplain. God carries us through times like this.”
“Oh, Chaplain, I want to hear you pray for Olivia and for me and my son and his ex-wife. We need it so.”
The Rev. Jane Siebert, Pretty Prairie, served as chaplain at Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, for seven years and recalls many stories and heartaches from her time there. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oakland Co. HAVEN makes push for final $1M to expand services with new facility
by Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
For years, HAVEN has had to turn away survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault because the Oakland County nonprofit did not have room to house them.
Over the past five years, the length of stay for residential clients has increased from an average of 28 days to 37 days.
“In order to be safe in your own home, you have to first have a home and then have some way to financial support yourself,” said Beth Morrison, CEO and president of HAVEN. “Doing that in today's world is still difficult.”
This week, HAVEN launched Plant the Seeds of Hope, an $8 million capital campaign to fund construction of a new 36,000-square-foot facility that will house counseling, advocacy, residential and other services under one roof.
“We believe that by the programmatic changes we are making, and working closer with partners, that we can shorten the length of stay as well as hopefully intervene before someone needs to use a shelter,” said Morrison.
HAVEN has been quietly raising money for the new facility since 2010, and has already secured $4 million. Another $3 million is expected to come from federal tax credits. Now HAVEN is seeking the public's help to raise the last $1 million of its goal.
The new center, which will be on 6 acres near the Oakland County complex in Pontiac, will include space for new programs such as career counseling, job training, legal clinics, support group sessions, financial literacy sessions and a pet shelter. It will have 16 bedrooms.
Current facilities are spread out across the county, with leased locations in Royal Oak and Bingham Farms and a residential building in Pontiac owned by HAVEN that has 15 bedrooms.
A private groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for June 18. The project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2016.
By housing more services under one roof, HAVEN hopes to make it easier and more comfortable for abuse survivors to get help and reduce the risk of them returning to their abusers.
On average, the nonprofit serves 12,000 children and adults, mostly women, per year with counseling, educational programs and medical testing at its facilities. HAVEN also offers abuse prevention seminars off-site to 15,000 others each year, Morrison said.
HAVEN has been serving children and adults in Oakland County for almost 40 years. In the 2012 fiscal year, HAVEN served 372 adults and children in its residential program. The nonprofit expects similar numbers this year.
Around 80 percent of HAVEN's clients are from Oakland County, said Morrison.
“It really impacts everyone regardless of socioeconomic factors, education, race, community, culture and religion,” said Morrison. “Domestic violence and sexual abuse is a crime that doesn't discriminate.
How to help
To donate to HAVEN's capital campaign, call (248) 334-1274 or visit www.haven-oakland.org. Checks can be made out to HAVEN and sent to P.O. Box 431045, Pontiac, MI 48343.
The Almost Forgotten Sex Crime Victims: Boys
by Diane Dimond -- Television journalist, author, syndicated columnist
In our supposedly enlightened era about sex crimes against children there continues to be one glaring blind spot. Yes, there is more discussion now than ever before about the types of predators who target our children, the cyclical nature of these crimes and how to keep our children safe. And, yes, society does a pretty good job of gathering around to help the little girls who have fallen prey to pedophiles. Not so with little boys.
Discussion about the plight of sexually victimized boys and young male teens has been virtually absent from the national conversation. We all understand the horror and lifelong scars a rape can cause to, say, a 12-year-old female. But there remains this idea that if it happens to a 12-year-old boy they are somehow more able to handle it, less psychologically damaged by the victimization. Some of the ill-informed even believe the boy is "lucky" to have been introduced to the joys of sex so early.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The unsettling reality is that for a variety of reasons young males who have been sexually assaulted don't readily report what has happened to them. It is tremendously difficult for them to admit that someone has taken advantage of them in that way. Why?
Well, no matter how evolved we may think we are, our society continues to instill in even the youngest boys the need to be brave, strong, confident and to act tough -- to never appear helpless, fragile or fearful. Of course, feeling afraid and ashamed are exactly the emotions a sex victim experiences. So frequently, boys don't tell for fear of disappointing the adults in their life.
And, boys often stay silent because they believe they will be seen as being gay if their abuser was -- as most often happens -- also male. Let's bust the myth right now that this type of sex abuse automatically turns the child into a homosexual. Completely untrue.
Also, when they experience the normal physical response to stimulation -- even if it is forced stimulation -- it often confuses the boy. His body is reacting one way while his mind is telling him the act is wrong. It's this confusion that contributes to the child going back to the predator time and time again. The stream of gifts and flattering attention a pedophile offers is lure enough.
Dr. Scott Easton, of Boston College, conducted one of the largest research studies of male survivors of childhood sex abuse. He questioned nearly 500 men and discovered nearly 50 percent were abused for three years or longer. Imagine, boys who endured three years (or more) of sexual assaults before either escaping the clutches of their attacker or becoming too old to be desirable.
Parents reading this might think their son would always come and tell them if something like this was happening to them -- but statistics prove that is wishful thinking.
Christopher Anderson kept his molestation secret for 25 years. Today, he is executive director of MaleSurvivor.org a support group for male victims of childhood sex abuse. Anderson, 38, says male children's failure to report sex crimes has created a terrible cycle. Since law enforcement, social workers and courts hear so few complaints from young boys there is a shocking lack of services targeted for male victims.
That's unconscionable when you take into account last year's National Crime Victimization Survey which revealed 38 percent of sexual violence victims are men. Left untreated and unsupported many victims become depressed, anxious, addicted to drugs and alcohol and often think about or commit suicide.
I bring up the dynamics behind young men who wait years to report their abuse because there are a couple of cases in the news lately involving young men who stepped forward with accusations from long ago. James Safechuck, now 36, was 10 years old when he was cast in a Pepsi commercial opposite the late singer Michael Jackson. Safechuck's lawsuit, filed in L.A. Superior Court against the Jackson estate, alleges Jackson repeatedly molested him for about four years. A Jackson lawyer has called the claim, "false and scurrilous."
The second headline-making lawsuit was filed by Michael Eagan, 31, once an aspiring actor. He says that beginning when he was 15 years old several men who are now accomplished Hollywood veterans lured him in with promises of lucrative acting jobs but then plied him (and other underage boys) with drugs and booze and groomed them for sexual victimization. Eagan claims the abuse continued for two years. All the named defendants have denied any wrongdoing.
Internet wags made immediate and ugly judgments about the two young accusers.
"This is just a ridiculous money grab," wrote one commenter.
"So, he waits over two decades and for Michael [Jackson] to die to come out with this?"
"It's amazing that [these] accusers have the same strange quality of voluntarily going to visit their abuser over and over for years."
Before making snap judgments about someone who claims they were sexually molested as a child, could we all just take a deep breath and understand the dynamics at play? From my experience reporting on these types of cases it is gut-wrenchingly hard for a bonafide victim to go public. It often makes them physically sick. They take their time revealing until they believe it is safe, and they realize it is a step they have to take so they can begin to heal their soul.
Recriminations about why they, as a child, repeatedly returned to their abusers are meaningless. Questions about why they didn't tell their mother are ignorant. Criticizing them for asking the court for monetary compensation seems needlessly cruel. Any idea how much a course of intense therapy costs?
Are there false accusations of sexual abuse leveled for money or revenge? Yes, you bet, and that's why we have a court system to weed out the real from the unreal. Here's a suggestion: Let's at least wait to hear these accusers evidence before automatically condemning them as undeserving to seek justice.
Child abuse referrals to police up almost 50%, says NSPCC helpline
Cases such as that of Daniel Pelka, who was starved for months before he died in 2012, thought to have triggered the surge
by Matthew Weaver
A children's charity helpline has reported an increase of almost 50% in the number of cases of emotional abuses being referred to the police and local authorities in the last year.
The NSPCC's anonymous helpline helped more than 8,000 people who are concerned that children they know are suffering from emotional neglect and abuse. Of these 5,354 cases were so serious they were referred to local authorities. This was a 47.5% increase from the previous year when there 3,629 referrals.
Cases such as that of Daniel Pelka, the four-year-old who was starved and beaten for months before he died in March 2012, may have triggered the surge, the NSPCC said.
The charity said the figures underline the need for new legislation to tackle emotional neglect of children. Under the so-called Cinderella law, which is being considered by the government, the definition of child cruelty would change to include emotional neglect and abuse as well as physical abuse. But critics have claimed the law will criminalise a lack of parental love and would fail to protect the most vulnerable.
John Cameron, the NSPCC head of child protection operations, said: "Emotional neglect and abuse cause real harm to children and we are supporting more people than ever before who want a safe, non-judgmental place in which to talk through their concerns.
"As a result of this we are able to recognise the most serious cases and are referring an unprecedented number of emotional neglect and abuse cases to children's services and the police."
He said it was a positive step forward that the government had indicated it would outlaw extreme emotional cruelty.
"We must recognise extreme emotional abuse for what it is – a crime – and those who carry it out should be prosecuted," he said. "This isn't about prosecuting parents who don't buy their children the latest gadgets or trainers; this is about parents who consistently deny their children love and affection."
But Alan Wood, president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, said the proposed law was not the answer. Speaking to the social care news site Community Care, he said: "Parents who fail to provide the basic level of emotional and physical support for their children do so for a variety of reasons including incapacity, inability, and wickedness but a lack of legislative clarity is not one of those reasons. There is no evidence to suggest a change in the law will prevent further instances of neglect from occurring.
"Creating a new criminal offence would not alter the way in which local authorities intervene to protect children. Practitioners are fully aware of the harm caused by emotional neglect and abuse. Emotional abuse is the reason given for nearly a third of child protection plans. This shows that local authorities are acting to keep safe children who are suffering from emotional abuse."
Bill would teach children age-appropriate lessons in sexual abuse and assault awareness
by PJ Randhawa
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A proposed law is in the works that could change how students are taught about sexual abuse and assaults.
According to the Medical University of South Carolina, roughly one in four women and one in seven men have experienced some form of childhood sexual abuse. Lawmakers hope education in the classroom is the answer to reducing the statistics.
