National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


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EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.

We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
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Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
Recent News - News from other times

October, 2014 - Week 5
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.

From ICE

Columbus-area fugitive added to ICE's Operation Predator smartphone app to locate at-large child sex predators

(Pictures on site)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A former Hilliard, Ohio, man who absconded during a federal child pornography probe is the latest fugitive to be profiled on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) smartphone app, seeking public tips on at-large and unknown child predator suspects.

Jeremiah Malfroid, 33, was charged by criminal complaint Oct. 20 for production, receipt, distribution and possession of child pornography. Following a search of Malfroid's former Columbus-area residence in connection with the probe, officers with the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) found nearly 700 sexually explicit videos of minors on his laptop computer and other digital media.

According to the criminal complaint, in five of the images which depict a male sexually abusing a minor, Malfroid's face is visible.

Malfroid is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. Investigators indicated his last known whereabouts were Northern California.

Malfroid's mug shot, along with his biographical information, are now posted on ICE's Operation Predator App. The iOS version launched in September 2013. Earlier this month, ICE launched the Android version and Spanish versions for both operating systems. More than 124,000 users have downloaded the app across all platforms.

Tips from the public can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"This app significantly increases our eyes and ears on the ground. We're hoping featuring this fugitive on the Predator App will produce some valuable leads in this investigation and ultimately result in his capture," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge for HSI Detroit, which covers Michigan and Ohio. "Social media has proven to be an invaluable asset in HSI's efforts to identify and locate offenders in child sexual exploitation cases such as this one."

Within 36 hours of its launch last fall, the app helped Detroit HSI special agents apprehend a Michigan man, who was later convicted and sentenced on child pornography charges.

ICE's Operation Predator App allows users to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. Additionally, the app allows users to view news about the arrest and prosecution of child predators and obtain information about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation. This year, the app was nominated as one of eight finalists for "Best App" in the PR News' 2014 Social Media Icon Awards.

HSI requests that anyone with information about Malfroid, or any of the other fugitives profiled on the app, contact the agency though the app; or by calling the HSI Tip Line, which is staffed 24-hours a day at 1-866-347-2423 from the U.S. & Canada, or 1-802-872-6199 from anywhere in the world, or by submitting an online tip form at Individuals should not attempt to apprehend the suspect personally.

The smartphone app is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.


From the FBI

Ten Years of Protecting Children -- International Task Force Targets Pedophiles, Rescues Victims

Ten years ago this month, the FBI stood up the Innocent Images International Task Force. Its mission: to investigate commercial websites—at that time mostly based in Eastern Europe—involved in the worldwide distribution of child pornography. A big task for a small but dedicated group of expert investigators from the U.S. and five other participating nations.

Fast forward to October 2014, and this group of investigators has grown from about a half dozen individuals to around 60 officers from nearly 40 countries. And the group's changed name—the Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force—represents its expanded mission today: to identify and bring to justice anyone involved in violent child sexual exploitation activities, whether online or in person, and to identify and rescue the victims of these crimes no matter where in the world they may be.

The FBI created the task force to help counteract some of the difficulties that we—and other law enforcement agencies around the world—were facing while investigating complex, multinational child sexual exploitation cases. Constantly changing technology helped pedophiles prey on children anywhere and made law enforcement detection difficult. And law enforcement had to work within the context of political, legal, and judicial cooperation mechanisms that predated the digital era.

So how does the task force maneuver through these difficulties?

•  For one, to help standardize investigations and enhance capabilities, the Bureau provides the same training to all task force officers in areas like online investigations, interviewing and interrogation, behavioral analysis, victim assistance, FBI priorities, and U.S. judicial standards.

•  Also, putting task force officers together in the same room for training—and for a yearly case coordination meeting—helps establish professional relationships that carry over into the investigative arena, facilitating the real-time sharing of intelligence and the working of joint operations.

•  And lastly, by combining forces, resources, and expertise, law enforcement collectively becomes more effective in identifying and taking down these criminal networks around the world.

Today, as we did 10 years ago, the FBI—with the help of our legal attaché offices overseas—seeks the best and the brightest to join the task force. Working alongside Bureau agents who specialize in these kinds of cases are task force officers with similar experience in their own countries, who come mainly from national-level police agencies, who have an understanding of cyber technology, and who are deeply committed to working with their international colleagues to protect children everywhere from sexual exploitation.

Obviously, our goal is to identify and prosecute these sexual predators, but we also want to identify and rescue their vulnerable victims. One of the ways we do that is through Operation Rescue Me, a joint FBI/National Center for Missing & Exploited Children program that uses image analysis to determine the identity of victims depicted in child sexual exploitation material.

Over the years, the Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force has played a key role in a number of international cases (see sidebar). And looking ahead, we will continue to effectively target and take down those who threaten the youngest and most vulnerable among us by continually adapting our law enforcement response to the ever-changing nature of the threat.


- More on the Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force

- More on the FBI's Crimes Against Children program


Task Force Successes Through the Years

The FBI-led Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force is the largest such force of its kind in the world. And since its inception in 2004, it has had a role in a number of successful international investigations targeting some of the most egregious child sexual exploitation offenders and networks. Here are a few examples:

- A U.S. citizen living in the Netherlands was extradited to the U.S. and sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually exploiting a minor in California and elsewhere for several years. Details

- A Chinese-born man living in New York who ran 18 paid membership Chinese-language child pornography websites out of his apartment was charged and ultimately convicted. The websites, along with their hosting servers, were taken down. Details

- The arrest of a man in Australia for receiving child pornography led to the identification of an e-mail-based pedophile network and the arrest and conviction of a man in Kansas City who produced child pornography. Details

- An investigation into a sophisticated, multinational, social media-based pedophile conspiracy initially identified 32 subjects, six of whom were located in the U.S. All six have pled guilty and received prison terms.


United Kingdom

Revealed: Crucial files detailing allegations of abuse of vulnerable kids go missing

by Marion Scott

Investigators have been told that the documents which run in to the hundreds are no longer available.

Government files containing claims of abuse of some of Scotland's most vulnerable children have disappeared from national archives.

The secret papers contain allegations of physical and sexual abuse in homes and residential schools over four decades.

Some of the papers prepared by a task force set up by the-then Secretary of State for Scotland Bruce Millan in the late 1960s were seen by Sunday Mail in 2002.

But the vast majority of the papers, relating to abuse claims from the 1930s to 1960s, have never been made public.

They were requested by researchers commissioned by the Scottish Government to examine the extent of historical abuse involving children in care.

But social work academics Professor Andrew Kendrick and Moyra Hawthorne discovered they were no longer available.

Strathclyde University lecturer professor Kendrick said that of hundreds of files once held in archive, only two now remained.

Professor Kendrick said just two of the many files initially made available to the Sunday Mail at the National Archives of Scotland in 2002 were found by researchers.

He said: “The two files we were able to see referred to serious concerns about corporal punishment in residential care in the late 1960s.

“However, Moyra wasn't able to track down any other documents related to the ‘task force' and we haven't come across any other reference to it.”

Some files were seen by Sunday Mail investigators in January 2002 when the documents were briefly released under the 30 year rule, legislation drawn up under the Public Records Act.

They included documents detailing the death of a six month old baby who choked to death while in care at the Christie Home in Haddington, East Lothian.

Other reports detailed children in care being locked in darkened rooms for hours, kids banned from seeing their parents, and a seven-year-old girl who had her mouth washed with carbolic soap for swearing.

When we returned to the national archive office to inspect the others, we were told the files had been withdrawn for “privacy reasons”.

The late Mr Millan said in 2002 that thousands of Scotland's child abuse victims could have been spared lives of despair if the incoming Tory government had not sidelined his taskforce when Labour lost the 1970 general election.

Campaigner David Whelan, 55, a member of the joint government and survivors think tank, the National Confidential Forum for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, said: “Those missing files weren't where they should have been. They need to be found.”

He says the papers may have included claims about serial abuser Jimmy Savile, a regular visitor to Fort Augustus Abbey School in Inverness-shire.

David, who suffered years of sexual abuse at Quarrier's Children's Village in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, in the early 70s, said: “We know there are allegations as many as 20 high-profile paedophiles with links to Downing Street regularly used and abused children in care.”

David joined other abuse survivors as Education Secretary Mike Russell announced proposals for a compensation scheme and a way for victims to receive apologies last week.

David said: “We understand the government may be considering a £20,000 per victim, one size fits all compensation scheme which we do not believe is equitable.

“We believe the scheme operating in Jersey, where victims are compensated up to £60,000 depending on the level of abuse, is more workable. We want to see the Scottish government making payment and reclaiming institutions.”


United Kingdom

Child abuse inquiry: NHS seeks to make up for lost time with victims

Survivors' umbrella organisation in talks again – 12 years after the government failed to deliver on its promise to help them

by James Hanning and Paul Gallagher

The NHS is investigating the cost of setting up a national network of support and counselling services to victims of child sex abuse – 12 years after the Home Office and Department of Health failed to deliver on its promise to do so.

The Survivors Trust (TST), an umbrella group of more than 135 specialist rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse support organisations, met senior NHS official Kate Davies in Birmingham last month to examine how better to help abuse survivors.

Past announcements to address the issue have amounted to little, with experts describing a lack of political will to meet the huge costs that would be entailed. Fay Maxted, TST chief executive, said: "The voluntary sector covering sexual abuse and rape victims has never really been effectively funded by NHS commissioning groups, and there's a lack of understanding of the importance of counselling and support services and what is available.

"Until now there has been a negative attitude displayed by the police, mental health services, health professionals and even clergy regarding abuse and rape victim. We want that to change. We're not expecting a huge budget to suddenly be allocated, but our ongoing discussions with the NHS will hopefully be fed back."

A report in July this year by the NSPCC estimated the annual cost of child sexual abuse to the Government was in the region of £400m.

In May 2002, under the Labour government, the Department of Health and the Home Office recommended an "unequivocal victim support strategy and protocol" to accompany any inquiry. They said: "Victims must be cared for appropriately, and it is important to be sensitive to their particular needs."

A few months later, the Home Affairs Select Committee published its report expressing similar concerns, and Tony Blair's government endorsed that view in April 2003. But more than 11 years later, little or no national strategy has been implemented to help those victims.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the childhood abuse support group NAPAC, echoed calls for increased NHS funding to support the surge in victims coming forward. "Our phone lines are taking more and more calls from victims," he said. "Lots of them are older than me and I'm in my fifties. They're coming to us because there's nothing else out there for them. The only support they get is a leaflet giving them our freephone number." Mark Samaru, a campaigner for improved support told the IoS: "The irony is that the cost of not providing support to victims and survivors is significantly greater than providing support. Experience from the US and Australia suggests the cost of medical care for a single victim is the same as the cost of a stroke victim."

In 2011, NAPAC answered 2,902 calls and responded to 750 emails. By 2013 those figures had risen to 5,192 and 1,858 respectively.

A speech last year by Home Office minister Damian Green on a new group on sexual violence against children would "address urgently the missed opportunities to protect vulnerable children and adults". A government spokesman last night confirmed the "scoping" exercise and said: "The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Task Force has a strand that is looking at therapeutic and mental health services for vulnerable children, including those who have been sexually abused."



Teen's Disappearance Helps Reveal Ala Sex Ring


By most accounts, 19-year-old Brittney Wood was with uncle Donnie Holland the night of May 30, 2012, the last time anyone saw her. Holland - who was under investigation for horrific sex crimes at the time - died from a bullet within days in what was ruled a suicide.

The investigation that followed has publicly unraveled what authorities describe as a dark, twisted tale of perversion in the working-class neighborhoods and piney backwoods of coastal Alabama.

Eight of Woods' adult relatives and three family friends have been charged with dozens of felonies in two counties as the alleged members of an incestuous ring that authorities say shared children for group sex. Holland was the leader, prosecutors say, of what has been described as the largest sex ring ever uncovered in Alabama. Wood was a victim and likely key witness.

"Brittney could have been huge," said prosecutor Teresa Heinz. "She could have corroborated so many things."

Wood is presumed dead, but authorities haven't found a trace of her and no one is charged in her disappearance.

Even without Wood to testify, two of her uncles and an older brother already have pleaded guilty to sex charges, and jurors this month convicted a friend of Holland's of multiple sex charges in the first trial. Others - including the missing teen's mother, Chessie Wood, and two aunts - await trial.

Chessie Wood denies committing any crime, but says some of her closest relatives are guilty of abusing children, including of abusing her daughter.

"There are innocent people in this and there are guilty people in this," Wood, 39, said in an interview. "I don't know how the judicial system is going to figure it all out because they're not the sharpest tools in the shed."

Chessie Wood, accused of having sex with a young female relative, said she had no idea what was going on in the family until after her daughter's disappearance.

"The No. 1 thing here is to find Brittney. The No. 2 thing is to get all these sick (people) off the streets," she said.

Authorities are making plea-bargain offers and getting ready for more trials, but questions persist. Perhaps most troubling, why didn't child welfare workers pursue charges following what prosecutors describe as multiple complaints about sexual abuse within the family going back at least six years?

"You'd be surprised how many of them had prior allegations. Nothing happened," said Heinz, an assistant district attorney in Baldwin County. "You have to wonder what wouldn't have happened to these children if something had been done. And Brittney might still be alive."

The case is so big officials don't know exactly how many kids inside and outside the family might have been victimized; estimates range from 11 to 16 children who were as young as 3 or 4 when they were first molested or made to watch adult relatives during drug-fueled orgies. The children of the suspects have all been placed in foster care or with relatives who weren't involved in the crimes.

Brittney Wood isn't the alleged victim in any of the cases filed so far; each involved other young people, mostly within her family. But the investigation mushroomed only after she was reported missing and her uncle Donnie had died.

Authorities believe group sex and child sexual abuse went on for three generations in two families that merged when Holland married Wendy Wood, Chessie Woods' sister.

"Donnie was the manager. He'd say, 'I've got this child and this adult, come on over,'" said Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Nicki Patterson.

Brittney Wood, meanwhile, led a life that was troubled long before folks on the Alabama coast came to know her smile because of missing persons fliers posted in store windows and shared on social media.

The single mother of a daughter born when she was 17, Wood was molested as a child by a step-grandfather who went to prison for the crime, said Patterson. Before she went missing, Patterson said, Wood was using drugs and had a gun for personal protection while bouncing between relatives' homes; others often cared for her daughter.

A relative reported Holland for allegedly abusing one of the family girls in February 2012, authorities said, and word spread through the clan. Private Facebook messages provided to The Associated Press by Stephanie Hanke, Brittney Wood's stepmother, show that a female relative informed Wood about being raped by three male relatives on May 27, just three days before Wood vanished.

The night of the disappearance, cellphone records and witness accounts indicate Wood left west Mobile with Holland and crossed Mobile Bay into Baldwin County, where Holland was found two days later inside his SUV by his wife and one of her friends. He had been shot in the rear of his head behind an ear, which authorities considered an odd spot for a self-inflicted wound.

Holland was scheduled to be questioned about allegations of sexual abuse the very day he was found in the car on an isolated dirt road.

Wood's cellphone battery was in the vehicle with Holland, but there was no sign of the teen. Her gun was there as well, it was the only gun in the car. Holland never regained consciousness and died several days later.

After Holland died, relatives and police wondered about Wood.

"We didn't even realize she was missing until after they found him shot," said Hanke.

Searches for the teen began and the sex abuse probe picked up, too. Two of Woods's uncles, Dustin Kent and Scott Wood, were arrested within three weeks and later pleaded guilty to rape and sodomy. Aunts and family friends were eventually charged.

This month, family friend Billy Brownlee, 50, was convicted in Baldwin County on charges of sexually abusing a girl in the Holland family when she was about 12. Brownlee claimed Donnie Holland forced him into the acts against his will, but jurors needed only 20 minutes to return a guilty verdict.

Donnie Holland's 35-year-old wife, Wendy, is set for trial in early December in what could be a key prosecution. Court records show she has pleaded not guilty, and Heinz said she shows no interest in a plea agreement.

Still, authorities wonder how child sexual abuse could go on for years between so many people without anyone being charged until 2012. One girl accused an uncle of sexually abusing her as early as 2008, Heinz said, but welfare workers found the complaint unsubstantiated.

"You look at these reports and wonder, 'Why? How did it not go anywhere?'" said Heinz.

Barry Spear, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Human Resources, said privacy statutes prevent the agency from commenting.

"I can't even say whether we're had any involvement with this family at all," Spear said.



One in two boys is sexually abused in India

by Nandini Kumar

A play in the city hopes to create awareness on the issue of male sexual abuse in India — a silent epidemic

Harish Iyer is 35 years old. And for 11 years, till he turned 18, he was sexually abused by a relative. And when he says "it is sad that in this country we think only women will be abused", it makes you pause and ponder. When Iyer told his mother what was happening to him, she was aghast. "But she also said that if I were a girl child, she would have taken care of me," Iyer recalls.

'Today, as many as one in two boys are sexually abused in India,' states a 2013 study on child abuse in India by the Human Rights Watch, championed by Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director for the organisation. Though the cases were documented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development back in 2007, hardly anyone acknowledges this epidemic — probably because very few abused men have broken their silence. It's this stigma that actor and producer Poorna Jagannathan, who produced Nirbhaya — The Play, hopes to break. She will bring down actor Martin Moran to Bengaluru, who will stage his award-winning plays The Tricky Part and All The Rage, which talk about being sexually abused as a 12-year-old and what happened when he came face-to-face with his abuser at 40.

Jagannathan says she was plagued by the thought of not showcasing stories of boys or men who had suffered abuse. "After every show, audiences would ask how come we hadn't included any stories of boys or men. The question stayed with me," she admits. "Meenakshi told us that this abuse cuts across economic and social divides." Extensive research and several conversations with Ganguly finally led to this endeavour.

Bangalore Mirror, on October 28, carried a report on how a 31-year-old man's complaint against his brother-in-law who was allegedly sexually abusing his four-year-old son was not taken up until a senior official intervened ('Boy can't be sexually abused: cops'). At a time when the city and the country are trying to combat sexual violence against women, we remain relatively blind to its perpetration against young boys and men. The culture of extreme shame surrounding male sexual abuse prevents survivors from seeking help or healing.

"The patriarchal society we live in plays a major role in the refusal to accept that it can happen with a male child," Iyer explains. "It is sad that we think only women will be abused and men will always be the abusers."

Abused boys, violent men

"The problem is that when so few voices are attached to a cause, it never gets the attention or political weight it needs. I see the momentous changes in the conversation around the sexual violence against women. But we have left male sexual violence behind," adds Jagannathan.

She believes it's important for men to 'step up' and join the cause. "I truly believe that when we address sexual violence against boys, we will be addressing one of the root causes of violence against women. We are not acknowledging that this population has been severely affected too. From my experience, if you've been affected by sexual violence, you're much less likely to engage in solving the problem: there's a tendency to think violence is the norm; you have warped notions of sexuality and a higher proclivity to perpetuate violence."

But it is easier said than done, Iyer says. "When you are a male survivor, you get emotionally crippled. Society wants you to be macho. As a man, you are still the one who provides. Plus, a man crying is still not accepted," he says. "I speak about it also because I am an openly gay person and what happened to me as a child has nothing to do with my orientation," he adds.

Overcoming abuse

Iyer says one can never overcome a trauma of this magnitude. "You only start accepting and admitting that it happened with you. Forgiving is too big a word — I haven't forgiven him for what he did to me. To dissociate myself from the past, it was important for me to not feel the hate. I am now indifferent towards him."

Today, Iyer fights for equal rights and gets several calls from adult survivors who have been sexually abused by their mothers, sisters and so on. "All these people want is for someone to hear them out. I don't believe punishment will help decrease sexual crimes, but how one protects children from sexual abuse is more important."

Iyer says it is essential for schools and parents to teach their children about intimate body parts, the way they are taught about eyes, mouth and ears. "Kids need to be taught about their genital organs rather than being discreet about it until they reach high school. I would have been able to explain my trauma to my mother better instead of suffering for 11 years if I had known those things."

As much as we love our porn and Kamasutra, as a country, we don't openly talk about sexuality and our bodies. The play, Jagannathan hopes, coupled with the right education and awareness, will challenge the prevailing scenario.

The Tricky Part: 7.30 pm on November 11 and 12 All The Rage: 7.30 pm on November 30; both plays at Rangashankara, JP Nagar

What is child sex abuse?

Sexual abuse is inappropriate sexual behaviour with a child. It includes fondling a child's genitals, making the child fondle the adult's genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism and sexual exploitation. To be considered child abuse, these acts have to be committed by a person responsible for the care of a child (for example a baby-sitter, a parent, or a day care provider), or related to the child. If a stranger commits these acts, it would be considered sexual assault and handled solely by the police and criminal courts.



Utah child abuse prevention advocates voice frustrations

by Dana Rimington

LAYTON — A diverse group of advocates protecting children were asked if it is possible to completely end all forms of child abuse.

Michael Johnson, retired police detective with more than 30 years' experience, including 16 years working solely child abuse cases, said during the keynote address at the 27th annual conference on child abuse and family violence for the western region of the country that several people in the nation have the audacity to think child abuse can be ended in a certain period of time. Johnson asked the group, consisting of law enforcement, social workers, prosecutors, therapists who work with children, nurses, advocates, forensic interviewers, and clergy what they thought protects children.

