Virginia mother turns teen daughter over to police after finding naked photos on phone
The parents found out a high school senior had been propositioning their 13-year-old daughter for sex after she was caught sharing naked photos of herself with boys and other teens in the Dinwiddie County area.
by Nicole Hensley
(Video on site)
A Virginia mother took her 13-year-old daughter straight to the police after learning she was sharing naked photos of herself to and from a network of sexting teens.
When the girl's mother and father dug through the phone, they found a plethora of friend requests because their daugher had been sharing photos of herself with boys, according to a WTVR-TV report.
Their own investigation took a serious turn and led to a trip to Dinwiddie County Sheriff's Office when they discovered photos of other naked teenagers, but older boys had been contacting their 13-year-old daughter and propositioning her for sex.
“What scares me is that it's much bigger than I realized,” the unnamed mother told WTVR-TV, describing the photos as “very disturbing photographs to see of children that age.”
The parents did not share their name out of privacy for their daughter.
“Suddenly everybody wanted to be her friend because, according to these people, she was cool now,” the mother added.
The mom took away all the girl's electronics and notified authorities out of fear for her daughter. Some of the messages were reportedly sent by a senior at a nearby high school, the TV station wrote.
“We did this now to protect her for now and forever because this could get worse. She could be taken,” she added.
The girl could face criminal charges, but likely she'll go through aversion in a juvenile justice program, Lisa Caruso, a state attorney explained, which involves group classes and counseling with the parent's involvement.
It's the older kids, if identified, that may face criminal charges, the TV station reported.
Releasing priests' names is matter of public safety
by Joelie Casteix
In early August, Lafayette Bishop Michael Jarrell — through his spokesman — said that there is “no purpose” in releasing the names of priests accused of sexual abuse.
The diocese and its insurers paid approximately $26 million to 123 child victims of these men — men accused of horrible sex crimes against children.
No purpose? Victims of sexual abuse and their supporters beg to differ. In fact, Jarrell must heed the highest purposes: public safety, victim healing and his moral duty as bishop.
Dioceses all over the nation have released the names of credibly accused clerics. Even the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which has been blasted by survivors and the public for the cover-up of abuse, has released the names of men and women who sexually abused children.
Why is the public release of names so important?
1) Public safety. Eight of these men are still alive. We don't know who they are or where they live. They could be volunteering with children, coaching sports, or leading Boy Scout troops.
In essence, Jarrell is creating a public nuisance. He knows who these men are. He knows that they could be molesting children right now. But he refuses to tell us who they are. That's appalling.
2) Victims of all 15 men are still suffering in silence. When a perpetrator dies, the pain of his victims does not vanish.
Not all victims of these priests had settlements with the diocese. In fact, our experience tells us that only a small fraction of victims have come forward at all. Many others may still be suffering alone in shame and silence. By making the names public, Jarrell can open a bridge to healing for hundreds of survivors and their family members.
3) Catholics are confused. Victims and advocates continually hear outcry from Catholics who lament how the “good priests” have been sullied by the actions of “a few predators.” But since Jarrell won't release the name of any of the credibly accused priests, Catholics must look at every priest with skepticism. Although Jarrell says that none of these men are in ministry, we cannot be sure unless the names are made public.
Our conclusion: Jarrell is trying to make us forget. He wants us to forget heinous sex crimes against children. He wants us to forget that these men should be in jail. He wants us to forget his responsibility to victims, families and Catholics. He wants us to forget that children are at risk and that nothing has changed in the way the diocese handles cases of sex abuse.
Jarrell must respond to the “highest purposes” and immediately release the names. Until then, his actions are an affront to the Christian principles he has vowed to uphold.
— Joelle Casteix is a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Statements against ex-Sheriff Edward Bullock could weigh heavily in civil case, experts say
by Matthew Bultman
Statements made by former Warren County employees revealing years of suspicion that ex-Sheriff Edward Bullock had a perverted interest in young boys carry potentially heavy weight in civil litigation against Bullock and the county, according to legal experts.
The experts, including one with experience in similar lawsuits, agreed the county appears vulnerable as the statements indicate those in a position of authority knew -- or should have known -- Bullock may have been preying on children but took no steps to prevent it.
"It's very significant that people would come forward," said Jeffrey Fritz, a Philadelphia-based attorney who represented numerous victims in the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State. "It's the smoking gun."
Anthony Bocchino, a law professor at Temple University and civil procedure expert, agreed.
"One would think they could make out the claim against the county without too much trouble," he said.
Bullock, now 86, took over the sheriff's office in 1982 and ultimately left in disgrace. He resigned in 1991 amid charges he tried to curry sexual favors from an undercover New Jersey State Police trooper at the Phillipsburg Mall.
Bullock, formerly of Phillipsburg, pleaded guilty to a charge of official misconduct and served nine months in the Hunterdon County Jail.
He faded from the public eye until 2012, when allegations of sexual abuse were made in a tort claim, a legal notice generally filed leading up to a civil lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in April 2013.
Spurred by the civil action, prosecutors launched a criminal investigation and a grand jury indicted Bullock in February on three counts each of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault. Prosecutors say he began sexually abusing the victim, a then 10-year-old boy, in December 1986 and the abuse continued for more than a year.
Bullock, who now lives in Ocean County, New Jersey, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains free on $100,000 bail.
Together, the charges and civil lawsuit have brought renewed focus on Bullock's tenure as sheriff and county officials' handling of a scandal involving him then.
In a three-part series published earlier this month in The Express-Times, former Warren County officials told the newspaper they had suspicions about Bullock dating to the 1980s, and a former freeholder said he privately raised concerns then that Bullock might expose the county to liability.
In statements to a private detective working for the plaintiff -- the transcripts of which were obtained by the newspaper -- a former sheriff's officer also expressed a belief there was a "general knowledge" of Bullock's alleged behavior, yet "no one seemed to care" and it became a running joke among staffers.
'Problem in the sheriff's office'
Bocchino, who said he knew of the case based only upon media reports, called the claims "incredible."
"Given the facts laid out in articles, it doesn't seem like there's much question there was a problem in the sheriff's office there," he said. "It's incredible to me. This whole story is incredible to me that this was allowed to go on."
A secretary for Bullock's attorney, Brian White, declined comment on the lawyer's behalf and Jerald Howarth, the attorney representing Warren County in the civil litigation, did not return a phone message.
Mark Crawford, director of the New Jersey Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the parallels are stark between what is alleged to have happened in Warren County and previous high-profile sexual abuse scandals involving the Catholic church, Penn State and the Boy Scouts.
People are often hesitant to be a whistleblower, particularly if the person is in a position of authority or is well respected within the community, Crawford said. There can be additional concerns over bad publicity being brought upon the organization, he said.
"Whenever you have an institution that has a vested interest in keeping a reputation, people tend to look the other way," Crawford said. "Instinctively, they try to protect their own reputation, so to speak, instead of doing the right thing.
"It appears this may be one of those examples," he said.
Kenneth Lanning is a former FBI agent, who worked in the agency's behavioral science unit, and authored the book, "Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis." He said cover-ups or cases of people looking the other way often come down to two factors: ignorance and damage control.
"These are two predominant ones that seem to explain why so many organizations do such a poor job of dealing with this," he said.
'Nice guy' molesters
Lanning said he does not know the facts of the Bullock case but could speak generally to molesters and their victims.
According to Lanning, sexual predators come in various forms. But unlike an abusive family member or a stranger who kidnaps a child, the hardest type of abuser for people to understand -- and the one who often gets away with it the longest -- is the "nice guy" acquaintance, he said.
They can be priests, babysitters, teachers or coaches -- people who are around children frequently and develop a relationship with them and their families.
"It's all very troubling for people because they want to believe these predators are dirty old men wearing raincoats with hunchbacks and pockmarks rather than to believe he's someone who was likeable and works with kids," Lanning said.
In statements to a private detective working the civil case, one former sheriff's officer said Bullock would send her to the deli to buy boys cigarettes. Another officer said he would take boys fishing and buy them "whatever they needed."
Lanning said abusers often are able to manipulate and "groom" their victims, spending time with them, taking them on trips and showering them with gifts and attention.
Often, he said, the nicer someone is, the longer they get away with their crimes.
"If the acquaintance is in a position of authority then they have added leverage," Lanning said. "Any adult can do this to any child but being in a position of authority makes it a little easier."
Civil case stayed
Currently, the civil litigation facing Bullock and Warren County has been stayed until the criminal charges against the former sheriff are resolved.
Fritz, who previously served as president of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, said that is not unusual. But regardless of how the criminal proceedings play out, it's unlikely the civil case would be negatively impacted from the plaintiff's perspective.
If Bullock were to be acquitted at trial, the verdict would not be allowed to be introduced in the civil proceedings, Fritz said. On the flip side, "if (Bullock's) convicted, he's automatically liable," he said.
Bucchino said he believes a conviction could influence the county's decision about whether to fight the civil case.
"I think it would impact it in the sense that one would think the county would then settle the case," he said.
While he made clear he does not know Warren County's position on the matter, Fritz said it is possible county lawyers may contest the suit based on New Jersey's statute of limitations.
New Jersey has no statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault of victims less than 13 years old. But a civil complaint is more ambiguous.
According to the state Child Sexual Abuse Act, a complaint must come two years after a victim makes a "reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act of sexual abuse."
"If the county is saying it's too late to bring the case, and I would expect them to make the argument, whether the requirements are met under the Child Sexual Abuse Act would be decided by a judge before it reaches a jury," he said.
Multitasking conditions women into taking any kind of abuse as part of her capacity to deal with anything
Much has been written and said about domestic abuse by women's rights activists and NGOs. In this piece, I will make an effort to take the discussion on this issue further. I will try to show how domestic violence is oddly related to multitasking, which we, women, especially from this part of the world, have been conditioned to practise since early childhood.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), domestic violence is a pattern of behaviour that involves the abuse of one person by another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, live-in relationship or within the family. Forms of domestic violence include physical, emotional, verbal, economic, social, financial and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms of abuse to violent physical abuse, which results in disfigurement, lifetime trauma, mental illness and even death.
Trained to handle
To correlate domestic violence with multitasking women, it needs to be defined in a different way. We need a culture where people can easily perceive and identify what domestic abuse/violence actually is. We might as well just start with the understanding that a man does not have to hit women for it to be abuse. He can degrade, humiliate, blame, curse, manipulate, threaten or try to control you and that qualifies as abuse. When a girl is denied the right to spend time with her friends in the name of tradition and honour; when she is openly mocked for her desire to start a career and denied her right to utilise her skills and knowledge; when she is scorned for her witty humour and easy going attitude, she is actually being abused. When her movements are counted, calculated, directed, controlled and spied upon; she is constantly put down for being herself and made to feel she wouldn't be ‘accepted' if it hadn't been for him; when her self-worth is crushed every single time she feels good; when her passion to pursue anything is subdued with a nonchalant dismissive ‘no permission' glance and her personal phone and social networking sites are being stalked, she is indeed being abused.
Now, to modern day men and women, this definition of abuse could make it difficult draw a line between a normal household scene and domestic abuse. People often say, ‘But that is what being in a relationship includes! That is just being disciplined and committed, not domestic abuse.' This is when multitasking comes to my mind. Why do we as women take pride in being able to multitask more so than men? Girls are indoctrinated by the family itself, that individuals from our gender are supposed to multitask. In that very concept of ‘multitasking', society has tried to instil and create a lot of expectations from girls from very early on. Women are the epitome of multitasking—we recreate, reproduce, work, love, study, manage budget, raise kids. Women are conditioned to multi-think and multitask on the go constantly. This reinforces and prepares women to take any kind of abuse as ‘part' of her conditioned ‘capacity' to deal with anything.
Often, domestic violence occurs because the perpetrator believes that abuse is acceptable. This is particularly insidious within inter-generational cycles of abuse and cultural systems that condone violence. Extreme forms of abuse include various forms of honour killings, where individuals, generally women, are killed for the perceived dishonour they bring onto the family, such as for refusing an arranged marriage, coercive sex or having been perceived as violating traditional gender expectations. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differ widely from country to country, and from era to era.
Wrong to tolerate
Individuals may be trapped in violent situations through isolation, power and control, insufficient financial resources, fear and shame. As a result of abuse, survivors may experience physical disabilities, chronic health problems, mental illness, limited finances, and a poor ability to create healthy relationships later in life. Victims may experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Children who live in violent households are likely to continue the legacy of abuse later as adults.
By pretending to be happy in a relationship ‘just for the sake of children' and being submissive and tolerant of abusive relationships, we women are, in a way, creating, or even abetting, a society that is promoting abuse. If we cannot identify and stand up for ourselves against abuse in our personal relationship; if we keep giving excuses to conform to society for the sake of convenience and societal norms, we cannot possibly expect our future generations to be any different. Would you bring up a child to be either a perpetrator or a victim and nothing in between? Would you still take pride in the phrase ‘women are multitasking'?
Tolerating abuse is as much of a crime as committing it. The world is rarely destroyed by evil people; it is ruined by those who silently witness injustice and do nothing about it.
Rayamajhi is a Clinical Nurse Educator at a private hospital in Sydney, Australia
Notorious paedophile headed Scottish care home inquiry
CHILD protection experts and abuse survivors are demanding an inquiry into why one of Britain's most notorious paedophiles was put in charge of an investigation into a crimes against children at a Glasgow boys' home.
The Sunday Herald has learned that Peter Righton - one of Britain's leading care workers, and a man who lived a double life as a paedophile - headed an investigation into allegations of cruelty at the Larchgrove assessment centre for boys in Glasgow in the 1970s.
The inquiry resulted in no criminal proceedings being taken, despite 13 out of 30 allegations of violence and neglect being proved. The home, in Springboig, was under the control of Glasgow City Council, then Glasgow Corporation.
Glasgow City Council is now trying to trace all documentation in connection with the case. The council and the Scottish Government have both called on anyone who may have suffered abuse at Larchgrove to contact the police.
Although the inquiry in the 1970s focused solely on physical and emotional abuse, an investigation by the Sunday Herald in 2007 revealed that sexual abuse of children was also taking place in Larchgrove at the same time. A former director of social work said he had been aware of abuse at the home in the mid-1970s. There were claims that female as well as male members of staff were involved in the abuse of boys.
Righton, who co-led the Larchgrove inquiry in 1973, worked as a child protection expert and social care worker. However, he was also a founding member of the infamous Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) which campaigned for adults to be allowed to legally have sex with children.
In 1992, Righton was convicted of importing child abuse images when customs intercepted material en route from Holland. A police raid on his home turned up more paedophile material as well as numerous letters relating details of abuse.
He died in 2007, but last year the Metropolitan Police set up Operation Cayacos to investigate claims that Righton was part of an establishment paedophile network.
Claims have been made that Righton was connected to Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP now exposed as a paedophile. Smith is known to have visited the Elm Guest House in London. Following claims that politicians and others abused boys in care at the Elm Guest House, the Met launched Operation Fernbridge. The late Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, a Conservative MP and solicitor-general for Scotland, has also been linked to the Elm Guest House.
Righton worked in a children's home and was a lecturer in child protection and residential care. He was director of education at the National Institute for Social Work, and a consultant to the National Children's Bureau. However, he is also now seen as one of the most determined and well-connected paedophile offenders in British criminal history.
The inquiry into Larchgrove ended in March 1973, when Righton was in his mid-40s. It came just a few years after Righton advised the Home Office on changes to the residential childcare system. As part of his research, Righton is alleged to have travelled extensively to carehomes across the UK.
There are claims he also visited Bryn Estyn approved school in Wrexham in Wales. Bryn Estyn was later at the centre of an abuse scandal which saw 140 former residents claim they were abused from 1974-84. An official report described "appalling" abuse, and former housemaster Peter Howarth was jailed for 10 years for sexually abusing boys as young as 12.
Peter McKelvie, a former head of child protection in England who helped convict Righton, told the Sunday Herald: "It is for me a no-brainer that Righton's 1973 Larchgrove inquiry has to be declared null and void for many reasons and a new inquiry needs to be requested which should take an in-depth look at who recommended Righton and appointed him.
"A new investigation must be sought and former residents of Larchgrove pre-1973 be encouraged to come forward."
Frank Doherty, founder of the Scottish charity Incas - In Care Abuse Survivors - yesterday also called for a new inquiry. Doherty was a resident at Larchgrove in the late 1960s and was subjected to regular physical abuse and violence.
He said Righton's role leading the Larchgrove inquiry was "disgraceful", adding that as well as a fresh inquiry into the care home, the Scottish Government should also institute a wide-ranging public inquiry into abuse, equivalent to Northern Ireland's Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse.
