Delaware's Child Victims Act was a success despite the odds
by Thomas S. Neuberger
The passage of the Child Victims Act in July of 2007 is proof that even the often maligned "Delaware Way" can sometimes benefit the proverbial "little guys."
In 2012 about 900 sexually abused pre-adolescent victims of jailed Delaware pediatrician Earl Bradley shared a Beebe Hospital fund of $123 million in Superior Court because of the CVA.
During a 2011 federal court bankruptcy reorganization, over $110 million also was distributed to 152 adult survivors who were sexually abused by Catholic priests of the Diocese of Wilmington, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, and the Capuchins. For what some call "soul murder," tens of millions of dollars also were paid in confidential settlements with dozens of other childhood rape survivors which occurred in families, other churches, nonprofit organizations or in public, private or religious schools.
Vital knowledge also was given to parents to enable them to make informed decisions and protect their children. For example, the names of living predator priests from Salesianum and Archmere were revealed, warning parents of the dangers they present to their children. At Salesianum school alone, twelve living or deceased priests were exposed, and at the Diocese more than 20. Even more co-workers and supervisors were revealed to have turned a blind eye.
A tsunami of media attention to the need for access to the courts for abuse survivors first arose in Boston in 2002 and later swept into Delaware with a comprehensive News Journal exposé on the problem. Then, through the heroic efforts of State Senator Karen Peterson, a Democrat, and Rep. Deborah Hudson. a Republican, the General Assembly unanimously enacted the CVA. But at two crucial points in an underlying legislative battle it was Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf, a Democrat, and then Senator John Still, a Republican, who movingly carried the day for justice for abuse survivors.
The CVA then opened the courthouse door because it removed the statute of limitations for civil suits – no longer would an 8-year-old have to hire an attorney and sue by the time he turned 10. Instead past survivors were given two years to come into court to prove their case, and future survivors were given the time necessary to come to grips with their horrors and make an informed decision on whether to reopen their wounds and seek justice.
In a remarkable example of the "Delaware Way," both political parties had joined hands for children, but would the Delaware courts, known for their business friendly reputation, join in or instead would they tilt the scales of justice in favor of powerful institutions, like the insurance industry and the Catholic Church?
Should the rights of a mere handful of flesh and blood injured persons yield to business as usual and immunity from accountability for monstrous wrongs? The powerful lost their initial pleas before two distinguished and fair Superior Court Judges, Robert Young and Calvin Scott, and ultimately appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court for a bailout. But, in a unanimous decision, now retired Chief Justice Myron Steele, speaking for the Court, upheld the constitutionality of the CVA and affirmed the value of a single wounded person over the interests of business and the powerful. The result in the normally business friendly Delaware federal bankruptcy courts was similar.
To the disappointment of the Diocese, justice was indeed blind in the fair-minded courtroom of Judge Christopher Sontchi where the little man stood on an equal footing to a powerful and monied institution. All the while, despite an onslaught of delaying tactics, President Judge James Vaughn Jr. of the Superior Court offered survivors timely fair trials, exposing long hidden misdeeds to the bright light of public scrutiny.
Then, even after the two-year window closed in 2009, even handed rulings of Superior Court Judges Richard Stokes and John Parkins indicated that any recent victim who was violated after early July of 2005 will get their day in court, again as a result of the CVA.
But sadly, the example of our General Assembly and courts has not been followed in our neighboring states.
Even in light of the recent Penn State sex abuse scandal and multiple grand jury reports exposing decades of crimes within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the power of the institutional Catholic Church has prevented any meaningful relief in nearby Pennsylvania. All efforts also have failed in New Jersey, New York and Maryland. So while the day for justice arrived here in tiny Delaware, we all must hope for justice someday for our neighbors.
Constitutional attorney Thomas S. Neuberger, the author of "When Priests Become Predators" (2012), has been a Delaware lawyer for 40 years and is a specialist in childhood sexual abuse.
We can do better at ending sex abuse
by Rhonda B. Graham
Pore through the annals of history on sexual abuse and here's what you'll find most people still don't get: Adult sexual abuse is child sexual abuse.
"Often time we will be doing an intake on a child and often times as we will be doing an intake the mother is breaking and crying because why? Because 50 percent of the time she has been sexually abused and has not come to grips with it ever," says Valarie C. Marek, executive director of SOAR (Survivors of Abuse in Recovery, Inc.)
"Why? Because she is still hanging out in the same family that abused her. Why? Because she is still engaging in unsafe practices, because she has never recovered. Sad. Sad."
Which illustrates why a focus on preventing the abuse is no longer the best method to end such sexually evil selfishness. In fact much of the public is decades behind in understanding how necessary it is to victims with professional counseling. That is, if we are serious about addressing the full gamut of the emotional, psychological and ethical wounds that victims of child abuse wear as an invisible scarlet letter. And they do so for decades. Miserably, silently and in too many cases criminally.
"In our client population 85 percent of the time that child is female and 15 percent of the time that child is male," says Marek. She also points out the one national statistics most commonly quoted shows: Approximately one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 years old.
Some 2,000 victims of sexual abuse come through SOAR's north Wilmington doors every year. About 60 percent report they were first sexually violated by the age of 6, the average age for its clients. "Our client population on average waits 20 years or longer before they come to get help," she adds. Which means many don't take action until they're 23 to 26 years old.
So what goes on in that two decade window for most victims with no access to the individual and family psychotherapy services that a 38-year-old former victim credits SOAR with for her two double college degrees? More of reliving the trauma, and regardless of sex, making victims of others.
But here's why many wait so long to seek the necessary professionally qualified and certified counseling support that groups like SOAR specialize in. They're too young. Their not mentally strong enough pre- or post-adolescence to tackle the depth of self-discovery that can end their psychological torture.
"We know from studies of brain chemistry and brain science that people really aren't able to come to grips with severe trauma, until maybe they are 23 or 24 because of brain development," Marek says. And yet in some ways that's not an entirely bad thing. Most victims are too young or immature to know how to end the seething crisis they publicly hide within. As Marek points out "If you wait too long before you come into therapy it's because you are not going to be able to use your therapy until your brain is fully developed and you can process the information."
But the argument for qualified, professional therapeutic help can't be disputed when it comes to the value of intensive individual and support groups services as SOAR provides for victims and their relatives. National data reflect this realty: Almost half of the time when girls are abused so young they are going to go on nearly half of the time to being abused again as teenagers and certainly as adults. And in many cases as the weeping client mentioned earlier, both males and females can get caught in the cycle of perpetrating their horror on others.
That's why Marek is emphatic that "Intervention with victims of sexual abuse is the best way to prevent sexual abuse." Its counselors have professional postgraduate – at minimum Master's level – degres to buttress the years of experience of listening and walking victims like the 38-year-old anonymous North Wilmington woman, who credits the agency's intervention with leading her to get two college degrees, after years of abuse from her grandfather beginning at age 4 and the denial by family members.
However, if most of us are honest, there has been enormous satisfaction at the reaction of a father who discovered a trusted older teenager sexually assaulting his 11-year-old boy last month. The enraged parent's savage beating of the older teen sent the teen to jail with much of his face beaten into pulp. SOAR's concern though is for both victims and the outraged parent. "Will they get family counseling? Who's going to counsel and treat the perpetrator?"
Why, because intervention has proven to be the best prevention for sexual abuse. And it's fact based, statistically verifiable. More important, it is a necessary public policy shift for government officials to get on board with in terms of funding the necessary services.
The unending battle to protect children
When it comes to battling the sexual abuse of children, total victory is still a long way off. Perhaps total victory is impossible to reach, but it should be the goal.
Despite the persistence of the problem, victories have been won. There have been enough victories to show that the battle is worth fighting.
Just think back 15 years ago. Major institutions like the Catholic Church and Penn State University were able to hide many cases of abuse. In the Catholic Church, the problem was widespread. At Penn State, there was a single perpetrator. Yet in both cases, the would-be protectors of the institutions were hiding criminals. The public scandals seriously damaged the reputations of the institutions, but the movement toward justice allowed healing to begin.
Here in Delaware we have had other scandals. They still pop into the news every so often. The scandals, often tied in with an arrest, are not on the order of the big scandals over the last decade (thank goodness), but they do show vigilance is needed.
They also point to the continuing need for parents, other adults and, especially, officials must remain on the lookout for the possibility of abuse. Whether it is medical officials failing to properly process a complaint about a pediatrician in Sussex County or prosecutors not pushing hard enough for the conviction of a rich suspect, the institutions designed to protect the most innocent among us have had much to learn.
Too many of us fail to recognize what the problem is. Attorney General Bean Biden recommends adults, especially those who work with children, take part in a program called "Stewards of Children." The program will lay out the facts and the warning signs of abuse in a dramatic and unforgettable way.
In addition, the attorney general notes, Delaware law requires that anyone who suspects child abuse to report it. One way is to call the state's Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 292-9582. Failure to report abuse can bring penalties.
Delaware also made progress in the last decade with the passage of the Child Victims Act. It abolished certain limitations on reporting the abuse.
Actions likes these give victims a chance to break their silence. A more informed pubic can help stop or prevent abuse. A more understanding and supportive public can help victims get their lives back. Often abusers were themselves victims of abuse when they were children. Therapy for adult victims can also serve as a preventative measure and as a healing step.
We, as a society, have a long way to go. Yet we have made progress. The very fact that our laws will punish abusers puts us ahead of other societies where rape or sexual abuse of a young person is seen as some sort of perverted right.
The bottom line is human dignity. We cannot tolerate an attitude in our courts, schools, churches or other institutions where a child's dignity is not respected. The battle is worth fighting.
Child abuse reports, foster care placements rising in state
More children in state custody despite high standard for substantiating abuse claims
by Andy Marso
The number of children in state custody has risen to record levels in Kansas, correlating with a rising number of child abuse and neglect complaints.
As of the beginning of June there were about 7,000 children in the custody of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, including 6,168 in out-of-home foster care placement.
Bruce Linhos, executive director of the Kansas Children's Alliance, said it is a higher number than ever before and child advocates, social workers and government officials are struggling to pinpoint a cause.
“There's been a lot of discussion, and I don't think anybody's come up with any great answers about why the number is growing,” Linhos said.
An in-depth report by the Kansas Health Institute in June included some advocates saying that state policies are straining and stressing poor families, while a DCF spokeswoman attributed the increase to heightened awareness and reporting of child abuse and neglect.
The state is investigating more abuse and neglect claims compared with five years ago and the percentage of those claims that results in a "substantiated" finding is ticking up. But the vast majority remain "unsubstantiated."
In Fiscal Year 2009 the state investigated 26,543 child-in-need-of-care complaints and 94.8 percent were found "unsubstantiated."
In FY 2013 the Department for Children and Families investigated 32,130 complaints and 93.5 percent were unsubstantiated. Through the first 11 months of FY 2014, the department had assigned 33,052 complaints for investigation. Of those, 29,946 had been declared unsubstantiated and 1,828 had been substantiated. The remaining 1,278 complaints are still open.
Substantiated claims are passed to local county and district attorneys, who decide whether to file a child-in-need-of-care petition with the court. Only judges can decide whether custody of the child in question should be granted to DCF or another person.
As part of a series of reports on child abuse, the Wichita Eagle in June outlined a court case in which a 14-year-old girl who weighed 66 pounds was removed from her home after nine reports of neglect and abuse, eight of which were determined unsubstantiated.
A prosecutor in Sedgwick County, where reports of child abuse and neglect have risen by more than 25 percent in the past five years to over 12,000 a year, told the Eagle his office is sometimes shocked by the number of unsubstantiated complaints in a child's past by the time a case is referred.
Lee McGowan, a spokesman for the Shawnee County District Attorney's Office, said that's familiar to local prosecutors.
"Our office concurs that it is sometimes surprising at how many previous reports may have been made before a case ever reaches our office," McGowan said via email.
McGowan said he also agreed with his counterparts in Sedgwick County that there is sometimes a difference in philosophy between prosecutors, whose "focus is always on safety of the child first and foremost" and social workers, whose approach "may well be to try to keep the child in the home."
"That is not to say, however, that safety is not a priority for the social workers," McGowan said.
Ron Nelson, a prominent family law attorney in Lenexa, said it is no surprise that more than 90 percent of abuse and neglect complaints are determined unsubstantiated. To substantiate a complaint, state law requires "clear and convincing evidence," which Nelson called a "very high standard."
"It is a standard that requires more than a belief that something occurred or that the person who is alleged to have committed the abuse or neglect is the one who committed it," Nelson said. "It is more than that there is some indication that something occurred or that the person alleged to have committed it performed the act. It is less than 'beyond a reasonable doubt.'"
Nelson also said that the list of those whose professions require them to report suspected abuse and neglect is long, and reports may be made "out of an abundance of caution."
Theresa Freed, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families, said a substantiated claim is not necessary to temporarily remove a child from a dangerous situation.
"The rate of removal is much higher than the rate of substantiating," Freed said.
The process of removal has been under increased scrutiny recently as well. Craig Gabel, the president of a Wichita-based conservative group called Kansans for Liberty, last year proposed cutting DCF's funding if the agency does not meet family reunification goals.
"In my opinion, the worst family in the world is better for a child than the best foster home," Gabel said at the time.
During the 2014 session a member of Gabel's group teamed up with other disaffected parents to lobby for changing the state law that instructs courts to act "in the best interests of the child" to one that instructs them to choose the "least detrimental alternative for the child."
The measure, House Bill 2450, died in committee.
Linhos said that in addition to promoting family reunification, Kansans should also be working toward greater adoption rates so children aren't aging out of the foster care system and trying to prevent abuse and neglect from occurring in the first place.
He touted programs like Topeka's Safe Families for Children that help families manage crises before they become damaging to children.
“Those kind of very front end, early interventions are the kind of things I think the system has really struggled to kind of be able to address," Linhos said. "In my mind, those are the kind of hopeful things where we really are able to get the people assistance prior to getting to the point of abuse or neglect.”
New Jersey lags nation in substantiating child-abuse claims, data show
by DIANE D'AMICO
Only about 10 percent of all child abuse or neglect complaints made in New Jersey in 2012 were found to be valid, compared with the national average of about 18 percent, state and national data show.
Children's advocates said while the Department of Children and Families, or DCF, has made great strides in improving investigations, they are still concerned by the low rate of substantiated reports.
“This has been the case for several years,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, or ACNJ. “It's hard to draw any conclusions, but it raises alarms.”
DCF spokesman Ernest Landante wrote in an email that states develop and use varying criteria to refer a child abuse and neglect allegation for investigation and varying definitions to substantiate child abuse and neglect. With each state using different standards for both initiating investigations and substantiating abuse or neglect, comparing substantiation rates across states does not produce meaningful information.
ACNJ has been concerned about the issue for almost a decade, noting in a report that in 2005 New Jersey substantiated 17 percent of complaints, but by 2009 it had dropped to 10 percent, where it has remained.
Zalkind said the low substantiation rate frustrates the people required to report suspected cases, including teachers, medical workers and law enforcement.
“We'd hear from them saying, ‘What's the point of reporting if it's never upheld?'” Zalkind said. “When a teacher or someone makes a call, they don't do it lightly.”
The DCF “Child Abuse and Neglect Reports and Substantiations” data from 2012, the most recent year available, show that the Division of Child Protection and Permanency received complaints involving 92,924 children that year. Most complaints, more than 61,000, were for neglect.
Complaints involving 9,250 children were substantiated, with 74 percent of them involving neglect. Investigators also substantiated that 739 children had been physically abused, 661 were sexually abused and 967 had experienced multiple types of abuse.
Almost half of all of the substantiated reports, more than 4,400, involved children under the age of 5.
Robin Hernandez-Mekonnen, an assistant professor of social work in the Child Welfare Education Institute at Richard Stockton College in Galloway Township, said while there are federal guidelines that define neglect and abuse, each state adapts them to their own regulations so it is hard to compare results. She said while most reports in New Jersey involve neglect, Pennsylvania does not include neglect in their data.
Hernandez-Mekonnen worked with the nonprofit group Children's Rights on a 1999 child welfare class-action suit, Charlie and Nadine H. v. Christie, that resulted in a state settlement in 2006 that formed the Department of Children and Families in New Jersey. She has been active in the state reform effort and said funding for improvement has been fairly stable.
But after eight years, the state still has a way to go to meet the settlement criteria. A July report by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, which is monitoring the settlement, said there have been some noteworthy accomplishments, but goals have not been met. The report notes that there is strong investigative practice and staff is well-trained, but caseloads remain higher than acceptable.
From the period of April through December 2013, only 63 percent of all investigations were completed within 60 days. The target is 98 percent. Of those investigations, 78 percent were of acceptable quality.
At a July 17 hearing on the report, DCF Commissioner Allison Blake testified that the department has made dramatic strides in improving services for children and families. She also proposed a “fresh look” at the modified settlement agreement. She said the department is troubled by the monitor's 78 percent figure for quality, noting that reviewers agreed or partially agreed with the investigators' findings 95 percent of the time.
Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children's Rights, issued a statement saying New Jersey, which at one point was developing one of the premier child welfare systems in the nation, has recently seen slower progress. She noted that 8.5 percent of children reunited with their parents are the victims of maltreatment within a year, higher than the 4.8 percent target rate.
Hernandez-Mekonnen said investigating complaints is a very sensitive process. When she reads the state definition of child abuse and neglect to her social work students, they say it is very basic and that their actual practice is much more fine-tuned.
For example: Open-handed discipline, or spanking, would typically not be considered abuse, but using an object to spank would be, yet not all social workers would agree that using a belt for discipline is abuse.
Zalkind said a major concern is repeat cases when a complaint was not substantiated, after which the same child winds up in the system again.
“You have to wonder how was the first investigation handled?” she asked. “What did they miss? But there is not real data on repeats within a family.”
Hernandez-Mekonnon teaches a trauma class and said as many as a third of all children have had some contact with DCF before, and in many cases children in the child welfare system have parents who were also in the system.
She said new caseworkers often don't confer with previous caseworkers, though almost 90 percent of caseworkers will review a child's history.
“Still, 11 out of 100 children with a history were not detected,” she said.