No answer was the same, ranging from stronger laws, teaching kids to protect themselves, better training of juries about child abuse, and educating children about child abuse, but not one had the answer Johnson was looking for. Finally he chided the large group, “Why are you whispering? Stand up, speak up, because it is you – all of you who are protecting our children,” Johnson said.

Whether or not child abuse can be put to a stop, Johnson didn't have an answer, either, but he did express his frustration with the current system.

“I feel like we are just putting a Band-Aid on the issue, which is why we need to understand the importance of certain practices that need to occur in the process,” Johnson said.

Johnson spoke at the Joining Forces Conference last week at the Davis Conference Center. The event was put on by Prevent Child Abuse Utah . The conference focused on the prevention, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse and family violence.

Johnson began by sharing an example of a child-abuse specialist, a social worker and police detective sitting by a river bed who keep discovering babies floating in the river. After continuously rescuing countless babies out of the water, Johnson says they are forgetting to ask the logical question of who is throwing the babies in the water.

“You have more cases on your load than you can deal with, and no one can better explain what is happening than you guys,” Johnson said. “We all know that less than 10 to 15 percent of cases get into the system, so if we are going to make a dent, we need to look at who is throwing the babies in the water.”

Johnson talked about an important moment in a case called the window of opportunity that happens right after a child opens up to a friend, teacher, or family member about an abuse. It's that moment when interviewing needs to start happening, search warrants issued, and the people at the forefront of child abuse prevention start doing their job because all too often there is a moment when the child stops talking, usually pretty early on in the process Johnson says. But the process is so long and reaches so many different people in the process from social workers, police detectives, doctors, counselors, and lawyers, that the system is failing children.

“I don't think people understand the convolution of the process, or don't really know what you are getting into until you are in it, and by then, they are wondering how the hell do I get out,” Johnson said.

To illustrate his point, he had several people act out different parts of a typical scenario, beginning with a 5-year-old girl who has been abused for as long as she can remember. Up on stage followed the friend she told at school, the teacher who the friend talked to, the principal, then the mom and her father, leading all the way up to 24 people involved in the process.

“I hope that I've made a good explanation of why we need to work together collaboratively,” Johnson said. “This case hasn't even gone to trial yet, and we are all directly and indirectly involved in putting our kids through this. How many of you would volunteer your daughter to testify in a criminal court of law, but you are willing to put other children through that? In the state of Texas where I come from, we call that hypocrisy.”

It was an eye-opening session for many, but Johnson reminded the group to take care of themselves. In the normal course of a day, those protecting children are dealing with the toxicity, trauma, and many of the worst things involving families and kids. “This is impacting you. You guys aren't immune,” Johnson said. “You need to take care of one another because no one else understands it. Your place is made in heaven as far as I'm concerned.”



$13.5M awarded to child sex-abuse victim in Jehovah's Witnesses case

by Nancy Aziz

A San Diego Superior Court judge entered a $13.5 million judgment Friday in a sexual abuse case against the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jose Lopez was awarded the money nearly 30 years after he says he was sexually molested by his Jehovah Witness bible-study teacher who later went on to become a church minister and elder.

The suit alleged the church knew Gonzolo Campos had abused another boy before he molested Lopez, but elders continued to allow Campos to teach bible study to children at the Linda Vista Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

At a news conference today Lopez said the award will never relieve his pain.

“It's never going to be over for me. It was just a horrible thing and I want people to know what happened to me,” he said.

Lopez's attorney Irwin Zalkin says Campos abused eight children before fleeing to Mexico, where he is still with the Jehovah's Witnesses.

The organization vows to appeal the judgment and released the following statement:

October 31, 2014


Jehovah's Witnesses will appeal the decision of a California judge in a case involving an alleged act of child abuse.

The trial court judge rendered a multimillion-dollar damage award to a man who claims that he was molested once in 1986 by one of Jehovah's Witnesses who held no position of responsibility in the congregation. The trial court judge awarded $3 million in compensatory damages against Watchtower and added $10.5 million in punitive damages following a hearing at which Watchtower was barred from participating. Watchtower believes the appellate court will ultimately agree that the trial court abused its discretion by terminating its right to defend itself in this case.

Mario Moreno, Associate General Counsel for Watchtower, commented: “Jehovah's Witnesses abhor child abuse and strive to protect children from such acts. The trial judge's decision is a drastic action for any judge to take given the circumstances of this case. We will seek a full review of this case on appeal.”


How to Spot a Sex Trafficking Victim at a Hotel

Happens in five star hotels as well as slummy ones

by Belinda Luscombe

As it has become clear over the last few years that sex trafficking takes place on every continent (O.K., maybe not Antarctica), approaches to defining it and ending it have changed. While there are ghastly situations in which young girls' virginity is sold off by their debt-stricken parents in Cambodia, the reality is that western countries are by no means immune to the trade. Runaways, girls who have fallen for the wrong guy and naive women who have traveled from another country on the promise of a legitimate job can get trapped in prostitution rings anywhere.

One front in this battle has been the hotel industry. Traffickers like to use hotels to ply their trade, since they can get in and make some money and then move on before they attract too much attention. Neighbors tend to take a dim view of brothels and report them to the authorities. “It happens in hotels that are five star hotels and it happens in the sleaziest, slummiest rent by the hour hotels,” says Tammy Lee Stanoch, VP of corporate affairs for Carlson.

Perhaps because of this, some hoteliers were early activists in the anti-trafficking cause, including Marilyn Carlson Nelson, the former chairman of the chain (which owns a bunch of hotels including the Park Plaza, Country Inns and Suites and all the different types of Radisson). Initially, this was against the advice of their legal teams, who were leery of highlighting any illegal activity that was taking place within the hotels' walls, but now many hotel chains, including Hilton, have signed on to the ECPAT Code of Conduct. “These women and children are being victimized in hotels, and whether they're our hotels or our competitors, we're going to take a stance on it,” says Stanoch. “Hotels need to be part of the solution because unfortunately that's where many of these crimes happen.”

Many hotels now train their employees to watch for red flags, and the people at Carlson agreed to share some of what they've learned.

One of the key times is at check in. Paying with cash is obviously a cause for concern, especially if the reservation was originally made with a credit card. When an older man or woman checks in with younger women who don't appear to be his or her children—they speak a different language, they're distant from him, they look dazed or afraid, or if they're made up to look older than they really are—that often means the women are not there willingly. A bunch of guys checking in with two young Latvian women alarmed this hotel employee, who went called the cops on them and

broke up a trafficking ring. And then there's the luggage clue; legitimate travelers usually bring a bunch of bags with them.

For hotels, the next line of defense after a vigilant front desk clerk is the in-house security team. Sometimes traffickers will check in to the room and only much later smuggle the girls and the johns into the hotel through a side door. “Very few women are being paraded by the front desk,” says Stanoch. Hotels have put in very sophisticated camera equipment, but that doesn't mean they catch everything. Rooms which are being used by traffickers typically have a lot of men coming and going, and sometimes have men congregating outside the door, in the lobby or in the parking lot.

FBI San Antonio Special Agent Michelle Lee told local media after an undercover sting in June that traffickers often use two rooms. “One room is the working hotel room and the other room is where everyone else usually stays and they have just a few, very limited belongings.” Stanoch notes that the hotel staff moves pretty fast, once their suspicions have been raised. “This isn't something we wait on,” says Stanoch, about how bringing in law enforcement. “It all happens very quickly.”

The hotel housekeepers are key players here too, since traffickers tend to decline cleaning services for days on end. They're also less likely to tidy up, so the housekeeping staff may find large amounts of condoms and lubricant when they do get in to the room. (Stanoch says people who are having consensual sex generally tend to be neater with their paraphernalia. Who knew? ) Cleaners are also trained to watch out for a large number of computers or cell phones in a room. And then there's porn. If one room is watching an unusual amount of porn on their hotel TV, that can trigger suspicions especially if it happens in tandem with other signs of trafficking. Not always, of course. “We are very sensitive to our guest's privacy,” says Stanoch. “If something is suspicious in the guest room, in addition to indicators like a room that has been paid for in cash or multiple men coming and going, this may be cause for concern.”

Checking on the contents of another traveler's room (or their TV habits) is of course frowned upon for regular guests, but there are things any traveler can watch out for: if you're checking in or in the lobby, do the women being checked in have their own credit cards and forms of identification? Do they look to be in good health? Do they seem disoriented or disheveled? Are their “boyfriends” significantly older? Do the men seem to be preventing the women from moving about freely? There have even been reports of some women having tattoos that mark ownership.

If you're on the same floor as a room which seems to have a lot of men hanging around outside, or a constant stream of visitors, you might want to let the hotel authorities know. Each of these symptoms on its own could have a perfectly plausible explanation, but if more than one or two of these warning flags are waving, then it might be time to tell hotel management of your concerns.

The Polaris Project, which works to combat slavery of all kinds (more people are enslaved by forced labor than the sex trade) has just released this awesome map, which identifies the local trafficking-fighting agencies all over the world. But Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT USA, suggests that hotel security is your first line of attack. “It does get more complicated overseas because it depends on the nationality of the perpetrator and what country you are in,” says Smolenski. “We still recommend that if people are in a hotel when they notice something wrong, they should report it to the hotel management.” And if you're in the United States, it be worthwhile to keep this number handy, too, 1-888-373-7888, the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Have the new guidelines many any difference? Carlson didn't provide any numbers and some observers are dubious, but Stanoch is persuaded they have. “Since we've started this training, I'd say the incidence of trafficking has dropped dramatically.” Now activists want to move further upstream, fighting trafficking at the source, by supporting organizations that offer vulnerable women training and job skills.


Massachusetts on the hot seat

by Steven Syre

It's hard to imagine a couple of girls who needed a lawyer more than Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2.

They both live in Massachusetts and were as young as 15 years old at the time of some of the child sex trafficking allegations described in a lawsuit recently filed for them in federal court in Boston. The stories they tell, about being sold for sex by pimps 10 to 12 times a day, are every bit as grim as you can imagine.

Sadly, those stories are not unique. But the civil lawsuit is unusual in its scope and ambition, aiming far beyond the normal goal of protecting named clients or resolving their specific conflicts.

The suit targets a commercial business — the website and its owners — trying to throw a wrench in the online process said to be used in child sex trafficking.

The girls suing are pro bono clients of Ropes & Gray, the very white-shoe Boston law firm. They are represented by John Montgomery, a retired managing partner there.

Montgomery once worked in the state attorney general's office, but he made a long career of complex civil business litigation. His work typically involved issues such as drug prices, product liability, and insurance coverage.

This new case brings a similar kind of commercial approach to child sex trafficking: treating it like a marketplace where buyers and sellers come together. The idea: Hold the electronic hosts of that marketplace accountable for damages inflicted upon young victims.

“If we prevail in this case, that alone will not solve the problem of exploitation of kids who are bought or sold on the Internet,” Montgomery said. “But you'll have an impact on the calculus, the way in which the marketplace works because our clients succeeded in proving that the website and the way in which it operates damaged them — and the operators will be subject to paying damages. That will have an impact.”, by far the Internet's most popular site for “escort” advertisements, began to dominate the market after Craigslist got out of the “adult services” business under pressure in 2010.

As the business grew, so did scrutiny from all quarters. Just last week, dozens of members of the National Association of Attorneys General, including Martha Coakley, wrote to US senators seeking to curb veiled ads for human trafficking. It said advertising on “websites such as has created virtual brothels where children are bought and sold.”

Backpage has denied doing anything wrong and decried the sexual exploitation of children as an “abhorrence in our society.” Elizabeth McDougall, Backpage's general counsel, said the company would “deny and vigorously dispute” allegations in the Boston lawsuit.

Websites such as Backpage commonly defend themselves in cases involving advertising by citing a federal law that generally shields operators from liability for content written by others.

The Boston lawsuit appears to attack that defense by asserting went out of its way to protect traffickers and enhance a business relationship with them, violating a “good faith” obligation that comes with the legal protection afforded to website operators.

Among the allegations: Backpage created a false impression that it was cooperating with law enforcement officials and child advocates; it failed to use algorithms and other “readily available measures” to reduce the number of children advertised for sex; and it did all of that with the aim of dominating the market.

Montgomery would be the first person to tell you that no court case has the power to stop a social problem like the sexual exploitation of children. But this one could make a dent.



Woodway Public Safety Dept. Warns Residents About Sex Offenders on Halloween

by Estephany Escobar

WOODWAY - The Woodway Public Safety Department posted the names and addresses of sex offenders for Halloween on its Facebook page.

Usually authorities post the rules for sex offenders in Halloween for parents and kids to avoid their homes, but it does not usually include personal information.

On the Facebook page, you could find information about sex offenders keeping their porch lights off and keeping away from kids on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. However, it also included personal information.

The names and addresses is public information and available on the Texas Department of Public Safety website, if someone looks up the information. However, it takes more than a few clicks to find it.

Public Safety Director Yost Zakhary said the department includes this information for safety reasons and for people to avoid these homes.

He said sex offenders are aware their names are included on their Facebook page.

As of Friday, officers had already contacted the sex offenders and reminded them of the rules.

“Do we expect anything to happen? I don't think so. But we want everybody to be aware. It is for the kids' protection and those who have been arrested, their protection, because they are not supposed to be around kids anyway,” said Zakhary.

Parent Sandra Martinez does not allow her son to go trick or treating alone and she avoids going to homes with the lights off.
"It is not safe anymore. He always has to be with so I can look out after him," said Martinez.
Martinez did not look at the DPS website before going trick or treating with her son.

“Now that you brought it to my attention, it is something that I should've done. I just stayed in my neighborhood because I thought it would be safe around here,” Martinez said.

She found out on Friday when News Channel 25 approached her, one sex offender lived in her neighborhood. She now plans to check the Facebook page regularly.

"It makes everyone aware around here just so you know what your surroundings are and aware who is in your neighborhood because I had no idea,” said Martinez.

The Woodway Public Safety Dept. also planned to check on the sex offenders throughout the night.

Zakhary said posting sex offenders' information has not let to retaliation thus far.

“We have an equal duty to protect those who have a prior record as much as we have to those who are knocking on the door. The protection is equal,” said Zakhary.

You can search for the sex offender registry list here:


New York

Chesapeake donates to Children's House

Chesapeake Energy hit a hole-in-one in the eyes of The Children's House officials in Waverly when the company donated more than $10,000 to the children's advocacy center.

The money was raised during a golf tournament held in September at Shepard Hills Country Club in Waverly.

“Chesapeake is proud to support such an important organization for Bradford County. The Children's House does incredible work advocating for our children, and we hope even more children will be protected as a result of this donation,” Jason Ashmun, Chesapeake Appalachia North Business Unit president stated in a news release. “Our business is only as strong as the communities where we operate, and we appreciate the opportunity to give to an organization dedicated to the future of this region.”

The Children's House provides services to children of abuse and their families at no charge.

“Child abuse is a hard thing to talk about — we don't want to believe that children are abused in our own communities. But as hard as it is for adults to talk about, imagine how hard it is for a child,” stated Edith Jordan, the center's director. “The courage it takes to talk about child abuse, to prevent child abuse, and to assist in the efforts to drive it out of our community is extraordinary. We commend Chesapeake Energy and its team for being leaders and standing with The Children's House in the fight against child abuse in Bradford and Sullivan counties.”

If you know of or suspect abuse contact your local child protection agency, local law enforcement or CHILDLINE at (800) 932-0313. To learn more about The Children's House, call (570) 265-4132 or visit:



Four names of priests and other religious leaders accused of sexual abuse to database

BOSTON - (AP) -- A watchdog group that documents the clergy sex abuse crisis on Friday added four names to its public database of priests and other religious leaders accused of sexual abuse., an online research site that has chronicled the clergy sex abuse crisis since it erupted in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002, named clerics with the Congregation of Christian Brothers, the Dominican Order and the Salesians of Don Bosco.

One of the alleged victims, now a 48-year-old man, said in a recently settled lawsuit that he was abused by three clerics, starting when he was 12. Two of the clerics -- the Rev. Sean Rooney and Brother Alan Scheneman -- were members of the Salesians.

The man said Rooney molested him in 1980, when he was 14, while they were on a bus traveling from Don Bosco Technical High School in Boston to Sacred Heart Retreat House in Ipswich, during a school trip for students from the Salesian Junior Seminary, in Goshen, N.Y., where Rooney was a teacher and the boy was a student. He said Rooney also repeatedly sexually abused him at the junior seminary, according to the lawsuit filed by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian.

The same alleged victim said Scheneman repeatedly sexually abused him in 1981 at the junior seminary, where Scheneman was a faculty member.

John Kelly, a Massachusetts attorney who represents the Eastern Province of the Salesian Society, confirmed there was a monetary settlement, but declined further comment.

Scheneman left the order during the 1980s, according to the National Catholic Directory. Attempts to locate him and Rooney were unsuccessful.

Another alleged victim accused Brother William Hennessey, of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, of repeatedly molesting her between 1962 and 1964, starting when she was 8. Hennessey was assigned to Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury. The girl's family lived near the school and befriended Hennessey, who often visited her mother and grandmother at their homes, Garabedian said.

Hennessey died in 1978. Anthony Doughtery, a New York lawyer representing the Christian Brothers, said as part of a bankruptcy protection reorganization plan, the Christian Brothers paid $13.5 million to fund a trust created to distribute funds to sexual abuse survivors.

Another woman accused Brother Julius Martin Mattingly of sexually molesting her from 1969 to 1975, from age 13 to 19. Mattingly was assigned to the St. Stephen Priory in Dover.

Attempts to locate Mattingly were unsuccessful. Thomas Van Dusen, a Michigan attorney who represents the Dominican Order, declined comment.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, said the group publishes the names of accused clerics "to advance transparency in the Catholic Church and to help protect children."

"We are told by many survivors that seeing their perpetrators names made public is a source of tremendous validation and healing," she said.



Arizona child abuse numbers up as new child welfare agency begins to tackle problem

by Barbara Grijalva

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - More children than ever are in out-of-home care, such as foster care, in Arizona.

Abuse and neglect of children are taking their toll.

The newly-created Department of Child Safety (DCS) was fully funded this past summer and has been beginning to attack the problem.

In fact, the spike in child abuse numbers is what led to the total reworking of the system once known as Child Protective Services.

The experts say increased abuse numbers are due to a combination of things.

One is that Arizona is bucking the national trend and there is more child abuse and neglect in the state.

The other is that the DCS has fixed the child abuse hotline and that has resulted in more child abuse cases being reported and investigated.

Casa de los Ninos is a crisis nursery in Tucson for children who have been abused or neglected.

It's CEO, Susie Huhn, says the hotline used to drop some 30 percent of calls before the system was fixed.

Huhn has seen the number of child abuse cases rise for years.

Budget cuts during the recession, starting in 2009, hurt our most vulnerable children.

Plus, there are not enough programs to support families in crisis and keep them from being split apart.

"We started seeing increases in rates in child abuse in 2010 and we did not do anything about re-funding that system. So we made massive cuts in 2009. We did not reinvest back into the system until last year. So that's a lot of years of increase, climbing rates we saw happening with no action," Huhn says.

She says when a state neglects child welfare it causes social and emotional damage to children and families.

Huhn says that's damage with high costs to Arizona since children who grow up in crisis often need services for the rest of their lives, and that includes costly health care.

Huhn says the entire system needs attention.

Arizona has more than 16,000 children in out-of-home care.

That's a new record.

On top of that, there is a shortage of foster families.

As the DCS starts to tackle the massive child abuse and neglect problem, more children are starting to enter the system, but then they hit a bottleneck.

"They're coming into the system quicker. And the system has been so overburdened for so long, without proper staff--not just for DCS--but then you've got the courts, and then you've got the community providers that provide all the services to families. There's a huge capacity buildup. So they're not leaving the system in high enough rates, as well," Huhn says.

Huhn says for the system to work to protect children the state will have to invest in three things.

First, up front services to support families in crisis so children don't have to be removed in the first place.

She says the state also needs to help children in the system move through it more quickly and back to their families, if possible.

Then, Huhn says, for those children who can't go home, they must be moved faster to a permanent home.

Huhn says the state has to be on top of all three areas.

She says you can't just pick one.

Huhn says it will take time to turn around a system that has been so badly damaged, and the state must give the DCS the time.

Some believe it could take years.

Huhn says the new Department of Child Safety and its new director are heading in the right direction.

Arizona is about to get a new governor and some new legislators.

Huhn hopes they help continue the momentum.

She says, "This first year was just a start. We have to keep that train moving. We cannot let up on that. Otherwise, we'll just slide back to where we were."

The Arizona DCS Child Abuse Hotline number is 1-888-SOS-CHILD (1-888-767-2445).



Groups to host child abuse seminar


There are plenty of ways to hurt a child. Once hurt, he or she is maybe hurt forever.

Every decent person is appalled by the stories we see on our evening news about the victimization of small children. Children are injured and some even die at the hands of someone who is supposed to care for them.

Recent statistics show 176 reports of child abuse per day in Texas, five in Cameron County.

Three quarters of reported child abuse cases are related to child neglect. Child neglect occurs when the basic needs of a child are not met, such as inadequate nutrition, lack of proper clothing, improper supervision or lack of appropriate shelter.

Neglect is bad enough, but there are about 16,000 cases of physical, psychological or sexual abuse per year in Texas.

Valley Baptist Health System and The Child Abuse Education Program of South Texas are teaming up to present the 11th Annual Seminar on Forensic Sciences, November 5-7 on South Padre Island. This multi-disciplinary event will help physicians, nurses, pastors, counselors and other professionals identify and help children who suffer from abuse.