"There has been too much cover-up and protection of those in high places," Doherty said.
"We [Incas] have been calling for a public inquiry, similar to the one now going on in Northern Ireland, for the last 15 years. The Scottish Government is doing nothing to help us."
The Larchgrove inquiry was conducted by Ronald Bennett QC, Sheriff of Berwickshire, and Righton. They were appointed by Glasgow council to investigate allegations made by a former supervisor, Francis Corrigan, at the carehome. Their report stated: "We do not find that the staff at Larchgrove pursued a course of systematic violence or harshness towards the boys in their charge."
Some of the complaints of ill-treatment brought by the staff whistleblower were described as trivial, exaggerated and showing undue sensitivity. The report went on to praise staff for devotion to duty under "stress-producing conditions".
Larchgrove was formerly known as a remand home for boys aged 11 and up who had appeared before a Children's Panel or Sheriff Court.
The decision not to go for criminal proceedings in the Larchgrove case was taken in a statement issued on March 21, 1973 by Stanley Bowen, Crown Agent for Scotland, with the authority of Norman Wylie QC, the Lord Advocate - who was also a Conservative MP in Edinburgh. The statement said that the required standard of evidence was not available to justify criminal proceedings.
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said yesterday: "It's understandable that people might have concerns. We are attempting to recover the report of the investigation and any surviving paperwork. While we will look afresh at any evidence of how the investigation was carried out, anyone who wishes to make an allegation of criminality should contact Police Scotland in the first instance."
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "In terms of in-care historic abuse, independent inquiries in 2007 and 2009 explored how such abuses happened and addressed the particular challenges faced by the care system in Scotland.
"This systemic review and legislation on the management, cataloguing and retention of records delivered major improvements in the protection of young people in care. The Scottish Government will consider what further action is required in advance of our response to the Interaction Action Plan Recommendations in the autumn.
"We have also set up the National Confidential Forum which allows those who were placed in institutional care as children to recount their experiences of being in care in a confidential, non-judgmental and supportive setting."
Many misunderstand child sexual assault
by Donna Richmond
A sad story that needs to be told? There are hundreds of sad stories involving our children, right here in Dona Ana County, being sexually abused by adults that they know, and trust. Adults who are school teachers, school personnel, police officers, and relatives.
A person who chooses to sexually abuse children is a smart, manipulative human being who has set a goal to satisfy their need, while exploiting a child. The grooming process begins with a predator's conscious actions or behaviors aimed to befriend a child and/or the child's family. These intentional mechanisms are often used to gain trust or both with the victim and family, which could lead to reduced inhibitions. Where better for a predator to plant themselves but in a school? We listened to testimony given to support the defendant in the courtroomon the day of sentencing. The statements given by his supporters, referencing his actions, were typical actions of a predator engaging in grooming behavior. He played ball with the kids outside, he had an open door to help the children, he was the teacher that always gave hugs, he was affectionate, the cool teacher, the cool parent.
There is a judicial process for a reason. Independent detectives from the Las Cruces Police Department conducted a thorough investigation. One detective is assigned to the case, but works with others and his superior to determine charges to be filed. The case is brought before the district attorney's office and they determine if they will be accepting the case and proceeding with the charges. In this case, 52 counts were charged by law enforcement, 52 counts were accepted at intake to the district attorney's office and 52 counts were indicted by a grand jury. The first call to the police took place May 2013. The grand jury indictment, presented by the District Attorney's Office in District Court in August 2013, had three months of investigation and discussion among justice personnel, resulting in 52 felony counts.
The District Attorney's Office said in a press release following the plea, "Following indictment, further investigation and pretrial interviews are conducted. As a result, we often discover new information that either strengthens or weakens the case we are allowed to present to a jury."
What information weakens a 52 count felony indictment to four misdemeanors?
We, at La Pinon, are very familiar with this case and the details involved. The bullying and intimidation that the family suffered, the lifestyle changes they endured due to this case, would cause even an adult victim to be intimidated. Where is the prosecutor who supported the victim? What we at La Pinon often hear now from the prosecutor's office is, "We don't want to put this child on the witness stand, so we are going to plea." La Pinon doesn't want to put the child on the stand either, but if perpetrators know kids won't have to testify, they don't have to fear any consequences for their actions. If we are going to negotiate a plea, let's get these perpetrators off the streets. Let's get them treatment. Let's save the next child from being a victim.
The dynamics of child sexual abuse are so complex, it takes a group of professionals working together to respond in the best interest of the community and the victim. Most people, unless they have been through it, misunderstand the complexity of child sexual assault cases.
Donna Richmond is executive director of La Pinon Sexual Assault Recovery Services of Southern New Mexico.
'You're the vilest b**** I've met': Judge lets rip with his contempt for woman sentenced to 30 years for sexually abusing her children with boyfriend
by Louise Boyle
A mother who sexually abused her own six and eight-year-old daughters with a boyfriend has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by a judge who declared her 'the vilest b**** that I have ever met'.
Amanda Arellano, 29, pleaded guilty to rape and aggravated child molestation on Thursday in Bibb County Superior Court, Georgia.
Among the horrific abuse she committed with 30-year-old boyfriend Daniel Kelly Copeland, the mother admitted to holding one of her girls down so her partner could rape the child.
The sexual abuse took place on the little girls three years ago when the couple decided to bring the children 'into their sexual behaviors as a couple', The Telegraph reported.
Details of the case left many in the courtroom in tears as they heard details of how the sisters were forced to take part in sex acts with the couple and photographs were taken of the sordid acts.
The children were also forced to watch the pedophiles have sex.
'This is how men show you they love you,' Arellano reportedly told one of the girls.
The vile abuse took place between September 1, 2011, and January 18, 2012.
The crimes took place at the couple's home in Macon, Georgia along another home and an abandoned trailer.
Arellano was due to stand trial next week but she pleaded guilty with prosecutors agreeing to the plea to spare the children the torment of testifying about the abuse.
Copeland was jailed for 25 years for child rape in 2012 after his father called the police when his son admitted to abusing the girls.
The mother will spend 30 years in jail and was registered for life as a sex offender.
She whispered apologies to the court on Thursday to which Judge Howard Simms reportedly responded: 'Ms. Arellano, I don't know that I have ever said a curse word from this bench but you may be the vilest b**** that I have ever met.'
He added that 'hell had a special place' for those who committed crimes like Arellano.
It's not the judge's first brush with controversy. He was caught drunk-driving in October 2012 and entered rehab but did not resign from the bench.
He was reprimanded by the officers who stopped him in Bibb County but was not charged.
He told 13WMAZ: 'It has been hard and a difficult process but also the most rewarding year of my life. I've reconnected with a family I ignored and got a lot more involved in the things that I do, and my life from day to day.'
Simms ran for re-election to the Macon Judicial Circuit, Georgia. He won without opposition in May this year.
5 Things You Didn't Know About Human Trafficking
With 21 million people around the world in forced labor, what can we do?
by Jamie Hagen
Human trafficking is a travesty that many consider a problem of the past, or at least one limited to outside the United States. Unfortunately, in today's globalized society, the problems of human trafficking are embedded in aspects of Americans' daily lives in ways that many may not be aware of – taking on new forms and presenting new challenges for human-rights defenders worldwide.
President Obama has called the fight against human trafficking one of the great human-rights causes of our time. Though statistics vary widely, human trafficking is estimated to impact between 600,000 and 800,000 people worldwide; between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States annually. Next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the U.S., but freedom remains elusive for many.
Human trafficking is shockingly common around the world.
According to an International Labour Organization report from 2012, a staggering three out of every 1,000 people worldwide are in forced labor. That's nearly 21 million people, including 1.5 million in North America – where the U.S. defines human trafficking as falling into two categories, sex trafficking and labor trafficking, under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act passed in 2000.
Poor labor standards in the restaurant industry and for domestic workers create conditions ripe for trafficking .
Many victims of human trafficking in the U.S. end up performing forced labor in the restaurant industry or as domestic workers. UC Irvine law professor Jennifer M. Chacon places the blame for the failure to stop this problem on insufficient labor protections for all workers – but particularly undocumented migrants. Organizers in the restaurant industry and on behalf of domestic workers agree.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United) cites two major policy issues at the heart of this problem: first, the need to abolish the tip-based minimum wage; second, the need for universal paid sick days. The group reached these conclusions after a 2011 survey that found 87.7 percent of workers nationwide do not have paid sick days and almost half of workers have experienced overtime violations. "The restaurant industry has the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry in the United States," says ROC United co-founder Saru Jayaraman, who argues that this problem is compounded for immigrant workers and trafficked workers with no rights on the job; in many cases, sexual harassment can lead to sexual assault. The organization created the National Diners Guide app as one way for consumers to educate themselves about working conditions at restaurants in major cities in the United States.
Similar problems of forced labor arise for domestic workers. Author and former employment attorney Sheila Bapat reports that the majority of the 2 million domestic workers in America are women of color. "There are migrant workers who arrive from other countries to work with employers under ostensibly reasonable conditions (steady pay, a place to live, reasonable hours) but ultimately end up working in slave-like conditions," Bapat says. She argues that the recent Supreme Court ruling that domestic workers don't have the same rights to form unions as other kinds of workers will make it even more difficult to ensure a safe workplace for many domestic workers, many of whom don't know even know their rights.
America's immigration policy exacerbates the human trafficking problem.
The current U. S. guestworker program has led to a host of problems for immigrants. After horrible human-rights violations were exposed in fine dining restaurants in New Orleans, workers created the National Guestworkers Alliance as a means to organize, finding their experience to be similar to workers across the country. Agriculture laborers also face severe health and safety concerns and in many cases feel unsafe turning to any authorities for help.
Georgetown professor Denise Brennan writes about forced labor in the United States in her book Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States. "Contrary to claims that 'modern-day slavery' is all around us, the politically thorny reality is that exploited migrant labor is all around us. Most workers are not in a situation of extreme abuse – they are not trafficked. But they work in lousy conditions nonetheless – in a kind of labor purgatory. There is no immigration relief or protections for being 'almost trafficked,'" Brennan tells RS . "Our current immigration regime – deportation regime – makes it impossible to fight trafficking."
The debate over sex work can be a distraction.
By far the largest number of human trafficking cases reported are for sex trafficking – but how to support these victims (and, indeed, how to decide who is labeled as a victim) is a major subject of debate in the U.S. right now.
Tara Burns, author of the Whore Diaries series, wrote about her experience supporting herself with "survival sex" while homeless and struggling with the foster care system. Burns says that anti-trafficking laws negatively impacted her as well as other homeless youth – noting that the current anti-trafficking regime in many American cities means those involved in sex work in any capacity are often viewed as victims of trafficking, which is not necessarily the case, rather than taking into account the economic realities behind the choices of some of these individuals.
Sex worker advocates argue sex workers must be included in developing anti-trafficking initiatives. In a promising move, restrictions on funding for those organizations that work with active sex workers were lifted by the Obama administration in 2010. Organizations like the Sex Workers Project believe the move away from criminalization of sex work and instead towards harm reduction is paramount to more successfully addressing sex trafficking. This group is one of the first in the nation to assist survivors of human trafficking. The organization "provides client-centered legal and social services to individuals who engage in sex work, regardless of whether they do so by choice, circumstance or coercion," and is the only U.S. organization working with both active sex workers and trafficking victims.
We need better programs and support for survivors of human trafficking.
Although the United States can issue up to 5,000 visas a year for victims of human trafficking, only a very small fraction of them have been granted in recent years. "Trafficking visas are really hard to get even if you have a horrible situation," says Saru Jarayaman. "That means there are neither resources for those who have been trafficked, nor real consequences for traffickers."
Human Rights Watch highlights the often unspoken reality of what happens to survivors of human trafficking. As Nisha Varia, a senior researcher in HRW's Women's Rights Division, noted in a recent HRW post, "Sadly, victims of forced labor are too often treated like criminals instead of people who are entitled to assistance." Varia also believes that there is a need for improved efforts to identify victims of forced labor to avoid double victimization during immigration and criminal proceedings.
Governor Brown signs new human trafficking bill
SAN DIEGO — A bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown allows cases against defendants accused of committing human trafficking crimes in multiple jurisdictions to be combined in a single trial.
”This new law will save victims of human trafficking from having to testify in multiple trials, facing their traffickers, and re-living a nightmare in court over and over again,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who, earlier this month, joined colleagues from Alameda, Orange and Riverside counties to support the passage of the bill.
Victims of human trafficking are often exploited in different counties and cities, authorities said. As the law stands now, victims in multi- jurisdictional cases must testify in separate trials.
The change in the law takes effect Jan. 1. Senate Bill 939 was authored by state Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego.
The number of cases prosecuted under state sex trafficking statutes has more than tripled over the past four years in San Diego County. Last year, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office filed human trafficking-related charges against 43 defendants in cases that involved 50 victims, nine of whom were under the age of 18. San Diego has been identified as one of the FBI's High-Intensity Child Prostitution Areas.
Shelter coming to Roanoke will help victims of sex trafficking
ROANOKE, Va. -- Human sex trafficking isn't just an issue in other states and countries. It's happening in this area. A new shelter coming to the Roanoke Valley is hoping to help victims of the crime.
On Thursday, about 80 people came to Straight Street in downtown Roanoke for training. Judges, federal agents, forensic nurses, and local law enforcement came to learn from Mary Bowley.
Bowley is from Atlanta and founded a program for human trafficking victims called Wellspring Living.
Wellspring Living plans to partner with Straight Street to make the shelter happen in this area.
"Part of what we're doing isn't just setting up a shelter we want to do as much on the prevention side so that boys and girls don't become victims," said Keith Farmer.
The shelter will be named Street Ransom. The hope is that it will be built sometime next year.
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Arrested for Distribution of Child Pornography
Santa Fe Springs: Los Angeles Police Department Juvenile Division Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) along with agents form Homeland Security, Whittier Police Department, Children Protective Services and Animal Control executed a search warrant at the residence of a former Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff in the city of Santa Fe Springs after a lengthy investigation.
Detectives from Los Angeles Regional ICAC were conducting a proactive investigation and discovered that the suspect was sharing child pornography via the internet. The investigation began in April, 2014.
On August 20, 2014, the warrant was executed at the suspect's residence. The suspect 32 year-old Lorne Reed, a former deputy sheriff was at the home along with his two children and was taken into custody without incident. The children were taken into protective custody by Department of Children and Family Services.
The suspect Lorne Reed was arrested for Distribution of Child Pornography 311.1(A) a violation of the Penal Code. He is being held at the Metropolitan Jail Division and bail has been set at 20,000 dollars.
The Los Angeles Regional ICAC Task Force is comprised of 62 federal and local affiliate agencies that detect and investigate child predators that use the internet as a means to contact children or deal in child pornography. The public is reminded that any suspected inappropriate contact with a minor or knowledge of child pornography on the Internet, should be immediately reported to their local law enforcement agency or to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678, or missing kids.com, who will forward the information to the appropriate law enforcement agency on a nationwide basis. If you have any questions, please contact Lieutenant Andrea Grossman, at (562) 624-4027.
Woman arrested in ‘fake-baby' incident speaks out
by Ana B. Ibarra and Rob Parsons
MERCED, Calif. — A woman arrested after allegedly trying to enter the maternity ward of Mercy Medical Center, Merced, Calif., while dressed as a nurse and carrying at least one fake baby spoke out for the first time Friday.
Tonya Whitney was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, a misdemeanor. Whitney, 41, was not booked into jail, but was cited and released, the Merced Police Department said.
In an interview with the Merced Sun-Star, Whitney said some people have accused her of trying to kidnap a newborn baby but adamantly denied trying to impersonate a nurse and that there was “no way” she would abduct an infant. “I, in no way, tried impersonating a nurse. I, in no way, tried or ever even thought of stealing babies,” Whitney said.
Whitney characterized the incident as a misunderstanding, saying she was trying to meet with hospital staff to see if they would purchase some of her dolls as training tools for expectant mothers.
Whitney explained that she has made “reborn” dolls as a hobby for about eight years and sells them periodically.
Merced police, however, said Whitney appeared to lie to investigators when questioned. Capt. Tom Trindad said Whitney initially claimed she had an appointment with hospital staff, but staff members said that was not true. Hospital staff also told police they would not have scheduled meetings near the maternity ward.
“If it was a misunderstanding, then why would you need to misrepresent yourself and your reasons for being there?” Trindad said in a Sun-Star interview.