ACNJ's research found that between 2004 and 2008, the number of children found to be abused or neglected six months after an unfounded report rose 50 percent.
In 2013, the state moved from a two-tier system that found a case either substantiated or unsubstantiated to a four-tier system with more nuance.
Zalkind said there were concerns that with just two criteria, social workers would err on the side of caution since a substantiated case could lead to criminal charges. But giving more choices could also lead to fewer substantiated cases. State data for 2013 are not yet available.
Zalkind said while bad parenting may not rise to the level of abuse or neglect, the low rate of confirmed cases should get more scrutiny.
“It has to be an ongoing conversation, or we will get complacent,” she said.
Child abuse deaths decline in NJ
by Dustin Racioppi
The number of children in New Jersey who died from abuse or neglect dropped to a six-year low in 2013. But the state Department of Children and Families knew about, or had an open case on, more than half of those children or their families, according to new data obtained by the Asbury Park Press.
Since 2006, the department averaged 20 child abuse and neglect deaths a year, according to department records, with no more than five open cases on a family at the time the child died. Last year, when nine children died, the department had three open cases, according to the latest data, which has not yet been made public. The Asbury Park Press obtained the data through a public records request.
In two other instances in 2013, the department knew of the family or victim, but a recent and controversial change to state regulations allows the department to withhold details of the state's involvement with a family. “Such involvement (is) not pertinent to the fatality,” according to state records.
The department said it made the change to comply with updated federal guidance.
But the change “compromises our ability to learn something and prevent future tragedies,” said Nancy Parello, spokeswoman for Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which argued against the proposal last year. “It means that we have no idea what happened in those cases.”
The department has been under the review of a federal monitor, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, since 2006 to improve the state's child welfare system. For years, the state had “systemic problems that jeopardized the health and safety” of children as a result of slashed funding and official neglect, according to a class-action lawsuit in 1999 against the Division of Youth and Family Services, now known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
Progress at the department has been significant in some areas and lagging in others, according to the latest report by the monitor. That report noted the department's caseload for investigations of abuse and neglect, while appropriately screened and forwarded, are “still higher than acceptable” and not completed in a timely fashion. New Jersey's Child Fatality & Near Fatality Review Board, a body that is in the department, has repeatedly cited in its annual reports the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.CP&P's “difficulty in evaluating risk.”
Spokesman Ernest Landante said the department relies on data to track its work and “make adjustments as needed.”
“Several years of data show significant variability and neither a discernible pattern nor relationship between child deaths and cases where a family was known to, or had a case open with, Child Protection and Permanency,” Landante said.
In a third of the cases from last year, the department had contact with the victims within three weeks of their death, according to the data.
One included a mother in Passaic County who repeatedly was reported to the department for alleged offenses, such as living in a home with no electricity, heat or food, and which had been raided by law enforcement as a result of drug activity. She had been substantiated for neglect by the department in 2012 but other allegations were deemed unfounded by the department, including one in March 2013 that she “lacked parenting skills.” Thirteen days later the woman's 4-month-old son died as a result of injuries of physical abuse by the mother, which she admitted to the department, according to records. Parents and children are not identified in the records.
In Essex County, the department opened a case for a 3-year-old girl on Sept. 16 after receiving a report through its child abuse hotline. The girl had bruises on her face, according to records. She was taken to a hospital four days later, unable to breathe. The cause of death was blunt-force trauma and the death was ruled a homicide, according to records. The mother was “substantiated” for physical abuse but it isn't clear if she was criminally charged.
Some cases of abuse inevitably escape the notice of the department. In Toms River last August, a 1-month-old girl arrived at a hospital pale and cold, her lips and face blue, according to records. She died the next day. Her parents, Giovanna Rojas and Michael Rojas, a convicted sex offender, face charges of aggravated manslaughter and child endangerment. They were not known to the department. The Rojas case is pending in court.
Sex trafficking sign plan questioned
by BETHANY BARNES
A Las Vegas pastor's idea to report to police suspicious businesses who decline to display a human trafficking hotline poster is being met with skepticism by business and civil liberties leaders.
The new human trafficking awareness effort is being suggested by Pastor Troy Martinez, of the East Vegas Christian Center as part of his involvement with a working group of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman's Faith Initiative focused on addressing human trafficking.
Martinez presented a hypothetical scenario of his plan, which is in its infancy, at a meeting Thursday.
Picture this: A few trained volunteers go to a Las Vegas bar and ask the owner to put up a poster with the national human trafficking hotline.
The owner agrees and a volunteer notes it on a form before moving to another business, a nail salon, perhaps.
The salon owner doesn't want to hang the poster, and someone makes note of it on a form. Maybe volunteers observe a lot of single men hanging around the establishment and decide that is suspicious, so someone writes that down, too. Then, those notes might get passed on to law enforcement.
The scenario drew suggestions from those attending Thursday's working group meeting that the bar seemed forthright, but the nail salon was a different story.
“Well they've got something to hide. They don't want the poster. They don't want to cooperate,” one member said.
The idea of citizens informing on local businesses who rejected displaying a poster bewildered Tod Story, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.
Story said it sounded like the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign on steroids.
“While we are opposed to human trafficking it is improper for volunteers or nongovernmental actors to be out policing business owners and reporting their findings to Metro when the business owners are just expressing their First Amendment rights,” Story said. “No business owner should be forced to participate in a program, regardless of the reason that they choose not to participate.”
Martinez's idea is modeled after a Los Angeles law that requires establishments — including adult or sexually oriented businesses, massage or bodywork services, emergency rooms and bars — to post the national human trafficking hotline.
The law went into effect in April 2013 and was followed by a grassroots effort to distribute the required posters to businesses as well as help educate owners about the new requirement. As part of the project, volunteers filled out a questionnaire noting if the owner was in compliance, aware of the law and if the owner agreed to hang the poster.
According to Martinez, the community began to identify which businesses were legitimate and which businesses were being used as fronts for human trafficking or sex trafficking.
At the Thursday meeting, Martinez explained that the survey was one of the most effective parts of the poster initiative. “There (were) a lot of people who benefited, and there were actually some who were rescued because of the reporting system,” he said.
Martinez told the Review-Journal after the meeting that the project is in the early stages and that he might ask the business community for input. He noted that discussions at working group meetings involve a lot of brainstorming.
Martinez's conclusions, however, don't match what actually has happened in Los Angeles, according to a leader of the grassroots campaign, Maya Paley, director of legislative and community engagement for the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles section.
Paley, who has met with Martinez about the Los Angeles effort, said while the potential is there for volunteers to stumble on a human trafficking front and report it, that has yet to happen. Also, no one has been rescued as a result of the poster outreach survey, though the potential is there, she said. The questionnaire exists so clear data can be collected on how effective the outreach is, Paley said. She added that survivors have said the posters would have helped them tremendously.
When asked Friday about the discrepancy between what he told the working group and the results described by Paley, Martinez said that was the impression he was given by other people.
He then said he didn't remember saying that the surveys gave those results.
“Well it's as accurate as I got in two days from the groups that I talked to, and we're going to look into (the idea),” Martinez said, noting that at the meeting he had to condense days of training into a 10-minute briefing.
Meanwhile, authorities and business leaders said Martinez's idea will need some vetting.
Lou Pascoe, director of the Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force, said it is too premature to know if the poster project is an idea that would translate to Las Vegas. For it to work, businesses would have to be involved and it would have to be reviewed by Metro, she said.
Lt. Karen Hughes, who oversees the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's vice section, said she would want to see an analysis of how it worked elsewhere and what resources, if any, it would require from Metro. Hughes echoed the sentiment that for a voluntary poster campaign to work, business support would be essential. As of right now, there are too many variables to decide if the poster project is something Las Vegas should undertake, she said.
The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce agrees that businesses should be brought in on these discussions, said spokeswoman Cara Clarke.
“This type of program would need to be done in the safest way possible. You wouldn't want to create a situation where the victim that is being trafficked is more victimized, or the volunteer puts themselves in harm's way, or a business owner that is completely innocent is perceived as being guilty,” Clarke said.
“There's a myriad of reasons that a business may not want to put up signage or may not seem responsive to a volunteer talking to them,” she said.
Human trafficking is an important issue that should be addressed, and it's vital that experts, such as Metro, have oversight, Clarke said.
Paley said she has noticed businesses, many of which haven't heard of the new California requirement, tend to respond once the law is explained.
“I think it will be a harder campaign to sell if you are saying, ‘Would you do this as a good Samaritan?' ” Paley said. “A lot of places, I think, if it wasn't a law they would say, ‘Well why would I put it up here? This is not a human trafficking establishment.' ”
Legislation requiring a trafficking hotline to be posted isn't unique to California.
There are 22 states with laws providing for the posting of information about trafficking hotlines, according to a 2013 analysis of state human trafficking laws by the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization aimed at fighting human trafficking.
Mandating a hotline be posted increases call volume and tips about trafficking, according to the report.
70 Percent Of Child Sex Trafficking Victims Are Sold Online: Study
by Robbie Couch
In 2014, buying a child for sex online can be just as easy as selling your old couch or posting an updated resume.
Astonishing statistics dug up by Thorn, an agency that studies technology's role in sex trafficking, found that sites like Craigslist are often used as tools for conducting business within the industry. Incredibly, 70 percent of child sex trafficking survivors surveyed by Thorn were at some point sold online.
"People are posted and sold online multiple times a day," Asia, a survivor of sex trafficking, told Thorn. "As far as the ad that was posted up [for me]… just [like] you can go find a car, there was a picture, and a description, and a price."
At least 105,000 children in the U.S. are being sexually exploited, according to the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the expanding underground industry has no intention of slowing down. The FBI considers sex trafficking the fastest-growing organized crime, and online channels allowing for the exploitation are only making it easier for predators to do business. NPR reported in March that the Justice Department believes child sex trafficking could generate a staggering $32 billion a year.
Many times, pimps work as expert manipulators to start young people in the business, promising a relationship and wealth. Tina Frundt, who founded Courtney's House in 2008 to protect children from sex trafficking, wrote on Women's Funding Network about her experience with a coercive man who played a role in her abuse.
To Frundt, abusers are dangerous because of their misleadingly supportive nature.
"This is the same man that took me out to eat," Frundt wrote on the website. "[He] listened to me when I wanted to complain about my parents, gave me words of advice."
If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by phone at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733).
Porn creates demand for sex trafficking
by PATRICK A. TRUEMAN
Opposition to sex trafficking is almost universal. People don't think anyone should be forced into sexual acts for another's gratification. Yet, this form of slavery is widespread, even in Western nations.
But many also say they believe pornography production and distribution is a “victimless crime.” They don't connect the dots that lead from pornography directly to sex trafficking.
Pornography is a powerful stimulant that can actually alter brain patterns, creating addiction. It is produced mainly for men, and it begins shaping their sexual road maps as early as pre-adolescence.
Our sexualized culture, with its constant sexual portrayal of women, affects not only boys and men but girls and women, too. Mass-marketing advertising campaigns directed at young girls seem to dictate that they must dress and act like prostitutes to be valued.
In 2007, an American Psychological Association task force found that girls increasingly view themselves as objects in a process called “sexual self-objectification.” One result is today's epidemic of “sexting,” teens sending pornographic photos of themselves or others via cell phones.
Pornography thrives in this sex-charged culture, leading to a pandemic of harm. A recent study of top-selling porn videos in America by Dr. Ana J. Bridges revealed that 88 percent of the scenes contained either physical or verbal violence. Males are viewing near nonstop depictions of predatory men acting as sexual psychopaths attacking women. These images condition men to view women as objects for their pleasure and desensitize them to the real pain caused by sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking.
Thus, pornography creates the demand for sex trafficking. Court-tested obscenity laws that prohibit distribution of hardcore adult porn are on the books, if only prosecutors would enforce them. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court's Miller ruling in 1973, the definition of obscenity, which is not protected by the First Amendment, has been clear. In case after case, courts have convicted pornographers that sell obscene material. Yet, despite this success, the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to initiate a new obscenity case in the last six years.
Pornography thrives in an atmosphere of non-enforcement. So, too, does sex trafficking, which is found in every major city in America. Attorney Laura Lederer, a founder of America's anti-trafficking movement, warned, “We should not say that pornography leads to sex trafficking; pornography is sex trafficking.”
Scholar Dr. Catherine Mackinon says that consuming pornography is an “experience of bought sex and thus it creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify, and act out what is seen.” Pornography, she says, is “advertising for trafficking, not just in general but also in the sense that traffickers and pimps use pornographic images of victims as specific advertising for their ‘products.' ”
We must employ all means to stop that demand. This means curbing pornography distribution by enforcing state and, particularly, federal obscenity laws, including those against the smut explosion on the Internet.
The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) provides law enforcers with tools to combat trafficking. As defined by the TVPA, trafficking is present in the mainstream porn industry where force, fraud and coercion can be found on the porn set. That means the TVPA should be used against the porn industry as it should be used against all trafficking.
Sex trafficking does not happen in a vacuum — it is the tragic, criminal product of permissive attitudes toward sexual exploitation. All laws should be employed to target these evils.
Patrick A. Trueman, former director the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Criminal Division, of the U.S. Justice Department, is president and CEO of Morality in Media, an organization that opposes pornography and sexual trafficking. This article is drawn from a presentation to be given at the Third Annual Human Trafficking Conference at St. Thomas Law School, in Miami, on Friday.
New Initiative To Help ER Workers Spot Human Trafficking
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Emergency room doctors and nurses are often the only contact victims of human trafficking have with the outside world, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Friday while launching an initiative aimed to train emergency workers how to identify signs of trafficking.
Under the plan, emergency room workers will be trained to ask certain questions of people who show signs of being trafficked. Those questions run the line of “Who is that person with you?” to “Do you ever feel pressured to do something you didn't want to do?” to “Has anyone approached you asking you to get involved in prostitution?”
If the suspicions are confirmed, the emergency workers are encouraged to separate the victim from anyone accompanying them and contact a national trafficking hotline to report the case.
Florida ranks No. 3 in the nation for number of calls to a national trafficking hotline, according to state officials, and the emergency room initiative is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
Bondi said the idea for the initiative came from speaking to emergency room doctors in Tallahassee.
“They approached me and said ‘Help us. We know we're seeing people come into the ER. We know they're victims of human trafficking but we don't know what to do,'” Bondi said. “‘We need to know what signs to look for and we need your help.' That was really music to our ears.”
Signs of trafficking include lacking identification or a fixed address, a reluctance to explain the nature of an accident, an accompanying person who tries to speak on their behalf, signs of bruising, cuts or burns and medical complications from untreated sexually transmitted diseases.
The emergency room initiative is only the latest efforts by the Attorney General's Office and state lawmakers to counter human and sex trafficking in Florida.
A Statewide Council on Human Trafficking has been formed, and lawmakers passed legislation this year removing limitations for prosecuting trafficking crimes. Earlier this year, Bondi launched an initiative to help businesses, especially in construction, trucking and hospitality, spot human trafficking.
Last year, Florida's first safe house for victims of sex trafficking opened but it closed months later after several victims ran away, unable to break their bond with their pimps or feeling more comfortable on the streets.
What happened to Abby Hernandez?
by Ashley Troutman
NORTH CONWAY, NH (MyFoxBoston.com) – The search for a missing teen prompted a N.H. community to ban together, and through social networks and media coverage made a 15-year-old from North Conway a household name in New England. Abby Hernandez was missing for 9 months; and while everyone involved is grateful that she's home, some are questioning where she's been.
Abby returned Sunday without an explanation of where she was for more than half of a year. Officials turned to the public several times over the last 9 months asking for help in finding Abby, desperate for any lead. Does that warrant an explanation for concerned members of the public who were invested in her case?
Will we ever find out what happened to Abby Hernandez?
What we know is that on Oct. 9, 2013 she left Kennett High School in Conway around 2:30 p.m. She then walked along Eagles Way and was last seen taking a short cut through a power line trail. That day, Abby was carrying a gray shoulder bag and wearing a gray sweatshirt with colored stripes paired with black yoga pants.
The case was treated as a missing person investigation from the start; authorities were searching by air, water and land for the girl, according to N.H. Senior Assistant District Attorney Jane Young. There was even a check point set up near the teen's high school to question drivers.
Investigators said early on that there was no evidence of abduction. Yet there was a $20,000 reward offered, which was eventually increased to $60,000 after a donation from Abby's father. FOX 25's Bob Ward talked to the ranking FBI agent working the case, Kieran Ramsey, who does not believe that she willingly left.
"This is a 14-, now 15-year-old girl that had a lively social media presence, that was very actively engaged in talking to her mom, classmates, and her friends and everything stops at 3:07 that afternoon. To think she willingly left, on her own, and has stayed dark since then is an extensive commitment on the part of a 15-year-old girl," Ramsey said.
Abby was only gone two days when Young first reached out to the public asking for help putting together a timeline to help locate the teen.
After six weeks had passed, Young spoke at a news conference and announced that Abby's mother, Zenya, received a letter from the teen after she disappeared, but didn't disclose much information about it. Officials also released two photos that day, one of a necklace and another of a purse that Abby was believed to be in possession of.
Shortly after the conference, Zenya was in the FOX 25 studio to talk to our Maria Stephanos and asked the public for help.
Throughout the first six months of 2014, Zenya and police continued to periodically ask the public for help in finding Abby. Zenya even advertised an interactive map posted on the website created for the teen called Bring Abby Home.
Abby finally returned home Sunday, July 20. Despite the lack of an explanation of where this 15-year-old has been, the public was asked to become involved once again and call N.H. State Police with any information. Specifically, investigators are looking for the man Abby says drove her away. They released a sketch of the man who was reportedly driving a navy blue pick-up truck and is described as slightly overweight with a large build, "darkish" skin, dark brown eyes and black stubble on his face.
They are also interested in anyone who may have seen a girl in the area of North South Road on Sunday night between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. At that time, Abby was reportedly on her way home carrying a gray shoulder bag and wearing a long-sleeve gray sweater with colorful stripes paired with black pants. It is apparently the same outfit she wore the day she was last seen before disappearing.