Dr. Stanley Fisch coordinates the event. The conference “serves as an important gathering of people from many disciplines interested in preventing child abuse and undoing its effects. We have had a remarkable array of speakers over the years. But I also believe that interaction among the attendees is just as important as what they learn from our speakers.”

Presenters include a broad group of health professionals, educators, lawyers, chaplains and others who have firsthand experience in treating children who have been traumatized by abuse.

Topics include investigations into child deaths, providing medical care for sexual trauma, human trafficking, identifying sex offenders and more.

For more information about this event go to or call 956-389-1721.

Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.



Child abuse in the wake of Honey Boo Boo


“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is a TLC reality TV show featuring “Toddlers and Tiaras” pageant winner Alana Thomas (Honey Boo Boo) and her family. June Shannon (Mama June) has announced that TLC will no longer air the TV show because of her reported relationship with Mark McDaniel, who was put on the sex-offender list in March after serving 10 years in prison for child molestation.

Shannon said, “I would not ever ever put my kids in danger” on a video that she posted on Facebook. In this video, she also denies the relationship with McDaniel, claiming that she has not seen or spoken to him in 10 years, regardless of the photos of the two.

Though this high-profile case has brought attention to the issue, child molestation and sexual abuse is nothing new to society. Recorded child sexual abuse dates all the way to the 15th and 16th centuries. According to a physician's journal, King Louis XIII was a victim of sexual abuse as a child.

Handling child sexual-abuse cases differed in the late 1800s to the 1900s. Boy and girl cases were not treated the same. When it came to convicting the perpetrator, officials first looked at if there was any physical harm or if the victims' reputations were ruined. From 1896 to 1926, 30 percent of cases were resolved by financial payments.

As the 20th century hit, child molesters were seen as moral monsters. When thought of, the description of dirty old men usually came to mind. As some experts tried to claim that there was no long lasting effect of sexual abuse, it became clear that there was. Long-lasting effects can be more than just physical pain and can include mental distress and other disorders.

Approximately 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. Nearly 70 percent of reported sexual assaults happen to children age 17 and under, though only around a third of child sexual-abuse cases are identified.

These statistics comes from Darkness to Light, a nonprofit organization that was started in 2001 to end childhood sexual abuse. The members believe that they can end child sexual abuse through education and by raising awareness.

Darkness to Light published “The 5 Steps to Help Protect Our Children,” built on a foundation that we can make choices, take risks, and support each other. Following these guidelines cannot only help save a child from emotional scars but can help eliminate the issue all together.

Sexual abuse for children is not something to take lightly. It's sad that it takes the cancellation of a reality TV series to help raise awareness of the situation, but I respect TLC for its efforts toward protecting children and not allowing McDaniel to be on air. Over time, recorded cases of child sexual abuse has decreased, but it is still not enough. Parents should educate their children on how to react, along with what kind of situations to avoid. Public awareness and education are the key ways to help eliminate this problem; it is up to society to make it happen.



3rd victim in Marysville school shooting dies

by King-TV

SEATTLE — A 14-year-old girl who was critically injured after a student opened fire inside a Marysville high school cafeteria last week has died, raising the death toll in the shooting to four.

Shaylee Chuckulnaskit died Friday afternoon, a week after she was shot in the head, officials at Providence Regional Medical Center said.

"The entire Providence family is deeply saddened by this news and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Shaylee's family," Dr. Anita Tsen of Providence said in a statement.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Zoe Galasso, 14, was also killed in the Oct. 24 shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Gia Soriano, 14, died Sunday from critical head injuries in the shooting.

The shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, died at the scene of a self-inflicted wound.

Two other students remain hospitalized. Andrew Fryberg, 15, is in critical condition in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center. Nate Hatch, 14, was upgraded to satisfactory condition after undergoing surgery Thursday to repair his jaw. Both are cousins of the shooter.

After a week off because of the shooting, students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School return to classes Monday. While a typical school day begins at 7 a.m., classes are scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. instead. The school will have grief counselors available, said Aaron Toso, spokesman for the school district.

"Our hearts are broken at the passing of our beautiful daughter," Shaylee Chuckulnaskit's family said in a statement released by Providence officials. "Shay means everything to us. In Shay's short life she has been a radiant light bringing us incredible joy and happiness. She has been a loving daughter, a caring sister, a devoted friend and a wonderful part of our community. We can't imagine life without her."

The family also thanked medics and hospital officials.

Newly released police radio traffic recordings from the shooting scene showed officers faced a daunting task as they responded to reports of a shooter. They learned they would have to secure a maze of buildings that make up the sprawling campus.

About a minute after 911 dispatchers reported at 10:39 a.m. Oct. 24 that they were receiving calls of a shooting in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria, one officer got on the radio from inside and said: "It's confirmed. We have a shooter. We have five down."

A few seconds later he added, "The shooter is DOA. We've got apparently four" and then "the shooter is down. Two causalities." Two minutes later: "I have two that are still breathing and alive. Looks like I have three possibly deceased."

Jaylen Fryberg, a freshman, was quickly identified as the person who opened fire at his classmates before killing himself.

The recordings were sent to The Associated Press in response to a public records request.

Services for the shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, were held Thursday on the Tulalip Reservation.

A celebration of life for Zoe Galasso will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Word of Life Lutheran Brethren Church in Marysville.

An obituary for 14-year-old Gia Soriano said a memorial service for her would be held later.


How Children Carry the Weight of Domestic Violence

by Tom North

Domestic violence and abuse is a world-wide epidemic that affects people in every community regardless of economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. It is a blight on society that results in serious physical, emotional and mental health problems with far-reaching consequences for all concerned.

The never-ending cycle of abuse is a threat to the health of every man, woman and child and should be considered a national health emergency. Consider the following facts:

•  Studies show that 88 percent of women who have experienced domestic violence and abuse suffer from a chronic health condition.

•  It is estimated that 10 million children witness some form or domestic violence every year. Witnessing can mean seeing incidents of physical and sexual abuse, hearing fighting and threats, observing the aftermath of incidents, and living in a constant state of fear and tension. These children suffer emotional and physical trauma and may experience frequent illnesses, developmental delays in speech and cognitive skills, and even may become self-injuring and use aggression with other kids, or even their mothers. As they grow older, they have a higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and serious, chronic health conditions.

•  Boys who witness their mothers' abuse are more likely to batter their female partners, and girls may believe that threats and violence are the norm in relationships, thus enabling the cycle of violence and abuse, shame and sickness.

Domestic violence and abuse is NEVER OK, for any reason, under any circumstance. It is criminal behavior, and a symptom of the sickness in society.

I speak about this from first-hand experience. In my book - True North, The Shocking Truth About “Yours, Mine and Ours” - I chronicle the story of surviving a childhood of domestic violence and child abuse. Growing up in the famous Beardsley family in Carmel, California, my siblings and I were victims of violence or the threat of violence on a daily basis.

The result was that every one of us carried into adulthood the burden of traumas we suffered as children. I have spent my entire adult life unwinding these stresses and rewriting the misperceptions and just poor mental programming I brought with me from my early years of suffering from anxiety, fear and depression.

The recent release of the shocking video showing NFL football player Ray Rice knocking his fiancé out in the elevator was not only a wake-up call to the NFL, but to the world. We do need a national effort to bring attention to this shameful epidemic of abuse that plagues humankind. This is a necessary step in dealing with this epidemic. The more awareness we can bring to bear, the greater the opportunity to educate parents about how to manage their stress, their own violent past, and teach children to speak up when they are being abused.

Having survived a childhood of domestic violence and child abuse, I have developed a keen awareness of the presence of this problem. I know when I am talking with someone who has been abused and I know when it exists in a household. In my case, it needn't have been so if the adults in my environment at the time had been more attuned to the signs of abuse and had intervened.

Please stand up with me and say: “NO MORE!” Join me in supporting agencies like NO MORE, and make a difference in the life of a child and volunteer at your local CASA for Children.

Tom North is the author of True North, The Shocking Truth About “Yours, Mine and Ours”.


6 Halloween safety tips every parent needs to know

by Lauren Book

Halloween night is upon us — a time of costumes, candy and fun scares. The following tips will help keep your children safe during a night of trick-or-treating.

1. Children should remain with a trusted adult. If you can't accompany your children trick-or-treating, it's important that the chaperone is someone you and your children can count among your most trusted friends or family members. Don't allow your children to walk into a home alone, even if they're invited to walk into a haunted house or Halloween party.

2. Make a P.L.A.N. If your children are old enough to be without your supervision, develop a P.L.A.N. Your children must have Permission before they go anywhere, and choose a trick-or-treating Location you are familiar with. Ask your children for a list of specific Activities and times, and hold them accountable to that schedule. Finally, collect the Names and phone Numbers of the people your children will be with on Halloween night.

3. Talk about safe and unsafe secrets. Your children may have opted to keep their costumes a secret until Halloween. While this is fine, it is important to teach your children that not all secrets are safe. Secrets that are never meant to be told and make a child feel nervous or "icky" are unsafe secrets. Let your children know they need to come to you or another trusted adult for help if they have an unsafe secret.

4. Teach children what a stranger really is. Children often think strangers are big, scary people wearing dark colors. They need to know that, especially during a time when people wear costumes, strangers are anyone they don't know well. Strangers don't always look scary, and it is important to decide if someone is safe or unsafe based on how they make you feel, not by how they look on the outside.

5. Empower children to listen to their inner voice and speak up. Sometimes children don't want to go up to a specific house because it looks scary — this is OK! Teach your children that when they are unsure of a situation and a voice inside is telling them something isn't right, they should listen. Children may be in an unsafe situation and feel like they can't speak up or ask for help. By using a loud and confident voice to say, "Stop! That's not safe!" children are able to grab the attention of a trusted adult quickly and get help.

6. Check the offender/predator registry. When deciding on a neighborhood or route for trick-or-treating, it's a good idea to search the online registry of sexual offenders and predators at so you can determine which houses to avoid.

Many of these safety tips are based on concepts from the Lauren's Kids Safer, Smarter Kids abuse prevention curriculum. For more information about child safety and the Lauren's Kids foundation, visit:

Lauren Book, M.S.Ed., is the founder and CEO of Lauren's Kids and works to prevent child abuse and help survivors heal. She can be reached at:


New York

Westchester County Police Department Keeping Sex Offenders Off The Street For Halloween

from the Westchester County Police Department blog

WESTCHESTER, NY -- For the 10th Halloween in a row, Westchester County will require all sex offenders on probation to attend an educational forum to keep local sex offenders off the streets while children trick or treat.

More than 160 registered and non-registered sex offenders on probation in Westchester County have received special “invitations” from the Probation Department requiring them to attend the program at the County Courthouse.

This year, the event will also host 45 parolees from Westchester County and eight probationers from Putnam County. County Probation Officers will be assisted by officers from the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, New York State Parole and the Putnam County Probation Department.

The program will feature a variety of presenters, including two adult survivors of child sexual abuse who will share their experiences and insights on the impact of abuse as well as their stories of recovery. In addition, Keith Fadelici, assistant director of Victim's Assistance Services/WESTCOP, will share his experiences of working with victims of abuse and discuss the impact of sexual assault and trauma. He will also present a powerful video on the subject.

Assisting the Department of Probation with the program is Victims Assistance Services, a non-profit agency with a long history of providing services and support for victims in Westchester.

Commenting on this Blog entry will be automatically closed on December 29, 2014.



Elder Abuse: Domestic violence in later life

by Chelsey Perkins

T he issue of domestic violence is part of a national conversation as of late, brought to prominence by several high-profile incidents involving NFL players. It's likely most people, when thinking about the perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, picture young adults. Whether influenced by television, media or conventional wisdom, the idea that domestic violence is the province of the young is widespread.

This impression is a false one, said Trudy Gregorie, president of the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. The incidence of domestic violence in adults 60 and older is "much more prevalent than most people suspect," she said.

Gregorie, who presented on the topic at the 2014 Minnesota TRIAD conference at Cragun's Resort last month, focused on abuse between elderly intimate partners. She and other abuse victim advocates are highlighting unique challenges faced by older adults as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October.

Elder abuse or domestic violence

"As an issue in the community and at large, (domestic abuse in older adults) is very often subsumed into the overall issue of elder abuse," Gregorie said. "It is not really seen as a separate issue that is extremely prevalent in every community in the United States."

The World Health Organization defines elder abuse as "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person." This abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, financial, sexual abuse and neglect.

In a 2009 federally funded study on elder mistreatment, 11 percent of nearly 6,000 senior respondents reported emotional, physical or sexual mistreatment or potential neglect in the previous year. Of those, 1.6 percent reported physical mistreatment, 57 percent of which was perpetrated by a partner or spouse. In another study Gregorie cited, 6 percent of 5,200 couples age 60 or older reported physical violence in their relationship in the past year.

Gregorie noted the prevalence of male victims climbs among older adults compared to the 18-35 age group. This rise in part can be attributed to dynamics of caregiving and health problems in a relationship, she said.

"The reason (this issue) needs to have attention is because of the health concerns of this age group," Gregorie said. "The risk of injuries is so much higher. An injury for someone who's 60-plus or 70-plus might mean losing their independence or even having to go into a nursing home."

Unique challenges for older domestic violence victims

Abusive relationships in later life are often complex, stemming from a variety of circumstances that require specially designed responses, said Gregorie.

In some cases, the abuse has been ongoing in a long marriage.

"If a couple has been together for 50 or 60 years, there may have been abuse in that relationship throughout those whole 50 or 60 years," she said.

In other cases, abuse might have begun recently in a long relationship, which can happen for many reasons, said Gregorie.

"Perhaps the male in the relationship has just retired and so now they're together 24/7, which brings a lot of issues into play," she said. "Sometimes it happens when one of the members of that relationship begins to develop aging health issues and may require more intense care. The other member of the relationship isn't prepared for that level of caregiving, so now there's a lot of pressures in the relationship."

New abuse can occur in relationships in which one person is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease. A common delusion for Alzheimer's patients is the belief that their spouse is cheating on them, which can lead to isolation and verbal or physical abuse.

"That can be as much with women who are suffering from dementia as men," Gregorie said. "The risks (of abuse) are still higher for older women, but the differential between males and females is much less when you get older."

Both of these scenarios can collide in one situation, she noted, when a long-time abuse victim becomes the caregiver of their abusive spouse.

"She's now in the power position when she had been the victim," Gregorie said. "So the tables can be turned, which can put an older man at risk."

New relationships in later life, becoming more common, can also lead to abuse, particularly financial exploitation. Gregorie pointed to the "sweetheart scam," where a scam artist will specifically target and seduce an older adult to gain access to their financial resources.

"Whenever I speak to younger audiences, I have to help them understand that there is an emotional, romantic and sexual life after age 60," she said. "Very often, it may be individuals that they've just met that they don't know a lot about."

Older adult victims are less likely to leave an abusive relationship or seek outside help than their younger counterparts.

"It usually comes to light because another family member, a neighbor or a professional - whether it's a justice professional or a medical professional - sees the signs," Gregorie said.

The reasons older adult victims might not report violence or leave abusive relationships are numerous and are not much different from those given by the general population: fear, hopelessness, financial concerns and embarrassment, for example. Gregorie said these reasons tend to be more pervasive in older adults.

Cultural values among older adults discourage discussing family problems and encourage marital and familial loyalty, which can make it difficult for victims to feel supported in coming forward.

"When (older adults) were growing up, domestic violence was not identified as an issue that you could talk about," she said. "Very little response would occur if you did report it."

Traditional gender roles for both men and women play a part in whether victims feel comfortable reporting abuse as well.

"If you're a female victim, you grew up in a time where women did not have the rights or the respect outside of the home that we experience today," Gregorie said. "They were in a support role for their family, which is why they would often subsume their own best interest for what they felt was best for the family."

The women of this generation, she added, often did not work outside the home and are financially reliant upon their spouse's retirement income.

Men can feel uncomfortable reporting abuse by a spouse for similar reasons.

"(There is) that same gender dynamic of being the man of the family and feeling extremely embarrassed that someone might find out that they were being abused by their wife or their intimate partner," she said.

Health issues for victims might also discourage reporting abuse. According to the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL), "Older adults may be more likely to have vision, hearing or mobility limitations that can impact safety planning or limit options to live independently." This puts older adult victims in the position of choosing between remaining in an abusive relationship or potentially giving up some independence.

Tailored resources available

Domestic violence victim advocates and those working in elder care are recognizing the need to develop specialized resources for older adult victims.

Shelters specifically designed for the needs of older adults, including considerations for mobility and medical needs as well as separation from younger victims and children, are being developed. Protocols for support groups geared toward older adult victims in long-term abuse situations are also being designed by domestic violence experts.

"The approach to support groups and providing emotional and psychological assistance needs to be designed for that dynamic as opposed to younger women," Gregorie said.

In many cases, developing age-specific resources means forming coalitions between direct service organizations that can help meet varied needs. For example, once an older adult victim has been placed in appropriate housing, the next step is to ensure access to numerous senior resources.

"Once they're settled, we're making sure to plug in other senior services in the community like Meals on Wheels, in-home health care, transportation services and other things that are already existing in the community that can help sustain an older person on their own, even if they don't have financial resources," Gregorie said.

For older adults living in rural areas, accessing these resources becomes difficult and isolation of victims is more common. Recognizing the risks for rural victims, the federal Administration for Community Living has provided funding to train people such as postal carriers, repair and installation professionals and others who have access to homes to recognize signs of domestic violence. Religious leaders are also receiving training to intervene on behalf of victims.

"They become reporters and eyes and ears for situations that no one else may know about," Gregorie said.

Supporting victims: What to do

Do you suspect an older adult in your life might be a victim of domestic violence? The first step is to find out what resources are available in the victim's community, Gregorie said. She recommends starting with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE) but also tapping local elder care organizations. You can search for resources available in your area by visiting and entering your ZIP code. This provides connections to numerous areas of service, including housing, nutrition and legal assistance in addition to elder abuse resources.

The Senior LinkAge Line (800-333-2433) is a free hotline provided by the Minnesota Board on Aging that connects older adults with community services. Another source for Minnesotans is, which is a comprehensive one-stop shop of just about any kind of resource you can imagine needing.

Once you're familiar with resources, it's time to talk to the potential victim in a one-on-one situation.

"Just talk to them," Gregorie said. "Let them know you are there to help them, to listen to them, to respect their values, their choices."

It's important, she said, to be supportive no matter what choice the older adult makes, including remaining in the relationship.

"It's letting them know you're there, you support them, there is help available for them and that you will be there for them no matter what," she said. "Building that trust level around the issue is something that's really, really important for the older victim."

Ending domestic violence for everyone

As this issue remains in the public eye, the hope of domestic violence victim advocates is more people will feel empowered to come forward, to report abuse and to prevent the violence before it ever begins. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported call volume increased by 84 percent following the release of video of former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice physically abusing his wife.

NCALL's campaign this October encourages, "We can all know a world with no more abuse in later life."

Communities can collaborate to address the problem for everyone, including older adults, working toward a world with no more abuse. Period.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you suspect a loved one might be a victim, check for these signs of abuse.

• Injuries that do not match the explanation of how they occurred.

• Repeated "accidental injuries."

• Appearance of isolation.

• The potential victim says or hints they are afraid.

• Signs of depression, stress or trauma.

• Consideration or attempts of suicide by the potential victim.

• A history of alcohol or drug abuse, including prescription drugs.

• The potential victim is "difficult" or hard to get along with.

• Vague, chronic, non-specific complaints.

• Emotional and/or financial dependence on the potential abuser.

• Missed appointments.

• Delays in seeking medical help.

Based on information provided by the National Association of State Units on Aging.

Abuse resources in the Brainerd lakes area:

AccessNorth-Center for Independent Living of Northeastern Minnesota

Advocacy agencies of survivors of abuse and people with disabilities are working together to serve people who have experienced abuse.

606 Northwest Fifth St., Brainerd. 824-5228.

Advocates Against Domestic Abuse (AADA)

Provides support and advocacy to battered women, their children and victims of domestic abuse. Serves Crow Wing and Aitkin counties.

Call for location. 218-927-2327.

Crow Wing County-Victim Services, Inc.

All services are free and confidential. Crime victims can discuss their situation with an advocate and learn about options.

803 Kingwood St., No. 203, Brainerd. 828-9518.

Crow Wing County Community Services - Adult Protective Services

Adult Protective Services protect Minnesota's vulnerable adults by taking reports of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation.

204 Laurel St., Brainerd. 824-1240.

Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota-Senior Citizens Law Project

If you are 60 years of age or older and have a legal problem, project services are available to those in the most social and economic need.

324 South Fifth St., Suite A, Brainerd. 829-1701.

Mid-Minnesota Women's Center

This 24-hour emergency shelter provides a physical and emotionally safe place for adult battered women and their children free of charge. The shelter is handicapped accessible and open to women of all ages.

Call for location. 828-1216.

Information gathered from:



Middlesex County leaders say ‘Enough' to child sexual abuse

WALTHAM -- The movement to prevent child sexual abuse got a significant boost as county leaders from education, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, municipalities, the faith community, private citizens and legislators came together to form the Middlesex County Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Partnership. This latest coalition joins the efforts of the Enough Abuse Campaign, a community mobilization and citizen education effort now operating in several other communities across the state.