A Merced County judge on Friday signed an arrest warrant for Whitney, who was taken to the Police Department about 12:30 p.m. She was released a short time later after she was interviewed by detectives, police said.
Trindad said the case would be sent to the Merced County District Attorney's Office to determine whether Whitney will be charged in connection with the incident.
According to Sgt. Jacob Struble, Whitney was at Mercy Medical Center on Saturday with her husband, who sought medical treatment. Hospital security noted that Whitney carried a realistic-looking infant doll. On Monday, Whitney returned to the medical center and somehow gained access to the hospital's second floor, just outside the maternity ward, by “unknown means.”
Whitney claims she was escorted to the second floor by a hospital volunteer, who told her to wait outside the maternity ward doors.
Police said Whitney carried with her one of the dolls in a baby carrier, along with a diaper bag. She was wearing what appeared to be a nurse's uniform and had a log-in sticker from Saturday's emergency room visit.
Whitney told the Sun-Star she wore the nurse uniform because she's gained weight recently and the clothes fit her comfortably.
Whitney's Facebook page shows photos of lifelike baby dolls, similar to the one she carried at Mercy Medical Center. Whitney explained that the “reborn” dolls are also used for therapeutic purposes by the elderly, parents who have lost children and by parents who cannot have children. She said she has occasionally used the dolls as therapy herself.
Whitney said the criticism she's endured since the incident made headlines has forced her to stay inside her apartment.
Bob McLaughlin, spokesman for Mercy Medical Center, said on Thursday that all of the hospital's security measures worked and that Whitney was denied access to the Family Birth Center.
The hospital did not return repeated phone calls Friday seeking comment.
After Monday's incident, hospitals across the region were put on high alert. According to Jennifer Holt, clinical director of the Maternal Child Department at Madera Community Hospital, security starts with the education of the staff in the maternity ward. “We do a lot of education, we review our policies, and we know to be hypervigilant about infant security,” Holt said.
The hospital has an electronic system that monitors newborns in the obstetrics unit, Holt said. Newborns wear plastic bracelets that are equipped with sensors. These sensors set off alarms and shut down elevators when a baby is taken out of designated premises, Holt explained. Nurses also check the babies' identification badges after every shift, she added.
Officers acknowledged there was no evidence that Whitney had any dark intentions when she visited the hospital, but that concern for the safety of children prompted both hospital security and police to take the unusual incident seriously.
“It wouldn't have been the first time such an incident occurred, unfortunately,” Trindad said. “About 20 years ago, a baby was abducted from the old hospital. Protecting our children in the community is paramount. I'm proud of our response and, also, hospital security did an outstanding job in this case.”
Whitney said she understood hospital and police concerns for safety. She said she firmly believes she will be cleared of any alleged wrongdoing and urged people to wait for all the facts to come out. She did say she regrets the situation.
“I'm just sorry that it got blown up this much,” Whitney said. “It was not my intention for it to go this far.”
An Interview With Writer and Child Abuse Survivor Christine Hart
by Justin Forest
Question: What compelled you to tell your story in Searching for Daddy? What did you hope to accomplish for yourself and for your readers?
Answer: I always wanted to write about my life after seeing a movie as a child called Doctor in Clover . The young girl in it writes her life story and gets retribution on those around her. I guess it appealed to me. I had a mixture of revenge on my parents, my teachers and with bullies at school. I also wanted to examine why I had a relationship with a caged serial killer.
Question: You mentioned to me in a tweet that you were "attracted" to serial rapists/killers? Do I have this right? What was it that drew you to write about them in your second book In for the Kill, and is there a relationship between your personal experiences and to these dangerous people?
Answer: Yes, I was sexually abused as a little girl by my adoptive father. My Mother was very jealous of me. That made her violent towards me. I read about the Moors case and Ian Brady who was adopted and had real rage inside him, as I had anger. I wondered was there a link between adoptions and murder. It turns out there is: most serial killers have been adopted. I banged the drum of "adoption is bad; it produces killers" for a long time.
Finally I realized I had to forgive my parents for ruining my life and let go of my own anger that was eating into me, or I would ruin my whole life. I found recently that part of me had split off -a soul split -- and I did some Shamanic journeying. I also used Indigo Essences, "Poppy," which is to reclaim lost parts of the self. It works! I saw that a part of me was digging around in the minds of these serial killers and going to visit them in order to try to find that missing part, you know, a rapist took it. Maybe one can give it back, but that was on an unconscious level.
Question: Is there anything that you wish you knew better when you were a little girl that could have helped you? I guess I am thinking of this: does innocence help or hurt a child?
Answer: I wish I could have told an adult what was going on, but mostly adults in those days referred to parents over and over. My class teacher once, without a word to me, called in my Mother to say I never smiled at school. I got a beating as soon as I got home and then had to plaster a fake laugh and smile every minute at school, or the teacher would have told my Mother again. It was very stressful and even now I find it hard to really let go and relax.
Question: Given what you have been through, how did you become successful? You are strong; where did you get this strength? I mean, how can a past victim become someone empowered and strong?
Answer: I think for me it is a spiritual thing. I always felt that deep within. In the movie Ben Hur when he is chained to an oar in the galley of a ship, he says to God, "I know you won't let me die here. I was born for more than this." I kept telling myself I wasn't born just for my adoptive parents to break me. When I went through Primal Therapy in Los Angeles, it was very harsh treatment that breaks down defenses, and I was terrified as it made me feel so bad for a few years as all the pain poured out. However, faith came into play there. I told myself, "You were not born to end up a basket case.
You have things to do here," and it helped me. I have had a crisis of faith recently when I lost my job as investigator in the press due to a phone hacking incident. It was me that introduced a "Mr. Big private eye" who was the one who bought the hacking in. The actual phone hacker they have was just a patsy. I lost my income and have found it hard to find work. Hatred for this person who was once my boyfriend overwhelmed me. I found comfort in Luke 6:24 that the rich man has his reward/consolation now. I only need to bear the minimum to live, and the Bible tells us over and over not to worry about what we eat or clothe ourselves with. Jesus himself was homeless. Our Father knows what our needs are; we just have to pray daily. I find prayer a drag but have a "God Box" and I write notes -- sometimes they are angry notes -- sometimes just me asking for stuff and I post them in. Its prayer!
Question: Given your own experience, is there hope for some sex offenders? Can they become good citizens? If so, where do you draw a line between mercy and rehabilitation and incapacitation?
Answer: Primal Therapy would be good for them. It should be compulsory or some other kind of real smashing the defenses. This is a therapy that John Lennon had, and then he produced his White Album and Ted Bundy applied for it to do from prison. I think they will re-offend without it. It would help if parents kept guard. They talk about online child pornography, but whose kids are these? I don't want to know the answer to that. It kills me.
Question: What is evil? You examined it closely. In my book, Glen says that good can come from bad. There has to be a crucifixion before a resurrection. Is this true? Or are there exceptions?
Answer: I think we all have to feel our own pain; pain is a teacher. Life is about suffering, and we all have a sacred contract to fulfill to grow our soul on schoolhouse earth. We aren't here to amass money or loll on a cushion. There is human evil which is usually base and animal in its nature. Supernatural evil is another thing, and what I was always drawn to examine because spirituality was cut off from me as a kid. I was told I was evil, so I wanted to know what it was. I finally came into contact with it when I met Kenneth Bianchi the Hillside Strangler in America in 2010. He strangled and raped 13 girls. Bianchi houses demons. To go near him one experiences all kinds of occult phenomena, and it terrified me. I actually ran to the church for help as did another writer who met him. Now I know what true evil is; it's an energy and it has its minions -basically "Diablo," and I have come face to face with it. I just wanted to run. I lost all fascination with it. It has a reptilian feel to it. You are now hearing about these aliens who are like reptiles. Well, they aren't aliens. More and more we are experiencing this around us. We are entering a new dark age when sadly that force will become more and more prevalent down here. It is easy to see where demonic forces are present--for example ISIS shows all the signs for channeling something beyond this world. Their anti-humanity crimes and satanic evil shows itself in the way they behave. I can now tell if certain crimes are a sick man or a man that has something taking up residence inside of him.
Question: I think we need to know more about human sexuality because we don't know what is really normal; people don't tell, do they? Would you agree that if we were more open about sexuality, sexual problems and deviancy, that the world might be a bit safer?
Answer: I liked to think children didn't have a sexuality for a long time, as I didn't feel I did. I felt as if it was stolen off from me before it was present, but now I believe it was present in me at a young age. It was just subordinated. My sexuality is still damaged. I can feel sexual to a man like Kenneth Bianchi, but it is angry and vengeful much like it is for some of these criminals. I still haven't quite got to that. One day I hope to but getting older now. Lately as I wrote about How Nick Davies Hired Me To Spy on My Former Colleagues at News Corp, I fell in love with this good guy reporter who went up against Rupert Murdoch in the phone hacking incident, so I feel for Nick Davies and had sexual fantasies about him. For me this was a breakthrough. He's such a non-abusive and good man. My life has been wasted in some ways as I could only feel "aroused" for cold or cruel men. The upshot to that is you get a bad life. Bad guys hate women and want to see them in the gutter. My last book is about that. I want all abused women and men to read that book and PLEASE do not waste your life on shit like I have. Literally the abusers not only wrecked my marriage chances but ruined my business. The effect my rapist father had on my life was gargantuan. I have an attraction to women but didn't want to act on that as I think that homosexuality is a neurosis. The Nick thing is such a breakthrough for me although he has not rang me and asked me out yet!
I think that children's sexuality must always be kept away from adult sexuality. One is pure and connected to a soul, the other is dirty over time or heavy with an animalistic nature. If the purer experiences the adult one, it blots out the new, undefended soul--in effect blotting out its light. That was my own experience, and I would not wish it on anyone as for decades I had no idea what was wrong with me. All I knew was I could not join in, and I was an outsider. It was painful! In an older child, you only have to watch Jeremy Irons in Lolita and just see it in action. If the main character wanted purity in his sex life - go and work on it and find a grown woman and not "steal" it from a girl who is underage and just needs support.
Question: What advice could you give parents based on your experience?
Answer: Protect them all the time. Make your children aware and when they are young go with them everywhere. I have a ten-year-old boy, and he is clued up on pedophiles. He learned to scream, shout and kick in the "goolies" if one ever comes near him or says anything to him. His school friends are accessing porn on their laptops, and I was upset when I heard this and had to complain to the school. They are too young for laptops and have to be supervised. Adult sexuality in the mind of a child blots the healthy stuff--the soul--out.
Question: What advice would you give a child that is alone or weakly supported?
Answer: Turn to God for protection. I hate to think of a child with no adult around to trust as that was where I was all of my childhood. If more of us keep aware and step in--not just confining ourselves to helping our own children--they would all be protected. Recently we had a column from a woman who talks about not letting her child play with this or that kid because the kids are poor and have a single parent. English snobbery is rife here because of our class system, but it is precisely kids like this who are sometimes isolated. They baldy need the support of other kids and adults. Let's wise up and keep that "evil" out -- and that way we can defeat it. The alternative is unthinkable.
Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
Vacaville women to host child sexual abuse awareness presentation
by Kimberly K. Fu
Two Vacaville women are lending their voices to promote awareness of child sexual abuse and they invite the community to join the conversation.
"It's still a very uncomfortable topic and not a lot of people want to talk about it," explained Hazel Payne, a former Miss Vacaville and co-moderator of a push for countywide training for any city or county employee or volunteer who works with children. "But we have to talk about it. It's important."
On Thursday (Aug. 28), Payne and Community Services Commissioner Christina Baird will host a presentation on the matter from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Solano County Events Center, 601 Texas St. in Fairfield. The event is free and light refreshments will be served.
The women, both survivors of child sexual abuse, will speak about their own experiences and their joint goal of addressing and, eventually, eliminating the crime. They will also talk about the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training and Partners in Prevention program. Members of the support panel, including Carolyn Wold with the Family Justice Center and former Vacaville Police Chief Richard Word, are also set to engage.
Through the Darkness to Light Foundation, Payne and Baird are set to be certified as program facilitators. Essentially, they will be authorized to train others in recognizing signs of abuse, the potential for abuse and how to address those realities.
"Hazel and I come to this work with life experience, compassion and knowledge. We are sincere in our commitment to raise awareness about child sexual abuse," Baird said. "With the help of Darkness to Light, we choose to empower adults through awareness and educational programs to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to childhood sexual abuse to any youth organization within Solano County."
Training, Payne advised, takes just a handful of time and a few dollars.
"It's two hours and $10 to potentially save somebody," she said.
"There is no amount of time or money that can replace or make up for the innocence that is taken from a young child," she emphasized. "The mission starts here in our community of Solano County to end childhood sexual abuse. This can only be accomplished by sharing the solution of prevention, awareness and education with more and more people. This, in turn, builds momentum and over time, changes the way our community and culture cares for, protects and nurtures our children. Being an active participant in the mission to end childhood sexual abuse is one of the most rewarding things we will ever do – and we cannot do it without you."
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, one in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse, with the most vulnerable youths between the ages of 7 and 13.
This type of training, Payne continued, has been a long time in coming.
"I think it's going to open up some eyes," she said.
Register for the event by sending an email to Baird at: email@example.com
For more information about the Darkness to Light foundation at: http://www.d2l.org
For more on the National Center for Victims of Crime, visit: www.victimsofcrime.org
Teddy bears give comfort to Iowa kids in shelter
by ALLY KARSYN
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A multi-colored heart radiates from a honey brown bear's white T-shirt. At the center, two initials: MB.
To a child in distress, the purple letters mean "My Bear." To Bev Baldwin, they mean so much more.
The soft, smiling teddy bears reflect the kindness found in her husband of 61 years, the late Marlin Baldwin.
"What a wonderful sweetheart he was," she told the Sioux City Journal.
Marlin lost his battle to pancreatic cancer in December.
Instead of flowers at the funeral, the family requested memorial funds to benefit a nonprofit organization the couple supported for 20 years. More than 200 outfitted teddy bears were donated to the Council on Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence, giving a source of comfort to children caught in chaos.
"If you can give them a little teddy bear to snuggle, that's all the difference in the world," Baldwin said.
CSADV responds to the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors spanning 19 counties in Iowa. The agency provides shelter and other services to about 300 children in a given year. All services are free of charge.
The Baldwin bears helped restock the shelter's supply of stuffed animals.
"Marlin and his wife Bev were longtime supporters of CSADV and this gift continues the tradition of ensuring young children have something comforting in a time of uncertainty," said Executive Director Margaret Sanders.
When families seek help from CSADV, they're often trying to escape a traumatic situation.
A majority of kids who come to the shelter are under the age of 5.
"It's a really scary time for them," said Deb Hogan, program supervisor for CSADV. "If they're coming here, it's because they're not safe."
To restore a sense of security, children get to choose a stuffed animal or little quilt to keep. Hogan has heard from adults who still have their bear or blanket from the time they arrived at CSADV as a child.
Marlin and Bev Baldwin admired the organization's efforts to empower those who had been battered and broken.
"I just think it's a good, worthwhile organization," said Bev Baldwin. "He felt just like I did. That there are too many abused women and children. We wanted to help however we could."
Before he passed away at 81, the Baldwins talked about contributing to CSADV one last time. Thus the Baldwin bears were born.
By her account, they had an enviable marriage — the kind outsiders would look at and say, "If I could only have a marriage like that."
His secretaries from decades ago remembered him as a kindly man, too. Following the funeral, Baldwin received a letter from one of them. In it, she detailed what a joy it was to work for him.
"I was so shocked to get this beautiful card and letter," Baldwin said. "I got on the Internet and found her, and she's in South Sioux. She was so thrilled."
They've gone out to lunch a couple of times since.
"She knew what a wonderful guy he was and how much he thought of me," Baldwin said. "He was so good to me."
Not every relationship is like theirs. Not every man like Marlin.
New state law requires school coaches to report suspected abuse
by LAURA FIGUEROA
School coaches will be required to report suspected child abuse under a new state law drafted in the wake of the 2011 Penn State sex abuse scandal.
This month, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law legislation sponsored by Assemb. Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) and state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) that adds youth sport coaches to the list of more than 40 professionals mandated by law to report alleged child abuse to state child protective services officials.
"Coaches are in a unique position of trust with their players, and this law will ensure that if a child confides in their coach or the coach observes signs of abuse, they will report it to the authorities," Paulin said.
She first introduced a version of the bill in 2012 following the outcry over Penn State University's handling of reports that assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused boys enrolled in a program for at-risk youth.
Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant and later assistant coach for the school, reportedly witnessed Sandusky abusing a child in a campus locker room and told school officials, who did not notify authorities. In 2012, Sandusky, 70, was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse and sentenced to life in prison.