Abby's family released a statement Friday night thanking everyone who helped with the teen's case and noting that her health has “deteriorated” and she's lost weight.
Young declined to comment on Abby's degree of cooperation in the investigation; however, the family said in their statement that they are still working with authorities. The investigation remains ongoing and police are trying to determine whether the man in the sketch, or anyone else, enticed Abby in any way or took her against her will.
Most Migrant Children Entering U.S. Are Now With Relatives, Data Show
by Jennifer Medina
LOS ANGELES — The vast majority of unaccompanied migrant children arriving in the United States from Central America this year have been released to relatives in states with large established Central American populations, according to federal data released Thursday night.
A total of 30,340 children have been released to sponsors — primarily parents and other relatives — from the start of the year through July 7, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which has overseen the care of the children after they are turned over by Customs and Border Protection. More children have been released in Texas than in any other state, with sponsors there receiving 4,280 children, followed by New York with 3,347. Florida has received 3,181 children and California 3,150. Maryland and Virginia have each also received more than 2,200 children.
The numbers do not include those children who are still being cared for in shelters, which have prompted the most outrage from governors and other local officials across the country. Many children who are placed in shelters for some period of time — anywhere between a few days and a few months — have later been released to family members.
Officials have said that more than half of all children initially placed in shelters have gone on to be reunited with at least one parent already living in the United States, and 85 percent of all children have been placed with a close family member.
Sponsors must be vetted by social workers, a process that includes a criminal-background check, and must also promise to make sure that the child appears for required immigration court appearances. The adults do not have to be citizens or legal permanent residents, and officials have acknowledged that some sponsors may be living in the United States illegally.
Children who are not able to find qualified sponsors are placed in long-term shelters or in foster care. Roughly 10 percent of the unaccompanied minors who have been taken into custody this year have been placed in such care, which is overseen by the federal Administration for Children and Families, said Kenneth J. Wolfe, a spokesman for the department.
While the numbers do not include a breakdown by nationality, the vast majority of children are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been arrested by Border Patrol agents, primarily in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Nearly 53,000 of those children have been released to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, with more than 47,000 going to sponsors or relatives.
The metro areas with the largest number of immigrants from Central America are Los Angeles, Washington, Houston and Miami, according to census data compiled by the Migration Policy Institute. Los Angeles has the largest number of immigrants from El Salvador and Guatemala, and New York and Miami have the most Honduran immigrants, according to census data.
Federal procedures require that children placed with the Office of Refugee Resettlement be placed in the least restrictive environment possible, with parents as a first choice for placement. If there are no sponsors, the minors will remain in the care of the department unless they return to their country of origin, turn 18 or receive some kind of legal status from an immigration judge.
So far this year, the federal government has opened shelters with 3,000 beds on military bases in Texas, California and Oklahoma and is continuing to search for more space across the country. Mr. Wolfe said there was no plan to release a similar breakdown of how many children are in each shelter.
The federal government has faced criticism for not releasing more information about the children's whereabouts. This week, Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa called it “outlandish” that the state was not notified about the more than 120 children placed with sponsors in the state. But other state leaders, including Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon and Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California, have said they would do all they could to help such children. Ms. Harris said this week that she had personally appealed to lawyers in the state to help represent the children in immigration court.
Investigators Solve Mystery of Porcelain Dolls Left on Doorsteps
by ABC NEWS
Investigators in California say they've solved a strange case involving porcelain dolls being left on the doorsteps of girls to whom they hold an eerie resemblance.
At least eight families received the dolls in the Talega community of San Clemente, with all of the girls targeted around 10 years old.
Families began filing police reports about the dolls as early as June 16. Initially, police didn't have a crime to investigate. But as the mystery grew, and as the families learned of the other dolls, authorities began examining the dolls and meeting with the affected families, trying to find patterns.
The investigation focused on a woman who attends church with many of the families who found the dolls, according to a news release issued late Thursday by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
“Investigators made contact with the female adult who admitted to placing the porcelain dolls on the porch of the various residences in the community. Investigators have concluded that her motivation was out of goodwill and that she intended it as a kind gesture,” the news release says of the woman whom authorities have not identified.
“There will be no further investigation of this case.”
Sex offenders, recidivism, and the Church
by Boz Tchividjian
am grateful to my good friend Stephanie Smith for contributing this guest post as I spend a little time away with my family – Boz
I'm so pleased to be able to fill in for Boz this week as he enjoys a well-deserved time away with his family. Aside from being able to help out a friend, this guest post provides me an opportunity to address a topic that is of great interest and concern to me in protecting children from predators: Recidivism.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines recidivism as, “The tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior.” This has become a hot topic in the last few years as it relates to the different treatment models that have been put into place for sexual offenders. One school of thought argues that nothing can be done for sex offenders to change their behavior. Another school of thought argues that there is some evidence that some offenders can avoid reoffending with the managing of behaviors and triggers.
This is a complex subject that certainly cannot be fully addressed in one post. However, I think it is important to begin this discussion with a few key points to consider when re-offense (recidivism) rates are discussed:
Treatment options for those who have committed sexual offenses against children is a young and changing field. Although we know that the sexual abuse of children has been occurring throughout history, the idea of providing treatment to offenders is new and is largely untested with very little accompanying research. Much more remains to be learned about the effectiveness of treatment for child sexual offenders.
Recidivism studies require that the offenders have been caught and adjudicated within the time period being studied (five years, fifteen years, etc.). Many reported cases that will result in conviction might not be fully adjudicated within that time frame of the study due to the length of time involved in investigating and prosecuting such cases. Furthermore, the delay in the judicial process is also impacted by the fact that most abuse survivors do not immediately report the abuse.
Recidivism studies require accurate data regarding reoffending. The fact that child sexual abuse is one of the most underreported offenses makes it extremely difficult to collect accurate data on the recidivism of offenders. For example, the fact that there has not been a new report of abuse regarding a certain offender does not necessarily mean that the offender has not reoffended. It may simply mean that additional victims have not reported the offense.
Any study under discussion needs to be reviewed thoroughly to ascertain how “sex offenders” are defined. Are we looking at a broad or specific category of sex offenses? For example, are we considering only offenses against adults, or just offenses against children, or a combination of offenses against adults and children?
It is important that we distinguish between the different types of sexual offenders when addressing the issue of recidivism. For example, pedophiles represent a smaller number of offenders convicted for sexually abusing children. However, they tend to have higher numbers of victims and higher recidivism rates than any other type of sex offender. On the other hand, researchers have identified some sex offenders who assault adults that eventually stop perpetrating. Thus, studies that do not distinguish between pedophiles and adult rapists do not accurately reflect the risks to children.
Churches must understand more about the typology of offenders to help them understand that recidivism isn't as simple as any one study. Offenders are drawn to faith institutions initially for the same reason that they are drawn to schools, youth sports and other youth-oriented activities. It's the easiest way to gain access to children outside their own families. Tragically, many of these same offenders are also abusing within the home. Regardless, grooming children and gaining the trust of parents doesn't happen unless the children are a focus of the activity in which the offender is engaged.
In order to truly safeguard children, faith communities must recognize that activities involving children attract two kinds of people: those who love children and those who would prey on children. At any given point in time, we cannot be certain which of those two types is engaging with our children during vacation bible school, children's church, Sunday school, or youth group. As Christians, we often chide ourselves for being suspicious of others and not acting with the highest level of charity and compassion. Though there is nothing wrong with acting that way, it is critical to understand that not everyone we encounter in the faith community is vigilant in wanting to protect little ones and to ensure that opportunities for abuse are minimized. When you observe something suspicious, confront it head on. If not by addressing it directly with the individual, then by taking immediate steps to protect the children in that situation and then reporting the matter to the church leadership. When it is known that an individual has sexually abused a child in the past, allowing that person to have any access to children is simply foolish and demonstrates a complete disregard for the safety and well being of the child.
I've chosen not to weigh this post down with various studies confirming that recidivism exists at a particular level because I don't think that anyone disputes that fact. At the end of the day, I believe the level of reoffending is completely irrelevant. One sexually abused child is one too many. Let's stop spending so much time and energy arguing the percentages of who may reoffend and who may not. Do you want to be the church that plays the odds and loses at the expense of a child? I think very few would embrace such a dangerous game.
Instead I think it is time that we focus our attention on prevention efforts that will address the risk of the “known offender” and, more importantly, “he who has yet to be caught.” The unknown offenders are the most dangerous because they repeatedly abuse children while others have absolutely no suspicion. The same policies that protect children from known offenders should be in place even when such known offenders are not in the church.
Common sense is the most valuable defense against those who reoffend. For example, when an 18-year-old offender discloses that he is on the sex offender registry for having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend, check it out. Criminal convictions are listed on the registry. (It's important to know that convictions may represent only one of multiple charges against the individual or may be a lesser offenses which the offender agreed to plead to rather than face trial on a more serious charge.) If you check and the registry indicates that he was convicted of child molestation, he's lied to you. If he'd commit child molestation and then lie about it to get into your church, do you really want to risk the safety of your children because he's expressed repentance? I certainly hope not because this offender is at high risk for recidivism.
Regardless of what you may believe about the recidivism rates of child sexual offenders, perhaps we can all agree that compromising the safety of our children is neither wise nor Christian.
Stephanie Smith is a former deputy prosecutor from Indiana who prosecuted cases of child maltreatment includes sexual abuse. She served as the first regional director for the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center's Southern Regional Center. She continues to work with Gundersen as principal of Child Protection Training Services based in Westfield, IN. You may contact her at email@example.com
Milwaukee's child abuse case backlog swells to 2,900
by Sandra Torres
MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is holding a meeting to address the severe backlog of child abuse cases in Milwaukee.
The shooting of two children sitting in a family van is shining a light on problem's at the Milwaukee Bureau of Child Welfare. The mother of the children recently was awarded custody of her children. She lost them after abusing her children. The day after the children were shot, the family's home was condemned by the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services.
The Milwaukee bureau is sitting on a backlog of 2,900 child abuse cases. The Department of Children and Families says it's aware of the backlog, and insist it's a national issue not a Milwaukee issue.
Officials tell us the backlog is mainly due to the high turnover rate of social workers in Milwaukee. Those who attended the public meeting say the Milwaukee Bureau of Child Welfare needs to be held accountable for that. They are demanding the bureau find a solution to its retention problem.
Course educates providers on recognizing, documenting child abuse
by Jessica Loeding
Fifty-one children are the victims of confirmed abuse or neglect each day in the state of Georgia. On average, at least one child dies each week as a result of abuse or neglect.
Those statistics, provided during Wednesday's Partnerships for Healthy Communities Child Abuse Intervention & Prevention course through Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, painted a grim picture of a very real problem in communities across the state.
“It can happen anywhere. It happens here more than you guys probably realize,” Instructor Brian Irish told the group of fire, EMS, law enforcement and child advocates.
The program for pre-hospital providers and law enforcement is designed to educate first responders on how to recognize, document and report, and prevent child abuse.
“… We're all out there doing the same thing on the same team, but we may not have the same training and the right communication and the right skills to make it happen,” said Kelly Buddenhagen, who works with the state EMS department. “And that's what makes this class not only different from any other child abuse recognition and intervention class you've ever taken before, but also, it helps us to better understand our place in the team and if we can do our job better we help support the other side of the team, which then brings the service better for the children.”
The class appears to be working.
“[The pilot class] tracked how many suspected child abuse cases were reported by EMS — it was, like, 27 a year. After this course, it went up over 200 or 300 a year,” Buddenhagen said. “It's about awareness. It's about knowing what to look for and knowing who to contact, things like that.
“The best way to think about that is, a lot of folks end up in a situation that turns out or turns into abuse because they lack the resources, and this gives us the opportunity to bring them the resources. It doesn't mean they were substantiated, but it means that people got resources.”
Separated into four parts, the course covered recognizing and responding to physical child abuse; appropriately documenting abuse; reporting child abuse; and preventing abuse.
For Irish, a paramedic/EMT, getting the word out to mandated reporters is key.
“… People talk to us. They trust firefighters for the most part. They like paramedics. They're just going to blurt stuff out and talk to us, but they're not going to do it to [law enforcement],” he said. “… Just keep that in mind. It's a tough situation to be in, but being professional is the right thing to do as hard as it is to do.”
How to talk to your child about sexual abuse
by Sarah-Blake Morgan
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The conversation can be uncomfortable and awkward, but experts say more parents should be talking with their kids about sexual abuse.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused during their childhood.
That is why Psychotherapist Traci Winthrow says parents should candidly bring up the dangers of sex abuse regularly to kids.
"You do it regularly. You don't just have one big talk about sexual abuse. You make it apart of raising your child," Winthrow said.
Tiffany Murphy has done just that with her three children.
"I make sure I ask them, is anyone touching you? You make sure and tell mommy. Mommy will make sure she talks to them," Murphy said.
Murphy realizes the conversation is a must these days.
"I catch them going in the tub, coming out of the tub, when I'm changing their underwear," Murphy said.
Withrow says parents need to be open with their kids about anatomy, and shouldn't be making up childish names.
"You teach your children about all of their body parts, using the proper anatomical names for private parts. You use a regular everyday tone of voice," Withrow said.
It can be hard, but if you're not talking about it with them, someone else might be.
"You start from the minute they have vocabulary. From the minute they're talking, as young as possible"
Another DOJ statistic states that 93% of sex abuse cases involve someone the child knows.
"Children need to be taught that it can be anybody. Now remember, if anybody touches you, even if it's someone you love. Even if it's someone you trust, even if they tell you you shouldn't, tell mommy," Withrow said.
That's why Murphy plans to keep talking, to keep her kids safe.
"You can't trust anyone, anymore. I don't trust anybody with my kids period," Murphy said.
There are signs to look for to tell if a child is being sexually abused. Any behavior changes, including regressing to younger behaviors, like bed-wetting or thumb-sucking.
Also, if a child a using new adult worlds for their body parts, that could be point to sexual abuse.
Police Probe Mysterious Porcelain Dolls Left In Front of Homes of Girls They Resemble
by SARAH FIGALORA
Police are investigating a strange case in a California community, where porcelain dolls are being left on the doorsteps of girls they hold an eerie resemblance to.
At least eight families have received the dolls in the Talega community of San Clemente, with all of the girls targeted around 10 years old.
Families began filing police reports about the dolls as early as June 16, but the mystery of their origin continues.
"It caught me by surprise," Lt. Jeff Hallock from the Orange County Sheriff's Department told ABC News. "It spun of control."
"We're trying to connect the families and the girls," he added. "We're trying to figure out if there is a correlation."
Though some of the girls do attend the same school, some families don't know each other, making it difficult for investigators to uncover who is leaving the dolls.
"The dolls were being left at these homes, but everybody thought they were the only one," said Hallock. "When the families started communicating and put it together, they became concerned."
Police are trying to figure out if the dolls were homemade or bought at a local retailer.
Though the situation may seem eerie, the police see no foul play.
"At this point we don't have a specific crime," Hallock said. "It's very suspicious activity and we're following up on it. We're trying to find answers as we speak."
1,504 immigrant children placed in New Jersey
by The Associated Press
NEWARK, N.J. - (AP) -- More than 1,500 unaccompanied children who entered the U.S. illegally have been placed with sponsors in New Jersey this year, federal officials announced Thursday.
New statistics released by the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families show 1,504 unaccompanied children were placed in the state from Jan. 1 through July 7. A total of 30,340 were placed nationwide.
The announcement did not indicate where in the state the children have been placed or what country they came from.
The U.S. is battling a surge in the number of children who have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone, fleeing violence in Central America, thinking they will be allowed to stay. Most have come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The number of immigrant children placed with sponsors in New jersey is among the highest in the nation but far below Texas, which had 4,280 placements this year, and less than California, Florida, Maryland, New York and Virginia.
During a town hall meeting this week, Republican Gov. Chris Christie said he had not received any notice from federal officials about children being placed in the state.
"At this point, we've had no federal notification that any of these children or adults have been sent to New Jersey. But we're going to continue to monitor that every day," he said Tuesday.
He also complained about how little control governors were being given over whether children would be sent to federal facilities or charitable organizations, which are not under state control.
The government places children with sponsors, such as parents, other relatives or family friends, who are charged with making sure they attend immigration proceedings. If a sponsor can't be found, children typically remain in federal care.
On Thursday evening, at a panel discussion with fellow Republican governors in Aspen, Colorado, Christie took issue with the fact that the federal government does not restrict sponsors based on their immigration statuses.
That means, he argued, people who may not have entered the country legally will be charged with ensuring others follow the rules.
"It is completely illogical, and it's why folks get so frustrated with government," Christie said.
"I think we all feel a great sense of sympathy for these children. But can we use some plain common sense?" he railed. "You don't need a Harvard degree to figure out that if you're going to try to ensure that someone goes to their immigration hearing that you might want to send them to someone who actually has complied with the immigration laws."
Christie had previously said he would consider housing children in New Jersey but did not want to do anything that would encourage more law breaking.
"We'll take every request that comes based on its merits and make those decisions," he said during a trip to Iowa.
Ten years of progress but the Church can never apologise enough for abuse
by Danny Sullivan
It is ten years since the Church began reporting annually on allegations of abuse received by the Catholic Church in England and Wales and on standards of safeguarding. This year's report was published this week and shows how far we have moved. The first year, 2004, was two years after Lord Nolan's report that laid out recommendations and a pathway for the Church to follow to become more robust and consistent in dealing with allegations implementing safeguarding protocols. The Cumberlege Review of 2007 reviewed the progress since the Nolan Report and made further recommendations to the bishops of England and Wales, which were accepted in their entirety. This included the setting up of an independent commission which would always be chaired by a layperson. Hence the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) , of which I am chairman.
Ten years on, we have a national structure - the NCSC's responsibility for strategy and auditing the quality of safeguarding in dioceses through its procedures and guidelines - and agreed procedures for all dioceses and religious congregations to observe. This includes having clear criteria for the appointment of diocesan safeguarding co-ordinators and chairmen or women of diocesan commissions.