"The powerful force created by the deep commitment and resolve of these leaders will surely outmatch those who would sexually abuse and exploit our children in the places they live and learn and play," said Jetta Bernier, whose organization MassKids directs the campaign. "By pairing the formidable energy of this group with the campaign's tested tools and strategies, we are confident that thousands of Middlesex County adults will mobilize to get educated about the issue and then take specific actions to prevent it."

State Rep. Ken Gordon, convener of the meeting and who has provided leadership on the issue on Beacon Hill, pledged his support for new legislative efforts to address the issue in the upcoming 2015 legislative session, including addressing educator sexual misconduct and abuse – a problem that according to the U.S. Department of Education is affecting 10 percent or 4.5 million school children from kindergarten to 12th grade. State Rep. Tom Stanley pledged to engage a broad range of Waltham leaders and citizens in the Middlesex County effort.

Jodi Crowley, a leader with the North Suburban and Greater Boston YMCAs, pledged to work actively on the new partnership to further meet the Y's comprehensive child protection goals.

The partnership will meet again on Nov. 14 and in the interim will work to identify and recruit volunteers to become certified Enough Abuse Campaign trainers. A two-day Training of Trainers is being planned for early December so that the full effort to educate community parents, youth and professionals can begin in earnest in early 2015, according to the partnership.

Meanwhile, legislative proposals are being drafted now that will be presented to the partnership for their review later this year in preparation for the new legislative session in January.

Partnership members expressed gratitude to the Cummings Foundation for its leadership in supporting the effort to bring the Enough Abuse Campaign to Middlesex County.


United Kingdom

Report says child sexual exploitation ‘normal in parts of Greater Manchester'

Study by Ann Coffey MP calls for recognition of ‘real and ongoing problem' of abuse as a priority public health issue

by Helen Pidd

Sexual exploitation of vulnerable children has become the social norm in some parts of Greater Manchester, fuelled by explicit music videos and quasi-pornographic selfies, an MP has warned.

The systematic grooming of boys and girls remains a “real and ongoing problem”, a year after Greater Manchester police (GMP) was forced to admit it had failed abuse victims in Rochdale, said Ann Coffey, a former social worker who is now the Labour MP for Stockport. “My observations will make painful reading for those who hoped that Rochdale was an isolated case,” she writes in a significant report.

She said Britain needed a big change in attitudes towards child sexual exploitation similar to how perceptions of gay rights have changed over recent decades. She believes such exploitation should be declared a priority public health issue, like smoking, obesity, alcohol and drug use, so that a more strategic approach can be developed.

Coffey said police, social workers, prosecutors and juries are often inherently (albeit unconsciously) prejudiced against vulnerable teenagers – perhaps explaining why, out of 13,000 reported cases of major sexual offences against under-16s in the past six years in Greater Manchester, there have been only 1,000 convictions.

The report also suggests there is a significant underestimation of child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester: GMP figures on recorded sexual offences against under-18s between 1 June 2013 and 31 May 2014 show that only 111 cases out of 1,691 were flagged on the police computer as child exploitation.

During the eight months Coffey spent researching her report, schoolgirls, some prepubescent, told her that being harassed by older men while in their school uniform was simply “part of everyday life”. They also reported online abuse, but said it didn't bother them. “Big men will stop little girls in the road and the street. In person, it's real. But you can block it online,” said one girl.

They complained that men regularly tried to touch them or entice them into their cars, but that when police were alerted, officers told the girls: “Do not be causing trouble.” One girl told the MP: “The police have a stereotype of what we are, and we know that, so we do not go to them for help. We think: what's the point? Young people do not call the police because we know how they look down at us. We have to just focus on getting away from the guys.”

Another said: “If my house got burgled, I would go to the police; but if someone touched me, I would not go to the police because I feel it would be a waste of time.”

Coffey said she was shocked to discover that the Crown Prosecution Service threw out a child sexual exploitation case on the basis that a victim wore cropped tops. Another never went to trial after the girl's father told a social worker his daughter was a “slag” and only had herself to blame. Initially prosecutors didn't want to take the 2012 Rochdale grooming case to court because of concerns about the credibility of the witnesses.

Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the north-west, said he had written to Coffey to ask her for details of these cases. He said: “We would be extremely concerned if these comments were given as reasons for deciding not to take a case to court, but when setting out decision making it is also the duty of the prosecutor to anticipate likely angles that might be taken by the defence in their cross-examination of the victim, which could include references as it is alleged were made here.”

While welcoming the report, Afzal said it “does not recognise the leading role that the Crown Prosecution Service has played in transforming the criminal justice system's approach to child sexual abuse cases, in Greater Manchester and across the country.” He said the introduction of specialist prosecutors meant national conviction rates for child abuse are at their highest ever – 76.2%.

Coffey said teenage boys should be educated on how to treat and respect girls. Lads at Factory Zone, a youth group in Harpurhey, north Manchester, said it was becoming increasingly common for boys to “control” girls and keep them “on discipline”. A youth worker, Kemoy Walker, told Coffey: “This involves constant ringing to check what girls are doing and demanding photos to prove their whereabouts, telling them what to wear and often keeping them in the house … I find it scary and it is becoming more and more common. You can see in the girls' eyes that they are scared and are being controlled.”

But boys are also victims of sexual exploitation. Many of the young people Coffey spoke to often found themselves in risky situations, sometimes without even realising it. One boy said the man at the local chip shop was always offering him vodka, while another had been offered a pair of Vans trainers by a man. Neither initially saw the offers as part of the grooming process.

“I have been concerned about the number of people who have told me that in some neighbourhoods child sexual exploitation had become the new social norm,” said Coffey. “They say there is no respect for girls: gangs of youths pressurising vulnerable young girls (including those with learning disabilities) for sex, and adults allowing their houses to be used for drinking, drug-taking and having sex.”

Chief Constable of Greater Manchester police Sir Peter Fahy said he welcomed the recommendations within the report and insisted specialist CSE training was already being rolled out in the force.

He said: “We want children to know that they will be believed and that we will do absolutely everything in our power to protect and help them. Knowledge and awareness around the issue of CSE has advanced a great deal in recent years but we will never be complacent, there is always more we can do to safeguard and support young people.”

Coffey added: “This social norm has perhaps been fuelled by the increased sexualisation of children and young people, involving an explosion of explicit music videos and the normalisation of quasi-pornographic images. Sexting, selfies, Instagram and the like have given rise to new social norms in changed expectations of sexual entitlement, and with it a confused understanding of what constitutes consent.

“I think we have lost the sense of what a child is. Sexual predators out there are having their quite unacceptable views confirmed through messages in the wider media: that children are just sexualised young adults.”

The report was commissioned by Tony Lloyd, the police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester, following the Rochdale grooming scandal, which resulted in nine men being jailed in 2012. Last year GMP was forced to accept that some police officers held discriminatory attitudes towards vulnerable victims.

GMP currently has 260 “live” investigations into child sexual exploitation. Of these, 174 are recorded crimes and 18 of those cases involve multiple perpetrators.

On Tuesday, GMP arrested 11 people aged between 19 and 38 in a crackdown called Operation Heliodor on exploitation in the south Manchester area. They were held on suspicion of offences including sexual activity with a child, attempted indecent assault, inciting a child into prostitution, abduction and rape.

The key recommendations of the Coffey report are as follows:

• The removal of all references to “child prostitution” in legislation, because the term carries an implication of choice on the child's part.

• All responses to child sexual exploitation by statutory agencies in Greater Manchester should explicitly include “boys and young men”, to address concerns of under-reporting.

• All police response officers and community support officers should receive training about child sexual exploitation crimes.

• More information about child sexual exploitation should be given to the public generally and to those who are the “eyes and ears” of the community, including pharmacists, school crossing patrol staff, school nurses, refuse collectors, bus drivers, park attendants, housing officers, and shopkeepers, as well as taxi drivers and hoteliers.

• The building of a multimedia digital network led by young people to spearhead the fightback against sexual exploitation, including a high-profile weekly radio show produced and hosted by young people on exploitation-related issues.

Case studies

• One girl, F, was born addicted to heroin and was fostered out aged eight. At 12 years old, she started smoking, drinking and taking drugs. She was getting bullied in school and so started to run away frequently, which was when she met an older man. “I lost my virginity to him, and when my foster parent found out, she said ‘Why are you being a slag?' I was 12 and he was 19. Looking back on things, it should have been the 19-year-old's behaviour that was being looked at and questioned, not the 12-year-old's.”

• One young girl with a very troubled background started going missing. She was introduced by a friend to a 44-year-old man who had a makeshift tuck shop in the back of his car and would hang around giving children cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. He sexually assaulted her and she eventually reported him, but the police and social workers were not helpful at first. Her father said he had to fight “tooth and nail” to get the police to take her complaints seriously and believes they only proceeded because his daughter had kept evidence of more than 100 texts sent by the offender.

• A 16-year-old girl who had been put in a secure unit for the fourth time described what happened when she went missing from her children's home and was approached by a man in the street who said she could go to his house and hide, where he got her drunk. “He got us wrapped round his little finger. Got us drunk and everything. And then I thought to myself, ‘I know what he's doing, he's trying to get me in bed.' I went, ‘I need to go home.' So I got my friend to ring me. So, I've put the phone on loudspeaker and my mate went, ‘Please can you come home?' I went, ‘All right then, I'll be down in two minutes.' But he wouldn't let us go. So we has to break the window and jump out of the window.”

•  This article was amended on 30 October 2014 to add comments from Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the north-west.



Montco child center helps 1,900 sex abuse victims over last 5 years

by Margaret Gibbons

More than 1,900 kids have passed through its doors during the past five years to gain help in dealing with their worst nightmares.

Only for these kids the nightmares are very real. They are the victims of sexual abuse.

On Wednesday, Montgomery County's first and only child advocacy center, operated by the independent, nonprofit Mission Kids, welcomed donors and supporters to celebrate the center's fifth anniversary.

“When we opened the doors of Mission Kids five years ago, we never dreamed how far we could come in such a short time,” said District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, one of the center's driving forces.

“With the support given to child victims by Mission Kids, the District Attorney's Office and law enforcement have achieved an unprecedented level of success holding child abusers accountable in court, giving the child victims a true measure of justice in court while also providing them and their families with the services they need for healing.”

Prior to the creation of the center, medical professionals, social workers, law enforcement officials and prosecutors who dealt with child abuse often worked in a vacuum.

The child would be interviewed by each group, often in institutional surroundings.

Now, trained interviewers conduct age-appropriate, open-ended interviews with the kids, eliciting information that each discipline needs to do its job but not subjecting the child to repeated interviews, according to center director Abbie Newman.

The interviews take place in child-friendly surroundings.

In addition, the center hooks the children and their families up with the mental health and medical services they may need to begin the healing process as well as any support it might need as the case moves forward in the criminal justice system.

While there have been many highlights over the past five years, Newman said the center does not intend to rest on its laurels.

For example, she wants the center to increase its outreach programs including education programs on child abuse prevention.



A voice for child abuse victims

by Leanne McGrath

Protecting Bermuda's children is a vital cause that is very close to Karen Olson's heart.

Which is why the mother of two became a dedicated volunteer for SCARS (Saving Children and Revealing Secrets), which aims to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse and to be a voice for victims and their families.

Attending one of their training classes taught her about protecting children from predators and opened Ms Olson's eyes to the extent of this devastating problem, prompting her to step up to assist the charity, founded by mother Debi Ray-Rivers in 2011.

“I've probably been volunteering with them for about two years now,” Ms Olson said. “I've known Debi for years and went to a training session to learn what SCARS was all about.

“I learnt that I've lived such a sheltered life. I learnt that two friends had been molested as children and that child abuse is all around us.

“I'm a mother, I couldn't imagine that could have happened to my children. You don't want to think these things happen.

“I wanted to help and do something positive for Bermuda.”

Ms Olson, a Bermudian, took on the role of treasurer — handling the charity's accounts and various administrative tasks, which takes up many evenings and weekends.

But she is more than happy to devote the time and energy to such a worthwhile cause — although the shy and modest mother has preferred to work quietly in the back rather than be a public face of the charity.

“It's amazing being able to help the poor people who have been through this and hopefully making people aware of abuse to prevent it,” she said. “I like to be able to give and I'd been looking for a charity to get involved in. I like to be busy. I'm not one for sitting at home.

“But I've never experienced abuse so I don't have that to draw on and I don't like being the person out front, so I took on the admin — I pay the bills, do the banking. Give me the work to do in the back.”

SCARS' mission is to end the silence, secrets and shame surrounding child sexual abuse.

Among the charity's resources is the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training programme, which teaches adults how to prevent, recognise and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

The classes are free and open to all members of the community, not just parents, teachers or those who work with children, and the training combines survivors' stories, expert advice and practical guidance for preventing child sexual abuse.

SCARS also outlines the hard and horrifying facts about child abuse — that about one in ten children is abused before their 18th birthday, and that only ten percent of predators are strangers to the children they target. Forty percent of victims are abused by older or more powerful children and between 30 and 40 percent of abusers are family members.

“People at the training have said, ‘wow, I didn't know all this',” Ms Olson said. “People who work with children now think, maybe I should go back and look at this child's situation again and ask questions.

“SCARS is the only charity on the Island doing this type of work. Debi and Helen [Ponte, director of programmes and operations] are totally committed.

“I definitely recommend people do the training, even if you don't deal with children. You can learn the signs and help someone else to.

“Abuse can affect anyone and a lot of people hide it, they are scared to get it out. But SCARS shows there are places to get help and that it's not the victim's fault.

“People don't want to think about child abuse.

“I was never exposed to abuse and I'd never have thought about not sending my children to a class or camp by themselves — I trusted everybody. That comes from a sheltered life — we don't want to think anybody is going to harm a child.”

Ms Olson, 53, is mother to Douglas, 26, and Jeffrey, 22. The former works at his father's bar, the latter is at university. With her sons grown, she enjoys focusing on helping the community, and volunteers for the Bermuda Junior Service League as well as SCARS.

She also works full-time with two jobs — as an office administrator for Rosemont Guest Suites and with ABS Accounting Services.

“I was with the Junior Service League for years and I still sell books and cards for them,” she said.

“I'm too old to be a league member now but I'm a life member and still like to help. I don't like to sit still.”

Ms Olson said she was keen to continue working with SCARS and promote their training — more than 2,000 people in Bermuda have taken their class so far.

“It's amazing what SCARS has achieved in such a short time,” she said. “Debi is doing an amazing job, she has such a passion for it, so does Jon [Brunson, chairman of SCARS's board and a facilitator at the training classes].

“We want to keep making people aware that abuse is going on. And it helps people once they can talk about it. People who are there do talk about their experiences. It's very therapeutic and so many people are in the same boat.

“The focus is on prevention, we're not in a position to start counselling people but we can make people aware.

“It's great that so many schools, Sunday schools and sports are getting involved. These people see kids sometimes more than the parents do.”

Ms Olson credits SCARS with prompting people to report child abuse. US research shows about 88 percent of abuse is never reported. In a small community especially, people may not want their private business exposed. But the charity is spreading the message that the shame rests with the perpetrator, not the victim or their family.

“I think SCARS has definitely helped inspire more victims to come forward to report abuse,” Ms Olson said.

“I had a friend say they were molested years ago and had heard about SCARS and whether to go along.

“They said it was very hard keeping that inside for so long.

“Abuse can affect anybody — it doesn't matter whether you come from money or not, are black or white, young or old — and a lot of people do hide it. Get help and don't be afraid to do so.”

SCARS' training class and other resources are free to the public thanks to generous corporate donors.

“We can even come to homes,” Ms Olson said. “Get a group of friends together if you can't come to the weekend class.”

• For more information or to attend the training, visit or email


Do you know someone who is dedicated to making the Island a better place? Is there a good samaritan who selflessly helps others? A volunteer working tirelessly for charity? E-mail or call 278-0157.



Numbers don't tell the whole story in reports of child abuse

by Kim Hyatt

Michelle Zehnder Fischer doesn't focus on the numbers. Instead, it's the faces that weigh heavily in the Nicollet County attorney's mind.

She keeps their pictures — the young children whose parents she prosecuted for their murders — on a bulletin board in her office as reminder of why her work and the work she's now doing as a part of the Governor's Task Force on the Protection of Children is so critical. In its second meeting last week, the group, which includes state Sen. Kathy Sheran, D-Mankato, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, heard testimony from those working with child protection in northeastern Minnesota.

The task force is charged with making recommendations to the 2015 Legislature on comprehensive improvements to the child protection system and follows the governor's directive for all child protection agencies to be investigated to see how they handle reports of abuse and what resources are needed to improve the system statewide. Their work was initiated by a series of Star Tribune articles which unveiled the pitfalls of child protection in Minnesota when a Pope County agency screened out nine of the 15 reports about the late 4-year-old Eric Dean. The investigation also found that 71 percent of suspected maltreatment reports in Minnesota last year were not followed up on.

Zehnder Fischer says it's important not to look solely at numbers. Those, she says, don't tell the whole story.

What happens to reports?

To be screened in, a case must meet a certain “threshold,” to be either investigated or brought to family assessment. Within the Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines, the state provides criteria for a report to meet statutory requirements in order to be accepted.

For most of the cases screened out or turned away, there may be inadequate information, the report may not meet definitions of abuse or maltreatment, could be sent to a neighboring county where the incident reportedly occurred or may be a duplication of reported made by another individual. Screening out, the Nicollet County Attorney said, doesn't mean there's no follow up.

One of the issues, she said, is that every county appears to have its own way of tallying reports and acting on them.

“We want to look at a well articulated standard for screening decisions so there is more uniformity across the state so that those on the front lines have more guidelines in how to make a decision for screening purposes and in turn … there is better protection for children,” she said.

A case is investigated when it involves egregious harm, physical and sexual abuse or high risk neglect. In the investigation, the agency needs to determine if maltreatment occurred and if child protection is needed. The latter involves being assigned a case manager who develops a safety plan in order to assess the needs and strengths of the family. This requires a lot of fact finding and gathering data.

In Nicollet County, Zehnder Fischer said she's seen a “slight” increase in reports of parents inflicting physical harm on their children versus last year. But more than that, there's been more reporting related to mental health issues — depression, those diagnosed as bipolar of with chemical abuse issues.

Le Sueur County Human Services Director Susan Rynda says the county has seen a noticeable increase in reports. There have been 321 intakes (with 65 screened for assessment) of reports of child abuse so far this year. In 2012 there were 405 intakes (25 assessments) and in 2013 there were 450 intakes (34 assessments).

While child abuse and neglect has been in the news as of late, it remains an under-reported crime.

“And it's not like DWIs where you can put more officers out on the street and catch more people doing it—it's a very private type of thing,” County Attorney Dan McIntosh told the Owatonna People's Press. “But what helps us a lot is that many different positions are mandated reporters. So if they suspect child abuse, they are required to report it to law enforcement.”

Medical personnel and professionals, dental professionals, social workers, group home staff, foster parents, therapists, child care providers, teachers and law enforcement are all considered mandated reporters. By law they have to provide a verbal report within 24 hours of the suspected abuse preceded by a written report within 72 hours.

Most of the reporting in Le Sueur County, Rynda said, is from mandatory reporters in hospitals, schools, law enforcement and other care-giving roles, though that number fluctuates depending on the month since the primary reporting pool of schools which are out of session during summer.

Prevention efforts

Zehnder Fischer and Rynda say their offices work closely with the county's school districts, which initiates a number of reports of suspected abuse each year. In both counties there are programs for parents who are having difficulties parenting and Minnesota Valley Action Council in Mankato has a birth to three program where they provide in-home support to new parents.

“We offer many preventative and voluntary services through our Parent Support Outreach Program and our School Liaison Social Work program,” Rynda said, adding that “Local schools are now working with area providers to offer in-school mental health resources and services.”

In addition, Rynda said the Le Sueur County staff offers mandated reporter training.

Whether residents are required by law to report suspected abuse, Zehnder Fischer believes everyone who believes it's taking place has an obligation to speak up or support parents they see are struggling, even if it's something as simple as asking what you can do to help.

“Just offering to be a resource can be the help that parent needs,” she said.

“They're our most vulnerable group,” Zehnder Fischer said of children. “They deserve a safe and happy home and the protection we can give them. The children we don't protect face a lifetime of consequences …if we don't offer them a safe and loving home.”



Switzerland's shame: The children used as cheap farm labour

by Kavita Puri

Thousands of people in Switzerland who were forced into child labour are demanding compensation for their stolen childhoods. Since the 1850s hundreds of thousands of Swiss children were taken from their parents and sent to farms to work - a practice that continued well into the 20th Century.

David Gogniat heard a loud knock on the door. There were two policemen.

"I heard them shouting and realised something was wrong. I looked out and saw that my mother had pushed the policemen down the stairs," he says.

"She then came back in and slammed the door. The next day three policemen came. One held my mother and the other took me with them."

At the age of eight, he was in effect kidnapped and taken away to a farm. To this day he has no idea why.

For the first years of his life, he and his older brother and sisters lived alone with their mother. They were poor, but his childhood was happy until one day in 1946, when he came home from school to find his siblings had disappeared.

A year later it was his turn.

He was taken to an old farmhouse and became the farmhand. He would wake before 06:00 and worked before and after school. His day finished after 22:00. This physically imposing man in his 70s looks vulnerable as he remembers the frequent violence from the foster father. "I would almost describe him as a tyrant... I was afraid of him. He had quite a temper and would hit me for the smallest thing," Gogniat says.

