National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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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

February, 2015 - Week 3
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.


Police: Child sex offender says he left Maryland mall with sisters on day they vanished 40 years ago

by Fox News

A convicted child sex offender behind bars has told cops he left a suburban Washington mall with a 10-year-old girl and her older sister the day they vanished without a trace 40 years ago.

Lloyd Welch, a “person of interest” in the disappearance of the two girls, also told cold case detectives that the next day he saw his uncle sexually assaulting one of the girls, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

The Post cited search warrant affidavits that reveal for the first time how detectives linked the 58-year-old Welch to the missing girls, Katherine Lyon, 10 and Sheila Lyon, 12. The girls were last seen having pizza at the Wheaton Plaza mall in Maryland on March 25, 1975.

The newly unsealed affidavits say detectives interviewed Welch in a Delaware prison where he is serving a 30-year sentence in connection with the sexual assault of a 10 year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to that charge in 1998. His rap sheet also shows a prior child sexual assault conviction in South Carolina in 1994.

“During these interviews, Lloyd Welch has admitted he left Wheaton Plaza in a vehicle with the Lyon sisters on the day they disappeared,” the Post quoted the affidavits as saying.

The filings say he told the detectives his uncle Richard Welch was involved in girls' kidnapping and that another relative, a juvenile, was with them when they left the mall with the girls in a vehicle, the Post said.

The court papers go on to say that during the interviews, Welch said that after he was dropped off at his home, his uncle and the juvenile drove off with the girls.

The newspapers said that according to the affidavits Welch told the detectives that the day after the abduction he went to his uncle's home and saw his uncle sexually abusing on of the sisters.

“Lloyd Welch claims that he left the residence and never saw the sisters again,” the affidavits say.

Authorities named Welch and his 69-year-old uncle persons of interest in the case in 2014. They have not been charged. Last December, Richard Welch's wife was charged with lying to a Virginia grand jury that is probing the disappearance.

Last month, authorities held a press conference to announce they had been conducting a “forensic dig” for the girls' remains on land owned by Richard Welch and his sister on a rural Virginia mountain. Bones have been found but authorities have not said if they belong to the two girls.

The affidavits say that a week after the Lyon sisters disappeared, Lloyd Welch told a Wheaton Plaza security guard that he'd seen the sisters leaving the mall in a car with a man. He repeated the story to detectives who gave him a polygraph test. The polygraph showed he was being untruthful.

The detectives wrote up a report on the interview and the polygraph results and stuck it in the file. Cold case detectives hunting for new leads in the disappearance of the Lyon sisters found it in 2013, according to the affidavits.

Lloyd Welch has told the Post in an earlier letter that he had “nothing to do” with the disappearance of the two girls.

The paper said Richard Welch has declined comment but that his daughter has defended him. She has called the allegations against her father a lie.

The paper also tracked down the juvenile Lloyd Welch said was in the car during the kidnapping. Thomas Welch is a cousin of Lloyd Welch and was 10 ½ in 1975.

“I haven't done anything,” he said. He also said he doesn't think Richard Welch, his uncle, was involved in the girls disappearance but isn't so certain about his cousin.

“If Lloyd did this, I hope he fries for it,” Thomas Welch told the Post.

Police in Montgomery County, Md., declined to comment on the affidavits. Montgomery Police Chief Tom Manger said Friday investigators are determined to find out what happened to the two girls.

"We believe that there are people, including family members of Dick and Lloyd Welch, who have information that would further this investigation," Manger said.



From ICE

Federal, state charges filed against 3 men linked to sex trafficking and child pornography ring

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Three men, including a teacher's aide from the Palm Springs area, are in custody facing both federal and state criminal charges for their alleged involvement in a ring suspected of sex trafficking underage boys and producing child pornography of the victims.

Those charged so far in the ongoing investigation are John David Yoder, 43, a former teacher's aide for the Palm Springs Unified School District; Erick Alan Monsivais, 29, of Los Angeles; and William Clyde Thompson, 54, of Las Vegas. The men are named in a five-count federal indictment filed in the District of Nevada last week and in three separate criminal complaints filed by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

The charges are the result of a probe that involved multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and other members of the Riverside County Sexual Assault and Felony Enforcement/Internet Crimes Against Children (SAFE/ICAC) Task Force.

Authorities allege that Thompson, who was arrested in Needles last month by the Las Vegas Criminal Apprehension Team, paid defendant Yoder to recruit underage boys to be photographed for use in child pornography. Yoder, along with Monsivais, came under suspicion after investigators seized Thompson's cell phone and found both men's contact numbers on Thompson's device. Authorities have also received information that Thompson may have recruited young boys to model by frequenting skate parks and other venues where teens and children congregate.

In addition to working as a special education teacher's assistant at Desert Hot Springs High School, investigators have determined that Yoder had adopted sons and was a licensed foster care provider in Riverside County. Officials with the Palm Springs Unified School District and Riverside County Department of Social Services are cooperating fully with the investigation.

All three men face a battery of federal and state charges. The five-count federal indictment filed by the Nevada U.S. Attorney's Office last week includes charges of operating a child exploitation enterprise; conspiring to produce child pornography; and distribution of child pornography. The state charges announced by the Riverside District Attorney's Office Tuesday include human trafficking; and committing lewd acts on a child, some 10 years of age or younger.

“The charges filed in this case are a stellar example of federal, state and local law enforcement partners joining together to bring down those who commit unconscionable crimes against children,” said Robert Goetsch, assistant special agent in charge for HSI Riverside. “Child sexual predators who believe they can pursue perverse behavior with impunity should be on notice – they cannot escape justice and there will be serious consequences for their actions.”

The SAFE Task Force began its investigation into the ring late last month after receiving information from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children about Thompson's most recent arrest. Two years ago, Thompson was taken into custody and charged in Nevada with child exploitation crimes. However, he failed to appear for a September 2013 court hearing and was believed to have removed a GPS monitor. Thompson is currently in federal custody in Nevada. Yoder and Monsivais are being held by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

“The SAFE Task Force works on the front line to keep children in our county safe, and I applaud all the efforts of that task force,” said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin. “The District Attorney's Office is committed to doing everything we can do to ensure that those who prey upon our children are brought to justice and to ensure that our children are safe.”

In March 2014, the Desert Hot Springs Police Department received reports about two men trying to solicit young boys at a skate park to do modeling. No one was identified or arrested at that time. SAFE Task Force investigators followed up on those reports and now believe the two men were Yoder and Thompson.

Authorities believe there may be additional unidentified victims in this case. Members of the public who may have information that would be relevant to this investigation are urged to call the SAFE/ICAC task force toll-free at 1-866-SAFE595 (1-866-723-3595).



'Robbed from my childhood'

by Marisa Kwiatkowski

Shay Roberson, who spent nearly 10 years in the child welfare system, fights adversity with a drive to succeed.

After a barrage of angry words and a brief tug-of-war, Shay Roberson pushed past her foster mother and stalked out of the Brownsburg home.

It was around 11 p.m. on March 31, 2012. Shay, then 18, knocked on a neighbor's door and asked to use the phone, but he refused to let her.

So she trudged through the neighborhood toward her previous foster home, disappearing between houses when her foster mother tried to follow her in a car.

Shay walked in flip-flops for about 20 minutes. It was sprinkling outside, and she could feel the damp chill through her orange T-shirt and jeans.

Why was this happening to her?

A drug-addicted mother. A series of interventions by the Indiana Department of Child Services. A relative who adopted Shay's siblings — but not her. Nearly a dozen placements in 10 years.

Now this.

"It was just one more thing pushing me back from where I needed to go," Shay said.

She didn't know what to do. Should she sign herself out of foster care, which she legally could do since she had turned 18? Would she have to drop out of school to feed herself?

It was a pivotal moment faced by many youths who age out of the foster care system. Too many end up pregnant, on the street, prostituting themselves or dead, said Leslie Dunn, Indiana state director of GAL/CASA. Dunn's office oversees, certifies and provides funding and training for volunteers who represent kids in the child welfare system.

But Shay is a survivor, said Brian Robinson, her court-appointed guardian ad litem. "She's a fighter."

Robinson ought to know. His job was to give Shay a voice she'd never had and pull her back from the brink.

'I didn't know what that meant'

Shay and two of her sisters entered the child welfare system in 2005, when Shay was 11 years old. Their mother was addicted to crack cocaine, Shay said.

She and her siblings bounced from home to home, mostly living with relatives. They'd return to their mother only to be removed again. And the family kept growing. Eventually, there were six of them in the child welfare system — Shay and five siblings.

Shay remembers a DCS family case manager pulling her out of school early to take her and her siblings to a new foster family. Her classmates watched through a window.

Shay said she was embarrassed and didn't want to go back to school. She started acting out as a call for attention.

"I used to be horrible," Shay admitted.

A group of teachers, counselors and school resource officers tried to help her.

Allison Whisman, Shay's fifth-grade teacher at Delaware Trail Elementary in Brownsburg, said Shay was a leader in the classroom. She also was one of the only students that year to show remorse when she got in trouble and try to do better.

Shay wrote many required letters of apology to Whisman that year. One in particular sticks in Shay's memory. She said Whisman wrote back and called her "a bright girl who had potential."

"I didn't know what that meant," Shay said.

Kristi Flynn, who worked as an instructional assistant at Delaware Trail Elementary that year, started taking Shay for walks every morning. They'd talk about whatever had happened the previous night and before school that day.

Flynn said those chats made Shay more successful in the classroom.

"We just kind of connected," said Flynn, who is now a teacher at the school. "She needed someone to care about her, love on her and be somebody she could talk to."

Flynn, Whisman and other school officials supported Shay outside the classroom, too. They made signs and cheered during her basketball games. They attended her poetry club gatherings.

"For the first time, I felt like I could trust somebody and they'd be consistent," Shay said.

But while Shay felt supported in school, her life outside of it continued to deteriorate.

'I felt betrayed'

In eighth grade, Shay ran away from her sister's aunt's house, where Shay and her siblings were living.

"I wasn't happy," she said.

DCS temporarily placed Shay in the now-closed Children's Guardian Home, which she described as a modern-day orphanage.

It was an old building where the kids were divided by age. There were regulations, including lining up for lunch and dinner, 15-minute phone call limits and enforced quiet hours.

"How do I get out of this place?" she remembers thinking.

Shay lived there for about two weeks, until a Brownsburg couple, Clyde and Linda Spann, agreed to be her foster parents.

Clyde Spann said he and his wife warned Shay that they were a Christian home, strict with obedience and "didn't adhere to a lot of the stuff young people do."

"We asked her if she could do it," he said. "She said she would like to try."

The Spanns gave Shay her own bedroom with a walk-in closet and big TV. She also had a bathroom all to herself.

Shay lived with them for about three years, until her junior year of high school.

Clyde Spann said the discipline problems started about a month after Shay moved in.

"She was mouthy, talked back and wants to debate," he recalled.

Spann said he and his wife often were called to the school because of Shay's outspokenness.

But she also was "a model student," consistently on the honor roll.

"I tell you, I've never known a student as smart as she was," Spann said. "She had a very level head. I felt that she would go far in life if she could just get her attitude under control."

Spann said that attitude — coupled with frustration over DCS' handling of the situation — eroded the Spanns' relationship with Shay. He said he and his wife wanted counseling for Shay, but officials refused until the family was "at our wit's end."

After an argument about attending a basketball game, the Spanns asked DCS to find Shay another home.

"(Shay) wanted to be her own boss, and she couldn't do that at our house," he said.

For Shay, the Spanns' rejection was just one more disappointment.

"You don't throw your real child in the street," she said. "I felt betrayed."

'Robbed from my childhood'

Shay said she wasn't comfortable in the foster home she moved into after the Spanns'. She said she had heard stories of other foster kids who had lived there and felt they were treated unfairly. And Shay didn't trust the family.

She asked DCS to place her somewhere else, but the supervisor never called back. Instead, Shay said the supervisor called her foster mother, which only made the situation worse.

That tension boiled over when Shay showed up late for her 10 p.m. curfew. She and her foster mother launched angry words at each other until Shay strode out the door.

Shay trekked through the rain to the Spanns' house, where they allowed her to call a friend to pick her up.

The next day, that friend's mother called DCS and said she would not allow Shay to return to the foster home. Shay decided to sign herself out of foster care.

Ginnie Wing, chief of school police for the Brownsburg Community School Corp., a school counselor and school social worker scrambled to help Shay. Wing said she can't remember how many calls they made.

"I would have just been sick if she hadn't finished what she started in Brownsburg," said Wing, who met Shay at East Middle School in Brownsburg.

Shay was numb. She'd spent her childhood in turmoil, trying to look out for her siblings and do the right thing. It felt like everything was tumbling down.

"I feel like I was robbed from my childhood," Shay said.

'I don't know where I would be'

Brian Robinson was appointed as Shay's guardian ad litem just a few days before Shay was scheduled to attend a meeting at her old foster home.

Indiana law requires the appointment of either a guardian ad litem or a court-appointed special advocate, which is an unpaid volunteer, in child abuse and neglect cases. But Shay's case opened before that law was passed, so she hadn't been appointed one, Robinson said.

Robinson, who has worked for Child Advocates for about 14 years, said he was assigned Shay's case as part of a push to help older youth. His job is to assess a child's emotional, mental and physical needs and push for those needs to be met in a timely manner.

Going into the child and family team meeting, Robinson said all he knew about Shay was that she was doing well in school and was involved in student government.

"I'm thinking she's this perfect kid, then she showed up," he said.

Shay came to the meeting "ready to battle," he recalled. She sat down, leaned forward and laid into her foster mother, saying she didn't feel she was being treated fairly.

"It was like, ahhhh," Robinson recalled with a laugh. "She was so rude."

Robinson said his relationship with Shay reminded him that first impressions don't count when it comes to children in the child welfare system. Sometimes second and third impressions don't matter, either.

Robinson persuaded Shay to give him a chance to help.

"We're going to make sure everything is OK," he told her. "I don't think you should sign yourself out."

After they talked, Shay said, "I felt like for the first time I had a voice. He advocated for me in ways I couldn't advocate for myself.

"If it wasn't for him and that incident, I don't know where I would be."

'She's something'

Robinson said his relationship with Shay was forged over time.

When the challenges with Shay's living situation interfered with school, Robinson spoke with a teacher to get Shay extra time to complete her work. He helped Shay get approval to stay with a friend's family, where she lived for the rest of high school.

When Shay needed clothes, but hesitated to ask for assistance, he was able to get funds approved for her.

Robinson also helped Shay secure an invitation to a college fair she desperately wanted to attend. And he persuaded his supervisor to provide financial assistance for a college trip Shay wanted to take during spring break.

Robinson said he also taught Shay how to advocate for herself without angering people. He listened to her and validated her concerns before making proclamations.

With Robinson's help and the support of school officials, Shay graduated high school in 2013.

Wing, the chief of school police, and Anna Coyne, the school counselor, threw Shay a graduation party. The Spanns, Flynn, Whisman and Shay's biological family were among those in attendance.

Wing and Coyne also moved Shay into her dorm room at Indiana University in Bloomington, where she is majoring in youth development. Shay said she wants to go to law school and become a juvenile court judge so she can have an impact on young people's lives.

"I've been in a lot of situations where I should've been in juvenile court or in jail, but people mentored me and helped me when I needed it," she said.

Last year, Shay and several friends founded Breaking the Cycle, a support group that "promotes the importance of education, self-worth and perseverance to IU students facing adversity." Shay said 20 to 30 people attend each meeting.

"She's going to be somebody and, because of the help she received, she's going to help kids, too," Wing said. "I'm telling ya, she's something."

Officially, Child Advocates exited Shay's life on Feb. 18, her 21st birthday. But Robinson plans to keep in touch.

"She's one of my favorites," he announced.

Robinson said he likes Shay's willingness to learn, think of others and succeed. She's had a lot of help.

"There are other Shays out there," Robinson said. "If you don't have a consistent, caring adult trying to help, who knows where you'd be?"