While we have rightly learned from the secular world about best practice, it is important to recognise that there is a theological heart to safeguarding and that it is integral to ministry. St John XXIII likened the Church to family, friends and neighbours gathered around a village fountain in Italy; all were welcome and there was a care and concern for each individual.
This vision was shattered by the abuse scandal, affecting not only victims and survivors but others who had their idealised perception of the Church and the priesthood demolished by such criminal behaviour. The Church has apologised for getting things so wrong in the past but in one sense it can never apologise enough, given the damage to the lives of individual victims and survivors.
That is why we have been so determined in sustaining procedures that reflect best practice, including automatically referring any allegations to the authorities. Across the global Church, the Church in England and Wales is held up as a model of good practice in this area.
A significant development we mention in this year's report has been the majority of religious congregations aligning themselves with diocesan safeguarding commissions to ensure that people who make an allegation have a consistent experience. We will be setting up an advisory group to ensure the commission is engaging with survivors in the way most appropriate to their needs - it is wrong to assume every survivor wants counselling. A pilot project in the diocese of Hallam that could be rolled out nationally has been exploring how the Church can respond to the varied needs of victims and survivors when they come forward with an allegation.
In partnership with training providers EduCare, we are developing an e-learning programme on raising awareness about safeguarding that will be available to anyone in the Church in England and Wales. We are talking with the NSPCC about how we can improve our auditing process.
Our partnerships with other agencies will enable the Church to be less insular and open to the best practice elsewhere, and will enable us to share our experience and expertise. The risk of abuse is never going to go away. The protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults must remain at the heart of our ministry in the family life of the Church.
Danny Sullivan is Chairman of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission for England and Wales
What Happens After Men Get Raped in America
by Jack Fischl
It's highly likely that you know a man who has endured sexual violence. But you probably don't know it yet, and might never know.
One in 6 American men will encounter sexual abuse at some point in their lives. According to MaleSurvivor, a nonprofit that helps male survivors of sexual assault heal, after a man is raped, he doesn't tell anyone for, on average, 20 years. When he finally does, his courage is often met with derision, confusion, dismissal and even disbelief.
That makes it all the more important for people to understand how they can support of male survivors, if and when they decide to share their story.
When men share their stories of enduring sexual violence and rape, they are likely to hear remarks such as, "That can't happen to a man." These reactions, often rooted in ignorance rather than malice, contribute to doubt, shame, revictimization and depression. They often impede the survivor from seeking the much-needed professional help integral to the healing process.
In order to truly understand how to be supportive, one should search no further than the voices of men who've endured such painful, dehumanizing experiences.
Mic spoke with male survivors of sexual assault to solicit their recommendations for how friends and family members of victims can be supportive allies in the healing process. Their stories are multidimensional. They include assaults perpetrated by people from all walks of life, including men, women, strangers, family members, priests, friends and teachers. Some were assaulted as children, others as adults. They are sharing their stories in order to create a more compassionate and understanding climate for male survivors of sexual violence.
Believing without blaming.
It's crucial to recognize that many of the things commonly said to male sexual assault survivors are things that we should probably never say.
Charlie, 66, from Boston, said victim blaming, accidental or otherwise, commonly crops up for male survivors.
"Were you drunk? Were you on drugs? Were you flirting with her the night before?" are some of the irrelevant questions that may shift the accountability away from the perpetrator. Expressing disbelief may be an act of sympathy, but this common reaction makes disclosure particularly difficult for survivors. It can even belittle what they've experienced.
Jeff, 51, from Indiana, told Mic via email that some people have refused to believe what happened and respond with a blunt: "No you weren't." Jeff was told that the priest who sexually assaulted him "would never do that. He's a good man, and a priest too."
In some cases, the perpetrator is not someone who you would expect. It could even be someone you respect, which could make it difficult to listen to the survivor's account of what happened.
Don't question the victim's sexuality.
Some men get questions about their sexuality. Gregg, 50, from Michigan, said he's been asked about his sexual orientation, asked whether the perpetrator was a woman or a man and if his experience with sexual violence makes him attracted to both sexes. These questions are all irrelevant. A man's sexual orientation does not invite assault, nor does the assault alter his sexual orientation.
And for the men who were assaulted by women, some of them are told that they should be grateful. Jarrod, 47, from Oklahoma, said guys often respond, "Man, I wish that I had an older woman to teach me about sex when I was that age." But the "hot for teacher" trope, entrenched in pop culture through references as Van Halen's hit "Hot for Teacher," inaccurately regards the incident as "sex" when it indeed was rape, ignoring the emotional trauma that often results from an adult woman taking advantage of an adolescent male.
Throw out stereotypes.
Perhaps one of the most troubling reactions, especially within broader conversations about a culture that often falters on issues of sexual violence, is when some survivors are told that men can't be raped, or that sexual assault is a "woman's issue."
Chris Anderson, executive director for MaleSurvivor, told Mic via email that many responses to his story of survival have included statements like "Stop trying to make this about you," and "A real man would have defended himself." But these reactions only work to ensure that rape of men remains a silent epidemic, preventing many survivors from being comfortable enough to disclose what happened to them.
While many common reactions to male sexual assault survivors seem like appropriate responses to a devastating revelation, many of them are, instead, counterproductive.
Let him tell you his way.
Byron, 56, from Florida, said that just because he's comfortable telling that story does not mean he's comfortable answering a lot of questions about it.
"I'm comfortable telling people what I'm prepared to disclose, but not to relive the details of the experience," he said. When the person is ready to tell you, Byron said, the details will emerge.
Even prematurely affixing labels to men who share their stories isn't the best idea, according to some survivors.
Peter Pollard, director of communications and professional relations for 1in6, an organization supporting male sexual violence survivors, said via email that it's important to avoid labels, even if they seem validating.
"Many men may not be ready to identify as a 'victim,' a 'survivor,' or someone who has experienced trauma," Pollard said, adding that it's best to let the person define their experience and their story in the way that they feel most comfortable.
Emphasizing active listening and empathy.
Even though it's important to allow survivors to tell their experience in a way that works best for them, hearing it can put the listener in a potentially powerful position to help them on the path to recovery.
"Believing someone validates the pain they are carrying, and lets them know they are not alone," Anderson said, a sentiment echoed by other survivors who spoke with Mic.
Through active listening, survivors are positioned to feel the compassion and empathy that they desire and very much need from supportive friends and family members.
Ed, 38, from North Carolina, said one of the most positive responses he ever heard was simply, "I can't understand what you are going through, because I never have, but I will be there and support you as you go through." But, to be clear, another survivor added that even if you actually have experienced something similar, everybody's story is different and it's impossible to understand exactly what the survivor went through.
While actively listening and being compassionate is an exercise of empathy, it's helpful to provide survivors with the resources and information to seek professional help. No one should force a survivor to seek treatment, however, as everyone's pathway to recovery is unique and should be tailored to their individual needs.
So if a male survivor approaches you with their story, listen to him. Don't grill him, don't blame him and definitely don't berate him. Offer your support only if you are genuinely prepared to be an active part of what will be a difficult, uphill healing process.
Hopefully, with the care and understanding of people in their support system, he will come to recognize that what happened to him was not his fault, that he's not alone and that there is hope for recovery.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault and is male-identified, below are resources for referral.
International Human Trafficking Expert Brings Anti-Slavery Message to Baltimore
Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, Monumental City Bar Association, and University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law to Host Awareness and Networking Event
Baltimore, MD, July 24, 2014 --(PR.com)-- Human trafficking is a $32 billion criminal industry affecting 27 million people worldwide. The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, in partnership with the Monumental City Bar Association, will host an awareness and networking event featuring veteran anti-trafficking expert, Matt Friedman, and his son, Brandon. Matt and Brandon's engaging presentation will outline four steps that people of all ages can take to join the modern-day abolitionist movement. The presentation will be followed by a panel of Task Force partners to localize the information.
Human trafficking is a global, multi-faceted human rights abuse that exists in virtually every country around the world, including the United States. Trafficking crimes committed in the Baltimore area include the recruitment, enslavement, and sale of children and adults for sexual purposes. Forced labor practices involving children as well as adults, also are found in Maryland, as they are in other migrant populations throughout the country.
Monday, August 4, 2014
6:00-8:00 p.m., with reception to follow
Ceremonial Courtroom, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD
Matthew Friedman, international human trafficking expert with 23 years of experience as a counter-trafficking activist, fundraiser, program designer, evaluator and manager; Friedman was Regional Project Manager for the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking from 2006-2012
Brandon Friedman, advocate for young people joining counter-trafficking efforts
Aaliyah Muhammad, Public Awareness Subcommittee Chair, Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force
Amanda K. Rodriguez, Esq., Human Trafficking Policy Advisor, Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention
Alicia McDowell, Executive Director, Araminta Freedom Initiative
Major Rebecca Hogg, Associate Area Commander, The Salvation Army of Central Maryland
Tina Bigdeli, Maryland Outreach & Prevention Education Program Manager, FAIR Girls
K. Brooke Welch, Staff Attorney, Immigration Legal Services, Esperanza Center Catholic Charities of Baltimore
Morgan Weibel, Supervising Immigration Attorney, Tahirih Justice Center
This event is general admission, no tickets required. Members of the media are asked to RSVP to Kaaryn Keller at 443-413-4871 or Kaaryn_Keller@uss.salvationarmy.org to ensure best access to the event and presenters.
The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force was formed in 2007 as an umbrella organization of local, state and federal agencies and private organizations designed to work collaboratively to identify and restore victims of human trafficking while investigating and prosecuting offenders. Led by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the task force serves to coordinate activities, develop policy, and implement strategic plans to combat human trafficking in the State of Maryland. The task force maintains five active sub-committees: Law Enforcement, Victim Services, Training, Public Outreach and Legislative.
The Monumental City Bar Association (www.monumentalcitybar.com) is Baltimore's oldest and largest specialty bar association. Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, the Monumental City Bar Association has a long legacy and rich history as an advocate for African-American attorneys and the interests of the African American community in Baltimore City.
Established in 1816, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (www.law.umaryland.edu) is the third-oldest law school in the nation. Through excellence in teaching, the school seeks to prepare students for productive leadership and professional success in a wide range of careers, and to promote the highest standards of public, and professional service in both students and faculty.
Araminta Freedom Initiative (http://aramintafreedom.org) works to awaken, equip and mobilize the Church and community to end human trafficking in the Baltimore area.
Catholic Charities (www.catholiccharities-md.org) provides care and services to improve the lives of Marylanders in need, inspired by the Gospel mandates to love, serve and teach.
FAIR Girls (www.fairgirls.org) prevents the exploitation of girls worldwide with empowerment and education. Through prevention education, compassionate care, and survivor inclusive advocacy, FAIR Girls creates opportunities for girls to become confident, happy, healthy young women.
The Salvation Army of Central Maryland (www.SalvationArmyCM.org) serves residents of Baltimore City, as well as Baltimore, Howard, Carroll, and North Anne Arundel counties, through a broad array of social services that include providing emergency food, utilities, and rental assistance; emergency and transitional housing; mobile feeding programs; relief for disaster victims; holiday assistance; opportunities for underprivileged children; and three community centers (or "corps") that act as both places of worship and service to their respective communities.
The Tahirih Justice Center (www.tahirih.org) is a national, non-profit organization with an office in Baltimore, Maryland that protects courageous immigrant women and girls who refuse to be victims of violence. We elevate their voices in communities, courts, and Congress to create a world where women and girls enjoy equality and live in safety and with dignity.
Amanda K. Rodriguez, Esq.
Child abuse charges include snakes, lizards and alligators
by Laura McCallister and Betsy Webster
RICHMOND, MO (KCTV) - New child abuse charges are filed against a Ray County couple.
Not only are they accused of killing a 3-week-old baby, but also putting their other children in a very dangerous environment. The new charges involve abuse and neglect of three more children, including a set of charges related to snakes, lizards and alligators.
"We thought it was strange that they had swimming pools in the garage. Come to find out they was keeping alligators," neighbor Lisa Fields said.
Fields' mom used to let the kids come to her place, but she never saw what was inside the baby pools until the kids' parents were arrested.
"Who would keep alligators with their kids? That is kind of strange," Fields said.
More than strange, it could be criminal.
Dennis and Rebecca Matthews have been in jail in Richmond, MO, ever since they were charged with abuse leading to the death of their 3-week-old.
The three other kids, ages two to six, haven't been around them since their arrest in 2012.
They last lived on Southview Drive, but the baby's godparents say they never stayed anywhere for more than a few months before moving, with their reptiles and children, in tow.
Court records accuse the couple of endangerment for "exposing (the children) to boa constrictors, pythons, large lizards and alligators that were not safely caged."
Added to that are three felony counts involving the 3-week-old whose autopsy showed broken ribs from several occasions. They face even more charges for allegedly breaking the arm of their 1-year-old and hitting their 5-year-old on the back until the child bruised.
"It's sad for kids to have to live like that. I feel sorry for kids who have to go through that," Fields said.
The couple is in jail on a $500,000 bond a piece. The children are in protective custody.
Child Abuse, Statutory Rape, Modern Day Slavery or Prostitution?
by Monique Tinglin
New York City's former mayor, David Dinkins, shared many examples of good people who have been too complacent, sitting back while all types of atrocities around the world just happen. He inspired me while giving the keynote address at my high school graduation last month.
Knowing my frustrations around indifference were shared by a public figure was validating. As a Girl Scout, I was taught to be a game changer, not to accept what is, but to develop both the skills and the inclination to make the world a better place. I often wonder how upstanding members of society can sit idly by while others, seemingly invisible to us, are being held powerless and disenfranchised through injustices like sex trafficking every day. Even though we may be living in the most peaceful of times, considering the atrocities of world history, we should still be outraged and take a stand against Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC). From the streets of New York City, to the villages of Kenya, children, particularly young girls, need protection from sexual predators. The time for action is now.
While sex trafficking may seem like a distant occurrence, the fact remains these atrocities are happening everywhere, including on American soil. Men in flashy clothing entice vulnerable young girls by offering what seems to be a brighter tomorrow or solution to current problems in their life. However, their plans are far from beneficial to these young girls, and often results in them being forcefully placed in compromising situations for the financial benefit of their exploiter. This harsh reality, which predominately affects girls, often gets misinterpreted as underage prostitution. Over two thousand girls in New York City fall victim to CSEC each year. Out of those girls, 80 percent are girls of color (OCFS 2007 Prevalence Study). In addition, the average age of entry to CSEC is 13-years-old (OFCS 2007 Prevalence Study). These staggering statistics are not limited to New York City or even the United States. Sex trafficking is an expansive and global issue. Victims are transported from Southeast Asia, Central America, West Africa, and Eastern Europe into the United States, the United Kingdom, Northern Europe, and Australia. The FBI estimates that as many as 100,000 children are currently involved in sex trafficking in the United States (2013 Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress).
The consequences of sex trafficking are not games. Women are dying prematurely because of homicide, suicide, drug and alcohol related problems, and HIV infection. These outcomes stem from their traumatizing experiences at the hands of their captors. We need people to decide that this abusive behavior will no longer be tolerated and fight back on several fronts.
Grassroots initiatives, like the program I completed for my Girl Scout Gold Award project, can be a great support to the victims of sex trafficking. Just knowing that people care makes a huge difference in the lives and choices of victimized girls. As a society, we need to show that we care through our actions, both interpersonally and judicially.
We must advocate for changes in current provisions. More funding is needed for New York's Safe Harbor Act, which is legislation that protects girls who are sex trafficked from being charged as prostitutes. Instead of getting the support that they need, many girls are ostracized from society and treated as juvenile criminals. Putting more monetary support behind the Safe Harbor Act would bring this issue to the forefront, and lead us down the path of ending sex trafficking once and for all.
Let's put pressure on our governments to criminalize the buying of sex, not the selling of sex, and then strictly enforce such laws around the globe. The solution begins with us. Become an everyday humanitarian, and fight for a cause like this one that might be bigger than you. Want for others as much as you want for yourself. Like the Safe Harbor Act, laws do not always serve and protect those who are most at risk. If perpetrators and clients, rather than victims and prostitutes, are punished by strict enforcement, the demand for the sex trade will decrease and a clear signal will be sent that children all over the world are valued, respected, and protected under law.
Son of Penn State's Paterno claims paedophile solicited him at age 13
HARRISBURG, July 25 - The son of Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State football coach and boss of convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky, said in a new book that he was propositioned by a paedophile - possibly a university professor who molested a series of boys - at age 13.
Jay Paterno said he never told his father about that day in the summer of 1981, which is described in "Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father," published by Triumph Books, a sports publishing house in Chicago.
"I told no one in my family what had happened to me. I feared that I'd be judged," Jay Paterno wrote in the book.
Joe Paterno died at age 85 in January 2012, months before a report found he and other school leaders covered up Sandusky's sexual abuse of boys to protect the university's football programme, and as a result the attacks continued.
Sandusky, 70, who coached as Paterno's defensive coordinator, is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys, some in the locker room showers.
Both Paternos lost their jobs in the scandal, and the younger Paterno, also an assistant football coach, this week filed a million-dollar lawsuit against Penn State for loss of reputation.
In the book obtained by Reuters yesterday, Jay Paterno said the pedophile approached him at a bus stop in the Park Forest Village section of State College. The encounter left him confused and upset, Paterno said, and he ran away.
Paterno, who Reuters was unable to immediately reach, never names the pedophile.
Police files obtained by Reuters said a Penn State geosciences professor, Antonio Lasaga, was arrested for molesting two younger boys at the Park Forest Village pool on August 27, 1981. The charges were later dropped.
Lasaga moved on to Yale University in 1984 and was arrested there in 1998 for child pornography and molesting a boy. He was convicted of both charges and is presently serving a federal prison term.
Paterno says his father was conservative, even clueless about sex, and speculates that might have influenced how he handled Sandusky. He tells a story about his father wondering aloud at a coaches meeting how two of his players could have had sex with a Penn State coed, who had filed a complaint, at the same time.
On a walk with his son in the last months of his life, the elder Paterno expressed puzzlement about Sandusky's rape of boys and said he never knew it was going on.