On one occasion, when he was older, he remembers he snapped, grabbed his foster father, pushed him against the wall and was about to hit him. The man threatened him: "If you hit me, I'll have you sent to an institution." David backed off.

His siblings were living with families in the nearby village, though he rarely saw them. He missed his mother desperately. They wrote and there were occasional visits. One day his mother made an audacious attempt to get her children back. She came up with an Italian couple in a Fiat Topolino and said she was taking his siblings for a walk. David wasn't there but it was the talk of the village when he came back that night. The police brought the children back three days later.

"The fact that my mother arranged to kidnap her own children and take them back home to Bern with her just goes to show how much she was struggling against the authorities," Gogniat says. On his mother's death he made a shocking discovery. He found papers which showed she had been paying money to the foster families for the upkeep of her four children, who had been forcibly taken away from her and were working as indentured labourers.

Gogniat, his brother and two sisters were "contract children" or verdingkinder as they are known in Switzerland. The practice of using children as cheap labour on farms and in homes began in the 1850s and it continued into the second half of the 20th Century. Historian Loretta Seglias says children were taken away for "economic reasons most of the time… up until World War Two Switzerland was not a wealthy country, and a lot of the people were poor". Agriculture was not mechanised and so farms needed child labour.

If a child became orphaned, a parent was unmarried, there was fear of neglect, or you had the misfortune to be poor, the communities would intervene. Authorities tried to find the cheapest way to look after these children, so they took them out of their families and placed them in foster families.

"They wanted to take these children out of the poor family and put them somewhere else where they could learn how to work, as through work they could support themselves as adults," says Seglias.

Dealing with the poor in this way she says was social engineering. If a parent dared to object, they could face measures themselves. "They could be put in prison or an institution where you would be made to work, so you could always put pressure on the parents."

Mostly it was farms that children were sent to, but not always. Sarah (not her real name) had been in institutions from birth, but in 1972, at the age of nine, she was sent to a home in a village, where she was expected to clean the house. She did that before and after school, and at night cleaned offices in nearby villages for her foster mother. She was beaten regularly by the mother, she says, and from the age of 11 was sexually abused by the sons at night.

This is the first time she has spoken about her story and her hands shake as she remembers. "The worst thing is that one sister, their daughter, once caught one of those boys... while I was asleep and she told the woman... [who said] that it didn't matter, I was just a slag anyway," Sarah says. A teacher and the school doctor wrote to the authorities, to express concern about her, but nothing was done.

There was no official decision to end the use of contract children. Seglias says it just naturally started to die out in the 1960s and 70s. As farming became mechanised, the need for child labour vanished. But Switzerland was changing too. Women got the vote in 1971 and attitudes towards poverty and single mothers moved on.

I found an exceptionally late case in a remote part of Switzerland. In 1979, Christian's mother was struggling. Recently divorced from a violent husband she needed support.

Instead, the state took her seven and eight-year-old sons to a farm many hours away by car. Christian remembers getting out of the car and watching his mother and the woman from social services driving off.

"My brother and I stood in front of the house feeling very lost and didn't know what to do… it was a strange moment, a moment you never forget," he says.

On the first day they were given overalls and perfectly fitting rubber boots, "because before the placement the woman from social services had even asked what size shoes we wore… When I think back I do believe there was an awareness that my brother and I would be made to work there."

There was work before and after school, at weekends and all year round. He remembers one incident, at a silo where cut grass was kept to make into silage. "In winter it was pretty frozen and I had to hack quite hard with the pitchfork and I was put under pressure and then this accident happened and the fork went through my toe."

Christian says work accidents were never reported to his mother or social services. And if the boys didn't work hard enough there were repercussions. Food was withheld as a form of punishment.

"My brother and I just went hungry at the time. When I think back there were five years during which we constantly went hungry. That's why my brother and I used to steal food," Christian says. He remembers they stole chocolate from the village shop - though he now thinks the owners knew the boys were hungry and let them take the goodies. A former teacher of Christian's at the local school says with hindsight he looked malnourished.

But there were also more serious consequences if Christian didn't work hard enough, including violence. "We were pretty much being driven to work," he says. "There were many beatings, slaps in the face, pulling of hair, tugging of ears - there was also one incident involving something like a mock castration."

Christian has no doubt why he and his brother were placed with the farmer. "I believe it was about cheap labour... we were profitable," he says. "They expanded the farm... it was five years of hard work."

Historians estimate there were hundreds of thousands such children. For one year alone in the 1930s, records show 30,000 children were placed in foster families across Switzerland.

"It's hard to know precisely how many contract children there were as records were kept locally, and sometimes not at all," says Loretta Seglias. "Some children were also placed by private organisations, or their own families."

The extent to which these children were treated as commodities is demonstrated by the fact that there are cases even in the early 20th Century where they were herded into a village square and sold at public auction.

Seglias shows me some photographs. One child looks barely two - surely she couldn't be a contract child? "She could, she would be brushing floors bringing in the milk. Sometimes they came as babies on to the farms, and the bigger they grew the more work they would do," Seglias says.

In her studies, and speaking to former contract children she finds recurring themes. The lack of information comes up again and again.

"Children didn't know what was happening to them, why they were taken away, why they couldn't go home, see their parents, why they were being abused and no-one believed them," she says.

"The other thing is the lack of love. Being in a family where you are not part of the family, you are just there for working." And it left a devastating mark for the rest of the children's lives. Some have huge psychological problems, difficulties with getting involved with others and their own families. For others it was too much to bear. Some committed suicide after such a childhood.

Social workers did make visits. David Gogniat says his family had no telephone, so when a social worker called a house in the village to announce that she was coming, a white sheet was hung out of a window as a warning to the foster family. On the day of this annual visit David didn't have to work, and was allowed to have lunch with the family at the table. "That was the only time I was treated as a member of the family… She sat at the table with us and when she asked a question I was too scared to say anything, because I knew if I did the foster family would beat me."

Sarah too remembers that visits were announced and that social workers were always welcomed with cake, biscuits and coffee. "I used to sit at the table too. It was always lovely, ironically speaking, but at least I knew I was being left in peace, that nothing was going to happen." She never spoke alone to a social worker during her stay with the family.

Christian doesn't remember seeing a social worker alone either. In his documents, social workers wrote that he was "happy". In one of the letters, a visit is announced, saying it doesn't matter if the children are at school. Christian shows me letters written by his mother, detailing her concern that they were being beaten, were malnourished, and doing agricultural labour. His mother organised a medical assessment, on one of his rare visits home, and the doctor's conclusion was that he was psychologically and physically exhausted. This triggered his removal from the farm in 1985, when he was 14. His older brother, left at the same time. They were then sent to a state-run institution.

An exhibition which opened five years ago, and is still running today at the Ballenburg open-air museum, awoke modern Switzerland with a shock to its dark past of child exploitation. The man behind it, Basil Rogger, says that from the 1920s on there was a constant flow of pamphlets, autobiographies, and newspaper articles about the plight of the contract children. Their history was not a secret. If you wanted to know about it you could.

By the time of the exhibition, a generation had passed since the practice had died out, and there was enough distance to cope with it. Crucially, he says, the state was prepared to address the issue. Contract children who thought their experiences were isolated realised they were not alone, and began to share their stories.

Visitors also began to ask questions within their own family - Rogger says when he met people weeks after the exhibition they would tell him someone in their family was a contract child. "So people became aware of the omnipresence of this system, because almost any Swiss person knows someone placed in a foster family."

In recent years there has been a process of national soul-searching. Last year an official apology was made to contract children, and other victims of the state's compulsory measures - people who had been forcibly sterilised, or unlawfully detained.

The Swiss Parliament, the Bundeshaus is buzzing. The campaigner Guido Fluri has just got the 100,000 signatures for a petition that could put the question of compensation to a national referendum. It's calling for a restitution package of about 500 million Swiss Francs (£327m) for the 10,000 contract children estimated to be alive today, as well as others wronged by the state's coercive measures. The petition was launched in April. Fluri says its success shows how strongly the Swiss people sympathise with the contract children.

He is in parliament lobbying politicians to win their support for the petition. He explains to parliamentarians the plight of survivors - "people who suffered for decades, who fought, who were never able to leave their trenches, who hid away, who were ashamed of their story… some of whom are living in neglect". It's not just money, he says. "What's important is to point the way towards acknowledging that huge suffering."

The Farmers Union agrees with the principle of compensation, but is adamant that farmers should not have to contribute. You have to understand the times in which these children were placed into foster care, says union president Markus Ritter. Councils and churches had no money. Farming families were asked to take children who had fallen on difficult times or had one parent so the farmers were fulfilling a social function. Does he acknowledge abuse occurred? "We received a lot of feedback from children who were treated really well… But we are also aware that some children were not treated properly."

Guido Fluri says this social re-examination is liberating for some former contract children. Many elderly people come on crutches and in wheelchairs to his office to discuss their stories with him. The other day he found a poem left on his desk. For others, public discussion is too much to bear, and Fluri has received death threats. "Many who have experienced such severe suffering feel that wounds are being reopened," he says. "You can understand. They are completely overwhelmed by the situation."

It's taken a long time for the drive for compensation to reach this point, and there could still be many years of parliamentary discussion more before it becomes a reality. Loretta Seglias says the issue of restitution is a complicated one in Switzerland. "There is this fear of having to pay compensation... Some will say who else will come forward?" The experience of war reparations has left a scar.

David Gogniat, who left his foster family when he was 16, is now 75. He runs a successful trucking business. He arrives with his wife at the Bern archive. Since July, former contract children have had the right to access their childhood files.

David started the search into his past two months ago. He waits nervously outside in the autumn sunshine.

"To me it feels as though there was some sort of an agreement between the farmers and child services to provide children as cheap labour," he says. But he only wants to know one thing: "Who was responsible for the fact we were taken away?"

He accepts that he may end up feeling disappointed, but he also thinks this could help him move on.

Once inside, he waits in a modern glass room. Yvonne Pfaffli, who has found his records, arrives with two files. I leave David in private to absorb it all. A while later, earlier than I expect, he emerges.

"Things came to light that I hadn't heard of or seen before, and I think I need to look at it again some other time," he says. Later, he tells me he learned something about his father, and some intriguing financial information - but he doesn't divulge details. He just seems relieved to have held the files of his childhood in his hands.

Over many more visits to the archive he will now try to piece together the mysteries of his past.

Many people have big gaps in their knowledge, says Pfaffli. They may remember being taken away in a black car, without ever having known why.

"They didn't know that it might be the result of something like their parents' divorce," she says. "These are very big questions, and many are nervous, and many are probably afraid to read those files because they don't know what to expect, but on the other hand they are hugely grateful that these files exist."

The documents have usually been written by social services staff and their perspective may be very different from the child's. There tends to be no mention of abuse.

Sarah, now 51, left her foster family at 15 for an apprenticeship and never went back. She too has her file, though she was shocked at some significant omissions. Letters from her school doctor and teacher expressing concern about the way she was treated are not there, she says. Neither is a letter from the local authority apologising for placing her with an inappropriate family, which she says she was only ever allowed to read and not keep. With the help of the Verdingkinder network she is trying to trace them.

"What's also missing is the bit explaining why I was placed in that family in the first place, who made the decision, how it even came to that, so my files are anything but complete," she says. "And that's a shame. All we want is our story, and then we can draw a line under it… I am by no means certain whether the authorities aren't just putting up a front when they say they're helping us. For me there is a question mark."

Christian got his files back in July. "It's very very important. It's my life. It's also important for coming to terms with it in a historical and scientific way," he says. He has many questions: why they were taken away, and why so far away from their mother? Did the authorities know about the work they were doing. Did they know about the polio-arthritis he began to suffer from while living with the foster family? He says the report from a psychologist that triggered his removal from the farm is missing. He is still studying the 700 pages.

He shows me letters from his mother documenting her concern about her sons' health and the fact that they were not allowed to go to secondary school.

There is a contract with the farmer showing his parents' contribution to the foster family of 900 Swiss Francs a month, later increased.

But some former contract children find that no files remain. "Either they have been destroyed a long time ago, or more recently," says historian Loretta Seglias. "Some get answers… others don't."

Christian's foster parents agree to meet me - and are open to meeting him. One early morning we make the journey to the countryside.

Before we get in the car, Christian tells me he doesn't expect an apology, but by talking about what happened, he thinks, maybe they will reflect on how they behaved. As we drive into the countryside the views are breathtaking. Christian looks out of the window. "I am feeling very complex emotions. The landscape that used to give comfort to me as a child is giving me comfort now, but I'm also a bit speechless. It's difficult... I am feeling nervous as I have no idea what will happen there."

As we enter the village, Christian points out the village shop where he used to steal chocolate as a child. It's had a makeover three decades on. He becomes palpably anxious as we approach the farm. He wants to be left at a nearby river while we conduct the interview.

I approach the picture-postcard farmhouse. After some time, the farmer and his wife emerge. They agree to talk but on the condition of anonymity. They deny all of Christian's allegations - describing them as "lies". They say he never worked before or after school… maybe during the holidays he swept the stables. And they insist they were never violent towards Christian or his brother.

"No. You shouldn't hit children," says the farmer. "On the contrary" says his wife "with hugs, we tried with love." I mention the mock-castration, "Ha, castrate!" the farmer shouts. "What else? Those are some memories he has!"

It infuriates him when I say Christian said he felt as if he were a contract child. "No, he wasn't a contract child, he was no contract child, we had them as if they were our own children," says the farmer.

I ask how it feels three decades on to have these allegations made against them. "It's a saddening feeling, very sad," says the farmer. His wife adds: "I was so attached to those two."

But they refuse to see Christian. "We congratulate him on those lies he cooked up!" she says. The farmer adds: "I wouldn't even look at such a person with my backside."

Afterwards, I tell Christian there will be no meeting. "In some ways it makes me very, very sad because I was here, he had the opportunity to speak to me… I had prepared myself to talk to him and I would like to have confronted him with these questions in person and seen whether he would also have told me it was lies."

Christian walks back to the car, limping because of his arthritis. On the way back he is silent. Just before reaching home he tells me he has the same feeling of dread he used to have when going back to the farm. He seems fragile.

"I don't know where my journey will take me, I just know I want to fight for something that needs to be done," he says. "And I want to take responsibility not just for my brother and myself but for others in my generation as well."

Because it all happened so long ago, it is no longer possible for charges to be brought against the farmer, should the authorities have wanted to. Very few prosecutions have ever taken place against the foster parents of contract children, or the social workers who failed them.

Sarah's home is covered with pictures of her children and grandchildren. She has a happy marriage. Her family know nothing of her childhood. She keeps the file containing her records away from the house so there is no risk of it being discovered. She attends contract children support meetings in a different city so she won't be recognised.

"I don't want to stand in my children's way - I don't want them to be snubbed because of me because of my past," she says. "Contract children still haven't found their place in society, we're still considered to be on a lower level, or even in the basement. That's why I'd rather the neighbours didn't know."

David Gogniat used to be Bern president of the Hauliers Association, and some members found out recently that he had been a contract child. "It then turned out some people I had done business with had grown up just like me," he says. "They later founded a club and a few weeks ago they invited me to visit, so I am now a member."

His goal is to get compensation for former contract children. "I was lucky to be healthy so I was able to work and managed to make a life for myself," he says. "But many were not that fortunate."

Christian, now 42, is an artist. His home is decorated with his sculptures and pictures. His career choice is no coincidence. "My brother and I were never encouraged to put our feelings into words, to describe them, and of course to express them without fear," he says. "Somehow I felt in art I learned to talk about my inner thoughts, the images inside me and also about the external impressions and images, so this path was very, very important for me."

His relationship with his mother has been damaged. "These events have completely torn my family apart," he says. His mother agrees. "I would say we have grown apart, we don't really have much in common," she says. "It's very difficult, even now."

Christian says the experiences of his childhood have left huge scars.

"You understand you are different, but you don't want to be different, you'd somehow like to be normal, you'd like to pretend this had somehow never happened."



Vatican defrocks three suspended Archdiocese of Cincinnati priests

All have been on administrative leave since at least 2004


CINCINNATI —The Vatican has permanently removed three Archdiocese of Cincinnati priests from the priesthood.

The archdiocese said Thomas Kuhn, Thomas Feldhaus, and Ronald Cooper have been permanently removed from both the rights and the obligations of the priesthood after a canonical process.

The decisions were made by a panel of three judges in another diocese and affirmed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“I hope that this resolution will bring some measure of closure and healing to anyone harmed by these priests,” said Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, in a news release. “With this decision, all of the cases presented to the CDF have been dealt with and we have no more priests of the Archdiocese on administrative leave."

Kuhn was put on administrative leave in 2002 after law enforcement officers seized the office computers at St. Henry Parish in Dayton, where he was pastor. In 2004, he was convicted of 11 misdemeanor charges of public indecency and providing alcohol to minors.

Feldhaus was put on administrative leave in 2003 after an allegation that he inappropriately touched a minor on two occasions around 1979.

Cooper was put on administrative leave in 2004 as a result of an allegation that he inappropriately touched a minor sometime in 1983 and/or 1984. An adult male reported to the Archdiocese that when he was a teenager, Cooper inappropriately touched him several times.

A priest on administrative leave may not celebrate the sacraments, engage in priestly ministry, or present himself as a priest in any way, the archdiocese said.

“As Archbishop, I deeply regret that any representative of the local Church has ever harmed a child under our care. We remain committed to enforcing our policies to provide a safe environment for children under our care, and to ministering to survivors of abuse,” Schnurr said in the news release.



Grandmothers against child abuse working to help center raise money

by Tim Potter

Lily Hill and Beverly “B-Kay” Van Es have been trying to raise awareness of child abuse for almost four years now through an effort that uses yard signs, bumper stickers and wrist bands.

The message they put on the signs — “Be aware. Child abuse can be anywhere!!! Call 911.” — grew out of their resolve to do something after the killing of a 19-month-old North Newton boy, Vincent Hill. The two Wichita grandmothers also have held child-abuse-prevention talks in schools.

So it makes sense to the two women to help raise money for the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, which serves abused children.

The CAC is raising money to open a facility that would put all the services children need under one roof. The center needs to raise about $300,000 by Dec. 15 for a challenge grant and after that must raise $2.3 million to complete the fund-raising campaign, said the CAC's executive director, Diana Schunn.

Hill, 68, and Van Es, 74, who sometimes call themselves God's Grandmas, are partnering with the CAC to host a November meeting to raise awareness and, they hope, some money for the CAC endeavor.

The two grandmothers have been handing out fliers that say, “Be informed about the safety of all our children.” The fliers are publicizing the meeting, at 6 p.m. Nov. 9, a Sunday, at Asbury Church, 2801W. 15th St., near 15th and St. Paul, between West Street and McLean Boulevard. There is seating for 350 people. Donations will be accepted for the center. Schunn, Van Es and Hill will speak.

“We're doing what we can,” Van Es said. “There are a lot of ordinary people that will give what they can, and we want to give them that opportunity.”

When the two grandmothers told Schunn that the Nov. 9 event might not bring a ton of donations, Van Es said Schunn told them not to worry, that it's “going to raise prevention … we're going to raise awareness.”

The two women will be giving out their anti-child-abuse yard signs at the November meeting.

“We're just doing what God wants us to do,” Van Es said.

For more information, Van Es can be contacted at (316) 838-8601, and Hill can be reached at (316) 943-1437.



Fugitive Massachusetts child rape suspect who cut off GPS is caught after driving into NY lake

by The Associated Press

BOSTON — A Massachusetts child rape suspect who police say cut off a court-ordered GPS monitoring device and went on a cross-country crime spree has been captured after a month on the lam.

Massachusetts State Police say 26-year-old Gregory Lewis of Southbridge was caught just before midnight Tuesday in the village of Fort Edward, New York, after driving into the Hudson River while fleeing from a traffic stop.

Police say Lewis had a gun, but no shots were fired when he was apprehended.

He is expected to be arraigned Wednesday on a fugitive charge.

Lewis was released on $1,000 bail after his arraignment Aug. 6 on charges including statutory rape of a child. He fled Sept. 15.

He's suspected of crimes in several states while on the run, including Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado and Oregon.



Amendment allowing new evidence in child sexual abuse cases divides legal community

by Phillip Sitter

JEFFERSON CITY — It's easy to agree about the brutality of sex crimes against children and the gut-wrenching emotions felt for victims. But opinions throughout the legal system vary on how to fairly seek justice in those cases.

Amendment 2, which Missouri voters can vote for or against this November, states that child sexual abuse cases are different before the law. If passed, the state constitutional amendment would allow for propensity evidence to be used against suspected child sexual abusers — at the discretion of judges.

Propensity evidence is, as the proposed amendment defines it, "relevant evidence of prior criminal acts, whether charged or uncharged." Evidence would be considered relevant if it supported a victim's account or showed a pattern of abusive behavior by the suspect. The amendment allows judges to decide if the evidence goes too far in creating a bias.

Prosecutors and victims advocates see propensity evidence as a key tool to getting more convictions against sexual abusers of children. This tool was banned from their legal toolkit in 2007 by the Missouri Supreme Court. The State of Missouri v. Ellison decision overruled a previous statute that allowed for propensity evidence.

There are "significant hurdles in the way" of a successful prosecution of a child sexual abuse case, said Dan Knight, Boone County prosecuting attorney.