Freshman State Rep. Mandy Powers Norell, D-Lancaster, is spearheading a proposal to have sexual abuse prevention programs taught in South Carolina schools. If passed, school districts would provide age-appropriate instruction in sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention. The program would start this fall and include children from pre-kindergarten to senior year.
"A lot of the children being sexually abused in their homes don't realize that what's happening to them is wrong," Norrell said. "For them, it's their version of normal. And this bill would have each grade level develop an age appropriate way to tell safe secrets from unsafe secrets."
So far, the bill has received overwhelming support, but the failure of other health education proposals has left some wondering if educators are overreaching.
"I do think that people are concerned that school districts are getting too involved in things that families are handling, but on the other side we have to be realistic that not everybody has the same home environment," said Joanie Lawson with the SC Education Association.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the most common place children encounter predators is online. In roughly half of child sexual abuse cases the perpetrator has been part of the family.
Over 8,000 charged with child sexual abuse in China in four years
China charged a total of 8,069 people with child molestation from 2010 to 2013, the country's Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) said on Thursday, ahead the International Children's Day.
Also, 255 people were charged with having sex with prostitutes below 14 and 121 people were charged with luring girls below 14 into prostitution, said the SPP statement.
Procuratorates across the country have stepped up their efforts against all crimes targeting children, especially sexual abuse cases, said Xiao Wei, the SPP spokeswoman, at a press conference in Beijing.
The country has been shocked by a string of child sexual abuse cases involving teachers in recent years.
In April, a teacher in east China's Anhui province and another in central China's Henan province were sentenced to 17 years in prison and suspended death respectively for raping and molesting a dozen of their students.
In May last year, a news story about a school principal and a government clerk in south China's Hainan province raping primary school girls roused strong concerns about sexual crimes against children nationwide.
In the Hainan case, Chen Zaipeng, the former principal of Wanning No. 2 Primary School, and Feng Xiaosong, a former clerk at the city's property administration bureau were respectively sentenced to 13 and half and 11 and half years in jail.
Prosecutors will continue giving priorities to child molestation cases and seek the most serious legal punishment against these offenders, Xiao said.
The SPP statement also said that prosecutors have booked and charged fewer juvenile offenders since 2012 and the recidivism rate of juvenile offenders dropped by 29.6% from 2008 to 2013.
However, the age of juvenile offenders kept decreasing in these years. A majority of juvenile cases involve those between 16 and 18 but the number of those involving the underage from 14 to 16 has increased, said Shi Weizhong, an SPP official at the same press conference.
Most of the young offenders are less educated, Shi said. In 2013, 90% of juvenile offenders prosecuted nationwide received less than nine years of education.
Most of these children are from disfunctional families and violent and pornographic contents on mass media and internet also contribute to the cause of their behavior, he said.
India gang rapes: Outrage over police 'discrimination'
by Divya Arya
There is outrage over police inaction in a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh where two teenage girls were gang raped and hanged from a tree.
The father of one victim said he was ridiculed by policemen when he sought help in finding his missing daughter.
He said when the policemen found out he was from a lower caste, they "refused to look for my girl".
At least three men, including one policeman, have been arrested in connection with the incident.
The victims' families have complained that police had refused to help find the missing girls, aged 14 and 16, who were cousins from a low caste.
"When I went to the police station, the first thing I was asked was my caste, when I told them what my caste was, they started abusing me," the father of one of the girls told the BBC.
India has numerous castes and divisions among them run deep. Violence is often used by upper castes to assert power and instil fear in lower castes.
Although both the victim and the accused belonged to a caste grouping known as 'Other Backward Classes', the victims were lower in that hierarchy.
Further suspects hunted
Police said two men had been arrested for the gang rape and murder of the girls.
A constable was also detained for conspiring with the suspects and for dereliction of duty, authorities said, adding they were looking for one more suspect and one constable.
Senior police official Atul Saxena said there would be a "thorough investigation" into the allegations of caste discrimination by the police.
People in Katra Shahadatganj, a village of 10,000 people in Badaun district where the incident took place, say caste "plays an important role in social affairs" in the community.
One villager, named only as Teerath, said: "If media hadn't come here the police wouldn't have done anything."
A neighbour of one of the victims said the police "discriminated" against people from the lower castes in the village.
"Even though the police has suspended some constables, the ones who replace them would not be any better, they would discriminate too," he said.
But Mr Saxena denied that caste biases played any part in "influencing police behaviour" in the state.
"The police follows its rule book and considers all criminals equal before the law. There might be one or two cases like this one and we will make sure that the culprit doesn't go scot-free," he said.
Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.
The government tightened laws on sexual violence last year after widespread protests following the attack.
Fast-track courts were brought to the fore to deal with rape and the death penalty was also brought in for the most extreme cases.
Some women's rights groups argue that the low conviction rate for rape should be challenged with more effective policing rather than stiffer sentences.
Rape cases that have shocked India
23 January 2014: Thirteen men held in West Bengal in connection with the gang rape of a woman, allegedly on orders of village elders who objected to her relationship with a man
4 April 2014: A court sentences three men to hang for raping a 23-year-old photojournalist in Mumbai last year
15 January 2014: A Danish woman is allegedly gang raped after losing her way near her hotel in Delhi
17 September 2013 : Five youths held in Assam for allegedly gang-raping a 10-year-old girl
4 June 2013: A 30-year-old American woman gang-raped in Himachal Pradesh
30 April 2013: A five-year-old girl dies two weeks after being raped in Madhya Pradesh
16 December 2012: Student gang raped on Delhi bus, sparking nationwide protests and outrage
What the legalization of marijuana has meant for children
The danger marijuana poses to children is often overlooked because the children aren't using the drug. However, children are being put in harm's way because of their proximity to marijuana.
by Emily Hales
Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012, the increase in the small number of children admitted to local hospitals for marijuana-related symptoms shows youth will not be unscathed by the change.
Nine children have been admitted to Children's Hospital Colorado for accidentally ingesting marijuana, which is already one more than the total for last year. Of the nine children who have been admitted in 2014, "seven were admitted to the hospital's intensive-care unit, most commonly for what was either extreme sedation or agitation.
One of those kids had breathing problems that required a respirator," Michael DiStefano, the medical director of the Children's Hospital Colorado emergency department, told The Denver Post. While the number is relatively small compared to the overall number of patients at the hospital, it is an increase from earlier years.
"Between 2005 and 2013, only eight children were admitted at the hospital for unintentional marijuana ingestion," DiStefano told the Post. What's more, "the patients at Children's are just one slice of what hospitals across the state are seeing," he said.
The legal age to use marijuana is 21 in both Colorado and Washington.
The culture surrounding marijuana has changed over the last few years. Marijuana use is becoming "less and less stigmatized," according to Time. President Barack Obama is in favor of legalization, and marijuana use is seen as no more harmful than drinking alcohol.
However, research has found that marijuana use has negative effects on teenagers, and is particularly damaging to the memory centers of the brain, according to Schizophrenia Bulletin.
Although legal drugs likes alcohol and tobacco may be just as harmful, if not more so, than marijuana, the legalization of pot brings new problems. Hash oil explosions, caused by people trying to extract THC — the primary drug in marijuana — by cooking it, are increasing in the Denver area and endangering children.
A 3-year-old girl was in the house when an explosion occurred in Manitou Springs, Colorado, in May. Although she was unhurt, the kitchen was destroyed and the adults who were present have been charged with reckless endangerment and child abuse, according to CBS Denver.
Such dangerous environments are tied to recreational use of marijuana. But lawmakers are beginning to approve medical uses to relieve the symptoms of epilepsy in children.
The Illinois House approved a bill that would allow minors to use cannabidiol, an oil derived from marijuana that contains minimal amounts of THC, to prevent seizures, according to Huffington Post.
Several other states already allow the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of epilepsy in minors, including Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
Nicole Gross, one of the parents lobbying for that passage of the bill in Illinois, moved to Colorado to get her young son access to medical marijuana treatment. Since using cannabidiol, Gross says "he has 60 to 90 percent seizure control."
Gross said that her son's epilepsy was like "having a constant electrical shock, like having your brain reset. It's not like passing out, but it's almost like your brain shutting down. And this happens thousands of times a day."
Recreational use and medical use are two separate issues, but as marijuana becomes more mainstream in the United States, children will likely be impacted, the Time article reports."
It is important to stop it before it becomes a huge problem," DiStefano said.
Anoka County continues taking steps to end child abuse
by Sue Austreng
Before he was even old enough to sit up on his own, baby Rylan had been hit by his mom's boyfriend on more than one occasion.
The worst of it came when Rylan was just 7 months old and the man hit him so hard he was knocked unconscious, suffered a stroke, a seizure and a brain bleed.
Rylan survived that abuse and is now a 6-year-old kindergartner, living with an adoptive family in St. Francis. His life is full and Rylan is safe and happy and growing stronger every day.
However, permanent damage caused by that abuse affects him every day, too. And the effects of that abuse affect not just Rylan's life, but the lives of those around him.
His adoptive sisteris determined to do anything she can to prevent other children from abuse.
“My little brother's a great kid. He's so sweet and so much fun, and he never deserved what he got from that man. I want to make sure no one else ever gets hurt like Rylan did,” Tisha Beseke said, describing her outrage at the attacks her adoptive brother endured during the earliest months of his life.
One way Beseke is helping to prevent child abuse is by volunteering on the Anoka County Child Abuse Prevention Council, an action team of the Alliance for a Violence-Free Anoka County.
Violence Prevention Coordinator Donna McDonald said the team has been in existence for more than a dozen years and has worked tirelessly to prevent child abuse in the county.
“Child abuse is prevalent in our society and our goal is to help people understand, to educate the public on positive parenting, understanding child development and creating a healthy environment,” she said.
“Too often, the general public is unsure about what constitutes child abuse, how abused and neglected children and their families can be helped, and what we, as individuals, can and should do about it.”
Therefore, McDonald said, another mission of the council is to help people understand how to recognize child abuse, how to report it and to know that reporting doesn't disrupt families, it helps families, she said.