"Jay, he fooled me," the coach is quoted in the book as telling his son. - Reuters
Amid Wave Of Child Immigrants, Reports Of Abuse By Border Patrol
by John Burnett
Some of the immigrant children crossing the border say they are being subjected to abusive and inhumane treatment in U.S. Border Patrol stations in South Texas. This includes frigid holding rooms, sleep deprivation, verbal and psychological abuse, inadequate food and water, denial of medical care, and worse.
Dozens of children have come forward to make complaints against Customs and Border Protection officers. The agency responds that any complaints are the result not of mistreatment, but of its stations being overwhelmed by the surge of minors.
Inside 'Las Hieleras'
The complaints center on what happens inside the group holding cells that immigrants call las hieleras , the freezers. The concrete cells are used by the Border Patrol to house adult and under-age immigrants for days or weeks while they're being processed into U.S. immigration courts. The children are later sent to better-equipped government-run shelters.
"I suffered a lot in la hielera ," says 11-year-old Sixta, who is brought to tears by the memory. "I still wake up crying thinking I'm there. And I never want to return there again as long as I live." Her last name has been omitted because she is here illegally.
Sixta crossed the Rio Grande with her older sister early last month after making the trip from San Pedro Sula, Honduras — the world's most violent city. She's now living with her mother in a ramshackle house outside of Dallas. Their living room is still full of balloons from her welcome party. Sixta was asked what was worse: the treacherous journey through Mexico, or her 17 days inside two Border Patrol stations in South Texas.
"The experience inside the freezer," she says without hesitation.
Sixta says the room was kept so frigid she caught a cold, and it went untreated for so long that she started bleeding from her nose and throat. When she asked for a doctor, she says, agents slammed the steel door to the cell in anger. Most Border Patrol stations have paramedics who are supposed to provide medical care.
Sixta says agents told her and her sister, "You damned Hondurans are a pest in our country."
Her first cousin is Jennifer, a slender, bashful 14-year-old who crossed into Texas separately a few weeks earlier. She's now living with her father, a television repairman, in Los Angeles.
"It was horrible because they put handcuffs on my wrists and ankles when they put us on an airplane," she says, sitting in her father's tiny living room surrounded by broken TVs. "When we asked, 'Why are you putting these on?' they called us thieves and said, 'You came here to steal from our country.' "
Jennifer shows a scab just above her heel from where she says the restraints broke the skin.
Immigrant children interviewed by NPR related other types of grievances, as well.
A Salvadoran girl said they were refused water and had to drink from a toilet tank. Several kids said agents came in at all hours of the night to pound the walls with their batons to wake them up to do a count.
Many of these complaints were included in a 25-page protest letter submitted last month to the Department of Homeland Security by five immigrant advocate groups.
They take on new urgency now that the Border Patrol in Texas has been overwhelmed by nearly 60,000 unaccompanied Central American youths since October.
The commissioner of customs, Gil Kerlikowske, said in an interview with NPR last week that his office takes charges of abuse seriously. He did not deny the immigrant children have legitimate complaints about conditions in the holding cells, but he discounted the most serious criticism.
"When I looked at all of the complaints, sleeping on a concrete floor is not anything any of us wanted to see, and to see a room the size of this office with maybe 40 or 50 kids lying on the floor covered in a blanket, waiting 2 and 3 and 4 days to be actually moved to a better facility, I know that we were overwhelmed," he said.
Reacting to the commissioner's comment, immigration attorney Erika Pinheiro says the problem is not new.
"I'm sorry but the commissioner absolutely cannot attribute this to the surge," she says. "This is something that's gone on for many years. At a minimum, we can expect CBP to respect the basic human dignity of these children."
Pinheiro is directing attorney at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, a Los Angeles-based organization that made available many of the child complainants who were interviewed for this story.
There are also complaints of verbal abuse, of agents calling the children and teenagers "parasites," "dogs," "whores" and worse, and threatening them with bodily harm.
A legal services project by the American Bar Association in the Rio Grande Valley filed 74 complaints on behalf of child immigrants in 2013.
"We understand that there are lots of children, and that the officers are under extreme pressure. There's not enough space; it's very stressful," says Michelle Quintero Millan, staff attorney with ProBAR. "But at the same time, treating kids in this way ... it's inappropriate, regardless of the humanitarian disaster that's going on right now."
CBP Commissioner Kerlikowske said he has read a synopsis of the most recent complaints filed by the five groups last month. "What I did not see," he said, "other than several complaints of offensive language, I didn't see complaints of assault or use of force."
But there were complaints of physical abuse.
A 17-year-old Guatemalan named Jose Miguel says agents repeatedly kicked him and his cellmates awake at night to conduct the count.
"Maybe they can't handle so many kids," he says. "They're fed up. They're angry because they can send the adults back, but they have to attend to the children."
Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the agents' union, was asked if some of his members might be taking out their frustrations on the child detainees.
"I don't think there's any overt attempt to try and make this more difficult than it has to be," Moran said, "especially for juveniles. Because in the end we are responsible for the well-being of people in our custody."
Immigrant attorneys characterize the alleged mistreatment by the Border Patrol as "systemic," but it's unclear how widespread it is.
A dozen immigrant mothers and children were interviewed who had nothing to do with the formal complaints. All of them agreed the cells were cramped and cold, and the bologna sandwiches were terrible, but they said they were well-treated.
"The treatment we received was good, up to a certain point, because Americans are excellent human beings," said Osiris Sandoval, a 26-year-old mother from Honduras who was sitting at the McAllen, Texas, bus station after being released from Border Patrol custody.
Customs and Border Protection knows it has an accountability problem. Immigrant rights groups have filed these types of abuse complaints for years to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The lawyers say the grievances usually never go anywhere; CBP investigators have reportedly responded to the recent complaints by interviewing about a dozen of the children on the telephone.
Last month, the agency removed its head of internal affairs, James Tomsheck, amid accusations that he ignored misconduct by CBP officers, who comprise the nation's largest police force.
Commissioner Kerlikowske came in five months ago with the goal of straightening out a troubled agency. Faced with growing criticism of its treatment of the Central American children, now the question is whether the Border Patrol will be more responsive to these complaints.
Armed forces 'more likely to have had adverse childhood experiences'
by James McIntosh
Adverse childhood experiences can result in severe health consequences for adults. It is established that they can lead to behavioral changes such as attempted suicide and substance abuse, but a new study is suggesting that, for some people, enlisting with the military could be a way to escape adversity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describe adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) as "some of the most intensive and frequently occurring sources of stress that children may suffer early in life." They include many different types of abuse, ranging from physical abuse to neglect, as well as potentially traumatic situations such as exposure to household mental illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a study of ACEs involving more than 17,000 participants found that approximately two thirds of participants had experienced at least one ACE, with more than one fifth of participants experiencing three or more ACEs.
The ACE Study found that as the number of ACEs increased, so did the risk of several health problems, including the following:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Ischemic heart disease
Prior to the new research, led by John Blosnich of the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, the prevalence of ACEs among people who currently serve or have served in the US military was unknown. The authors believe that their study, published in JAMA Psychiatry , is the largest US study to examine this prevalence.
'Largest study' to measure ACEs with military service
The authors utilized data from a behavior risk surveillance system alongside telephone interviews from a sample of over 60,000 people. They used this data to examine the prevalence of ACEs in people with a history of military service compared with those who did not, while also considering the differences between the draft era and the all-volunteer era (since 1973).
In total, 11 different categories of ACE were examined. These included the following:
Parental separation or divorce
Household alcohol abuse
Exposure to domestic violence
Being touched sexually.
Within the sample, 12.7% of individuals had a history of military service. Compared with 2% of women, 24% of men reported military service.
Marked differences were found between men who had experienced military service and those who had not in the all-volunteer era, with men with a history of military service having a higher prevalence of ACEs across all 11 categories.
Men with a history of military service during the all-volunteer era were more than twice as likely to have experienced a form of sexual abuse than non-military males. The ACE categories identified were: being touched sexually (11% vs. 4.8%), being forced to touch another sexually (9.6% vs. 4.2%) and being forced to have sex (3.7% vs. 1.6%).
These differences did not extend to the draft era. The only difference among men was with regard to household drug use, where men with military service had a lower prevalence than men without.
In both the draft and all-volunteer eras, women with a history of military service were more likely to have experienced emotional abuse, exposure to domestic violence, household alcohol abuse and physical abuse, compared with women without a history of military service.
Women serving in the all-volunteer era also had a higher prevalence of being touched sexually. Overall among women, slightly fewer differences were found between those with and without a history of military service.
A motivation for enlisting?
This research has several limitations. Both the ACEs and military service were self-reported and thus are subject to the possibility of recall bias or being unable to be verified by official records.
Although the study finds an increased prevalence of ACEs in people with military history, and previous research has found some enlistees citing escaping negative experiences as motivation, the study does not enable the researchers to establish a causal link between military service and ACEs.
The motivation for enlisting is not recorded, and no data was available to the authors to associate ACEs with current or past trauma. This means that in this instance, ACEs can only be regarded as potentially traumatic events.
The authors say it is important to emphasize two points when examining the results of their research. Firstly, they state that most people who survive ACEs can lead healthy lives.
Secondly, they write that there are several positive reasons that lead to people enlisting with the military, such as family tradition, self-improvement and altruism.
According to the authors, acknowledging both ACEs and these more positive motivations "can ensure support and resources are available to service members who are ACE survivors, with the goal of supporting their successful military careers rather than inadvertently increasing stigma toward ACE survivors."
Previously, Medical News Today reported on how a new initiative was analyzing rising suicide rates within the US Army .
Boy, 11, shows up at policing center with 27 injuries
by Stephanie farr
THE BOY was small for his 11 years.
He walked into the Upper Darby Community Policing Center on Long Lane near Radbourne Road about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, just steps behind a woman.
Nashid Ali, who runs the center, thought the two were together. They were not.
"The woman said, 'I think he wants to see you and I think he's crying,' " Ali recalled. "I told the boy I'd be with him in a second. He waited patiently. He didn't go anywhere. He waited in the chair with his head down."
When Ali, 63, asked the boy what he could do for him, the child broke down crying. He told Ali that his mother had beaten him for not separating the laundry or doing the dishes. He said she beat him with a belt and her fists.
"On his arms was all these red marks," Ali said. "I looked at his back. His back was worse than the arms."
The boy told Ali that his mother had beaten him before, but never like this. Ali called the police.
"I said to him, 'Nobody deserves that,' " Ali said. "He was crying periodically. He would cry and then stop and pull himself together but every time he told the story he'd cry."
When police counted all of the welts and abrasions on the boy's back, arms and shins, they numbered 27, Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said.
Police said all the marks were believed to have been made about 7 p.m. Monday.
Given the nature and severity of the child's injuries, police charged his mother, Samantha Starnes, 39, with simple assault, harassment, endangering the welfare of a child, recklessly endangering another person and possessing instruments of a crime, namely, the belt, Chitwood said.
"I believe that parents have a right to discipline their children. I think it's important today and I think it should be part of raising a child," Chitwood said. "I think to brutalize your child . . . it's not acceptable. It rises to the level of criminality."
Chitwood said police contacted Delaware County Children and Youth Services, which set up a safety plan for the boy, who was turned over to family members. The boy's father is not in the picture and he is an only child, according to police.
Ali, who has worked at the center since it opened four years ago, said he's had other traumatic walk-ins, like teenagers reporting sexual abuse, but this was the first child who has ever come in on his own.
"He was brave enough to come in and tell on his mother," Ali said. "I'm glad he knew this was a safe place."
At Manhattan Preschool, Accounts of Sex Abuse Case Differ
by JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ
Malthe Thomsen, a teaching student from Copenhagen, was rapidly becoming a fixture at the International Preschools in Midtown Manhattan. The beginning of his internship, in February, was celebrated with a lunch in his honor. And he was starting to take on more responsibility, accompanying children on field trips and helping them learn to draw.
But in late May, just as the academic year was wrapping up, a co-worker sent an email about Mr. Thomsen to a supervisor. “I feel compelled to report that I have observed certain peculiar behavior,” wrote an assistant teacher, Mariangela Kefalas — behavior that she said she believed bordered on “inappropriate touching of children.”
In a follow-up meeting with school officials, she accused Mr. Thomsen of touching girls under their dresses and placing children's hands on his groin.
The school's leaders were alarmed. They discreetly watched him and questioned his colleagues. But after a few days, when they did not turn up anything suspicious, they closed the investigation and fired Ms. Kefalas.
Mr. Thomsen, 22, kept his position at the International Preschools and started working in its summer program. But Ms. Kefalas, 28, persisted. She took her complaints to the authorities, and in late June, the police questioned him. Several hours later, they obtained a statement that prosecutors described as a confession. In it, Mr. Thomsen acknowledged sometimes placing children's hands on his groin.
“I realized that there was something I did,” he said. “It's really hard to take in that I did this.”
He was arrested on suspicion of improperly touching 13 children.
That was only the beginning. Anger among parents has swelled amid a dearth of information, and some families have hired lawyers to investigate. So has Ms. Kefalas, who said her firing constituted whistle-blower retaliation. Mr. Thomsen's legal team has shot back, saying he is a victim — of a teacher who often complained about co-workers, and of detectives who improperly duped him into confessing to crimes he did not commit. The Danish news media has seized on the story, and school officials have brought in experts in public relations.
Mr. Thomsen has not been formally indicted; prosecutors are gathering evidence to present to a grand jury as soon as next month. His parents have mortgaged properties in Denmark to help pay the $400,000 bail for his release from the Rikers Island jail complex and are staying with him in Manhattan.
In a recent interview with a Danish television station, Mr. Thomsen denied the charges, saying that touching children in a sexual way was “something I have always thought is among the worst things anyone can do.”
“To hear that sort of accusation about oneself,” he said, “to be hit with those kinds of charges, it is really hard to hear.”
For Mr. Thomsen, preschool was the family trade: Both of his parents worked in early childhood education, and this fall, he hoped to earn a degree in education from University College Capital in Copenhagen.
Mr. Thomsen arrived at the International Preschools in February for a six-month internship. He worked at one of the school's three locations, on East 45th Street, less than a block from the United Nations. The school, where full-day tuition is about $25,000 a year, is popular among doctors, lawyers and diplomats throughout New York City.
Mr. Thomsen spent most of his time at the school assisting Ms. Kefalas and two other teachers with 17 children, ages 4 and 5, in the Blue Room. He read books, worked with pupils on projects and helped supervise them on the playground.
The School's Inquiry
Ms. Kefalas first noticed what she considered troubling behavior during a field trip to the Bronx Zoo in late May. She began surreptitiously documenting Mr. Thomsen's interactions with children, recording about 10 videos of him on her cellphone, each about a minute long, according to Stephen M. Bourtin, one of her lawyers. The videos showed Mr. Thomsen hugging children and playing with them on his lap, but they were not sexually explicit, her lawyer said.
She told the school, Mr. Bourtin said, that she had seen Mr. Thomsen place children's hands on his genitals over his clothing, and she described what she considered inappropriate touching of girls under their dresses on the playground, when, for example, he was helping them off the jungle gym. She described specific incidents, including the names of children, Mr. Bourtin said.
School officials consulted a lawyer and began an internal investigation. The inquiry involved sending a staff member into the Blue Room to observe Mr. Thomsen for five hours and interviewing five other school employees.
“The head teachers and other educators who spent significant time with the class all said they had not observed any inappropriate behavior on the part of the intern and were highly complimentary of his work with the children,” the school's director, Donna Cohen, later said in an email to parents, one of seven sent in the days after the arrest. The school noted that it had received several letters of recommendation for Mr. Thomsen.
When the school told Ms. Kefalas that it had turned up no corroboration for her claims, she said she had additional evidence. The school asked to see the evidence. She refused, and as a result, was fired for insubordination, said Marcia Horowitz of Rubenstein Associates, the public relations firm hired by the school.
Ms. Kefalas did not show the evidence — the cellphone videos — to the school, her lawyer said, on the advice of a friend, also a lawyer, who told her that she should show them only to the police.
“Ms. Kefalas should certainly not be punished for looking out for the interests of the young children under her care,” Mr. Bourtin said.
Prosecutors have called the school's investigation “totally insufficient,” and parents have expressed concern that they were not initially told of the allegations. The school did not notify the authorities; under state law, only public schools are required to do so in cases of alleged child abuse by staff members.
Shortly after she was fired, Ms. Kefalas went to the authorities herself. She also showed them her cellphone videos.
Mr. Thomsen, meanwhile, had started working in the summer program. But around 6 a.m. on June 27, the police showed up at Mr. Thomsen's apartment in Harlem and took him in for questioning.
After about seven hours, Mr. Thomsen offered his statement, and he was arrested. He was accused of taking children's hands and placing them on his genitals over his clothing on nine occasions, and pressing the head of a 10th child against his genitals over his clothing.
In addition, he was accused of three times placing a child's buttocks against his genitals over clothing. If convicted of even a single count of first-degree sexual abuse, he could face a prison term of two to seven years.
The evening of Mr. Thomsen's arrest, police officers were dispatched to the homes of students to ask parents to bring in their children for interviews.
Police officials would not comment on Mr. Thomsen's interrogation. But a lawyer for Mr. Thomsen, Jane H. Fisher-Byrialsen, said the police used deceptive techniques to intimidate him. She said Mr. Thomsen was not accustomed to the hard-nosed tactics of American law enforcement. She said they told him that they had videos of his lewd behavior and that, unlike child rapists who were locked away for many years, he could simply seek treatment for his problems in Denmark. (It is unclear whether such videos exist; prosecutors would not comment on the evidence they had gathered.)
In the television interview, Mr. Thomsen said he trusted the police and was confused by the suggestion that they had seen videos of him improperly touching children. “I couldn't remember having done any of the things they said I had done,” he said.
Under New York State law, the police are allowed to lie when questioning suspects, so long as they are not coercive. Stephen J. Schulhofer, a law professor at New York University, said that lying about the existence of videos or fingerprints was a standard technique. “Even if there is never any hint of having a video, they can make it all up and say, ‘How do you explain that?' ” he said.