United Kingdom

Teachers, nurses and social workers must report suspected child abuse, under Labour plans

Teachers, nurses and social workers could be obliged by law to report suspected child abuse under Labour plans going before MPs tomorrow.

by Caroline Wheeler

Labour is seeking to introduce the new legal requirement for those working in schools, hospitals and childcare.

Mandatory reporting of child abuse is already in force in the US and Australia.

Proposals to change the law come in the wake of a string of scandals, in which local authorities in Rochdale and Rotherham failed to act over grooming and abuse allegations.

Labour has tabled an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill, which goes before MPs for a vote.

If unsuccessful, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has pledged to include it in Labour's manifesto.

She said: “Keeping children safe from abuse and sexual exploitation should be a priority for everyone.

“But we know, from reports that have emerged over the past few years, that too many people have failed to listen to the voices of children and have turned a blind eye to suspected abuse.

“No one should ever be tempted or pressurised into putting the reputation of the institution ahead of the protection of the child.

“From the care homes in North Wales and Nottinghamshire to the rape and abuse of thousands of girls in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxfordshire, and the failure to stop prolific abusers like Jimmy Savile from working with children in the BBC and NHS hospitals, too many institutions have failed in their duty to keep children safe.”

Last year Prime Minister David Cameron said he was prepared to introduce the measure, backed by the NSPCC and Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions.

However, Home Secretary Theresa May was concerned this change could mean fewer children are protected because authorities could be overwhelmed by reports of untrue claims.

She confirmed the Government was looking at changing the law but wanted to ensure it was effective.

She said: “What happens in other countries is that the number of reports goes up significantly but many of those reports are actually not justified.”


United Kingdom

Labour warn Britain faces more child abuse storms as 'overwhelmed' police struggle to cope

by Vincent Moss

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper will call this week for urgent action to address the “hidden crime” of child sex abuse

Britain risks more child abuse scandals because “overwhelmed” police cannot cope, Labour warned today.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper will call this week for urgent action to address the “hidden crime” of child sex abuse.

She will warn the huge scale of the crimes and potential new scandals means the country cannot wait three years for the outcome of a new inquiry.

In a major speech on Monday Ms Cooper will vow a Labour government would bring in a raft of new measures to uncover child abuse at an earlier stage, including new proposals to clamp down on online abuse.

The pledge comes in the wake of the scandals at care homes in Nottinghamshire and North Wales, as well as the sexual exploitation of girls in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxfordshire and the abuse by notorious paedophiles like Jimmy Savile.

Ms Cooper said child abuse often triggered a wide range of economic and social problems like mental disorders, health problems, substance addiction, crime and joblessness.

And, she will warn that police and social workers are overwhelmed and struggling to deal with child abuse at a time when they are facing major spending cuts.

Ms Cooper told the Sunday People: “The emerging scale of child abuse and exploitation in our country is shocking and disturbing. This hidden crime is wrecking children's lives for many years to come.

“We've seen awful cases of abuse emerge from Nottinghamshire and North Wales care homes, to the streets of Rotherham or Oxfordshire, to the abuse by Savile within the NHS or BBC.

"But there's no national strategy to cope, the police and social services are struggling to cope with the scale of the problem at a time of huge Government cuts.

“It's welcome that the child abuse inquiry is finally under way, but we can't wait for three years for it to report before we introduce reform. We need a major new national strategy to tackle child abuse.

“Child abuse is abuse of power – power of adults over children, to groom, to harm, torture and to silence.

“We must never turn a blind eye to it or assume it's someone else's problem.

“But all over the country I hear from police and agencies that are increasingly overwhelmed by the growing number of child abuse cases being reported to them at a time when their resources are being heavily cut.

“The Government's plans to replicate the scale of cuts to police officers since 2010 in the next Parliament would make it even more difficult to face up to the challenge.

“And too little work is being done on prevention and promoting a safe and healthy childhood since Michael Gove abandoned the wider focus of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

“That's why Labour will develop a new national strategy, supporting better joint working between key Government departments, the police, local authorities and organisations like the NSPCC to protect children being abused now, bring abusers to justice and do much more to prevent abuse in the future.”


South Carolina

Investigators hold out hope in Julie Valentine case

by Lyn Riddle

Officially, her name is Baby Jane Doe.

But most everyone knows her as Julie Valentine, the days-old baby who has become Greenville County's symbol for child abuse prevention. She's memorialized with a sculpture in Cleveland Park and in the name of the organization that works with abuse survivors.

Yet what happened to her 25 years ago this month remains a mystery.

What is known is she weighed 6 pounds, measured 19 3 / 4 inches and had a head full of black hair. Her body was found inside a Sears vacuum cleaner box at a field near Verdae Boulevard by a man looking for wildflowers to give to his wife for Valentine's Day.

As with any crime of this nature, the police were all in — working day and night, following this lead and that. Setting up road blocks to interview passersby, calling hospitals, tracking down who bought that sort of vacuum cleaner. Interviewing the man who found her.

The story has become a legend, but two generations of cops remain stymied by the life and death of Julie Valentine, named for the victim witness coordinator who called all the hospitals in the Southeast and for the time of year the baby was found.

“We always hoped somebody would come forward,” said Terry Christy, one of the original Greenville Police Department investigators whose wife, Julianna, made all those dozens and dozens of hospital calls. “It's not a big hope, but it's a little hope.”

The case has never been closed. It's been assigned to Detective Rebecca Lindler, a 16-year veteran of the Greenville Police force since 2010. She and her supervisor, Sgt. Melissa Lawson, have been through the pages of the case file contained in a white, three-inch binder more times than they know.

Two leads offer some promise. A red Pontiac Fiero spotted at the scene a few days before the body was found, and a copy of the Wall Street Journal dated July 12, 1989, in which the baby was wrapped.

“Two avenues to eliminate or confirm,” Lawson said.

Finding the body

Glenn Hayward had just gotten off the nightshift at a Fountain Inn plant and was walking through the field on Hilton Road at about 9 a.m. on the day before Valentine's Day in 1990.

It was a warm day for February — in the 60s — and he poked around the tumble of discarded stuff. Chairs, boxes, a Christmas tree. The place was known for three things back then, back before anyone dreamed of the doctors' offices, golf course and pricey subdivision that are nearby now. The tract was a dumping ground, a place to hunt deer and a smooching spot for kids.

At the edge of the field where the pine forest began was a box, almost hidden by cut brush and limbs, and an upholstered chair tipped over on its side. Hayward kicked the box, smelled an odor and pushed back a red and white floral sheet. He saw a baby on her left side, her arms tucked across her chest. Her mouth was open.

She looked like she was sleeping. He knew she was not.

He had no cell phone. Few people did — the bag phone had just been intoduced — so Hayward hurried to a nearby business to call 911. He told investigators he saw a “white baby in the box.”

Because the call came from a phone in the county, deputies with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office responded first. Before long, they realized the property was within the city limits.

Greenville Police responded. EMS. The coroner's office. Criminologists with the State Law Enforcement Division. Investigators spent hours out there, searching the grounds, taking photos. They made casts of tire tracks. Shortly after 3 p.m. EMS transported the baby's body to the morgue at Greenville Memorial Hospital for an autopsy scheduled for the next day.

Searching for answers

Before the autopsy, investigators tried to lift fingerprints from the baby's body using what is commonly known as Super Glue fuming. It was a fairly new technique then, developed in Japan in 1978 and then brought to the United States.

The body is placed in an airtight container and power glue is heated to boiling. The fumes react with amino acids and other chemicals, including sweat, found in fingerprints. The chemical reaction makes the latent prints visible.

They watched and waited.


They turned to Dr. Larry Minette, a pathologist, for what could be learned from the baby herself. The umbilical cord remained attached, probably close to its full length at slightly more than two feet long. The placenta had been left in the box along with what looked like everything used in delivery. Three sheets, four towels, a green bedspread, a washcloth.

Minette found the baby to be full term with no abnormalities. No injuries. When he placed the lungs in water, they floated. The child had been born alive. She had breathed. He set the date of birth at Feb. 8 and death on Feb. 10.

He could not tell what caused her death. He could not say whether she was dead when she was placed in the box or died afterward in the field. The case remains classified as an undetermined death — not a homicide, not an accident. They simply don't know.

He saved the liver, took bile, blood and deep muscle for testing by SLED. They have a hair sample and some DNA. But here's the thing about DNA, Sgt. Lawson said. It doesn't do investigators any good unless they have someone to match it to.

They also have four strands of hair not from the baby — three from a white person, one from a black person. None matched Hayward, who was ruled out as a suspect. There was also a tire track that did not match any law enforcement cars or Hayward's 7-year-old Buick LeSabre.

Meanwhile, Christy and the other investigators were tracking down people who had been in the area, as well as trying to find out who had recently bought a Sears canister vacuum cleaner.

“They did some serious work on this case,” Lawson said.

They visited the homes of more than 30 people, including some in Spartanburg and Anderson, who had bought a vacuum cleaner from Sears. They wanted to see the people in person. They did find a woman who had just given birth and insisted they see the baby, Lawson said. Others were too old or ruled out for other reasons.

They set up a perimeter around the site and stopped everyone who came through, joggers, drivers. They worked three tracks — that it was a prostitute who had the baby in a motel, a teen with an unwanted pregnancy and someone just passing through, looking for a remote place.

Before long, they had some information, but nothing that could truly be considered a lead, except looking back now, perhaps one. The red Pontiac Fiero. A woman reported seeing it parked at the site on the Saturday before the baby was found on Tuesday.

Inside, was a man, possibly a teenager, with blond hair, wearing a white baseball cap, she reported.

The case file does not indicate that investigators asked the Department of Motor Vehicles for a list of who owned such a car. That is commonly done now, but not so much then, although Beth Parks, a spokeswoman for DMV, said programmers could have found that information in 1990.

She said it would not have been as quick or precise as it is now, but programmers could have provided a list that probably would have required a person to sort manually.

In addition, Pontiac dealers in the area were not questioned. The Fiero, a two-seater sports car with hidden headlamps, was made from 1984 until 1988, and across the nation 370,000 were sold. The number in the Upstate was likely quite small.

Bush Banton, one of the original detectives who had spent a dozen years with the police department, said in a recent interview that he doesn't remember the information about the car, but it was probably discounted because the area was a dumping ground, frequented by many people.

The case file lists several. A black car with a white female passenger. A green car. Someone else saw a red car with a man bending over the passenger seat. He had something white on his head. The informant said the car was extremely clean and was pulled into the area where the body was found. That was about noon the day before the body was found.

Nothing stuck, largely because the community was silent. One person called in and seemed to have some information, just one. But investigators — then and now — could not find anyone with that name. Lawson said she thinks the same man called Easley police to give information about a murder.

“Nothing ever bubbled up,” Banton said.

Remembering the girl

Over time, the number of officers on the case decreased. The case file went to the shelf with the other unsolved cases. But Julie has never been forgotten. The original investigators often get together in February for a ceremony to honor the little girl.

They were the ones who took up a collection to place a marker on her grave at Woodlawn Memorial Park. She's buried in Babyland, No. 45. The headstone says simply “Baby Jane Doe” and under that, “Julie Valentine.” Feb. 1990.

She's the only baby there whose identity is unknown.

People have come asking about her over the years, but no one suspicious, a Woodlawn employee said.

Shauna Galloway-Williams, the executive director of the Julie Valentine Center, said a counselor from the center placed some pink silk flowers on the grave a week or so ago. The Greenville Rape Crisis and Child Abuse Center was renamed the Julie Valentine Center five years ago.

Galloway-Williams said the name has transformed public perception of the center, which last year worked with about 800 children who had been abused or neglected.

“It has given her short life meaning,” she said. “The community is not going to let this go.”

Galloway-Williams said she often wonders whether Julie's parents are still in the community.

“What must have been going on for them to do that, that they were so desperate that this was the only option?” she said. “The mother could have been assaulted or in an abusive relationship.”

Detective Lindler, the mother of three children, said she wonders how someone could leave a baby like that, even if it had died beforehand from an accident or something unexplainable.

Lawson has been with Greenville Police for 21 years, the majority of her time was in vice and narcotics. She now heads the investigative unit, which includes child and adult violent crime. She's seen a lot. This case, she said, needs to be solved.

“Anytime you work an infant death or a child's death it's awful, but to not bring closure to a case is even worse, even for the parents who don't realize they need closure,” she said.

A couple of years ago, Lawson obtained a subpoena from a local judge asking the Wall Street Journal for a list of subscribers in this area in 1990. She's still waiting for an answer.

Lindler discounts the theory that the baby's mother was a prostitute. The sheets and other items found in the box were clearly from someone's home, she said. Nor does she believe the person was just passing through. The area was too remote then. You had to know it was there to find it.

Kent Dill, the deputy coroner for Greenville County, said statistically the odds are the mother is someone here.

“But then again, we don't know what happened to the mother,” he said.

There was never a report from a doctor's office or hospital that a woman who had just given birth sought treatment.

The sporty red car and the newspaper of record for the business community, taken together, may mean something. And then again they may not.

Lindler is going to follow up with DMV to see if there's some way to extract 1990 registration information from its files. Parks said it's uncertain but possible the information could be on microfilm somewhere. The computer system used in 1990 was swapped for a new one in 2003.

“It could take a while,” she said.

Lindler said the case likely hinges on people calling in to tell what they know. Someone whose conscience had been bothering her for 25 years.


If you have any information on this case, please call 23-crime.



Child Abuse Summit will take place April 9 at Uvalde County Fairplex

by Paul Schattenberg

UVALDE — Methodist Healthcare Ministries, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Department of State Health Services will hold a Child Abuse Summit from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. April 9 at the Uvalde County FairPlex.

The fairplex is located at 2319 W. Main Street in Uvalde.

Those involved in child-abuse prevention, such as social workers, counselors, educators, childcare and youth workers, law enforcement, medical and legal professionals, foster parents and elected officials, will benefit from participation in the summit, said Dr. Connie Sheppard, AgriLife Extension family and consumer sciences agent for Bexar County and child advocate.

“This summit is designed to inspire participants and help give them the information and tools needed to help strengthen families and prevent child abuse,” Sheppard said. “It also will help them develop innovative strategies to improve outcomes for at-risk children and families.”

Summit presentations will address recognizing child abuse, dealing with child abuse trauma, investigating child abuse cases and promoting healing of child abuse survivors.

U.S. Sen. Carlos Uresti, District 19, will be one of the featured speakers. Additional presenters will include: Judge Camile DuBose; Wayne Springer, special investigator; and Julie Solis, assistant district attorney, 38th Judicial District; Drs. Jennifer Clark and Sarah Northrop, child abuse fellows with the University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio; and Ed Gentry, legal supervisor; Ray Roma, program director for special investigations; and Melanie Torres, legal supervisor, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Other participants will include a social worker, licensed professional counselor and human trafficking specialist.

Preregistration for the summit is required. Early bird registration is $40 if postmarked by March 16. Regular registration is $50 if postmarked by March 23. Fees are transferable but not refundable. Mail registration form and appropriate fees to: Child Abuse Summit, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, P.O. Box 1708, Uvalde, Texas 78801.

Continuing education credit for multiple disciplines is available at $10 additional charge .

For more information and to register, contact Molly Flores at the AgriLife Extension office for Uvalde County at 830-278-6661 or



New child abuse reporting rules go into effect

by Matthias Gafni

The state has unveiled its new online child abuse reporting training module this week as part of California's new law requiring all teachers and school employees to receive annual instruction.

Inspired by more than three years of newspaper reports on incidents where school employees failed to properly report child abuse, Assembly Bill 1432 went into effect Jan. 1, making it mandatory for certificated and classified workers to receive training within the first six weeks of each school year. Before the new law, districts were only “strongly encouraged” to train employees.

The 84-page training portal, located at, includes vignettes, videos and a test that participants must take and score 80 percent or higher to get the required certificate. School districts can also provide on-site training, instead of the online version, but need to get it approved by the state Department of Education.