Jess VanKuyk, child protection supervisor with Anoka County Social Services, describes what happens when someone calls Child Protection Services (763-422-7125) with a report of suspected child abuse.
When the call is made, she said, there is criteria used to determine if the family needs to be screened. If a screening is needed, a family assessment is done to determine what is needed to keep the child safe. Then, an investigation may be conducted to determine if there is a maltreatment finding.
“Screeners can offer community services, social services – whatever is needed. Don't hesitate to call Child Protection Services,” VanKuyk said.
And “it just takes one,” child abuse prevention advocates will say.
All it takes is one person to make one phone call when something doesn't look right, one person to stand up and say something, one parent or one other trusted adult to help children learn safety strategies.
Council members urge families to practice family safety nights twice each year. During those nights, parents can talk to their children about safety tips like wearing a bike helmet, wearing a seatbelt and also talk about personal safety, body safety and online safety.
Council members tell parents to present personal safety tips as automatically as they would present other safety tips.
“The number one tool to prevent child abuse is caring and connected adults,” said Goody Vokovan, who has served on the Anoka County Child Abuse Prevention Council for more than 10 years.
Other council members include members of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, the Anoka County Community Health Department, HeadStart, local business owners, teachers and community members.
“Everybody on the council has a passion about protecting children, making a safe place for children to live and play and grow. And we are one of the more active (child abuse prevention) councils in the state,” McDonald said.
The council's efforts to educate the public on child abuse include community events, workshops, conferences, and hand-outs that provide education on identifying and preventing child abuse.
And those efforts continue throughout the year.
To learn more about Anoka County Child Abuse Prevention Council efforts, contact Violence Prevention Coordinator Donna McDonald at 763-422-7047 or email@example.com or visit ViolenceFreeAnokaCounty.org and click on “Anoka County Child Abuse Prevention Council.”
To view a five-segment video that provides insight on child abuse prevention/services in Anoka County and other valuable information, visit AnokaCounty.us, scroll down and click on “IT JUST TAKES ONE: What's happening in child abuse prevention in Anoka County.”
For more about family safety strategies visit the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center at: jwrc.org
Local Residents to Serve Child Abuse and Neglect Victims
by Jayne Ann Bugda
The Susquehanna Valley CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) – Voices for Children inducted a new corps of trained volunteers to serve local children who have been victims of caregiver abuse and/or neglect. The induction ceremony occurred on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Union County Government Center.
The Honorable Michael H. Sholley, President Judge and The Honorable Harold F. Woelful, Jr., Senior Judge presided over the ceremony and Union County Commissioner Preston R. Boop addressed the volunteers.
The new inductees are: Beverly Bayer (Danville), Donald Endrizzi (Paxinos), Timothy Fahy (Mifflinburg), Pamela Hendricks (New Columbia), Deborah Rathbun (Lewisburg), Keith Smalley (Lewisburg) and Marie Wagner (Lewisburg).
“We are excited to welcome these seven individuals to our organization,” said Judith Jones, Executive Director of Susquehanna Valley CASA – Voices for Children, a non-profit organization serving Lycoming, Northumberland, Union and Snyder counties, “Their dedication and passion will be of great benefit to the local children they advocate for.”
Susquehanna Valley CASA – Voices for Children is a volunteer-powered network of committed citizens – from all walks of life – who are specially trained to fight for abused and neglected children, to make sure their basic rights and essential needs are not overlooked or ignored by the overburdened foster care and child welfare systems.
CASA volunteers assist the Courts in determining what is in the best interest of the child. Through objective, child-focused investigations, they develop and present their recommendations to the Court to aid in establishing a safe, permanent and nurturing home in an expeditious manner. “With a CASA volunteer, a child is half as likely to languish in the foster care and child welfare systems, and that much more likely to find a safe, permanent home,” said Jones.
Currently, there are over 50 children in the local area who are waiting for a CASA volunteer. Says Jones, “Unfortunately, the demand for CASA volunteers by the Courts outpaces our supply of volunteers. We are always looking for people who care about children, and who can gather information and make sensible recommendations to join our organization.
Despite our varied backgrounds – retirees, educators, business professionals, health care professionals, lawyers to name just a few – we share a common belief that all children deserve a safe, permanent and nurturing home, and a desire to use our voice to help the children achieve that.”
Individuals interested in becoming a CASA volunteer are asked to contact the Susquehanna Valley CASA – Voices for Children office at (570) 988-2200 or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Information from Judith Jones, Susquehanna Valley CASA – Voices for Children)
Manitoba has highest rate of child sex abuse: StatsCan
by Global News
WINNIPEG – Manitoba has the highest rate of sexual offences against children among all provinces, according to Statistics Canada data.
There were 316 reported sexual offences for every 100,000 children aged 17 and under in 2012, say statistics released by the agency Wednesday.
Saskatchewan and New Brunswick were close behind.
The numbers also show girls were almost five times more likely to be assaulted than boys, and nine out of 10 victims knew the accused.
The report shows sexual offences against children were down across the country, but children still made up more than half of all sexual assault victims despite comprising just 20 per cent of the national population.
Being Honest About Sexual Violence in War, and Everywhere Else
by Gary Barker, Ph.D -- Founder and International Director of Promundo
This post was co-authored by Henny Slegh
In June, the UK government will organize the largest ever event on rape in war. Ending sexual violence in war has become a major global cause, for the UK government, other European governments and the US government, the UN and the Nobel Women's Initiative, to name a few, and joined by the voices of women and men, and activists globally.
The cause is obvious, urgent and necessary. Still, we're left with a haunting quote. A woman we interviewed in a refugee camp in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of a multi-country study told us this: "I cannot refuse to have sex, or he (my husband) will force me." She was worried about combatants and their use of rape, which was an ongoing reality in eastern DRC. But the more immediate danger was in bed next to her. And her worry is shared by millions of women worldwide, in conflict settings and elsewhere.
Rape in war, as we know, is as old as war itself. It happens before, during and after most conflicts. In some countries it is a tactic ordered by commanders; in others it is carried out by individual soldiers or combatants as part of the unofficial spoils of war. It happens more frequently against women and girls, but also against boys and men. The list of the kinds and consequences of rape in war is tragic and the devastation unquestionable.
But in the midst of sexual violence in the twenty-some countries in the world in conflict or recovering from conflict, we often miss a larger truth. For all the sexual violence that happens in conflicts carried out by combatants or soldiers, it happens even more often in the world's bedrooms or homes -- in peace and in war -- by men who are known. Everywhere data has been gathered, forced sex with women and girls is more common in the home than it is in the streets, whether in war or otherwise. There are often major differences, of course, between the brutality of much of the rape that happens during war, and forcing a partner to have sex. But the underlying and chronic violation of women's rights and systematic lack of women's autonomy over their bodies are the same.
A recent survey that Promundo and Sonke Gender Justice carried out with 1500 women and men in eastern DRC (as part of the multi-country study IMAGES) found that 27 percent of women were forced to have sex or were raped as part of the conflict by a combatant or another stranger. Nearly twice that number -- more than 50 percent -- reported being forced to have sex by their husband or male partner. We must keep this in mind: after conflict ends, some forms of sexual violence will end with it, but we won't end sexual violence overall unless we get to the root causes.
In recent multi-country studies, we have seen the extent of men's use of sexual violence against women, both in conflict and non-conflict settings. A six-country study in Asia (P4P/UN) found that one in four men have raped, most of that against a female partner. Overall, the P4P study found that 11 percent of men had carried out rape against a stranger versus 24 percent of men who had forced a wife or partner to have sex. The IMAGES study, of which the DRC study was part, gathered data from 10 countries and found that between 4 percent and 26 percent of men reported having used any kind of sexual violence against a partner or other woman or girl, the vast majority of that against wives, girlfriends or intimate partners.
Men must be held accountable for the violence they carry out against women and girls, and other men and boys. At the same time, if we want to prevent rape before it happens, we need to understand which men use sexual violence and why. Data from these two studies and others, both in conflict and non-conflict settings, find a consistent set of factors. Men who themselves have been abused sexually are more likely to rape or force their partners to have sex. Men who rape or force their wives to have sex consistently have a sense of entitlement over women's bodies. They have often witnessed or experienced at least one form of violence in their homes as children.
They often report economic stress and many drink heavily. Men who rape or force partners to have sex generally also have grown up believing in highly inequitable ideas of what it means to be men. The overall conclusion we derive: men who rape are generally damaged and traumatized men, and are socialized into inequitable views about what it means to be men. In our DRC study, more than a third of men and women reported experiences of sexual violence from a teacher, classmate or someone in their home or community (apart from the conflict) when they were children. And one in 10 men had either been raped in the conflict or forced to watch a rape.
Again, this is not just during war. Nearly everywhere we have studied the issue, men's lives are full of violence. Looking across more than 10 countries where we have carried out research, up to 85 percent of men experienced psychological violence growing up, up to 67 percent have experienced physical violence in the home, up to 79 percent have experienced bullying, up to 45 percent have witnessed violence against their mothers and up to a third have experienced some form of sexual violence from an adult or a peer. Taken together, approximately two-thirds of more than 12,000 men experienced or witnessed some kind of significant violence growing up.
It is overly facile to say that violence begets violence; many men experience violence and do not repeat it. Furthermore, men's experiences of violence do not relieve them of responsibility for their actions. We must hold accountable individual men who use sexual violence, just as we must hold accountable those who allow sexual violence to happen in institutions they run, be that the military, schools, religious institutions, the workplace and other spaces. At the same time, we must also understand that men who use violence are often damaged men with harmful childhoods, just as we recognize all that must be done to hold perpetrators of violence, in all its forms, accountable.
What does it take to break this cycle of sexual violence? In peacetime and wartime, the responses are similar. In the first place, women and men survivors of violence need services where they are assisted and their needs and reports of violence are taken seriously. Healing their wounds is the first and most important step to break cycles of violence. The next step is accountability -- systems, social networks, legal systems -- to hold men responsible for their actions and to take women's (and girl's and boys' and men's) accounts of rape seriously and investigate them.