Mr. Schulhofer said the police might have crossed a line if they suggested that the only consequence for Mr. Thomsen would be treatment at a clinic, which could prompt a false confession, but he noted that it was unclear exactly what was said during the interrogation.
Prosecutors said the interrogation was not recorded by the police. But at a bail hearing this month, Rachel Ferrari, a prosecutor, said Mr. Thomsen “was never tricked or manipulated into making these statements.”
In his statement to prosecutors, which lasted about an hour, Mr. Thomsen could not say how many children he had inappropriately touched and was sometimes conditional in his responses, according to a transcript reviewed by The New York Times.
But he talked about how he felt pleasure after he brought the children's hands to his lap, mostly during play time, when they worked with Legos or magnetic tiles on the floor.
“I recognize that it's an absolutely disgusting thing,” he said in the statement. “I am not myself sure about why I would do such a thing.”
Ms. Fisher-Byrialsen said the confession was flawed. “If he did this,” Ms. Fisher-Byrialsen said, “he would have these vivid memories of it.” She has also sought in court to question Ms. Kefalas's credibility, saying that she routinely lodged complaints against co-workers.
This month, after reviewing a video of his statement to prosecutors, a Manhattan judge found there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Thomsen had committed a felony and ordered him held in jail. A few days later, Mr. Thomsen was granted bail.
The Manhattan district attorney's office must indicate on Aug. 15 whether it has presented or will present its case to a grand jury for indictment.
Parents Seek Facts
Prosecutors have asked to interview pupils at the school; some parents have resisted, worried about causing trauma to their children.
A few parents have said privately that they are skeptical about the charges. Still, they remain concerned, and several families have hired Jeff Herman, a Miami lawyer who specializes in cases of sexual abuse, to begin investigating. Some parents have circulated a petition calling for the firing of the school's top administrators, including Ms. Cohen, for failing to notify the authorities and parents when the complaints surfaced.
Mr. Thomsen's friends and family back home have raised more than $50,000 to help pay his legal fees. His case has caught the attention of Danish journalists, who have commented on the harsh conditions at Rikers, where Mr. Thomsen had been held.
In the television interview with Denmark's DR News, Mr. Thomsen said his situation reminded him of a 2012 Danish movie, “The Hunt,” which depicts a kindergarten teacher who is ostracized after he is wrongly accused of sexually abusing a girl in his class. Mr. Thomsen said he had watched the movie during his time in New York.
“It has always been one of my worst nightmares,” he said, “that I might be accused of doing something like that.”
What's behind Vt. child deaths? DCF officials testify in Montpelier
by Shelby Cashman
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Concerns about a string of child deaths in Vermont, some involving children who spent time in DCF custody, prompted lawmakers to spend Wednesday reviewing Department for Children and Families policies.
The hearing comes as we learned a Shelburne boy died Tuesday and a Burlington baby is fighting for life. It's a story officials are saying has become all too familiar. As lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss child protective services, there are now four incidents involving children on the table.
Prosecutors say suspicious circumstances led to one child's death and another's hospitalization Tuesday.
"We will remain committed to releasing as much information as we can, being completely transparent as we can, as to what happened not only in these two previous cases, but in these subsequent investigations in order to get answers so we can improve our systems to better protect Vermont children," Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan said.
Tuesday morning, police were called to a home on Hunters Way in Shelburne for reports of an unresponsive 2-year-old boy, Aiden Haskins. He later died at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. Police say he was in the care of his mother's boyfriend, Josh Blow, 26.
Police also responded to reports of an unresponsive infant in Burlington, who is now in stable condition.
The Chittenden Unit for Special Investigation says it treats all child deaths as suspicious until they can figure out what really happened. And some information is being withheld. Donovan says criminal investigations are ongoing in both cases, but no word yet on whether anyone will face charges. And Donovan says the circumstances may sound familiar.
"Certainly consistent with those two previous cases, they are criminal investigations," Donovan said.
Donovan draws the parallel to cases earlier this year. Authorities say toddlers Dezirae Sheldon and Peighton Geraw were both murdered after being returned to their homes from the custody of the Department for Children and Families.
"From the outset, mistakes were made in Dezirae's case. It's a low point for our department and it's unacceptable for a department for keeping children safe," DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone said.
Yacovone testified before the legislative committee on child protection Wednesday. The deaths of Peighton and Dezirae prompted multiple investigations into DCF practices and policies, and the committee conducted public hearings across the state. One question repeatedly raised-- is reunification of families always in the best interest of the child?
"Our goal is not reunification. Our goal is the safety of children and permanence, of which reunification may be part of, adoption may be part of it, kinship relationships may be part of that," Yacovone said.
Both DCF and Gov. Peter Shumlin say the rise in opiate use has put a new strain on the child protection system. And it's time to adapt.
"These are heartbreaking circumstances. They are being driven by addiction and abuse that comes with addiction. And we all have a challenge together, in ensuring that we work together and make Vermont a state where we have less folks who are addicted, therefore less children whose lives are being ended and compromised," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Officials hope to have the medical examiner's reports Thursday in the Shelburne and Burlington cases, which should shed light on cause and manner of both incidents.
A sister's sacrifice: 'How I saved my sister from child abuse'
WHEN she caught a neighbour abusing her youngest sibling, Debbie Grafham made an unthinkable pact to keep her safe. She explains how she finally found justice 40 years later.
by Sophie Donnelly
The relationship between sisters is a special one and Debbie Grafham knows exactly how strong that bond can be. When she walked in on her younger sister being sexually assaulted by their neighbour she made the ultimate sacrifice to protect her. She agreed to take her place.
“It was absolutely awful,” says Debbie, recalling the moment she discovered Patrick Ryan, then in his mid-20s, with her seven-year-old sister Laraine in 1973.
“It was the summer holidays and while mum was at her cleaning job I was left in charge. I'd just returned from taking our dog for a walk when I heard screams. I ran towards the house and that's when I saw him assaulting her.”
Despite being only nine at the time Debbie knew exactly what was happening.
“I was horrified that someone could do that to my younger sister,” says Debbie, now 48, who lives in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
“When Patrick saw me he was obviously shocked and jumped up.
“I told him I was going to the police but he said nobody would believe me.”
As Debbie's dad was an alcoholic who breezed in and out of their lives, she only had her mum to turn to. But she was reluctant to confide in her for fear she would be put into a foster home with Laraine and their brother David, then eight.
A few years earlier her mum had suffered a breakdown and the three siblings were put into temporary care. During that time they were all abused by the people who should have been protecting them.
“I didn't want to go back there. I had to protect all three of us,” says Debbie. She felt she had no choice but to make a deal with her sister's attacker.
“He told me there was only one way he was going to leave my sister alone and that was if I let him abuse me instead. That was his ultimatum, that I take her place.”
Patrick abused Debbie for three years from the age of nine until she was 12. It only ended when her family moved away. “The abuse didn't take place on a daily basis but he took advantage of every opportunity,” she says.
“I loved going to school and dreaded the holidays because that's when the abuse would be at its worst.
“Luckily our flat developed damp and the council moved us from Blackheath to Greenwich in south-east London. It wasn't far but it was enough to keep us safe.
“Laraine and I never spoke about the abuse after that. She didn't mention it so I didn't want to bring it up in case I upset her.”
Instead the sisters concentrated on trying to lead as normal a life as possible.
After leaving school Debbie worked at a number of cleaning jobs until aged 22 she landed a position in a department store warehouse in central London as a stock handler.
It was there she met her husband Robert, now 49. “I fell in love with him but I couldn't bring myself to tell him about the abuse. I felt guilty, ashamed and didn't want to lose him,” she says.
Four years later in 1992 Debbie married Robert and went on to have three children: Vicky, now 19, Louise, 17, and Daniel, 14. Despite enjoying a happy family life Debbie, along with her siblings, was still haunted by memories of her childhood.
“We all relied heavily on alcohol at one point or another,” she says.
“My brother never recovered from the abuse he suffered in the foster home and drank heavily. I didn't realise how ill he was until I spoke to him on New Year's Eve in 2004.
“He'd never spoken about the abuse before but he pleaded with me to tell someone about what had happened to us.
“He said, ‘If you don't, it will get you in the end like it got me'. I didn't know what he meant until two days later when I got a phone call saying he was seriously ill. He died later that day from cirrhosis of the liver. He was 39.” Despite her brother's pleas Debbie was still too scared to go to the police. “I worried once I dragged it all up again I'd spiral out of control.”
In the end it was Laraine who made contact with the police in 2009. She told a social worker about what had happened and when the social worker called Debbie she backed up what her sister had said.
“On the social worker's advice Laraine called the police. At that point my husband didn't know and my children didn't know. Even my mum didn't know,” says Debbie. Debbie was drinking up to five bottles of wine a day and taking sleeping tablets at night and knew something had to change.
“That October I told the police I knew Laraine was telling the truth about Patrick because he had raped me.
“When I told Robert he said he'd had a suspicion something had happened to me because I wouldn't let our children out of my sight.
“I never let them stay over at people's houses or even left them alone with family members.” When the case got to court in April 2013 the sisters took to the witness stand and faced their attacker together.
“I had the choice to give evidence from behind a screen but was adamant I wanted to see his reaction. I saw him in the court grounds and he couldn't look me in the eye. For me the biggest justice was being believed,” says Debbie.
On April 30, 2013, 40 years after the abuse, Patrick Ryan was convicted of four counts of rape, two counts of attempted rape and seven counts of indecent assault.
Aged 64 he was sentenced to 12 years in prison and placed on the sex offenders' register.
“The only time he reacted was when he was sentenced and started swearing at me,” says Debbie.
“After the verdict I cried for the first time. I put my arms around Laraine and gave her a hug and said, ‘We did it. We got him'.” With historical cases of child abuse in the news Debbie is keen to stress that victims should always report the crimes and has written a book about her story in the hope it encourages others to come forward.
“I've been following the Rolf Harris case and think it is amazing that justice is fi nally being done. But at the same time our case proves that you don't have to be in the public eye to get justice.
“That's why I'd urge anyone who has suffered to come forward, no matter how much time has passed. Someone will believe you and keeping it in causes so much harm.”
To order A Sister's Secret by Debbie Grafham (published by Ebury Press) at £6.99 call the Express Bookshop on 01872 562 310; send a cheque/PO payable to Express Bookshop to Express Bookshop, PO Box 200, Falmouth TR11 4WJ, or order online at expressbookshop.com (UK delivery is free).
Passage of time shouldn't aid child abusers
The time has come for New Hampshire to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children.
As it stands, the state can pursue charges only until the victim turns 40. We were reminded of the folly of this particular law last week, when Kenneth Day of Epsom was charged with 300 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. One of his accusers said the assaults happened in Barnstead and Maine, but only the Maine charges will be pursued because the statute of limitations has expired in New Hampshire. Maine is one of at least 25 states that do not have a time limit on prosecuting sexual crimes against children.
Statutes of limitation exist, in part, to protect the integrity of investigations and ensure prosecutorial diligence. While this makes sense for some crimes, it ignores much of the research related to how children deal with sexual assault, especially when considering that most of the victims were abused by somebody they knew and at one time trusted.
According to the American Humane Association, a child “may be so traumatized by sexual abuse that years pass before he or she is able to understand or talk about what happened. In these cases, adult survivors of sexual abuse may come forward for the first time in their 40s or 50s and divulge the horror of their experiences.”
Many studies have tried to shed light on why some cases of child sexual abuse are not reported until decades later.
In 2006, two Harvard University psychologists published a study based on interviews with 27 people who had forgotten but later recovered memories of child sexual abuse. What Susan Clancy and Richard McNally discovered in the course of their research, according to the Harvard Gazette, was that only two of the 27 victims felt traumatized at the time the crime was committed. When asked how they forgot about the abuse, most said it was a conscious effort: They tried not to remember.
One of the victims said: “Well, it was clear to me that I could never tell my mother. And it was obvious my father wasn't going to ask me any more about it. So how was I going to handle that? I just forgot about it.”
It's tragic that some children feel their only recourse following a sexual assault is to suppress memories of the crime. The tragedy is compounded when New Hampshire tells a victim that justice is no longer available to him or her because too many years have passed since they were robbed of their childhood and, in many cases, their future.
Statutes of limitation are, by definition, arbitrary. And while that random designation may be acceptable for some crimes, it is unconscionable when it comes to the horrific abuse of a child.
The state must send a clear message to victims that when they are ready to talk, whether that be now or in 50 years, officials will be ready to listen and prepared to pursue justice. They are owed at least that much.
Local agencies try to piece together services for rape victims
by Lacey McLaughlin
Community stakeholders interested in restoring rape crisis services for Volusia and Flagler county victims will discuss a long-range plan today.
The public meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Volusia County Health Department in Daytona Beach, comes after the Children's Advocacy Center of Volusia and Flagler closed July 1.
Social services for children have been scattered and rape crisis services for adults were dissolved after the center lost millions of dollars of state funding and certification of its rape crisis center.
Services for children have been picked up by new providers, but it could take up to a year for the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence to certify a new rape crisis center.
While a team of forensic nurses has stepped up to ensure sexual assault victims are receiving exams in a timely manner, a certified rape crisis center is important for providing a 24-hour hot line, crisis intervention, victim advocates and counseling services, said Florida Council Against Sexual Violence Executive Director Jennifer Dritt, who is partnering with the Health Department to host the meeting.
“This meeting is an opportunity to hear what core services are and why,” Dritt said. “Most sexual assaults aren't reported, and that's why it's important to connect all victims with services immediately.”
While the certification for a new center is underway, Dritt is working to reroute the old rape crisis hot line to the Victim Service Center of Central Florida in Orlando for Volusia victims and the Betty Griffin House in St. Johns County for Flagler victims.
She said changes to sexual assault response protocols in Volusia over the last year have shifted more involvement to law enforcement, which has the potential to create gaps for victims who don't want to report their attacks but still need services.
“Survivors are the ones who have gotten hurt in this struggle,” Dritt said. “If people are willing to start over, we need to ask ourselves how can we fix this permanently and make it a solid plan going forward.”
In the meantime, interested parties have created a patchwork system of services since the Children's Advocacy Center closed.
Medical Legal Education Consultants, a team of on-call forensic nurses, provides exams for sexual assault victims in Volusia, Flagler and St. Johns County and has established a hot line for sexual assault victims who need an exam but don't want to report the assault to law enforcement.
Family Life Center, a domestic abuse shelter in Flagler County, provides counseling, advocacy and a hot line for domestic abuse and sexual assault victims, and is applying for certification to provide additional services for Flagler residents only.
Michael Mack's CONVERSATIONS WITH MY MOLESTER: A JOURNEY OF FAITH
Play Performed at NYC's Midtown International Theatre Festival thru 8/2
This month, as a part of the 15th Anniversary Season of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, Michael Mack will perform the NY premiere of his acclaimed solo show Conversations with My Molester: A Journey of Faith, which will run thru Saturday, August 2 at the Jewel Box Theater (312 West 36th St, 4th Floor). Spanning four decades after his childhood experience of clergy sexual abuse, Mack's award-winning solo play is his spiritual autobiography charting the crime, the wreckage, and his astonishing, redemptive return to the Catholic Church.
Written by and starring Michael Mack, and featuring direction from Boston stage veteran Daniel Gidron, the production premiered in Boston in 2012 at the 10-year anniversary of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. It won an Artist Grant for Dramatic Writing from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the state's most competitive and prestigious individual arts fellowship. Mack's autobiographical work goes where few have ventured on this topic - depicting one clergy survivor's odyssey full-circle from life-changing trauma to genuine reconciliation.
As a boy from a devout Roman Catholic family, Boston-based playwright Michael Mack wanted to be a priest. That dream ended at age 11 when his pastor first invited him to the rectory to help with "a project." Mack soon left the Church, haunted for decades by disturbing questions about spirituality and sexuality, but forty years later he landed on his former pastor's doorstep for the conversations of a lifetime.
Mack's play about his odyssey from clergy sexual abuse as a child to healing as an adult has received widespread acclaim for its "powerful conversations" (The Washington Post). Its complex, nuanced portrait has also netted rave reviews from Catholic parishioners, clergy, and even the Boston Archdiocese itself.
"The play is about healing," said Mack, who refers to his work as a kind of ministry. "I never became a priest, but I've always felt a spiritual calling. This play is my effort at reconciliation and social justice."
Conversations with My Molester: A Journey of Faith will run thru Saturday, August 2 at the Jewel Box Theatre (312 West 36th St, 4th Floor) with remaining performances on Wed. 7/30 at 6pm, Thu. 7/31 at 8pm and Sat. 8/2 at 1pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.MidtownFestival.org.
2014 marks Year 15 for the Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) and producer John Chatterton is celebrating in a big way. Chatterton has been a prolific fixture of the Manhattan theatre scene for two decades. For the past 15 years, his brainchild MITF has been celebrating the diversity of theatre and has become a leader in presenting powerful works from around the world - and one of the best reasons to come to New York in the summer. The once bachelor MITF now has a full family of arts programs: The Short Play Lab, which will be part of this year's festivities; Cabaret MITF - featuring Broadway and cabaret performers - will also be part of the festival; and the Commercial Division spotlighting works whose production values and subject matter are the stuff for Off- [and on] Broadway; and, of course, the founding Midtown International Theatre Festival itself. The Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival and the new MITF Children's Theatre Festival shared in the fun earlier this year.
Cook Children's new center focuses on child abuse prevention
by Susan Schrock
FORT WORTH — Dr. Dyann Daley recalls the vow she made while watching a tiny toddler, whose father kicked him so hard that his liver ruptured, lay bleeding to death on the operating table before her.
“I remember looking at his face. He had a little nose that reminded me of my daughter,” said Daley, a pediatric anesthesiologist for Cook Children's Medical Center.
“When I was looking at him and knowing it was futile and he was dying, I couldn't help but think of my own child in that same circumstance and the fear and the terror that baby suffered.
“The people he looked to for comfort offered nothing for him. It broke my heart to think that any child should have to live like that. I promised that baby, because that was all that I could do in that moment, if there was anything I could do to stand between a child and an imminent threat like that, I would do it.”