"Even when we do get to jury trial in these cases, what will happen typically is it will be just that child up there, going it alone. There is no corroborating evidence, because, again, the crime is committed behind closed doors, maybe it wasn't reported for a long time, so there's no DNA (evidence)," Knight said. "So then there will be inconsistencies sometimes that develop in (the child's) testimony, what I would consider to be minor inconsistencies. Defense attorneys will argue that there is reasonable doubt and (the jury) should acquit."

If Amendment 2 passes and propensity evidence becomes admissible in court, prior allegations and convictions against defendants could be used as supportive evidence to a victim's testimony.

"If someone has been convicted multiple times of doing the exact same thing, in the exact same way — we're talking about convictions — that is not admissible currently under the system that we have right now, without the passage of this amendment," Knight said.

Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge, drafted the bill that eventually became the Amendment 2 ballot issue voters will see in November. McCaherty was moved to legislative action after hearing from a constituent whose young daughter had allegedly been sexually abused by her father. That case was not pursued by the local prosecutor, McCaherty said.

Afterwards, McCaherty collaborated with the Missouri State Prosecuting Attorney's office to examine current laws and learn what hindered prosecutors from successfully pursuing such cases. That discussion led him to come up with Amendment 2.

"They determined this was the No. 1 thing to do to help protect kids," McCaherty said of the prosecuting attorney's office's recommendation of Amendment 2.

However, others believe there are risks with letting propensity evidence into court.

"One of the fundamental things that we have is the right to a fair trial, a right to challenge an allegation of criminality on the merits," Columbia-based attorney Stephen Wyse said.

Wyse said the amendment will introduce "mere allegations of a prior bad act" that violated the right to a fair trial.

"Guilty people are not the only ones ever accused of crimes. When you make it easier to convict people, you're also making it easier for the enhanced risk of convicting someone who didn't commit the offense," said Michael Barrett, general counsel and public information officer with the Missouri State Public Defender's office.

Barrett said that the Missouri State Public Defender's office had no stance, either for or against, on Amendment 2.

However, Barrett did have his own words of caution on the proposal of the amendment. "By allowing (propensity evidence) in these types of cases, it almost creates different standards for justice in different types of cases, which I think is problematic," he said.

Eric Zahnd is the Platte County prosecuting attorney and co-chair of Protect Missouri Children, the campaign arm in support of Amendment 2. Zahnd acknowledged that child sexual abuse cases may share similarities with domestic violence or elder abuse cases, for which propensity evidence is not and will not be admissible in court under Amendment 2.

"I wouldn't be opposed necessarily," Zahnd said of extending propensity evidence availability to domestic violence and elder abuse cases. "But we're not going that far," he said.

Rep. McCaherty also felt that allowing propensity evidence into child sexual abuse cases would not open a door for that kind of evidence to be allowed in other type of cases in the future.

"No, I don't think it does, nor do I think we want it to," he said. "We drafted it so narrowly so that it couldn't be used for anything else."

Unlike in cases of elder abuse, children "cannot express what happened to them because they are not sexual creatures. They don't have the terms for their body parts," said Emily van Schenkhof, deputy director of Missouri Kids First.

Missouri Kids First represents child advocacy centers in the state, advocates for laws and policies, and provides professional development and training for "members of our multi-disciplinary teams that investigate child abuse," van Schenkhof said.

Van Schenkhof has no apprehensions about Amendment 2.

"If we felt that this was something radical, that was outside of the norm, I wouldn't support it, because I'm not in the business of supporting bad public policy on constitutional things," she said."I want Missouri to be the state that is on the cutting edge of preventing and addressing child sexual abuse, not a state that sticks out as far as having very prohibitive evidentiary standards."

Prosecutors assure that even as Amendment 2 expands evidentiary standards, judges allow propensity evidence only when appropriate.

"A prosecutor is still going to have to convince a judge that the probative value of this (propensity) evidence outweighs any prejudicial effect. A judge is still always the gatekeeper," he said.

However, Wyse said that when dealing with such emotionally charged cases such as child sexual abuse cases, "we are dealing with passions, and judges have passions as well."

"Getting at the truth can take longer and require more effort, but truth is the quintessence of justice. We need to tread cautiously when throwing out safeguards," Barrett said.



MIT Sexual Assault Survey Finds Many Female Undergrads Downplay Their Own Attacks

by Tyler Kingkade

(Graphics on site)

About one-sixth female undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a survey released Monday that they have experienced sexual assault at the prestigious university, but many do not realize what they went through was a violation.

MIT officials said this data, which includes responses from 3,844 undergraduate and graduate students at the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus, will be implemented in new education efforts and used by a task force on sexual assault at the university.

The survey found that 17 percent of female undergrads, as well as 5 percent of male undergraduates, report having experienced specific unwanted sexual behaviors involving use of force, physical threat or incapacitation. However, when asked directly if they'd been sexually assaulted, only 10 percent of female respondents said yes, and 5 percent said the same when asked if they'd been raped.

MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart said this discrepancy was reinforced by a number of listening sessions she held with students over several months, in which she said she was often asked, "What exactly is sexual assault anyway?"

"That indicates to us there is confusion around what sexual assault is, and that's why it's imperative, I think, that we open up this dialogue and increase education about what constitutes sexual assault and consent," Barnhart told reporters Monday.

Another 12 percent of female undergrads reported experiencing "unwanted sexual behaviors" that did not involve use of force, physical threat or incapacitation. Unwanted sexual behaviors included those that would violate MIT's policy against sexual misconduct, such as attempted or completed oral sex, penetration and sexual touching or groping.

"I am disturbed by the extent and nature of the problem reflected in the survey results," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a statement. "As a community, we depend on mutual respect and trust."

"Sexual assault violates our core MIT values," Reif continued. "It has no place here. I am confident that, with this shared understanding and armed with this new data, the MIT community will find a path to significant positive change."

The university noted that the 17 percent figure puts MIT on par with a widely cited statistic that 19 percent of undergraduate women experience rape or sexual assault under conditions of force, threat or incapacitation.

About two-thirds of those who experienced these behaviors told someone, but only one in 20 officially reported it to their university.

Seventy-two percent of respondents who were sexually assaulted said they did not think the incident was serious enough to officially report. Fifty-five percent said it was not clear that harm was intended, and nearly half the victims said they thought they were at least partially responsible for the incident.

MIT could soon disclose more about how it disciplines students who are found responsible for sexual violence. Barnhart said addressing transparency of those decisions was "an important" goal for her. More information about potential changes could come in the next few weeks from the university's task force on sexual assault.

Data obtained by The Huffington Post through the U.S. Department of Justice showed that in 2012, MIT suspended four students found responsible for sexual assault and gave a reprimand to one.

MIT's survey also included information about other incidents, as well as attitudes about sexism on campus.

Fourteen percent of female undergraduates said they'd been stalked, and 15 percent said they'd been sexually harassed.

Nearly all of the female respondents who were violated said their assailants were men, while two-thirds of the men who reported unwanted sexual behavior said the perpetrators were women.

Among the male and female students combined, one in three said they had heard sexist remarks in class, but four in five had heard them in social settings, the survey results showed.

MIT plans to conduct further surveys on an ongoing basis, although the timing has not yet been determined.

The school described several planned and current steps it is taking to address sexual violence on campus. It is increasing staff to respond to those who experience sexual assault, and revamping both procedures for reporting complaints and processes for addressing reported complaints. In addition, it has a Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Task Force in place and is planning training on effective "bystander intervention" to show students how to stop assaults in the early stages before they can escalate.



It's Time Colleges Addressed Childhood Sexual Abuse Too

by Savannah Badalich

How can campuses expand their efforts and support for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse?

With the college semester already underway — or fast approaching for universities following the quarter system — survivor groups and campaigns on campus are busy at work promoting consent, bystander intervention, and resource education to incoming freshman and transfers. These first fifteen weeks are critical to advocates, as there are more frequent occurrences of sexual violence during this time – called the “Other Freshman 15.”

Most student advocates and groups focus primarily on sexual assault while in college. It's an important issue to address, evidenced by the sheer number of individuals who experience some form of sexual coercion during their time on campus. In a survey conducted for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly equal numbers (one in twenty) college-aged women and men reported having experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape in the 12 months prior to taking the survey. Those numbers are startling. But thanks to the incredible work of survivor activists and advocates around the country, there have recently been exceptional changes and improvements on the campus, state, and national level to address this issue, with more work on the way.

However, sexual assault is not confined to the bounds of time at or location of our campuses. It unfortunately starts much earlier than that – in our communities, neighborhoods, and homes. The focus on college sexual violence is an important one, but such a narrow scope fails to provide support and address an even greater number of students, faculty and staff who walk onto our campus having already experienced sexual traumaas children. One in four women and one in six men have had an unwanted or abusive sexual experience in childhood. Many of those who experienced childhood sexual abuse will rarely tell anyone, seek counseling, or begin a conscious healing process – especially men. The numbers alone are concerning, but the socialized stigma and forced silence are added barriers to recovery.

Silence and stigma are not the only effects left behind. These adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often adopt self-defeating coping mechanisms to guard against the feelings of fear, helplessness, or anger from the aftermath. And many of the coping mechanisms are exacerbated in the new freedoms and social climates of college campuses such as alcohol or drug use, disordered eating, and self-injury. These issues on our campuses intersect, and many who experience childhood sexual abuse are punished (or “sanctioned”) by their universities for problematic behaviors related to the symptoms of their abuse.

The recent college activism and its achievements on our campuses are all at once remarkable and lacking. Even within the frame of college sexual violence, men and gender-nonconforming individuals are left largely unrepresented or unsupported with their own experience of sexual trauma. We must then widen our scope from that of prevention, education, awareness, and advocacy on primarily college sexual violence (of women and men) to include childhood sexual abuse of all genders. We as a nation do not have a “college rape problem.” We have a community sexual violence epidemic. Tackling college sexual assault should only be the first step. Universities are often viewed as leaders and benchmarks for their surrounding communities. They are the first to bring change and help implement those changes to better the cities, states, and country where they reside.

College activists, we must expand our outreach, our scopes, our efforts. With the local, state, and national legislators and media watching us, now is the time to bring long-lasting change on this issue. There are so many ways you can do it: talk with your student newspaper about your group's new direction, create awareness campaigns through arts activism or photography on childhood sexual abuse, ask campus bands to use a blue string on their guitar to represent the 1in6 statistic, or see how your counseling center recommends addressing this issue and can provide support. With so much that can be done to expand on this issue, you won't have to start from scratch. There are luckily tools and resources from decades of work from fellow activists and advocates on this issue to build off of. provides extensive information on men who have had and unwanted or abusive sexual experience, from common myths and facts on the issue to a new campus campaign and task force to help students get started. There is so much out there to help you get started. Let's start this school year right – utilize the fresh energy of the year to expand our focus, support more people who have experienced sexual trauma and promote a campus and community culture of consent and acceptance. There is much to do, so let's get started.

Savannah Badalich is a Non-Profit Administrative Intern at 1in6, Inc and undergraduate student studying Gender Studies at UCLA. Through her position as UCLA Student Wellness Commissioner — the health representative of 28,000 undergraduates -, she created 7,000 in Solidarity: A Campaign Against Sexual Assault, a multi-campus, sexual-assault-prevention campaign that combines education, arts activism, and advocacy work with the help of student governments, campus departments and resources, survivors, and their advocates. The campaign has gotten huge success and has been featured in The Huffington Post, Think Progress, BuzzFeed, and other news outlets, specifically for its photography campaigns such as #AlcoholIsNotConsent.



Child abuse still rife in the community

by Michael Sheather

Australians have never needed to be more aware of child abuse and it traumatic effects than now, says Dr Cathy Kezelman, president of national support group, Australian Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA).

"Childhood trauma directly affects an estimated five million adult Australians", says Dr Kezelman. "It also affects their family, including their children and their communities. It's like the ripples on the surface of a pond that reverberate out to the edge after someone throws in a pebble. It affects every one of us in one way or another.

"The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2013, and the recent extension for an additional two years of investigation, shows Australia's commitment not just to survivors of child sexual abuse but to survivors of all forms of childhood trauma and abuse, be it physical, psychological or emotional."

ASCA has just launched its national campaign for awareness about childhood abuse, known as Blue Knot Day. But it is not just a single day. The campaign continues until November 2 with a variety of activates – everything from morning teas to speeches at parliament House and even a photography competition - aimed at focussing on how individuals can recover from abuse that may have dogged them all their lives.

"Childhood trauma includes child abuse in all its forms, neglect, experiencing or witnessing family or community violence, or growing up with a parent with a mental illness, who abuses substances, who is imprisoned, or experiencing other forms of separation, grief or loss in childhood," says Dr Kezelman.

"Through the Royal Commission and other inquiries Australia has borne witness to some confronting stories of child abuse. In the past few years, cases once hidden have finally come to light. We need to make sure that everyone knows recovery is possible and there are people who can help.

"In order to have a strong support system in place, education and training is urgently needed for health professionals and organisations working with adult survivors of childhood abuse and trauma.

"ASCA's work and research show that with the right help, people can and do recover. Raising community awareness and starting a discussion are essential steps towards de-stigmatising the issue and helping those affected."

2014 marks the sixth year since ASCA held its inaugural awareness day (then called Forget-me-knot Day) and in the years since its meaning and community response has grown significantly.




We can overcome trauma


WITH the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse well under way, the issue of child sexual abuse now turns its attention towards the Anglican Church in Newcastle.

The recent announcement of a police investigation, Strike Force Arinya-2, will address allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the Newcastle Diocese of the Anglican Church during the 1970s.

This will build upon the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry into child sexual abuse in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese of the Catholic Church earlier this year.

The issue of child sexual abuse is at the forefront of Newcastle's agenda as the institutions that were, and arguably still are, complicit in the repeated abuse, neglect and cruelty towards children in their care are being brought to justice.

We are finally beginning to see a unified response for the estimated 5million adult survivors of childhood trauma nationwide.

The recent announcement by the Abbott government to extend the royal commission by the recommended two years gives everyone hope for real and sustained change.

However, to prevent such events from recurring, it's important we request a solution that is enforceable, achievable and equitable, with strict parameters set for all institutions.

It must include mechanisms for monitoring, implementation, evaluation and accountability to ensure the Australian children of the future are safe and cared for.

There is no denying we are at the beginning of a very long journey to change the stigma surrounding child abuse, but we can only applaud the progress that has already been made.

Victims have been given a voice, perpetrators are being brought in front of the courts and many children in ominous situations have been rescued.

This month, beginning with Blue Knot Day, which was held on Monday, October 27, Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) is working to reduce the stigma surrounding this issue and spread the message of hope and optimism – that survivors can and do recover.

This year, many people within the Newcastle community will help to make recovery possible for the one in four survivors of childhood trauma over the age of 18.

We must work together as a united front – this isn't just an issue that affects institutions but our friends and family.

The sad reality is that individuals don't need to be overtly abusive for children to be harmed and at risk of harm. Parents or caregivers who have their own unresolved trauma can struggle to attune to their child's needs, which can often prevent them from nurturing their children.

I'm so proud that ASCA is leading the way in defining best practice through our internationally acclaimed Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery, which ensures adult survivors receive the correct treatment of adverse childhood experiences and in turn better their children. We are lessening the burden of early death, disease, disability and entrenched social problems.

Furthermore, we now know that, with the right support, even the most severely early traumatic childhood experiences can be resolved. When a parent has resolved their trauma, their children do well. This allows both medical practitioners, therapists and the wider community to advance their understanding about the effects of trauma on the brain and, along with it, pathways to recovery, appropriate treatment and specialist services.

Many survivors of childhood trauma show remarkable resilience. However, many are left struggling day to day with the fundamental sense of who they are and where they fit in the world. People who have experienced childhood trauma fill our mental health appointment schedules, hospitals, detox units, homeless shelters, welfare queues and jails. Others may seem to function well but feel empty inside, battle feelings of isolation, insecurity and shame, low self-esteem, and struggle to mediate their emotions and relationships.

Join with Adults Surviving Child Abuse this month to unite in support of the estimated 5million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. Help us to help survivors to reclaim their lives.

For support, call ASCA's Professional Support Line on 1300657380 Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm, or visit:

Lifeline 131114.

Dr Cathy Kezelman is the president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA)


United Kingdom

Justin Welby: I broke down in tears at horror of Church child abuse

Archbishop of Canterbury says Church's failure is worse than that of other institutions and warns there is ‘more that has not been revealed'

by Georgia Graham , and John Bingham

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told how he broke down in tears at learning of the horror of child abuse within the Church of England.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the details of sexual abuse dating back decades are “beyond description – terrible” and that he had been profoundly moved by the “shredding effect” of survivors' experiences.

He also said the full scale of the abuse has not been revealed and that the failure of the Church was greater than other institutions such as children's homes and the media because it purports to hold itself to a “far, far higher standard”.

Speaking to members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Westminster, he said the Church of England had “failed terribly”.

But he insisted that the Church is now taking the issue as seriously as possible, including trawling through 60 years of clergy personnel files searching for evidence of abuse which had gone unnoticed.

Last week the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said he was "deeply ashamed" of the Church's failure to protect vulnerable children after an independent inquiry found "systematic failures" in its attempts to stop the Very Rev Robert Waddington, the former Dean of Manchester, who died seven years ago.

Dr Sentamu lent his support to moves to limit the centuries-old principle of the secrecy of the confessional in relation to child abusers.

Archbishop Welby said: “Both the Archbishop of York [and I], and all the bishops and I regularly see survivors and listen to them.

“It is beyond description – terrible.

“When you abuse a child or an adult you mark them for the rest of their lives.

“I had a meeting with some survivors a few weeks ago and was giving a talk later that afternoon, somewhere else on a completely different subject, but someone asked, it was a theological colleague, about issues of safeguarding and to my intense surprise – I don't normally do this sort of thing – I broke down completely.

“It was the shredding effect of hearing what we did – what we did – to those people and the sense of total failure and betrayal.

“And so we are taking it, and I am passionate about this, as seriously as we are able to.”

Asked whether the Church's failure over child abuse was greater than that of other institutions because it is the Church, he said: “Yes, absolutely.

“Yes many institutions failed catastrophically including in the media, including children's homes, foster parents, all kinds of areas, all kinds of areas, you find them all over the place, but the Church is meant to hold itself to a far, far higher standard and we failed terribly.”

He said it was clear that there is “more that has not been revealed” about clerical abuse.

Detailing the process of trawling tens of thousands of clergy files, he added: “We will systematically bring those transparently and openly first of all working with the survivors where they are still alive and then seeing what they want.

“The rule is survivors come first, not our own interests and however important the person was, however distinguished, however well known, survivors come first.”


United Kingdom

'Lottery' for child abuse victims

by Press Association

Sexually abused children face a "postcode lottery" in the way they are treated by police officers, according to a group of MPs and peers.

Young people who are exploited often come to the attention of the police under suspicion of having committed a crime - but their status as victims can go unnoticed, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) found.

Child sexual abuse victims are often repeatedly quizzed by police officers for the same information, leading to fears they are not being believed, the APPGC said.

Following an 18-month inquiry into the relationship between police and children, the APPGC concluded there is a lack of trust in the police among many young people - with some children fearing officers.

Conservative MP Tim Loughton, one of the vice-chairs of APPGC, said: "This report is a real eye opener for the problems we still have in getting better relations and understanding between police and young people.

"At a time when headlines are dominated by young victims of child abuse being failed by police in places like Rotherham - where the abuse was not taken seriously, it is more essential than ever that we have a much better position of trust between the police and our young vulnerable citizens.

"That must be in everyone's interest and whilst we found some examples of good practice, clearly more needs to be done to make good practice common place across the country.

"Our children and young people deserve nothing less."

The report is published as police forces including South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester face greater scrutiny over their handling of sexual abuse cases in the wake of damning reports and claims that widespread exploitation of children was effectively ignored by police officers for years.

A 49-page report from the APPGC said children who have been trafficked or who have been victims of sexual exploitation commit crime to survive, such as stealing food or money when fleeing from abusers.

Offending can often be a key indicator of sexual exploitation, the group heard.

"However, when these children come to the attention of the police under suspicion of having committed an offence, their status as victims can go unnoticed," the report said.

"Unfortunately, the inquiry heard that the police response to CSE (child sexual exploitation) and trafficking victims was a 'postcode lottery', leading to very different experiences and outcomes for children nationally."

The report added that victims are often not told what will happen with the sensitive and personal information they provide to the police, which makes victims feel like they are not respected.

Baroness Massey of Darwen, Labour chair of the group, said: "We were concerned to learn that those children who have been trafficked or suffered sexual abuse experience a 'postcode lottery' when it comes to the treatment they receive from the police.

"This, coupled with recent reporting of failures by police forces and other services to take action to tackle child sexual exploitation across the country, demonstrates the need to build a stronger foundation for policing with the best interests of children and young people at its heart."

The inquiry found positive examples of police forces listening to and engaging with children and young people, treating them as 'children first' in aspects of the police process, the report said.

The group heard that children often "profoundly distrust" the police and do not believe that they are there to protect them, with some young people often feeling humiliated by officers.

Presenting findings of a consultation with youth groups from across London, StopWatch, a campaign group, told the inquiry children often fear the police and as they grow older this turns into frustration, anger and a breakdown of trust.

Vulnerable children, such as those in care, can have negative early experiences of the police and do not always get the support and protection they need, the group said.