While child advocates have lauded the measure for providing another means for abuse victims to be identified, some argue the measure does not go far enough, because it does not require coaches to report suspected abuse inflicted by other coaches or educators.
Under state law, "mandated reporters" -- including teachers, physicians and guidance counselors -- are only required to report suspected abuse believed to be at the hands of guardians such as parents and grandparents.
"Even though it's good to expand the number of people responsible for reporting child abuse, this law unfortunately does nothing to address the issue of when a child is being harmed outside of the home," said Anthony Zenkus, education coordinator for the Bethpage-based Safe Center LI, which provides counseling to abuse victims.
"What we need is a truly coordinated effort that will address these gaps in the law, actually resulting in reducing abuse and holding abusers accountable," Zenkus said.
Paulin said while the law does not specifically require coaches to report other coaches, it will require coaches to receive two hours of training on spotting signs of abuse, and hopefully prompt them to forward any concerns to the authorities.
"The hope is, because they're trained on what is abuse, they're going to have a better understanding of what is right or wrong and be more inclined to take action," Paulin said.
Cuomo, in a statement, called the measure "another step forward in New York's fight against child abuse."
In 2012, Nassau handled 6,344 reports of suspected child abuse and Suffolk handled 9,692, according to the most recent state figures available.
Free training of child sex abuse prevention offered
by The Spencer Daily Reporter
One-in-four-girls and one-in-six-boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Learn how to help prevent child sexual abuse and the impact of an estimated 40 million victims in the U.S. by registering for an upcoming "Stewards of Children" training to be conducted from 6:30-8:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Terril.
The workshop, created by Darkness to Light, a non-profit dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse, is being hosted by the Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault.
The training is open to the public and is of specific interest among parents, youth sports organizations, coaches, camp counselors, youth service organizations, teachers, school personnel and faith centers. The two-hour workshop is designed to educate adults on how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
Please register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kristi at 712-732-8120. There is no cost for this training, but donations to CAASA are always welcome.
Top Vatican figure in row over child abuse comments
by Agence France-Presse
Australia's leading Catholic cleric George Pell, a top Vatican official, came under fire Friday after drawing an analogy between the church's response to child abuse and a trucking company.
Cardinal Pell, a former archbishop of both Melbourne and Sydney before taking up a high-powered job this year as head of a new Vatican finance ministry after being handpicked by Pope Francis, made the comments Thursday.
He acknowledged to a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Melbourne that the church had a moral obligation to the victims of pedophile priests.
But he suggested that when it came to its legal responsibility, the actions of its priests were not necessarily the fault of the church, citing the hypothetical example of a woman being molested by a truck driver.
“If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don't think it's appropriate, because it is contrary to the policy, for the ownership, the leadership of that company to be held responsible,” he said via video link from Rome.
“If every precaution has been taken, no warning has been given, it is, I think, not appropriate for legal culpability to be foisted on the authority figure.”
The comments outraged support groups, who said Pell was displaying a lack of compassion for victims of abuse.
“His comments were outrageous,” Adults Surviving Child Abuse president Cathy Kezelman said, adding that he “continues to duck and weave” in trying to deny liability.
“To have their (victims') experiences denied yet again drives a knife into the wound and twists it,” she said.
Nicky Davis, from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, told ABC radio it showed Pell was out of touch.
“He shows that he really has absolutely no conception of what is appropriate or inappropriate behavior and what are appropriate or inappropriate things to say to survivors,” she said.
“It was a highly offensive comparison and showed that, at the end of the day, all he was concerned with was protecting himself and making excuses for behavior that is inexcusable.”
Earlier this year, in his last sermon before leaving Australia for the Holy See, Pell acknowledged priests, religious leaders and others linked to the church had abused those they were supposed to protect, and he apologized.
The Royal Commission is under way in Australia after a decade of growing pressure to investigate widespread allegations of pedophilia.
Its hearings have covered thousands of harrowing allegations of child abuse involving places of worship, orphanages, community groups and schools.
Pell is now one of the most important figures in the Catholic Church, charged with helping overhaul the Vatican's much-criticized central administration following a wave of scandals.
Healing from Neglect: When Those We Love Don't Love Us
by Janene Baadsgaard
It is an emotion that has inspired the rise and fall of empires and that influences the very foundation of our development. But how you approach love is dependent on your past and present associations with it. The belief that love is a many-splendored thing falls away when we step back and evaluated the collateral damage that comes from being cared for irresponsibly.
Indeed, for many of us, love is actually a many- convoluted thing: full of highs, lows, and devastation. In Healing from Neglect , Janene Baadsgaard explores the negative repercussions that arise when one is subjected to distorted versions of love — or simply to the absence of it. As an adult survivor of child abuse, I found the book useful overall, though aspects of the writing left me disappointed.
Baadsgaard explains that as social creatures we are all products of our environment. We instinctually cultivate behaviors and a belief system that model the examples we have been exposed to. When abuse and neglect are part of that example, the same toxic behaviors become rooted in us — then manifest similarly in our conduct with others. We perpetuate the cycle of abuse.
The book emphasizes that although we cannot help the environment we were raised in or the abuse we suffered in the past, we can always choose the situation in which we end up. We can resist passing on to others the pain inflicted on us.
Toward the beginning, Baadsgaard explains: “Few people start out intending to harm those they might have loved, yet many do.” This is not meant to excuse the offender's actions by any means, but to provide affirmation to the abused reader that there is a reason unrelated to them that spurred the abuser's behavior. Those of us who have been neglected or abused by parents or significant others tend to place blame on ourselves, so it important to address this early on.
This and several other points really hit home for me. In these instances, Baadsgaard was incredible in her ability to touch on common, veiled insecurities stemming from abuse. “We do not have to be perfect to be safe and to be loved,” Baadsgaard writes. “We have the right to make mistakes. Our mistakes do not make us mistakes.”
This sense of solidarity and “no room for argument” is wonderful. It is a shame that it is diluted by a constant regurgitation of ideas in the book. Baadsgaard would have done well to cut much of the excess and repetition in her chapters, which distracted from the most important parts, and to improve her often lukewarm writing style.
As a survivor of childhood abuse, I know firsthand how neglect can damage your future if you lack the tools or guidance to overcome toxic learning. There is no substitute for professional help, but a well articulated text has the ability to supplement your healing process immensely.
Despite the book's shortcomings and redundancies, Healing from Neglect may be useful to survivors. It would not be among my top recommendations for someone on their path to recovery, but what is most helpful, perhaps, is Baadsgaard's ability to articulate what many of us have trouble putting into words.
That, and her ability to give us the validation we need. Yes, you deserve happiness, she tells us. No, it wasn't your fault.
Healing from Neglect: When Those We Love Don't Love Us
Cedar Fort, Inc., May 2013
Paperback, 208 pages
The Gatehouse's healing garden hopes to bring peace to childhood sexual abuse survivors
Community invited to ‘bring positive energy to those who need it'
by Tamara Shephard
Pay Attention to the Unveiling of Sacred Experiences.
Arthur Lockhart coined the term as an encouragement to childhood sexual abuse survivors to reach out of their darkness and isolation toward the light.
Lockhart founded The Gatehouse, a community-renovated 1890s' Victorian house on the Lakeshore envisioned 16 years ago to give childhood sexual abuse survivors, both children and adults, a safe place to tell their stories, reclaim their voices, heal their wounds and inspire them to reach their own potential.
The Gatehouse's unique “Out of the Darkness, Into the Light” group support programs for adult men and women, and partner support program, help dozens of adult sexual abuse survivors in need of emotional healing every year.
The Gatehouse Healing Garden will further grow survivors' emotional transformation.
This Sunday, Gatehouse staff and community volunteers will plant the garden in an expansive greenspace on the west side of the property at 3101 Lake Shore Blvd. W., west of Kipling Avenue.
A pathway will lead to the entrance of the healing garden in which survivors and community members could practise Tai Chi, meditation and quiet contemplation. A labyrinth, a meditative tool, invites a contemplative walk.
The Gatehouse Healing Garden is being created under a banner of social and environmental healing and transformation. Artifacts from agencies that provide services to survivors of sexual abuse in the United Kingdom, Ghana, Nigeria and the United States will be incorporated into the garden.
“It's about bringing people out of isolation,” Brad Hutchinson, manager of The Gatehouse, said Friday in an interview, seated on the edge of the garden as a summer breeze rustled the leaves of a majestic oak tree.
“Childhood sexual abuse is a global issue. We're bringing energy from all over the world that says, ‘We understand.'”
Recently, SIFU Shiheng Tao, a Shaolin monk from China, led a Gatehouse survivor with a brain tumour through a meditation in the future garden space.
“He has limited mobility in his arms. The meditation gave him more mobility,” said Hutchinson, a Shaolin Kung Fu instructor with Brampton-based Beyond Kung Fu, who knows Tao. “Meditation is a really powerful way to tap into that healing energy.”
Hutchinson dispelled the myth that Kung Fu is strictly a “powerful killing art” and traced the potentially healing intersection of Kung Fu, meditation and nature.
“Every point of pressure and harm is also a point of healing in the body,” he said. “We have this healing energy within us. We just need to tap into it.
“Trees, grass and flowers are symbols of purity, honesty and beauty. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been deceived and manipulated. There is distance between their spirit and how they are in the world and in themselves. To go beyond the trauma, you start bringing beauty, truth and goodness up in them. The garden is a great place for people to connect with self, spirit and the community.”
The Gatehouse Healing Garden also brings awareness to the issue of childhood sexual abuse.
In Canada, it is widely reported that one in three girls and one in six boys experience an unwanted sexual act.
The Gatehouse is an unique agency specializing in healing that trauma in both adult, and child, survivors. It is also a child-friendly location where investigating police officers and child support workers interview children, youth and families during sexual abuse investigations.
“People can be healed and get to the other side,” Hutchinson said. “We see it at The Gatehouse. People are silent in their suffering. We help them heal. You don't have to continue with this secret inside. The only power this darkness has over you is to be kept hidden. When you look at it, it releases its power.”
Through revisiting the trauma, survivors come to understand their defence and coping mechanisms, such as alcohol, drugs and workaholism, and reach instead, for the healing light.
“You come to understand subconscious behaviour. The inner child needs to be healed and paired with the adult. To do that, you go through the valley of darkness and get to the light.
“The light has always been there,” Hutchinson said.
Currently, Gatehouse staff is making stronger connections with area health-care providers.
Developing an education program to train people in other Ontario communities how to create their own Gatehouse is also being investigated.
“We get more and more people calling in,” Hutchinson said, some from as far as Thunder Bay, Ont. “It's a service that is really needed. What we provide is really unique. There is a place for the clinical piece. What we provide is the peer-to-peer sharing. It helps bring them out of isolation and connect with other people. Hearing other people's stories is a great tool to help them find the words to understand it and the language to express themselves.”
Community members' contributions to The Gatehouse and to its healing garden help survivors receive and heal.
The Gatehouse is always seeking volunteers.
“People come here to drop off cookies or teddy bears,” Hutchinson said. Every child interviewed at The Gatehouse receives a teddy bear. “Maybe people will want to come and sit in the garden. Smile at someone. That's a huge gift. It doesn't have to be a gift of a million dollars.”
Quite intentionally, the healing garden has been designed in the shape of a circle.
Reconnection is what Hutchinson said he wishes for all who enter it.
“The circle has no beginning and no end. Healing comes through quiet, keeping still, meditation. We reach the eternal part of ourselves that has no beginning and no end.
“There is beauty and wisdom here. You can feel it if you come here, slow down and let go, whether for five, 15 or 30 minutes. It is a community garden for people to bring their positive energy and give it to people who need it.”
Estrangement: 'I haven't spoken to my family for 6 years'
It's rarely discussed, but 27 per cent of people will be estranged from family at some point. Here, Shaheen Hashmat, 31, who's cut off all contact with her parents, tells her story - and says the stigma of estrangement is one of society's last major taboos
by Shaheen Hashmat
Our families are supposed to be the ones who love us the most, who will take care of us and support us through difficult times. But what happens when they treat you so badly that you have to walk away?
Estrangement is not a subject that's spoken about often, but it affects 27 per cent of people - who cut contact with at least one member of their family at some point in their lives. More than 8,000 adults in the UK are estranged from their loved ones at this very moment. The word ‘estrangement' actually originated from the French 'estranger' and then Latin 'extraneare', meaning ‘to treat as a stranger', or ‘not belonging to the family'.
For me, this is the perfect description of a situation that can leave those affected in a profound state of isolation and has a deeply negative impact on mental health and wellbeing.
When I was twelve years old, I was helped to escape the threat of forced marriage and honour abuse. I'd seen it happen to other members of my family and suffered various abuses myself, although I was made to feel like the 'attitude problem' was mine. The local police force and social services helped me get away, but that wasn't the end of my ordeal.
For thirteen years afterwards I struggled to overcome great confusion and emotional turmoil in an effort to maintain some semblance of a relationship with my parents. In this I was unsuccessful: the abuse continued, in less extreme forms that prolonged the psychological damage that had already been wrought.
I had a huge panic attack
When I was twenty-five years old, I finally realised that things were never going to change. I simply could not have a relationship with people who so consistently trampled on my boundaries. Since then, my mother has attempted to contact me only once. When I recognised the number she was calling from, I had a huge panic attack, from which it took me two days to recover. It's been six years since I exchanged a word with either of my parents. The impact of legal and local authority involvement in my escape tore the family apart, and over the years I stopped speaking to all my relatives, except for one sibling with who I exchange a rare text, or phone call.
Of all the psychological issues associated with escaping from honour abuse, I believe that estrangement poses the most serious challenge to recovery. Since there is usually more than one perpetrator, it's not just the devastating loss of close family ties that victims have to deal with - they often become estranged from their entire community as well. It's also likely that they have been raised in an isolated, highly restricted environment at home.
So they often have to learn how to socialise in a culture that feels completely unfamiliar to them, in order to form new friendships with other people. Without the close-knit support network that so many take for granted, it's impossible to survive. It can be hard enough to lose just one family member. To lose so many made me feel like a ghost.
Estranged people tend to withdraw
Stand Alone is a UK-based charity, founded in 2012 by CEO Becca Bland, who has herself been affected by estrangement. Bland agrees that the experience can often leave people very vulnerable.
"Because of the stigma surrounding estrangement, people tend to withdraw. They feel scared about properly interacting with others and revealing their situation. Abuse survivors and others who have been rejected may have problems trusting others. For students who are estranged there is the added problem of needing to find somewhere to live when the end of term comes. Many spend the summer months sofa surfing, but there are others who run a real risk of homelessness.”
Compounding the pain of estrangement itself is the strong stigma associated with it. There is deep judgement towards those who, for any number of valid reasons, have chosen to cut contact with family. I've lived in London for ten years now, but my Scottish accent is still strong. It's natural for new people I meet to ask questions.
My heart often sinks when, upon hearing that I'm not in contact with my parents, they say, ‘but they're your parents! How can you just not talk to them?' Or, ‘you'll regret it before long – they won't be around forever you know'.
We need to accept estrangement
There is no consideration of what those parents are sometimes capable of doing to their children. And the stigma doesn't stop with well-meaning strangers. An old boyfriend of mine was told by his father that he could do better than being with someone from a “broken home”. When new partners, or their families, discover that they can't meet my family, there is a definite sense of mistrust - as though estrangement indicates ungratefulness, or an inability on my part to do the work it takes to commit to a relationship. Bland says: “There is a strong pressure to reconcile, when in fact what's needed is acceptance of the reality of estrangement and provision of support to help people deal with the impact of this on their wellbeing.”
Stand Alone provides a range of services for those who are affected by estrangement, from regular therapeutic meetings in a group setting, adult foster care for those aged between 18 and 30 years, and practical support for students experiencing issues with finance and accommodation (as detailed in a 2008 NUS report).
Their work is unique. What's more, I'm glad to finally hear it said, publicly, that “there are always times when it's right to walk away”.
I've come to realise that, despite the pain of estrangement, I have greater freedom than most to explore and create my own identity, and to enjoy the autonomy previously denied to me. The friends I have now are the family I wish I had. Even through the worst of times, they have loved and supported me unconditionally. I'm also able to offer support to others who have been through similar experiences. Although I still encounter stigma on occasion, I can be confident that my partner will love and respect me for the person I am, rather than judging me by the absence of family I left behind.
Data: Child abuse/neglect cases in Vermont spiked in 2014
by LAURA KRANTZ
MONTPELIER -- The number of alleged child abuse or neglect cases filed in courts across Vermont last year grew 21 percent from the year before, according to data from the state.