With the law having taken effect during the middle of this school year, the state is strongly encouraging districts that haven't trained employees to do so immediately, according to the office of bill author Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank.

In addition, any new hires, new substitutes or other newcomers to a district will be required to take the training within six weeks of their hire date.

The updated training was created by the Department of Education and Department of Social Services and includes a much more thorough explanation of the law and reporting requirements.

A 2013 Bay Area News Group survey found that fewer than half of 94 Bay Area school districts trained their employees on the identification and reporting of child abuse. The survey also found that training standards varied by district, with many districts simply having employees sign a statement on their hiring paperwork that they understand their role as a mandated reporter.

The San Jose Mercury News reported on cases of unreported physical and sexual abuse by teachers in Bay Area school districts, including cover-ups of reported incidents, investigations of abuse by district leaders instead of police and obfuscation of other agencies' investigations.

School employees, in addition to dozens of other professionals, are required by law to report abuse suspicions to the proper authorities. Failures to do so have led to multimillion dollar lawsuits, terminations and, in a rare case, criminal prosecution of an employee who failed to report suspected sex abuse by a teacher against a student.



Child abuse, neglect incidents rise in Calhoun County

by Olivia Lewis

The well-being of children in Calhoun County worsened between 2012 and 2013, according to the Kids Count in Michigan 2015 report.

The report, supported by Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation and published by the Michigan League for Public Policy, ranked the county 77th out of 82 Michigan counties. In the 2012 report, the county ranked 66 overall.

The report measures economic security, health, education, family and community. The report also indicates an increase in the number of children in homes of families investigated for child abuse and neglect between 2012 and 2013.

The 2015 report includes findings from 2014, as no report was released last year. The last report was released Dec. 2013.

According to the 2015 report, 27 percent of children in Calhoun lived in poverty in 2013. That same year, more than 4,100 children ages 5 and younger were eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. At the same time, the number of students eligible for free and reduced school lunch grew by 202 students.

Holly Cavinder, communications manager at the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, said those numbers are similar to those in the Hunger in America released in 2014, although increased eligibility isn't necessarily bad.

"We don't look at more kids being eligible in a negative light," Cavinder wrote in an email to the Enquirer. "Programs like free and reduced breakfast and lunch in schools means that more kids are getting the food they need to not only survive, but thrive at school."

Cavinder said the food bank is working with Battle Creek Public Schools to get more students involved in the after-school pack program, which provides students with a bag of food for the weekend.

The statewide report shows economic conditions worsened, with a 35 percent increase in child poverty over six years.

Major Austin Simons of the Battle Creek Police Department said his department has seen the effects of the economic instability in families.

"It's a combination of everything," Simmons said. "Are the parents educated? You're looking at the level of education the parents have. Are the kids eating? What's the home life like?"

In Calhoun County, rates for family and community stability lagged as children in families being investigated for child abuse and neglect grew.

Bob Wheaton, communications manager of the Michigan Department of Human Services, said the number of children in family investigations has increased statewide, although the increase may be attributable to better reporting.

"In 2012 we instituted a centralized intake hotline to take abuse and neglect calls," he said. "If somebody calls one of the local offices they are referred to that number."

Although the state has made it easier for people to report neglect and abuse, Wheaton said the numbers remain troubling.

"We are concerned about the numbers," Wheaton said. "There are a large number of children being abused and abandoned."



Bus sexual assault case would provide challenges if prosecuted, DA says


While it's unknown what happened on Bus 19, a Natrona County School District bus where a sexual assault allegedly occurred last week, one thing is clear: the young age of the alleged perpetrators would complicate the case.

“We deal with these issues and the big question is, ‘What do we do with these kids?'” said Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen.

Authorities have confirmed they are investigating the sexual assault allegations, but have released few details. It is known the alleged assault happened Feb. 11 on a bus that picks up elementary and middle school students from the Bar Nunn area.

The school district has said little about the possible sexual assault and has directed all questions to law enforcement.

Heather Ross, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center in Casper, said she couldn't speak about the school bus incident. But in cases involving a sexual assault on a minor, she said, victims are typically interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Center. The nonprofit organization works with law enforcement agencies across the state on cases involving child maltreatment.

“The public is not privy to knowing every deal about these cases, but they should be aware that our community takes these cases very, very seriously,” Ross said. “There is definitely a process in place to handle all allegations of child sexual abuse.”

Children are interviewed one-on-on at the center's facility by licensed counselors, Ross said. A live feed is set up in another room so investigators can watch the interview.

The interview, called a forensic interview, “is an opportunity for the child to speak about the incident in a detailed manner so the investigator can gain the information they need to conduct their investigation,” Ross said.

In cases involving juvenile offenders – about 40 percent of child sexual abuse victims are abused by another juvenile, according to Ross – a Children's Advocacy Center counselor may also interview the suspect.

“We'll try to gain a better level of understanding about where this child's knowledge base is coming from,” Ross said. “Is this a behavior they learned from someone else, from personal experience, or by viewing sexually explicit movies, such as pornography, or through discussions with someone else?”

Law enforcement and the Department of Family Services will determine if the alleged suspect should be interviewed.

Should the case be prosecuted, all proceedings will take place in juvenile court, Blonigen said. Children cannot be charged in adult court unless they are older than 13, he said.

The juvenile court process is similar to the one in adult court. The suspect is afforded an attorney and prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.

There are some stark differences. Chief among them, sentencing options depend more heavily on treatment, rather than punishment.

“If the person is convicted, there are a large range of opportunities available to them,” Blonigen said.

Sentencing options could range from probation to counseling, inpatient treatment and juvenile detention. A judge will make a ruling based on the child's history, taking into consideration if he or she has acted violently or showed problematic sexual behaviors in the past.

Age also plays a key factor. Judges will assess whether removing children from home would help or hinder their treatment. Mental health and maturity are taken into consideration.

Before making a decision, judges will ask for input from the Department of Family Services and from the families of the victim and suspect.

Children convicted of a felony-level sexual offense may be required to register as a sex offender, Blonigen said.

If treatment is court-ordered, the child may receive sex offender counseling at intuitions such as the Wyoming Boys' School in Worland, Red Top Meadows in the Bridger-Teton National Forest or Provo Canyon School in Utah, Blonigen said.

“We know a lot more about juvenile offenders than we used to, and because of that, the services available to them are much greater than in the past,” Ross said.

Whatever happens, the proceedings will occur outside public view. Unlike adult proceedings, juvenile cases are kept confidential.



Suspended from Daytona 500, Kurt Busch appeals to save his career

by Jenna Fryer

DAYTONA BEACH (AP) -- Kurt Busch will miss the Daytona 500, and finds himself once again fighting for his career.

Busch was suspended by NASCAR indefinitely Friday after a judge said the 2004 champion almost surely choked and beat a former girlfriend last fall and there was a "substantial likelihood" of more domestic violence from him in the future.

The suspension came two days before the season-opening Daytona 500, and Busch immediately said he'd appeal.

Although an appeal can be heard as early as Saturday, Stewart-Haas Racing has already decided to use Regan Smith in the Daytona 500.

The move to Smith by SHR, perhaps spurred by Chevrolet's decision to suspend its affiliation with Busch on Friday, is a blow to the Busch camp.

"We ask everyone's patience as this case continues in the court of law and are confident that when the truth is known Mr. Busch will be fully vindicated and back in the driver's seat," Busch attorney Rusty Hardin said in a statement, adding the assault allegation has led to "a travesty of justice" that will become clear as Busch continues to defend himself.

Busch is the first driver suspended by NASCAR for domestic violence. Chairman Brian France had maintained the series would let the process play out before ruling on Busch's eligibility - and the series came down hard in finding that he committed actions detrimental to stock car racing and broke the series' behavioral rules.

Travis Kvapil, who qualified second for Friday night's Truck Series race, was arrested and charged with assault of his wife in 2013. NASCAR took no action against Kvapil.

But it's a different time in sports since former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's own case of domestic violence forced leagues to take a harsh stance against participants accused of assault.

After the suspension was announced, on the glass outside of Busch's garage stall at Daytona, someone had scrawled in black marker "(hash)41 Ray Rice." Busch drives the No. 41 Chevrolet.

In a 25-page opinion explaining why he issued the no-contact order this week, Family Court Commissioner David Jones of Delaware concluded that it was more likely than not that Busch abused Patricia Driscoll by "manually strangling" her and smashing her head into a wall inside his motorhome at Dover International Speedway last September.

The 36-year-old Busch has denied the alleged assault, which is the subject of a separate criminal investigation, but the judge said Driscoll's version of the incident was more credible than Busch's.

Driscoll said she was never motivated to have Busch punished by NASCAR.

"I reported a crime, just like anybody else who has been abused should do, because no one is above the law," Driscoll said. "I'm very encouraged that NASCAR is taking steps to recognize that domestic violence is a serious issue, and I hope that we see them develop a very clear policy on it."

It is Busch's third career suspension. He was suspended in 2012 by NASCAR for threatening a reporter, and parked for the final two races of the 2005 season by Roush-Fenway Racing after he was pulled over by police in Arizona.

He now races for SHR. Busch has 25 career wins but only one since 2011. It came last year, his first season with SHR, the team that helped resurrect his career.

Team co-owner Gene Haas hand-picked Busch to drive a car paid for out of pocket by Haas because the machine tool manufacturer wanted to see a driver take his company to victory lane. Busch was fired at the end of 2011 by Roger Penske for a series of on- and off-track incidents, and he spent two seasons driving for low-budget teams before Haas extended the olive branch.

Busch had been on a resurgence of sorts at SHR, which allowed him to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day last year. He finished sixth at Indianapolis last May and was named rookie of the race.

But his season began to unravel late last summer as his performance tailed off. Although he made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, he was eliminated after the first round.

It was the weekend of the first elimination race, at Dover, where Driscoll alleged Busch assaulted her in his motorhome.

She said she drove to the track out of concern for Busch, who sent her alarming text messages following a poor qualifying effort. She said the two argued in the bedroom section of the motorhome before he slammed her head against a wall three times.

Driscoll did not file charges until November, and the Delaware attorney general has not decided if Busch will be charged.

But Driscoll sought a no-contact order, and the couple spent four days over December and January in a Delaware court presenting their sides. At one point, he accused of her of being a trained assassin.

SHR said only that Smith, who filled in on short notice for Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen last August, would race Sunday. No plans were announced for next week's race at Atlanta, but since Haas pays for that car specifically for Busch, the team co-owner could conceivably park it if Busch does not win his appeal.


New Mexico

Public Safety Dept: Sex offenders must follow city laws

by Caleb James

After looking into an Albuquerque housing complex home to 18 sex offenders that sits within 900 feet of a local daycare, KOB looked into more area schools to see if convicted sex offenders were living nearby – and found one right next to an East Mountain elementary school Thursday. How? Even law enforcement can't explain.

A trailer that sits feet from A. Montoya Elementary in Tijeras is home to a convicted sex offender.

"It's actually almost pretty much on the school property; it's the only house over here," said Debra Lamoreaux, mother to a child who attends the school.

In most of Bernalillo County, a sex offender sharing a chain-link fence with a school is perfectly legal.

We tried to ask the man who lives in the trailer if he ever gets in trouble about where he chooses to live, and were met with a "get the f--- out of here!" from the man.

"I did not know it differed from city to county, or however it works," Lamoreaux said.

It does, and nearby Albuquerque is one of the only New Mexico cities with an ordinance keeping sex offenders a certain distance – 1000 feet – from schools.

Tuesday, an APD spokesperson seemed confused about how sex offender registries work when we brought up the Albuquerque daycare and nearby housing complex.

APD spokesperson Celina Espinosa says the 1000-foot ordinance is enforced on a case-by-case basis because sex offenders can choose to register with either the state, their county or their city – effectively avoiding city laws if they choose one of the other two registries, she said.

But the Department of Public safety told KOB Thursday that is incorrect.

According to the state, there's only one registry at the state level, and any sex offender living in Albuquerque is subject to the city's laws.

The conclusion? The sex offender in Tijeras is doing nothing illegal, and it looks like at least some of the sex offenders living in the Albuquerque complex may be violating city law. But unless the law is enforced, it really doesn't matter.



Inspired by BANG reporting, California creates new child abuse reporting training module

by Matthias Gafni

The state unveiled its new online child abuse reporting training module this week as part of California's new law requiring all teachers and school employees to receive annual instruction.

Inspired by more than three years of this newspaper's reports on incidents where school employees failed to properly report child abuse, Assembly Bill 1432 went into effect Jan. 1, making it mandatory for certificated and classified workers to receive training within the first six weeks of each school year. Before the new law, districts were only "strongly encouraged" to train employees.

The 84-page training portal, located at, includes vignettes, videos and a test that participants must take and score 80 percent or higher to get the required certificate. School districts can also provide on-site training, instead of the online version, but need to get it approved by the state Department of Education.

With the law having taken effect during the middle of this school year, the state is strongly encouraging districts that haven't trained employees to do so immediately, according to the office of bill author Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank.

In addition, any new hires, new substitutes or other newcomers to a district will be required to take the training within six weeks of their hire date.

The updated training was created by the Department of Education and Department of Social Services and includes a much more thorough explanation of the law and reporting requirements.

A 2013 Bay Area News Group survey found that fewer than half of 94 Bay Area school districts trained their employees on the identification and reporting of child abuse. The survey also found that training standards varied by district, with many districts simply having employees sign a statement on their hiring paperwork that they understand their role as a mandated reporter.

This newspaper reported on cases of unreported physical and sexual abuse by teachers in Bay Area school districts, including cover-ups of reported incidents, investigations of abuse by district leaders instead of police and obfuscation of other agencies' investigations.

School employees, in addition to dozens of other professionals, are required by law to report abuse suspicions to the proper authorities. Failures to do so have led to multimillion dollar lawsuits, terminations and, in a rare case, criminal prosecution of an employee who failed to report suspected sex abuse by a teacher against a student.



Kids Count report: education indicators improve; poverty and cases of child abuse increase

by Lindsey Smith

An annual report that looks at the well-being of children in Michigan shows more kids are growing up in poverty.

One in four kids lives in a household at or below the poverty line. But African-American children are twice as likely to live in poverty.

“The disparities are very troubling,” said Jane Zehnder-Merrell. She heads the project for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

“It speaks to the whole racial inequities that are embedded in our systems. I think that's only fair to say,” she said. “This recession has been particularly devastating for African-Americans and the level of unemployment has been persistently higher.”

There is a bright spot though: The infant mortality rate among African American infants has “plummeted” in the past few years, according to the report, although they're still twice as likely to die as white babies.

In addition to the infant mortality rate improving, the report shows Michigan kids are getting better at reading and teens are getting pregnant less often.

“What that says to me is that when we target an issue, when we want to do something about it, we do. But we're not talking about child poverty that way,” Zehnder-Merrell said. “And child poverty is one of the most devastating circumstances for kids.”

The increasing poverty rate for children has led, in part, to an increase in the number of children suffering from abuse and neglect.

Almost one in ten children lives in a family that's been investigated for abuse or neglect. But in some Michigan counties, it's as high as one in four children. In 2013 nearly 34,000 kids were confirmed victims of abuse.


South Dakota

Preventing, Rather Than Reacting to Sexual Abuse

by Alan Dale

Hollie Strand has seen plenty during her time trying to help people learn how to prevent the sexual abuse of children and minors.

Yes, Strand and Children's Home Society out of Sioux Falls are being proactive in the fight against sex crimes perpetuated against kids and in doing so they aim to teach prevention rather than just being reactive after the fact.

“We have to understand what we are up against,” Strand said. “We know that one out of every four girls and out of every six boys are sexually abused prior to turning 18.”

Strand, an education specialist/forensic interviewer for the Child Advocacy Center of the Black Hills – a program of Children's Home Society – visited Vermillion on Wednesday and met with professionals during the day to discuss how to deal with the abuse of kids and then later that evening met with a handful of community folks that were hoping to learn more ways to protect their children.

Topics of discussion ranged from how to keep kids safe, what to when a child comes forward to report abuse, and a brief explanation of the ‘What If' dialog.

It is noted that what could work today may not be as effective five, 10 years from now.

But for now, Strand and Children's Home Society's belief is they are the right track to helping families potentially avoid or at least come out strong after dealing with such a scenario.

Most information below is provided by Children's Home Society.


Stand emphasized that sleep-overs are a scene for many sexual abuse scenarios where older siblings, neighbor children or relatives of the host family can be a perpetrator.

According to Children' Home Society literature, “When making decisions regarding sleep-overs or overnight stays, parents need to use discretion and it is imperative for children to have a way to communicate with their parents if something occurs they are not comfortable with or if they need to return home at any time.”

They encourage the use of ‘code words' that a child can say to a parent or a guardian to indicate they feel uncomfortable, need to go home, or need to be reassured. It should be a word the child can say out loud in front of friends and adults without feeling embarrassed or scared to arouse suspicion.

“This word should be something the child can say to alert the parent, so it should be a common word, but a word that is seldom used in everyday conversation,” the literature reads.

Strand told those in the audience that teenagers don't always make the wisest choices and that a high number of child sexual abuse cases each year are a result of juvenile offenders. Many of these acts can be considered less predatory and more so curiosity but that doesn't lessen the degree of impact on the victim.

Discussion also focused on not holding automatic trust in “professionals” for a number of them are also convicted offenders, the “Rule of 5” (Teaching children to “fast-forward” in their head five minutes, five hours, five days, and five years, ultimately teaching them to be able to anticipate the consequences of both positive and negative choices), to be wary of forced affection, monitor internet safety protocols, and putting boundaries in place.

Strand mentioned to also keep tabs on changed behaviors such as not wanting to go to a relative's house when it was not an issue in the past as an example of a warning sign something may have happened.

“Nothing is fine at home and then they just run away,” Strand said. “We should be more worried at a family reunion than a Holiday Inn.”

She also said that many times the most targeted children are the more popular students on a school campus.

“…they'd never risk their popularity to tell anyone,” Strand said while revisiting a previous interview she had had with a sex abuser.

What To Do if A Child Says…

It is not the ideal scenario to have a child inform you that they have been assaulted or abused sexually.

But Stand and Children's Home Society offered some ‘Do's” and “Don'ts” to help with that unfortunate scenario if it were to ever come up.

Some of them, according to the handout provided by them, include:


• As a professional, understand your school/agency/clinic's policy for reporting allegation of abuse.

• Let your body language tell the child that you hear what he/she is telling you and that you believe them.

• Write down the exact words the child used in the disclosure and during your interactions. The words the child uses are significant, therefore accuracy is very important.

• Thank the child for having the courage to report this to you. The child needs to know that disclosing to you is the right thing to do. Some things to say are “Thank you”, “I believe you”, “We will get you some help to deal with this”, or “I am going to just listen if you need to talk”

Do Not

• Use shocked or disbelieving body language when a child discloses to you.

• If you are skeptical, try not to express your doubts to the child. Don't try to talk the child out of what he/she is telling you.

• Do not hover over the child when he/she is disclosing – this is a position of power and may intimidate the child.

• Don't suggest or guess that the child might have been abused – this can impair the investigation and prosecution process.

• Do not make a conclusion about the validity of the allegation. This is the responsibility of the investigators, judge and jury.

• Do not discuss the allegations with anyone, including non-essential co-workers and relatives. This betrays the child.

• Avoid discussing the disclosure of the allegations with the child's peers around. The child deserves privacy.

• MOST IMPORTANT – Do not ask the child ANY questions. Children need to be interviewed by a specially trained interviewer at the Child Advocacy Center where the interview is recorded and the assistance from a multidisciplinary team can be used to ensure the best outcome for the child.

“What If” Dialog

The “What If” Dialog is designed to assess a child's understanding of a situation, and most importantly, to provide teaching moments for parents/guardians and/or counselors.

The “What If” Dialog can be used individually with children or in groups.

Throughout these instructions the “Discussion Leader” will be implied as the parent/guardian or counselor who is leading the “What If” Dialog.

In these discussions the child should know that everyone should feel safe and have their own “private parts,” if anything happens it is important to tell someone, and who to tell.

Then when beginning the ‘What If' Dialog, instruct the child that you will be asking questions about situations and inviting them to share their reaction of what they would do.

You may start with questions about safety plan topics, such as

“What if you were at the mall and got lost; what would you do?” or moral topics, “What if someone in front of you dropped a ten dollar bill; what would you do?”

After several topics of safety have been discussed, the topic of sexual touching may be introduced. If the child is young, it may be best to divide this discussion into two sessions, introducing the sexual touching in the second session.

It is important during these dialogs to keep the conversation light and relaxed and it is important to praise a child when they respond correctly and gently correct when they need more guidance, according to the literature.

With all children it is important to remind them of the guidelines before every session.

These are important when considering that no more than 5 percent of accused perpetrators are convicted simply due to a lack of evidence and testimony that may erode as time elapses from the time the abuse may have occurred, according to Strand.

For more information on this subject and to receive important literature on how best to protect you and your family from child sexual abuse please contact Tanya Fritz at for more information.



Will bill to regulate Indiana strippers curb sex trafficking?

by Tom LoBianco

Strippers in Indiana would be required to register with the club owners under a measure advancing through the Indiana General Assembly.

It's one way, supporters say, to help curb human trafficking.

The proposal, from Kokomo Republican Sen. Jim Buck, would require strippers (and anyone applying to be a stripper) to provide birth certificates, proof of U.S. citizenship and photos in order to perform. Up until now, the state has not required the performers to show documents typically required at other workplaces.

Buck said Thursday that the goal of the measure is to curb sex trafficking that is occurring in Indiana strip clubs. To that end, he has worked closely with a national strip club trade group, the Association of Club Executives, on the measure.

"The establishments want to get rid of as much of that negativity in the industry as they can," Buck said. "This bill doesn't attempt to pass judgment on whether it's a good industry or bad industry. What it does say is it is a regulation that even the industry recognizes is needed."

The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Technology Committee unanimously last week, with bipartisan support, and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

It would require strippers and prospective strippers to provide proof of legal age and residency. Strip club owners would have to take photos of each stripper and job applicant, and keep them on file for at least three years.

Michael Ocello, executive board member of the Association of Club Executives, co-founded a related group that focuses on training club workers and staff to identify victims of human sex trafficking. He first came up with the idea after law enforcement authorities suspected him of supporting sex trafficking in one of his clubs. After that, Ocello says he began working with federal law enforcement on measures to curb sex trafficking.

"It's an incredibly terrible crime that's going on," he said Thursday.

Ocello said Buck's bill would make it easier for law enforcement to find victims, by providing reliable employee personnel files. The measure also would require clubs to post two posters in the establishment, alerting workers and strippers about human sex-trafficking.



Sex trafficking survivor says police were among hundreds of abusers

Former victim wants to help other exploited kids

by Lance Hernandez

DENVER - She survived years of abuse and exploitation at the hands of sex traffickers and now she's telling her story.

Jessa Dillow-Crisp told an audience at the Colorado State Capitol, during Human Trafficking Awareness and Advocacy Day, that her victimization began when she was a child.

"I was a little girl and was sexually abused by family members," she said. "I had to pose for pornographers and was sold to countless men on a daily basis."

The young woman said she was trafficked domestically in Canada, where she grew up, and in the United States.

She couldn't go to police because they were some of her abusers.

"There was gang raping," she said. "The police officer who handcuffed me and raped me, told me I would be put in jail if I opened my voice."

Dillow-Crisp said it got worse.

"I had somebody very close to me tortured and she eventually died in front of my eyes," she said with emotions rising. "This stuff happens and I'm here to tell you the reality of its existence."

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman told the audience that most people think human trafficking happens on the other side of the world, not here in Colorado.

"We know differently," Coffman said.

The attorney general said Colorado has seen an increase in trafficking numbers and that geography plays a role.

The Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Colorado, Thomas Ravenelle, said they've been working with other agencies and local law enforcement groups for eight years to arrest people involved in human trafficking.

"The Innocence Lost Task Force recovered 18 children in a one week period, who were being exploited through prostitution," he said. "In the hands of their abusers, they're subjected to numerous assaults, illicit drugs and continued abuse, including sex trafficking."

Ravenelle added, "It's not an issue we can arrest and prosecute our way out of. It's only through a multi-disciplined approach involving investigations, prosecution, victim advocacy, treatment and professional care, parents and communities as a whole where we can make a difference."

El Paso County District Attorney David Thompson said, "Human Trafficking has been called modern day slavery. Unfortunately for its horrified victims, that shocking term and the historical image it refers to is not an exaggeration."

Dillow-Crisp remembers escaping that life the first time.

"I took a plane ride to Colorado and experienced freedom for the first time," Dillow-Crisp said. "I remember seeing the tumble weeds on the ground and experiencing the sun touching my arms. But it didn't last."

She said her visa was only for six months and then she had to go back to Canada.

"I met a woman who claimed she wanted to help," she said. "It was at church, at a pancake breakfast, she said, 'Jessa, I see sexual abuse in your eyes.' I thought I had found a friend."

Dillow-Crisp said that "friend" forced her back into prostitution.

"During the 2010 Winter Olympics, it was not fun and games for me," she said. "I ended up being exploited. I ended up being sold to hundreds of people."

The young woman said it was a "Divine Miracle" that she's here today.

She said that thanks to her mentors, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the FBI and local police – she now has a passion for justice.

Dillow-Crisp says freedom means a lot to her.

She quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, "with freedom comes responsibility."

"The responsibility that I feel is to be a face for hundreds of individuals here in Colorado, including men, women and children, who are being abused and exploited right now."

The young women said she no longer feels like a victim.

"I'm a victor," she said.

She said she's speaking out because she wants others to do the same thing, to be able to recognize human trafficking, and to do whatever they can to stop it.



Child sexual abuse survivors urge lawmakers to eliminate statute of limitations

by Marjorie Cortez

SALT LAKE CITY — An adult survivor of child sexual abuse told state lawmakers Wednesday that the molestation she endured at the hands of a middle school choir teacher haunts her to this day.

As the child of a single mother working two jobs, the attention the then-anxiety-riddled middle-schooler Rebecca Ivory received from her teacher was initially "very intoxicating," she said.

"Little did I know her attention was going to cause me nightmares for the rest of my life," said Ivory, addressing the Utah Legislature's House Judiciary Committee.

While Utah's criminal statutes have been changed to acknowledge that many victims of child sexual abuse are not equipped to face their accusers until an average of 20 years later, Utah's civil statute of limitations does not reflect that understanding, said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, who is Becky Ivory's husband.

"Given what we know now about the psychology and what we know now about the trauma, Utah is one of the worst states for protecting children of sexual abuse," he said.

Under existing Utah law, a person who discovers childhood sexual abuse after age 18 has four years to bring suit against the perpetrator.

"What we do know is, the perpetrator has inflicted a lifetime sentence on the victim," said Ivory, sponsor of HB277 . The bill would permit victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits at any time by eliminating the statute of limitations for such civil actions.

The old saw "Justice delayed is justice denied" doesn't apply in cases of child sexual abuse, Ivory said.

"Often justice not delayed is justice denied," he said.

DeAnn Tilton told lawmakers that she, too, was an adult survivor of child sexual abuse.

It takes decades for most victims "to seek justice for the harm that has been done to them," she said. Tilton said she experienced shame and fear of retaliation for years.

Committee members acknowledged the victims' courage in speaking on behalf of the bill, but some expressed concerns eliminating the statute of limitations on civil actions on sexual abuse cases would significantly increase employers' insurance rates.

Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, who works as a property and casualty insurance agent, said insurance policies could become so expensive that underwriters might not offer sexual abuse coverage to employers in Utah or policies would have very high deductibles.

Ivory countered that businesses and insurers in other states where there are no statutes of limitations on child sexual abuse civil actions — Delaware, Minnesota, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Montana — have adjusted to changes in public policy.

"Clearly there's a balance to be struck. Our decision is, do we want to go from one of the worst states in the nation in protecting children that are victims of sexual abuse or do we want to protect the business interests in insuring? That's a policy decision were going to have to make," he said.

Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City, said the Utah's four-year limitation on civil claims may be too short but he has concerns about eliminating the statute of limitation. "Changing from four years to unlimited, I have some concerns," Cox said.

Oda said he was also concerned about lawsuits filed over "false memories."

"It's easy to plant memories into children's minds and it's not that difficult to instill false memories in adult minds, sometimes. That could cause a serious problem," he said.

In civil cases, plaintiffs bear the burden of proof, Ivory said.

"There is an opportunity to deal with that in our system of civil justice," he said.

The House Judiciary Committee took no action on HB277 but voted to continue discussion of the proposed legislation at an upcoming meeting.


New York

Let's Overcome Our Blind Spots When It Come to Child Trafficking

by Ariel Zwang

When most people hear the word "trafficked" they think of drug smuggling, or of young women being sexually exploited by a pimp. We may think of victims being moved across international borders and forced into abusive work conditions. What is less recognized is the other face of trafficking as it plays out right here at home. Whether we recognize it or not, children are being exploited in our own communities across the United States.

When international trafficking makes the headlines while domestic exploitation is all but ignored, we develop a blind spot that deprives us of opportunities to address the problem. At Safe Horizon, we know child trafficking is a pervasive problem, because we are seeing survivors not just through our Anti-Trafficking Program, but through our Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) and at Streetwork Project, our homeless youth program.

Trafficked children are deprived of their innocence and often prevented from attending school and socializing with their peers. I can't think of a more poignant example than the story of Brian and Katy.

Eight year-old Brian and his five-year old sister Katy had missed too many days of school, prompting an investigation of parental neglect. They were sent to a foster home where they disclosed a nightmarish story in which their mother forced them to perform sexual acts with adults for money and later "rewarded" them with a dollar to buy candy. Their foster parents quickly reported this information and Brian and Katy came to a Safe Horizon Child Advocacy Center. Police and prosecutors were able to identify many of the adults who sexually abused them and they are now facing long prison terms. Brian and Katy are safe from abuse and a team of experts at the CAC put in place a plan to ensure the children's future safety and healing.

It is difficult to measure a crime that is notoriously underreported and often overlooked. Experts believe that hundreds of thousands of people in the United States are forced to work under coercive, slavery-like conditions, many of them children.

Through research and advocacy work we know that domestic trafficking of children is far more common than most Americans believe, and more underreported. It can take the form of sexual exploitation, like what happened to Brian and Katy. And, it can take other forms. Some traffickers force children to work in peddling rings, selling magazines or candy on street corners or in suburban neighborhoods. Others put children to work involuntarily in agricultural or domestic settings.

As we grapple with the growing trafficking problem in our country, it's important that we are equally informed, concerned, and moved to act, whether a child is the victim of labor exploitation or the victim of commercial sexual exploitation.

This February, with the opening of the Safe Horizon Child Advocacy Center in the Bronx , every borough in New York City will have an ally in fighting child abuse and trafficking. The Bronx CAC will likely see the highest volume of child abuse cases in the country, and it will be a lifesaving resource for children in trafficking situations.

Having the systems and laws that stop abuse, heal children and seek justice in New York City and around the world are essential, but none of this would be effective without one critical component. Child victims of abuse and trafficking, whether for labor or sexual exploitation, need you.

Children are protected from abuse because someone cares enough to say something to people that can help.

Child trafficking is a cruel form of abuse that profits from children's innocence and vulnerability. The next time that you that suspect a child might be a victim of abuse, seriously ask yourself: does this child need my help? It's better to do something and be wrong than not to do anything and be right.

Know the signs, call the New York State Child Abuse Hotline: 800.342.3720.