The additional needs of children with special educational needs, a language or communication difficulty, or mental health needs, can be overlooked or exacerbated in encounters with the police, the report added.

The APPGC recommended that every police force should have a designated senior officer of Association of Chief Police Officer (Acpo) rank who is responsible for procedures and practice with children and young people.

APPGs are informal, cross-party interest groups that have no official status within Parliament and are not accorded any powers or funding by it.

National policing lead for children and young people, Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney, said: "It is important to state that the police take very seriously their responsibilities in relation to children who interact with them, and figures released by the Office for National Statistics indicate that 90% of young people believe that the police will deal with them fairly.

"However, we must also acknowledge and address the findings that the APPGC have reached in what is a very detailed and balanced report which deserves equally detailed and balanced consideration."

She added: " There is a challenge to be faced by officers who, as enforcers of the law, will not always be popular when having to deal with young people, but officers are here to protect the vulnerable and young people are vulnerable due to their age. So it is important that they focus on ensuring that the needs of children are met."



Dominican University workshop aims for prevention of child sex abuse

by Caitlin Mullen

Carina Santa Maria is accustomed to the reaction she gets when she tells people she's a social worker who's worked with victims of sexual abuse and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

“The conversation kind of stops there, because nobody wants to talk about it,” said Santa Maria, the acting director of field education in the Graduate School of Social Work at Dominican University in River Forest.

The university is partnering with Advocate Health to offer Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children workshop, a child sexual abuse prevention training program that teaches adults how to recognize and address abuse, on Nov. 14 at Dominican's Priory Campus. The workshop is open to the public.

Heather Randazzo, prevention coordinator for Advocate Health Care's Childhood Trauma Treatment Program, said adults need to make the choice and have the courage to protect and speak up for a child.

“If it affects one person, it affects all of us, because we're all connected, right?” she said.

Santa Maria attended the workshop herself and especially appreciated the ways offered to empower children and take action. It's critical to talk about the issue so everyone is made aware of signs to look for and act on.

“Because we don't talk about it, there's no awareness,” Santa Maria said.

One of the things the training teaches adults is not to force children to hug or kiss relatives if they don't want to, which respects their boundaries, Santa Maria said.

“Giving them authority to say no in a polite way is also really necessary as children grow up,” she said.

The training also prepares adults on how to react and take action, should a child share that he or she has been sexually abused, and highlights important statistics related to child sexual abuse. One in 10 children is sexually abused before turning 18, which Randazzo said amounts to three children in every classroom.

“The majority of child sexual abuse happens within the family or by someone that the family knows,” Santa Maria said. “I want the community to have awareness of the issue.”

The workshop not only offers social workers a way to gain continuing education credit, Santa Maria said, but is open to the public and designed for any and all adults who work with children, like teachers or coaches.



Pittsfield sex abuse victim tells defendant 'I hate you' before judge imposes 50 year sentence

by Jack Flynn

SPRINGFIELD — Moments after giving the defendant a 50-year sentence Monday for child sexual abuse, U.S. Judge William G. Young offered a few words of perspective.

“I've been a judge longer than you've been alive,” the veteran jurist told Jason Gendron, 35, of Pittsfield, who pleaded guilty to 17 child sex charges, including raping three girls as young as 3 and videotaping it.

“But for cold-blooded murder, I have never seen a case that descends to the depths of depravity that this case demonstrates. You are a serial child abuser of the worst sort," he added.

During an hour-long sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Springfield, one of the victims, now a young teenager, sounded a more personal note.

“I hate you…I hope you go to a place where they treat you the same way you treated me,” she said, staring at the defendant.

In July, Gendron pleaded guilty in federal court to 16 counts of sexual exploitation of minors and one count of possession of child pornography.

In a parallel state case, Gendron pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to 10 counts of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. He is expected to be sentenced in that case on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Both state and federal prosecutions began with a July 2013 police raid on Gendron's Pittsfield home, which uncovered more than 20,000 images of child pornography, including videos of him sexually abusing local children.

Going into Monday's hearing, prosecution and defense lawyers had proposed a 40- to 50-year sentence for Gendron, who has been held in state custody since July 2013.

In recommending a sentence in the 50-year range, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow said the defendant amassed a “staggering” amount of child pornography while subjecting four children to sexual abuse “so severe it's hard to fathom.”

A court-appointed psychiatrist found that the defendant had an uncontrollable sexual appetite for young children while insisting he did not, Breslow said.

Imposing a 50-year sentence would punish the defendant and deter others involved in child pornography in Western Massachusetts and beyond, the prosecutor said.

But defense lawyer Marissa Elkins said the prosecution had misread Gendron's psychiatric profile. As his plea deal indicates, the defendant is showing a growing understanding of the harm he inflicted on the children, according to Elkins, who said he posed a “low to moderate low” risk of committing new offenses and deserved a sentence closer to 40 years.

“He does not wish to die in prison,” she said.

Dressed in an orange jail-issued jump suit, Gendron showed no emotion during the hearing. Moments before the sentence was imposed, however, he stood and offered a brief apology.

“I just want to say I am sorry for my actions, and the pain they have caused,” he said.

In handing down the sentence, Young noted that imposing a single 50-year term would exceed federal sentencing guidelines; instead, he imposed consecutive terms on several charges until they reached 50 years.

Following the hearing, the victim left the courtroom escorted by supporters and court personnel. As she approached the elevator, she raised her right hand and gave a supporter a high-five.


United Kingdom

Police smash suspected child sex abuse gang, arresting 11 people

by Chris Richards

Cops swooped in the south of Manchester as part of a crackdown on exploitation of young girls

Police officers have smashed a suspected child sex abuse gang, arresting 11 people.

Cops swooped in the south of Manchester as part of a crackdown on exploitation of young girls, code-named Operation Heliodor.

The suspected abusers, aged between 19 and 38, have been arrested for alleged offences including sexual activity with a child, attempted indecent assault, inciting child prostitution, abduction and rape.

The arrests come at a time of increased scrutiny over the way police forces, including Greater Manchester, deal with child sexual exploitation allegations in the wake of damning reports and claims that widespread abuse of children was effectively ignored by officers for years.

Operation Heliodor is part of Project Phoenix, a multi-agency campaign tackling child sexual exploitation in the Greater Manchester area.

The arrests came after interventions from a multi-agency team into sexual exploitation of girls and its links to organised crime in and around the Longsight area of Manchester, as well as other areas.

The team is made up of police, children's services, health services, and Barnardo's and covers the Salford and Manchester areas.

Earlier this month, it was claimed child sex grooming gangs in Greater Manchester have avoided prosecution due to a failure by the police force to pursue claims against them.

GMP was accused by serving and former detectives of attempting to cover up failings to tackle gangs of Asian men who were abusing young girls.

Detective Inspector Debbie Oakes, of the Greater Manchester Police's Protect Team, said she expects more warrants and arrests as the force continues its investigation.

She said: "Tackling child sexual exploitation and those responsible for such heinous crimes is an absolute priority for us.

"I want to assure our communities that combating child sexual exploitation is a force priority for GMP and we would encourage anyone who is a victim of this kind of abuse to come to either us, a family member or the charities and support agencies who are out there and help us bring the offenders to justice."



Innocence Lost: Child Sexual Abuse

by Zainab bint Younus

An innocent sleepover with family members. An older cousin, an uncle, or a brother and his friends. Darkness, and hands clapped over a mouth to silence the screams, while they push themselves roughly against an unwilling victim.

Or maybe:

An older teacher, paying too much attention. Beckoning a young student to sit on his lap, giving them a treat, whispering threats in one ear to make the student promise to never, ever tell… or else.

And sometimes even:

A friend, a girl with charisma and energy, giggling about ‘learning something new.' Ignoring protests, insistently, unwelcome hands touching without permission.

These are all examples of sexual violence – a crime that exists in all countries and societies, regardless of race, culture, class, or religion.

In Canada, one in every seventeen woman is raped at some point of her life; every 17 minutes, a woman is raped; 80% of assaults take place in the victim's home; and one in four girls, and one in eight boys, are sexually abused by the time they turn eighteen.

In England, 85,000 women are raped on average every year; and 400, 000 women are sexually assaulted every year. One in 20 children have been sexually abused, and over 90% of them were abused by someone they knew.

Muslims are far from immune to crimes of sexual violence. The statistics are equally horrifying, if not worse because the number of reports tend to be much lower due to social stigma and lack of trust and access to the authorities.

In Pakistan, nearly 3,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2013; 40% of abusers were relatives, family friends, or acquaintances; and the most vulnerable age to abuse for both boys and girls was between 11 and 15.

In Egypt, 83% of Egyptian women reported experiencing sexual harassment at least once while half of them experienced it on a daily basis.

Despite these statistics – and numerous horrific anecdotes – sexual violence is an issue that Muslims all over the world still prefer to remain silent about. The stigma regarding sex, which may once have originated out of the Islamic concept of hayaa' (modesty), has become a disease in and of itself, one that simply perpetuates un-Islamic beliefs and allows these filthy crimes to continue taking place on a daily basis.

An upcoming documentary, “Breaking Silence,” bravely confronts the deep-rooted cancer of sexual violence and particularly sexual abuse of children that exists in many, many Muslim families and communities.

As illustrated by the stories of four Muslim women who were sexually violated as children by those whom they trusted – whether family members or friends – even parents who are aware of the abuse often turn a blind eye or accuse their children of lying rather than admit the truth.

One major reason for the twisted attitudes existing regarding sexual violence amongst Muslims is an ignorance and lack of education about what Islam truly teaches about sex, including the difference between consensual sexual activity and sexual violence (whether against adults or children).

Despite the fact that the Shari'ah discusses and encourages a holistic sexual education from a young age, many Muslims prefer to follow deviant notions of ‘honor' and ‘shame.' The true shame and dishonor lies not in admitting that sexual violence takes place, but in allowing them to continue rather than to educate oneself, one's children, and the entire community about Islamic values regarding sex.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Companions were very honest and open about sexual education, even with regards to children.

'Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Aswad narrates:

"My father used to send me to A'ishah and (as a child) I used to go to her (i.e. beyond the curtain). When I became adult (i.e. reached puberty; became baaligh), I came to her and called to her from behind the curtain: "O Umm al-Mu'mineen, when does the bath become compulsory?" She said: "So, you have done it, O Luka'! And (in answer to the question), when the private parts conjoin."

(Al-Dhahabi in Siyar A'lam an-Nubala)

The first thing Muslim parents must do is put aside their harmful cultural attitudes regarding sensitive subjects and to develop a positive, healthy relationship with their children – one based on loving communication. It is upon this foundation that a holistic Islamic sexual education can take place.

Understanding and implementing the earliest steps of Islamic sex education, such as teaching children about ‘awrah and privacy, and providing a safe emotional environment where children can know that they will be believed by their parents, is one major step that needs to be taken in order to effectively prevent child sexual abuse from taking place.

The Shari'ah has absolutely no tolerance for those who abuse the trust of innocent children, or those who violate others against their will, as demonstrated by the Hadd punishments for rapists (which can either be the punishment for zina or, according to some scholars who consider sexual violence to be a form of terrorism, being crucified and having their limbs amputated) – and the attitude of the global Muslim community needs to reflect this.

We absolutely cannot accept those in our families and communities to be able to perpetrate their crimes without holding them to account and sending them to face the legal repercussions.

Parents and guardians must realize that they need to be keenly aware of our children's lives and of their responsibility to be true guardians over their charges.

There is never an excuse to place cultural notions of ‘family honor,' ‘reputation' and ‘shame' over the physical, sexual and psychological safety of a child. On the Day of Judgment, any adult guardian who knowingly allowed their charges to continue to be harmed in any way will stand before Allah and be held accountable for the grave transgression of their duties.

Parents must know that Allah has given them children as an Amanah, a trust. On the Day of Judgment, they will be held accountable for their safety, security, and overall health.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband's home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock.” (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

In short, it is the duty of every single Muslim to be aware of the existence and the seriousness of sexual violence in our societies, and to take every step necessary in order to eradicate it. Truly, Allah is the Most Just and praised this Ummah for being of those who enjoin the good and forbid the evil.

{You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.} (Qur'an 3:110)

May Allah make us of those who exemplify this verse, and truly enjoin the good and forbid the evil.


Sexual Abuse: Be By Your Child's Side

8 Things You Should Know

by Rasha Dewedar

No doubt watching a child suffering from physical abuse is very painful, however knowing how sexual abuse affects the physical and psychological well-being of our children is much more devastating.

Although physical abuse is more tangible with its bruises and scars, sexual abuse print has a far-reaching, profound and persistent effects.

Contrary to the conviction that avoiding talking with the children about sexual abuse for the sake of preserving their innocence; experts believe that awareness is much better than innocence in this particular case.

"Lack of sufficient knowledge will unfortunately lead the children to be more vulnerable to be attacked," highlighted Samar Abdo, an Egyptian social counselor.

Knowledge Better Than Innocence

Educating children about sexual abuse won't necessarily include using inappropriate terms or explaining details of sexual relations.

It shouldn't also be frightening for the kids, you'd rather chit chat with them about social activities they like to practice and talk briefly with them about risks they might face when they are alone dealing with strangers.

Factual discussion is always the best way to make them fully comprehend what sexual abuse is, who is likely to do it, and what to do in such cases.

Here are some facts that might help you spot the problem in a more systematic and informative way:

1- First of all, sexual abuse includes a wide range of behaviors that range from sexual exploitation to full intercourse, in which a very simple behavior might cause a serious psychological impact.

It also includes getting the children involved in any sexual activities or to produce child pornography.

2- Psychological influence might appear on children who suffer from sexual abuse in different forms like:

•  General fear or fear associated with certain people or places

•  Feeling of shame or guilt

•  Sleeping and eating disturbance

•  Attention problems

•  Social withdrawal

•  Aggression, anger, hostility, hyperactivity

•  Depression

•  Poor school performance

•  Drug addiction

•  Imitating mature sexual behaviors

•  Suicidal attempts.

It might also reflect on the pictures they draw and the stories they tell, that abnormally contain sexual content.

Fear, insecurity, anxiety, inferiority, and embarrassment are also very common among abused children.

Physical signs that parents should be aware of include:

•  Blood or semen in their underwear

•  Trouble walking or sitting

•  Oral and anal bruises

•  Presence of objects in the vagina or the anus

On the long term, abuse can lead to low self-esteem and difficulties in intimate relationship, or unity with the predator and abusing kids.

3-The person who practices this behavior, is not necessarily a stranger, he/she might be a relative, parent's friend, neighbor, teacher, trainer- anyone, just anyone.

4-The predator is not a weird person; they might be very nice people.

"Incidents of children abuse are not necessarily violent, it might be exactly the opposite", Abdo asserted.

She explained that it is not uncommon that those people show extra care for the kids, while brainwashing their heads to keep the practice going.

Parents should always question money and belongings found with their kids that are not logic and might be a strong signal of someone manipulating them.

5- Persons who practice child abuse are not necessarily victims of abuse themselves.

6- No one is secure or immune to be abused; it is not associated with disturbed families, certain socioeconomic level, gender, or race.

Timid children are more vulnerable, as well as those who don't receive adequate love or care from their families.

7- Prophylactic measures are mandatory to protect the children both indoors and outdoors.

Believe Your Children

1- Express your unconditional love and support to your child by different ways, this will be sufficient to create mutual trust and will help him/her tell you if anything goes wrong.

2- Teach your child that certain organs in their bodies are private (not dirty or shameful) that shouldn't be seen or touched by anyone.

3- Teach them to say no when necessary, and that they shouldn't accept whatever they feel a scary or weird situation, and how to seek immediate help from a grown up.

4- Always keep an eye on your children at home or wherever they present, and be sure you know their caregivers in either ways.

5- Set your online rules, like parents' control techniques and banning any secret activities online.

6- Make a network with other parents in the school, club, or neighborhood; this will help you all cooperate in the kids' protection.

7- Any query incident associated with inappropriate language or touch should be reported to the parents, whom will handle the whole issue in a better way.

"Children tend to imagine things, but this is very unlikely to happen in the case of sexual abuse", the social counselor Samar Abdo said.

This is because they didn't experience similar incidents before to build on, that's why parents should basically believe their children unless there is a strong reason to reject their statement.

In many cases, children will be afraid, anxious, and confused while talking about abuse incidents; for this parents should listen attentively, and believe the child even if some details are not very accurate.

8- Reassure them and assert that they are not at all responsible for this behavior.

Taking an action towards the harassers especially in major cases is mandatory, not only to ensure it won't happen again, but also to help the child get over the situation and report further possible attacks.

The child will have a better chance to recover if the parents' intervention is quick and appropriate.



Santa Clarita Man Gets 213 Days For Child Molestation

by Perry Smith

A Santa Clarita man pleaded no contest to a child molestation charge Monday, receiving a 213-day sentence and five years probation, prompting frustration and anger from a now-14-year-old victim.

Jose Ramon Arroyave, 74, of Canyon Country, was initially charged with three different sexual crimes against a minor, involving a teenage girl, according to an official with the District Attorney's Office.

Arroyave also was ordered register as a convicted sex offender, ordered to pay a fine of $370 to a victim compensation fund and stay 100 yards from his victim.

He was arrested in July, and he's been in custody since. He's expected to get credit for time served and to be released today, officials said.

“He had no prior criminal records,” said Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the District Attorney's Office. “Given the facts of the case, it was determined that this was an appropriate disposition.”

The defendant's age and lack of a criminal record were factors, he said.

The victim lived across the street from Arroyave when the charges occurred, according to the victim's mother.

His victim, a Santa Clarita Valley teen whose identity is being withheld because she is a minor, said Monday she was upset by the situation, the effects it had on her friendship and the response from the District Attorney's Office.

The crimes took place when the victim, whom we'll identify as M.P., was 8 years old to 11 years of age, according to the victim's mother, Jaime Pulido.

M.P. came forward after a conversation with Pulido in July, when the mother realized something was wrong, but she wasn't sure what until she asked.

“I was holding it in for a really long time,” M.P. said, who was upset in part because she knew she was not the only victim.

M.P. contacted her friend who was a teenage daughter of Arroyave, but her friend at the time has since told M.P. “to kill herself” after M.P. came forward with her story.

Detectives accused Arroyave of “ongoing lewd acts with a minor” and two counts of lewd conduct upon a minor, according to officials with the Special Victims Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He pleaded to one of the counts of lewd conduct.

An ongoing lewd act is described as: “Any person who either resides in the same home with the minor child or has recurring access to the child, who over a period of time, not less than three months in duration, engages in three or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14 years at the time of the commission of the offense, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1203.066,” according to the state's penal code.

The victim's mother said she's proud of her daughter for coming forward, and hopes it will help others, as well as encourage more stringent laws for these types of sexual abuse.

“She agreed to do it in hopes of protecting her friends,” Pulido said, regarding her daughter's coming forward. “She hasn't been able to focus on getting her own issues dealt with, because her concern has been with the friend.”

Friends have teased her when she tried to talk about it in school, prompting the mother to transfer her out of her old high school and into Opportunities For Learning, Pulido said.

The whole experience has shaken her belief in the criminal justice system, Pulido said.

“She's to that point where she's not afraid to tell anybody what happens,” said Jaime Pulido, of Santa Clarita. “She just doesn't want it to happen to anybody else.”



Domestic violence can be devastating to kids: column

by Sandy Stetzer

A common belief is that children are not affected by the dynamics of domestic violence. The thought is the violence was targeted toward the adult victim, leaving no harm to the child.

That is far from the truth.

Children who live with domestic violence are exposed to increased risks: the risk of exposure to traumatic events, the risk of neglect, the risk of being directly abused and the risk of losing one or both of their parents. All of these may lead to negative outcomes for children and may affect their well-being, safety and stability. Childhood problems associated with exposure to domestic violence fall into three primary categories:

Behavioral, social and emotional problems. Higher levels of aggression, anger, hostility, oppositional behavior and disobedience; fear, anxiety, withdrawal and depression; poor peer, sibling and social relationships; and low self-esteem.

Cognitive and attitudinal problems. Lower cognitive functioning, poor school performance, lack of conflict-resolution skills, limited problem-solving skills, pro-violence attitudes, and belief in rigid gender stereotypes and male privilege.

Long-term problems. Higher levels of adult depression and trauma symptoms and increased tolerance for and use of violence in adult relationships.

Even after a separation, it is common for a child to have a relationship with the abusive parent. One of the biggest and most challenging jobs for a parent is to help a child navigate his or her relationship with the abusive parent. First and foremost concern is safety for the child and the adult victim. The children may need to discuss and develop a plan for safety and have someone to talk to about any worries they may have.

Many children have complicated feelings about an abusive parent. They may feel afraid, angry or sad about what's happened. They may also feel confused because the person who was hurtful was also loving and fun at other times. Many children feel that the abuse was their fault. They may think they have to choose between loving one parent or the other. Children need to be listened to and be provided with assistance in recognizing there is no right or wrong feelings, even when it may be different feelings than their parents.

The effects of domestic violence can be challenging for any parent. If there are concerns, contact a domestic violence advocate, a lawyer, a Visitation Center or another trusted individual who is knowledgeable about domestic violence and is willing to assist.

Sandy Stetzer is the visitation development leader of the Marathon County Visitation and Exchange Program at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's Wausau Community Resources location.



Teen suicide: More youths in crisis but help is available

by Paul Swiech

BLOOMINGTON — An autumn of anxiety has enveloped many adolescents and young adults in McLean County and beyond.

The good news is help is available and some young people are getting it. But more could use a hand.

"We have had an uptick in people presenting in crisis since the beginning of the semester," said Charles Titus Boudreaux, psychologist with Illinois State University's Student Counseling Services. "There has been a 25 percent increase in daytime emergency contacts relative to this time last year."

At PATH (Providing Access To Help), the area's crisis information and referral agency, calls from McLean County residents threatening suicide generally average 30 a month, but rose to 55 in August and 57 in September — nearly double last year's numbers, said Executive Director Karen Zangerle.

In September, nine of those calls came from 15- to 24-year-olds, she said.

But she knows that the numbers of adolescents and young adults contemplating suicide is even higher because PATH volunteers aren't always able to get the ages of people who call in crisis and "that age group usually doesn't call crisis lines."

"That's why we're exploring going into chat services," Zangerle said. "We want to find a new way to interact with youth using social media."

"Recently, I've had more depressed adolescents," said Chris Cashen, a licensed clinical professional counselor with OSF Behavioral Health who was once a member of the Crisis Team for Center for Human Services, McLean County's mental health agency. Whether the increase is the beginning of a trend is unknown, he said.

Stephanie Barisch, regional clinical supervisor with the Center for Youth and Family Solutions, which provides behavioral health programs, said "We have noticed that some of our youth have needed more of our services because they knew someone who has completed a suicide. That increases their risk and adds grief and loss. There are a number of youth reporting being suicidal and severely depressed."

Nationally, the teen suicide rate has declined by more than 25 percent since the early 1990s, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

It remains the No. 3 cause of death among Americans ages 15 to 24.

Barisch and Boudreaux said the increase began in 2007-2008, when the recession caused some parents to lose their jobs, increasing family stress and instability, tightening household finances and prompting some young people to wonder what the future held.

"We noticed a significant uptick in youth going into psychiatric crisis and accessing our services," Barisch said.

Limited psychiatric services for low-income youth didn't help, Barisch said.

"We have a locality with a limited number of child psychiatrists," said Dr. Faisal Ahmed, child and adolescent psychiatrist with Advocate Medical Group, who advocates additional psychiatric training for primary care physicians.

Complicating matters has been increase in marijuana use among young people, Ahmed said. Marijuana use increases the risk of depression among people with a family history of depression.

"In a teen brain, there will be consequences," Ahmed said.

Death by suicide happens in all sectors of the community, Barisch said, but there's a higher risk of contemplation of suicide by young people with depression or another mental illness, survivors of sexual abuse or other trauma and people who use alcohol or drugs.

Meanwhile, an increase in school shootings appears to have made premature death "more psychologically available to people," Cashen said.

There's also increased pressure on adolescents and young adults, mental health professionals said.

"We're expecting kids to grow up too fast," said Cheryl Gaines, a licensed clinical professional counselor with Collaborative Solutions Institute and a former member of the CHS Crisis Team.

The young adult brain finds it difficult to look at the big picture and look beyond the immediate crisis, Gaines said. The brain is forming until age 25.

"Parents should try to give their children room for failure," Zangerle said. "For the child who always heard great, affirming messages about their accomplishments throughout high school, when something not-so-fabulous happens in college and when things get worse, it's hard for them to go to their parents and say 'I screwed up.'

"But we need to encourage our children to do that," she said. "We need to tell them 'We love you no matter what. Always come to us if you have problems.'"

How some young people use social media also complicates matters.

"When I was in high school, I didn't have to worry about people talking smack at me on Facebook," Cashen said.

Bullying using Facebook, texting or other social media takes its toll on youth who feel the need to be connected electronically and who crave the approval of their peers, Ahmed said.

"Young people feel there are no boundaries so they lose hope," Gaines said. "But there can be boundaries. Don't use social media as your personal diary."

"What I tell kids is never fight over texts," Cashen said. "If texting becomes negative or emotional, stop texting, call the person or talk with them face to face."

"Put electronics down," Gaines said. "Realize that you can have a life outside of texting. Have conversations with people. You'll be more likely to have significant relationships."

Good news is that more young adults are using social media to help each other, Cashen said. That should be encouraged, Ahmed said.

"There is hope," Gaines said. "There are ways of changing things and making life better."

Help is available

•  Warning signs of young people at risk of suicide include isolating themselves from family and friends, becoming irritable, stopping doing things they formerly enjoyed, engaging in more risk-taking behavior, talking about suicide, tying up "loose ends," sudden shifts in mood, increased fatigue and decreased concentration, and changes in sleep patterns, appetite or weight.

•  If you think a family member is contemplating suicide, lock up any guns, knives and medication.

•  If you are thinking of killing yourself, tell a trusted family member or friend, your doctor or counselor, your school counselor, your pastor or go to your college student counseling service.

•  If a friend or family member tells you they are considering suicide, take it seriously. If they don't tell you they are suicidal but you think they are, ask them. It's a myth that asking about suicide will put that thought in someone's head. Listen to them. If they are at immediate risk, take them to a hospital emergency department or call 911. If the risk is not immediate, help your loved one to make an appointment with a doctor or counselor and go with him or her to the appointment. Let your loved one know that they aren't alone, you're there for them long-term and you love them.

•  Other resources are PATH at 211 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) anytime. Or go to Center for Human Services, 108 W. Market St., Bloomington, during business hours on weekdays.

•  With therapy, support and appropriate medication, people can get their life back.

SOURCES: Dr. Faisal Ahmed, Advocate Medical Group; Stephanie Barisch, Center for Youth and Family Solutions; Charles Titus Boudreaux, Illinois State University; Chris Cashen, OSF Behavioral Health; Tamara Childress, Chestnut Family Health Center; Cheryl Gaines, Collaborative Solutions Institute; Karen Zangerle, PATH



Boko Haram Kidnaps 30 Children in Nigeria

Latest in a string of abductions despite reports of a cease-fire

by Dan Kedmey

Boko Haram militants reportedly abducted at least 30 boys and girls from a remote village in northeastern Nigeria over the weekend, throwing into question a government-declared cease-fire with the insurgents.

The Islamist extremists on Friday raided Mafa, a town in Borno state, CNN reports, and news of the abductions slowly got out because regional telecom service has taken a severe hit during Boko Haram's five-year campaign of terror. Throughout the weekend, local leaders said the gunmen seized a dozen and a half boys and girls — some as young as age 11 — in what was thought to be an attempt at recruiting child soldiers.

The mass kidnapping in the restive region diminished hopes that the Nigerian government was close to striking a deal with the militants to secure the release of more than 219 schoolgirls abducted by the group in April.



Senators announce more than $8.2m to fight violence against women

by Mikulski Communications

U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) announced that thirteen organizations in Maryland have received a total of $8,286,161 in grants from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for efforts around the state that will help protect women and families from domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and other dating violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

These funds are authorized by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), legislation introduced in 1994 by then-Senator Joe Biden which Senator Mikulski cosponsored. Senators Mikulski and Cardin have both fought to reauthorize the legislation, most recently 2013. Senator Mikulski is Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds VAWA programs administered by DOJ and OVW.

“No woman should live in fear that her husband or boyfriend will hurt or kill her or her kids,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “If you are beaten and abused, you should have somewhere to turn for help and a path to recovery. As Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for strong investments in programs to combat domestic abuse, dating violence and sexual assault and to help rebuild lives.”

“Stopping domestic violence, and providing every resource possible to support the victims, will save lives and transform families across Maryland. No area of our state is immune from this problem. These latest grants will help ensure that we continue to make real progress statewide in reducing the number and severity of domestic violence cases,” said Senator Cardin. “I'm proud of the federal-state partnerships made possible by the Violence Against Women Act that will ensure that when domestic abuse does occur that law enforcement officials have the training and empathy to handle the cases properly, and that strong support networks exist to help victims rebuild their lives.”

The following organizations received grants that will be used in efforts to combat violence against women around the state:

•  Maryland Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) - $333,166. These federal funds will be used to assist in supporting rape crisis centers and other nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations that provide core services, direct intervention and related assistance to victims of sexual assault, regardless of age.

•  Legal Aid Bureau, Inc. in the City of Baltimore - $436,626. These federal funds will be used to provide legal representation to victims of domestic violence and assault in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. TurnAround, a non-profit organization providing counseling and support services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, will be a collaborative partner in this project.

•  Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Montgomery County - $126,045. These federal funds will be used to support Maryland's efforts to coordinate victim services within Maryland and collaborate with other federal, state and local entities to respond to violence against women issues. Statewide sexual assault coalitions provide support to member rape crisis centers through funding, training and technical assistance and public awareness.

•  Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence in Prince George's County - $81,795. These federal funds will be used to support Maryland's efforts to coordinate victim services within Maryland and collaborate with other federal, state and local entities to respond to violence against women issues. Statewide sexual assault coalitions provide support to member rape crisis centers through funding, training and technical assistance and public awareness.

•  Sexual Assault Spouse Abuse Resource Center, Inc. in Harford County - $200,000. These federal funds will be used to provide legal representation to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking in Harford County.

•  International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) in Howard County - $388,928. The IAFN will use these federal funds in conjunction with OVW to develop a “National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations: Juveniles.” The IAFN is an international membership organization comprised of forensic nurses and allied professionals that provides leadership in forensic nursing practices through the development, promotion and dissemination of information internationally. IAFN and its members played an active role in the development of the “National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations: Adult/Adolescent” in the original version published in 2004 as well as the update to the Protocol in 2013.

•  Center for Survivor Agency and Justice in Montgomery County - $424,239. These federal funds will be used to increase access to economic security for survivors by: (1) building the capacity of attorneys and advocates in consumer and economic civil legal remedies for survivors; (2) engaging attorneys and advocates in systems' advocacy that reduces barriers to economic security in the civil legal justice system; (3) expanding awareness by offering basic and advanced training on the issues of safety and economic security, job development, sustainability of employment, and self-sufficiency; (4) creating a comprehensive guidebook for victims and consumer and civil legal advocacy briefs; (5) convening consumer practice webinars; and (6) providing on-site technical assistance to grantees.

•  Catholic Legal Immigration Network - $550,000. These federal funds will be used to continue to implement its Building Legal Capacity to Combat Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Against Immigrants Project. The projects will enhance and expand the legal immigration services capacity of Legal Assistance for Victims and Rural Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence and Stalking grantees and partners as well as STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program sub grantees. At least 700 non-lawyer legal advocates, attorneys and organizations will receive technical assistance and training through this project.

•  Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence in Caroline County - $352,416. These federal funds will be used to provide transitional housing support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Caroline County

•  Baltimore City - $406,043. These federal funds will be used by the City of Baltimore, in partnership with the Baltimore City District Court, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, and House of Ruth Maryland (HRM), to continue providing supervised visitation and monitored exchange services to families affected by domestic violence at its current location in Baltimore. The project will also include efforts to increase referrals, expand language access resources, provide ongoing professional development opportunities for staff, and routinely assess the effectiveness of the project. In addition to providing supervised visitation and exchange services, the City of Baltimore will partner with HRM to provide legal services to victims of domestic violence in divorce and custody matters. A staff attorney will represent 50 low-income domestic violence victims per year and will prioritize cases referred from the visitation center. HRM will develop safety plans with clients, assess victims' needs with regard to legal representation, and provide case oversight to the attorney litigating the cases.

•  Still I Rise, Inc. in Prince George's County - $300,000. These federal funds will be used to provide intervention, advocacy, accompaniment (e.g., accompanying victims to court, medical facilities, police departments, etc.), support services, and related assistance for adult, youth, and child victims of sexual assault, family and household members of victims, and those collaterally affected by the sexual assault.

•  Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence - $1,500,000. These federal funds will be used to (1) provide training on model domestic violence prevention programs; (2) assist with the sites' Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) or Domestic Violence Response Team (DVHRT) development; (3) access consultants and/or other technical assistance specialists and site-specific trainers; (4) develop policies and procedures on domestic violence homicide reduction; (5)train to ensure sustainability of enhanced services; information, referrals, literature and other resources; (6) maintain a strong support system, enhanced communication and learning across all of the selected DI sites including an orientation, briefs on promising practices, and individualized trainings on site; (7) partner with identified culturally specific technical assistance providers to ensure targeted and appropriate services for underserved populations; and (8) assist with the evaluation of the initiative.

•  University of Maryland - $580,000. These federal funds will be used to enhance victim services, implement prevention and education programs, and develop and strengthen security and investigation strategies in order to prevent, prosecute and respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking crimes.

•  State of Maryland - $2,606,903. These federal funds will be used by the State of Maryland to continue to encourage the development and implementation of effective, victim-centered law enforcement, prosecution, and court strategies to address violent crimes against women and the development and enhancement of victim services in cases involving violent crimes against women. It envisions a partnership among law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and victim services organizations to enhance victim safety and hold offenders accountable for their crimes against women.



Arizona court to rule on victim rights issue

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court plans to rule Monday on a legal issue involving rights of child crime victims and their parents once children have become adults.

The ruling will come in a case in which a man is accused of sexually abusing his step-daughter and the girl's mother invoked her right under Arizona law to refuse to give a pretrial interview to the defense.

The justices will consider whether parents of minors who were crime victims can continue to refuse to give pretrial interviews to the defense once the victims turn 18 years old.

Two panels of state Court of Appeals judges ruled different ways on the issue. One panel ruled on the case being decided by the Supreme Court. The other panel ruled in a different case.


New York

Lawmakers Look To Expand Reporting Requirements Of Suspected Child Abuse

by CBS News

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, State Sen. Kevin Parker, and other elected officials have proposed legislation that would expand mandatory reporting requirements of suspected child abuse cases.

Currently, workers such as police officers, teachers and doctors are mandated by law to report suspected cases of child abuse, WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported.

However, following the death of 3-year-old Jeida Torres at a Brooklyn homeless shelter last week, Sen. Parker says he's learned the law does not include subcontractors working at city homeless shelters.

“You assume that everybody that comes in contact with children in this context would have that mandate, but they obviously didn't. And so we really need to close that loophole,” Parker said.

Now introducing legislation to do just that, Brooklyn Borough President Adams says this bill might have saved little Jeida.

“I believe it's possible that someone could have heard the children screaming or crying or may have saw an old wound on the child,” Adams said.

Jeida's stepfather, 20-year-old Kelsey Smith, has been charged with murder.



A tale of two fathers: Child abuse and justice in Conception Bay North

by Terry Roberts

It's just after 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 20, and it's very quiet outside the historic and imposing courthouse in Harbour Grace. It's overcast and unusually warm, with a whisper of fog in the harbour.

Several members of the media are huddled at the base of the stairs leading to the main entrance, waiting for the arrival of a man at the centre of one of the most appalling cases of child abuse to come to light in Newfoundland and Labrador's recent history.

Unexpectedly, the father of children who were repeatedly abused — by both their parents, in a case that has already his wife behind bars — arrives abruptly. Without saying a word, he emerges between two parked cars. He is wearing dark-rimmed glasses, is sporting a full beard, and his dark hair is closely cropped.

He is clothed in a dark top coat, black jeans and black-and-red running shoes. He's of average height, and has the look of a strong, healthy man.

With hardly a glance at the television cameras, the man takes one last drag on his cigarette, tosses it to his right and bounds up the steps.

He disappears behind the thick, heavy wooden door and into the courthouse.

A heartbreaking milestone

He's not the only father in the courthouse. Also there this morning is James Cummings, his eyes heavy behind thick glasses as he explains his reasons for making the 25-kilometre trip from his home in North River.

As he has on many occasions since this case started making its way through the justice system, Cummings is seated in the gallery.

He is middle-aged and, referring to the father and mother who have both been convicted in this case, has “seen them around.” But he's not just here out of simple curiosity.

He wonders how two people blessed with children could be so heartless and vicious, when so many people, including himself, have been robbed of the privilege of a large, loving family.

It's been 25 years this month, he explains, since he witnessed the most horrific moment of his life, in his rear-view mirror.

His wife and adopted young son were in a separate vehicle behind him. A driver coming in the opposite direction was distracted by a dog in the vehicle and crossed into her lane.

“She was cut in half,” says Cummings, who was the first one on the scene and remembers the carnage like it was yesterday.

The young boy survived, but a part Cummings' life ended that day.

In the years before the accident, the couple lost two children at childbirth, so they decided to create a family by adopting.

They had welcomed one son into their home, and were just months away from receiving a second little boy. Those dreams were shattered.

Cummings never remarried, and his son is now 28. “I still get emotional,” he says.

The fatherly type

There's plenty we can tell you about James Cummings. He's an open book.

It's obvious he's a kind, caring soul; the fatherly type.

As for the father in this case, a sweeping court order prevents us from publishing his name or any details that might lead to the identification of the children. The argument is they have been victimized enough. So true.

We can talk in generalities, and tell you the father is from Conception Bay North.

He has very little education or social skills, has no work history and appears to have been involved in a relationship with the mother for much of his adult life. We will only say the couple are the parents of many children.

On this day, he walks to court and leaves the same way.

He ignored a court order that he have no contact with his wife, and was once found by police hiding under her bed.

There was also a time when he turned down an opportunity to be with his children, choosing instead to be with his wife, who directed much of the abuse on their children.

He sits quietly in court, following the proceedings, showing no outward signs of emotion.

Cummings sits in the back row, his head tilted upwards, occasionally moving from side to side, looking past the people seated in front.

Acts of torture

This is the latest appearance before Judge Jacqueline Brazil for the accused.

For two-and-a-half-hours, a sentencing hearing plays out before a small gathering, with the Crown asking for at least two years and eight months in jail, while the defence counters by asking for a jail sentence of nine months and three years of probation.

The father has previously been convicted on seven charges of forcibly confining his children, and one count of wilfully contributing to a child being in need of protective intervention.

Last month, the mother was sentenced to 11-plus years in prison by another judge following a sensational trial that revealed what some involved with the proceedings described as a “house of horrors.”

The court was told that the children were confined for long hours in their rooms, and being forced to soil themselves.

The court also heard the mother repeatedly kicked, slapped and punched her children, and forced some to watch her and her husband engage in sex acts. The woman also held some of the children upside down over a stairwell railing.

The family, which continued to grow steadily, was receiving social supports and services from the province for more than a dozen years before any charges were laid against the parents.

The father, who appears to have had a lesser role in what another judge described as the “torture” of these children, allowed the abuse to go on and “failed horribly” in his duties as a father, admitted his own lawyer.

In one incident, the wife held a knife to his throat after he stepped out of line — by giving food to the children.

A sad story

This sentencing hearing is the latest chapter in a sad story of abuse and neglect, and of a large family of young children who endured many years of unimaginable acts at the hands of their parents.

It's also the story of a family being ripped apart as a result of those acts, of being dispersed throughout the foster care system, and feeling let down and abandoned by the two people who were supposed to offer them safety, shelter and unconditional love.

The case has spawned a great deal of discussion and debate, with many comments on social media directing venom and condemnation at the parents.

James Cummings, however, is soft-spoken and heartfelt on the topic.

He told me that his heart bleeds for the children, and that he can only hope that their futures are filled with happiness and love.

As for the father, he remains free until Dec. 2, when Judge Brazil is scheduled to rule on sentencing.



Accused Mass. child rapist struck in Oregon, police say

Gregory Lewis wanted for rapes across country

(Video/pictures on site)

SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. —5 Investigates has learned that accused child rapist Gregory Lewis, 26, of Southbridge, is now a suspect in another violent attack.

Police said Lewis is suspected in attacks in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Colorado and Oregon. 5 Investigates obtained a surveillance image of Lewis, who is a Massachusetts' most-wanted criminal, in Oregon.

Investigators believe he is kidnapping and raping women, and stealing their money.

"He needs to be caught and he needs to be caught soon," said Detective Lt. Mike Farley, the chief of the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section.

State police said Lewis started his crime spree in Massachusetts, where he is charged with the rape of a 13-year-old in August. While out on bail, according to investigators, he cut off his GPS monitoring bracelet and left it on the victim's front lawn.

Then investigators say he then went Charlotte, North Carolina, where police say he assaulted and robbed a 29-year-old woman at a motel.

The victim told WSOC-TV in Charlotte about the frightening ordeal, "He put me in a choke hold and put handcuffs on me with my hands behind my back."

Police said his crimes have escalated since then.

"We deal with a lot of bad people, a lot of fugitives that do bad things, but the mindset of this guy really scares me," said Trooper Amy Waterman.

Investigators said Lewis returned to his family's house in Southbridge, where he beat up and handcuffed his step father, stole his gun and 200 rounds of ammunition and then headed west.

Denver police have now charged Lewis with kidnapping, raping and robbing a woman there, and police in Portland, Oregon say he is a suspect in a similar attack.

"He's elusive, he's really savvy in his attempts to elude us. He's very good at covering his tracks and he's not making it easy for us to locate and find him," said Waterman.

Investigators believe he has been driving a 2004 blue Jeep Cherokee and stealing license plates, and they said he's made it clear, he will fire at anyone who tries to take him down.

"I think he figures it's almost his last hurrah, he's going to stay out there as long as
he can, he doesn't care how many people he hurts," said Farley.

Lewis is 6 feet 2 inches tall, and weighs about 270 pounds. He has a tattoo on his arm. Police said if you believe you have seen him, call 911.

"He's a danger, he's a danger to the public, he's a danger to law enforcement," said Waterman, "And the longer he's out there the more he is going to do."