In some counties, the number of cases filed grew much more than that; in Lamoille County, there were 300 percent more cases filed in fiscal 2014 than the year before.
The Department for Children and Families attributes the rise not to the recent child deaths, but to the impact of opiate addiction on child safety. One state prosecutor said chronic homelessness is also a huge factor.
This type of case is filed in juvenile court and is known as a CHINS (child in need of (care or) supervision) case.
There were 800 child abuse/neglect cases filed in juvenile court during fiscal year 2014, up from 661 the year before, the data shows.
Other counties that experienced an increase in cases include Orleans, Orange and Windsor. Caledonia, Franklin and Washington counties filed fewer cases last year.
Windham County's caseload grew from 49 cases in fiscal year 2013 to 70 in fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30.
Many families who come in contact with the court for alleged child abuse or neglect struggle with a host of other problems, including chronic homelessness, substance abuse, mental health problems and domestic violence, according to Kerry McDonald-Cady, the Windham County deputy state's attorney.
"There are a lot of families really in extreme need that have young children," she said.
Parents are barely able to provide for themselves, much less their children, she said.
"It is a significant problem. Probably the public doesn't realize. Lots of young children are living among hotels and motels temporarily, or living in shelters. Not because of foreclosure, but because that's the lifestyle," McDonald-Cady said.
The number of cases statewide has grown 125 percent from 10 years, according to the data from the courts. The number of cases hovered around 500 until 2012, when it started rising. There were 700 cases in 2012.
Essex County State's Attorney Vince Illuzzi said it appears that more cases that might have been handled internally by DCF before are now being presented to the court.
State's attorneys in each county file child protection cases in conjunction with DCF social workers, who submit affidavits about information they have gathered. The increase in cases is not due to any policy change from DCF, according to Deputy Commissioner Cindy Walcott.
Essex County had 12 cases filed in 2013 and 10 in 2014. Essex County has seen an increase in the number of protective orders to prevent certain adults from having contact with children, Illuzzi said.
Lisa Warren, state's attorney in Caledonia County, said her county had nine fewer cases than the year before.
Lexington Police Offer Help To Potential Victims Of Child Abuse
Lexington police are stepping up their efforts to reach out to more potential victims of two elderly brothers accused of child porn.
Lexington police have teamed up with child sex abuse experts and other professionals to provide counseling for people who may have been victimized by Jack and Jerry Cassidy. Police make it very clear that potential victims are under no obligation to give their names or provide evidence.
Lexington's police chief Ronnie Bastin says it's not all about collecting evidence, but also about making sure alleged victims get the psychological and emotional help they need.
"We realize, as we continue this investigation into the Cassidy brothers, it is likely to bring up painful and unwanted memories," said Chief Bastin.
Lexington police say the wide time span of the allegations make this, by far, one of the worst child porn investigations they have worked.
Jack and Jerry Cassidy are accused of abusing children, mainly boy ages 8 to 15, from 1963 to 1985. They are also accused of taking hundreds of photos of kids in sexually explicit poses. The brothers are listed in paperwork as being in some of the pornographic images, as well.
Police say they found those images when they searched the Cassidys' home earlier this week. A warrant revealed graphic details about what police found inside home, including VHS tapes, papers with names and birth dates, a poem book about each child and two books containing logs of sexual abuse along with a "show me book."
The case that LEX 18 first broke, has continued to get bigger as more people come forward claiming abuse by the twins.
Lexington police say there are now resources for people to go to for emotional support. Victims can call the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center at 1-800-656-4677 or a 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-928-8000. They can also call Lexington police at 859-258-3700.
The Cassidys remain booked in jail. On Wednesday, they were each indicted on additional charges - four counts of indecent or immoral practices with another.
Boy's alleged abuse described in graphic grand jury testimony
by Soumya Karlamangla, Abby Sewell, Laura J. Nelson
Before 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was allegedly beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend, they doused him with pepper spray, forced him to eat his own vomit and locked him in a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, according to court records made public Monday.
Sworn grand jury testimony provided a graphic examination of the abuse that the Antelope Valley boy allegedly suffered before his death in May of 2013. The incident prompted calls for sweeping reforms to the troubled Los Angeles County foster-care system because child welfare workers failed to remove the boy. Officials have taken steps to fire two social workers and two supervisors, while others involved in the case received letters of warning or reprimand.
More than 800 pages of testimony reviewed by The Times also provide a clearer picture of how, despite multiple allegations of abuse, Gabriel's case seemingly slipped through the cracks.
Gabriel's mother, Pearl Fernandez, called 911 on May 22, 2013, to report that her son was not breathing. She told sheriff's deputies who arrived at the apartment that Gabriel had fallen and hit his head on a dresser, according to testimony. When paramedics arrived, they found Gabriel naked in a bedroom, not breathing, with a cracked skull, three broken ribs and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. He died two days later.
"It was just like every inch of this child had been abused," testified James Cermak, a Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedic.
Fernandez, 30, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, 34, are in jail awaiting trial on charges of capital murder and a special circumstance of torture. They have pleaded not guilty. Attorneys representing the couple could not be reached for comment Monday. Because of repeated delays in setting a preliminary hearing, prosecutors convened a grand jury. The indictment was returned July 28.
Fernandez and Aguirre deliberately tortured the boy to death, hiding their tracks with forged doctor's notes and lies to authorities, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jonathan Hatami told the grand jury. "For eight straight months, he was abused, beaten and tortured more severely than many prisoners of war," Hatami said.
The abuse worsened in the months leading up to Gabriel's death, according to testimony from two of his siblings, both of whom are minors. They said Gabriel was forced to eat cat feces, rotten spinach and his own vomit. He slept in a locked cabinet and wasn't let out to go to the bathroom. Fernandez and Aguirre called Gabriel gay, punished him when he played with dolls and forced him to wear girls' clothes to school, the siblings said.
Fernandez and Aguirre hit Gabriel with a belt buckle, a metal hanger, a small bat and a wooden club, Gabriel's brother said. Their mother once jabbed Gabriel in the mouth with a bat and knocked out several teeth, according to testimony.
Several agencies investigated allegations of abuse before Gabriel's death without removing the boy from the home. On multiple occasions, deputies went to the family's apartment or to Gabriel's school to investigate reports of abuse and of the boy being suicidal. Each time, they concluded there was no evidence of abuse and did not write a detailed report.
Timothy O'Quinn, a sheriff's homicide detective, told grand jurors that there was no indication that deputies had removed any of Gabriel's clothing to check for signs of abuse.
Investigators searching the family's apartment after Gabriel's death found bloodstains, BB gun holes and a wooden club covered in his blood, according to testimony.
In the wake of Gabriel's death, the Board of Supervisors convened a special commission to study the county's response to child welfare issues. They ordered a reorganization that includes setting up a "child welfare czar" to better coordinate communication between departments charged with protecting children and responding to reports of abuse.
The county has been battling a backlog of child abuse investigations for years. The problem has been especially acute in the Antelope Valley, where Gabriel lived, because some of the department's least experienced social workers work there with the highest caseloads.
On the day of the fatal beating, Fernandez began hitting Gabriel because he didn't want to pick up his toys, his older brother testified. She dragged him into a bedroom, where Aguirre joined her, and the siblings heard screaming and banging, he said. "And that's when it all stopped," said the brother, 13. "It just went quiet."
Gabriel died as a result of blunt-force trauma and child neglect, James Kemp Ribe of the L.A. County coroner's office told the grand jury. "I have never seen this many skin injuries on one child," he said.
Soon after his birth in 2005, Gabriel was sent to live with relatives. In October 2012, Fernandez reclaimed Gabriel and two of his older siblings from her parents.
Two weeks after Gabriel moved in with Fernandez, his first-grade teacher at Summerwind Elementary School called social workers to say that Gabriel's mother had hit him with a belt buckle and made him bleed. Gabriel had demonstrated that he knew how to snort cocaine, she testified.
The teacher, Jennifer Garcia, said she called the county several more times after the child came to school with a bloody lip, black eyes and bruises on his face. A social worker who followed up on the complaint about his injured lip said it was a blister, according to testimony.
In the spring, a counselor at a children's center called 911 after discovering a suicide note Gabriel had written, according to testimony. Authorities dismissed the complaint because he had no specific plan to carry out a suicide, records show.
Gabriel's siblings said their mother had told them to lie to social workers who came to check on them. His brother said he did it "because I thought she was going to do the same things to me."
A week before Gabriel's death, school officials asked a deputy to investigate his many absences and what they suspected was child abuse. The deputy said he was given the wrong address and that when he eventually reached Gabriel's mother by phone, she told him her son had moved to Texas with his grandmother.
FOR THE RECORD:
Social workers: In the Aug. 19 LATExtra section, an article about grand jury testimony on the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez said an agency that had been alerted to abuse allegations involving the boy had "moved to fire" two social workers and two supervisors. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services has fired the workers. One is appealing the action to a civil service commission.
Bill to Mandate Child-Abuse Training for California Teachers Clears Senate – AB 1432
by Christopher Simmons
SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Calif. Assemblyman Mike Gatto's (D-Los Angeles) bill to strengthen training requirements and prevent child abuse in schools passed the Senate today by a vote of 30-3. The legislation would require all school employees to be trained according to standards developed by the Department of Education in the proper identification and reporting of child abuse, so that abuse can be stopped in its tracks.
Gatto's AB 1432 addresses the lack of training on how to recognize and report child abuse in K-12 settings. The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act requires certain professionals, known as mandated reporters, to report to law enforcement or protective services known or suspected instances of neglect, or physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Despite these requirements, current law does not require school districts to train personnel on detecting and reporting child abuse, nor does it inform them of their responsibilities or that failure to report is a misdemeanor punishable by jail time.
Gatto's legislation would address this problem by requiring school employees to complete reporting training. The Assemblyman has been working closely with child advocates and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, after recent reports showed that several cases of abuse were prolonged because school personnel were unaware of their duty to report.
“Crimes that occur in schools should not be treated any differently than those that occur elsewhere in our community, unless it is to treat them with even greater care and concern,” said Assemblyman Gatto. “California law needs to make sure that school administrators at all levels of education report these most serious crimes and empower our law-enforcement experts to investigate.”
Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake.
Sex abuse case follows unusual path with charges
by Grant Rodgers
Filing criminal charges against a Newton mother for reportedly ignoring claims her daughter was sexually abused is a rare move and will require prosecutors to show exactly what warnings the mother was given, experts say.
The Iowa Department of Human Services began investigating the woman after a doctor appointment revealed her 12-year-old daughter was pregnant, a police report shows. During the doctor visit, the girl told her mother, "I tried to tell you several times" about the abuse, the report said.
The incident prompted a report to human services officials, who found witnesses who said they knew the girl slept in a bed with Jacob Ray White, 24. When people told the mother about White's behavior toward her daughter, their words fell on deaf ears, the police report said.
"Witnesses indicated that they addressed it with the victim's mother ... who refused to take any action," the report said. "Even after a witness told (the mother) that she had seen the victim and suspect engaged in sexual behavior ... (the woman) still failed to protect the victim by notifying law enforcement, DHS or taking any action to prevent the ongoing abuse."
The woman faces a child endangerment charge, an aggravated misdemeanor, after the DHS notified a Newton police detective on Aug. 7, according to the report. White was charged in July with third-degree sexual abuse.
Des Moines Register policy calls for shielding the identity of those believed to be victims of sexual abuse. Because of that policy, the Register is not identifying the victim's mother, despite the criminal charge filed against her.
Police first learned White may have sexually abused the girl June 24, when her parents provided investigators with printed copies of the girl's Facebook conversations with him, according to a police report. In an interview with police, White admitted that he'd had a sexual relationship with the girl since January, the report said.
"During an interview with the defendant, he admitted that he grew emotionally attached to the victim and that the victim looked up to him as a person to confide in," the police report said.
A no-contact order has been placed against White, and a guardian ad litem has been appointed to advocate for the girl's best interests during the court case, online court records show.
News of a sexual abuse case involving a 12-year-old comes several weeks after a man in an unrelated case was arrested by Newton police and charged with enticing and inappropriately touching young teenage girls. The man, David LaVera, claimed to be an actor from the popular "Twilight" movies.
Tim Urias, 51, has lived in Newton for most of his life and said sexual abuse of children needs to end.
"They need to get a grip on it," Urias said.
Child endangerment charges against a parent are more common in cases where a child is physically abused and a parent or guardian knows about it but fails to seek help, said Elizabeth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
"I think the public sentiment is often to get angrier at the mother, rather than the person who actually committed the abuse," she said. "I don't know what happened here. The charge may be appropriate, but I also think it's important to remember who committed the abuse. A man in his 20s who knew the age of the child knew that what he was doing was a criminal act."
Longtime staff members at the DHS cannot recall a founded sexual abuse case where there was a pregnancy, spokeswoman Amy McCoy said.
"In Iowa, the number of sexual abuse cases is low, about 4 percent of total abuse cases," she said.
Number of child sex abuse arrests up this year compared to last
by Jessie Shafer
CHARLESTON, West Virginia - It's a topic that isn't always easy to be open about. We spoke to one mother who said, "You need to talk to your kids about it." Sexual predators. We love to think our children are always safe, but in today's society, that's just not the case.
Lt. Michael Baylous with the West Virginia State Police said, "There is no profile. It crosses all socio-economical, all racial, all types of lines." There is a special group of men and women who devote themselves to these types of crimes for the West Virginia State Police. The Crimes Against Chlidren Unit is made up of 19 troopers statewide. Baylous said, "There's an emotional aspect to it. It's very difficult to see these types of crimes and talk about them."
In the first six months of 2013, 107 people were arrested for misdemeanor and felony child abuse, according to State Police. This year, that number is already up to 112.
So, what are some warning signs? According to StopItNow.org, child victims have nightmares, experience a change in eating habits, have mood swings, and sometimes exhibit adult-like sexual behavior.
Baylous said, "Be involved in the life of your child. Know what's going on. Ask questions." Equally as important, he said to know what your child is doing online. "The fact is, the Internet has opened up the world. You don't have to be in that community, to actually be in that community."
Amy Hill is a mom of two. When it comes to her 15 year old, "I know where he is at all times. I know when he's at school. I know when he's at practice. I know where he is when he's with his friends," she said.
And that's something troopers can relate to, too. "A lot of us are fathers or mothers or uncles or aunts. We're like every other West Virginian. We value our family and our children," Baylous said.
So when it comes to getting child predators off the streets, Baylous said, "This is important to us."
Laura Bushney breaks silence over sexual assault on Malaysia Airlines flight
by Tom Decent
Laura Bushney tells of her alleged sexual assault. Photo: Seven
An aircraft steward believed he was comforting an Australian woman when he allegedly put his hands down her pants on a Malaysia Airlines flight, the female passenger has revealed.
Channel Seven's Sunday Night will air a tell-all interview with 26-year-old Laura Bushney, who recorded the moment Mohd Rosli Bin Ab Karim, a married man with three children, put his hands under a blanket and down her pants while working.
Mr Rosli allegedly touched Bushney's upper thigh before putting his hands under her clothing after being under the impression he was "comforting her".
"He's massaging my legs, I'm so scared I just want to get off this plane," Bushney can be heard saying on the recording. "I don't want to see you, go away, you give me the creeps you dirty old man."
Bushney was travelling by herself when the 54-year-old steward allegedly sexually assaulted her, causing her to "freeze in panic". Bushney recorded the incident on her iPhone under a blanket as well as another face-to-face altercation after the incident when Rosli realised he had been in the wrong.
"I just keep saying, 'Why didn't I scream, why didn't I shout?'" Bushney told Sunday Night reporter Ross Coulthart. "I am a strong person because I can do that, I know I can. But when I was in the moment, I couldn't. I felt so scared and so petrified."
After MH20 touched down on August 4, Mr Rosli was detained by police at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and remains in custody after making admissions relating to the sexual assault.
Given the disappearance of MH370 in March and the MH17 tragedy last month, Malaysia Airlines confirmed the allegations but has done very little to improve its tarnished image after making no attempt to offer compensation or counselling to the victim.
"Malaysia Airlines can confirm that the following allegations by a passenger travelling on flight MH20 from Kuala Lumpar to Paris of inappropriate sexual behaviour by a member of the cabin crew, the member of staff has been detained for questioning by the French police," said the statement.
"Malaysia Airlines expects and accepts nothing short of the highest standards of conduct from its crew and takes any such allegations very seriously."