Two years later, Daley is working to fulfilling that promise as executive director of Cook Children's new Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment. Through efforts such as providing education and support to families of all socioeconomic backgrounds and training doctors and first responders to recognize possible signs of abuse and neglect, the center aims to reduce Tarrant County's alarmingly high number of known cases.
Last year, 5,689 children in Tarrant County were confirmed victims of physical or sexual abuse. Additionally, the county's rates of child abuse and neglect and related fatalities are higher than the national rates.
“The numbers are staggering,” said Dr. Jamye Coffman, the center's medical director. “People are surprised to know how common child abuse is in their community and what the numbers really are. We are not talking just about excessive spankings. We are talking about down to being murdered. To know that it really happens and its not just on TV is shocking to people.”
The center will collaborate with Tarrant County service providers, such as the Alliance for Children, as well as other child abuse prevention teams at hospitals in Texas and across the state to develop and evaluate prevention strategies and educational programs, Daley said.
One project already underway is an online training course developed by Cook to help the system's 4,000 clinical employees detect risk factors and identify signs of drug exposure, failure to thrive, neglect and physical or sexual abuse. Those signs can range from a child being seriously underweight for his or her age to bruises on an infant who is not yet crawling, Coffman said.
“We know we are missing signs of child abuse. Then these kids are coming in with severe head trauma,” Coffman said. “No one wants to think that someone is abusing a child. Sometimes the findings can be rather subtle. If a child is coming in with these subtle findings, we want to heighten clinicians' awareness and then interaction can happen sooner.”
Up to 50 percent of children who die from abusive head trauma had some sort of bruise that went unaddressed at a previous medical appointment, Daley said.
The center's goal is to eventually also share the online training tool with other hospitals as well as the community, Daley said.
Studying what social services are available in communities where abuse and neglect are happening will also be one of the center's missions. Identifying areas of greatest need in the community could help area nonprofits or faith-based groups know where to broaden their efforts. Or Cook Children's could develop its own programs to serve communities that don't have access to needed resources, such as parenting classes, Daley said.
“The more you know about a problem and the more specific you can be about the solution, the better,” she said.
Providing education and coping techniques to new parents is one area of need.
Miriam Haro, a family interventionist for Catholic Charities, said many mothers and fathers who attend her parenting class admit to losing their temper when their children cry or misbehave.
Through the class, parents learn techniques to remain calm, such as placing a crying baby safely in a crib and walking away for a few moments or asking nearby relatives to come over to provide a break from child care. Parents can also learn how to get their child's attention and compliance through positive reinforcement, such a temporarily taking away a favorite toy for bad behavior or ignoring a tantrum, rather than spanking or yelling.
“We get a lot of parents who come in and tell us they are completely at their wits' end. I had a parent tell me she was so overwhelmed she wouldn't put the kids in time out, she would lock herself in the closet,” Haro said. “She couldn't handle it anymore.”
Crying and potty training are the top triggers for violence in the injury cases investigated by Arlington's Crimes Against Children Unit, which has handled 87 such cases in the first half of this year. In a moment of frustration, shaking a young child can lead to permanent physical or mental disability or death, Detective Grant Gildon said.
“Potty training is such a process. Kids regress at times. They are out at a store and kids wet themselves. Little boys will go to the bathroom and miss. Parents will see this and think it's deliberate. They will think the kids are defying them or not doing what they are told,” Gildon said. “We have parents who are trying to train their 1-year-olds. It's really an immature and unreal expectation.”
Tarrant County's rate of child abuse and neglect is higher than the national rate of 9.2 victims per 1,000 children, according to a 2013 report released by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. The county's number of child fatalities because of abuse or neglect is also higher than the national average of 2.1 deaths per 100,000 children.
“It's epidemic,” said Julie Evans, Alliance for Children executive director. “I think its certainly worth the attention, both in time and financially, to look at how adults can create safer environments for children.”
The nonprofit alliance works with Child Protective Services, the Tarrant County district attorney's office, Cook Children's and police departments to coordinate investigations and provide families with services and support as their cases go through the legal system.
Those most at risk of abuse or neglect are under the age of 5, before they begin attending school where a teacher or another adult may notice a problem, Daley said.
“It's very important we do all we can to protect these vulnerable children. They don't have a voice and they can't protect themselves,” Daley said. “They can be invisible before they show up with an injury. The goal is to help them before they get to that point.”
Measuring the success of prevention programs will be challenging but is a worthwhile endeavor, especially if it means fewer families damaged or destroyed by abuse, Coffman said.
“What I really hope is that we can actually tie in some prevention programs to actual reduction in maltreatment. That is what is really lacking is research,” Coffman said. “We know some of these services reduce risk factors. Does that really relate to a reduction in child abuse? We don't have hard numbers to look at that.”
Evans said focusing on prevention would do more than save a child from emotional and physical pain.
“Children who have been abused have a higher likelihood to have challenges later in life, whether that is drug or alcohol addiction, addictive behaviors, even obsessive compulsive types behaviors,” Evans said. “You see kids more likely to have challenges in school or with the criminal justice system.
“Prevention is so much cheaper than intervention and treatment.”
Experts say some children are singled out for abuse while siblings left unscathed
by Kaitlynn Riely and Molly Born
Four children were living in a house in Greenville, Mercer County. Yet only one of them, a 7-year-old boy, was starving to the point that county police said a woman who saw him described him as a skeleton.
Though tragic, the phenomenon in which one or two children experience abuse while others are physically unscathed is not unheard of. Just last month, former Franklin Park couple Douglas and Kristen Barbour pleaded no contest to two counts of endangering the welfare of children, after two Ethiopian children they adopted were removed from their home for health problems. Their two biological children were unharmed.
“We certainly see it,” said Judith Cohen, medical director for the Allegheny General Hospital Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents, speaking generally about child abuse cases in which the abuse is not broadly applied. “I can‘?t say that it'?s frequent, but it does happen.” It could be that a child has a different parent or is a particular gender, she said. Or it could be related to behavioral issues, or the child‘?s physical features.
“I'?ve seen all of those used as an excuse for why one child is singled out for particular abuse when others are not,” she said.
It's referred to sometimes as scapegoating, or the Cinderella phenomenon, said Daphne Young, vice president of communications and prevention education at Childhelp, a national nonprofit based in Phoenix.
“It's hard to tell what turns on the switch, but once it's on, it seems that child becomes the scapegoat for all the anxieties in the family,” she said.
As for what exactly happened in Mercer County, that remains unclear.
Mercer County police said that Antonio Rader, now 8, looked like a “Holocaust victim” when authorities arrived at the house in early June. At 24 pounds, he was near death and had been subsiding mostly on small amounts of tuna and eggs, with some peanut butter and bread he was able to sneak away and insects he captured, police said.
His problems went beyond a lack of food, police said. He also was beaten regularly with belts, allowed to shower only occasionally and his teeth were abscessed.
Antonio was removed from the house, received treatment at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and is recovering. Three other children in the house — a 9-year-old brother who police said was underweight and two healthy sisters, ages 4 and 12 — have been placed in foster care.
Three adults lived in the home: Antonio's mother, Mary C. Rader, 28; Ms. Rader's mother, Deana Beighley, 47; and Mrs. Beighley's husband, Dennis C. Beighley, 58. Each has been charged with multiple counts related to child abuse.
Mercer County detective John J. Piatek said that he believed Mrs. Beighley didn't like Antonio and that she led the effort to torture her grandson. No attorneys were listed in online court records for the three adults.
The law firm Stranahan Stranahan & Cline of Mercer represented at least one of them during an arraignment last week for at least one of the defendants, but attorneys from that law firm were unavailable Monday.
Although movement could be heard within, no one answered the door Monday at the Beighley residence, a brown house in a quiet residential neighborhood. A teal Dodge Caravan sat outside the house, its windows smashed in, glass covering the curbside.
Kelly Glentzer, 34, who lives on the same block, said neighbors and friends planned to attend the July 30 preliminary hearing for the three adults to show support for the children.
Greenville Area School District officials said Antonio attended kindergarten and first grade at Hempfield Elementary and enrolled in Commonwealth Connections Academy, a cyber charter school, with his siblings in September 2013. While a student at the elementary school, Antonio was “a typical little boy who likes to learn and play,” said Connie Timashenka, former principal there and the district's current curriculum and special education director.
Maurice Flurie, CEO of Commonwealth Connections, said he could not discuss specific cases but spoke generally about contact between students and teachers at the Harrisburg-based cyber charter school. Students can see their teachers via video conference — similar to Skype — during two “live” lessons, but teachers cannot see the students, he said.
Twice monthly teacher-family conversations verify that work is being completed, and if teachers sense someone other than the student is doing the work, the school can consider in-person testing, Mr. Flurie said.
A representative from Mercer County Children & Youth Services said the department cannot discuss specific cases.
Detective Piatek said Antonio's father, James Rader, had not been involved in the child's life the past year. In February 2012, Mary Rader filed a protection-from-abuse order against her then-husband, accusing him of threatening to kill her and her four children. Mr. Rader could not be reached Monday.
Online court records show no charges in connection with those allegations.
Antonio has been eating and gaining weight. His paternal grandmother, Debra Rader, 56, of West Salem, said her grandson “ordered everything he could think of on his tray” last month at Children's Hospital.
“It was terrible,” she said of his condition then. “It was really bad — something I'd never, ever want to see again.”
Crime against community? Sexual abuse causes far-reaching guilt
by Michael Barrett
Child sexual abuse leaves deep wounds that victims struggle to overcome the rest of their lives.
But it also scars friends, loved ones and acquaintances who may later realize how close to the exploitation they were. The latter can go overlooked as people try to cope with revelations that are so traumatizing, said Cindy McElhinney, program director for the South Carolina-based nonprofit Darkness to Light.
“The impact when there are allegations of this nature can be pretty far-reaching,” said McElhinney, whose organization strives to prevent child sexual abuse nationwide. “It brings out all kinds of feelings. The trauma is often experienced not only by the victim but also their family and friends, and the entire community.”
Witnesses have detailed that struggle in recent days during the sex abuse trial of former East Gaston High School wrestling coach Gary “Scott” Goins. Testimony has come not only from wrestlers who say they were sexually abused but also other team members who say they observed Goins' abusive behavior toward their peers.
On the stand Friday, a former East Gaston wrestler accused Goins of enlisting him and other upperclassmen in carrying out a sexually toned hazing ritual against younger team members. He said he later apologized to one of the victims but has struggled to come to grips with what he experienced.
“(Goins) had me do those things to those kids,” he said, choking up on the stand. “And that's something I had to deal with.”
He said he was eventually kicked off the team after questioning Goins about his actions.
Norma Freyre is the program manager for AVID of Gaston County, which focuses on sexual abuse crisis intervention. She said the fallout from such cases never begins and ends with a victim.
“It's like when you throw a rock in the water,” she said. “It ripples through the whole family.”
Sexual abuse is a betrayal, especially in the case of an adolescent victim, because it typically involves someone the child knows and trusts, Freyre said. When the abuser is revealed to be a public figure — such as a teacher, coach or religious leader — it's even more devastating.
“The community in general has to acknowledge we had a predator in our midst, and they violated our trust,” she said.
Sexual abusers are notorious for gaining the confidence not only of the people they abuse but also other adults around them, McElhinney said.
“They're masters at creating that perception,” she said. “They've carefully crafted the environment to work to their advantage.”
That's one of the many reasons it's important for adults to look for symptoms of abuse and act upon it, rather than ignoring their gut instincts if they see suspicious behavior, McElhinney said.
“It's hard for anybody to process the abuse of someone they knew closely,” she said. “There are often tremendous feelings of guilt. Just coming to grips with this happening to someone you've been friends with or known is very hard to wrap your brain around.”
Child sex abuse arrests: Police hold hundreds of suspected paedophiles including doctors, police officers and teachers
by PAUL PEACHEY -
Police forces across the country have arrested 660 suspected paedophiles including doctors, teachers and former police officers in the biggest operation for more than ten years targeting online child abusers.
A junior paediatric doctor is among the suspects, who along with a second man, is suspected of having more than a million indecent images of children, according to details released by the National Crime Agency.
Greater Manchester Police charged Raza Laskar, 31, in May with sexual activities relating to a 15-year-old boy and possessing indecent images of children. He had worked in hospitals across Greater Manchester.
Only 39 of those arrested during the six-month operation were registered sex offenders and the majority of them were not known by the police. The allegations range from possessing indecent images of children to serious sexual assault.
The operation targeted people accessing indecent images online with the focus on a number of people who had unsupervised access to children in the course of their work. They were identified through examinations of the so-called dark web – the encrypted underbelly of the web which gives users greater anonymity – and through traditional online methods of sharing files.
Among those arrested were:
- A foster carer with no previous allegations of offending who was looking after a 12-year-old vulnerable child at the time of his arrest.
- A grandfather with access to a 17 grandchildren, two of whom had previous disclosed abuse by him.
- A suspect who admitted that he had been viewing indecent images of children for 30 years from the age of 16 and had regularly travelled to South-east Asia for sexual purposes, according to police.
Officers said that 431 children had been identified at risk of abuse and steps had been taken to protect them.
The NCA declined to say how it traced the abusers but played down any suggestion that it was linked to any technological breakthrough.
Phil Gormley, the director general of the NCA, said: “We cannot afford not to look under this stone. We knew that we were going to reveal volume.
He went on: “It's a bit like a drugs problem. You need to look for it if you're going to find it.
“People are unlikely to report this type of crime, you're not going to have witnesses to it in the way that traditional crime types will.“
Two years ago the NCA estimated that 50,000 people were involved in sharing child abuse images online, and in the past 20 years the number of images available has soared from an estimated 10,000 to tens of millions.
”There are very significant volumes of people viewing this material in this country and abroad,” said Mr Gormley. “We are going to need to understand as a society how we are going to confront this issue. We are not going to be able to arrest our way out of it. The numbers are significant, the volumes are huge.”
John Carr, secretary of the UK Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, said the operation “sends out a very clear warning to paedophiles and collectors of indecent images everywhere that the interest is increasingly become a very hostile environment for them.”
The operation was the largest since Operation Ore which started in 2002 and which led to more than 2,600 British men being brought to justice for downloading images of child abuse.
The investigation followed the conviction in the United States of a couple behind a company that provided access to adult pornography and child abuse images. The names of more than 7,000 Britons on the database were passed to British authorities for investigation.
Md. parents kept autistic twin sons in basement
ROCKVILLE, Md. — Police said a couple is facing imprisonment and abuse charges after their 22-year-old autistic twins were found locked in the family's basement.
It all started Thursday morning when Montgomery County Police went to the house to serve a warrant for an unrelated incident.
According to the State's Attorney's Office, as officers walked through the home, they stumbled upon a door in the basement that was bolted shut from the outside.
Officers unlocked the door and went inside. According to authorities, they found the twins in that room, they say, had an overwhelming smell of urine.
The room had no furniture, only a comforter sitting on the hard tile floor. There was one light in the room that did not function.
According to State's Attorney's documents, the parents, John and Janice Land, told police that the twins suffered from autism. The twins were non-verbal and could only communicate by pointing. The parents claimed they were locked in the room to prevent them from leaving the house, as they had a history of leaving.
The house is condemned and the twins are being evaluated. The parents are now out of jail on bond.
Neighbors did not know much about the twins. Some knew nothing.
"I had only heard from my boyfriend's landlady that they existed. I had never seen them before, never seen them out front," said Sarah Silberto, one of the Lands' neighbors.
Chris King, another one of the Lands' neighbors said,"I had no idea they were ever there."
Child Sexual Abuse: 11 don'ts for parents to keep in mind
Child sexual abuse survivor Harish Iyer, shares advice on how parents can approach the subject of child abuse with their children.
Even as the country grapples with the rape of a six-year-old girl in a high profile school in Bangalore, various questions have been raised on the subject of the safety of children in India. With the rise in crimes against India's little ones, parents and concerned adults have begun to recognise the key problem that lies on in the efficacy of our laws, but in the lack of awareness among those very people who have the responsibility of protecting the young ones.
1. Never overdo respect - Very often parents demand the child show unconditional respect to adults, without realising that it could be the very individual who could be exploiting the child. This extreme ingrained respect could prevent the child from coming forward with a complaint of abuse.
2. Don't assume that only girls need to be protected, and boys need to be the protector. Sexual predators usually don't discriminate in gender. (If it is a boy, remember, boys can cry)
3. Similarly, don't expect the abuse to only be by a male. It could very well be by a woman.
4. Don't expect some one else to educate your child on the subject of child abuse. And there is no better time to do it than now.
5. Sex education is not pornography. Approach the subject with sensitivity, but it is very important to start with naming body part—an eye is an eye; a nose is a nose; a penis is a penis and a vagina is a vagina.
6. It would require a great amount of trust on the part of a child to come to you with a complaint. Don't interrogate them with intimidating questions, or with statements that would make them doubt their own authenticity.
7. Don't ask your child why they took as long to bring up the issue as they did. It requires a lot of courage on their part to come forward; be patient with them.
8. Don't confront the abuser in front of the child, but do assure the child that you will address his/her complaint.
9. Don't blame the child. It is not the child's provocative dress or misplaced trust, despite your warnings, that got the child abused. It was the abusers cruel intentions.
10. Don't get overprotective of the child; you might end up cultivating low confidence. Give them the impression that the world is a beautiful place with few bad men, rather than the other way round.
11. Don't create a panic situation. Children who get sexually abused are capable of living happy life. I am happy person.
Parents can also get in touch with Harish Iyer for further counselling. Iyer is available on firstname.lastname@example.org
The three words young women don't hear enough
by Clementine Ford
The internet is a marvellous thing. Not only can it provide hours of amusement in the form of cat videos and blackhead extractions, it can also operate as a refuge for people who feel they have nowhere else to turn. Over the years, numerous projects have been built out of the basic human need for connection and understanding. From PostSecret to Humans of New York, and Project Unbreakable to Dear Holly, innovative artists and writers have been using internet platforms to great effect. And the latest one you need to bookmark is I Believe You/It's Not Your Fault.
Co-created by writer and comedian Lindy West , I Believe You/It's Not Your Fault grew out of a conversation between female writers discussing the lack of advice and solidarity given to young survivors of abuse and harassment. Three of the most powerful words we can say to survivors of violence are, “I believe you”. And yet, they are offered all too rarely. There are any number of reasons why people hesitate to believe people - especially girls and women - who share stories of violence, and much of that hesitation comes from the perception held of the perpetrators. As a consequence, victims stay silent and sometimes internalise blame and responsibility.
It was my fault.
I encouraged it.
I shouldn't have been there.
No one will believe me.
When I was 14, I spent a summer working in an ice cream shop in a small seaside town on the east coast of England. Like most 14 year olds, I was going through a confusing time. Even though I'd recently lost a lot of weight (through a perfected combination of starvation and OCD), I still didn't think I was pretty enough or thin enough to take up any space in the world - certainly nowhere near the amount of space those things were taking up in my head. Solidarity from others was not overly forthcoming - with the exception of a handful of close friends, the people in my social sphere reinforced the idea that other girls were not to be trusted. I was plagued with anxiety and the narcissistic obsession of self loathing.
But one of the few things I found comfort and stability in was that ice cream shop job. I didn't find it strange that the owner (a married man whose wife had just had her second baby) liked to flirt with the gaggle of 13 and 14 year old schoolgirls who worked the counters at the shop, proudly asking his visiting friends to ‘look at all the beautiful girls I have working here!' Such things made me giggle and blush, and feel a fierce burning pride in my chest. I was one of those girls. Martin thought I was beautiful.
I had the same fluttery feeling of acceptance when he told me that I was one of only a few who could be trusted to measure out the correct amount of sanitiser for the scoop water, or when he asked me to work by myself in the mobile ice cream caravan at summer carnivals, or when he snuck up behind me at the counter to tiptoe his fingers up the back of my leg and then took me out for a pint of beer and told me about how he needed to pay for sex because his wife was so frigid. Poor Martin, I thought.
I liked Martin because he treated me like an adult. It wasn't until years later that I realised that it's not okay for grown men to take little girls up to their apartments so that they can see what Ouzo tastes like. It's not okay for them to cultivate a belief in that girl's adulthood and maturity and then, with a subtle bait and switch, challenge her to live up to it.
This isn't my rape story. Ultimately, nothing too serious happened in that dimly lit living room at summer's end. But not every girl is so lucky - in living rooms all over the world, Martins are tricking young girls into colluding with their manipulation. And that's just one narrative. Abuse and harassment occur in so many different ways, often in a culture of silence. Survivors wind up feeling responsible or worried that no one will believe them. If Martin had been less your garden variety pervert and more determined in his grooming, would I have told people afterwards? Probably not. I would have told myself it was my fault, and feared that people wouldn't believe me. At that age, socialised by the victim-blaming that characterises so much of the conversation around sexual abuse, I wouldn't have believed me.
The creators of I Believe You/It's Not Your Fault write, “Can we use our collective life experience to be a safe haven for kids who need it? Can we tell stories and answer questions and offer solidarity and resources and maybe break some cycles before they begin? Can we do it with humor and transparency, and without coming across like dorky, hand-wringing moms? After all, so many of us are still those kids. So many of us will always be those kids.”
For many reasons, some entirely unrelated to summers spent scooping ice-cream while desperately waiting to grow up, I needed that safe haven as a kid. I still need it now. From the emails I receive on a weekly basis, I know that there are far too many kids and adults out there who feel the same. I want you to know this:
I believe you.
It's not your fault.
FGM: A child abuse 'out of the ordinary'
by Lauren Turner & Sean Clare
London is hosting an international summit to discuss putting a stop to female genital mutilation. In the UK as many as 170,000 women and girls have been cut but why does the practice persist and what does it mean for the victims?
"They love their children a lot," Jay Kamara-Frederick says of the parents who have their daughters cut.
"They just want their child to be part of an out-dated, ancient tradition."
As a young teenager Jay, now in her thirties, was taken by her family from the UK back to Sierra Leone.
She was told she was going to join a woman's society and that it would "empower me as a woman".
But it was not until she was an adult that she realised what had been done to her 10 years earlier. And where that memory should have been, she says, there was instead a void.
"They say when people are traumatised that happens to them," Jay says. "That part of me was totally gone."
There are various types of female genital mutilation, or cutting. Among them is the partial or total removal of the clitoris.
Now a marketing consultant and some-time campaigner against the practice, Jay says what happened to her is not a subject easily discussed in her "very traditional" family.
"I really respect my mum's view, to be quiet on the issue," she says, smiling. "But what I love about my mum is that she respects my view to keep talking."
'Loving and caring'
Jay's story is far from unique - the Home Affairs Select Committee has estimated there could be 170,000 victims in the UK alone.
It is is a form of child abuse that is "out of the ordinary", says John Cameron, head of child protection at the NSPCC.
"Speaking out is a real problem," he adds, warning victims within families can "go under the radar".
An NSPCC helpline introduced a year ago has already had almost 300 calls, prompting nearly 130 referrals to the police and children's services.
The following cases were among those calls (identifying details have been removed):
A doctor rang after becoming concerned about a patient whose father was preparing for his daughter to visit Somalia, but wouldn't give the doctor any details about why she was going there. The patient and family's details were passed on to children's services to follow up
A member of the public called the helpline to report that a female relative was soon to be circumcised against her will. His relative was being confined to her house. The caller was fearful that his call was being overheard and put the phone down mid-call
A father said he was worried his daughter would be taken to Gambia to undergo an FGM procedure. The caller told the NSPCC practitioner that some older members of his ex-partner's family had already had FGM and his ex-partner approved of it. The NSPCC practitioner referred the call to children's services
A mother said she was worried she would be unable to protect her daughter from FGM once returned to Nigeria. The caller had FGM done as a child and both her and her husband were against the practice, but her wider family supported FGM and another young family member had recently had the procedure
A member of the public called to share concerns about a young child who was absent from school for a few months in Nigeria. Suspicions arose as the child's mother gave varying explanations for the absence and the child's demeanour was different when she returned, and she would complain about painful toilet trips.
Practised in 29 countries in Africa and some countries in Asia and the Middle East.
An estimated three million girls and women worldwide are at risk each year
About 125 million victims estimated to be living with the consequences
It is commonly carried out on young girls, often between infancy and the age of 15
Often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour, to prepare a girl or woman for adulthood and marriage and to ensure "pure femininity"
Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of newborn deaths in childbirth
In December 2012, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for all member states to ban the practice
Source: World Health Organization
Mr Cameron says, for some, FGM is still shrouded in mystery.
"I don't think people understand in terms of the anatomical details of what is happening to girls - and the trauma behind that," he says. "It is still underplayed."
He likens the reluctance to talk about FGM to the way smacking was silently accepted for years.
"It's not a case of being able to put in a solution straight away and getting a shift overnight," he says. "It's a very complex issue."
Types of FGM
• Clitoridectomy - partial or total removal of the clitoris
• Excision - removal of the clitoris and inner labia (lips), with or without the outer labia
• Infibulation - cutting, removing and sewing up the genitalia
• Any other type of intentional damage to the female genitalia (burning, scraping et cetera)
Comfort Momoh runs the African Well Women's Clinic at Guy's Hospital in London which treats FGM victims.
"The problem is big in the UK," she admits. The clinic sees between 300 and 350 women every year.
The UK problem includes girls being cut here but also being taken overseas - sometimes in school holidays - to be cut before returning home.
Dr Momoh believes numbers are increasing because of migration and because more people are speaking out and seeking help.
She wants to see FGM become part of the core training curriculum for all health professionals to tackle what she says is a complicated problem.
Different reasons are given in different cultures for carrying out FGM - including preserving a girl's virginity and keeping her "clean".
It is a kind of child abuse that has been both "normalised" and mythologised in some cultures, says the NSPCC's John Cameron.
Some of the cultural beliefs around it, that women are better cooks if they have been cut - for example - may seem unbelievable but still persist today.
Kanwal Ahluwalia, gender adviser at children's charity Plan UK, is clear what the practice really means.
"It is about gender discrimination," she says. "It is about controlling women and their roles in society."
Victim Jay says reasons vary from initiating girls "into womanhood" to "keeping women obedient sexually".
Many of the women who take their daughters to be cut "don't see anything wrong with it," Kawal Ahluwalia says. "They're doing what they think is right for their children."
And sometimes laws do not hold much weight in rural communities overseas where FGM is committed, she adds, so legal changes alone will not end the practice.
"There is no silver bullet. There has to be a multi-pronged attack. But we have to make sure it is handled delicately to make sure there is no backlash from the community."
Some women choose to be cut, Jay says, seeing as part of staying true to their cultural background.
But she is clear where she stands: "I would never want anybody to go through what I've been through."
Experts: Child porn suspect's ties to children fits pattern
by Frank Fernandez
Experts say child porn suspect Matthew Graziotti's multiple contacts with children fit a classic pattern seen among pedophiles.
“Classic, classic, predator behavior of using every means possible to gain access to kids and access to and authority over kids,” said David Clohessy with the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests.
Graziotti, 43, was arrested by the FBI last week after a search of his Edgewater home revealed thousands of images of child pornography on his computer, authorities said. He faces federal charges of production, distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography, and is being held without bail at the Seminole County jail.
Graziotti has a preliminary hearing set for 10 a.m. Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas B. Smith at the federal courthouse in Orlando.
Graziotti had worked at Warner Christian Academy, a private school in South Daytona, for about nine years, teaching fifth- to eighth-grade classes and was director of the school's summer day camp.
He was an adult volunteer leader in scouting, according to the Boy Scouts of America. A website listed him with Cub Scout Pack 425 in Edgewater. Graziotti also volunteered to help supervise children at the Edgewater Alliance Church.
After his arrest, Warner Christian suspended him without pay, the church suspended his membership, and the scouts gave him the boot.
Ninety-nine percent of teachers want to help kids, said Steve Sally, executive director of The House Next Door, a multi-faceted family services agency that will take part in a forum on child safety and welfare on Monday sponsored in part by Warner Christian Academy.
While not speaking about Graziotti's case in particular, Sally said some people seeking to prey on children will join organizations putting them close to children.
“It's all about them having access to the children and the quickest way is for them to get into a position where they could be in isolation with the kids,” Sally said.
When the FBI searched Graziotti's home on Mango Tree Drive in Edgewater, they found a computer with a file folder containing 8,761 images, many depicting sexual abuse and exploitation of prepubescent males, according to a criminal complaint. The FBI also found another computer folder titled “personally known” with 41 subfolders with boys' names.
Mark Tress, superintendent at Warner Christian Academy, said Thursday that no children from the school had been identified as victims so far. Tress could not be reached Friday. The Boy Scouts of America said Friday the group was not aware of any victims.
Working or volunteering in close proximity to children at schools, churches and other organizations is a pattern, said Clohessy with the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests. The positions bring added respectability for someone wanting to abuse children, he said.
“He's not just a friendly neighbor with a lot of video games and big screen TV that will draw youngsters to him,” Clohessy said. “In these positions, he will have some degree of respect and power that comes from having a good title.”
Most teachers and volunteers working with children are there for the right reasons, said Tony Rodriguez, a special agent supervisor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Orlando.
“In general, for the most part, most of these people that have positions in those types of groups or associations are good people, law-abiding citizens that want to do good for the community and the kids,” Rodriguez said.
Child pornographers and abusers come from a cross section of society, he said.
“You have people who may be homeless that have a tendency to do this all the way to leaders of schools, clergy, all kinds of people, all kinds of classes, lower class, middle class and upper class.”
Rodriguez said he did not want to focus on any particular occupation or civic activities of pedophiles.
“It's probably more appropriate to say that a person that has an attraction to children of whatever age is going to be gravitating toward a place or an organization that gives him access to children,” Rodriguez said.
And some will turn to a keyboard and a computer mouse to find their child victims rather than volunteering for a group focused on children, Rodriguez said.
Mark Jones, chief executive officer with the Community Partnership for Children, will also be presenting at the forum on Monday. Jones said he will discuss the signs that parents can look for that signal children need help.
“For a lot of boys, especially young men, it's very difficult, very embarrassing for them to come forward,” Jones said. “So you really want to encourage people to come forward. A lot of people don't realize that they can carry these emotional scars for life.”
Community Forum Monday Night
Warner Christian Academy will host a forum tonight featuring counselors and specialists in child protection and sexual abuse in the wake of a teacher being charged with producing child pornography.
The community is invited to attend the forum from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the White Chapel Church of God, 1730 S. Ridgewood Ave., South Daytona. The event is designed to help parents know the signs and symptoms of trauma reactions and when to seek therapy. It is not appropriate for children to attend, a press release states.
Warner Christian is sponsoring the forum in conjunction with The House Next Door, Volusia County Schools, Community Partnership for Children and The University of Florida Division of Child Protection Team.
“We can share information about sexual abuse,” said Steve Sally of The House Next Door, a family services agency. “We can talk about the do's and don'ts about what the parents need to be doing with their children now and how different kids react to different things differently.”
He said that even if no students at the school were victimized, they may still have some trauma because a teacher and role model was arrested.
— Frank Fernandez
Woman Achieves Justice After Sexual Harassment By Police Officer
(St. Louis, Missouri) - Sexual harassment is something many women have to deal with on a daily basis. When the perpetrator is someone in a position of authority, acting to achieve safety and justice can be infinitely more intimidating. For one woman in St. Louis County, these goals were achieved when she was granted an order of protection (“restraining order”) against an active police officer in Hazelwood last week.
“Clients who are abused by police officers commonly come into my office with a very unique set of problems so intense that they commonly feel they need to leave the state,” said Rachna Goel, founder of Jane Doe Advocacy Center, a legal service center for survivors of sexual violence who represented the unnamed woman in this case. “For this particular ‘Jane Doe,' we were able to reach a settlement that allows her to keep her job, keep her home, and keep herself safe. It was a complete win.”
What is most noteworthy about this case is that the order of protection, which many believe is only available in cases of domestic violence, was granted to a woman who had no relationship to the perpetrator beyond the fact that he frequented her place of business. This sends a strong messages to both survivors and victim advocates about the protections available under the law.
Jane Doe Advocacy Center encourages survivors of any type of sexual abuse to come forward and speak with a lawyer. No matter how minor or severe an incident may seem, everyone deserves to have their questions answered so they can make informed decisions. Jane Doe Advocacy Center is open to anyone including men and women, adults and children, regardless of income or other factors. You can call the center for a no-cost consultation at 314-329-5339 or visit their website at www.JaneDoeAdvocacy.org
For more information, please contact Jane Doe Advocacy Center at 314-329-5339 or email@example.com
Online child abuse image investigations rise fivefold in a year, says ACMA
Communications watchdog says jump more likely to be result of greater awareness of hotline than corresponding jump in abuse
by The Australian Associated Press
The communications watchdog is carrying out record numbers of investigations into online child abuse images, new figures show.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority conducted 7,663 investigations in the 12 months to July – a fivefold rise on the previous reporting year.
Yet the jump does not necessarily mean abuse is on the rise, cautions Jeremy Fenton, the head of the ACMA Hotline, which investigates calls from the public. It is more likely due to greater awareness of the hotline, which received a record 3,000 calls in 2013, Fenton said.
Fenton says a number of foreign organisations that are in a better position to judge global trends believe child abuse material is on the rise.
The European Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Online believes there are now more than 1m images online. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates more than 50,000 new images are uploaded each year.
No material investigated by the ACMA Hotline was hosted on Australian servers. Most of the material, about 64%, was hosted in the US. The Netherlands hosted 17%.
Fenton estimated 80,000 children were victimised in the investigated material, the majority being girls no older than 13 years of age.
When staff at the Hotline receive a complaint, they quickly assess its veracity and try to trace its origin. If the material is hosted overseas, the ACMA refers the case to the relevant local branch of the International Association of Internet Hotlines (Inhope). The material is usually wiped from the web within three days, and often in as little as one day.
"The mechanism is incredibly effective and rapid," Fenton said. In several cases, reports from the public have led to arrests and allowed law enforcement agencies to save children from abusive situations.
• The public can report illegal online content to acma.gov.au/hotline
• If you believe a child is in immediate danger, the ACMA says to contact the police on 000.
Mom admits sexually abusing daughters to craft child porn
by Jamie Satterfield
An East Tennessee mother is expected to plead guilty later this month to charges she photographed herself sexually abusing her three young daughters and uploaded the images to the Internet.
Crystal Renee Dawn Poore has struck a deal to plead guilty July 28 in Greeneville U.S. District Court to a charge of sexual exploitation of children. The victims in the case are her daughters, ages 8, 6, and 2.
Poore told Knoxville Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Investigator Tom Evans the sexual abuse was her way of showing “love for her children” and insisted the girls also touched her in a sexual manner, according to a factual basis filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Reeves.
“They are free to love, too,” Poore said of her children.
The investigation of Poore began in July 2013 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children alerted the task force about a Google Picasa photo album that contained images of child pornography in which the female abuser's face could be seen in some photographs.
According to the factual basis, Evans was able to identify Poore, who lives in Carter County, and arranged an interview with her. Poore initially insisted that although she had “taken explicit pictures of her children at one time,” the images “are not what she would call sexual.”
Evans then confronted Poore with a photograph in which she can be seen “kissing” her 8-year-old daughter on the vagina, Reeves wrote. Other images included one of her 6-year-old naked on her hands and knees with a candle burning in front of her knees and a pornographic label in the frame and one of her 2-year-old in which Poore pushed aside her underwear to expose the toddler's vagina.
“Those are off my camera,” Poore admitted to Evans. “I took them to have on my phone. They are my girls. I do love them. I don't hurt them. That's what they seem to want to do.”
Poore insisted she was not sexually abusing the girls but was wrong to photograph her acts.
“I know it's wrong,” she told Evans. “I shouldn't have brought a camera into it.”
She eventually admitted uploading the photographs to her Picasa account but insisted she never intended for the images to be publicly available.
: Factual basis filed in U.S. District Court in case of Crystal Renee Dawn Poore