On the prevention side, ending sexual violence requires investing in training in non-violent parenting, for both mothers and fathers. We need educational programs for young people and adults in schools, communities, workplaces and militaries. This means taking on rape myths and having open discussions about what consent means. It means full empowerment for women and girls. It also means empowering boys and men who don't believe in violence to speak up. Ending violence also entails psychosocial support for boys and girls who witness or otherwise experience violence at home and in schools. And given the linkages to economic stress as a driver of some men's use of violence, and women's recovery from it, it means providing for the basic life conditions -- housing, sanitation, community safety, and employment opportunities.
The laser-narrow focus on rape in war, as laudatory as it is, often misses this big picture. We risk ignoring the sexual violence that happens long before and well after war. And we too often reduce women in places like DRC and Bosnia to being rape survivors or victims, while their other multiple needs for health, employment, and political participation are forgotten. And we too often focus on combatants and not the much more frequent violence that happens in the home.
If we truly want to end sexual violence, we must affirm this: sexual violence too often flourishes in conflict and is carried out by combatants, but it neither begins nor ends there. The woman we interviewed in DRC told us a truth that holds in conflict and peacetime settings: sexual violence is among us. It's not restricted to combatants or to war. If we as a world care about truly ending sexual violence -- and not just giving lip service -- we must take seriously these root causes. The women we work with in DRC, and all the world's men and women, are waiting.
Gary Barker, Ph.D., is founder and International Director of Promundo and Henny Slegh is the Great Lakes Regional Coordinator of Promundo, an international organization with offices in Brazil, the US, Portugal and the Great Lakes Region of Africa, that works to engage men and boys in gender equality and ending violence against women.
Former slave shares her experiences
by Ken Shane
A presentation by the D.C.- based group Beyond Borders drew a substantial crowd to the library last week. The subject was the problem of child slavery worldwide, in particular Haiti. Among the speakers was Kendra Davis, a Jamestown native who now works for Beyond Borders.
Child slavery in Haiti is known as restavek. Children fall into slavery when their family is facing extreme poverty and cannot properly take care of them or send them to school. In desperation, the parents give in to false promises of food and education. The reality, however, is that the children who are given to other families are often exploited for their labor. In some cases, the slaves are abused both physically and sexually.
In most cases, the children who fall into slavery are brought from the country into the city. Beyond Borders has created a program that works in overpopulated neighborhoods in Haiti's capital city, Port au Prince. The program's mission is to raise awareness through an intensive training process. It teaches adults to step up and protect children, and to help them return home from their slave owners. The protection brigades also put pressure on neighbors to not enslave children in their homes.
Beyond Borders has made about 30 similar presentations over the last few weeks. According to program officer Coleen Hedglin, the presentations have two goals. The first is to raise awareness; the second is to raise money. The organization needs $180,000 before June 15.
Guyto Desrosiers, a Haitian coordinator in the child protection program, spoke about the problem in his country. Desrosiers said that there are thought to be between 150,000 and 500,000 Haitian children in restavek. The vast majority of them, about 80 percent, are female. The transfer of the children is often through family connections, although sometimes there is a trafficker, also known as a coyote.
The goals of the movement are to end child slavery, provide a quality education, put a end to violence against women, and offer dignified work while developing sustainable neighborhoods.
Desrosiers stressed that leaving home is not the will of the child. Although the children sometimes fall into slavery, Desrosiers says that the parents love them. They want a better future for their kids. What they don't know is that they're being lied to. As a result, there has been something of a rural exodus from the countryside into the city, which has brought about the devaluation of country life.
Once the child is placed with another family, the promises evaporate quickly. There is no school for them. They are charged with doing all of the domestic chores, including cooking, laundry, gathering water and doing errands. They are often abused. From that point on, the children have little or no contact with their biological family.
“We are the neighbors of children in restavek, and we see how they are being mistreated,” Desrosiers said.
Beyond Borders currently has protection brigades working in 11 Port au Prince neighborhoods. Workers receive six months of training before setting out to defend and protect the rights of all children in the community. They also help runaways. Thus far 3,000 activists have been trained.
As the children in restavek become adults, they are susceptible to a number of risks associated with their enslavement. Among them are social exclusion, poverty, legal problems, prostitution, further sexual abuse and exploitation. Beyond Borders is also working with adult survivors of restavek by providing them with safe places to share their experiences.
Alina “Tibebe” Cajuste is an adult survivor of restavek. She is currently a co-leader of a movement made up of people just like her. In her remarks at the library, Cajuste said that the children in restavek are the last to go to sleep, and the first to wake. They don't go to school, and if they run away they are beaten.
“They beat me,” Cajuste said. “I spent a lot of days in the street. There are children in restavek now.”
In a touching moment, Cajuste spoke of her love for poetry, and said that if she had the opportunity to get an education, she would have become a poet. Later in the evening she recited a poem that she had written. It was plea for people to “help me break the chains.”
Davis has been working with Beyond Borders for 18 months. Last summer she visited Haiti for the first time. She expressed gratitude that she was able to bring the presentation to her hometown.
“The biggest thing that we're doing is shifting people's mentalities,” she said.
Good Neighbors by Faith Barnidge: Walnut Creek's all-abilities playground, help for Bay Area Crisis Nursery
by Faith Barnidge
The "All Abilities Playground" will be built this summer at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek, sponsored by the Walnut Creek Civic Pride Foundation. The group is seeking donations to fund this worthwhile project, and need more than $325,000.
The playground will encompass 30,000 square feet and is being designed to fully address the physical, cognitive, communicative, social/emotional and sensory needs of all children -- in particular, the estimated 10-20 percent of our children who have some type of disability.
The playground will feature ADA-compliant restrooms and parking facilities with van-accessible parking spaces and accessible pathways to the public spaces and playground.
The Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation has given a $50,000 Challenge Grant for the project. To make a donation and order a custom-engraved brick, visit https://wccpf.engravedbricks.com, or visit www.WCCivicPride.org.
Help Crisis Nursery
Bay Area Crisis Nursery helps parents who are having problems parenting, living in an unsafe environment, or are fearful of abusing their children.
Parents may leave children safely at the center for a minimum of 24 hours up to a month free of charge, until their crisis is over, or they find another solution.
Children 5 years of age and younger receive a temporary home, good food, clothing and loving care. Dahlstrom House provides a temporary home for children 6-11.
Bay Area Crisis Nursery operates on donations only, without any governmental support. This wonderful organization is a favorite of local business and philanthropic organizations. Peet's Coffee in downtown Concord collected more than $1,500 in one month for BACN, and regularly offers coupons and items for gift baskets. Kiwanis Club of Walnut Creek recently held a "Golf for Kids" tournament naming BACN as recipient.
More help and support are constantly needed. Sister Ann Weltz, crisis nursery founder and its executive director for 33 years, requests donations and volunteers. For information on how you can help, visit www.bacn.info.
Man guilty of child abuse won't get parental rights back
by Joe Duggan
LINCOLN — When a state investigator took a nearly 6-year-old boy from his parents, the boy stood shorter than 3 feet and weighed less than 25 pounds.
Doctors concluded that he was suffering from psychosocial dwarfism, a rare syndrome in which children under extreme emotional stress stop growing.
After about eight months in a foster home, the boy shot up nearly 5 inches and put on more than 16 pounds without any treatment, just regular meals and a safe place to live, according to the boy's attorney.
The Nebraska Court of Appeals on Tuesday refused to restore parental rights to the Scottsbluff man convicted by a jury of abusing the boy.
The man, Carlos Herrera, still denies accusations that he routinely beat his son, withheld food and forced the boy to spend nights in a basement dog kennel while the rest of the family slept in second-story bedrooms.
Gering attorney Audrey Elliott, appointed guardian ad litem for the boy and his three sisters, said Tuesday's ruling was right by the law and in the best interests of the children.
“This is one more step to give these children permanency,” she said.
Herrera, 36, lost parental rights in 2012. The juvenile court also terminated the rights
of the mother, Jennifer Herrera, 31, although her case was not a part of Tuesday's ruling.
It marked the second time that the couple lost custody of their children, although they were reunited after the first termination several years ago in Kansas.
David MacDonald, the public defender who represented Carlos Herrera, said his client maintains his innocence and is in the process of appealing his felony child abuse conviction in the Scottsbluff case. The jury also convicted the mother of abuse, and she has filed a separate appeal.
The boy suffered from food allergies that stunted his growth, MacDonald said, disputing the psychosocial dwarfism diagnosis. He said there was no “physical evidence” that the boy was kept in a dog kennel.
“That was something that came out after his sister, I believe, was improperly interviewed way too many times,” MacDonald said.
But the attorney offered no explanation for an abrasion on the boy's face, a bump on his forehead and a black eye, which investigators determined could not have been caused by a fall down the stairs as the parents insisted. Authorities believe those injuries were caused by the mother wielding a flip-flop sandal on her son.
Those injuries prompted state authorities to remove the boy and two sisters from the couple's home in October 2011. Authorities also removed an infant girl who was born two months after the investigation began.
All four children are in foster homes. Authorities can't start adoption proceedings while the parental terminations remain under appeal. Although the father can now appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court, he has yet to make that decision, his attorney said.
The investigation followed several reports of suspected abuse to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. On Oct. 10, 2011, an HHS investigator contacted the boy's school but was told that the parents had kept him home because he had an allergic reaction to a flu shot.
The investigator spoke to the mother at the child's home and was told that the boy and his father were away on a trip. But the investigator, accompanied by Scottsbluff police, returned to the home twice more the same day, and the father eventually told police that the boy was being hidden because of a large scrape on his face.
The juvenile court held a seven-day termination hearing in 2012, which included testimony from school officials who reported suspected abuse to HHS on two occasions. They said that the boy was unusually small for his age and that his speech and motor skills were delayed. He often came to school with bumps, scratches and bruises, and he seemed obsessed with food, eating everything on his tray and trying to retrieve food that other children had thrown away.
The boy's 7-year-old sister testified that her parents hit all of the children but were especially hard on her brother. She said they would strike him with belts and shoes. At meal times, they made him stand at a separate table and would force him into the dog kennel at night.
The court also heard testimony from Dr. Bruce Buehler of Omaha, a pediatric specialist who conducted extensive genetic testing on the boy while he was still living with his parents but could find no cause for the slow growth.
Based on charts published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average weight for a 6-year-old boy is about 45 pounds, about 20 pounds heavier than the boy was when he was removed from his parents' home.
Buehler examined the boy a second time after he had been in a foster home for several months and saw “an amazingly different child.”
In addition to his rapid growth, the boy was more outgoing and friendly and was trying hard to speak to adults and other children. Buehler made the diagnosis of psychosocial dwarfism, which occurs when an abusive environment depresses a child's growth hormones. The doctor pointed out that the boy's growth in foster care occurred naturally, without hormone therapy.
Other experts testified that the boy suffered from post-traumatic stress and other psychological conditions from being subjected to chronic abuse. Investigators found two previous times that the boy was taken to the hospital with severe injuries, one of which prompted the parental termination in Kansas.
Last year, a Nebraska judge sentenced the father to four to five years in prison and gave the mother one to two years in prison. Both parents have been released from the Scotts Bluff County Jail while their convictions are under appeal.
Carlos Herrera's attorney said his client, a laborer, could not afford experts to counter the state's experts during the termination hearing or the jury trial. “The forces that are arrayed against parents are just phenomenal,” MacDonald said. “It's fearsome.”
Elliott, the attorney who represents the children's interests, said opportunities to act sooner may have been missed. But the parents gave convincing explanations to doctors, nurses and social workers, she added.
Elliott credited the HHS investigator and police who refused to believe the last explanation. “If they didn't push it as much as they did, I don't know if we'd still have (the boy) in this world.”
Pope: 4 bishops investigated for child sex abuse scandals
by DeAnn Smith
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - Pope Francis said this week that a bishop has been found guilty for his role in child sex abuse scandals that have haunted the Catholic Church, and three bishops are under investigation.
Francis did not say whether the bishops are accused of committing abuse or covering it up. He also did not say whether any of the priests are in the United States.
Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty of failing to report to state authorities a priest who took pornographic pictures of little girls. Finn apologized in 2012 and was placed on two years probation for the misdemeanor conviction.
"The diocese does not have any indication of an investigation related to Bishop Finn," Jack Smith, spokesman for the diocese, said in an email to KCTV5.
A group that is outspoken on behalf of those abused by priests said the Vatican should investigate Finn.
"We believe and hope one of them is Bishop Robert Finn," according to a statement from Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "We in SNAP don't know of another bishop who has been convicted of endangering kids who is still on the job, so we are fairly confident Francis is talking about Finn."
The group said Finn should be fired or demoted for his role of covering up wrongdoing by priest Shawn Ratigan who was sentenced to 50 years in prison for taking the pornographic children of parishioners.
Ratigan was able to have contact with children even after diocese officials knew of a flash drive from his computer contained hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, with the focus on their crotch areas.
After his conviction, the Vatican defrocked Ratigan.
During an interview with reporters while traveling from the Holy Land back to Rome, Francis said there would be "zero tolerance even with bishops" when it comes to child abuse.
"At the moment, there are three bishops under investigation. One has already been convicted and the punishment needs to be decided," Francis said. "There will be no preferential treatment when it comes to child abuse."
He said child abuse involving the clergy "is a very serious problem," and he plans to meet with some U.S. abuse victims at the Vatican.
"In Argentina, we call those who receive preferential treatment 'spoilt children.' There will be no 'spoilt children' in this case. It is a very serious problem. When a priest commits abuse, he betrays the Lord's body. A priest must guide children toward sainthood. And the child trusts him. But instead, he abuses him or her. This is very serious. It's like celebrating a black mass, instead of steering him or her towards the sainthood you create a problem that will stay with him or her for all of his or her life."
Dorris scoffed at the comments from Francis.
"For decades, Catholic officials have excelled at saying the right things about abuse and cover up. They make grand speeches about how they are going to tackle the ongoing crisis. And time and time again, they refuse to take real action to stop those who are committing or concealing child sex crimes," Dorris said. "This must end if kids are to become safer in the church."
SNAP said they are unaware of any bishop ever being disciplined, including Finn.
"We're convinced that this is why the cover ups continue because of those who enable this horror by stonewalling prosecutors, stiff-arming police, shredding documents and transferring predators are promoted, not punished, in the church," Dorris said.
Francis has failed to do anything since becoming pope more than a year ago to make any real changes to protect children, the SNAP statement said.
"Almost two years ago, Bishop Finn was criminally convicted in a court of law for not reporting suspected child abuse sex crimes, but he remains on the job today with as much power as before. Not one of the world's 4,000 Catholic bishops and not even one of the Vatican's hundreds of staffers have denounced Finn. Neither of the last two popes have done or said anything to hold Finn responsible for his egregious and deliberate wrongdoing," Dorris said. "For the sake of innocent kids, we hope Francis will demote or defrock Finn so that kids will be protected and so that bishops won't keep concealing crimes."
Bill Extends Time For Child Sex Abuse Victims To Report
SACRAMENTO (AP) — California lawmakers have approved legislation that would extend the amount of time victims of childhood sexual abuse have to come forward.
SB926 by Sen. Jim Beall would give victims until age 40 to report alleged abuse they suffered as a child. The current statute of limitations is age 28.
Beall, a Democrat from San Jose, says the current law favors abusers who can simply “wait out the clock” to avoid being prosecuted. He says many child sexual assault victims suppress the memories and do not recall their abuse until years later.
The bill passed the Assembly on a 33-0 vote Tuesday and now heads to the Senate.
Sentencing set for man who tossed daughter to death
by Kathleen Hopkins
FREEHOLD, N.J. — When Arthur E. Morgan III faces a judge Wednesday, he can expect to be sent to prison for the rest of his life for the horrific murder of his 2½-year-old daughter, Tierra Morgan-Glover.
Morgan, 29, whose last known address was in Eatontown, is to appear before Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci at 10 a.m. to be sentenced for his daughter's murder and other crimes related to the events of Nov. 21, 2011, when the toddler was strapped in a weighted car seat and tossed into a stream to die.
Morgan stood trial before Mellaci earlier this year and was convicted last month by a Monmouth County jury of Tierra's intentional murder. He also was convicted of child endangerment and interfering with the baby's custody for failing to return her home to Lakehurst on the day she was killed.
Because the victim of the murder was a child, Morgan faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Before New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007, that factor could have qualified Morgan for execution.
After the jury foreman announced the verdict on April 3, Morgan flashed a smile and winked at prosecutors before being led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and one of the typically flashy suits he wore to court each day.
During the trial, his attorneys, Deputy Public Defender Jeffrey Coghlan and Deputy Assistant Public Defender Ryan Moriarty, unsuccessfully tried to convince the jury that Morgan was distraught over how Tierra's mother was raising the child and that he simply placed Tierra in a stream in Shark River Park in Wall to let God decide her fate.
In arguing that Morgan should be convicted of the lesser crime of manslaughter rather than murder, the defense attorneys suggested Morgan wasn't thinking clearly because he was beleaguered by his own homelessness, lack of sleep and loss of a job.
But First Assistant Prosecutor Marc LeMieux and Assistant Prosecutor Jordan Williams argued that Morgan planned the crime, pawning items beforehand and making arrangements to escape to California. They portrayed Morgan as a narcissistic, manipulative and controlling man who killed his daughter to get back at her mother, Imani Benton, for breaking off an engagement.
In stark contrast to the defense attorneys' portrayal of Morgan as a man worried about his baby, the prosecutors pointed out that Morgan, despite being homeless, bought expensive Prada and Gucci clothing and accessories for himself while living in his 1995 Cadillac Deville rather than providing a home for the daughter he claimed to have so much concern for.
Morgan picked up Tierra from her mother on the afternoon of Nov. 21, 2011, saying he was going to take the girl to see "Happy Feet II," a film about dancing penguins. Instead, he brought her to Shark River Park, strapped her into her car seat, tethered a metal car jack to the seat and tossed the contraption from a bridge about 17 feet below into the stream.
He later would tell authorities that Tierra was still crying when he turned and walked away, leaving her in the stream to die.
Before Morgan is sentenced, Benton will have the opportunity to speak to the judge about the impact of Tierra's murder. Morgan also will be allowed to address the judge before he learns his sentence.
Foster parents sought
MERRILLVILLE | An informational open house for prospective foster parents will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday at The Patio restaurant, 7706 Broadway.
In Lake County, more than 800 abused or neglected children live in non-relative foster homes because it is not safe for them to live in their own homes.
The Lake County office of the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) is always looking for adults to serve as foster parents.
Foster parents provide temporary supervision and stability for children during a challenging time in the children's life.
“When it's not safe for a child to stay in his or her own home, our first response is to always look for a nearby relative that can care for the child,” said Richard Ban, director of the Lake County DCS office. “But when that option is not available, we need to have good foster families ready and willing to provide temporary care for our children in need.”
Foster care specialists from the local DCS office will be available to discuss foster parent responsibilities as well as the licensing process.
Light refreshments will be served.
Pope Francis to meet with sexual abuse victims
by Dana Ford
Pope Francis spoke out against sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Monday and said he plans to meet with victims in early June.
Stressing that such abuse constitutes a horrific crime, he told reporters aboard the papal plane that three bishops are under investigation.
It was not clear whether the bishops are under investigation for alleged abuse, or for purported involvement in some sort of cover-up.
A priest who abuses a child betrays the body of the Lord, the Pope said, according to pool reports. He called for zero tolerance.
Among the expected invitees to the meeting are abuse victims from Germany, England and Ireland, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston.
Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the cardinal, said the time and date of the meeting have not been finalized.
"Cardinal O'Malley has been asked by the Holy Father to assist with the planning for a meeting with survivors of sexual abuse in the coming months," said Donilon. "The cardinal looks forward to supporting this effort by Pope Francis in whatever manner will be most helpful."
The meeting at the Vatican will not be the first time a pope has met with sexual abuse victims, according to John L. Allen Jr., CNN's senior Vatican analyst. However, it will mark the first time Pope Francis has done so.
"This is a clear indication that Francis is trying to get the message out that he 'gets it' about the need to confront the church's abuse scandals," Allen said.
However, the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the pope's comments did not go far enough.
"No child rape will be prevented, no abuse cover-up will be prevented and no predator priest will be exposed by anything the pope said today or will do next month, Joelle Casteix, western regional director of SNAP, said in a statement. "His upcoming and self-serving meeting with victims is more of what we've seen for decades -- more gestures, promises, symbolism and public relations."
The pontiff spoke as he was returning to Rome from a three-day trip to the Middle East.
During that trip, the Pope extended an invitation to the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to travel to the Vatican for peace talks.
In comments aboard the plane, he clarified the talks would not focus on finding a solution.
"It will be a meeting of prayer," he said.
The Pope also appeared to open the door to the possibility he might resign one day, like his predecessor, if he no longer had the strength to carry on.
"I think that Pope Benedict XVI was not a unique case," Francis told reporters. "I will do what God tells me to do."
Sexual assault victim ostracised by Orthodox Jewish community, court told
by Louise Hall
A victim of child sexual assault has told a court how he has been ostracised, bullied and intimidated by the Orthodox Jewish community for reporting his abuser to police.
The man, now a 38-year-old married father, was 14 when he was indecently assaulted by Daniel Robert Hayman at a yeshiva camp at Stanwell Tops in the 1980s.
Earlier this month Hayman, a dual Australian-American citizen who lives with his wife and children in Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to indecent assault of a child under 16 and under his authority.
On Tuesday, the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave a victim impact statement detailing the effect the abuse has had on his life.
"I live every day with the pain and shame. It often takes me to a terrible place," he told the Downing Centre Local Court.
He said when he approached leaders of his small Orthodox community in November 2011, he was told not to report the incident to the police.
"I have discovered that when the offender is one of your own, the response is different to if the offender is one of 'them'," he said.
He said the response of community was to "fall into line to protect the offender".
"The community was more intent on protecting its good name than me," he said.
He said one rabbi told him reporting Hayman to police "would be committing a grave sin, like the worshipping of idols".
When it became known that he had made a report to police, his adoptive family had "abandoned" him and he had been "cast out".
He said his children are aware they are now treated differently by other families at their synagogue.
Hayman's barrister, Phillip Boulton, SC, said under law, Hayman did not have to be given a jail sentence – a good behaviour bond or suspended sentence could suffice.
Mr Boulton said while Hayman didn't specifically remember the incident, he pleaded guilty and does not dispute the victim's allegations.
Hayman has also made a series of "very substantial" payments to the victim.
At the time of the offence, Hayman was a 23-year-old volunteer at the camp. He asked the victim to come with him to collect firewood and drove him to an isolated part of the camp, where the abuse took place.
Mr Boulton said Hayman is a very different man than he was at the time of the offence. He is older, has a wife and family, including a child with special needs, and has not committed any child sexual abuse for two decades, Mr Boulton said.
At the hearing earlier this month, Magistrate David Williams acquitted Hayman of a similar offence against a 12-year-old girl at his Bondi Junction home in 1989 due to a "legal oddity".
During the sentencing hearing, Hayman read the Book of Psalms.
Outside the court, Manny Waks, the founder of Jewish child sexual abuse advocacy and support group Tzedek, said this is the first child sexual abuse related trial involving the Jewish community outside Victoria.
In Melbourne, a former Yeshivah College teacher, David Kramer, and a former Yeshivah College volunteer, David Cyprys, are in prison for child sex offences.
Mr Waks said the experience of Hayman's victim was similar to that of his own and other child sex abuse victims within the ultra-orthodox Chabad movement.
"Victims within the orthodox Jewish community often get ostracised, victimised, harassed, intimidated simply for wanting justice, and it's a sad state of affairs," he said.
"There are significant, powerful elements who are determined for these types of issues to be swept under the carpet."
Mr Williams will hand down sentence on June 10.
In Providence, police hunt for brothels, find sex-trafficking
by Amanda Milkovits
PROVIDENCE — There are no obvious signs of what goes on inside some of the worn apartment houses lining tough city streets.
But those who obtain the “tarjetas” know what they can buy in these places.
The Providence police say investigations in the last five months have found sex-trafficking rings using residential brothels in the city's West End and Silver Lake neighborhoods. Mexican and Guatemalan women are arriving weekly from New York City and taxied to various apartments in Providence, where they are prostituted for about $30 per sex act, said Capt. Anthony Sauro.
So far, investigators say they have shut down four suspected brothels since January, including one raided on May 14. Detective Leonel Pichs III, who has been investigating sex trafficking for several months, had obtained a fake business card, or “tarjeta,” that advertised cleaning services. The police say “Servicios de Limpieza” actually opened the door to an alleged brothel in the first-floor apartment of a run-down triple decker at 45 Dora St.
The battered front door was blocked with junk, Sauro said, but the card directed customers to the back door. When the police went inside, they found a 31-year-old woman hiding in a closet with a man, both naked, interrupted during a sex act. Another suspected customer and the accused trafficker were in the living room, which was set up like a “waiting room” lined with chairs.
There were used condoms in a plastic bag and mattresses on the floors in other rooms of the sparsely furnished apartment, Sauro said. There was a box and a half of the fake business cards with the numbers 1-30, and a hole-punch. After the 30th visit, the customer got a free sex act, Sauro said.
The woman found in the closet was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. She had no money. She had no phone. She had just a few belongings. The alleged trafficker, Armando Arevalo, 30, had more than $1,100 in cash, Sauro said.
The police arrested Arevalo and charged him with trafficking for commercial sexual activity, a felony. They arrested the alleged customer, Rigoberto Rodriguez, 39, of Providence, on a misdemeanor charge of prostitution.
Initially, the woman was cold and withdrawn. She wouldn't make eye contact, recounted Carla Cuellar, a police liaison with Family Service of Rhode Island, whom the police called to the scene for assistance. The woman told Cuellar she was just there to rent the apartment.
“She seemed brainwashed,” said Cuellar, who described the apartment as “eerie.”
Once at the police station, Cuellar learned the woman had left a young daughter in Mexico. Cuellar said she hugged the woman and told her, “This must be so hard for you and your daughter.”
That's when the woman broke down, Cuellar said.
She told Pichs and Cuellar about how she ended up on Dora Street.
She'd been in the United States for about six years, after paying human smugglers to get her across the border illegally. She left her young daughter with a friend, and was sending money home. She thought she had a better chance of making money in the United States.
She ended up in New York, working in cleaning jobs. Six months ago, she began working for this prostitution ring after a friend promised she would make more money. Her life became a parade of strangers arriving for sex. But the money never came and she was moved to different locations.
She'd been taken to Providence that week in May, arriving at the apartment with just a small bag of her belongings.
“She said, ‘After all this, I don't have any money,'” Cuellar said.
The situation on Dora Street resembles what law enforcement and anti-trafficking advocates say they are finding nationwide. The Polaris Project, an anti-human-trafficking nonprofit group that operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, has collected data from cases and calls to the hotline since 2007. These residential brothels are one form of trafficking, and difficult to track.
“We haven't seen too many residential brothels, but it's really hard to get our number in the hands of victims because they're locked inside,” said Leah Meyer, a program specialist and supervisor at the Polaris Project.
Unlike escort services and illegal spas, these residential brothels don't advertise. They run on a closed network, with victims and customers from the same ethnic community, Meyer said. And, along with the threats of violence and actual abuse that other trafficking victims face, the victims in these brothels also fear being reported to immigration authorities, she said.
Nationally, the women and girls found in these places are predominantly from Mexico and Central and South America, according to the calls and cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center from December 2007 to September 2013. A third of the victims have been underage; most were female. Some of the traffickers are affiliated with MS-13 and other Hispanic gangs. The women are moved by cargo vans and buses between cities.
The telltale signs begin when the traffickers rent the apartments and move in stacks of mattresses and beds — and little else, Meyer said.
Then, women will arrive at the brothels weekly, sometimes in taxis or vans, but are otherwise never seen outside. They are moved regularly to new locations. Men will arrive and leave frequently, at all hours. The windows are blacked out. The buildings often have security cameras or fences.
Those running the brothels design business cards with images and phrases that hint at what's really being sold, Meyer said. No open advertising, just cards with phone numbers and addresses handed out in places where other people of the same ethnicity congregate. That can be work sites, such as construction jobs, or bars. Those who get these cards know what they're getting — usually a 15-minute sex act for $30.
The women can see an average of 20 to 25 men a day.
The card for La Condesa, La Reina de la Belleza — or The Queen of Beauty — led to 201/2 Dexter St. in January. That's where Detective Pichs found a 27-year-old woman, who'd been brought in from New York four days earlier to perform sex acts for $35.
The police said that brothel was connected to two others in the West End: Perfume de Mujera — or Scent of a Woman — at 174 Chapin Ave., and Ropa Sexy Para Caballeros — or Sexy Clothing for Gentlemen — at 22 Rosedale St.
Both houses were vacated after police raided the Dexter Street house. Stacks of dirty mattresses, couches and a stuffed chair were found outside the Rosedale Street house. The first-floor Dora Street apartment remained vacant last week.
Even when the police “rescue” the women, there are many layers of distrust, Meyer said. The victims believe they'll be arrested. They are ashamed of being prostituted. They may be paying off a debt to smugglers, who may have connections to their families. “They have all these things stacked against them,” Meyer said. “And they've been through a lot of trauma.”
Federal investigators also know that, which is why there's assistance and immigration relief provided to trafficking victims, said Daniel Modricker, the New England spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “It's really important that we treat every victim first and foremost as a victim, regardless of their immigration status,” said Modricker. “We don't want the traffickers to use that as leverage. … Our priorities are to bring the traffickers to justice.”
One type of immigration relief is known as “continued presence,” which allows potential witnesses to stay in the United States during the investigation. Victims are also eligible for T visas, for severe human trafficking, or U visas, for various forms of abuse and trafficking. Those visas allow victims to remain in the United States and eventually apply to become lawful permanent residents.
To qualify for continued presence relief or for either of the visas, adult victims must cooperate with the investigation and prosecution. Underage victims are not required to assist or cooperate to receive the visa; they are also eligible for other federal social benefits.
“They don't need to be afraid to come forward,” Modricker said.
The night of the raid at Dora Street apartment, the woman found inside was taken to a shelter. A clinician from Day One, an agency that provides services to victims of sexual assault, was called in.
Cuellar helped the woman complete a form for victim assistance, so she could get shelter, counseling and other basic needs. As the woman talked about her experiences in the sex-trafficking ring, she confided to Cuellar and Pichs that she'd been sexually abused as a child.
Cuellar said she emphasized to the woman that she needed counseling. The woman seemed to be listening.
But the next morning, she was gone.
Another Mexican woman found in the Dexter Street raid in January had also vanished the same way.
“It is unbelievably hard to break through to them,” Cuellar said later. “While they may look like they're going to participate and use services, they may not be ready.”
Cuellar had given the woman her cell phone number. She hopes she'll call one day, and ask for help.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline number is (888) 373-7888.
Sex trafficking is all about the money
by Katie Rhoades
From the time I was 6 years old, my dream was to be an Olympic gymnast. By the age of 10, my parents continued to encourage me by having a plaque made that stated “Katie Rhoades, 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist.” At the young age of 15, I knew I wanted to go to college and become a forensic psychologist or be the director of a philanthropy group that helps people.
What I didn't know at 6, 10, or 15 was that at age 18, supposedly an adult, I would be suffering from untreated trauma. I would be addicted to drugs and alcohol. Or, that I would be a victim of sexual exploitation. Nor could I imagine that at 19 I would meet a woman and her boyfriend who would offer me a way out of the spiraling lifestyle I was living, only to introduce me to a new life of prostitution, violence and more trauma. I would later learn, much later, that this is called sex trafficking. In summer 2000, I hopped into the car with my newfound friends, ready to escape the pills, the clubs and the abusive men. Destination: California.
California was beautiful! We stayed in luxury hotels; we dined at the best restaurants, I was allowed to shop at exclusive stores, and we were introduced to all of the fancy people. Within a week or two it was time to “work.” What is the first step to selling a product? Advertise! My pimp, who I will call Al, met the three of us at the hotel with a camera, wig and “industry” clothing. He placed us against that hotel wall, told us to act sexy, and took pictures. By that evening our pictures were on multiple Internet sites for the sole purpose of selling us for sex to whoever would purchase us. And, the calls began and never stopped.
You see, sex trafficking is more than the victim and the trafficker. It's all about the money. According to the International Labour Organization, human trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion global industry. It is ranked second only to weapons trafficking. All profits are the result of an industry that promotes, facilitates and advertises the buying and selling of human beings for sexual purposes.
Last year alone, profits from online sex advertisements reached $45 million. Websites like backpage.com made up 82 percent of the total profits by hosting approximately 3.7 million posts for sex. Corporations, not traffickers, reap the biggest cash benefits from the continued rape, violence and exploitation of our women and children.
Thankfully, my story didn't end there. A fellow advocate routinely states, my life is “before” California and “after” California. The good news is that there is an “after.” Through the love and support of many individuals along the way, my after has been constant recovery, earning a master's degree from Washington University and leading a movement against the buying and selling of human beings.
The fight against sex trafficking is more than rescuing victims and arresting the traffickers after the fact. It's about shutting down the entire industry of sex trafficking. This includes all parties who promote, facilitate and advertise the buying and selling of our brothers and sisters.
The SAVE Act, introduced by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, does just that. H.R. 4225 holds parties that profit off the sexual victimization of children accountable as a participant in the industry of sex trafficking. It will not fix the problem. No one bill can fix a $45 billion industry. But, it's one very big step, one piece of the puzzle, to ensure that corporations do not profit off violence against women and children. To ensure that fewer women and children have to have a “before” and “after.”
Katie Rhoades is founder and director of Healing Action in St. Louis.
Treatment vs. jail time: New bill aimed at helping sex trafficking victims break free
by Jenna Sachs
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — It's one of Milwaukee's darkest secrets: Women and children being trafficked for sex. Experts say it's a lucrative business — and Milwaukee is a major hub. A tough new bill would make it easier for human trafficking victims to break free.
Last year, ten human trafficking victims between the ages of 13 and 17 were recovered in Milwaukee.
That's believed to be only a fraction of the kids being sold for sex.
A new bill would make sure sex trafficking victims get treatment — instead of jail time.
“It is a huge issue in this city. We're hearing that if you want to be a pimp, this is where they train them, if you will,” Debbie Zwicky said.
Zwicky operates a safe haven for victims of trafficking on the Lad Lake campus.
She supports a federal bill that would give states incentives to establish “safe harbor laws.”
That would direct victims toward protective services — instead of prosecuting them.
“I think they have to overcome a lot. I think we have to be mindful that they are young adolescent girls,” Zwicky said.
Nationally, human trafficking is a $9.5 billion industry. The average age of a child starting out is 13.
“They're being trafficked and exploited sold and resold,” Congresswoman Gwen Moore said.
Moore introduced the bipartisan legislation which would also start a human trafficking hotline to connect victims with services and take tips.
“Many of us were shocked and stunned to see the 300 Nigerian girls sold into slavery, but we have 100,000 young people who are sold into human trafficking here in this country,” Moore said.
In Milwaukee, experts say the children targeted often come from broken homes or have mental health issues.
When victims try to leave, they are beaten and threatened.
If they do break free — the road to recovery is long.
“You have young adolescent girls who are just trying to figure out themselves and life and where they sit,” Zwicky said.
The bill just passed in the House of Representatives and is now heading to the U.S. Senate.
Republican Jim Sensenbrenner also supports it — saying our society needs to protect its most vulnerable.
Congresswoman Moore says there is a good chance it will end up on President Obama's desk.
Department of Public Safety supports national, state child protection efforts
AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is encouraging residents to participate in “Take 25,” a national campaign focusing on child safety.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) public awareness program urges parents, guardians, educators and other caretakers to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about safety and ways to prevent abduction.
“Take 25” was created in commemoration of Missing Children's Day observed each year on May 25. For more information on NCMEC and the program, visit www.take25.org.
“When a child goes missing, they become significantly more vulnerable to being exploited or harmed by predators, sex traffickers or other criminals,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Identifying, recovering and rescuing endangered children is a chief priority for DPS, and we recommend Texans ‘Take 25' minutes to teach children about possible dangers and ways to stay safe.”
DPS is committed to protecting Texas children and supports that goal by:
• Using the DPS Sex Offender Registry and enforcing sex offender compliance.
• Posting information on the Missing Persons Clearinghouse website.
• Activating Amber Alerts throughout the state when a child goes missing.
• Providing assistance to local, state and federal law enforcement partners in investigations related to missing, exploited, abducted or trafficked children through the Texas Crimes Against Children Center.
• Training troopers and other officers through the Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC) program about indicators that may help them determine if a child is in danger during standard traffic stops.
• Speaking to children about how to recognize and avoid dangers in their community.
On average, more than 45,000 children up to age 17 are reported missing in Texas each year, and at any given time, there are more than 4,000 active cases, according to records from the DPS Missing Persons Clearinghouse. Many missing children are recovered safely.
As a result of IPC training, DPS can account for the recovery of 117 children and has initiated more than 30 criminal investigations since 2010. Since the program's inception, DPS has provided the IPC training to approximately 7,600 officers in Texas, nationally and internationally.
First recognized in 1983, National Missing Children's Day is an annual reminder that there are thousands of children who are still missing. May 25 is the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared on his way to school in New York.
Visit the DPS Missing Persons Clearinghouse at:
Search the Texas Sex Offender Registry at:
See DPS' Assessing the Threat of Human Trafficking in Texas at:
The kids who go to the trash can
by LOUISE FLANAGAN
Johannesburg - More children are being abandoned every year but fewer are being adopted.
Their mothers are viewed as “sad, bad, mad” women, and those children struggle to get loving homes because of societal taboos over adoption.
“They are our trash-can kids and it's devastating. We shouldn't be talking about them like that – they should be our angels,” says anthropologist Dee Blackie.
Blackie describes the challenge as “high levels of child abandonment and low levels of adoption, coupled with conflicting cultural perceptions of these practices”, which underlined the need for a better understanding of the social context that created the situation.
Blackie has just finished a master's thesis on child abandonment and adoption in the context of African ancestral beliefs. She is a consultant to the National Adoption Coalition SA, and her research report was released recently.
She interviewed young women who had unplanned pregnancies, women who abandoned their children, community members, police officers, nurses and social workers, baby home managers and caregivers, adoption social workers, foster and adoptive parents, psychologists and psychiatrists, legal experts, traditional healers and abandoned children. Her work was mainly in Alexandra, Soweto and Tembisa.
“Predominantly we aren't taking care of our young women,” says Blackie.
Those young women are increasingly abandoning their vulnerable babies and children, and doing it predominantly in unsafe places like rubbish bins, toilets and the veld. Those children are the survivors – only 60 of every 200 abandoned survive – but they face a grim future.
There aren't enough children's homes and there are still strong cultural barriers to adoption, particularly fear of disapproval by a family's ancestors. Many abandoners were desperate women who had been raped or abandoned themselves when they became pregnant.
“None could tell me why they had abandoned their children, but all appeared extremely disconnected from their child at the time of the abandonment, and believed themselves and their children to be at the mercy of fate. None saw themselves as perpetrators of child abandonment, but rather as victims of their particular situation, making them feel disempowered, angry and depressed,” Blackie adds.
The law often hinders rather than facilitates adoptions, she says. “It is tantamount to abuse.”
It's illegal for girls under 18 to hand over unwanted babies for adoption without a guardian's consent, thus encouraging abandonment; anonymous child abandonment is criminalised; and “baby safes” (for safe, anonymous abandonments) are illegal.