Unique service reports 41 per cent increase in numbers seeking counselling
RECENT media coverage of celebrity child abuse trials has, for many people, brought back memories of their own experiences which have been ‘buried' for many decades.
This has resulted in many services being inundated with requests for support and counselling; but what about the people who cannot access these services? Some are so traumatised, they are unable to deal with face-to-face counselling; some live in remote places; some cannot afford the cost of travelling to counselling; some have mobility difficulties and some are afraid to risk their anonymity by being seen accessing local services.
In the last year, a unique, effective counselling service for adult survivors of childhood abuse has seen an increase of 41 per cent in the number of people seeking counselling. The service is the Trauma Counselling Line Scotland (TCLS) and it is now being accessed by people living in every health board area of Scotland.
With a cost equivalent of £25 per day from each of Scotland's 14 local health boards, TCLS is delivered by Scottish charity, Health in Mind, and the service is available free to anyone living in Scotland, provided they have access to a telephone.
Eileen Johnston is TCLS team leader and she is keen to point out that the service is not a helpline but instead, a professional case-managed counselling service and that, last year, the team delivered a total of 2,472 hours of counselling and support.
Eileen continued: “What makes TCLS unique is that it provides weekly, case-managed, confidential counselling by telephone and for anyone using the service, it means they never need to repeat what has happened to them as they only speak to their own counsellor and this helps to minimise trauma.”
Abuse in childhood can be sexual, emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual or neglect and the service helps survivors to address and understand the issues that have affected them.
“This helps to build their confidence and results in them gaining greater control of their lives.
“Many people engaging with TCLS have told us they were unable to engage with conventional counselling as some were unable to deal with face-to-face counselling; some live in remote places, some could not afford the cost of travelling to counselling, some have mobility difficulties or are afraid to be seen accessing local services,” said Eileen.
A client will arrange to speak to their counsellor in a place of their choosing; somewhere private or where they feel safe, which may not always be their own home. All calls are free from landlines or from major mobile networks.
Eileen explained how the service is staffed by a team leader, administrator and locally based counsellors:
“Our counsellors are diploma qualified members of professional counselling organisations such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and have more than 200 hours of post-qualifying experience in counselling adults who have experienced childhood abuse or trauma.”
TCLS counsellors adhere to strict guidelines relating to confidentiality, organisational policies and procedures, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Ethical Framework and the Helpline Association's good practice standards.
The Trauma Counselling Scotland confidential number is 08088 020406. The enquiry line is available Monday to Wednesday 5pm – 8pm and Thursday and Friday 9am – 2pm. At other times, there is an option to leave a message.
TCLS is funded by the Scottish Government's National Strategy for survivors of childhood abuse, the SurvivorScotland Development Fund.
For further information, contact Health in Mind Communications Manager Doreen Graham on 0131 243 0137.
The following case studies were provided by service users provided their names were changed.
Sam was abused as a child. As a young adult, he had tried to tell his mum and as the abuser was a member of her immediate family, she refused to believe him. This led to years of self-harm and then two failed suicide attempts. Sam then made the decision to leave his family and went to live in a remote area of one of the Scottish islands. He was socially isolated and deeply unhappy. Some years later, he made the decision to seek counselling but could not connect with any agency on the island for fear of neighbours seeing him going into the building. He then found private counselling on the mainland but it was extremely difficult and costly to make the weekly appointments. There were various factors that made the face-to-face counselling impossible for him. Cost was one, but the main reason was the friendly interest from the ferryman and neighbours on the journey, asking about his trips. Each week, Sam invented a reason for his journey: he was going to the dentist, the optician or seeing a friend. The fear of the local community eventually finding out he was attending counselling forced him to stop. When he eventually found out about the Telephone Counselling Line Scotland, he told us that it felt absolutely right for him. No-one but him, needed to know and he was able to engage with an experienced counsellor at a time and place that suited. Sam tells his counsellor that he always sits in a room in his house with a view over the sea and this makes him feel calmer. He is now making progress and through working on the telephone with the same counsellor every week, he never has to repeat his story or make the journey.
Jo was continuously abused as a child by a friend of her family. She felt she could not tell anyone about what had happened to her. Her abuser had told her that no-one would believe her and that she would be shunned by her family. Jo told us she just could not even think about telling anyone what had happened and could not bear the thought of speaking to someone, face-to-face. She said she was terrified that anyone in her community would find out about her accessing services. Jo deals with this by immersing herself in her work. She experiences extreme feelings of shame, guilt and overwhelming isolation and the thought of anyone knowing what happened to her or the fact she is receiving counselling meant she spent years denying herself help. She read a newspaper article about Trauma Counselling Line Scotland and, although apprehensive, she decided to make the call. The service meets her needs as she is able to speak to a counsellor in a different geographical area. Her sessions on the telephone from home offer her anonymity, helping her to move forward without the fear of anyone knowing she is receiving counselling and the reason for it. Her counsellor has a clinical supervisor to give support which is funded as part of the service.
John had been abused as a teenager and as young man formed a relationship with an abusive partner. After many years, the relationship ended and John felt abandoned and that he had deserved the abuse he had received. He was deeply unhappy. John contacted the Trauma Counselling Line Scotland and said he had many questions he needed answering before he could think about engaging with the service. The TCLS team leader explained that he would be speaking to the same counsellor every week, so there would be no need to keep retelling his story. She explained to John that TCLS was a full, case-managed funded service and that all counsellors are qualified in trauma. He wept and then apologised, explaining that he had been unable to speak to anyone, even his family, about this as he was scared of their reaction. At that time, John felt nothing good happened in his life. He now feels ready to engage with his counsellor and is hopeful for the first time in his adult life.
Notes for editors
Health in Mind was set up in the 1980s and was formally known as the Edinburgh Association for Mental Health with the aim of taking over flats which were then rented for ex-patients by the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Today, the organisation still provides housing as well as many other services which include trauma counselling, befriending services, respite for carers, information services and community based services. The organisation delivers services on behalf of NHS Health Boards and some Local Authorities.
MEDIA RELEASE issued by Health in Mind. You too can post your story ideas for journalists (aka Press or media releases), on allmediascotland.com. Email email@example.com for more information.
Check out twitter.com/nonstopstories
Contact: Doreen Graham
What sort of world do you want to live in?
by Sierra Frost
Upon reading about the dismissal of the sexual assault case of September 2012 involving several teens and young adults in our community, I was heartbroken and horrified. The message sent is that, as a community, we will be idle and quiet about domestic violence.
All of us are important individuals deserving of safety and support when our rights and bodies are violated. This dismissal sends the opposite message.
While Homer has great strengths in diversity of lifestyles, creative and entrepreneurial endeavors and access to nature's beauty, one weakness embedded here is now a glaring truth: We have failed at guaranteeing safety for each of us in our community; it cannot be attainable without all of us working toward it. The truth is, we are all responsible for this failure and for how we respond, because we all call Homer our home.
Currently, we reside in the comfort of the saying, “Don't ask, don't tell, don't feel.” This is a blind and lazy option. It supports manipulative cycles of abuse and victim mentality that we can never take responsibility for our own healing; to tell the truth and seek help.
When I was a child, my father used to tell me, “Sierra, you can't save everyone.” I thought this was quite pessimistic, and continued to designate myself as the heroine of the world. As an adult, I have learned that — in fact — the only person I can save is myself. However, sharing my experience has allowed me to shed light for others on how to help themselves or seek refuge in the resources that surround us.
As a child growing up in Homer, I was chronically sexually abused for most of my childhood. I did not feel comfortable telling the truth. I felt guilty, ashamed, unsafe and scared. I can't recall a time when I was taught how to recognize when I was being violated, or what I could do to reach out while feeling like I was supported and safe. Fifteen years later, I have chosen to press charges for this abuse and I — much like the survivor of the 2012 case — am still waiting for our justice system to serve me. This is not a new issue for Homer, but it is a timely opportunity for us to work for change.
Let me be clear about what this isn't: It isn't about searching out and blaming any individuals for these atrocities. This isn't even about the “whys” and “hows” of our justice system not working. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, sexual assault has decreased by more than 50 percent in recent years. Still, every two minutes in the U.S., someone is sexually assaulted.
And this is just reported victims over the age of 12. It is not feasible for us to continue to rely solely on our justice system to provide a solution to this vast issue. This is about taking responsibility to seek out and act on solutions as a community; to work toward a cultural shift. This is a call for action.
In Wonder Woman No. 170, our heroine states, “If the prospect of living in a world where trying to respect the basic rights of those around you and valuing each other simply because we exist are such daunting, impossible tasks, then what sort of world are we left with? And what sort of world do you want to live in?”
I see compassion in action all over Homer, everyday. We buy coffee for the person behind us in line, help our neighbors change flat tires, donate food to our local pantry. We choose to buy our clothes from the thrift store that benefits women's services. Collectively, our thoughts and actions are in the right place.
When we come to standing up for nonviolence, it becomes more difficult. It is uncomfortable, scary and hard to know how to intervene. However, we can learn. There is hope for a better future for us, our community and our youth.
I have some ideas and resources on how to teach skills on standing up and speaking out about violence. I'm looking for more input, energy and people. If you are interested in taking action to help make Homer a violence-informed and active community that stands up for the rights of every individual, please contact me via phone or text at 399-3341, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to talking with you.
Remember, superheroes only moonlight in their costumes. By day, they are the journalists, attorneys, scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, nurses and artists. Homer is full of them. Open your closets and dust off your capes, my friends. What sort of world do you want to live in?
ECISD And Harmony Home Partner To End Child Abuse
by Christina Dawidowicz
Odessa, TX (Local big 2 News) - The Ector County Independent School District introduces a new training program to help combat child abuse.
"Training an individual like a teacher, a Sunday school teacher, a nurse, a coach, only costs $10-dollars," said Denise Malm, executive director at Harmony Home.
Malm says thanks to a grant, ECISD partners with the children's advocacy center to be trained on looking for the signs of child abuse and child sexual abuse.
"Our rate of children involved in CPS is second in the state," Malm said.
Harmony Home officials say they will be reaching out to all ECISD campuses, offering the Stewards of Children program.
It will give teachers and staff members key signs to look for in children.
"A lot of times a student will be acting out, and you initially think, 'this is a bad kid, or he's just acting out.' And so, when you go through this training, you see, 'hey, there could be something else going on in this child's home that's causing those behaviors," said Scott Randolph, lead social worker at ECISD Community Outreach Center.
Randolph says child abuse can have lasting life-long effects.
"If you train 40 people it affects much more than just the 40 you trained," Randolph said.
ECISD has had a string of alleged inappropriate teacher student relationships, and while this training addresses that too.
"There are specific sections that deal with abuse that happened from teachers or staff to students," Randolph said.
But the training focuses on the five steps every adult needs to know to better protect children from abuse.
"It's an issue that can affect lots more than just that moment in time when it occurs," Malm said.
Va. mom pleads guilty to child abuse for trying to remove kids' tattoos with razor blade
by The Associated Press
RUSTBURG, Va. (AP) - A Campbell County woman has been sentenced on charges of trying to remove tattoos from her two daughters with a razor blade.
Media outlets say 35-year-old Melissa Delp pleaded guilty Monday in Campbell County Circuit Court to felony child abuse. She was sentenced to eight years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended.
Police say Alexander Edwards tattooed the girls while babysitting them at Delp's Concord residence on Dec. 22, 2013. Both girls were under 13.
Delp and her boyfriend, Daniel Janney, were accused of trying to remove the tattoos with a heated razor blade.
Media outlets say the older girl told investigators Edwards used a tattoo gun to tattoo her name on her left shoulder.
Edwards and Daniel are awaiting trial on child abuse and malicious wounding charges.
Key Sexual Abuse Protections For Child Migrants Await White House Approval, Frustrating Advocates
by David McCabe
WASHINGTON -- Proposed regulations that could better protect unaccompanied child migrants in government facilities from sexual assault remain bogged down in the White House's approval process, despite reports in May that many instances of abuse had been inadequately investigated. Those reports have frustrated advocates who have long pushed for the new rules and see them as even more urgent given the influx of children and teenagers being apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border.
As the administration strains to handle the humanitarian crisis of nearly 63,000 unaccompanied minors caught crossing the border illegally since October, human rights advocates worry the children might remain vulnerable to abuse in the facilities where they are being kept.
While the children and teenagers are often released to family members and eventually may be deported, those from countries other than Mexico or Canada first go to the Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Refugee Resettlement. The agency has its own internal standards in place, but it hasn't finalized implementation of the stricter standards required under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA. That means there are fewer formalized standards to help minors who already may be vulnerable to abuse, scared to speak out and unsure to how to ask for help.
"It's basic protections, both against sexual assault in custody and guidelines for what to do in response to sexual assault in custody," said Michelle Brané, director of the migrant rights and justice program at the Women's Refugee Commission.
PREA was originally passed by Congress in 2003 in response to reports of sexual assaults that frequently went unpunished in America's prisons. It created a broader system for collecting data on assaults, as well as mandating new policies that protect incarcerated individuals from abuse and allow them to report incidents with a lesser fear of reprisal. The law created for the first time a clear picture of rapes and other sexual assaults in the correctional system.
But the criminal corrections system isn't the only agency that keeps people in custody, and it was not until 2012 that the Obama administration charged that all agencies that hold individuals must comply with PREA. That includes the Department of Homeland Security, which operates immigration detention centers , as well as the Department of Health and Human Services.
The facilities operated by HHS differ widely from those run by DHS. The latter more closely resemble prisons, while the HHS detainees often go to group homes designed to offer a greater level of care to their vulnerable, underage inhabitants.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which administers the facilities that hold many unaccompanied migrant children, debated whether the president's order applied its agency, according to Chris Daley, deputy executive director of Just Detention International. Daley's group advocates for policies to prevent sexual assault in detention environments. He said officials claimed the facilities were not confinement facilities, and thus were not subject to the Obama administration's memorandum. Human rights advocates said this debate is partly responsible for delaying the rule's implementation.
"If they had just shifted their focus two years ago, instead of fighting about what kind of facilities they had and instead focused on making sure that whatever kind of facilities they have are as safe as possible, we'd be in a much different place right now," Daley said.
Eventually, Congress intervened. As part of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Congress ordered HHS and DHS to implement regulations aligned with PREA in any detention facilities they operated.
Under the law, the regulations should have been submitted by September of that year. It was not until January 2014 that the Office of Refugee Resettlement sent a draft rule to the office in charge of the approval process.
The administration has given little indication about when that regulation might be approved. Earlier this summer, according to Daley, advocates were told the regulations would be released by early or mid-June.
Although the White House was particularly active in pushing for standards for DHS facilities, Daley said it seems to have been less focused on the HHS rules.
"The White House has been instrumental in protecting detainees in DHS custody, but they have not been as aggressive about the safety of the kids in [Office of Refugee Resettlement] custody," he said.
An administration official said that the White House does not comment on rules that are waiting on approval.
"Our Office of Refugee Resettlement works with federal, state and local law enforcement to ensure such allegations are properly investigated," Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in a statement. He declined to elaborate on why the rules had been delayed or answer questions about whether all cases are referred to federal law enforcement. He said that HHS and the Department of Justice were preparing a memorandum of understanding "to make clear the applicable reporting requirements."
Advocates said the delay leaves children in the facilities without key protections against sexual assault.
"The piece that's really lacking in current procedures regarding HHS is how you respond," Brané said. "So children's ability, for example, to file a complaint or to ask for protection in a way that is safe."
While the exact number of assaults in the system that houses unaccompanied migrant children is unknown, a Houston Chronicle investigation found 101 "significant incident reports" filed between March 2011 and March 2013. It is often unclear whether a case should be investigated by the federal government or local law enforcement agencies. Sometimes, local agencies will claim they lack jurisdiction over the facilities.
Minors who are the victims of abuse often have no easy way to report and pursue a case against their abuser, Brané said. For one thing, the children and teenagers are often cut off from the outside world -- meaning that if they suffer abuse at the hands of a facility staff member, they may have no safe way to report it. The minors also lack the consistent access to lawyers or advocates who act as a bulwark against unreported sexual assault in other correctional facilities.
The facilities can also raise jurisdictional issues. Because they are linked to the federal government, local law enforcement will sometimes decline to investigate a report about a facility. The children also frequently move states once they leave a facility, making it harder for authorities to follow up on reports of abuse.
And the growing scale of the problem is also worrying to advocates. In order to deal with the crisis at the border, HHS is bringing new facilities into the system at a fast clip -- raising concerns that the rate at which facilities are opening might outpace ORR's ability to properly vet them.