United Kingdom

(Pictures of abuse on site)

Mother who was tortured for seven hours and slashed across the throat in front of her sons by her ex-boyfriend is forced to write to him in prison and give him updates on his kids - or face jail herself

by Nazia Parveen

A mother who was tortured by her former fiance in front of their children is being forced to write to him in prison – or face being jailed herself.

Natalie Allman, 29, was battered and slashed across the throat by Jason Hughes during a seven-hour ordeal because he wanted to make her ‘ugly' after she ended their relationship.

But she has now been ordered to provide the former Territorial Army soldier with regular updates about their twin sons after he launched a legal battle from his cell.

Under parental rights laws, Miss Allman must send letters and photos of the five-year-olds to her attacker three times a year and will be held in contempt of court if she refuses.

Miss Allman, who still bears the scars of her ordeal, said yesterday that she is being wrongly made to feel like a criminal.

‘We are the victims, not him,' she said. ‘I thought he was going to kill me that night for no reason and my boys saw that. They were terrified,' she added.

‘I'm so angry that the law still defends his parental rights and that he is still being allowed to control us from behind bars.'

Hughes, 42, was jailed for nine years in 2012 following the brutal attack at the couple's home in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, the year before.

He had flown into a jealous rage when Miss Allman dumped him just two months before they planned to marry, telling Hughes that she was seeing somebody else.

The former reservist, who had an alcohol addiction, attempted to smother her with a pillow before repeatedly bludgeoning her with a dumb bell and slashing her throat.

Hughes, who was trained to use bayonets and knives in the Army, only let Miss Allman call an ambulance after seven hours. Officers arrived to find their terrified sons, then two, in bed with their mother covered in blood.

Miss Allman suffered horrific wounds and needed cosmetic surgery on her throat, but later rebuilt her life and had another child with a new partner.

But in January last year Hughes applied for a residence and contact order under the Children Act of 1989, demanding six letters a year as well as phone calls.

Despite spending £3,000 fighting the order, a judge ordered Miss Allman to send three letters a year on the children's school progress, health and emotional development or face a fine or jail.

Hughes was given permission to send them one letter a year as well as cards at birthdays and Christmas.

Miss Allman said she is sickened by letters she has already received from Hughes, which she says describe how he is allowed to play on an Xbox games console and work as a bee-keeper. She has been told to keep them in case the boys want to read them one day.

She said: ‘I couldn't believe it.

‘I could end up being split up from my children and sent to prison when he was the one who attacked me. I'm the one being treated like a criminal.'



Child abuse, neglect rise sharply in Ingham County

by Will Kangas

LANSING – Ingham County saw a 38 percent rise in child poverty and 82 percent increase in victims of child abuse and neglect since 2006, according to a new report on the well being of children.

The Michigan League for Public Policy's Kids Count Data Book, which looks at the overall well being of children in the state, analyzed change in key categories from 2006 to 2012 or 2013, depending on the category.

Released today, the report shows that statewide, 23 percent of children are living in poverty, compared to 29.7 percent in Ingham County, 15 percent in Eaton County and 12 percent in Clinton County. Kids who live in homes with incomes of less than $23,600 for a two-parent family of four fall below the poverty line.

In Ingham County, the number of children living in poverty increased from 13,172 to 16,645 between 2006 and 2012. There was a corresponding rise in the number of kids enrolled in the state supplemental assistance nutrition program (11.6 percent) and free lunch eligibility (12 percent) for the same time period.

Studies show child poverty and neglect go hand in hand, according to Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Michigan Project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy.

"The most jarring of all the statistics for Ingham County is the number of reports of child abuse and neglect," she said. "But unfortunately those numbers are sure to follow sobering statistics about poverty."

The number of confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect rose to 1,531 in 2012, compared with 927 in 2006, which put Ingham County in the bottom portion at 66 out of 83 counties in the state. That coincided with an increase over the same time period of family abuse and neglect investigations, which rose from 5,656 to 7,147.

Zehnder-Merrell said the big problem is child care. She said as the number of welfare recipients have risen since 2006 the amount of help with child care costs has gone down.

"And so we have children staying at home from school to watch other siblings while the parents work," she said. "Having a truant child home from school is reported as 'neglect.'"

Bob Wheaton, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Human Services, said the merging of DHS and the department of community health in April is meant to help the problem at the state and county level.

"The idea is that the merging of these two departments will translate to help at the county level in terms of helping people with barriers," Wheaton said. "We feel we will be in a better position to help with child abuse and neglect."

"It's unfortunate and discouraging," said Matt Gillard, president of Michigan's Children, a public policy advocate for state children in Lansing. "When child poverty goes up, so does child abuse and neglect."

Matt Gillard, president of Michigan's Children, a public policy advocate for state children in Lansing, said there seems to be no commitment from legislators to focus on child poverty. He cited the Earned Income Tax Credit being cut by 70 percent in 2011.

"This issue has not been a priority from policy makers in Lansing and it is distressing," he said. "The problem is it is harder to focus on such a broad issue because we are talking about families and not just one student or one issue."

He said it was obvious to see which programs did get attention from the public because they were the ones that improved.

For example, Ingham County's infant mortality rate improved from 7.1 percent to 5.8 percent along with a lower number of teen births – 273 in 2012, down from 368 in 2012 – for a state ranking of 14.

"These statistics are considered victories," Zehnder-Merrell said. "But they also show what can happen when there is a concerted effort towards a specific problem."

Linda Vail, Ingham County Health Officer, said the key to combating child poverty is getting help to children as early as possible, before school starts.

"Our Head Start program and financial literacy programs are examples of the types of help we try to provide," she said. "But there is no silver bullet. This is a problem that can't be solved with one program."

But in neighboring counties like Clinton and Eaton, child well being statistics have not mirrored Ingham County. Eaton County's rate of 15 percent and Clinton County's 11 percent are well below the state average of 23 percent.

Statistics were also better in terms of child abuse and neglect. Clinton ranked second best in the state in terms of the number of investigations and confirmed victims. Eaton County is ranked 16th but the number of confirmed victims fell from 345 to 295.

Zehnder-Merrell said the differences between the counties comes down to demographics.

"Clinton County simply doesn't have as many minorities," she said. "Statistics show that minorities remain the most impoverished."

From 2006-12, Ingham County's number of kids who are identified as white fell by nearly 17 percent and the number of kids identified as black or "other" rose by 20 percent. In Clinton County, the number of white children increased by 0.5 percent, in Eaton it fell by 6 percent.

See the report online at

At a glance

Child poverty rates/number of children, as of 2012

Ingham County 30 percent 16,645

Eaton County 15 percent/3,609

Clinton County 12 percent/2,144



Agreement brings more resources for victims of child abuse in Benzie County

by Tom Kramer

BENZIE COUNTY -- A memorandum of understanding between a child advocacy group and Benzie County should lead to more resources for victims of child abuse and their families.

When the Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center opened in 2010, they worked with law enforcement and child protective services from Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

"So that we can provide a place and a trained forensic interviewer," says TBCAC Executive Director Sue Bolde, "if that's what CPS and law enforcement would like, to speak with the child and to gather the information for the investigation."

When a child is brought in to be interviewed, it's done in a calm, quiet environment, by a specially trained interviewer.

"So it helps the child and the child's family feel a little bit different than they would in other settings," says Bolde. "And sometimes it does make it easier to report difficult situations like abuse."

Down the hall from the interview room, police and others working on the case can watch and listen.

"That, sometimes, can give them a new perspective," says Bolde. "It might ignite different questions, new questions about the case. Because they're just seeing it from just one step removed as opposed to being right in the mix."

Plus, providing a space where multiple agencies can watch the interview together as a group, can create a collaborative atmosphere.

"By bringing people together, clearer insights or maybe new insights emerge, they just naturally emerge from the process," says Bolde.

Recently, an agreement was reached between TBCAC and law enforcement in Benzie County.

"We've had a loose affiliation with the Children's Advocacy Center," says Benzie County's Prosecuting Attorney, Sara Swanson. "And we just knew we could do more. So when were able to sit down and talk and see what we could do as a team to help these children, we realized that was the right thing for Benzie County."

Swanson says it makes sense to work together to improve what is already a difficult situation.

"So the kids don't need to tell me one story, tell the child advocacy center what happened, tell the police what happened. They can just do it once and maybe again in front of a jury if necessary, but as few times as possible."

Conducting forensic interviews, like those done at the advocacy center might otherwise be conducted by police officers.

"Our police officers are trained in that, but they don't get to practice as often," says Swanson. "So they may go months or even longer without doing this. Whereas the people at the advocacy center stay up on their training and the do this routinely, so they're much better at it. And they also have a better environment for this."

Now while this agreement between the Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center and Benzie County won't cost the county any money, the center hopes by adding another county to its coverage area, that'll translate to more grant dollars and greater community support.

The Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center is also talking with law enforcement in Kalkaska County about the possibility of creating a memorandum of understanding with them as well.



Proposed Missouri Medical Child Abuse Law Prompts Sharp Division

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A Missouri lawmaker says he wants to protect parents' rights to make medical decisions for their children, but critics say his bill could leave children in danger of being abused with no legal way to stop it.

House Bill 217 sponsored by Representative Ken Wilson (R-Smithville) would bar the charging of a parent or legal guardian with child abuse or neglect if he or she has sought and is following the course of treatment for a child outlined by a medical or mental health provider, and would bar the reporting of possible abuse based on the parent or guardian's decision to follow such a course of treatment.

The is being called “Isaiah's Law,” for Isaiah Rider, a 17-year-old from Kansas City whose mother, Michelle, said he was taken from her because she sought a second opinion for treatment of his pain resulting from neurofibromatosis.

Rider said Isaiah has been removed from her for nearly a year and she has never been charged with a crime.

“I requested a second opinion. I wanted him transferred, I wanted different care for him,” Rider told Missourinet. “They said that was interfering, but that was interfering with what they wanted, but we as parents have rights to decide the best care for our children.”

Wilson agrees with Rider, and said his bill aims to protect parents' right to determine how their children are cared for.

“This isn't dreamed up,” said Wilson. “Parents are losing custody of their children based upon someone's interpretation, someone's opinion, without fully being vetted, and that's just wrong.”

Kansas City Attorney Shelley Patterson told lawmakers she represents clients who have had their children unjustly taken away having been accused of Münchausen syndrome by proxy, in which a caregiver makes up, causes, or exaggerates a medical condition in someone in his or her care.

“This is a system where they have far too much power and far too little oversight, and something needs to be done,” Patterson testified. “This is happening all over the country.”

Critics say the bill goes too far, would upend Missouri laws against child abuse and would even legalize some forms of abuse.

“I think that it is true that there are cases where children are removed from parents when they shouldn't be,” said Deputy Director of Missouri KidsFirst Emily van Schenkhof, who says there are changes that would benefit the system. “Respectfully, though, I don't think this legislation is the way to do it because there would be so much tremendous collateral consequences to children that absolutely are being hurt.”

Doctor James Anderst with Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City told the committee the bill would allow abuse to continue when a parent is, whether deliberately or not, choosing the wrong treatment regimen.

“If a child has, say, leukemia, leukemia is curable in most children,” said Anderst. “If a parent instead of getting their child treated by an oncologist, somebody with expertise in treating childhood leukemia, decides to have their child's leukemia treated by a psychologist, who has no knowledge or skill in leukemia, this would legalize that. How would we speak for the child? That would be a death sentence for the child when they could have an 80-percent chance of living.”

Van Schenkhof and Wilson both told Missourinet they would work with one another on the issues, but van Schenkhof says she doesn't see a way to change Wilson's bill to make it work.

“For me and for my agency, things that inhibit reporting, things that tell people not to report child abuse, those are non-negotiable issues for us,” said van Schenkhof. “We do not see any way to make this bill a safe bill … I think that we have to look at other structural issues, other ways to come at the problem.”

The chair of the House committee that heard the bill, Representative Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton), told Missourinet she has no immediate plan to bring the bill up for a vote.



Commentary: The conversation about domestic abuse

by Debra Greenwood

Smack in the middle of the Grammys, President Obama's message calling on artists to remind their fans that domestic and sexual abuse are never OK took many of us by surprise.

This was quickly followed by domestic abuse survivor Brooke Axtell's heart-wrenching words — that authentic love does not devalue another human being — and Katy Perry's soulful rendition of “By the Grace of God.”

And all this happened a week after No More's anti-domestic violence ad during the Super Bowl.

Finally, the conversation about domestic violence and sexual assault is beginning to happen in very public ways, a conversation we at The Center of Family Justice have been having for decades. What happened at the Super Bowl and the Grammys is progress, and we applaud these baby steps that will hopefully cause a tsunami of outrage focused on the abuser and sympathy and help for the victims.

Axtell, who founded SHE (Survivor Healing + Empowerment), was a young victim of trafficking and as an adult became trapped in an abusive relationship. She is like many of the victims we see daily, who come looking to us for help to leave their abuser. Her words spoke volumens but were also words of hope: She got out, and so can our area's victims.

The music biz has had its share of domestic violence cases. In 2009 Chris Brown was arrested for violence against his girlfriend Rihanna. We couldn't help but wonder what impact the Grammys' domestic violence segment had on this couple, both in the audience.

If you think abuse is overblown, consider these statistics:

• Every nine seconds, there is another victim of abuse in the United States.

• On average, three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in the United States.

• More than 15 million children witness domestic violence each year in the United States.

• One in four women and one out of six men are sexually abused in their lifetime.

• A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

• One in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18.

Today, we ask you to visit our new website,, which is chockfull of useful information for victims, in addition to suggestions on how to get help for someone if you think she or he is a victim of abuse.

Axtell asked all victims to reach out for help from their local domestic and sexual abuse center. It's what she did, and she can now stand before everyone, announcing that there is hope, and there is a way out of an abusive environment.

Call us today at 203-334-6154. Or call our hotlines:

• Domestic violence: 203-384-9559

• Sexual assault: 203-333-2233

• Vedas (Spanish): 888-568-8332

You can also stop into any of our offices:

• Our headquarters, 753 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Or our satellite offices:

• Fairfield: Fairfield Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace. Open: Wednesday, Thursday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. or by appointment, 203-256-3130

• Monroe: Town Hall, 7 Fan Hill Road, Room 213; Open Monday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. or by appointment, 203-452-2800 ext. 1177

• Trumbull: Mary J. Sherlach Counseling Center, 935 White Plains Road, Suite 210, by appointment, 203-261-5110

• Stratford: Town of Stratford Community Services, Birdseye Municipal Complex, 468 Birdseye Street. By appointment, 203-385-4095.

We'll close with Axtell's words: “Your voice will save you. Let it extend into the night, let it part the darkness. Let it set you free to know who you truly are — valuable, beautiful, loved.”

Debra Greenwood is the CEO/president of The Center for Family Justice.


Should America Have a Public Child-Abuse Registry?

by Lucy Steigerwald

Erica Hammel's two-year-old child Wyatt was shaken so badly that he got brain damage.

Her ex-husband's then girlfriend allegedly did the awful deed a year ago, leaving the kid temporarily blinded and unable to speak. The accused, Rachel Edwards, had two previous child abuse charges, but had only gotten probation. Now Hammel wants to prevent anyone else from experiencing this horror by establishing a public database for child abusers.

Michigan, where Hammel lives, actually already has a child abuse database that contains about 275,000 names, but it's only accessible to law enforcement and child protective services. Hammel wants to make that database public, like sex offender registries. But tempting as shaming child abusers might be, expanding the reach of law enforcement is always a dangerous game.

All 50 states have some version of a sex offender registry, and they're rife with problems. There are three quarters of a million people listed across the country, and the "sex offender" label is extremely broad—some may be dangerous pedophiles, while others might just have taken a leak outside. And Michigan's child abuse database has flaws of its own. For one thing, while sex offender registries are based on convictions, the Michigan database lists people merely suspected of child abuse or neglect.

Then there's question of whether or not public shame is a fair part of punishment. Are we going to restrict child abusers in the way sex offenders are often barred from living near schools or other places? This modern reincarnation of the colonial stocks in the town square may be satisfying to victims' families and worried parents, but that fleeting comfort is not the same thing as justice.

After all, drug addiction—most of us can agree—is a terrible thing. But overblown fears about it gave us the war on drugs. We should be cautious of new punishment regimes, even when they're designed to persecute something as heinous as child abuse.



Fits and Starts: Two School-based Approaches to Prevent Sex Trafficking

by Brittany Patterson

On a late winter evening about three years ago, Barbara Hernandez stood in front of half a dozen members of the Riley Elementary School Parent Teacher Association in Long Beach, Calif.

Surrounded by illustrated books, her fellow parents were seated in tiny chairs, their knees nearly hitting their chests, and Hernandez remembers their facial expressions shifting from curiosity to shock and, finally, to determination, as she spoke.

It was a short presentation, only about 20 minutes, but the message was an important one: What could parents do to recognize and prevent domestic minor sex trafficking?

“They were so open, embraced the information,” she said. “At the same time they were appalled it was happening in Long Beach.”

Within the U.S., California is home to three of the FBI's 13 “High Intensity Child Prostitution” areas: San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. It is hard to pin down a number, but experts estimate more than 100,000 children in the U.S. are impacted by child sexual exploitation, which includes sex trafficking, child pornography and child sex tourism.

Education is one key to preventing the sexual exploitation of minors – that was one of the recommendations handed down by the California Child Welfare Council in June 2013.

With varying degrees of success, two cities in California – Long Beach and Oakland – have leveraged local school districts to bring the commercial sexual exploitation of children, or CSEC, to the attention of the very students who could find themselves most vulnerable.

The adage ‘it's easier said than done' certainly applies in this case. It is not as simple as teaching parents and students about the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Curriculum is scarce, and perhaps more problematic is the understandable reluctance of administrators to acknowledge the need to present information about this traumatic crime.

More than two years after the Child Welfare recommendations were released, Oakland Unified School District is still struggling to implement a trafficking prevention program to more than 2,500 seventh grade girls, despite widespread praise for the program and a recently renewed contract.

Despite promise, program stalls in Oakland

It is estimated that 100 children are sold for sex in Oakland each night, according to West Coast Children's Clinic, a leading provider of mental health services to children and youth who have spent time on International Boulevard, which has been notoriously dubbed “the track.”

In May 2012, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors allocated $60,000 to Love Never Fails, a non-profit dedicated to the prevention, rehabilitation and education of youth involved in human trafficking. A small part of that grant money was allocated for the implementation of an education program the group created called Love Never Hurts.

The program meets the California Department of Education public health standards for middle and high school. Oakland Unified School District announced they would begin teaching all seventh-graders the Love Never Hurts program. Students would experience a classroom presentation or assembly focused on healthy relationships as well as exploitation.

Those who are at greater risk for exploitation would be eligible for a six- to eight-week group program with individual mentoring.

The Dublin, California-based organization has educated more than 3,000 Bay Area students through Love Never Hurts. After a successful implementation at one middle school in Oakland, the group was asked to speak to the Oakland City Council. From there, Bonita Hopkins, education director for Love Never Fails, said they began training staff at OUSD.

“It was supposed to happen last school year [2013-2014],” Hopkins said. “This past summer [2014] we pushed them, but we're still waiting.”

Barbara McClung, director of Behavioral Health Initiatives for the school district, told The San Francisco Chronicle the program would cost $40,000 to $50,000 a year to bring to all of the district's middle schools, money that they do not have.

In an email response to The Chronicle of Social Change , McClung said: “I regret that we do not have significant progress to report yet. We are still recruiting schools and working out implementation timelines. Delivering the program remains a priority but we are still in the early stages of preparation.”

Meanwhile, Hopkins said Love Never Fails has been running the program without OUSD staff. Last fall they worked with ninth grade girls through an after-school program at Oakland High School.

“It's very important to get education out there to students and parents,” she said “This population is real and very prevalent in the Bay Area. Prevention is the key.”

Grassroots effort bears fruit in Long Beach

It was 2011 when Barbara Hernandez approached the principal of her daughter's school and pitched the idea of providing some sort of education program for sixth grade girls on healthy relationships. The idea was that if young girls knew what a healthy relationship looked like, they would be less likely to fall into a relationship that could lead to sex trafficking.

Often, pimps, or exploiters as they are also called, begin a relationship through romantic overtures. These “Romeo pimps” often give their “girlfriends” gifts and money, which is followed by isolation from friends and family as well as other control tactics like physical and emotional abuse. For a host of reasons, many survivors of sex trafficking report they did not even realize it was happening, or if they did they did not have the resources to escape. Often, witnesses report, they have endured trauma that has impacted their self-esteem, which makes them more likely to accept such a patently unhealthy relationship.

“More than 90 percent of the time survivors have experienced a level of trauma, often multiple traumatic experiences,” Hernandez said. “This really impacts the brain development, especially as a youth.”

Hernandez would know. She is the vice president of Community Based Services at Crittenton Services for Children and Families, a non-profit social services agency that works with commercially sexually exploited children. She has worked with minors in the child welfare system for more than 15 years.

According to a report published by the state's Child Welfare Council in 2012, it is estimated that between 50 and 80 percent of trafficked girls were in foster care. Most commercially sexually exploited children have a history of abuse and trauma prior to being victimized.

When Hernandez didn't get any traction with her daughter's principal, she decided to take her offer to the PTA.

“They were way more open and wanted training,” she said.

Word spread and Hernandez began spending her evenings in school gyms all over Long Beach presenting what she calls “CSEC 101,” which includes information on the subculture, language and data. She also has an extended version of the presentation that includes how the brain is impacted by trauma.

Last year, word got back to the Long Beach Unified School District School Board, which then asked for the training. Last month, a Youth Exploitation Safety Symposium, which was spawned in part from both the district's and parents' desire for more information, was attended by nearly 400 community members.

Hernandez said the superintendent of schools “gave us everything we asked for and more” for the event. The Long Beach Human Trafficking Task Force, Long Beach Unified School District and Long Beach PTA partnered to bring more than 80 organizations, workshops and speakers together with the goal to educate parents, students and teachers on human sex trafficking, safety and empowerment.

“We work daily with law enforcement and many community partners to keep our students and schools safe,” said LBUSD Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser in a press release. “As an extension of that work, we're partnering with the city's task force on this symposium, which will provide important information for students and parents. Our aim is to help prevent human trafficking through dialogue, education and increased awareness.”

That is not to say there have not been challenges. Hernandez said when she does the training she sometimes hears parents say things such as “it doesn't happen here,” or “my kid doesn't run around with those type of people.”

“When they get through with the training it opens their eyes,” she said.

For example, one statistic that she says often shocks parents is the average age of entry into sexual exploitation: Between the ages of 12-14.

Increased reports of violence associated with sex trafficking over the last few years might have sparked more openness from parents on the subject.

“Maybe our community is ready,” she said. “I also think a lot of people thought it had to be a gruesome talk, but the takeaway from the trainings is what makes for a healthy relationship, what are boundaries and what are the effects of trauma.”

Prevention, Hernandez adds, is the key to not losing girls to exploitation.

“Once a girl is in it, it's a lot harder to get out,” she said.


United Kingdom

Sex education 'should be made compulsory in primary schools'

Education Select Committee calls for sex education to be compulsory in primary and secondary schools amid fears over the sexualisation of children by the internet

by Ben Riley-Smith

Children as young as five should be given compulsory sex education amid concerns schools are failing to keep pace with the sexualisation of children by the internet, MPs have said.

A report by the Education Select Committee has called for sex and relationships education to be placed on the national curriculum for the first time – making it a statutory requirement in all state primary and secondary schools.

A cross-party group of MPs criticised the Government's “weak” strategy for improving sex education and said its rhetoric on the topic failed to be backed up with action.

MPs were told it is now “normal” for 14-year-olds to pose in bras for social media photos and that around one in three 15-year-olds had sent someone a naked photo of themselves.

They also found that sex education need to be improved in 40 per cent of schools, according to Ofsted, and suggested the topic should be given the same importance as English.

Elsewhere the report warns that some children were unable to name body parts or properly understand what was meant by giving consent.

It is hoped such a move would help address “problems” in society including teenage pregnancy, STI rates, drug and alcohol abuse, cyberbullying, and child sexual exploitation.

More than a dozen leading political figures backed the proposal to make sex education compulsory in a letter to this newspaper, published on the letters page.

Lord Fowler, a former Tory Party chairman and cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher, and Paul Burstow, a former Liberal Democrat health minister in the Coalition, were among the signatories.

“There is an overwhelming demand for statutory sex and relationships education – from teachers, parents and young people themselves,” said Graham Stuart, chair of Education Committee.

“It's important that school leaders and governors take PSHE seriously and improve their provision by investing in training for teachers and putting PSHE [personal, social, health and economic education] lessons on the school timetable. Statutory status will help ensure all of this happens.”

The Tory MP added that “young people have a right to information that will keep them healthy and safe” and said the recommended changes would help children “live happy and healthy lives”.

The Coalition has repeatedly ruled out making sex education compulsory for primary schools with Elizabeth Truss, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, saying in March 2013 it should remain a “non-statutory subject”.

Ministers have previously argued teachers should be given the freedom to provide the level of teaching they deem necessary without having to deliver a standardised programme of study.

However after taking evidence from school inspectors, charities and ministers the Education Select Committee concluded the Government's current sex education strategy was “weak” and recent actions were “insufficient to make much difference”.

“There is a mismatch between the priority that the Government claims it gives to PSHE and the steps it has taken to improve the quality of teaching in the subject,” thee report said.

The Government should develop a plan for introducing age-appropriate PSHE and sex and relationships education (SRE) – which should be renamed relationships and sex education (RSE) – as statutory subjects in primary and secondary schools, the committee said.

It recommended parents retain the right to withdraw their child from elements of sex education and that the quality of classes could be measured through Ofsted inspections and student and parent satisfaction.

While the proportion of young people citing school lessons as their main source of information about sexual matters has increased, 61 per cent of children still get their information elsewhere according to the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles from 2010-12.

Lauriane Povey, author of Veil of Anonymity, told MPs “it has become normal for 14-year-old girls to have as their profile picture [on social media] them stood in a bra, and the whole world can see that”.

Dr Zoe Hilton, an executive at the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection, said “we have reached the point with older teenagers where sexting is a normative behaviour” and called for better awareness of how damaging it can be.

The Telegraph has campaigned for the Government to update sex and relationship teaching material since 2013.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said: "We want to see all young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain. This means not only ensuring that young people receive a rigorous academic education, but also helping them to develop personal and emotional well-being.

"High quality PSHE teaching has a vital role to play in this – giving young people a better understanding of the society around them and supporting them to make informed choices and stay safe."



Georgia Hidden Predator Act Designed to Empower Abuse Victims

(full bill on site)

by Andrew Davis

A bill designed to help give victims of child abuse a voice and a chance at restitution also carries a controversial kicker.

"The Georgia Hidden Predator Act" is under debate in the Georgia House.

In part it would extend the amount of time child sexual abuse victims have to file civil lawsuits against their abusers from 5 years to 35 years.

So instead of coming forward by 23 years old the survivor would have until 53 to make a claim.

"The current pedophiles in our state know the statute of limitations are short," said bill sponsor House Representative Jason Spencer said. "It becomes an unfair barrier to justice."

And for anyone who's statute of limitations has expired, the bill would give them a two year window, from 2015 to 2017, to retroactively file a lawsuit.

"Unfortunately its happened too many times in my experience that grandpa or great uncle or whoever molested mom and she never told," explains Kris Rice of the Child Advocacy Center. "And now he's done it to her child and that child's case is going forward and being prosecuted, but its long since possible that mom can do something about her situation"

But a different part of the proposal is drawing questions.

It would allow victims access to investigative records about their abuse.

Right now those records are sealed, and unavailable to anyone.

Kris Rice from the Child Advocacy Center is not in favor of that side of the bill.

She is worried about the mental damage it could do to any survivor getting to relive their crime, and that it could affect testimony in any future lawsuits.

"The victim is now facing the details of his or her abuse that may have gotten hazy in his or her mind," explains Rice. "And if we at the Center are being required to open our investigative file and being required to allow adult victims to view their video for the forensic interview that was conducted 10,15 20 years ago. I think that could be tremendously damaging."

The bill is not law yet. It is up for a second reading Wednesday at the Capitol in Atlanta.

For More Information on the Bill:



Olean, New York

Talking to teenagers to prevent dating violence

OLEAN — Any parent of a teenager can tell you about the stress of worrying over his or her child's safety.

A child's teenage years are filled with firsts including their first job, maybe a first car and a first date. While it's a parent's job to worry about their child's safety, many parents are unaware of the threat of teenage dating violence.

Studies have shown that in the U.S., one in three adolescent girls (up to 35 percent) are victims of dating or interpersonal violence.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. To raise awareness, the Southern Tier Child Health and Safety Team (CHST) and the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence would like to urge parents and caregivers to talk to their teenagers to prevent dating violence.

In a 2011 national study of more than 15,000 high school students, 9.4 percent reported they had been injured by a boyfriend or girlfriend and 8 percent reported they had been forced to have sex during the previous year. However, only 3 percent of teens said they reported the abuse to an adult or an authority figure.

Protecting teens from dating violence is the responsibility of every caring adult. Preventing teen dating violence and helping teens who are victims begins with talking. Talk to your children as early as you can about what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

Talking to your son or daughter about dating violence isn't easy. The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence has some tips for parents:

• Be patient and talk with teens at a time they're comfortable with and in an environment that feels safe for them.

• Use different modes of communication to begin a conversation — email or texting — however they prefer to communicate.

• Serve as a non-judgmental resource. Let the teen know the abuse is not their fault and that you'll support the choices they make.

• Encourage them to call the police if necessary, obtain an order of protection or talk to a domestic violence specialist and offer to accompany them during the process. To locate a domestic violence specialist in your area, please contact Accord Corp. in Allegany County at (585) 268-7605; Cattaraugus Community Action in Cattaraugus County at 945-1041; and the Salvation Army of Jamestown in Chautauqua County at 661-3894. You can also call the New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906, TTY: 1-800-818-0656 for the hearing impaired.

• Olean General Hospital, Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville and WCA Hospital in Jamestown have specially trained Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) providers available in the Emergency Department who treat sexual assault survivors and victims of dating violence. At the hospitals, SAFE providers treat victims in a private room and all services are confidential.

• Parents and caregivers can also help teens create a safety plan so they know what to do in case of future incidents of dating violence. Visit


United Kingdom

Child abuse report: Too many children still at risk

Too many children in England are still "slipping though the net" and remain at risk of sexual abuse, a report says.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner report found there had been "considerable" progress in some areas of tackling child exploitation.

But "at the front line much work is still needed," said Deputy Commissioner Sue Berelowitz, who headed the inquiry.

A Home Office spokesman said it was "determined that appalling cases be exposed" but said "more must be done".

The latest report, called "If it's not better, it's not the end", follows an Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC) inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups, which was launched in October 2011.

The inquiry published six reports and made 37 recommendations.

Rates of exploitation

The OCC's follow-up report has raised concerns about the level of progress in some areas, along with the continued "under-identification" of victims.

It said it was "worrying" that the inquiry's recommendation to make sex education a statutory part of the curriculum had not been adopted by the government.

The report also found "vastly different" reported rates of child sexual exploitation in different parts of England.

In nine local authorities - all with similar demographics and deprivation levels - the rates of known exploitation varied between one victim and 65 victims per 10,000 children.

The report highlighted concerns that too many children at risk of becoming victims or who are already victims are not being identified.

Only 48% of local Safeguarding Children Boards said they had identified victims.

"There are still many parts of England where the identification of victims remains very low, despite the evidence we published that there are children in every part of England who are at risk or who are victims," the report said.

Strategic objectives had not always filtered down to "front-line practice", while information sharing between different agencies "remains a problem", it added.

Sex education call

The report comes after abuse scandals in areas including Rotherham, where it was reported that 1,400 children were abused between 1997 and 2013.

"Organisations and authorities responsible for children's safety must also not ignore the lessons from our inquiry, reinforced powerfully by findings in Rotherham and elsewhere," said Ms Berelowitz.

"It is absolutely critical that they have in place ways of identifying the children who at risk or are already victims and ensuring their safety."

She also called for "age-appropriate relationships and sex education" to be made a statutory part of the school curriculum.

"Young people need to understand what are and what are not healthy relationships," she said.

Separately, the Commons Education Committee has said in a report that all state primary and secondary schools in England should have to teach sex-and-relationships education (SRE).

A Home Office spokesman said the government was "determined that appalling cases be exposed so that perpetrators face justice" and "vulnerable children and young people are protected".

"We have a new, tougher inspection framework for children's services and the College of Policing has introduced new guidance for police which moves the focus of investigations away from the credibility of victims on to the credibility of the allegation," the spokesman said.

Home Secretary Theresa May has written to chief constables stressing "the highest standards must be met", while plans to address "accountability, leadership and action" to support victims will be published shortly.

However, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper MP said "in too many cases" children were not being listened to, victims were not being protected and abusers were not prosecuted.



Child Abuse Cases Down, but Awareness Remains Up

by Nicole Snyder

Augusta, GA - It's a type of crime that may be harder to spot, but goes on millions of times per year. Child abuse can be stopped by looking for signs and knowing limits.

Discipline taken to the limit is something Sergeant Shane McDaniel from the Richmond County Sheriff's Office said is more common than many think.

"We see this all year round, unfortunately, and it's something the sheriff's office takes very, very seriously and that is the way our children are treated," said McDaniel.

Just last week, one of their own deputies, Alton Walker, was arrested and kicked off the force after being accused of abusing a child.

But there are easy ways McDaniel said child abuse can be prevented.

"If you think that you are too angry to issue some kind of discipline to your child, preteen or teenager, then by all means reach out to another member of your family," said McDaniel

Many wonder if spanking is legal. McDaniel said it is, if it's not taken to the extreme.

"Once you start leaving marks on the buttocks or going up on the back or on the legs or even on the chest area, that's when your reaching a little too far, that's when you're going way too far," said McDaniel.

Statistics from the Richmond County Sheriff's Office for child abuse and molestation show numbers did go down from 186 cases to 87 cases between 2013 and 2014.

But there's still a need to be aware of what's going on, and is why the sheriff's office works closely with the school system.

"We are usually notified by the board of education, teachers, if they notice a first grader, second grader, third grader, they will notify the board of education public safety officer who will in turn notify the sheriff's office and we will get involved, we will work joint on certain cases," said McDaniel.

If you need help or need to report a child abuse case, you can call the national child abuse hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.



How will deaths by child abuse, neglect move Rauner's budget?

by Tony Arnold

The number of Illinois children dying from abuse and neglect remains high even after the state's child welfare agency had been involved with the child's family, according to a new analysis from WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times .

It comes as Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has vowed to “transform” the state's long-troubled Department of Children and Family Services.

Rauner made child deaths a major issue during his campaign for governor. His campaign put out a dramatic television commercial:

“They were just children. Our most vulnerable with their whole lives ahead. Lives cut short tragically, senselessly from abuse, neglect while in the care of Pat Quinn's administration,” the voiceover narrator intoned.

Rauner's campaign used numbers analyzed by WBEZ and the Sun-Times to attack his opponent, then-Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.

Quinn called the ad “despicable,” and said it was a new low to say the governor is responsible for the deaths of children when the state intervenes with troubled families.

Rauner won election, and now the responsibility he laid on Quinn—falls to Rauner himself.

Children in state's system have complex lives

Child welfare is complicated and far-reaching.

The Chicago Tribune has been documenting abuses at residential treatment centers for older youth. And there hasn't been consistent leadership at DCFS in more than a year. Rauner just recently named George Sheldon from Florida to lead the agency. Child welfare advocates like Ben Wolf say if Rauner wants to transform DCFS, he has to be mindful of these issues in addition to things like foster care, mental health and juvenile detention.

“We have to have the right priorities with money in order to get the right people,” said Wolf, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who monitors DCFS through a court-ordered consent decree.

Rauner is scheduled to propose how much money should go toward DCFS and other state agencies Wednesday. He faces a big budget hole for all of state government. A spokeswoman for the governor's office said Rauner will propose a reasonable budget to turn around the agency, and that he's expanding the role of the national Casey Family Programs in Illinois' child welfare.

Child deaths by neglect and abuse

As Rauner finishes his budget, we wanted to give him an up-to-date picture of what he faces with DCFS. WBEZ worked with the Sun-Times once again to look at child deaths. The most current information available is from last July, well before Rauner won election.

We found 29 Illinois kids died from abuse or neglect after DCFS had investigated claims of problems at home or involving caretakers of those children.

It's a number that's held steady over the last couple of years.

We reviewed documents about children who died from neglect in situations like unsafe sleeping conditions.

Then there's abuse.

We found 10 instances of child abuse that resulted in death — again, even though state child welfare workers had already been involved with the family or caregiver.

That's down a little bit from previous years, but the cases are no less shocking.

It's tragedies like that of 2-year-old Jakarriah Patterson that Gov. Rauner will have to consider as he thinks about where to prioritize DCFS in the budget.

Jakarriah's father, Jeremiah Thompson, called 911 on March 19, 2014, from his home in south suburban Lansing, to report his daughter was not responsive.

“Wake up, baby. Wake up,” Thompson is heard saying on the 911 call.

A year before Jakarriah's death, DCFS found Thompson to have caused bruising to Jakarriah's face and buttocks and scratches to her back.

Cook County prosecutors later charged Thompson in Jakarriah's death.

Police reports say after she died, Thompson was haunted by Jakarriah calling for him and he put toilet paper in his ears while in a holding cell.

Thompson told the police he would sometimes hit Jakarriah for things like going into a room she wasn't supposed to.

Jakarriah had been living with her mother, Karla Patterson, but when Patterson was put out of her mother's home in Wisconsin, she made the fateful decision to give Jakarriah to Thompson.

There are 28 other cases we found in which DCFS had contact with the family or caretakers before the child died from abuse or neglect.

Among them is that of 19-month-old Amierah Roberson. A daycare worker reported to DCFS that Amierah had bruises and scratches. DCFS was still investigating those claims a month later, when her mother's boyfriend allegedly beat Amierah to death and then burned her body.

There's also 4-month-old Anterio Schlieper.

The DCFS inspector general said the agency investigated his parents in Moline, Illinois, four times in two years and even requested an order of supervision for the kids in the house.

But the Rock Island State's Attorney's office did not agree and the order wasn't granted. Anterio was found unresponsive in the morning after his parents had taken him into their bed at night.

They admitted to police they had drunk alcohol and smoked marijuana before going to sleep. Both pleaded guilty to charges related to Anterio's death.

“I think this is the time when the new governor has to decide if his priority is compassion toward our most powerless citizens or is reducing spending,” said Ben Wolf with the ACLU.

Wolf said former Gov. Rod Blagojevich politicized DCFS about 10 years ago, and it's been deteriorating ever since. Wolf said he'll be watching Gov. Rauner's budget recommendations for DCFS to see how Rauner intends to undo that history.


Rome center designed to fight sexual abuse expands its reach

by Inés San Martín

ROME — In the Church's latest attempt to demonstrate resolve in its fight against child sexual abuse, an online anti-abuse training and advocacy center sponsored by Rome's Jesuit-run Gregorian University has announced a major expansion intended to extend the global reach of its efforts.

The overhaul of the Centre for Child Protection is unfolding in collaboration with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the body created by Pope Francis last year to lead the charge for reform, headed by Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley.

The Centre for Child Protection is an outgrowth of a major conference staged at the Gregorian University in 2012 that featured the head of the Vatican's powerful Congregation for Bishops apologizing to victims during a penitential liturgy at a Roman basilica.

“The prevention of sexual and other kinds of abuse of minors is of greatest importance for the universal Church,” O'Malley said Monday. “I am confident and pray that the [Centre for Child Protection] will make a substantial contribution to this long-term effort.”

Although the center doesn't have any formal connection with the Vatican, three of the members of the Pontifical Commission are highly committed to it: German Jesuit Hans Zollner and British Baroness Sheila Hollins serve in both organizations.

Asked if the Vatican is backing the project, O'Malley said “yes.”

The center's main focus will be to provide education for preventing and dealing with sexual abuse, as well as on the latest research about causes, effects, and best prevention practices.

For the past three years, the center has carried out an experimental e-learning program that involves 11 partners in 10 countries on four continents. This program is trying to recruit additional partners around the world to support the efforts of O'Malley's commission.

According to Zollner, more than 1,000 people — priests, deacons, catechists, and educators — have completed the pilot program, and the results are being analyzed.

Zollner, president of the center, said the e-learning program is primarily designed for developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, regions where addressing clerical sexual abuse generally has been slower.

“The collaboration will follow the principle of subsidiarity,” Zollner said. “The partners will be responsible for the projects in their countries.”

According to Zollner, such collaboration will help develop a program that's sensitive to the “cultural characteristics” of each country.

Zollner said the program will also pay special attention to the voices of the victims and survivors of clerical sexual abuse.

“Those who have heard [the testimony of survivors] remain convinced that yes, justice must be given to the victims, but also that future cases must be prevented,” he said.

O'Malley shared a personal story to illustrate the need for such initiatives, pointing out that he was baptized by his uncle and then started serving Mass at age 6, eventually entering the seminary at age 13.

“All my teachers were good and holy people that nurtured my soul,” O'Malley said. “But I ask myself, had I been a victim, would I still have been a priest, or Catholic, or would I have committed suicide?”

The prelate focused mainly on two issues: Emphasizing the importance of bishop accountability, and the implementation of guidelines that would guarantee there is no improvisation when accusations of sexual abuse surface.

O'Malley said “there's no justification for failing to act diligently when faced with evidence of clerical sexual abuse.”

While respecting cultural differences, he said, some aspects of the Church's approach have to be universal.

For example, any allegation of clerical sex abuse should immediately be reported to law enforcement. Also, any cleric accused of abusing minors should be relieved of his duties pending an investigation; there should be mandatory screening of candidates for the seminary and Church employees; there should be formation programs for clergy, volunteers, and children, and provision has to be made for pastoral care for survivors and their families.

“To regain the trust of those who we serve, we must be known always and everywhere for being committed to the safety of children,” O'Malley said. “Only this can restore confidence in our pastoral ministry.”


#OperationDeathEaters; Anonymous Threatens To Release Information About Global Child Abuse

by Marie de Vera

The hacktivist collective known as Anonymous has posted a video on YouTube claiming it will target "elite" establishment figures they claim have a direct   connection and involvement in a series of widespread cover-ups about child sex abuse and other offenses.

Anonymous clearly said it's aware of the existence of documents that contain information implicating many important people involved in the cover-up of various child abuse offenses. It alleges these abuses have been going on for many years and encompasses several continents.

The aim of the protest that took place on Feb. 13, a Friday, wasn't to stir worldwide chaos but to release the information into the public domain to promote awareness about the "pedosadist industry."

"This isn't a situation where we are looking to create mayhem. It's about giving the public information so we can confront these problems that go back decades", said a person claiming to be a member of Anonymous to Sky News.

On the social networking site Twitter, various Anonymous related pages started using the hashtag #OpDeathEaters.

Anonymous labeled those people connected to the child abuse ring as "Death Eaters" and the group claimed the operation doesn't only affect the UK but many countries, as well, according to RT.

Earlier this month, the hacker collective waged an online war on the terrorist group ISIS. After the declaration of war, Anonymous took down more than 800 ISIS controlled websites, along with exposing social network profiles of people known to have connections with the Islamic terrorist group.



Dealing with teen suicides

High state rate fuels change

by Jeff Wiehe

Hoosier teenagers are more likely to consider suicide than any other group of teens throughout the country.

And Indiana high school students rank No. 2 when it comes to carrying out suicide attempts.

Those statistics are being released today as part of the Indiana Youth Institute's Kids Count 2015 study, which is designed to show a snapshot of the state's young people when it comes to poverty, child abuse and overall well-being.

According to the study – which cites government statistics from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Mental Health – 19 percent of teens in Indiana have considered suicide during the past year.

Eleven percent of Indiana high school students have attempted suicide – the national average is 7.8 percent – while 3.9 percent saw a medical professional as a result of their suicide attempt.

While the topic can be uncomfortable to many who deal with teenagers on a regular basis – i.e. teachers, school workers and parents – those rates have also begun to spark change in how suicide is viewed and, ultimately, dealt with.

In the past, the reality of suicide or its very idea was kept quiet in the hallways of schools and elsewhere. When a student or a classmate died from a suicide, it was only whispered about at best, never open for discussion by the adults and ultimately kept quiet.

There were always fears about other students following their classmate's lead if the topic was even broached.

Now, though, many mental health professionals are advocating a more active approach, meeting the idea of suicide head on before it can become a problem and urging those involved with teens to be more open about disturbing thoughts or feelings.

All in an effort to get anyone who needs it help before it becomes too late.

“You can't just shove it under the rug,” said Colleen Carpenter, a suicide prevention trainer and consultant based in Fort Wayne. “Adults need to begin to talk about suicide more openly.”

Ensuing guilt

At 16 years old, Jennifer Barnes' friend and high school classmate committed suicide.

That was just more than 10 years ago in Fort Wayne, and Barnes remembers spiraling into depression and guilt during the ensuing two weeks.

She wondered why her friend did not come to her, whether she pushed her away and what happened that she did not feel comfortable enough to come to her to talk about what was wrong. All of that led to Barnes lying in bed thinking suicidal thoughts herself. What Barnes also remembers is going to a school where talking about her friend had become taboo.

Barnes did not want to reveal where she attended school at the time out of respect for her friend's family. The Journal Gazette typically does not identify suicide victims.

“The hard part for me was, here's this girl in the school population where everybody knows about it, and nobody is allowed to talk about it,” Barnes said. “Then here's this thing I'm experiencing, and I'm not allowed to talk about it.”

It would not be Barnes' last brush with suicide – she lost her father a year later to suicide and a cousin to suicide recently.

Today, she is a facilitator for a suicide survivor support group called We The Living, which meets monthly in Fort Wayne. During the 11 or so years she's been a part of the group, she estimates that 15 to 20 people have attended – either regularly or off and on – who lost teenage loved ones to suicide.

The devastation left behind from a teen suicide, she said, can be excruciating in a different way from adult suicides.

Teenagers can feel overwhelmingly complex emotions, emotions they have yet to learn how to deal with. Instead of finding help, they can fall into depression and think they may have come into a situation where there is no solution.

“My dad, at 46, at least he lived some of his life,” Barnes said. “With teens, maybe they never even got their first kiss, or got to go to prom, or hadn't even driven a car.”

“They don't know what life is.”

In the span of five months during 2007 and 2008, two East Allen County Schools students committed suicide, and those deaths sparked a school district to radically change how it dealt with the issue and it's approach to students, both aftereffects and in being proactive.

Speaking up

“Most people are afraid to deal with someone who is dealing with suicide,” Jeff Studebaker says.

Studebaker is the safety manager for East Allen County Schools, and he was with the district when a freshman at New Haven High School took her life in December 2007 and when a sophomore at Leo Junior-Senior High School committed suicide in April 2008.

District officials decided that keeping quiet on the subject was not an option.

They formed a suicide advisory council that consisted not only of school officials and mental health consultants but also officers from the New Haven and Allen County police departments who are trained in dealing with mentally ill people.

And even though their guidance counselors were trained through their graduate work on how to deal with students who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, they were retrained, Studebaker said.

Soon, everyone in the school system – from teachers to bus drivers to those who worked the lunch counters – were given training in suicide and suicide prevention.

The most important aspect of everything the district did is this, Studebaker says: They made it something the employees weren't afraid to talk about.

“We gave them the power to ask students: ‘Are you thinking about killing yourself?' ” Studebaker said.

Colleen Carpenter, the suicide prevention consultant, lauded the efforts of EACS in all it has done to prevent suicides, and stressed that confronting the issue head on is much better than going silent out of fear or lack of comfort.

It's likely that there are students in schools dealing with suicidal thoughts already, and their classmate or friend dying from suicide just compounds everything going on inside them.

“If there is a suicide death in the schools, we need to be talking about it openly,” Carpenter said. “There will be students who also have had thoughts of suicide and haven't spoken up and now they're really struggling.”

Which also means students and teachers alike might have to do something they don't want to do: break someone's trust.

Both teens and teachers need to speak up if their friend or student says something disturbing that leads them to believe the friends or students are contemplating suicide.

“The trick with teens is they might try to swear their friends or a trusted adult to silence because they're embarrassed or afraid of getting in trouble,” Carpenter said. “We always tell our young people, always break the trust when it comes to a friend – suicide is a life or death issue.”

When a student is deemed to be suicidal, sometimes police officers with special training are called to assess him or her, and always – Studebaker stressed always – the student does not leave the school until a parent arrives to pick him or her up.

Many times, the school will recommend the student be taken to a hospital, and most of the times the parents agree.

Also at EACS, health classes for incoming freshmen now devote time to suicide. And the council of professionals and experts created in the wake of the two suicides seven years ago is still there, meeting regularly and going over protocols, which can always change or be fine-tuned, according to Studebacker.

“We don't want to get complacent,” Studebaker said. “We want to keep this thing fresh and going. We want to keep the edge on this.”

Following up

What is critical, Carpenter said, is not just recognizing when someone might be at risk but also getting them the help they need.

There is a shortage of child psychiatrists in Indiana, and sometimes there is a lack of follow-up and continuity of care after getting young people assessed or treated for their suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.

“Data shows the highest risk for suicide is the period immediately following a psychiatric hospitalization, yet there is no system in place for following up,” Carpenter said. “These youths are going right back into the struggles that led to the suicidal thinking, so it's extremely important to follow up and make sure they are getting the care they need.”


• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK),

• We The Living:


3 integrated concepts for domestic violence investigations

Embracing these three concepts will do a lot to move law enforcement into the future of effective response and investigation of DV / CEDV calls for service

by David Cropp

Embracing these three concepts will do a lot to move law enforcement into the future of effective response and investigation of DV / CEDV calls for service

In the latter half of last year, the Ray Rice case piqued social interest in Domestic Violence (DV). In fact, much of that interest came to a head during October, which happens to be National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Remember those football players demanding that society not accept excuses for domestic violence? Remember how the media discussed domestic violence using a confusing array of terms and comparing DV to everyday assault and battery? Did you notice all those DV-related events and training symposiums last October?

Good for you.

But what have we learned? Do we really hold ourselves accountable for understanding DV any better than the NFL or media personalities? In some cases the answer is yes. But we can do better. I've been in law enforcement for 35 years, so I remember when ‘success' was getting the male half of the disturbance to pack a few things and leave for the night. I remember telling kids, “Everything will be okay — go back to bed.” I remember making no arrests and writing few — if any — reports.

We've all seen improvements in DV legislation and training — we've definitely come a long way — but there is more we can do to improve our understanding of DV. Law enforcement should be respected for our depth of knowledge — something more than superficial social banter. A better understanding in this domain is not just an academic venture. There are practical benefits as well; benefits that include a safer response strategy, better investigations, better reports, a higher filing rate.

There are many implications and intricacies of DV, but there are three integrated concepts that will help us move toward a better understanding of this crime. Let's examine each in turn.

1. Children Exposed to DV

For law enforcement officers, Domestic Violence is an assault. We respond to assaults or attempted assaults. sometimes we respond to criminal threats or violations of restraining orders, but many times these are based on precipitating assaults. We see Domestic Violence as an incident.

However, to the children exposed to DV, it's not about an incident or a series of incidents — it is about an environment. It is about an environment of chaos, profanity, and threats. When it comes to children exposed to DV (CEDV), we respond to an incident but we walk into an environment.

This environment leads to maladaptive brain development and problematic behavior. It creates a troubled social climate defined by poor interaction with peers and poor performance at school. Children exposed to DV have been diagnosed with various types of conduct disorder. They may dissociate from society and present with seizure disorders (Perry, 2003). These effects are related to mental suffering and trauma. The nexus between mental suffering, trauma, and domestic violence allows us to add criminal charges of child endangerment. However, many of these charges are dropped because we haven't done a good enough job of narrating the environment that the children live in.

In a recent 911 call, a 14 year-old girl told dispatch that she knows just when to call the police to keep the violence from getting worse. The mother denied any history of violence.

How do we address this conflict? It's simple. Use these three words: “Tell me more.”

We must clarify the nature of this parasitic environment: What do they see? What do they hear? How often does the violence occur and to what severity? How do they sleep at night? Were they scared, and if so, scared of what and whom?

2. Risk Factors

Jacquelyn Campbell's Danger Assessment (2002) is an example of validated risk factors. They indicate a higher risk for injury or death. Here's a common phrase that I've seen many times over the years in police reports: “The victim claimed that past incidents have only been verbal and that this is the first time it's gotten physical.”

Now let's look at the first risk factor on Campbell's list: “Has the physical violence increased in severity or frequency over the past year?” When a victim tells us that the violence only recently became physical, do we see the connection between her statement and this risk factor? Any increase in violence suggests a direction that can only lead to a worsening risk of danger.

We must ask victims to describe the nature of the violence and we must look for correlations to existing risk factors. Campbell's risk factors include controlling behavior, stalking or threats—threats to harm or take the children — or commit suicide. This type of clarification helps the prosecutor establish cause for filing charges. It helps to support allegations of child endangerment as well.

There are many types of risk assessments and some police departments have integrated them into their report template.

3. Trauma-Informed

The subtle nuances of a trauma-informed approach, if not properly understood, can mean mediocrity to law enforcement personnel who ignore it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently came out with a report on these concepts. It includes the ability to understand how trauma is experienced by victims and children. Many times we project our sense of logic and rationale onto victims. We say things like, “Why doesn't she just leave?” or “How could she put up with that?”

Understanding the traumatic effects of DV / CEDV allows us to see how victims' and children's brains become altered by exposure to violence. They don't think the way we do, and expecting them to do so only re-victimizes them. Understanding the effects of trauma on victims and children helps us to ask better questions and produce better reports. It helps our prosecutors in their decisions to file charges and gain convictions.

In summary, embracing these three concepts will do a lot to move law enforcement into the future of effective response and investigation of DV / CEDV calls for service. It's a win-win for everyone. We are not the NFL. We are not media personalities who know nothing about DV / CEDV. Maintaining a high level of professionalism is a constant battle. Being proud of our work product and the way our communities see us is important — it perpetuates law enforcement as leaders in our communities.

About the author

David Cropp is a 35 year law enforcement veteran currently with the Citrus Heights Police Department in California and formerly a detective sergeant with the Sacramento Police Department. His duties have included Professional Standards, Internal Affairs, Investigations, Narcotics and Patrol. Dave holds a bachelor's in criminal justice and a master's in behavioral science both from California State University, Sacramento. David is also a POST master Instructor (Class #5).

In 2003 Dave co-founded and co-chaired the Sacramento Domestic Violence Prevention Collaboration. The DVPC has helped to improve the quality of DV investigations and prosecutions in Sacramento County. He has enhanced the expertise of officers and advocates, made it easier for victims and families to escape the cycle of abuse and improved services to children exposed to violence.

David has published numerous law enforcement related articles including The Theory and Practice of Collaborations in law Enforcement published in the International Journal of Police Science and Management (IJPSM); (Vol. 14 (3)); DOI: 10.1350/ijps.2012.14.3.284.

David is also an award winning writer with the Public Safety Writer's Association and has published three short stories in various law enforcement anthologies. Check out his website at:



Child sex abuse and Australia's institutions

by Aljazeera

Melbourne, Australia - In 1992, Zephaniah Waks, a devout member of the Chabad ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism, made devastating allegations to the principal of Chabad's day school in Melbourne.

Waks alleged that one of his 17 children had been sexually abused by Rabbi David Kramer, a teacher at the Yeshiva School.

Later that day, Waks said the principal, Rabbi Abraham Glick, called him to say Kramer had admitted abusing one of Waks' sons, and other boys. But a few days later, Waks learned Kramer was still teaching at the school and demanded his dismissal.

Waks eventually got his way, but instead of reporting Kramer to the police, the school - according to witness testimony - allegedly bought the teacher a ticket to Israel.

Kramer eventually moved to the US where he was sentenced to seven years in prison for abusing a child at a synagogue, before being extradited to Australia and imprisoned again.

Waks is one of 16 parents, children and former educators who appeared as witnesses this month at a public hearing chaired by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which wrapped up investigating the Yeshiva campuses in Melbourne and Sydney on Friday.

Widespread sexual abuse

Established in 2013, the Royal Commission has been tasked with finding out why so many schools and other institutions in Australia failed to respond properly to reports of child sexual abuse. The breadth of institutions under the spotlight is staggering: aside from Yeshiva, the commission is looking into otherwise revered bodies such as The Salvation Army and Swimming Australia.

The Royal Commission does not have the power to launch prosecutions or provide compensation to victims, but it has referred 493 cases to police.

According to Tzedek, a Melbourne support and advocacy group founded by Manny Waks, another one of Zephaniah Waks' sons who was abused, there are about 100 Jewish ultra-Orthodox victims of child sex abuse in Australia.

Although the number of children sexually abused in Catholic institutions in Australia is believed to be far higher, parallels can be drawn.

"Sexual abuse flourishes in situations where systems are closed and hierarchical, and staff are only accountable to themselves," said Dr Cathy Kezelman, president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse.

"So, sadly, we have seen a phenomena across many religious institutions where administrators prioritise the needs of the institution or staff over the victims."

Protecting abusers, punishing victims

In damning testimony heard at the Royal Commission, a Jewish mother speaking under the pseudonym AVQ said she approached Yeshiva's then-director Yitzchok Dovid Groner with claims that David Cyprys, a former security guard, martial-arts instructor and locksmith at Yeshiva, had inappropriately touched her son in 1986. This was a decade before Manny was abused by the same man.

"Oh no, I thought we cured him," AVQ said Groner told her at the time, assuring her he would "take care of it". But Cyprys continued working there for another 25 years, abusing up to a dozen different boys until police finally arrested him in 2011. Cyprys is now serving an eight-year prison sentence for molesting eight boys and raping a ninth at the school.

"There is no doubt in my mind Yeshiva College and some of its rabbis were aware of [Cyprys'] penchant for young boys," said AVQ's son, speaking at the Royal Commission under the pseudonym AVA.

When Zephaniah Waks learned of Manny's abuse in 1996, he told the police - defying the centuries-old rabbinical law known as "mesirah", a code of silence prohibiting Jews from handing over other Jews to secular authorities.

The move cost him dearly. Branded a "moser", or informant, Waks and his family were allegedly subjected to a vicious campaign of isolation, verbal abuse, and even punch-ups at a synagogue - causing the family to pack up and leave the country.

"This was a very difficult time for both my wife and I," Zephaniah Waks told the Royal Commission. "Every aspect of our lives involved the Yeshiva community. We lost all our friends. We felt like we'd been reduced to nothing."

So far, Manny Waks is the only victim of child sex abuse at Australia's Chabad schools to have publicly spoken out.

Shocking testimony

The Yeshiva Centre told Al Jazeera it wouldn't comment at this time.

But Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, one of Australia's most senior Orthodox rabbis, said at a Royal Commission hearing that Jewish people have an obligation to report sexual abuse to police, and the code of mesirah does not apply.

"I believe it is an absolute religious obligation to report any allegations of child sexual abuse as quickly as possible to the appropriate authorities and to suggest there is some religious obligation not to do so is an abomination," he said.

Gasps emanated from spectators when Rabbi Yossi Feldman, the former administrative director of Yeshiva in Sydney, said he didn't know it was illegal for a man to touch a child's genitals, or to lay down with and massage a child.

"It could potentially be something that was highly inappropriate. I did not know what a crime was. In Japan, I heard they allow child pornography," he said.

Feldman told the Royal Commission that reformed paedophiles are not a threat to society, and the law should treat them leniently so they don't have to spend their lives feeling like the "scum of the Earth".

The comments drew fiery condemnation from the Jewish community. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry released a statement saying Feldman's views were "repugnant to Jewish values".

The Australian Jewish News described them as "heinous" and said they have "shamed [the community] in the full glare of the mainstream media spotlight". Rabbi James Kennard, principal of Mount Scopus, Australia's largest Jewish school, called on Feldman to resign.

That call was answered last week when Feldman apologised and resigned from his administrative roles at Yeshiva.

On Monday, Australia's most senior rabbi, Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, also resigned after revelations at the Royal Commission that he had called Zephaniah Waks a "lunatic".

Righting wrongs

Manny Waks, now 38 and working as a victim-survivor advocate in France, told Al Jazeera he believes the Royal Commission is doing important work. Nevertheless, he remains inconsolable, calling for police investigations of all Yeshiva officials who allegedly covered up child sex abuse in the 1980s and '90s.

"When you know a crime was committed and you help the person go overseas ... is that not aiding and abetting an alleged known criminal?"

The Royal Commission will relocate to Sydney this week to examine child sex abuse in out-of-home care, Knox Grammar School, and the Uniting Church. When the hearings conclude in December 2017, it will make recommendations to government on how to create systematic change.

According to Kezelman, recommendations should focus on developing new checks and balances, and implement independent monitoring systems. "We need a system within religious institutions that necessitates compliance with secular laws," she told Al Jazeera.

"Further education of teachers and principals is also needed so they can look out for red flags that suggest a child is being abused. We need to change perceptions and the entrenched taboo of even talking about the problem. Recently, we've seen a number of very high-profile entertainers being implicated in child sex crimes, and the first response is always disbelief."

However, Chris Goddard, an adjunct professor at Monash University, argued legislation is needed to encourage whistleblowers and punish those who knew of abuse but failed to report it.

"Not reporting child sex abuse and moving perpetrators around should be a serious criminal offence," he said. "And I think the Royal Commission is moving in that direction."

Disclosure: The reporter was a student at Yeshiva College in Melbourne from 1980 to 1985 - before the documented abuses took place. Rabbi Glick was the reporter's principal.



Warning on changed child abuse risks

Children sexually abusing other children in care has become a greater concern than adults inflicting the abuse, a report has found.

A report prepared for the royal commission into child abuse says efforts to prevent abuse by adult caregivers have succeeded to the point where incidents are likely to be detected if they occur.

However, researchers from the Parenting Research Centre and the University of Melbourne found that new measures are needed to deal with children who are sexually abusive or are "acting out" sexually on other children in out-of-home-care situations.

"The major focus of preventing child sexual abuse in out-of-home-care should be on efforts to prevent child-child sexual abuse rather than caregiver-child sexual abuse," the report, published on Monday, says.

"The vast majority of child sexual abuse in out-of-home-care currently appears to occur at a child-child level."

Out-of-home-care covers residential care, family group homes and home-based care such as foster care and care by relatives.

In other findings, the study, which was a review of 222 relevant research papers, found there was no rigorous evidence base for evaluating the effectiveness of various practices undertaken to combat child sexual abuse in care situations.

The paper said that while there is "a great deal of practice wisdom" guiding current practices, "there are very few existing studies that test which types of practices or programs decrease rates of sexual abuse".

The authors note that the overall rate of child sexual abuse is lower now than in the past but there is still an issue that must be dealt with by changes to policies and practices.

The report says plans need to be put in place that consider children's needs when being placed into care and therapy and monitoring needs to be in place for children at risk of being abusive.

However it also cautions that any new strategies must not make care cold and impersonal which would make it a less liveable and developmentally stimulating environment for vulnerable children.