“Illegal immigrants are unable to legally place their children in the formal child protection system in South Africa, and face deportation should they try,” Blackie notes.
Some abandoned babies end up effectively being trafficked, police asking finders if they want to keep them, or babies informally handed to people who have lost a child.
Blackie speaks of desperate young women who see no option other than abandonment, of abandoned babies who may grow into traumatised and alienated adults with no idea of their background, and of officials who discourage women who try to find safe ways of abandoning their babies, which then drives them into unsafe abandonments.
“Adoption social workers see abandoning mothers as victims of poverty and structural violence which has stripped them of their ability to love their child, and that the choice to abandon is often a ‘survival strategy'.”
Psychiatrists and psychologists advocate solving the problem through treatment of the individual patient, while sangomas believe in healing the collective family.
Sangomas recommend consulting the ancestors for guidance and introducing the child to their new family's ancestors from the start, she says.
Lizo Tom's story
Lizo Tom doesn't know who cared for him until he was three years old.
He doesn't know why his birth mother abandoned him in a hospital in Port Elizabeth and went home to tell her family he had died. But that rocky start has turned him into someone determined to help others.
“I need to make a difference,” said Tom.
“I'm at peace with what I was or what I've been through.”
Tom is now 29 and the corporate fundraiser for the SOS Children's Villages, based in Mamelodi.
He grew up in the SOS Children's Villages, although he's still not sure how he got there.
He's found out he was born prematurely in a Port Elizabeth hospital, abandoned there, then taken in by an unknown carer until he was three, when he was sent to Pretoria and the SOS villages.
“That part of my life is still a mystery today,” he said.
“The only thing I had was a hospital card.”
That card listed a Lydia Johnson as his mother, with a PE address.
Years later as a teenager, Tom found a police constable who went in search of that address, and found a shebeen and then a shebeen queen who vaguely remembered a woman going into labour at the shebeen years earlier and being picked up by an ambulance.
Further digging found Johnson, who was shocked to meet Tom as she'd believed him to be dead. He never got a clear explanation for what happened.
“She's passed on and I still don't know why. No one even apologised,” he said.
Both Johnson and the man believed to be Tom's father are now dead, and he has erratic contact with his surviving siblings from that family. He refers to those he grew up with in the SOS village as his siblings and talks of how many have repeated that difficult cycle of poverty.
But his own life is on track, partly through his love of singing which has taken him on tours around the world.
“Today I'm a proud father and a proud husband. It is scary, because I don't know how to be a father,” he said.
But he's clear on the need to help other children who've had a similar start.
On the front of Tom's business card is the reminder of “A loving home for every child”, and on the back is a fundraising appeal to SMS the word “SOS” to 42975 to donate R30.
South Africa's shame
* More than 3 500 babies were abandoned in 2010 (these are only the ones whom Child Welfare knows about).
* There are 18.5 million children in South Africa but 4.5 million of them live without either parent.
* About 150 000 children live in 79 000 child-headed households, more than 13 000 children live in residential facilities and 10 000 children live on the street.
* Last year, there were more than 11 million children registered for child support grants and more than half a million on foster care grants.
* Last November, the Registry of Adoptable Children and Parents logged 297 unmatched parents and 428 unmatched children who needed adopting; after sorting through the list it emerged that there were only 29 possible parents for those children.
* Only 1 699 adoptions took place last year, compared with 2 840 in 2004.
Where babies are dumped
* About 65 percent of abandoned children are newborn babies, with more than 90 percent younger than a year.
* Media reports indicated that 70 percent were found in unsafe places, with a fifth found in toilets, drains, sewers or gutters, and others abandoned in places including rubbish sites, dustbins, open ground, some abandoned in “baby safes” and hospitals, and others on the street, left with a relative or stranger, or left at a school or creche.
More Child Abuse Claims By CPS Being Overturned
AUSTIN (AP) – The state is overturning far more cases in which Child Protective Services initially ruled that a child had been abused or neglected.
Each year the state overturns more than 1 out of 3 decisions challenged by people who CPS claims has mistreated a child. Twenty-seven percent of CPS rulings were reversed in 2009 but that number rose to 42 percent last year. More than 1,140 cases were appealed in 2013.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that even though a CPS ruling may be thrown out, the person accused of mistreatment can still face significant hurdles. For instance, CPS decisions are used in criminal and civil cases, and they are a factor in custody disputes.
But the Department of Family and Protective Services says there are no indications of systematic problems with its abuse investigations.
Preventing, detecting child abuse is everybody's responsibility
by Will Travis
We as parents are the only ones who can stand between our children and any type of abuse.
Three types of child abuse occur on a regular basis, and all three types can occur anywhere, in any family, no matter their outward appearances, or wealth. Most abuse is perpetrated by someone close to the child; however, this is not limited to the immediate family.
Abusers can include babysitters, neighbors, and even, teachers and church leaders. We've all heard the stories, and we don't want to believe that anyone we know would do such a thing, but it happens. Emotional abuse, neglect, and physical abuse are all types of abuse that affect our society, and, as much as we would like to believe otherwise, it can affect our children even if they don't experience it in the home. It also affects our children's friends much more often than we'd like to think.
Most often, the abuser is a parent, relative or other caretaker such as a baby sitter; however, abusers can also be others involved in the child's life, at school, in church, in sports, or in other extra-curricular activities. The best thing we as parents can do is try to keep our children safe.
The big question then is what we as parents can do to prevent child abuse. The first thing we must do is carefully check the background and qualifications of anyone who will be watching over your children, whether it is a babysitter, a school, or even a relative. Abuse can happen anywhere! The second thing we can do to help prevent child abuse is to know the signs of abuse that victims often demonstrate.
• Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
• Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
• Doesn't seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
• Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums).
• Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
• Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
• Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
• Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
• Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
• Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
• Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
• Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
• Frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
• Frequently late or missing from school.
• Trouble walking or sitting.
• Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
• Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
• Doesn't want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
• An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.
• Runs away from home. (www.helpguide.org)
Sexually Abused Children Usually Know Their Abusers
by Jeff Arnold
Children are rarely victimized by a stranger lurking in the shadows waiting to abduct them, and research shows there is no child molester profile.
While “stranger danger” gets media attention, Chris Newlin, executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Ala., said sexually abused children are usually victimized by someone they know.
In more than 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the victim knows his or her abuser, and almost half the time, it's a family member, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
While parents can do things in an attempt to prevent abuse — knowing where their children spend their time, knowing the adults involved in their lives, having age-appropriate discussions of sexuality, or making unannounced visits to the child's nursery, babysitter, daycare center, or school, etc. — there is no specific profile to identify a child molester.
“They are male and female, all ages, all ethnic groups, all socioeconomic groups, etc. That's what makes it (prevention) so difficult, because there is no profile,” Newlin said.
Although there isn't a profile, Stephen Chiovoloni, a licensed clinical social worker in Fort Smith who treats convicted sex offenders, said child molesters usually have a “Cluster B” personality disorder, an excessive libido, suffered some form of childhood trauma and are adept at manipulation.
Cluster B personality disorders, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, are: narcissistic personality disorder (a sense of entitlement that leads them to disregard and disrespect those around them); borderline personality disorder (intense and unstable and view things in all-or-nothing terms); antisocial personality disorder (pervasive disregard for other's rights, characterized by hostility and aggression); and histrionic personality disorder (excessively emotional and attention seeking, with a life full of drama).
Manipulation, which can can result in an offender appearing as charming or trustworthy, of both parent and child is such a significant element in child sexual abuse that offenders in Chiovoloni's program are counseled on 25 different tactics used to manipulate.
“If someone is highly motivated, they'll figure out a way to make it happen, just like an addict,” Newlin said. “If someone has an opportunity and the environment is right, it's just a matter of gaining the child's participation through force, coercion or manipulation.”
Although offenders are highly motivated and can't be identified through a profile, child molesters have traits parents can be aware of in an attempt to protect their children, according to the Center for Behavioral Intervention:
• Adults who seem preoccupied with children.
• Single adults who work or volunteer with children's activities/clubs.
• Adults who work with children and frequently spend free time doing “special” things with children.
• Adults who volunteer for children's activities in which their children aren't involved.
• Adults who engage in frequent contact with children, i.e., casual touching, wrestling, caressing, tickling or having children sit on their lap.
• Adults who act like children and allow children to get away with inappropriate behavior.
• Adults who want to take your child on outings too frequently or plan activities that allow them to be alone with your child.
• Adults with no children who seem to know too much about current fads or music popular with children.
• Adults your child seem to like for reasons you don't understand.
• Adults who infiltrate family functions and are “always available” to watch your kids. It's also possible an offender will demonstrate none of those characteristics.
Child Clings To Life After Brutal Sexual Assault: Police
by Andres Jauregui
A North Carolina couple faces felony child abuse charges in the brutal beating of a 3-year-old boy, who doctors say is now fighting for his life.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested Shamika Reaves, 23, and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Corey McCree, earlier this week after the woman's son was beaten and sexually assaulted in a motel room where they lived.
Neighbors told WCNC that they heard a commotion early Tuesday. McCree called 911 around 3:45 in the morning after he discovered that the boy had stopped breathing. The boy, who police said was beaten with an object, remains in critical condition at an area hospital.
Family members were present as the couple went before a judge on Wednesday. The boy's grandmother spoke with WCNC in a separate report, describing through tears her grandson's dire condition.
"The whole left side of his head is gone. When I look at his private area -- his private area -- Oh, God,” Felisha Brown, the victim's grandmother, told the station. She said that he boy's bones had been crushed.
In addition to abuse counts, McCree also faces sexual assault charges in the case. Dreamin' Demon reports that the boy's genitals were mutilated. WSOC obtained a description of the child's sexual assault injuries, but said they were too graphic to publish.
The boy's godmother, Gwendolyn Lee, told WSOC that she had reported possible sexual abuse of the boy to police in March, but that social workers allowed the child to remain with his mother.
The boy's family asked the judge to deny the accused bond on Wednesday. Both Reaves and McCree remain in Mecklenburg County jail.