Until that happens, though, advocates say that Office of Refugee Resettlement could be taking proactive steps to prepare for the rule's approval. But as the agency's regulations are not readily available, and updates are laid out in internal memos, advocates lack a single place where they can see all information related to the agency's internal standards.
"There's nothing preventing ORR from doing all of this now. They could be implementing these protections now, and they may be implementing some of them, for all I know," Brané said.
ASD teachers on the front lines in the battle against child sexual abuse
by Alexis Fernandez
ANCHORAGE – Child sexual abuse is a devastating problem across the country. And as the Anchorage School Department gears up for a new school year, that problem in Alaska is being addressed as well.
In 2013, the Alaska Office of Children's Services received 2,296 allegations of sex abuse with 1,817 victims. ASD is trying to cut down those numbers with the help of its teachers and the community.
On the front lines in the battle against child sexual abuse is Patty Ortiz-Perham, a teacher at Ravenwood Elementary School. Just one of the teachers combating child sexual abuse, Ortiz-Perham says her weapon is knowledge.
“From a very early age, they learn what is a safe touch and unsafe touch,” she said.
Ortiz-Perham and her colleagues spent Tuesday morning in mandatory training. Among the topics was sexual harassment and child abuse.
It's part of an ongoing effort by the school district to teach students about personal safety.
“Every grade level has different objectives,” Ortiz-Perham said. “We really try to give the kids the skills that they need. We learn about steps to say no.”
Approximately 25 percent of girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before age 18, but only 1 in 10 will tell someone, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
First grade teacher Debbie Quiroz says it's crucial to create a safe environment with a process known as social and emotional learning in the classroom.
“School is such a huge place for kids to develop safe and secure relationships — with any kind of adult at school — to know that if they need help, this is a spot where they can get it,” said Quiroz.
Group criticizes diocese's handling of accused priest
by Peter Smith
A victims' advocacy group is criticizing the Diocese of Pittsburgh for not alerting the public 11 years ago when it learned that a Boston priest had been accused of committing sexual abuse here in the early 1960s.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh is defending its actions, saying it had no direct information about the allegation when it learned of it in 2003.
The Rev. John P. Carroll, who is supervised by the Archdiocese of Boston, faces a church trial there that could lead to his removal from the priesthood over an allegation that he sexually abused an altar boy at St. Michael Church in Elizabeth in 1962 or 1963. Father Carroll, now 86, is currently restricted from ministry.
Bishop David Zubik sent letters over the weekend to be read at parishes where Father Carroll had served between 1962 and 1972, asking any potential victims to come forward, after the Boston archdiocese notified him this month of the trial. Father Carroll also served at St. Isaac Jogues in Elrama, St. Margaret in Green Tree, St. Susanna in Penn Hills, St. Alphonsus in Springdale and St. Denis in Versailles (now St. Patrick in McKeesport).
Father Carroll, who was ordained in 1953, had been sent to Pennsylvania in the first place “because of a true allegation of sexual misconduct with an adult woman,” according to a later internal memo from the Boston archdiocese.
He returned to Massachusetts in 1972.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests contended in a statement Monday that the Pittsburgh diocese should have alerted the public and potential victims in 2003, when it learned the Boston archdiocese was investigating Father Carroll.
“No matter how Catholic officials try to spin it, this is irresponsible and inexcusable,” the SNAP statement said. “Pittsburgh Catholic officials, by keeping silent about a potentially dangerous cleric, may have enabled him to hurt more kids.”
The Rev. Ronald Lengwin, vicar for church relations for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said the diocese has never had contact with the alleged victim, who was dealing with the Archdiocese of Boston, and did not know the results of the archdiocese's investigation.
All local officials knew in 2003 was that a man had confronted the priest with an allegation, and Boston church officials were contacting their Pittsburgh counterparts to confirm his work record.
“That's all we had,” Father Lengwin said. “There was nothing to act on.”
But over the years, at the recommendation of those experienced in investigating sexual abuse, the diocese concluded it was important to seek out potential victims at any assignment where an accused priest had served.
Although it has taken steps such as training workers and volunteers to prevent sexual abuse and placing prominent notices urging victims to come forward, “we're raising the bar because we have a better understanding of the issue,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburgh at the time, said he was not available for comment on Monday.
On Aug. 15, 1997, a man visited Father Carroll at his parish in Quincy, Mass., and “asked him if he remembered raping him when he was a child,” according to an internal Archdiocese of Boston memo from September 1997.
It was written by the Rev. William F. Murphy, who was then second in command to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law and is now bishop of Rockville Centre, N.Y.
Father Carroll reported the brief encounter to Cardinal Law and denied the allegation.
The memo was among thousands of internal church documents released during sexual-abuse litigation against the archdiocese more than a decade ago, when Boston was the epicenter of the global scandal of sexual abuse by priests.
The documents were collected and provided by the advocacy group BishopAccountability.org.
There is no indication of any Boston church official in 1997 contacting law enforcement or the accuser, whose name Father Carroll had provided.
Father Murphy later wrote to Father Carroll of his hope that he would not “hear anything further from this individual.”
Father Murphy added: “I hope you will be able to put this out of your mind and return to the good ministry in which you are involved.”
Cardinal Law resigned in 2002 amid growing outrage over the cover-up of sexual abuse, and a 2003 report by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office named him and Bishop Murphy, among others, as fostering an administrative culture that sustained “the systemic abuse of children.”
Boston church memos show the archdiocese took a second look at the allegation in 2003 as part of a systemic review of church files.
The Stitch: Boise man creates symbol to help abuse victims
by Maggie O'Mara
BOISE -- A local man is inspiring a legion of supporters with his effort to break down social stigmas when it comes to child sexual abuse.
Matt Pipkin, an abuse survivor himself, started a non-profit for other survivors called Speak Your Silence.
More recently, he launched a new campaign called The Stitch. It's a symbol that can be worn to raise awareness, end the stigma, and start conversations to prevent child sexual abuse.
"We want to make it so it's not so socially awkward and taboo to talk about it, so we can actually prevent it and help people who have been through it," said Pipkin.
FINDING HIS VOICE
Pipkin was abused by a trusted family friend when he was just 6-years-old. He held onto the secret for years - it wasn't until he was adult that he spoke out publicly about the ordeal.
"Even though I came from a great family, a supportive family, I always thought this secret would devastate everyone if they knew the truth about me," he said. "Finally, after 20 years, a few years back, I told my story. I got it off my chest and it felt amazing. And I saw that my family loved me and supported me."
Pipkin was inspired to something for other people just like him. He started Speak Your Silence in 2012, encouraging survivors to share their stories. It took off, receiving an incredible response.
"Helping people who have been through it find freedom, and helping parents prevent it from happening to their kids."
Pipkin's latest campaign to spread awareness, The Stitch, puts a symbol to the cause.
"I envisioned a guy with a stitch on the pocket of his jeans, of just thread like that," Pipkin explained. "The symbolism, the voice frequency, the bounce."
He turned that idea into reality, and created The Stitch Kit. It comes with a needle and thread and you can stitch it to your own clothes your backpack, shoes, you name it.
Each one is individually numbered and unique.
Now, people are sharing it on Twitter and Facebook, proudly wearing the subtle stitch and telling their friends about it.
You can buy the kit online and at local specialty stores, including Bricolage.
"I love the story behind it, and it's also really cool looking and I'm all about cool things," said Chelsea Snow with Bricolage. "A lot of people already have heard about it, which is cool. People specifically come in to buy it."
Pipkin and his little orange stitch are already making big waves nationally, having been featured in the Huffington Post.
And he has big plans for the future.
"We're going to focus on Seattle and Portland to grow those networks and slowly grow across the country."
GET YOUR STITCH
The Stitch costs $20. The money raised from sales goes directly to pay for counseling for child sexual abuse survivors.
To order The Stitch online, click here.
Local Retailers in Boise currently carrying The Stitch:
Flying M Coffee House
The District Coffee House
Bee Wise Goods
Newt & Harold's
Activists shine light on sex trafficking
by Neeti Upadhye
On a scorching Friday afternoon, Jennifer Wolfley walked up and down Monroe Avenue with a red Adidas drawstring backpack, handing out condoms and food to prostitutes who approached her.
The 50-year-old woman patrols street corners seven days a week, making her presence known in the community by exchanging pleasantries with everyone who passes.
"They call me 'Little Red Riding Hood,' " she said.
Wolfley, founder of the Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking, works tirelessly to help abused and exploited people because she, too, was a victim of sex trafficking. After starting down the long road to recovery, she has crossed over to what survivors call "the other side."
"I'm invested because this has happened to me," said Wolfley. "This is not a job — it's a lifestyle."
Wolfley and members of several other local advocacy groups have ramped up community awareness campaigns about sex trafficking in the wake of recent legal changes and increased rates of victim identification. Anti-trafficking advocates are attempting to break down the stereotype that the crime is relegated to the underground markets of far-away countries. According to U.S. federal law, a sex trafficking victim is defined as anyone who is forced, tricked or coerced into commercial sex acts for services.
"A lot of people probably think this isn't going on in Monroe County — but it is," County Executive Maggie Brooks said at a news conference last month when she released two PSA commercials about child sex trafficking to the public.
Wolfley works primarily with adults, but the legal changes come as part of an expanded effort to treat minors charged with prostitution as victims by protecting them from facing criminal prosecution and connecting them to the appropriate social services.
"Before, when the law was that a minor could be arrested, there was kind of a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," said Nicole Thomson, Safe Harbour coordinator at the Center for Youth. "Now we are able to have more genuine conversations because we can tell (victims) that we are seeing you as a minor and this is not your fault, you will not be prosecuted for this."
In the 2013-14 fiscal year, Monroe County was selected as one of six counties and two Indian nations across New York to receive $112,000 of state pilot funds to identify and provide comprehensive services — such as safe housing and case management — to victims and potential victims of youth sex trafficking.
"It's a dubious honor," said Thomson. "It means we're one of the counties that was found to have the highest numbers of minors being criminally sexually exploited."
Since May 2013, the Safe Harbour program has identified 29 minors who have been involved in sex trafficking in Monroe County.
The county's initiative — which is in its second year — has become one of the most successful models in the state because of its partnership with the Center for Youth and its three-tier system of victim identification, which recognizes victims who are not ready to be officially identified by law enforcement.
Mike Barry, executive director of the Monroe County Youth Bureau, said exploited youths do not trust turning to the government for help, so working with an organization that's closer to the ground increases overall effectiveness.
"Everyone coming together is what breaks down the fear and allows us to identify these victims," he said.
Wolfley was trafficked for four years before the police removed her from her exploitative situation. But it took therapy and nearly a decade until she understood the depth and breadth of her abuse.
"My whole family knew and no one did anything because they were benefiting from my circumstance," she said. "It took me years until I realized what had happened to me."
Wolfley's story is similar to those of other women and men who have been coerced into sex trafficking.
"Many times people don't realize they are victims of trafficking until they go to an awareness event," said Mary Jo Gugino Colligan, founder of Angels of Mercy, a local women's advocacy organization.
About 300,000 to 500,000 children in the United States are being actively prostituted, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. And one out of every seven endangered runaway children reported to the center were likely sex trafficking victims.
Valerie Douglas, director of runaway/homeless youth services at the Center for Youth, said pimps often prey on disconnected children who do not have other support systems to turn to and control them through drug addictions.
"What makes them vulnerable is being pushed further and further out of systems, out of services, out of safety nets," she said.
New efforts to shine a light on this largely invisible epidemic are underway.
The Center for Youth has hosted 89 community awareness trainings and published two PSA commercials since the Safe Harbour program's inception, and the Angels of Mercy have held several outreach events this summer, including a presentation to the Rochester Deaf Rotary Club last week.
International anti-human trafficking expert Matt Friedman also brought a documentary and presentation to the Little Theatre as part of a national road tour at the end of July. His "Breaking the Links" action-based campaign aimed to educate and galvanize young adults to take an active stand against modern-day slavery.
Friedman acknowledged that there is already a strong presence of organizations in New York dealing with the issues of human trafficking and said visiting Rochester was just as much about learning as it was about educating people.
"There's a really strong coalition of organizations that are working on this here," he said. "One of the messages that we are really trying to get across is the idea of unity. Here in Rochester, it is already happening."
Changes have occurred in police departments and courthouses as well.
Andra Ackerman, director of human trafficking prevention and policy with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, serves on a task force that trains police officers and investigators to handle prostitution cases with sensitivity.
"We are doing very well in getting law enforcement to see things differently," she said. "I am seeing officers treat these victims as what they are — victims."
Investigator Brian Tucker of the Rochester Police Department said officers are now trying to take a holistic approach when dealing with victims and are making more of an effort to go after the pimps who are profiting from the situation.
"It has encouraged a lot of these young girls to talk to us when we interview them," he said.
The number of prostitution arrests have dropped off significantly in recent years.
In 2011, 138 women in the city were charged with prostitution. That number fell to 90 arrests in 2012, and to 66 in 2013.
Tucker said the decrease in prostitution arrests is partly a result of the Police Department being pulled in too many directions, but also because "a lot of it has moved off of the street corner and onto the Internet, becoming more shaded from the police."
Rochester City Court Judge Ellen Yacknin, who oversees the city's new human trafficking court, said she has seen around 10 defendants since the court opened last October.
The human trafficking court allows defendants charged with prostitution an opportunity to get their charge dismissed if they complete a recommended social service program, such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation or mental health counseling, and do not get arrested again.
Wolfley said for her clients that is easier said than done.
"People have to be ready to quit," she said. "There are all these contingencies, but you can't tell someone when they are ready."
Yacknin conceded that, "the odds of the women succeeding the first time are extremely low" because of lack of trust in the court system but said her court "bends over backwards" to try to keep the defendants out of jail.
Critics say current efforts are not enough.
"I don't appreciate the politics around funding," said Wolfley. "The money in Safe Harbour is well-intended but misdirected."
She believes that more money should be put directly into street outreach and job creation for peer advocates instead of toward PSA announcements and training. Wolfley explained that victims who are on "the other side" but have a prostitution charge in their past struggle to find employment.
"If we have all these resources in place, why are people coming to me for a sandwich?" she asked.
Wolfley does plan to apply for a portion of Safe Harbour funding to help the developmentally disabled stay out of sex trafficking, a vulnerable population she said few are paying attention to.
Ed Suk, executive director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said sex trafficking needs to be fought with a multipronged approach. He acknowledged the importance of street outreach to give victims a safe way to separate from their traffickers, but also emphasized the need for higher-level public awareness campaigns to educate industries that may come across vulnerable people.
"I feel encouraged," said Wolfley. "We have to start somewhere."
Columbia University Unveils New Sexual Assault Policy, Student Activists Left Surprised
Columbia University has released a new policy on sexual assault, though several activists that had been campaigning for such a move were caught off guard.
According to the Huffington Post, numerous survivors of rape and student activists had been pressuring Columbia administration for months to revise its sexual assault policies. Some even said they were told outright not expect anything before classes began.
"Our goals underlying the new policy are principally these: to strengthen confidence in the University's handling of reports of sexual assault and other gender-based misconduct, to ensure fairness for all parties involved, and to provide more assistance to students in need," Lee Bollinger, Columbia's president, said in a statement to the student body. "The changes we've made also reflect recent guidance from the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and federal legislation, as well as our own community's recommendations."
Students invited to a meeting last week with Bollinger's adviser told the HP they were told then that the school was readying the release of a new policy. However, they were not given so much as a rundown of what it might look like, let alone a chance to give it a review and critique.
"It's been extremely frustrating," Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, the lead complainant of a complaint from 23 students filed earlier this year, told the HP. "I can't wrap my mind around what they could possibly be thinking. I can't imagine what they think is getting better by continuing to ignore us."
The new policy will allow both the accuser and the accused bring a lawyer or any adviser of their choice to disciplinary hearings. The hearing board will no longer include any students, but rather three trained student affairs administrators. If the accused is found responsible and not expelled, they will be required to complete an educational program on sexual assault before reentering.
Though the new policy itself states that suggestions are welcomed from the student body, those that campaigned for it were still led to believe it would not come until later on.
Sejal Singh, a rising senior who campaigned for a new policy, told the HP, "We were explicitly told there would not be a policy review over the summer, even as we asked to be involved in conversations over the summer."
CLICK HERE to see the new policy in full.
Woman charged with child abuse for biting incident
by Karen Madden
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – A 33-year-old Marshfield woman authorities say bit a child has been charged in Wood County Circuit Court.
Amanda J. Weinfurter is scheduled to make her initial appearance Sept. 15 on the charge of child abuse. If convicted, she faces a maximum of six years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint, on May 6, Weinfurtner and a 5-year-old child got into an argument about what the child would wear to school. Weinfurtner became upset because the child did not want to wear the clothes Weinfurtner had selected.
Weinfurtner bit the child on the upper arm, causing the child to cry, according to the complaint.
Weinfurtner said she bit the child because she had become frustrated and angry, according to the complaint.
Abduction of Amish girls brings up discussion on coping with sexual abuse
Family members of the two Amish girls who were abducted last week from a roadside stand are speaking out about the experience and how it's affected the girls.
More charges are expected against 39-year-old Stephen Howells II and 25-year-old Nicole Vaisey. Investigators say the two were prowling looking for children to abuse when they snatched the sisters last Wednesday in Oswegatchie, near the Canadian border. The next day the girls turned up at a home about 15 miles away.
The Saint Lawrence County Sheriff says the couple may have planned to abduct other children.
Howells II and Vaisey are due in court for a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
The family has told media outlets they are relieved to have the girls home, but they say it is still not like it was.
Mary Whittier from Bivona Child Advocacy Center helps children cope with emotions that come from sexual assault. She says there are important things for adults to make sure these young girls know.
“They need to know that they are now safe, that they can talk about it and that it's good to talk about it instead of harboring it,” Whittier said.
Family of the two Amish girls spoke to newspapers on Monday, saying the girls aren't really discussing what happened. But child experts say these are conversations the family should try having.
“It is common for children to blame themselves, and this is really what we don't want to have happen. Kids have enough shame and guilt themselves, and we as adults want to make sure we don't contribute to that. We need to believe these children and get them professional help,” said Whittier.
The Bivona Child Advocacy Center provides services to children who are suspected victims of physical or sexual abuse.
“It is different because it is an Amish community, so there is a whole different set of rules. However, that Amish community is incredibly supportive, and it is important that they believe and support these two girls,” Whittier said.
Whittier says these girls, ages seven and 12, need constant support.
“All the therapy in the world can only do so much. The single most important thing to get a child healthy is to have a parent, or their support person, believe them,” she said.
Whittier says this case is extremely rare because the abduction and abuse allegedly happened at the hands of a stranger. She says every parent should take this as a time to talk with their children. Many children are victimized by people they know, love and trust. Parents should make it clear to their children that, no matter who it is, if they feel uncomfortable the need to tell an adult.
Law school students help young immigrants in Fort Worth
by Diane Smith
FORT WORTH — Months before the flood of young Central American illegal immigrants at the Texas border became national news, law students Oscar Escoto and Awilda Rodriguez noticed the increase and began to help.
The two students at the Texas A&M University School of Law are providing free legal services for youngsters at the shelter managed by Catholic Charities Fort Worth. The children arrived from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador with stories of abuse in their home countries, or of wanting to reunite with mothers or fathers they've never met.
Escoto said children told him their parents wouldn't let them go to school for fear of violence. Some had seen people slain near their doorsteps or didn't trust law enforcement. Helping decipher these biographies for attorneys and future immigration cases is important, he said.
“We have a chance to really do our part,” said Escoto, 25. He is a second-year law student and has some immigrant roots.
Escoto and Rodirguez have been working pro bono with the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas. It is a nonprofit that was founded in 2000 and provides free legal help to asylum seekers and immigrant survivors of violence. The organization began helping immigrant survivors of domestic violence and unaccompanied minors about 10 years ago.
Efforts to provide legal help to migrant youths passing through North Texas was already underway between October 2013 and July 31, when the number of unaccompanied alien children apprehended along the Southwest border reached 62,998.
Both students combined their legal training with their Spanish-language capability to inform youngsters of their legal rights and to document reasons why they fled their homelands, said William Holston Jr., executive director of the initiative.
“They are great volunteers,” Holston said. “They have been getting very practical experiences as law students.”
Giving back to communities
A&M law students are required to perform at least 30 hours of pro bono work before graduation, said Aric Short, vice dean and professor at the law school. The requirement helps instill a sense of duty and promotes giving back to communities.
Students work in various areas to satisfy the requirement, including domestic abuse, children's rights, immigration, veterans' rights, consumer protection and disability rights.
“When our students graduate, we want them to have not just the knowledge and skills, but also the values that will help lead them through a rewarding and successful career in law,” Short said.
Escoto and Rodriguez offer the youngsters presentations about their rights and talk to them in Spanish about how and why they came to this country. The information is given to Catholic Charities or to lawyers who can represent the youngsters in immigration cases.
Catholic Charities Fort Worth assisted 200 unaccompanied minors last year. The social service agency expects about 400 in the upcoming year.
Though border authorities say the influx of unaccompanied minors has diminished, the need for legal help continues.
“We were doing this work way in advance of there being any media attention, and we will be continuing it after the media attention shifts to something else,” Holston said.
The unaccompanied minors typically stay at the Fort Worth shelter for a short time and then move to live with parents or guardians. Their cases are heard in the communities where they end up living, Rodriguez said.
Holston said the youngsters may qualify for humanitarian protection.
“The children who are fleeing gang violence, particularly in Honduras and El Salvador, these kids fall within our mission,” Holston said.
Often, children tell volunteers of seeing neighbors attacked or killed.
“It's not war, but the conditions are kind of like war,” Holston said.
Rodriguez, a 44-year-old mother of three, said she was surprised at the stories she heard from children as young as 5, 6 and 7. She said she worked on a case involving a 2-year-old who arrived with cousins and an older sister and then was separated from her sister by the system, which classified her as an adult.
Rodriguez tried to piece together the 2-year-old's journey with help from the cousin.
“We try,” said Rodriguez, who is working on a law degree after 18 years in the Army. “We try to see what we can get from them. They are so little. Some of them come with little papers that have phone numbers of the people they need to contact.”
Some tell Rodriguez they don't mind going back home, she said.
“You need to have a bigger picture,” Rodriguez said. “There has to be a plan in place. There has to be someone helping them in either staying or going back.”
Bears give comfort to Siouxland kids in chaos
by Ally Karsyn
SIOUX CITY -- A multi-colored heart radiates from a honey brown bear's white T-shirt. At the center, two initials: MB.
To a child in distress, the purple letters mean “My Bear.” To Bev Baldwin, they mean so much more.
The soft, smiling teddy bears reflect the kindness found in her husband of 61 years, the late Marlin Baldwin.
“What a wonderful sweetheart he was,” she said.
Marlin lost his battle to pancreatic cancer in December.
Instead of flowers at the funeral, the family requested memorial funds to benefit a nonprofit organization the couple supported for 20 years. More than 200 outfitted teddy bears were donated to the Council on Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence, giving a source of comfort to children caught in chaos.
“If you can give them a little teddy bear to snuggle, that's all the difference in the world,” Baldwin said.
CSADV responds to the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors spanning 19 counties in Iowa. The agency provides shelter and other services to about 300 children in a given year. All services are free of charge.
The Baldwin bears helped restock the shelter's supply of stuffed animals.
“Marlin and his wife Bev were longtime supporters of CSADV and this gift continues the tradition of ensuring young children have something comforting in a time of uncertainty,” said Executive Director Margaret Sanders.
When families seek help from CSADV, they're often trying to escape a traumatic situation.
A majority of kids who come to the shelter are under the age of 5.
“It's a really scary time for them,” said Deb Hogan, program supervisor for CSADV. “If they're coming here, it's because they're not safe.”
To restore a sense of security, children get to choose a stuffed animal or little quilt to keep. Hogan has heard from adults who still have their bear or blanket from the time they arrived at CSADV as a child.
Marlin and Bev Baldwin admired the organization's efforts to empower those who had been battered and broken.
“I just think it's a good, worthwhile organization,” said Bev Baldwin. “He felt just like I did. That there are too many abused women and children. We wanted to help however we could.”
Before he passed away at 81, the Baldwins talked about contributing to CSADV one last time. Thus the Baldwin bears were born.
By her account, they had an enviable marriage – the kind outsiders would look at and say, “If I could only have a marriage like that.”
His secretaries from decades ago remembered him as a kindly man, too. Following the funeral, Baldwin received a letter from one of them. In it, she detailed what a joy it was to work for him.
“I was so shocked to get this beautiful card and letter,” Baldwin said. “I got on the Internet and found her, and she's in South Sioux. She was so thrilled.”
They've gone out to lunch a couple of times since.
“She knew what a wonderful guy he was and how much he thought of me,” Baldwin said. “He was so good to me.”
Not every relationship is like theirs. Not every man like Marlin.
Consequences of Emotional Abuse
by Archana Sankaran
I come from a family where abuse has had a generational continuity. My grandfather abused my grandmother. My grandmother abused her son, daughter-in-law and other people. (She threw food at me once.) My father bullies his wife and daughter. My mother is emotionally violent to me. I go crazy and can break stuff around my mother.
Overall it is a very disturbing home environment. No one knows how to get out of the situation and we continue to harm each other. At times it feels like a spiraling battle to death. My grandpa passed away recently, ending his part.
Abuse has many forms. Sometimes it involves power over decision-making, where some people's opinions do not count in matters related to them. Sometimes the emotional reactions of one person are projected onto others, shifting responsibility. It also can be physically violent, involving breaking things, hitting or cutting. Gossip and social shaming was one of my grandmother's favorite ways to get control over my father.
I think that abuse is basically a perverted mechanism for control when the healthy ways to influence people seem infeasible. Often with dysfunctional families there is a repetitive nature to these conflicts.
After a few weeks with my family, my body seems to be permanently ready for attack. My shoulder hunches up and there is constant fear in the pit of my stomach. It feels like every person around me who I let into my territory is out to harm me. And no one will choose to spend time with me if they know me fully.
For years the only places I could feel safe or relax in were ashrams and meditation halls. I spent a lot of time by myself in nature. That would eventually calm me down. I was greatly anxious in social interactions, even of a functional nature such as asking for a room to rent.
My father told me a few years ago that every man I am with would leave me. I could not believe that he had used those words on me, knowing that I hurt terribly on this topic. I had just come out of four dark years of matrimony-related sorrow. There was a sense of being boxed in and bashed up.
My father, in his anger, tuned into my wounds and stabbed me where it always hurt most. It took me a while to understand this. I reacted in shock, numbness, severe depression at times. At other times I screamed at him and he released more toxic words.
Always there was a need in me to go closer, to understand the abuse and resolve it. Not one situation resolved. I am being forced to see that there is no healthy closure available to these situations. It is wounded people reacting and damaging others from their woundedness.
Family dynamics harmed me even in less-dramatic situations. For example, I do not recall being able to relax at home with family as a child. Any time I sat down with people at home, I had to perform — an activity such as cleaning the table, or listening to a story or dreaming up projects to do.
That made me always tense when I sat down with people in social situations. How should I entertain them? Often in a group of friends this behavior of mine was not received as my insecurity but as my need to show off.
As a child, positive social stamping was extremely important to me. It was the one way to get attention from my father. I could get warmth and respect from my family and from society if I was a successful person. Social regard became a very important part of my psyche's feel-good mechanism. I didn't realize that they would turn completely against me if they perceived me as a failure, which happened later.
In India's strictly traditional society, I remained unmarried. I was not able to dismiss the social rejection and shaming easily. It was a painful lesson — not only but my society is extreme. Arranged marriages still account for the majority of Indian marriages. Most of the population is married and there is little acceptance of any other choice of living.
I believe that life is a series of lessons that we have to learn and graduate from. Most of us remain broken, wounded individuals trying to cope with our ceaseless desires. May we awaken to an awareness of our wounds. May we find our path to wholeness.
CASA has helped thousands of El Paso County children over its first 25 years
by Jakob Rodgers
An infant, left bound and nearly dead in a shower spewing cold water, needed a legion of doctors and specialists to help her recover from that day's harrowing abuse.
But it was a volunteer, a retired nurse in Manitou Springs, who sought to help ensure the girl's next home would be nothing like her last.
Advocates like Jan Altman, the volunteer in that case, have helped about 10,000 children across El Paso and Teller counties seek a permanent - and safe - home since the creation of CASA of the Pikes Peak Region 25 years ago.
On Tuesday, the organization will mark its silver anniversary with a private celebration.
But only half of the 1,000 abused and neglected children eligible to have an advocate get one, said the nonprofit's executive director, Trudy Strewler Hodges.
Strewler Hodges has vowed to change that long before another 25 years pass - a complicated task compounded by El Paso County's stubbornly high child abuse rate and a need for more volunteers and funding.
"It boils down to a matter of necessity," she said.
She wants the nonprofit to fill that 500-child gap by 2020, an endeavor she believes is possible.
"The types of abuse we see, and the types of neglect we see, are high level, extremely dangerous and where the children need the most oversight and protection," Strewler Hodges said. "So our role has become, I think, more critical and imperative over the years."
Founded in 1989, CASA - which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates - assigns volunteers to help children whose parents are accused of abuse or neglect. They attend court hearings, make follow-up calls to lawyers and social workers and visit parents and each child's school.
Before CASA's formation, children were still represented by lawyers, and social workers still oversaw their safety.
But those people had massive caseloads, meaning children were at risk of becoming yet another number in the system.
Each volunteer oversees one or two cases at a time, ensuring far better oversight over their well-being. The goal: Get them into a safe and protective home, one that won't lead back into the child welfare system.
"The outcome of not placing them in the right home could be that those children actually wouldn't survive," Strewler Hodges said.
Each new case can be an emotional ride - the infant overseen by Altman, for example, nearly died from the abuse inflicted upon her. But with Altman's efforts, the girl now lives with her biological father in a home that appears to be the complete opposite from the place where she nearly died.
"You just have to focus on the child and realize that you can make a difference, and that's what you're there for," Altman said.
CASA of the Pikes Peak Region
Along with providing advocates for victims of child abuse and neglect, CASA offers several other programs, including a supervised visit and exchange program, a program aiding foster children and a seminar for parents going through a divorce.
To learn more about the organization, or to inquire about becoming a volunteer, call 447-9898 or visit casappr.org.
Michael Ian Bender Co-founds Access Mediation Company
Chicago, IL -- Myriads of studies and scholarly articles chronicle the advantages of mediation versus litigation for families enduring issues involving their children. Evidence suggests that these benefits are realized as much for the child as the parents involved, citing that children involved in low-conflict custody and visitation issues experience less psychological difficulties than those involved in high-conflict disputes. Fueled by his desire to advocate for the rights and safety of children, the Honorable Michael Ian Bender, a former Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County and an attorney who concentrates in family law in Chicago, proudly announces the opening of Access Mediation Company in Chicago. Bender co-founded the new organization with Nancy Mynard, President of AMS DATA, Inc. and LEDDED Ltd.
“At the core of my work is a profound desire to help and protect children,” says Michael Ian Bender. “Throughout my tenure, I have witnessed firsthand the devastation contentious child related issues such as custody, visitation, child support, domestic violence, and child abuse can have on the mental and emotional well-being of the children. By offering affordable mediation we are undoubtedly helping the parents and, more importantly, the children involved.”
Access Mediation Company is an organization that helps parents resolve parentage disputes involving custody, visitation, child support, and college contribution disputes through mediation. An effective and affordable alternative to litigation, mediation helps individuals recognize their issues, reduce misunderstandings, determine each party's respective interests and identify acceptable solutions for all involved. Mediation can assist families in determining the best solutions for their children, including custody, health care, education, visitation, and financial matters. With a sliding fee scale, Access Mediation Company is able to offer its services to families who otherwise may not be able to afford mediation.
A court-approved mediator in Cook County, Michael Ian Bender is proficient in and a proponent of mediation. In addition to co-founding Access Mediation Company, Bender serves as an attorney concentrating in family law at The Law Office of Michael Ian Bender in Chicago. The Law Office of Michael Ian Bender provides personalized legal guidance and support through all facets of family law, including: mediation, prenuptial agreements, divorce representation, child support and custody disagreements, paternity and parentage disputes, visitation agreements, and division of property. With a mission to end child abuse, he also represents minors in court by serving as a child's representative, guardian ad litem, and attorney for the child in Cook County.
Access Mediation co-founder, Nancy Mynard is the president of AMS Data, Inc. Presently, she also is owner of a reputable drug testing organization, and President of LEDDED LTD., a family law oriented continuing legal education company. Prior to this field, she led Allied Respiratory Corp as a Certified Woman's Business Enterprise focusing on providing medical equipment to children and seniors.
Access Mediation Company is located at 405 N. Wabash in Chicago. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call 312-493-0260 or visit www.accessmediation.org
*The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and that the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois.