National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


NAASCA Weekly Highlights

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

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

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

May, 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.

From the FBI

Help Us Find Them

National Missing Children's Day 2015

On May 25, 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared while walking to his school bus stop in New York. Four years later, to honor Etan's memory and the memories of other missing children, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25—the anniversary of Etan's disappearance—as National Missing Children's Day.

Tragically, however, children continue to disappear, and as we approach National Missing Children's Day 2015, the FBI would like to ask the public for its continued help in locating any of the young victims pictured above from our Kidnapping and Missing Persons webpage.

According to Director James Comey, “The FBI remains vigilant in its efforts to eradicate predators from our communities and to keep our children safe.” In addition to working with our law enforcement partners to publicize the names and faces of missing children, the Bureau undertakes a variety of efforts to help rescue the most vulnerable of victims. For example:

•  Rapid response teams are stationed across the country to quickly respond to child abductions.

•  Our investigators can offer a full array of resources such as DNA analysis, trace evidence, impression evidence, and digital forensics tools.

•  Through improved communication, we can quickly share information with law enforcement partners around the world.

As for Etan Patz—the little boy whose name and face have become synonymous with this issue—he has never been found. But as a result of law enforcement efforts and the public's assistance, other youngsters have been safely recovered and returned to their families, or at the very least, their families have been given some degree of closure.

And we will continue to look for these children—seeking justice for them and for their families—no matter how long it takes. Despite the fact that the court proceedings of a suspect believed responsible for Etan Patz's disappearance nearly 36 years ago ended in a mistrial earlier this month, prosecutors have announced they will retry the case.

New, Improved FBI Child ID App -- Our Child ID App, which provides parents with an easy way to electronically store pictures and vital information about their kids in case they go missing, has recently been upgraded.



Scott Signs Bill to Let Children Record Rapists

by Brendan Farrington

TALLAHASSEE | Child rape victims have legal permission to secretly record their rapists under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Scott one day after an ice cream truck driver who was serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting his stepdaughter was acquitted at a second trial.

The bill Scott signed Friday was a response to the Florida Supreme Court ordering a new trial for Richard McDade, who was convicted of repeatedly raping his stepdaughter when she was between 10 and 16. A judge during the first trial allowed recordings of conversations McDade had with his stepdaughter that she secretly recorded with an MP3 player hidden in her shirt.

But the Supreme Court ruled the recording was illegal and ordered a new trial last December.

Florida prohibits conversations to be recorded or otherwise intercepted without the consent of both parties.


The new law makes an exception for children who are victims or potential victims of rape and other violent acts that record their attackers.

The law takes effect July 1.

McDade, 68, walked free Thursday after a Lee County jury that didn't hear the recordings acquitted him. The Lee County state attorney's office said the recordings wouldn't have been allowed at the second trial even if the Legislature and Scott acted sooner because they were illegal at the time they were made.

Sexual abuse victim advocate Lauren Book said the bill signing was one good outcome of the case, though she was outraged at McDade's acquittal

"Nobody can or should feel good about this. The only silver lining is this won't happen going forward," said Book, who founded Lauren Kid's, a nonprofit group that raises awareness about sexual abuse and seeks to prevent it. "It's sort of sad that children need to be their own heroes sometimes, but that is what this bill does."

Lee County Assistant state attorney Tyler Lovejoy, who prosecuted the McDade case, praised the new law.

"It is easy to stand behind legislation that protects children," Lovejoy said. "Anytime that legislation opens the door for new, corroborative evidence to be admitted in the courtroom, it is both bold and inspiring. What is most exciting about today is the prospect that prosecutors have a new weapon to use against those who seek to harm children, and those same children can provide a new voice to those who still do not believe in monsters."

Scott also signed a bill allowing rural letter carriers drive their routes without wearing seat belts.


Why you should care about the Josh Duggar accusations

by Rebecca Ruiz

Some family secrets are so heartbreaking that most people would rather pretend they just don't exist.

It's perhaps no surprise then that the Duggar clan, star of the TLC series 19 Kids and Counting , concealed for more than a decade that they, like many American families, had confronted the horror of child sex abuse.

The news, some survivors say, is an opportunity to talk candidly about a surprisingly common traumatic experience and why it is essential to report this unthinkable crime, so that victims and their families can seek justice and treatment.

On Thursday, In Touch Weekly magazine published a 2006 police report indicating that Josh Duggar, 27, the eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, had molested several young girls beginning in 2002.

The Duggar family, including Josh and his wife Anna, did not dispute the allegations in several statements posted to Facebook. Jim Bob and Michelle described Josh's actions as "very bad mistakes." Josh said he acted "inexcusably," and has since resigned from the Family Research Council, a Christian public policy organization.

In the scores of comments that follow the family's statement, some express their support for the Duggars, praising Josh's willingness to take responsibility for his actions. Many survivors, though, share their agonizing experiences, and criticize the family for its dishonest portrayal of Josh's behavior.

The rate of abuse is difficult to estimate, but as many as a quarter of U.S. adults say they were sexually abused or molested as children. While evidence suggests that child sex abuse has declined in recent years, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, studies show that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before turning 18.

Derek LaHair, 35, is one of these survivors. At age 5, a half-sibling began abusing him over a period of nearly two years.

"I remember saying to my family member that this wasn't right," he told Mashable . When LaHair later told his mother about the abuse, she contacted the authorities and his half-sibling was ordered to a juvenile hall facility to receive mental health treatment.

LaHair said the characterization of Josh Duggar's actions as "mistakes" is a grave misrepresentation.

"Of course it's a mistake. It's also a betrayal. It's also a heinous crime. We like to downplay these words a lot because if we call it what it truly is ... [people] don't want to look at that, they don't want to read about that, because they don't want to think it could happen to their children. The truth is that it could, and it does every single day."

Josh Duggar allegedly began molesting a female minor in his home in 2002, when he was 14, by touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. He may have molested as many as five minors, according to In Touch .

Police did not learn of the claims until 2006, although Josh's parents were aware of his behavior, and considered providing him with treatment. The nature of that treatment is unclear, but the family's statements say he attended "counseling."

The Duggars do not mention the victims in their statement, and their identities are redacted in the police report. Josh acknowledges that his parents arranged for "those affected by my actions to receive counseling." Police did not pursue charges, according to In Touch , because the statute of limitations had expired.

"I don't know that anyone can fully comprehend the damage that is done when something like that happens to a young child," LaHair said.

The consequences, according to research, can be devastating for survivors. Childhood sexual abuse increases a person's risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, low self-esteem and social phobias. Adult survivors are more likely to become victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. They are also more likely to become addicted to tobacco, drugs and alcohol.

But healing is possible. Several years of counseling and therapy helped him believe that he wasn't to blame for the abuse, and he regained his ability to trust again. Disclosing the molestation, LaHair said, was perhaps the most difficult decision he's ever had to make, but it also became an "open door to absolute freedom."

It's common for survivors to keep abuse secret. Faith Smith, 20, was sexually abused by her father from age 11 to 13. She hadn't intended to report him, but confessed her experience to a mental health professional in a moment of frustration.

For years, Smith worried about the impact that disclosure would have.

"When it's a family member, and it's a trusted figure in your life, there's a sense of loyalty to that person," she said.

"You think about,

'Will my family survive this? Will this follow me around for the rest of my life?'"

Her father was sentenced to jail on a plea bargain.

Smith struggled to reconcile her father's overwhelming support of her with the isolated incidents in which he became a "monster".

She sees the same duality in Duggar.

"There's no way for any of us to say he's not a family figure, that he doesn't have redeeming qualities," she said. "However, these acts were horrible, and it goes to show that these issues can happen anywhere, in any home. It can be in plain sight, and people will choose to look the other way."

LaHair said he hopes the Duggar case will become more than a media frenzy, and instead help survivors speak out, and seek help if they want it: "It's key for [survivors] to know that there's an army of people that are just like them."

If you have experienced sexual abuse, call the free, confidential National Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or access the 24-7 help online by visiting


New York

Male sex abuse survivor speaks out

by Paula Ann Mitchell

Editor's note: The following story includes frank descriptions of sexual abuse that might disturb some readers

MOUNT MARION -- Brian O'Leary never looked into his abuser's eyes during the act, except for once—the time he was violently raped.

Mostly, the youth would be face down, his head buried in the chenille bedspread to “make the time go quicker” while he was being violated.

It happened often in the home of a trusted family friend, according to O'Leary, who suffered in shame and silence for two decades after the abuse.

The vulnerable and broken boy just wished it would stop and often left the man's house, pretending it didn't happen.

O'Leary thought the abuse was his fault, and he became complacent, docile and almost programmed to take it.

After the oral or anal rape, the boy always would be sent away with the explicit instruction: Don't tell.

O'Leary didn't. Not for 20 years.

But these days, the 58-year-old man is being very public about the sexual abuse that he says occurred over a five-year period, beginning when he was 12 and ending at 17.

“Through it all, I'm learning more in recovery that it wasn't my fault,” he said. “It didn't happen to me. It was done to me.”

O'Leary, who appeared on the “Oprah” show in October 2010 with 199 other male survivors of sexual abuse, is on a mission these days to “change people's thinking” about the often-cloaked crime

“This is real. It's happening, but it's still very much in the dark,” he said.

In recent months, the Ulster County man who spent 33 years building a life and career in California's Silicon Valley, has returned home to care for his elderly mother.

On the side, he has become an advocate for survivors, establishing support networks and pushing Albany lawmakers to pass the Child Victim's Act into law.

The measure would permanently eliminate both the criminal and civil statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse and provide a one-year window for survivors to file suit, no matter how long ago the crimes occurred.

Current state law requires survivors to bring criminal or civil charges against their abusers within five years of their 18th birthday.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, a Queens Democrat, has been adopted four times in the state Assembly since it was introduced in 2006 but has never come to the floor for a vote in the state Senate.

It has since picked up the support of Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan, and is expected to move forward for the fifth time in the Assembly and be considered by the Senate Codes Committee in the next few weeks, according to Markey's press office.

Meantime, O'Leary refuses to sit idly by and wait.

“It's too late in the 21st century to make believe it's not going on,” he said. “That's what motivates me.”

He is a prime example of what can happen when survivors suffer in silence and predators go unpunished.

O'Leary has deep mental scars that have robbed him of everyday pleasures and a normal life.

“It is a tragedy,” he said. “On the ‘Oprah' show, 81 percent of those 200 men said they wanted to commit suicide. Sixty percent of them tried. I'm one of them.”

In fact, he might not be here to tell his story, one that is uncomfortable to hear and ugly to fathom, if any of his three attempts had succeeded, including an incident when he was 15.

O'Leary claims the abuse began in 1970 when he was a seventh-grader working on a social studies project. The boy needed magazines and went to the man's house to borrow a few.

While the family acquaintance was thumbing through an Esquire magazine, he grabbed O'Leary's penis.

The abuse only escalated from there, leading to the first incident of oral rape during a drive home from the school ski club one afternoon, a memory that still repulses O'Leary.

“I remember going home and into the bathroom and filling my mouth with rubbing alcohol,” he said.

There were, in fact, repeated episodes as well as countless incidents of anal rape, one of which O'Leary termed “terrifying.”

“We ended up in the master bedroom, and I wasn't face down, and the lights were out,” he said. “It hurt so bad I started crying and saying, ‘Stop.' He didn't, and the only thing I saw in the dark was his smile.”

The incident prompted the confused and enraged 16-year-old to “start planning his own suicide” on Mount Marion Mountain.

He didn't follow through, but he tucked the thought away in his head.

“Suicide will always be an outlet for me—always, always,” said O'Leary, who has seen therapists and been to his share of recovery groups in recent years.

Jim Struve, a licensed clinical social worker and part of Male Survivor, said that's typical for sexual abuse survivors.

Their trauma further plays out in other ways, he noted.

“There's a real tendency toward isolation. They literally are loners, or they have acquaintances, but they won't let them get close, or they're afraid of their kids because intimacy is bad, and they're afraid someone might see them as an abuser,” Struve said.

Additionally, eating disorders, self-destructive behavior, issues of intimacy, confusion about sexuality and an “internalized sense of shame” often manifest, he added.

“The body may have responded (during the act). The boy may have gotten an erection.…or the abuser may have stimulated him until he ejaculated,” Struve said.

“I often hear the guys say, ‘My body betrayed me,' and, of course, you can see an erection. Abusers say, ‘You must have liked it.'

“So there's that manipulation that may have happened and the aftermath. It's confusing because the body responded, causing the survivor to think, ‘He must have seen something in me that I haven't seen in myself.'”

Though the scars often are deep and mental repercussions severe, healing is possible, Struve said.

He recently participated in a Weekend of Recovery at the Silver Bay YMCA, which hosted all-day workshops for clinicians and a retreat for 11 male survivors from the Northeast.

O'Leary was not among them, though he spent the month of April promoting the event and bringing it to the attention of state lawmakers as well as area police agencies.

The Mount Marion man has been to two such retreats—one in California and another in Utah—and said they are helpful and even cleansing.

“The first Weekend of Recovery was where I got triggered, as we had to lie on a blanket on the floor, and I started hyperventilating.”

O'Leary had to be removed from the exercise and spent the next 90 minutes telling a psychotherapist, “I wish he would have killed me.”

In his case, the abuser was not brought to justice because O'Leary did not disclose his crimes. The man eventually moved to Florida, where he died.

These days, dreams continue to elude O'Leary, a man with sad eyes and a melancholy spirit.

“I will never have my own children, as intimacy is difficult, but there is nothing more I want than to be a dad. I would be a great one,” he said.

“I will never marry because it is extremely stressful when someone hears your story, and I will never own a home because I have spent a great deal of time living in the moment.”

Just the same, he is moving in the right direction, according to Toronto psychotherapist Lynne MacDonell, who was part of the recent Weekend of Recovery in the Adirondacks.

She said many men opt to tough it out because they are “terrified” of the stereotypes that exist about male survivors. Some adult men even fear that they will be denied the privilege of seeing their grandchildren, MacDonell said.

“So many believe the stereotypes that if you've been abused, you will become an abuser or if you've been abused, perhaps you'll turn gay. They're afraid that somebody will start thinking of them as weak and insignificant.

“Those stereotypes can actually keep men from seeking help and having a good life,” she said.

Both she and Struve said society's views about male survivors need to change, and clinicians need to be educated and start asking boys the same questions they ask girls.

To do otherwise could keep men from stepping forward—something MacDonell said has far-reaching repercussions.

“There is a ripple effect of untreated male sexual abuse. It affects his children, his relationships, his work, the cost of hospitalizations because he's attempted suicide and his health.”

For his part, O'Leary continues to seek therapy and find understanding from other adult survivors on websites like and in chat rooms.

He's also found a renewed sense of strength through his advocacy efforts in Albany and by pushing events like last year's Dare to Dream event at Ulster County Community College.

“The most difficulty I'm finding today is changing people's minds because it's still relatively in the dark,” he said. “We need to open eyes. There has to be a safe avenue where a child can go and say, ‘I need help.'

“I do what I do so this can happen and so victims can exhale, breathe and sleep without interruption.”

Online resources

There are numerous websites and other resources available to help male survivors of sexual abuse find healing and support. The following is a partial list of some online resources:



Sex abuse inquiry: how evil stole the innocence of children

by Warwick McFadyen

How odious they are. How pernicious their intent. They were not murderers, but surely they killed something precious in their victims. Something unique to each of their victims was crushed and in that horrible devastation of body and spirit came an unwanted bond with others: links in the chain of a callous cruelty and nonchalant indifference disposed and imposed on them.

They are the priests of Ballarat, of Maitland, of points far and wide, who snuffed out the light innocence of youth and the implicit trust the young have in adults. In its place grew, in many cases, a dark and nightmarish pit. From such depths these boys had to pull themselves out and go into adulthood and make a life for themselves. The boys became survivors of a casual monstrosity of perversion.

This past week the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse has been sitting in Ballarat. It will do so for the next two weeks. Last week victims gave the distressing details of the abuse they suffered and endured while school children. During the victims' stories and from the evidence it became clear that survival had morphed into a relative term.

One abuse survivor, Philip Nagle, had attended St Alipius Primary School, and of the 33 boys in the grade four picture of his class from the early '70s a dozen had died. Mr Nagle believed they had all killed themselves. The school "was a place where there was true evil".

Another survivor spoke of a Christian Brother giving him a choice when he was 12 or 13, "the strap or sex education and I always chose the latter because I didn't want to get belted. I should have taken the beltings".

The chaplain at St Alipius was Gerald Ridsdale, who is in jail for offences against children as are two teachers from the school, Edward Dowlan and Robert Best. Ridsdale, who is expected to give evidence next week, was moved around the state. The hearing was told the Bishop at the time, Ronald Mulkearns, did not think it was hid job to inform police about Ridsdale. It took until 1988 for the paedophile to be suspended. The questions of justice for the victims, and punishment for the torturer, were sidelined to save the good name of the church.

Abuse also occurred at St Patrick's College and St Joseph's Orphanage. Gordon Hill journeyed from Perth to tell his story of a life of deprivation and assault, of dungeons and horror rooms. He can recall the words of a nun: "Father wants to cleanse you, 29." He was just a number.

Another survivor, Timothy Green, who attended St Patrick's, said the abuse was common knowledge. "Every boy in the class knew that their turn was going to come up at some stage".

Another known as BAV told the commission that "the church's handling of the abuse has in some ways been worse than the initial sexual abuse that occurred". He also spoke of the scars that do not fade. "The abuse might be historical but suicides by victims of sexual assault are still going and is still happening."

This is the multiplier effect of evil in a life that can devour that life. This is the malevolence meaning of going viral.

Did the wearing of the robes, the vestments, the collar mean nothing to these men? The answer is too obvious, and yet to be capable to inflict suffering for gratification surely makes a mockery of what should have been a vocation to them.

When two conflicting recollections of an event are posited, how then to find the path to truth? Cardinal George Pell, born in Ballarat in 1941, was a priest in the area during the years of abuse. Victims have spoken of encounters with Pell, in which instances of abuse were mentioned, one involving David, the young nephew of Ridsdale. Timothy Green says Pell told him, "Don't be ridiculous," and David says Pell said: "I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet."

Pell last week, and on previous occasions, has rejected those recollections. In his 2013 submission to the Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into child abuse allegations, and in a statement from Rome last week, he has offered an acknowledgement and apology to the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. He says he had no knowledge of the abuse at the time that it was occurring. He did not try to bribe David Ridsdale; he is sympathetic to the suffering to which the victims were subjected, indeed the suffering of all.

Bishop Mulkearns has withdrawn from view. He is not expected to give evidence at the Ballarat hearings and was excused, for medical reasons, from giving evidence to the Victorian inquiry. Survivor Andrew Collins told the commission last week that a meeting with Bishop Paul Bird in 2013, the bishop had dismissed their request for money to help victims. "Andrew, you need to understand something," Collins said Bird had told him, "the church has endured for thousands of years and in another 40 years or so, you people will all be dead and all this will be forgotten about and church will endure for thousands of years more."

Time is seen as the conquerer, but there are some things that remain. Ridsdale, Dowlan and Best are jailed together at Ararat, away from the main prison population. If these loathsome priests look into their selves, can they now reconcile action and consequence and be at peace? Surely there are unquiet ghosts crashing against their conscience. Surely.

Through the eyes of a child, a priest is the messenger of God's word, the church is the home of the divine – mysterious and unquestionable. The boys' ordeals were an abuse of power. One does not need special insights to know right from wrong.

The inquiries, the matters brought to police attention, the shining of light in dark corners is welcome and long overdue. The truth is owed to the victims and the survivors.

It will not bring back innocence or erase the past. It might, however, restore faith that good people can bring bad people to account.


Shaming Children On Social Media Has To Stop!

by Alyson Schafer

I'm calling the growing parenting trend of publicly shaming children on social media “digi-punishment.” Some recent examples that went viral are the dad who berated his daughter's behaviour and then used his gun to shoot her laptop. 40 million views on YouTube.

Another was posted by a mom who decide to deal with her daughter's skipping classes by following her around the hallways of her school harassing her with the camera rolling, so she could post and publish. Again, widely circulated and mass humiliation.

I thought these were two extreme and abnormal situations, but it seems more and more digi-punishments are posted every day. Just yesterday, a Denver mom posted a controversial video of shaming her 13-year-old daughter for posting provocative photos on Facebook while claiming she's 19.

Was she mimicking these earlier viral posts? Do parents think this is acceptable? Clearly some do, judging from the comment sections. Some say that the parents doling out the punishments are “heroes” for putting their foot down with their children.
But they're not and this has got to stop.

Listen, I am the first one to understand that in the digital age, cameras are always rolling. Privacy is being redefined all the time.

Believe me, if you had every moment of my parenting career on video, you could find footage of me acting in ways I regret. We are all human, we all make mistakes.

But the incidents that I am discussing were not moments captured haphazardly. They are crafted social media content produced by parents for the sole purpose of humiliating their children as the punishment for their transgressions.

Here's a more offensive thought: could the parents have hopes that the posts go viral to serve as their own personal “claim to fame” on the internet? Is the lure of one million (or 40 million!) views a motivator? I shudder at the concept.

Let me try to educate those parents who are impressed with this punitive method.

Punishment Is Harmful
First, some parents have the mistaken idea that if the punishment hurts sufficiently, children will change their behaviour out of fear. Those parents who believe in public shaming may even report their methods were successful because the child does indeed cease the behaviour in question. But at what cost?

From a psychological perspective, children require their parents provide what attachment theorists call a “secure base.” Parents need to provide empathy and compassion while helping guide and discipline the child.Children look to their parents to reflect back to themselves their worth and lovability.

When we shame and humiliate a child, the very secure base that is supposed to be giving them their sense of worth, love and acceptance is now hurting them and serving up a plate of pain.

The greater the shame, the wider the reach, the more the child is likely to deduce that they are not lovable, worthy, perhaps they even believe they are dirty, lowly, despicable. Why would you not believe your most trusted source?

Yes, this may stop their behaviour, but now they have been harmed by parental mistreatment. Feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness creates a tear in the fabric of their being that follows them into adulthood.

When as adults, they become parents and their children don't listen, challenge their parenting competencies and skills by refusing to listen, comply or do as they are told, an adult survivor of shame can be triggered. These old hurts re-surface and the parent tries to cope by safe-guarding with such reactions as defensiveness and being punitive.

So the baton is passed to the next generation.

A parent with a strong ego strength -- someone who is secure in a sense of self-worth -- is less threatened by the antics and carrying on of their children and are more capable of implementing sound discipline without being emotionally triggered.

Treat A Child As You Would A Friend
These parents excuse their shaming, convincing themselves that it was just a parenting tactic, as if “anything goes” when it comes to the treatment of a child. Not so.

Digi-punishment illuminates the need for social equality in all relationships. I don't mean that children and parents are equal, but I do mean that all humans are equally deserving of being treated respectfully, regardless of gender, race, religion, ability or age!

If you shouldn't hit a fellow adult, you shouldn't hit a child. If you shouldn't shame a friend then don't shame your children. Simple as that!

If these videos were posted by peers, we would recognize them immediately as cyber-bullying.

What Can We Do?
I may not be able to convince every parent of the hidden cost of punishment, and I may not have everyone's ear on the vast number of alternative approaches to discipline -- but I can make an appeal to the rest. At a minimum, let's not be the audience to this abuse.

As bystanders who watch, we “vote” with our viewership. The more clicks and views, the more shame. Next time -- just hit delete.



New counseling center welcomed to Galion community

by Emily Dech

GALION, Ohio -- Life Changing Counseling Center was officially welcomed to the Galion community by city leaders Friday morning during a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ceremony was held at the counseling center, which is located at 223 E. Atwood St. Those in attendance included owner and primary counselor Ja'Ree Ward, Galion Mayor Tom O'Leary, along with members of the Galion-Crestline Area Chamber of Commerce, including Joe Kleinknecht, president/CEO, and Judy Dyer, administrative assistant.

Ward was excited to have her business up and running. She started the process in September of last year and opened on May 11.

She currently works fulltime as a mental health counselor at an agency in Mt. Gilead and will continue to do so until her new operation is self-sustaining, she said.

Though that's been a bit exhausting to juggle both jobs, she noted, "I tell people I love what I do so much I almost feel guilty for getting paid for it."

Counseling is something she's always been interested in, she said. Having suffered from several forms of abuse in the past, she added, "I can understand where people are coming from. I can also offer them hope."

She earned her Master of Arts degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in December of 2005 and became a licensed mental health counselor in April of 2006. She has nine years of mental health counseling experience.

Life Changing Counseling Center offers family, couples, trauma survivors, domestic violence victims, grief, pastoral, individual mental health and adults and adolescents counseling. It also offers assessments/diagnosis and treatment of most mental health and emotional disorders.

Group counseling is also provided; topics include self esteem, inner child, thinking errors, anger management, grief processing, trauma survivors and women's group.

O'Leary welcomed Ward's counseling center to the area, noting, "Families who are in child welfare or in the court system have trouble getting access to [counseling] services, so having this resource will make a difference in the area."

Ward agreed, saying she's seen the need in Galion and hopes to reach as many people as possible. "And if clients can't make it to me, I can go to them," she said.

Call 419-989-8260 to learn more about Life Changing Counseling Center.



Two mothers accused in ‘horrific' child abuse case in Kitsap County

by John Hopperstad

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — Kitsap County prosecutors on Friday accused two mothers of standing by and doing nothing while the father of their 12 children allegedly beat, starved and sexually assaulted the kids.

The two mothers, Amanjot Jaswal, 28, and Shannon Smith, 41, were in court facing criminal mistreatment charges Friday. Both pleaded not guilty.

Court documents say the children ranged in age from infant to 13.

“These children were held against their will, denied nutrition, denied medical care, and physically and sexually abused,” said Scott Wilson, of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office. “It's one of the worst cases of abuse we've ever seen.”

It appears, between them, the two women had 12 children, and all were fathered by Melford Warren.

Detectives believe Warren kept the family in a house in a quiet Port Orchard neighborhood. According to court documents, he often denied the children food, and locked them up for days in the attic or a bathroom.

Police say Warren also beat the children with sticks or bats, and sexually abused and raped them. Police accused the two mothers of covering the crimes up.

Officers were initially tipped off to the case when a social worker at a Tacoma hospital noticed suspicious injuries on one of the infants.

“This is just bizarre and it's not making sense,” said Monica Jaswal, the sister of Amanjot, who she describes as a dedicated and loving mother. “I've known my sister all my life and none of this I can say about her.”

But prosecutors call her life with Smith and Warren as “cult-like,” and she described herself to police as a breeder for Warren.

On Friday, a judge released Amanjot Jaswal from jail, but kept the bail at $50,000 for Smith.

Warren was arrested Thursday in Florida and is being extradited on $5 million bail, and facing child rape charges.

Detectives are still looking into the possibility that there could be other young victims in other states.

All of the children found in the Kitsap County home have been placed in protective custody.


Smoking Baby Photo Could Lead To Police Investigation: Is It Child Abuse?

The smoking baby picture that outraged Instagram users could soon result in an investigation. Since the Inquisitr first reported on the highly-disturbing photo above, photo-centric social network users have taken steps to see that the suspected mom is punished.

Reports indicate that 18-year-old Instagram user lapelirrojah_delbarriooh — real name not provided — posted the picture of her baby smoking a cigarette to get a laugh out of followers and draw more attention to her page.

To add a little “aww” factor, the young mother posted this message along with the photo.

“Already smoking at a year old, love you little one, you're my f****** life.”

While the laughs didn't come, the attention certainly did, though not likely in the way that she wanted.

“What the f*** is wrong with you?” wrote one commenter, while another — responding to a picture of the Valencia, Spain, resident with her tank top pulled up over her belly — said, “I sincerely hope this doesn't mean you have another child on the way.”

Perhaps even harsher than this, one follower came out and called her a bad parent.

“You are a disgrace as a parent you the worst piece of s*** in the world how dare you to give a cigarette to you child I hope you burn in h*** [sic]”

Some commenters took it as a moment to lecture the girl on the dangers of giving cigarettes to a child, noting that a little one's lungs are still developing at that age and teaching them to smoke is tantamount to child abuse.

Antonio Nieto, president of the Spanish Association of Pediatricians, confirmed this in comments to the Local .

“Tobacco is intrinsically even worse than heroin and to give it to a baby whose lungs are still developing…. Even children who are exposed to passive smoking are more likely to develop lung conditions such as asthma or chronic bronchitis…. I think the police would definitely consider it to be child abuse. It is just absolutely unbelievable.”

Apparently disturbed by the backlash, the girl has since taken down the photo from her Instagram account, but that has done little to quiet the firestorm.

While the Mirror U.K. report said it couldn't be verified whether the girl was actually the child in the photo's mother, there has since been a second photograph emerge of the 18-year-old with a child that looks almost identical to the one in the now-infamous smoking baby picture.


'19 Kids and Counting' isn't the only TLC show that had a brush with child molesters

by Arturo Garcia

While Josh Duggar and his family are currently under fire after the revelation that he molested underage girls, this is not the first time such incidents have come out in connection to stars on The Learning Channel (TLC) or its sister network, the Discovery Channel. Both networks are owned by Discovery Communications.

June Shannon, aka “Mama June” from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, raised this point earlier in the day on Friday, when she complained about TLC's hesitation to act even after Duggar admitted to molesting his sisters and other girls when he was a teenager.

“I read that the Duggar family said, this happening with their son brought them closer to God and each other,” Shannon said at the time. “So they're saying it's OK to have family touch time? Hell no.”

Ultimately, the network pulled 19 Kids and Counting from its schedule, much as it did to Shannon's show after she resumed a relationship with Mark McDaniel, who served a 10-year prison sentence for molesting another one of Shannon's daughters, Anna Shannon, when the girl was 8 years old.

“Mama June” was also upset at the time because TLC acted within hours of learning about McDaniel's actions, even though he never appeared on her show. McDaniel was released from prison in March 2014.

The network also acted quickly to remove the cheerleading reality show Cheer Perfection in January 2014 after 34-year-old Andrea Clevenger turned herself in to police in Arkansas for allegedly raping a 13-year-old boy and sending him nude pictures she said were of herself.

Clevenger was sentenced that November to two 10-year prison sentences and two 10-year suspended sentences, and was obligated to register as a sex offender.

Last August, Will Hayden, the star of the Discovery Channel's Sons of Guns, (pictured above) was arrested and accused of raping his then-14-year-old daughter in a series of attacks that began when she was 11 years old.

The girl told authorities she was assaulted “almost daily” until she was 14, with Hayden allegedly telling her, “Don't tell them nothing, because I'm all you've got.”

Three more victims later came forward saying that Hayden assaulted them, including his co-star and eldest daughter, Stephanie Ford. The show was quickly canceled, and Hayden was indicted last December. He pleaded not guilty and currently awaits trial.

Ford and her husband, Kristafor Ford, were also arrested last October and accused of beating a 9-year-old boy with a belt hard enough to leave “severe bruises” on his upper legs and buttocks.

One TLC show that has survived similar incidents is Cake Boss, which was renewed by the network this past January. A former cast member, Remigio “Remy” Gonzalez, was arrested in March 2010 charged with sexual assault for attacking a 13-year-old girl on two separate occasions.

Gonzales, whose brother-in-law Buddy Valastro is the show's star, was sentenced to nine years in prison in November 2013.

TLC announced in January that the New Jersey-based show would get 40 more episodes between this year and 2017.


Does Discovery/TLC have a child molester problem?

by Leora Arnowitz

A damning police report hit the web on Thursday that alleged that one of the Duggar siblings had been molesting some of the other children in the large family, which is now focus of TLC's “19 Kids and Counting.”

Late Thursday, Josh Duggar, now 27, spoke out about reports he inappropriately touched four of his sisters and another female non-family member back in 2002.

"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends," he stated.

The alleged sexual abuse reportedly first came to light in 2006 when Harpo Communications contacted the Department of Human Services Hotline about the Duggar rumors, which Harpo had been informed of by an anonymous tipster ahead of the Duggars' scheduled appearance on “Oprah.”

When reached by FOX411, TLC declined to comment on whether or not the network had ever received a similar tip regarding the Duggars.

This isn't the first time Discovery Communications has had to deal with a reality star scandal. Discovery Communications—which includes channels like TLC, The Discovery Channel, OWN and Animal Planet— has had similar accusations affect several of its shows.

•  TLC's “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” was shut down after photos surfaced that showed star Mama June spending time with an ex-boyfriend who served time for molesting her daughter.

•  Discovery Channel's “Sons of Guns” was cancelled when star Will Hayden was arrested for aggravated rape of a minor, who family members have publicly identified as his own daughter. Later, his older daughter and former costar Stephanie Ford claimed her father had molested her when she was younger as well.

•  A mother who appeared on TLC's "Cheer Perfection” pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sexual assault and engaging a child in sexually explicit conduct. Andrea Clevenger received two 10-year prison sentences and two 10-year suspended sentences for her sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy. The show was canceled shortly after her arrest.

•  A former “Cake Boss” cast member, star Buddy Valastro's brother-in-law, is currently serving nine years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in New Jersey. In Jan. 2015, TLC announced “Cake Boss” had been renewed for at least two more seasons.

Discovery Communications did not respond to FOX411's inquiries regarding the vetting process their reality stars go through. The network has also stayed mum on whether or not "19 Kids and Counting" will see any repercussions. A scheduled marathon of "19 Kids and Counting" aired Thursday night.

Public Relations Specialist Ryan McCormick cautioned that the situation could worsen for the network if it turns out someone at TLC was aware of the Duggar allegations before the show was put on the air.

“If it does come out that TLC was aware of this, they are going to have a major issue on their hands.”


Josh Duggar apologizes amid molestation allegations, quits Family Research Council

by Abby Ohlheiser

In the wake of a tabloid report alleging that he molested several underage girls while he was a teenager, reality-television star Josh Duggar said Thursday that he “acted inexcusably” and was “deeply sorry” for what he called “my wrongdoing.”

The 27-year-old Duggar, a high-profile member of the evangelical Christian family that stars on TLC's “19 Kids and Counting,” also resigned his post with the Family Research Council, a conservative lobbying organization.

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” Duggar said in a statement posted on Facebook on Thursday. “I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation.

“We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

Hours before Duggar's statement, In Touch Weekly had published a partially redacted police report from the Springdale Police Department in Arkansas that, the tabloid said, contained details of the allegations against Duggar. The report redacted the name of the suspect and the alleged victims, all juveniles, but listed Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar as relatives. The incidents occurred in 2002 and 2003.

Josh Duggar is the oldest child in the family that stars in the popular show, “19 Kids and Counting,” which began as “17 Kids and Counting” in 2008. Duggar, his wife, Anna, and their three children live in Washington, where Duggar worked as executive director of FRC Action, the nonprofit lobbying arm of the Family Research Council.

The FRC, a conservative Christian organization led by Tony Perkins, is known for its advocacy against same-sex marriage, “with the mission to champion marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society.”

Perkins said in a statement Thursday that Duggar resigned from his post “as a result of previously unknown information becoming public concerning events that occurred during his teenage years.”

“Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work,” Perkins added.

Duggar was running a used-car lot before he became the new face of the Family Research Council. Duggar's dad, Jim Bob Duggar, served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1999 to 2002. As executive director of FRC Action, Josh Duggar would attend the major functions and share photos of himself with Republican candidates.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said in a statement, also posted on the Duggar family's Facebook page, that the period 12 years ago was “one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.”

Josh Duggar's wife, Anna — who is pregnant with their fourth child — added that her husband told her of his “past teenage mistakes” two years before he proposed to her, and that he had received counseling that “changed his life.”

The FRC is known in Washington for hosting a Values Voters Summit, which regularly gathers Republican politicians trying to run for president. The organization's budget in 2013 was about $13 million, according to its financial statements.

“Family Research Council is one of the major players among the pro-family social conservatives and has a major D.C. presence,” said Tobin Grant, a political scientist at Southern Illinois University, who compared the FRC to the Heritage Foundation or the American Family Association. “It still represents an old guard of people who are pushing the culture wars and traditional family values.”

Of the molestation allegations and Duggar's apology, Grant said: “This is really going to hurt them. If it looks like hypocrisy, it'll be, ‘Who are you to throw a stone?' ”

FRC is often the go-to group when the media is looking evangelical, pro-family messages. In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center controversially listed FRC as an anti-gay hate group.

“I deeply regret that recent media reports about my long ago past has brought negative attention to FRC Action and its work to preserve and advance the interests of family, faith, and freedom in the political arena,” Duggar said in his resignation letter, which was published by People magazine.

“In good faith I cannot allow Family Research Council to be impacted by mistakes I made as a teenager,” he wrote.

Following a Freedom of Information Act request from The Washington Post for the police report published by In Touch, the Springdale Police Department responded by e-mailing a court document that ordered that the report “be destroyed and expunged from the public records…and that any and all copies of the same be destroyed.”

The court order was the result of a motion to expunge filed by one of the alleged victims. It was signed by judge Stacey Zimmerman on May 21, the same day The Post's FOIA request was submitted.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which acquired a copy of the report before the court order was issued, wrote that police began investigating the case in December 2006, after learning about “a letter containing allegations of improper touching in the Duggar home” several years earlier.

According to the newspaper:

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar told police they learned of a person improperly touching people at their home in 2002 and 2003, according to that Springdale Police Department report. Victims also told police they had been improperly touched, sometimes while they slept. The instances happened over a period of several months.

The person accused admitted to the actions, was disciplined and eventually sent to Little Rock for counseling for three months in March 2003. The decision to send the person to counseling was made after Jim Bob Duggar consulted with leaders of his church.

After returning from counseling, the person was taken by Jim Bob Duggar to an Arkansas State Police corporal. That officer gave the perpetrator “a very stern talk” but didn't report the matter to child-abuse investigators, the report quotes Jim Bob Duggar as saying.

According to the newspaper, investigators eventually “concluded the statute of limitations had expired, precluding any possible sexual-assault charges.”

Investigators also filed a “family in need of services” affidavit with Washington County Juvenile Court, the report says.

The sealed Washington County Circuit Court file for “Josh Duggar vs. the Arkansas Department of Human Services,” CV 07-921, was found in 2007 by a Northwest Arkansas Times reporter, who now works for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette . A trial in that case took place Aug. 6, 2007, according to notes attached to the file. Sealed cases aren't supposed to be left in public view, but the Duggar case file had been left in a stack of routine court filings at the circuit clerk's office. The reporter saw no other information on the case at the time.

The newspaper added that “both Josh and Jim Bob Duggar were asked about the case in 2007, and both declined to comment.”

In recent years, the Duggars have lent their large family presence to a number of causes, informed by their Christian faith. Recently, Michelle Duggar successfully helped a campaign to repeal a Fayetteville, Ark., ordinance that would have prohibited discrimination in the city on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Duggars, who endorsed Mike Huckabee for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, have been likened to the “Quiverfull” movement, which urges its followers to have as many children as God will give them.

Many Quiverfull-style families opt to homeschool their children, who are raised in the belief system of their parents. Although the number of adherents is small within the larger American evangelical Christian community, the Duggars' large following and wholesome image have helped the family function as ambassadors for their way of life.

The Duggars have previously promoted the teachings of Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a conservative organization that was once popular among the Christian homeschooling movement. Gothard resigned from the institute he founded in 2014, after allegations of sexual harassment, molestation and failing to report child abuse.

In his statement, Josh Duggar added: “I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God's grace, mercy and redemption.”

TLC, which airs “19 Kids and Counting,” declined to comment on the allegations against Duggar, his apology, or the network's future plans for the series, a spokesperson told The Washington Post in an e-mail on Thursday evening.

But as news of Duggar's apology and resignation swirled Thursday night, the cable channel broadcast a “19 Kids and Counting” marathon.


United Kingdom

14 child rapists given cautions

Fourteen rapists were given cautions for sex attacks on children last year, official figures have revealed.

In total 16 individuals were spared prosecution for rape or attempted rape in 2014, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) data shows.

One caution was issued for rape of a girl under 16, six for rape of a girl under 13 and seven were for rape of a boy under 13. Two more were handed out for attempted rape, one of a boy under 13 and one of a girl under 13.

The cautions were given to 14 juveniles and two 18-year-olds. In 2013 authorities issued 20 cautions for rape offences.

The cases were revealed in a tranche of statistics which showed that prosecutions for sex offences in England and Wales were at their highest for a decade in 2014 after increasing by 9%.

The MoJ report said: "The increase in recorded crime and prosecutions for sexual offences is likely to be partly due to the Operation Yewtree investigation, connected to the Jimmy Savile inquiry and the resulting media attention.

"This investigation has led to a greater number of victims coming forward to report sexual offences to the police. Improved compliance with the recording standards for sexual offences in some police forces may also be a factor."

Of those sentenced for sexual offences in 2014, more than half (59%) were given immediate jail terms.

The figures also showed that the average custodial sentence length for sex crimes stood at 62 months - more than 20 months higher than a decade ago.

However, only just over half (52.5%) of the proceedings brought for sexual offences resulted in a conviction.

The figures showed that a total of 150,000 crimes resulted in cautions last year - including more than 1,000 for sex crimes and 7,000 for violent offences.

The total number of cautions was 17% lower than 2013 and the MoJ said their use has been decreasing year on year since a peak in 2007.

Cautions can be given when there is sufficient evidence for a prosecution but it is not considered to be in the public interest to charge the perpetrator.

The offender must admit guilt and consent to a caution for it to be administered. The Crown Prosecution Service must authorise the decision to give a caution for the most serious offences.

Last year the coalition Government announced plans to scrap cautions as part of an overhaul of out-of-court disposals.

An MoJ spokeswoman said: "More people are facing the full force of the law for these horrific crimes.

"The number of sex offenders convicted last year was the highest in a decade and they are now receiving longer sentences than ever before."

The figures come after it emerged more than 1,400 prominent men, including politicians, celebrities and those linked to institutions, were being investigated for historic child sex abuse.

Police said they had seen an "unprecedented increase" in the number of reports of abuse after Savile was revealed as a prolific sex offender.

They estimated that they would receive around 116,000 reports of abuse by the end of this year.

The statistics also showed that in 2014, just over 102,600 adult offenders who were convicted of indictable offences - the most serious crimes - had 15 or more previous convictions or cautions.

Almost four in 10 (39%) of those received an immediate custodial sentence, meaning nearly two-thirds were spared jail.

The report disclosed that the number of adults with 15 or more prior convictions or cautions who received a suspended sentence for an indictable offence had increased by more than a third (35%).

This was said to have been driven by theft and public order offences.

But the MoJ report said there had been a decline in prolific offenders over recent years.

A total of 1.73 million individuals were dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales last year, the lowest number since records started in 1970.

A spokeswoman for the charity Rape Crisis said it was "encouraged to see that prosecutions for sexual offences are increasing and that there has also been a slight rise in the average custodial sentence length for these crimes".

She added: "Rape and other forms of sexual violence has wide-ranging, devastating and often lifelong impacts on survivors and on their families, friends, communities and society as a whole.

"Sentencing for sexual offences should reflect their seriousness and it is concerning that a small number of rapists are still being given cautions.

"It's hard to imagine a circumstance in which this would be appropriate and these outcomes are likely to be disappointing and distressing for the survivors involved.

"While progress is undoubtedly being made and should be welcomed, it is clear there is still some way to go before all sexual violence survivors can be confident of receiving the justice they want and deserve."



Child abuse, neglect deaths go up

Rose from 34 to 49 in fiscal 2013; 1 case in Allen County

by Niki Kelly

INDIANAPOLIS – Forty-nine Hoosier children died from neglect or abuse during fiscal year 2013 – including a significant number of drownings.

The number of deaths rose 44 percent, up from 34 the year before. Of the 49 deaths, 14 were the result of abuse and 35 were from neglect.

“Although this report is about innocent lives cut short by the careless and neglectful actions of adults, the report is necessary for us as a community to do better,” said Mary Beth Bonaventura, director of the Indiana Department of Child Services.

“At DCS, we take this report very seriously and will use it to help us improve our services to Hoosier children and families.”

Fourteen of the deaths involved adults failing to properly supervise children who later drowned. The drownings occurred in ponds, lakes, creeks and bathtubs.

“As we approach the summer months, it is important to re-emphasize water safety and to never leave a child unattended in a hot car, never,” Bonaventura said.

Other causes included gunshot wounds, drug overdoses and beatings.

DCS reviewed 286 child deaths the occurred from July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013. Of the 49 children who died from abuse or neglect, DCS had previous dealings with seven of them.

Allen County had just one death – an abuse case.

Five-week-old Jaxon Follis died in February 2013. Baby sitter Brandon Sprinkle, 30, pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury and was sentenced to 15 years of prison.

After initially denying any knowledge of what happened to the child and failing a voice stress test, the baby sitter said he had tripped over the family dog and fallen with the child.

Medical experts could not agree on, or rule out, whether the situation Sprinkle described caused the fatal injury to the baby's brain or whether he shook the baby.

The DCS report said the child was hospitalized with severe head trauma.

“A consultation with the Indiana University, Riley Hospital Child Protection Team was done with results that indicated that the explanation that the baby sitter gave on how the injuries occurred could not have happened without some sort of force present. DCS substantiated death due to abuse against the baby sitter,” the report said.

Noble County had two neglect deaths.

In one, 18-month-old Peyton Brettell died from asphyxia because of position and neck compression while in the care of an unlicensed day care provider in August 2012. According to licensing guidelines, this day care home should have been licensed, the report said.

The baby sitter, Dana Shell, 44, of Warsaw, admitted to moving the child from a crib and placing the child in a car seat to sleep because the child was able to get out of the crib. The baby sitter also admitted that the car seat was too tight for the child.

The sitter realized the child was unresponsive, but she returned to the other children.

Shell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and was sentenced to eight years in prison with six years suspended and to be served on probation.

The Journal Gazette could not identify the second Noble County case from the information provided.

The report shows continuing patterns: The primary victims are 1 year old or younger, and the perpetrators face one or more significant stress factors, such as unemployment, low income, substance abuse or domestic violence. In some cases, multiple stress factors were present in a single home.

Of the children who died from abuse, 55 percent were a year old or younger. Of the neglect deaths, 58 percent of the children were a year old or younger as well.

Hoosiers who suspect that a child is being abused or neglected should call the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline at 800-800-5556.


North Dakota

Child Abuse and Neglect on the Rise

by Vicky Nguyen

As we reported earlier this week, there were two Mandan couples who were charged with child abuse and neglect.

In both cases, the children were taken into custody by Child Protective Services.

These reports are becoming more frequent.

More than 12,000 incidents of child abuse and neglect were reported to the Department of Human Services in 2014.

The year before that, there were 11,000.

The department is working with advocacy groups in the state to prevent child abuse rates from increasing even more.

Research shows children exposed to abuse and neglect are more than likely to have relationship and health issues.

"Child abuse and neglect affects the actual architecture of a child's brain and the longer a child is exposed to those adverse conditions, the deeper the impact," said Marlys Baker, child protective services administrator, Department of Human Services.

The most common type of maltreatment is neglect, and Baker says it accounts for 75 percent of the confirmed cases.

"They are not receiving medical care. They may be living in environments that are unhealthy. They may be exposed to drugs and drug activity in their homes. They may be witnesses or even present during some pretty severe domestic violence," Baker said.

Baker says the department depends on responsible people to step up when they see children being mistreated.

"There's so much potential for the future with kids. If you can intervene, you can make a positive difference. If you can help a family, that impacts our society, our communities in ways that we really can't even measure," Baker said.

Advocacy groups like Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota and NDSU Extension are funded by the Department of Human Services to offer parenting classes and prevention tips.

"We try to offer them some different parenting tools that they might be able to try and then we try to practice with them a little bit," said Deb Thuerer, parent education at the NDSU Extension.

Both Baker and Thuerer say they understand all adults with children can go through tough times, but it's important to ask for help when they need it.



Everyone Can Help End Child Abuse

by William D'Atuto

April is recognized nationally as Child Abuse Prevention month. It's troublesome to fathom that we commit a month to this cause. Nevertheless the ugly truth is that child abuse is a widespread epidemic that needs to be quarantined.

The statistics are staggering and elimination of this behavior needs emphasizing. For example, there have been 16 child deaths in Polk County alone reported to the Department of Children and Families in the first four months of this year. Unfortunately, this number will likely increase.

Last year, 21 children in Polk County lost their lives too soon. Of those 21, ­nearly one-fifth died as a result of abuse. In 2014 DCF investigated 8,011 cases of alleged abuse and/or neglect of children in Polk County.

To clarify, that is 8,011 cases too many. Undoubtedly, parents and caregivers have a responsibility to ensure their kids are free from abuse, neglect or any maltreatment.

Research shows that smart and nurturing relationships along with stimulating and stable environments improve brain development and child wellbeing. On the other hand, neglectful or abusive experiences and unstable or stressful environments increase the odds of poor childhood outcomes.

Furthermore, the abuse and neglect of children can cause severe, costly and lifelong problems affecting all of society, including physical and mental health problems, trouble in school and criminal mischief. In addition, the research will point out that parents and caregivers who know how to seek help in times of trepidation are more resilient and better able to provide safe environments for their children.

Clearly individuals, businesses, schools, media, faith-based and community organizations must lead the cause and take action to support the physical, social, emotional and educational development of all children. By working together, we can improve prevention and recovery efforts and change the path of the lives of vulnerable children and families.

Certainly we can do this in many ways, from supporting and mentoring a young, struggling mother to fostering or adopting a child who needs a home, to teaching adults how to exercise patience with young children.

Together we can identify at-risk children before they reach the child welfare system and help provide the support and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and strong.

[ William D'Aiuto is the central region managing director for the Florida Department of Children and Families. ]


Untested Rape Kit Backlog Represents A 'Public Safety Issue' In U.S.

NPR's Melissa Block speaks with, Abigail Tracy, a reporter with the news site Vocativ, about the backlog of thousands of rape kits that have yet to be tested around the country.


In television dramas, the DNA from crime scenes comes back from the lab in a matter of hours and the suspect is in handcuffs before the second commercial. But in real life, it takes money and time to process DNA, and police departments have huge backlogs of untested evidence, especially rape kits. Reporter Abigail Tracy with the news website Vocativ has written about the massive backlog, and she talked with me about the reasons behind it.

ABIGAIL TRACY: The main one is that technology has just improved drastically since, you know, the early '90s. DNA testing didn't necessarily become standard until the early 2000s. So what you have is there were all these police departments that were taking these samples, but they didn't necessarily have the means to test them. Now, fast-forward 10 years, DNA kit testing has become much more standard in the early 2000s. And what you have is all these old evidence sitting on the shelves.

BLOCK: What's involved in testing a rape kit? Is it - does it take a long time? Is it expensive?

TRACY: Yeah, a little bit of both. On average - the estimates that I heard - it costs between $1,000 to $1,200 to test an individual rape kit. It can be sometimes as much as $1,500. Beyond that, it takes a great deal of time, and a lot of crime labs throughout the United States, they're very backed up in terms of all these other tests that they're doing. So it's a little difficult to bring old cold cases and also add those to their workload.

BLOCK: How often are police departments able to get a DNA profile from testing a rape kit and then actually match that profile to somebody who's in the federal database of known offenders?

TRACY: Right now kind of looking at these backlogged cases what they've found is - a few people that I've spoken with, they said that about 50 percent of the time you're going to get a DNA profile from a rape kit. And that means that they have enough genetic markers for it to be a quality sample, according to the FBI standards. Once you have that and you enter it into the DNA database - CODIS - about 30 to 40 percent of those will actually get a hit in the system.

BLOCK: Well, even if they do get a DNA profile and do get a match then there's still the question of whether the case is prosecutable.

TRACY: So what happens is, say, you do get a hit in CODIS on a DNA profile. What you have to do then is then you have to - you sort of reopen the case entirely and find if there's enough of a narrative to be able to say that that DNA sample was from the perpetrator in the crime. And once you do that then you have to track that suspect down and get a confirmation sample to make sure that nothing went wrong and that it was actually their sample that you're finding in the rape kit. And you're going to have to create this narrative again to see will this be prosecutable, which is a very long, painstaking process. And it requires - many, many man-hours have to go into opening these cases again, you know, on the part of the crime labs, on the part of the detectives and on the part of the prosecutors.

BLOCK: In your story, Abigail, you point out there are two cities - New York and Los Angeles - that have managed to completely clear their backlog of rape kits - get them all tested. How did they do it? What did they do that other cities haven't been able to do?

TRACY: Well, both of them had massive backlogs to begin with. So New York's was about 17,000 and LA's was about 12,500 backlogged, untested rape kits that they found. But both of those cities had very strong pushes from the public and also the governments in those local areas, but they also had resources. So what you really need if you have these backlogs that have hundreds or thousands of kits is to create special crime teams that can go in and really, you know, do due diligence on these different court - like, these old cold cases because if these people are out there still, it is a public safety issue. And you think if there's something that you can do to kind of put these people behind bars or bring them to justice, you should do it. And yes, it'll cost money and yes, it will require a great deal of manpower, but at the of the day, untested rape kits mean that there is a public safety issue at hand.

BLOCK: Well, Abigail Tracy, thanks very much for talking with us.

TRACY: Thank you so much for having me.

BLOCK: Abigail Tracy is a reporter with the news website Vocativ. Her story titled "Rape Kit Backlog Grows Nationwide, Jeopardizing Prosecutions" appears in Scientific American.


United Kingdom

British Government's Children's Commissioner Launches Survey For Adult Survivors Of Child Sex Abuse

England's Children's Commissioner's Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment is running a survey for adult survivors of child sexual abuse: "Help us to collect the most comprehensive evidence to date from adult survivors of child sexual abuse linked to the family environment. Complete our survey confidentially to help us protect children from sexual abuse. Your responses will enable us to make a difference to children now. Hearing from survivors to help children now."

The survey started today. English survivors can participate online here:

You can download posters, web banners and email signatures promoting the survey here and find out more about the Children's Commissioner – a government position the US would do well to create for itself – here.



Nonprofit Spotlight: Shattered Canvas, Inc.

Shattered Canvas is a Maryland-based nonprofit organization aimed at supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse and promoting education

by Liana Messina

Everyone needs a voice.

Shattered Canvas, Inc., based in Havre de Grace, is a nonprofit organization aimed at supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse and promoting education and awareness.

Patch recently talked to JoAnn Kerschner, executive director of Shattered Canvas and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

About the organization

Shattered Canvas is dedicated to the prevention of childhood sexual abuse and erasing the stigma of mental health by supporting survivors and promoting community education and awareness. Kerschner, a professional nurse with over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, decided to devote her life to the mission of Shattered Canvas in October of 2014.

How is the organization making a difference?

Shattered Canvas provides survivors with access to support and education in a safe environment. The organization hosts numerous programs, including support groups, education seminars, counseling and art therapy sessions to support survivors.

Based on reports, it is believed that in today's society 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually molested before they are 18 years old.

Kerschner is still battling the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, calling it “a continuous vicious cycle.”

As a survivor, she still suffers with depression­­­­, PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, insurance coverage, medications, and the overall stigma of mental health in our society. She hopes Shattered Canvas will act as a safe haven for the many others who are battling similar issues, but have yet to seek help.

“Everyone knows someone,” she said. “It could be their child, their next door neighbor, someone in their family.”

The power of the voice

Kerschner works closely with survivors from nearby and across the country. Many have reached out to Kerschner for help after hearing about the organization or listening to her radio podcasts associated with the National Association Adult Survivors of Child Abuse or NAASCA. She hopes more people will learn to feel comfortable to reach out and look for help if they need it.

“People can't see the pain. We teach people how to find a voice.”

The organization is working on forming their first survivors' group, a very personal experience for her, referring to the members as “like family.” Kerschner also hopes to hold journal drives throughout the community to collect journals that will be given to survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

“The journal is great”, she said, explaining how a journal acts as an open canvas for survivors to release their private feelings through words or drawings.

How can the community get involved?

•  Donate: Donations can be made online and will go to providing education, supporting survivors and funding materials.

•  Events: Upcoming events will be listed online and include fundraisers, support groups and educational sessions.

•  Materials: Art supplies and journals are always appreciated and will be used to help survivors.

•  Spread the word: Share the organization's mission. You never know who is looking for help.

Learn more

Follow Shattered Canvas on Facebook or get in touch via email at for more on how to get involved.



Childhaven uses brain science to help at-risk kids fit in

by Jerry Large

Ending childhood neglect and abuse is possible, and it happens now at Childhaven.

Watching a circle of 4- to 5-year-old children sitting with their teacher talking about whatever pops into their heads could make any adult smile. Kids say the darndest things, don't they?

Sometimes, though, what they say can be painful to hear, as when a girl mentions her father's drinking or a boy asks if it's OK for parents to hit their children. You never know where the conversation might go when the children are sitting in a circle at Childhaven, a nonprofit that provides therapeutic care to children who've been neglected or abused. But there's still reason to smile because staff members know how to guide the conversations in ways that help heal childhood wounds. That dynamic is far too rare.

It can be difficult for children whose lives are affected by divorce, parental substance abuse, mental illness in the home, housing instability and other negative factors to conform to expectations when they arrive at school, and schools often respond by throwing them out.

Read the story by Seattle Times education reporter Claudia Rowe about schools where teachers are beginning to get to the roots of behavior problems and help their students overcome them. That is still not routine in K-12 education, where discipline is the usual response.

That makes intervention before kindergarten urgent so that children can arrive at kindergarten with a better chance of fitting in. The research that explains and helps change behaviors resulting from adverse experiences has been around at least since the 1990s and has been expanding year after year. Childhaven puts it to use, and that's why reading the story about K-12 made me want to tell you what Childhaven does. It's not just child care, but therapeutic child care and includes broad interaction with families to help them achieve stability and growth.

Its model works, and Childhaven President Maria Chavez Wilcox, told me that's why she's in Seattle. Chavez Wilcox learned about Childhaven when she worked for United Way of King County in the 1980s. She left Seattle and held a number of nonprofit leadership positions. She was CEO of United Way of Orange County in California when she decided she wanted to get closer to the work nonprofits do by running one whose mission energized her.

“I moved here because this is the only agency that has the best shot at ending child abuse,” she said. “Childhaven is the largest agency in the country that addresses this (child abuse and neglect), and the only one that is as therapeutically focused.” Mental-health care is at the core of its work. “People don't know we're doing brain-altering work,” Chavez Wilcox said.

She wants to expand the nonprofit's reach. “We're taking care of three to four hundred kids, and there's over 3,000 in King County and over 20,000 in the state of Washington that are being hurt and neglected right now … from not being given any food, to being locked in closets to being hurt,” Chavez Wilcox said.

“I'm a child-abuse survivor, so I know what it's like not to have (the support Childhaven provides),” she added.

“One of the things my mother always said to me,” she said, was: “?‘I didn't have any help and I didn't know who to talk to.' I don't want one single person to say that to me in Seattle.”

The children at Childhaven's three locations are between 2 months and 5 years old and are referred to the nonprofit agency by the state or a court because they've been subject to neglect or abuse.

Childhaven's successful model begins with a highly trained staff. Teachers there need at least a B.A. degree in psychology, social work, education or a related field. Therapists need an M.A. Class sizes are limited.

Children learn emotional and social skills such as how to put their feelings into words and to control and direct those feelings. “We teach them, you can be angry, but you can't hurt anyone,” Bethany Larsen told me.

Larsen is vice president for branch program operations and has a degree in elementary education. But that didn't prepare her to understand and help children whose lives are full of chaos. That came as Childhaven absorbed and applied the lessons of recent brain science. She showed me around the Seattle branch this week and told me about the program.

Children learn how to interact with teachers and how to trust. They get the consistency and routine that a chaotic home may lack. There's a nurse on staff at each branch, and the children are fed nutritious meals. Each child has an individual treatment plan based on his or her diagnosis and kept on track by regular progress reports.

The parents are helped, too, because often they haven't had the kind of upbringing that would prepare them to provide what their children need. There's parent-child therapy, visits to the home and crisis intervention.

Childhaven even picks up the children each day and returns them home, and that's about more than transportation. Teachers ride along, which is comforting for the children, and the teachers get a chance to see the home and the parents each day, giving them a better idea of the circumstances that affect the child on a daily basis.

Some parents start out angry that they've been sent to participate, Larsen said, but they see that the staff treats them with respect, and they come around. There's a parent-advisory committee, so parents have a voice; after all, the program is about inclusion, not exclusion.

That inclusion goes double for children. “We don't kick kids out,” Larsen said. A child may bite, hit or throw a chair, she said, but the staff lets them know, “We're going to be there no matter what.”

Every child should have that kind of commitment and stability.



FL dentist allegedly performed unwanted procedures, abused children


(Video on site)

JACKSONVILLE, FL (CNN) - It's a sound no parent likes to hear: a child screaming out of fear and possibly pain from the dentist's chair.

Going to the dentist is a rite of passage, of sorts, but what's alleged to have happened at the hands of 78-year-old Dr. Howard Schneider was not.

For the past three weeks, there have been daily protests outside his practice. One parent was so angry, she attacked him outside his office.

Schneider said he's done nothing wrong.

The firestorm started after Brandi Motley wrote about the day she took to her 6-year-old daughter, Bri'el, to Schneider to have one tooth pulled.

On the day of surgery in December 2014, Motley said she was not allowed to sit with her daughter.

"The nurse suggested that it's best - that kids act better when parents aren't in the room. So they said we don't like parents back here for the procedures," she said.

Motley said she sat in the waiting room for three hours until the waiting turned to worrying.

"Finally, the nurse came and got me and she said there had been an incident," Brandi Motley said. "(Bri'el) was hyperventilating. She had marks all over her, blood all over her."

Angry and unable to get an clear explanation of what had happened, Motley says she and Bri'el left to rush to an emergency room.

"In the parking lot, she takes her gauze out, and I notice that all of her teeth were gone," Motley said.

She said Schneider pulled seven teeth.

According to her mom, Bri'el said Schneider hit and choked her, so she called police - twice. Although department records indicate officers responded and according to police logs one wrote a report, Jacksonville Sheriff's office told CNN "no report was written on this incident."

Initially, no attorney would take her case.

"That's when I decided to put her pictures on my Facebook and tell everybody what happened," Motley said.

Her story went viral, and soon, other parents posted their children's pictures and claims of unwanted procedures and abuse at the hands of Schneider.

"I kept reading and reading until the name Doctor Howard, and I knew that was the same dentist," Barry said.

Amanda Barry is deaf. Her five-year old son, Dominic, is blind in one eye. Barry says Dominic was referred to Schneider for a crown in March.

The boy is part of a civil suit accusing Schneider of assault and battery.

According to the complaint, "two front teeth were removed for unknown reasons" and that Dominic was "terrified and told stories of the dentist choking (him)."

"I screamed for my mom," Dominic said.

"That's what bothers me the most," Amanda Barry said. "Because I'm deaf, I can't hear anything, and to know that my child was calling for me and my name and I couldn't help him, it makes me feel like lousy. It makes me feel lousy."

Bri'el's family at one point was part of that same lawsuit but has since withdrawn. They are now pursuing a medical malpractice suit, represented by attorney John Phillips.

Phillips says he also represents dozens of Schneider's former patients, most of whom rely on Medicaid for health insurance.

"Medicaid paid him per tooth," attorney Gust Sarris said. "So, can I cap a tooth twice? Yes. Can I then pull it? Yes. Can I then successfully obtain benefits for all three? Absolutely."

Schneider has made a fortune from Medicaid. State records show Schneider has received nearly $4 million in Medicaid reimbursements in just the last five years.

The Florida Attorney General's office has launched a criminal Medicaid fraud investigation, and the claims stretch back decades.

A 1995 malpractice suit was settled out of court. It claimed Schneider unnecessarily placed 16 crowns in the mouth of a 3-year-old. The boy's family was paid $7,500 as part of the settlement agreement.

A second malpractice suit was filed that year. The documents from that case have been destroyed, and the outcome is unclear.

"Somebody who is performing procedures that children don't need, pulling teeth that he knows should still be in the child's mouth. In some cases, we even have where many procedures were done, except what they came in for," Sarris said.

Sarris said he represents Dominic and dozens of Schneider's former patients. This month, he filed the potential class action suit against Schneider on behalf of these children, claiming "patterns of abuse of his child patients" - an accusation that has been made before.

According to a 2013 police report, the mother of a 5-year-old patient was allowed to sit with daughter during a procedure. The mother told police Schneider grabbed her daughter's face" and "slapped her face several times." The officer acknowledged a "small scratch behind the victim's left ear."

Schneider denied touching the girl. He was not arrested. Instead, the officer referred the mother to the state attorney's office. Nurses who were in the room later "denied that anything inappropriate happened."

Prosecutors decided not to file charges because of an "improbability of conviction at trial."

CNN made no fewer than five calls to Schneider's office to arrange an interview. None were returned.

"They're not correct and that's it. I want to be left alone, OK?" Schneider said when asked in his practice's parking lot about the charges.

Despite the calls to police, the malpractice settlements and the fraud investigation, Schneider is still free to practice. His license is clear. According to the Florida Board of Dentistry, he's not been disciplined by the state.

For these parents, that's unacceptable. They want Schneider "to go to jail, to never work on any other kids, to shut his doors so he can never do this again."



Child abuse prevention bill soon to be law

by Pamplin Media Group

Following a hearing a Senate committee has recommended passage of a bill aimed to help improve the ability of Child Abuse Intervention Centers to pay for child-abuse assessments.

Children's Center Executive Director Barbara Peschiera told lawmakers that the legislation would save lives by boosting the ability of centers across the state to see every child, regardless of their families' ability to pay.

“House Bill 2234 is a smart solution that will provide stability across a critical public health system,” Peschiera said. “It removes the patchwork nature of alternative-fee agreements.”

The legislation is on the fast track for Gov. Kate Brown's signature. Sponsored by Rep. Brent Barton (D-Oregon City), the bill got unanimous approval by an Oregon House vote March 12.

Billing codes that relate to the specialized forensic interview and medical assessment are not now funded in Oregon and centers write off 46 percent of their bills submitted to private insurance providers. Plus, the Affordable Care Act's 12 percent increase in patients insured through Medicaid, which requires a 76 percent write-off rate, has challenged CAICs.

House Bill 2234 requires that the Oregon Health Authority and health benefit plans cover the medical child abuse assessment services provided by a community assessment center and related services (such as forensic interviews and mental health treatment) and that payments are proportionate to the scope and intensity of the services provided.

Child maltreatment impacts children of all ages, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In Oregon, 10,630 victims of child abuse were confirmed, and more than 64,000 reports of abuse were made in 2013.

CAICs were created to minimize trauma for child abuse victims by using a multidisciplinary team approach with partner agencies to respond to concerns of abuse in each community. They are designed to provide services based on each child's needs, in a neutral, child-focused environment, and to be a resource for the child and their caregivers.



Senator's riders likely to sink Erin's Law and block Alaska child abuse prevention

by Jessica Cler

The Alaska Legislature is halfway through a special 2015 session to take up unfinished business, including the Alaska Safe Children's Act (House Bill 44). Also known as Erin's Law, the original HB 44 is a smart piece of legislation that would bring sexual assault awareness and prevention education to all students in Alaska who desperately need access to information to protect themselves.

However, not everyone agrees. This week, Sen. Mike Dunleavy and the state Senate Education Committee did all they could to stop HB 44 and put sexual assault survivors at risk in Alaska.

The need for the Alaska Safe Children's Act is self-evident. Alaska's child sexual assault rates are six times the national average. In the first three months of this year alone, the Office of Children's Services received 783 reports of sexual assault. HB 44 would help fight back against the sexual assault epidemic and make our state safer for our youth.

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee approved a significantly weakened version of the bill from Sen. Dunleavy. In the latest of over a dozen hearings that have been held this year on the Alaska Safe Children's Act, Dunleavy inserted language for three of his failed pet bills that have nothing to do with preventing sexual assault -- measures addressing standardized testing, college readiness standards, and most notably, language to restrict access to sexual health education.

That's right. Dunleavy and his colleagues used a bill designed to fight against sexual assault to further his own political desire to reduce access to sexual health education. Specifically, this language is identical to SB 89, legislation seen earlier in 2015 that would stop parents and teachers from making the sexual health education decisions that are right for their kids and their local communities. Rather than schools having the ability to choose the sexual health educations programs that are right for them, Sen. Dunleavy wants to let politicians in Juneau make those choices instead. The committee seems unconcerned about the fact that Alaska continually leads the nation in sexually transmitted infection rates.

What's worse, Dunleavy's changes make HB 44's sexual assault prevention and awareness education optional, rather than mandatory. This weakens the bill so substantially that parents who have been fighting for this bill are imploring our senators not to move this damaged bill forward.

The Alaska Safe Children's Act has seen widespread support and impassioned testimony from Alaskans from across the state over the past few months. But once Dunleavy added his failed bills in to this popular bill, no opportunity for public input was given and everyday Alaska residents were not allowed to testify. It was just Sen. Dunleavy making choices for thousands of parents, kids and sexual assault survivors throughout our state.

After SB 89 was taken up last month and stalled before the end of regular session, Dunleavy stated that it would not be considered again until 2016 in order to “give us time to vet the bill thoroughly.” It's still 2015, and apparently Dunleavy no longer thinks that his restrictions on sexual health education need to be vetted thoroughly -- and in fact thinks they're even more important than preventing sexual abuse prevention education for our youth.

The people of Alaska deserve better leadership from their public officials. This entire farce is a transparent attempt to piggyback Dunleavy's wish list of failed bills onto a popular and important bill.

If legislators truly care about stopping Alaska's sexual assault epidemic, they will move a clean version of HB 44 forward without any extra and unrelated language. It's time to stop playing politics with vulnerable children and students at risk.



Attorney general testifies to commission aiming to end child abuse, neglect

by St George News

SALT LAKE CITYUtah Attorney General Sean Reyes testified in front of the bipartisan U.S congressional and presidential Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities as part of the national organization's public meeting in Salt Lake City.

The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, also called CECANF, was established to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect. The purpose of the meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, where Reyes testified, was to explore key research, policy and practice in the state of Utah related to addressing and preventing child abuse and neglect fatalities.

Commission members are appointed by Congress with approval of President Obama.

“We always appreciate when organizations take the time to listen and learn about Utah's efforts to problem solve,” Reyes said. “Today, it was a rare opportunity for me to address a Congressionally-appointed body regarding the many ways my office is dedicated to keeping families safe and is particularly aggressive on crimes that involve children.”

Reyes said many efforts in the attorney general's office are to reduce and curtail all types of child abuse that could lead to fatalities, including the office's recent partnership with Utah's Division of Child and Family Services to launch One With Courage Utah.

One With Courage Utah is a local campaign created in correlation with a national initiative to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, while highlighting the unique role of Children's Justice Centers in bringing partner agencies together and providing services. There are 22 Children's Justice Centers throughout Utah that serve victims of child physical and sexual abuse.

“Because serious physical abuse cases present unique challenges, a committee of local and state agencies recently convened at the Salt Lake CJC to identify problems and propose solutions for improving the response, with the goal of testing a pilot project,” Reyes said. “Many from our office, including our Director of our Child Protection Division discussed solutions including advanced training and development of rapid response protocols to improve coordination. The information was shared with all CJCs to identify common problems and solutions for their respective areas, based on community dynamics and available resources.”

In 2010, the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, comprising five national advocacy organizations, was formed to address the escalating number of children in the United States who die each year from abuse and neglect. One major milestone in the coalition's efforts was the introduction and passage of the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012, which garnered broad, bipartisan support in the House, passed the Senate unanimously and was signed by President Barack Obama on January 14, 2013.

One of the key provisions of the act was the establishment of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, whose mission is to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities across the country resulting from child abuse and neglect.

Submitted by the Office of Utah Attorney General




Housing laws don't prevent child sex abuse

Biddeford councilors have the right intentions, but they are using the wrong vehicle.

by The Editorial Board

It's hard to fault the Biddeford City Council for wanting to do something, anything, to help assuage the fears and frustrations related to the sexual abuse allegations that have come to light in recent months.

The stories of abuse and the subsequent shame, anger and depression are enough to make your heart ache and blood boil, and to compel you to do whatever you can to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Restricting where child sex offenders can live, as Biddeford councilors did on Tuesday, is the most obvious way for the council to react. As a local legislative body, it may be all it can do.

Unfortunately, it won't make the children of Biddeford any safer. In fact, it may make them less so.

And by seeking to bring this issue back to the Legislature, the council risks spreading this false sense of protection throughout the state.

That's unfortunate, since Maine so recently had this debate. As recently as six years ago, communities across the state were passing local ordinances prohibiting convicted child sex offenders from living within certain distances of public facilities – such as schools and parks – frequented by children.

The prohibited distances were set as high as 2,500 feet, making most, if not all, of these communities off-limits to sex offenders, raising questions of fairness and constitutionality.

In response, lawmakers in 2009 passed a law limiting the distance to 750 feet. Since then, a number of communities, including Augusta, Bangor and South Portland, have put laws in place restricting where sex offenders can live, while Portland considered but did not pass a sex-offender ordinance in 2010.

In 2011, a bill to increase the statewide limit to 2,500 feet failed narrowly in the Legislature.

These laws have proven popular elsewhere. The results, however, are not promising.

Residency restrictions tend to push already marginalized offenders farther to the margins.

They can prevent offenders from living with their family following release from prison, taking away support systems that are an important factor in keeping them from offending again.

They may prohibit offenders from taking certain jobs, or accessing certain services and rehabilitation programs, all of which are also key pieces of reducing recidivism.

And they can force offenders to move around, making it harder to keep tabs on where they are.

In Michigan and Missouri, offender laws had little to no effect on recidivism, or even on the rate of residency of offenders in prohibited areas.

In North Carolina, restrictions pushed offenders to high-poverty areas, where oversight is lax, and increased the risk of the offenders returning to jail.

And in Iowa, after five years of statewide residency restrictions, the number of convictions for child sex abuse crimes remained largely constant, while the number of offenders who failed to comply with the state sex-offender registry almost doubled.

Further rendering these laws ineffective is the fact that the vast majority of child sex offenders are known to the victim and have never been charged.

These offenders aren't strangers hanging out by the ballfield or playground. Far more often than not, they're a family member or close friend who exploits that connection to get close to a child.

In fact, residency restrictions would have done nothing to prevent the abuses that have been alleged in Biddeford.

Unfortunately, stopping child sex abuse is more difficult than telling offenders where they can live. In our haste to prevent the creation of more victims, we shouldn't pretend otherwise.


New Research: The College Rape Problem Is Worse Than We Thought

Between the start of classes and the summer, 18.6 percent of female freshmen reported being raped or suffering an attempted rape

by Akane Otani

At the start of the school year, some colleges now hand out a sober warning along with new lanyards and room keys. New students are told about the "Red Zone"—the ominously named period between the start of classes and Thanksgiving break when researchers say new female students are especially likely to be sexually assaulted.

A new study suggests the risk of sexual violence extends beyond those first perilous weeks. Between the start of school and the summer after their freshman year, 18.6 percent of women surveyed at an unnamed college reported being raped or having endured an attempted rape, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The National Institute of Justice's Campus Sexual Assault Study estimated in 2007 that one in five women are sexually assaulted in college, a number critics have called inflated. The new research finds the incidence of rape could be that high for women in the first year alone.

That number rose to 37 percent when the time span stretched back to the age of 14, researchers from Brown University, the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Center for Integrated Healthcare, and the Miriam Hospital found.

"We're starting to appreciate that the whole of freshman year is probably a risky time for students," says Kate Carey, lead author of the study and a professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown. "If we [were] to see these types of rates for a broken leg, or some other kind of injury, we'd certainly expect that the environment and the individuals involved would be addressed."

Understanding how common it is for college women to be raped is a tricky problem in part because rape is notoriously underreported; researchers who have attempted to quantify the problem have been criticized for inflating it. But the Brown-led research team avoided many of the practices that critics have used to assail other college rape studies. For the Brown study, which surveyed a representative sample of 483 freshman women at a university in upstate New York , researchers used a narrower definition of rape than some others, counting only cases of vaginal, oral, or anal penetration. They excluded unwanted touching and verbal abuse—interactions that prior studies, including the famous "one-in-five" report from the NIJ, have defined as sexual assault.

The researchers say their work proves that the incidence of college rape has risen to "epidemic levels."


How Facebook Exposes Domestic Violence Survivors

Lily hid from her ex for more than 20 years, but he found her because Facebook forces even women who need anonymity to use their real names.

by Samantha Allen

“You've become eccentric.”

In February, Lily, 47, opened Facebook and found this message under the “Other” tab in her inbox. The message could might have come across as an awkward attempt to reconnect if it were from an old friend. It wasn't. It was sent by the man who she says beat her, broke her ribs, and repeatedly raped her two decades ago.

“My blood ran cold, I was sweating, and [having] heart palpitations opening the message,” Lily told The Daily Beast. “It made my skin crawl.”

But Lily's ex might never have been able to find her profile in the first place if Facebook hadn't asked her to display her “authentic name” in order to reopen her account, which had been suspended in December of last year over her use of a pseudonym.

Of the major social networking services, Facebook alone requires users to use an “authentic name” as listed on an “acceptable” form of identification such as a driver's license, a passport, or a bill. LinkedIn's User Agreement asks for a “real name” but does not specify any required documentation. Twitter, Instagram, and— as of 2014 —Google Plus all allow pseudonyms.

Those who run afoul of Facebook's “real-name policy” could have their accounts suspended and be required to submit photocopies of their identification and other documents in order to regain access. In practice, however, the policy seems to be enforced selectively, primarily affecting users whose names might not appear “authentic” to an algorithm—some Native Americans fit this description—or users like Lily who change their names too many times.

Many survivors of domestic violence note that, due to the cultural ubiquitousness of the service, Facebook is their primary mode of maintaining contact with friends and family. When 71 percent of online adults use Facebook, being suspended can be a form of social exile.

In an e-mail to The Daily Beast, for instance, one woman says that she has remained on Facebook despite two years of continuous stalking by an ex and his friends: “Not being on Facebook would mean I'd simply never hear from a large portion of the people in my life.”

Some survivors are drawn to Facebook out of familial obligation. Another woman told The Daily Beast that she reluctantly joined Facebook to watch over her teenage children's activity.

“I couldn't tell them at that point that the main reason we all had to stay offline was because their biological father was still looking for every one of us and had threatened to kill us,” she said. “It's a fine line to walk when you want to protect your children but know deep down that they're going to [go online], even behind your back if necessary.”

Late last year, Facebook came under fire for enforcing its real-name policy on drag performers and other members of the LGBT community but the requirement remains in place and people like Lily are perhaps most endangered by its enforcement. Survivors of domestic violence who have their Facebook accounts suspended face a perilous choice between their safety and their social life.

That's one of the reasons why the drag performers who put pressure on Facebook's real-name policy last year are protesting again in the form of an online petition, the #MyNameIs social media campaign, and an in-person demonstration at Facebook's headquarters on June 1st. Facebook CPO Chris Cox issued a public apology to the LGBT community last October after the company's public spat with drag troupe and charity organization Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence but organizers of the protest say it wasn't enough.

“Facebook's apology was an empty one,” drag performer and #MyNameIs organizer Lil Miss Hot Mess told The Daily Beast. “Although they've made some symbolic changes in policy language and minor tweaks to the enforcement process, the larger issues remain unresolved.”

Lil Miss Hot Mess privately shared several e-mails with The Daily Beast—redacting names and other sensitive information—that she has received from users, primarily women, who are still afraid to use their “authentic” names on Facebook because of an abusive ex or a stalker. Some report that their accounts have been suspended for using the pseudonyms that allow them to feel safe online.

Based on Lily's and other reported suspensions, too, it's clear that the underlying requirement behind the real-name policy is essentially unchanged despite the October apology.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, a Facebook spokesperson said: “Over the last several months, we've made some significant improvements in the implementation of this standard, including enhancing the overall experience, expanding the options available for verifying an authentic name, and allowing people continued access to their profiles while they work to verify their name.”

But the name verification process is still in place and there is no indication that Facebook is rethinking the core of the policy.

Facebook also continues to allow users to report a profile for “using a fake name,” a feature that, according to Cox, has allowed one individual to singlehandedly report “several hundred” users, many of them drag performers. The continued existence of this feature means that survivors of domestic abuse and stalking could potentially have their profiles reported maliciously as well.

On the Facebook Help Center, however, the company maintains that the real-name policy “helps keep our community safe.” The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), which has served on Facebook's Safety Advisory Board since 2010, echoes this sentiment. In a statement to The Daily Beast, the NNEDV said: “For some survivors, using a fake identity may be one option to maintain their privacy but still engage in social media. However, allowing fake names or anonymity also creates opportunities for abusers to harass and stalk victims and makes it more difficult to hold abusers accountable.”

Cox has further claimed in his apology that “99 percent” of fake name reports catch “bad actors” who do “bad things”—including “domestic abuse”—by “hiding behind behind fake names.” Based on these statements, Facebook seems to perceive the real-name policy as a utilitarian solution that does the most good for the most people, whatever its effects on a vulnerable few.

Privacy expert and app developer Elissa Shevinsky has a degree of sympathy for Facebook's approach. “I can understand why this is difficult,” she told The Daily Beast. “Real names create a certain kind of community and prevent the most common types of harassment and abuse.”

But for survivors like Lily, a pseudonym isn't a cloak for bullying behavior, it's a shield. Before receiving that message from her ex, Lily had been out of touch with him for 18 years, seven of which she spent on Facebook under pseudonyms like her roller derby name. After she reopened her account under her legal name, it only took him two weeks to contact her.

Lily's experience also shows that the effects of Facebook's real-name policy are compounded by the website's notoriously convoluted privacy settings. Facebook has even posted a guide (PDF) they developed with the NNEDV to help survivors navigate all the settings that might leave them open to unwanted contact.

But even after you follow this or one of the many other detailed guides to “locking down” your account, some information that you share with Facebook will always be public, including your name and your profile picture. And some suspect that keeping certain user information public and accurate may be less about maintaining a safe community than it is about collecting valuable data.

As Reed Albergotti wrote in The Wall Street Journal last year, Facebook earns billions in annual advertising revenue based primarily on “its ability to gather detailed, accurate information about users.”

Pseudonym expert aestetix —who co-founded the NymRights group after being suspended twice from Google Plus in 2011—also believes that Facebook may be financially motivated to preserve the policy.

“They have made claims about how the names policy prevents abuse, but have presented no actual evidence,” he told The Daily Beast. “The only two actual plausible explanations I have found are 1) They have had the policy for years and don't want to put the energy into revamping it, or 2) They want to be able to match names to other data sets so they can sell their data to brokers.”

Either way, many survivors of domestic abuse and stalking will continue to avoid Facebook altogether until the real-name policy is changed or privacy settings are enhanced. One woman in her twenties told The Daily Beast that she quit using Facebook in 2007 after repeated friend requests from an abusive father.

“It's frustrating how you can be tagged and how your comments can be public if a friend has lesser privacy settings,” she said. “I had a friend tag me once where we ate—I was terrified.”

Another woman told The Daily Beast that she can't have a Facebook account “because [my ex-husband] knows who many of my friends are” and could find her through their profiles.

“It wouldn't be difficult for him to do,” she added.

Their experiences are not exceptional. The Pew Research Center found that over a quarter of young women in the U.S. have been stalked online. And in this online environment, Facebook's real-name policy is dangerous for the very users they claim it protects.

When Facebook first contacted Lily to ask her to prove the authenticity of her name, she pleaded with them to reconsider but eventually convinced herself that it might be safe to abandon her pseudonym after they refused.

“I figured maybe I was overreacting and should lay ghosts to rest some eighteen years after the last time [he] found me,” she said.

But Lily didn't get to lay those ghosts to rest—a sign that it may be time for Facebook to finally put its real-name policy to bed.


Washington D.C.

Human trafficking bill goes to Obama

Funds housing, care for victims; training for law enforcement

by Cheryl Wetzstein

A bill to help victims of human trafficking and boost law enforcement against this “modern-day slavery” passed the House Tuesday.
It now goes to President Obama for his signature.

The widely supported Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act should have passed earlier this year, but it was hung up in the Senate over a new funding stream for health care and other services for victims.

Some senators wanted trafficking victims to have access to abortion services, while others wanted to maintain the decades-old federal prohibition on tax-payer funding of abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother's life.

As part of the Senate debate over abortion funding, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, held up the confirmation vote for now-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

A compromise was worked out that preserved the Hyde amendment prohibition on taxpayer dollars paying for abortions, and the bill passed the Senate April 22 by a 99-0 vote. Ms. Lynch was confirmed the next day.

The House passed the anti-trafficking bill, 420-3, on Tuesday.

The massive bill included many pieces of legislation that had been passed by the House or proposed in the Senate.

House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, praised it as “a big step” toward stopping “the monsters who commit these crimes.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said Tuesday that the bill — which would begin to meet housing needs of homeless victims, and offer training to people who work with at-risk, runaway and homeless youth — “can help survivors heal and protect others from becoming victims of such a terrible crime.”

The bill targets illegal trafficking for purposes of adult sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, peonage, and smuggling of human beings. Producers of child pornography would be deemed traffickers engaged in illicit sexual conduct.

At a recent House hearing on child sex trafficking, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said there are around 20 million to 30 million “modern-day slaves,” 80 percent of whom are used in the sex trade. About 2 million children are trafficked for sex, Mr. Reyes said.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S.178) would:

? Create a fine of $5,000 for people who buy, sell or otherwise assist in the trafficking of men, women and children.

? Use the fines to fund a new Domestic Trafficking Victim's Fund, which will be spent by the Department of Justice on programs to support and assist victims.

? Speed up the process for citizens and permanent residents who are victims of trafficking to receive federal benefits, including cash and food.

? Require the Justice Department to accelerate training of law enforcement officers and prosecutors who work on trafficking cases.

? Create an annual Justice Department report on how states are enforcing sex-trafficking laws.


Foster Care Youth: We Are Everyone & No One's Responsibility

by Lisa Marie Basile

In "Know How," a new documentary by Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza, viewers follow the experiences of foster youth in NYC -- those young people who are forced to fight for themselves, or like a white dwarf star, succumb to the prevailing reality of the foster care life. Some sleep on the street. Some turn to drugs. Some find a family. Some unite with their real parents. Despite these sorts of awareness documentaries, there really is little preventing these hardships.

Imagine being young, alone, and having literally no one advocate for you. Imagine it. With overcrowded school systems, lack of resources in low-income neighborhoods and, ultimately, few people who understand the condition of the orphan, the foster care spiral becomes a black hole.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month, so it seems a fitting time to admit that I, too, am a foster youth survivor. I entered into the system in my early teens and aged out, and I say 'survivor' because it feels like a war.

Unlike so many unfortunate foster kids, life has been generous to me. I now have a Masters degree, live in New York City and enjoy a beautiful life as a writer and editor. It was not remotely easy to get here, but it is even harder to shake off that stigma--that feeling that I'm sort of always floating, anchor-less. Despite my "new" life, I deal with feelings of worthlessness and loss daily; it's a sort of lasting PTSD that hovers like a rain cloud.

I acknowledge that I am a minority in terms of foster youth. Many other children and teens were abandoned or torn away from their families and placed into a harsh system that offers very few rehabilitative or forgiving elements.


Here is my story: both of my parents used drugs for most of my life. I grew up in New Jersey with a hardworking single mother whose vices, at times, were stronger than her resilience. We were living at the poverty level in the port neighborhood of Elizabeth, New Jersey when we lost our apartment and moved in with my sickly grandmother. My mother just sort of let me stop attending school, and this is because she was out dealing with her own issues.

A truancy officer must have reported her because shortly after, my brother and I were taken away. New Jersey's Division of Family Services provided us with a social worker who treated our situation like a list of grocery items. He struggled to place us into homes with our extended family, but I got the sense his priority was to just to check off the boxes - to get us into any home, anywhere, at any cost.

Years later, I would learn that an aunt and an uncle chose not take us in because they didn't want to get involved with "the system." Other family members "didn't have room." Others were far away. It was as though my brother and I were the dirt dragged in from outside, threatening to tread over their fine, white carpets.

What does it say when even your own family refuses you? It not only speaks to the stigma attached to the system, it tells a child that they are not wanted. Right now, there are an estimated 500,000 kids in foster care. 10 percent of them age out of the system at 18. Who knows what happens next.

While there are some great foster parents out there (my brother had them, luckily), there are an alarming number of foster care families who do take a child in for the wrong reasons: they receive subsidies from the state, or they fantasize about possessing a child as though he or she were an accessory. Picture a small dog in a handbag. And then there are the children who are molested, abused or even killed at the hands of a foster care family.

When we entered into the system, my brother and I were parceled out like a deck of cards. First, we ended up in the dark attic of our aunt's parents' house, where we slept in the same bed. Eventually, we had to leave - though I was grateful to have had a place to hang my head.

Like my brother, I ended up with strangers too; mine were a successful older couple who worked in theatre. Think "Running With Scissors," in a way.

The day I moved in I walked myself over to their house. No one walked with me. I brought a few bags and a box. I said goodbye to my brother, who drove away in a car. My new foster house was in the same neighborhood as my previous one, and my new foster mother showed me the insides of the drawers, how they were lined with floral sheets. She was proud of this detail, I remember, as though this somehow gave me my entire life back. The loneliness had no end. That day, the social worker made the mistake of telling me that the family "gave back" a younger girl once, leaving me to worry about homelessness for the next three years.

The light fell into my new bedroom and I began to cry. I tried to call my my real mother, but she did not pick up.


For the next few years, I lived rather well. I repeated the 10th grade but had trouble making friends. I had trouble making any connections at all. It was clear to me that my foster family were looking to connect with me as well; the truth is, they were looking for a daughter, but it could never have been me. They truly loved me in their own ways: they forced me to work hard and study. They gave me countless opportunities. But they also told me not to "act like a boarder" whenever I'd retreat to my room. They didn't support my mother visiting. They wanted me to assimilate. I know they meant well, but that approach to inclusion failed me.

Sometimes there is only trying and failing. They tried, and I tried, but when I turned 18, I packed all of my things while they weren't home and left.


Foster youth are not your hobby. They are not your paycheck. They need to cared for, not only by their foster families, but by their school systems and by the foster care system itself. They need be able to grieve and experience separation anxiety rather than assimilate or be treated as second best. The family dynamic becomes a total mystery, and the child often feels rootless.

Of rootlessness, I remember once being invited to a friend's house for dinner. It filled me with fear: the place-mats and the utensils and the smiles all made me feel like a sham. I felt I was a sympathy case, and I suppose that feeling has never left.

I spoke to the British writer Lemn Sissay, who presented a Ted Talk called, A Child Of The State. I confessed to him, "I never understand houses. Bedrooms. Vacations. Wealth. I never understood family." He said he never understood dining tables. I was relieved; after all, this meant I was not alone in my uncomfortable weirdness.

Right now, I'm overdosing on the shows like Criminal Minds and The Killing , and I can't help but notice how many of the murderers come from foster homes. How many times can we possibly conflate foster youth with homicidal maniac ? Or loser ? Or sad, homeless kid ? While I don't want foster youth to be reduced to a TV cliche, I also don't want to ignore the fact that coming from foster care means there is a real risk of behavioral issues that last for life.

If a series of lucky circumstances hadn't happened to me, I would have become a stereotype. I remember the few teachers who helped support me when they saw me struggling to stay awake in school. Still, they were few and far between. One memory stands out: my guidance counselor told me I wouldn't get into college. I could tell she thought lesser of me compared to the wealthy, well-rounded students in my grade. I simply wasn't even worth fighting for. I asked to be in AP courses and was denied until I 'proved' myself. It was a constant fight against invisibility and others' perceptions. This was the school system failing me, just as I suspect thousands of other foster youth are being failed right now.

I aged out of that school system and did get into college, where I slowly rebuilt my identity and repaired my relationship with family and the world. Another former foster youth, Arlene Esquivel of California, told me that she was aged out of the system in 2005, after going in when she was four. "I had seven sisters and two brothers. We were split it into different foster homes & we were all abused as children. I have overcome it by speaking up for other foster kids. That should know they have a voice." Today, she's rebuilt everything too.

It is critical for others to support foster youth, and it is equally as important that us Wards of the State acknowledge the good that comes from the foster experience: resilience, compassion and perspective. It is key that we know we're deserving too.

I spoke to Toni Heineman, the Executive Director of A Home Within, the only national organization dedicated to meeting the emotional needs of foster youth. She said, "Despite having to overcome the many obstacles of feeling like outsiders, many foster children do succeed , most often because they had the help of just one adult. We should never forget that asking for help takes courage. We honor foster youth this May--those who have found the courage to reach out, and those who are still waiting for a helping hand."

In the case of the foster kid, the victim/survivor binary sways like a pendulum; often, it is hard to see which way is which. In the end, their survival is everyone's responsibility -- from the social worker with the notepad and the good intentions, to the foster families and the foster youth themselves.



Commission seeking a national child abuse solution looks to Utah for answers

by McKenzie Romero

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal commission efforting a national strategy to combat child abuse deaths is looking to Utah for ideas.

The 12-person Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities convened its latest in a series of public meetings in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, traveling across the country to learn about research into child abuse deaths as well as efforts to prevent tragedy.

Ultimately, the commission — formed with bipartisan support under the 2012 Protect our Kids Act — hopes to outline a national approach for tracking and then preventing abuse tragedy rather than leaving each community to respond individually, chairman David Sanders said.

"The number of children who are dying due to abuse or neglect, I think, is larger than people are aware of. It's not nearly as isolated an issue as people think," Sanders said. "This is an issue that I think drew the national interest of Congress and the president for a very good reason."

In order to get a comprehensive perspective, the commission is focusing on states with recently high numbers or children dying due to abuse and neglect, as well as states whose efforts seem to be yielding fewer child abuse deaths, Sanders said.

Utah is currently counted among the states with a low number of fatalities.

"We wanted to understand what's going on here and what can we learn that might be applicable to rest of the country," Sanders said following the first round of testimony Tuesday. "I think the ideas about how law enforcement, prosecution and child protection work together is a theme that we've heard, but it sounds like it may be even more developed here."

Woods Cross Police Chief Greg Butler and Sgt. Adam Osoro briefed the commission on its recently adopted protocols for interviewing domestic violence victims to identify whether they or their children are at risk for even greater harm. The simple series of questions, taken from the Maryland Lethality Assessment Protocol, has already saved lives, they testified.

In its first use, police identified warning signs that prompted them to remove a Woods Cross woman and her children from their home, Osoro testified. Shortly after posting bail, the woman's husband returned to the home with a gun, likely intending to harm his family. He took his own life after finding the house empty.

"After our very first lethality screening, this woman is crediting this for saving her life and her three children," Osoro explained. "The very first one potentially saved four lives."

The protocol also collects vital information for prosecutors and the Utah Department of Human Services, domestic violence prevention administrator Jenn Oxborrow said.

"It gets us all speaking the same language," Oxborrow said.

For 30 years, Salt Lake County deputy district attorney Robert Parrish has seen one child abuse and domestic violence case after another. They are tragic to hear and increasingly difficult to prosecute. He wonders whether a very simple solution could be making sure parents know whom they can call when caring for their children becomes difficult.

"Parents don't even know what they are doing to their children. There are all these messages that aren't getting out to the parents," Parrish told the commission. "The main message that needs to get to all parents is there is no loss of face in calling for help."

To better understand what warning signs law enforcement and protective agencies may be missing, Parrish pointed to research like that of Dr. Kristine Campbell.

Campbell, a pediatrician at University Hospital who specializes in child abuse, briefed the commission on apparent gaps following intervention by child protective service workers, a hole that she believes is a missed opportunity to further help families. To illustrate the research, Campbell read from messages submitted by Utah mothers following a response by protective services.

"It was nice that they wanted to make sure that he was out of the house and that my kids were physically safe, especially in the immediate. But looking at the long-term repercussions of what happened, I think that should have been a higher priority," one woman had said.

The commission aims to present its findings to Congress and President Barack Obama in early 2016, then release a report later that year.

Commission members will discuss what trends they have seen emerging from the different meetings and what it could mean for national response when they meet Wednesday at the Salt Lake City Sheraton. The meeting is open to the public who register on the commission's website,, or who tune in by phone or online.

So far this year the commission has held meetings in Arizona and Tennessee, and will visit Wisconsin in July and New York in August.



The sad story: Child abuse continues to rise

by Chris Aldridge

BAD AXE — “Pinwheels for Prevention” calls attention to child abuse and neglect every April, when people symbolically plant blue pinwheels in public view. It regularly gains media attention for April's Child Abuse Awareness Month.

Now, we're well into May, and to make sure the awareness doesn't wane, one county commissioner invited Elizabeth Herd, president of the Huron County Child Abuse/Neglect Council, to a meeting Tuesday to speak of child abuse in the county and what others can do to prevent it.

“That's something I'd like to see more of in the county — teaching people better, more gentle ways to parent,” Herd said.

What she sees now, however, isn't a promising picture: reports of child victims of abuse and neglect in Michigan have risen every year from 27,383 in 2008 to nearly 34,000 in 2013, according to a “Child Maltreatment 2012” report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.

Huron County seems to be following that trend: there were 118 child victims of abuse and neglect reported in 2012 — more than triple the cases in 2008.

But the majority of the picture is missing — Herd says only about one-third of abuse and neglect cases are reported.

“You can see by the statistics the magnitude of the problem,” said Clark Elftman, county commissioner and vice president of the CA/N Council, who invited Herd to speak.

The degree to which that trend could be reversed depends on how one defines child abuse. Herd said the Department of Human Services investigates cases when a child has marks from alleged abuse. But her definition differs.

“Causing physical harm to a child — that's abuse,” Herd said. “Discipline means to teach, not to harm.”

Herd leads 16 other board members of the Huron County CA/N Council, one of 73 such organizations statewide. The Council is funded by a $10,000 grant matched with county contributions. The annual Roof Sit is its biggest fundraiser. With that money, a couple services the council provides include fitting newborns at Huron Medical Center with “safe sleep sacks” and distributing educational DVDs and other materials on shaken baby syndrome.

“There's a lot of things we could do more of,” she said.

There is also a lot others can do. The council relies on teachers and doctors as mandated reporters of abuse. Still, many cases go unreported.

“It's important to educate the general public about signs of abuse and reporting,” Herd said.

Herd asks people to be aware of all children, and if signs of abuse surface, to call the Department of Human Services' abuse and neglect reporting hotline at 1-855-444-3911. The Huron County Child Abuse/Neglect Council can be reached at 989-550-6261.

Herd also advocates for stricter state-level requirements when it comes to child abuse and neglect.

“We teach children in school about fire safety — stop, drop and roll — we put them through D.A.R.E. programs to teach them to say no to drugs and alcohol, and we teach them about stranger danger,” Herd said in her speech to commissioners. “But the fact is, that 93 percent of the time, the person that sexually abuses a child is someone they love and trust, and someone parents trust with their kids. Only 7 percent are strangers. It is most often a parent, a relative or close family friend.”

Which was the case for Herd. In 2007, her grandson lived two and a half years before losing his life — at the hands of his mom.

“She too, was a victim of abuse and neglect as a child, as well as sexual assault,” Herd said. “She and my grandson are the perfect example of the phrase ‘Hurt people, hurt people.'

“Nothing was done. Nobody got involved until it was too late. It's a sad epidemic.”


United Kingdom

Operation Hydrant: 1,400 child abuse suspects identified

by The BBC

More than 1,400 suspects, including politicians and celebrities, have been investigated by police probing historic child sex abuse allegations.

The figures were revealed by Operation Hydrant, set up by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

It explores links between child sex abuse by "prominent public persons".

Of the 1,433 suspects identified, 216 are now dead and 261 are classified as people of public prominence, with 135 coming from TV, film or radio.

Of the remainder:

•  A further 76 suspects are politicians, 43 are from the music industry and seven come from the world of sport.

•  A total of 666 claims relate to institutions, with 357 separate institutions identified.

•  Of these, 154 are schools, 75 are children's homes, and 40 are religious institutions.

•  They also include 14 medical establishments, 11 community institutions, nine prisons, nine sports venues and 28 other institutions, including military groups and guest houses.

Another 17 institutions are classified as unknown.

The figures are taken from police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

They relate to reports of abuse, or investigations of abuse, which police forces were dealing with in the summer of 2014.

'Unprecedented increase'

Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC's lead on child protection, said the referrals were increasing "on an almost daily basis" with the numbers released being a "snapshot in time".

"We are seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of reports that are coming forward.

"That has brought about a step change in the way the service has had to deal with it."

He also said police were projected to receive about 116,000 reports of historic child sex abuse by the end of 2015 - an increase of 71% from 2012.

He added: "There is no doubt [Jimmy] Savile has had an effect on us. We are dealing with more and more allegations."

Ex-DJ Jimmy Savile was revealed after his death to be one of the UK's most prolific sexual predators.

And Mr Bailey said while there was no figure for the number of victims, it was likely to run into the thousands.

"These figures raise the question, is more abuse being perpetrated?" he said.

"I don't have the evidence at this moment in time to prove this one way or another."

'Astonishing' figures

Liz Dux, a lawyer with legal firm Slater and Gordon, which represents 800 child sexual abuse victims, told the BBC the Savile revelations meant people had felt more able to come forward and give evidence.

"The hope is the police have enough manpower to do [the investigation] justice, and to give it the importance it deserves.

"What we've seen is, not only in relation to celebrities, or well-known politicians, people have generally come forward and said 'I was abused by a family member, or I was abused in these circumstances, and I now feel able to address it and I now want to see my offender brought to justice'."

Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC's programme to tackle sexual abuse, described the figures as "astonishing" and showed that sexual abuse "permeates all parts of society".

He added: "We are seeing a seismic shift in people's willingness and preparedness to come forward now and talk about things that have happened sometimes many, many years or decades ago.

"What we're beginning to see is a much more realistic picture now of the scale of the problem, and we now need to be looking at ways in which that can most effectively be dealt with."



Senior Vatican official offered bribe to child sex abuse victim, inquiry told

David Ridsdale has given evidence to Australian inquiry that he told Cardinal George Pell in 1993 about being abused and was offered money to buy his silence

by Oliver Milman

A senior Vatican official, who is also Australia's highest ranking cleric, has been accused of attempting to bribe a victim of child sex abuse to keep quiet about the molestation he suffered from a paedophile Catholic priest.

The victim, David Ridsdale, told an Australian royal commission into child sexual abuse that he called Cardinal George Pell in 1993 to report being abused by his uncle Gerald Ridsdale, a former priest who is in prison after committing more than 130 offences against children as young as four between the 1960s and 1980s.

David Ridsdale said Pell had a “terse” response to being told of the abuse, before offering him money to buy his silence.

“George then began to talk about my growing family and my need to take care of their needs,” Ridsdale told the royal commission hearing. “He mentioned how I would soon have to buy a car or house for my family.

“I remember with clarity the last three lines we spoke together. Me: Excuse me, George, what the fuck are you talking about? George: I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet. Me: Fuck you, George, and everything you stand for.”

Ridsdale, now 48, said he called his sister after the conversation with Pell and told her “the bastard tried to bribe me”.

“Some days, I don't know who I am angrier at, Gerald for being a sick monster, or George for the way he reacted and dealt with the issue,” Ridsdale said. “Catholic clergy are meant to be the moral leaders of our society, but after my reactions from George and the Catholic church I have zero respect for him and the institution.”

The evidence was heard on the second day of public hearings in Ballarat for the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. Ballarat is a Victorian city about 100km north-west of Melbourne. The commission has already held 27 hearings across Australia into the response of the Catholic church and other institutions to child sex abuse.

Justice Peter McClellan, chair of the royal commission, said that Pell would be asked to answer the “serious questions” raised by the evidence. Peter Gray SC, representing the Catholic church's witnesses, said Pell had a different recollection of the conversation and will make a statement if asked.

Pell was an assistant priest in Ballarat East from 1973 to 1983, a period when several Catholic priests sexually assaulted young boys in the area.

At least a dozen suicides in Ballarat have been directly linked to the abuse, which went unreported by senior Catholic clerics, with some of the offenders moved to different parishes or sent on “treatment” trips to the US or Italy.

Pell went on to become the Archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney, before moving onto the Vatican in February 2014. His role at the Holy See is prefect of the secretariat for the economy, effectively putting him in charge of the Vatican's finances.

Pell has always denied any knowledge of sexual abuse in the Ballarat area.

However, several child abuse survivors have mentioned Pell in their testimonies, while the minutes of a 1982 meeting show he was involved in a decision to move Gerald Ridsdale from the Mortlake parish, which followed allegations of abuse of boys there.

Timothy Green, 53, told the royal commission that he was sexually assaulted when he was 11 by Brother Edward Dowlan at St Patrick's College, one of five Catholic institutions in Ballarat being scrutinised by the inquiry.

Green said he told Pell that “Brother Dowlan is touching little boys”, only for Pell to respond by saying “Don't be ridiculous,” and leaving the room.

“He just dismissed it and walked out,” Green said. “His reaction gave me the impression that he knew about Brother Dowlan, but couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it.”

Green said one of his school friends, who was also abused, later committed suicide by “blowing himself up in his car”.

Another victim of abuse, Gordon Hill, 72, described horrific abuse suffered in a Ballarat orphanage.

“Sometimes the nuns would punish us by pulling out a tooth with a pair of pliers or hitting one of us in the head with an engineer's hammer,” he said.

“The nuns threw me in what they called a ‘dungeon', which was a four by four room away from the orphanage and down by the incinerator. That was where I was left with a bucket, a soundproof door and a light above me. There were no windows. For a bed I had a concrete slab, and three or four hessian bags for a blanket.”

It is not the first time Pell has been asked to clarify his handling of allegations of sexual abuse by priests. He appeared before the royal commission in August 2014 via video link from Rome to provide testimony on the Melbourne Response, a scheme he introduced to the Catholic archdiocese of Melbourne in 1996 to investigate sex abuse claims.

Pell was criticised over comments he made during that appearance to counsel assisting, Gail Furness, where he compared sex abuse within the church to a truck driver picking up a female passenger and molesting her while on the job.

“I don't think [in that case] it's appropriate for the leadership of that company to be held responsible,” Pell said.

Royal commission chair, Justice Peter McClellan, questioned Pell on the comments.

“When a priest, through the act of the parish or in any other way, gains access to a child who comes to the church with a parents … that is quite different to the relationship between the truck driver and the casual passenger, isn't it?” McClellan said.

Pell replied: “Yes, I would certainly concede that.”

The current hearings in Ballarat will continue for another two weeks.

So far the royal commission has referred more than 600 matters to police in various states, and another 1,400 people are waiting to be heard in future sessions. The final report will be handed to the federal government by the end of 2017.



Local agencies sign protocol for child abuse investigations

GLADWIN COUNTY – Several Gladwin County law enforcement and other agencies came together last week to sign a Multidisciplinary Team Protocol for child abuse investigations. By entering into an agreement, these agencies joined together to put the welfare and interests of the child first during investigations.

According to information from the Northern Michigan Mobile Advocacy Center, they believe that “no single agency, individual, or discipline has the necessary knowledge, skills or resources to serve the needs of all children and their families.”

•  With their combined knowledge and efforts, however, each agency is even stronger in the fight against child abuse.

•  Agencies that came together to sign the protocol were Gladwin County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Gladwin County Sheriff Department, Gladwin Police Department, Beaverton Police Department, Michigan State Police–West Branch Post, Gladwin County Department of Human Services, Community Mental Health for Central Michigan, Shelterhouse of Gladwin, and the Northern Michigan Mobile Advocacy Center.

•  The Northern Michigan Mobile Advocacy Center offers services to children under 17 who are the victims of sexual assault or other physical abuse wants to help out in rural communities. The team includes forensic interviewer Bethany Law, who brings four years of police experience and 2.5 years of forensic interviewing experience to the proposed Advocacy Center. Along with Law, the team also includes Karen Adams, Executive Director, who has over 20 years of experience in the field.

•  The way the interview works with the advocacy center, there would be a two-way mirror which would allow a multidisciplinary team to watch the interview, and even offer questions through the interviewer, who would have a head set on, and would repeat the questions for the child being interviewed.

•  That service is important to children who already may be fearful, or have a distrust of law enforcement. Instead of spending interview time not speaking, and instead of being further traumatized, the child has a chance to tell their story to a trained interviewer who is not in uniform.

•  This gives law enforcement an interviewing tool that is positive and powerful for them, for families, and for agencies that help those families.

•  “From a law enforcement perspective, the collaboration is huge for us. It let's us all participate. It let's us all have a stake in the game,” said Sheriff Mike Shea. “And because of those partnerships that are established, it minimizes the trauma for the young people.”

•  The interview not only helps minimize trauma for the child and help the case from a prosecution stand point, it allows the child the chance to get their story out, which they may not have been able to do otherwise.

•  “That's what it's all about – giving children two years old to 17 years old the opportunity to tell their story,” said Adams.



Advice for parents: How to talk to your children about sexual assault

by Stephanie Oswald

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. (WGNO) With the ongoing investigation involving students being sexually assaulted on a Jefferson Parish school bus, parents could find themselves answering some tricky questions. Experts say honesty is the best policy, but parents should try to keep things age-appropriate.

Here's a statistic that keeps people like Shirley Young and Stacie Schrieffer LeBlanc very busy: National statistics say one in four girls and one in six boys have been sexually abused by the age of 18.

LeBlanc is the executive director of the New Orleans Children's Advocacy Center, where she shares another frightening fact: The Center is seeing a nearly 30 percent increase so far this year, in the number of children brought in to be forensically interviewed.

In addition to court admissible interviews, children are also given head-to-toe medical exams.

“Typically kids wait, they hold onto that secret and they don't tell right away, so as a result it's not essential that they are brought into an emergency room. It's more important that they get a really good caring, compassionate exam in an environment like this, in a clinic setting,” says LeBlanc.

But LeBlanc says that if you suspect something might have happened within the past 72 hours, the clinic can contact the on-call pediatrician, or arrange for an emergency room visit.

Social worker Shirley Young advises parents to pay attention to their child's language, answer questions – and, she says, don't be dismissive.

“If a child says they're afraid of the dark, ask them why they're afraid, what they are afraid of. Don't say ‘Oh, there's nothing to be afraid of, there are no monsters under the bed,' because maybe there is something else going on,” says Young.

She says other signs that there may be a problem include a child using sexually explicit language or behavior that is inappropriate for their age, such as acting out sexually with another child in play.

LeBlanc says some of the most important rules can often be the hardest to follow.

“The first and foremost is always to remain calm. It's so important for kids not to feel like the parents blame or shame them, and it's really important for the parent to understand not to question the child as to why they may not have told earlier,” says LeBlanc.

She also suggests parents try hard to ask fewer questions and spend more time listening to their little ones.

Reporting an assault can be confusing and frightening for a child, but Young points out, the children are not the only victims.

“Parents should also get help. Sometimes it's a lot more traumatic for the parent than the child because the parent knows what happened and understands the impact of it. The family's affected, society's affected, it goes on and on,” says Young.

If you're interested in the Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention program , click here.

The next sessions are June 5, August 7, October 2, and December 4, at the Children's Hospital Calhoun Campus. These two-hour sessions empower adults to recognize and respond responsibly to signs of child sexual abuse.



Orlando's Valencia College sued over forced vaginal exams

by AnneClaire Stapleton and Pat St. Claire

Two college students say they were forced to submit to transvaginal probes as part of their classroom training to learn how to perform the medical procedure.

The details are outlined in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Orlando against Valencia College and three instructors. It alleges that medical diagnostic students at Valencia College were forced to submit to the examination of their sexual organs under threat of having their grades reduced or of being blacklisted by future employers.

The three defendants named in the lawsuit, Maureen Bugnacki, Linda Shaheen and Barbara Ball, have not responded to CNN's requests for comment.

Peer physical examination is an accepted practice in the medical field, but several recent reports cited by the U.S. National Library of Medicine mention a growing need for clear policies regarding peer physical examination at medical schools.

The lawsuit claims during orientation, the college "had a second-year student, Jennifer Astor (nicknamed the 'TransVag Queen') explain the medical diagnostic sonography program's faculty believed that students should undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedures in order to become better sonography technicians."

"Valencia positioned these transvaginal probes as voluntary, but its actual policy and practice was that they were not," according to the lawsuit.

The suit also describes weekly probes for students in the program, saying they, "endured these invasive probes without a modicum of privacy. Plaintiffs would disrobe in a restroom, drape themselves in towels, and traverse the sonography classroom in full view of instructors and other students."

"A student would place a condom over the probe and then apply generous amounts of lubrication to the probe. In some cases, the student would have to sexually 'stimulate' plaintiffs in order to facilitate inserting the probe into plaintiffs' vaginas," the lawsuit alleges.

The suit says the women "experienced discomfort and embarrassment each time they had to endure this forced probing of their sexual organs."

In one instance, according to the lawsuit, one of the defendants, Barbara Ball, made inappropriate comments to a student who was undergoing a probe. "Defendant Ball's comments can only be described as bizarre during some of these forced probing sessions," the lawsuit states.

"She allegedly approached one student ... during a probing session and stated (she) was 'sexy' and should be an 'escort girl' (prostitute)." The suit says Ball's behavior casts serious doubts upon her motivation for insisting upon the forced vaginal probing sessions.

Attorney Chris Dillingham, who is representing the two women who filed the suit, said, "I filed the complaint in federal court because we are dealing with the government: Valencia State College. This is a constitutional federal rights claim. The vaginal probes and my client's right to refuse them without retribution; their First and Fourth Amendments were violated."

Dillingham said his clients have endured significant suffering because of the forced probes. "Although it was stated in orientation it was voluntary, it became increasingly clear it was not. This is a very expensive program, these are young women. ... I'm not a doctor but they have suffered significant psychological damage," Dillingham said.

Carol Traynor, the public relations director for Valencia College, said the school has not been served with the lawsuit so would not be able to comment. However, with regard to Valencia's diagnostic medical sonography associate's degree program, the college issued the following statement:

"The use of volunteers --- including fellow students --- for medical sonography training is a nationally accepted practice. Valencia College's sonography program has upheld the highest standards with respect to ultrasound scanning for educational purposes, including voluntary participation and professional supervision by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting. Nonetheless, we continue to review this practice and others to ensure that they are effective and appropriate for the learning environment."


Military members who report sexual assault more likely to face retaliation than seeing attacker get convicted: report

by Dan Friedman

Military service members who report a sexual assault are 12 times more likely to face retaliation than see their attacker convicted, a report Monday found.

While the Pentagon has implemented various measures to improve its handling of rapes and other assaults, the report by the nonprofit Human Rights Watch found many protections to prevent retaliation have “yet to help a single service member whose career was harmed.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said the report supports her bill to shift from commanders to independent judge advocates the final authority over sexual assault cases in the ranks.

“There has been zero progress on this front and this mission is failing,” Gillibrand said.

The report reflects interviews with more than 150 service members.



Woman sues Duluth diocese over childhood sex abuse in early 1960s

by Tom Olsen

DULUTH, Minn. -- More than half a century has passed, but Quin Buchtel says she still is dealing with the effects of being sexually abused by her priest.

Buchtel has long battled what she describes as severe chronic depression -- requiring hospitalization at least four times -- and said Monday that her life has been marked by a series of "questionable choices."

"I would like to know what my life would've been had I not been abused by this priest," she said. "I don't know if what he did resulted in my anger, which turned ultimately into depression, or not. But I feel that it must've had some impact on my life as an adult."

Buchtel, a 65-year-old social worker living in Olivia, Minn., filed a lawsuit Monday against the Diocese of Duluth, alleging that she was abused by the Rev. Charles Gormly in the early 1960s.

Her lawsuit is the fourth filed against the Duluth diocese under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which opened a three-year window for victims of decades-old abuse to file claims.

Buchtel was about 12 or 13 years old when she was abused by Gormly at St. Francis of Assisi School in Brainerd, according to the suit filed in State District Court in Duluth.

It was an experience shared by many girls at the school, Buchtel said at a Monday news conference in Duluth.

"Father Gormly molested me, but I feel the diocese abused me," she said. "The nuns knew what was going on. They knew I suspected other priests also knew. And, ultimately, the diocese must've known."

Diocese officials confirmed that Gormly did work in northeastern Minnesota for a brief period in 1960-61. In Duluth, he served at the St. Lawrence and St. Raphael parishes, and lived at St. James, before he was transferred to Brainerd.

Gormly, who was born in Ireland in 1910 and ordained as a priest in 1938, spent most of his career in the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo. He died in Wisconsin in 1968.

Parishioners at St. Francis were informed of the allegations against Gormly in December, when the diocese was served with a "notice of claim" by attorneys representing Buchtel.

"Every allegation that someone has been harmed by a member of the clergy, including those made today regarding events said to have happened more than 50 years ago, fills us with sadness," the Rev. James Bissonette, vicar general of the Duluth diocese, said in a statement Monday.

"Sexual misconduct of any kind, especially against a child, and especially by someone in a position of trust and respect like a priest, is and always has been evil and incompatible with our beliefs as Catholics," Bissonette added in the statement.

While Gormly's time in the Duluth diocese was short, Brainerd was a frequent stop for priests accused of abuse, said Mike Finnegan, the attorney representing Buchtel. At least eight credibly accused priests worked in the Brainerd area, he said.

"From the stuff we've seen, one of the places the diocese used as a dumping grounds for these perpetrators was Brainerd," Finnegan claimed. "When they had problems with some of these guys, they'd move them to the furthest stretches of the diocese, way on the western side of the diocese."

"Now is the time to come forward"

Buchtel said she was inspired to come forward after she attended a school reunion many years ago. When she sat down with her old friends, the topic quickly turned to Gormly, she said.

"The first thing that came up was, 'Have you thought about what Father Gormly did to us?'" she said. "That was like the main topic of conversation. We talked about how naive we were, that we didn't know that it was wrong. How we knew it was uncomfortable, but we didn't go to our parents. ... Then I started remembering more and more about what happened."

Buchtel said she met with attorney Jeff Anderson in the 1990s, but learned that the statute of limitations to sue had passed. Then, with the Minnesota Legislature opening the window for lawsuits in 2013, she decided to pursue a case once again.

"I just decided that now is the time to come forward," she said. "And I hope that by my coming forward, if this is still going on, it will stop -- and that other people that have been abused by priests will feel comfortable coming forward as well."

The five-count suit includes allegations of negligence and nuisance by the diocese. Among the demands, the suit seeks the public release of all internal diocese documents detailing child sexual abuse cases.

The diocese in December 2013 voluntarily released a list of all past priests it considered "credibly accused." However, advocates have continued to push publicly and through the courts for more detailed information.

Diocese officials stressed that they have had safety protocols in place since 1992, and that all employees undergo periodic background checks and training.

"We continue to urge anyone who has suffered abuse to come forward and to use every available tool to ensure our parishes, schools, religious education and youth programs are the safest places for our young people to be," Bissonette said.

Past victims of child sexual abuse have until May 2016 to file suit, and Finnegan said he is anticipating a flurry of legal activity as that deadline approaches.

The diocese was first sued under the statute by former Proctor resident Michael DeRoche in 2013. Additional suits have been filed by unnamed individuals, known in court documents only as Doe 28 and Doe 30.

Verne Wagner, the northern Minnesota director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, attended Monday's news conference.

Wagner said there is a need for survivors to come forward, pointing to the recent arrest of a Hibbing priest accused of inappropriately touching three underage girls.

"Those young people came forward and have perhaps saved so many other people from being abused by priests," Wagner said. "The courage that Quin has shown us is inspirational. It's that kind of courage that inspired those young people up in Hibbing to come forward."



They've been told to ‘get over it' for 700 Sundays. They come anyway.

by Allison Pohle

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross cast a shadow over his face, but Richard Orareo stood tall, with one hand holding his cane and the other holding a poster of a girl who was raped by a priest from kindergarten through the seventh grade.

The church bells began ringing just as Orareo began to speak to a crowd of 20 other survivors gathered in front of the church.

“It's my competition,” Orareo said of the bells.

“But you can stand up to it,” said Paul Kellen.

Orareo has stood up to the bells, and up to the Catholic Church, for more than 13 years.

After The Boston Globe released its investigation into sexual abuse by clergy members, he became one of the first survivors to take his place as a self-proclaimed sidewalk protester in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

For 700 Sundays, survivors of clergy sexual abuse have gathered in front of the church. That's every Sunday for more than thirteen-and-a-half years.

Orareo first showed up outside of the church to demand the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law after The Globe released its investigation. Critics say Law, who gave mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, kept the Rev. John Geoghan in the ministry for years despite allegations of child sexual abuse. Geoghan was accused of abusing more than 100 children.

Survivors pose outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Photo by Guru Amar Khalsa

“Nobody ever signed up to do this,” said Kellen, who is the New England director of the National Survivors Advocates Coalition. “People just showed up because they felt like they had to do something. There's no formal meeting. We stand out here with the signs to get people to look before they go into the church.”

Kellen estimates there were hundreds of supporters lining the sidewalk in front of the church every Sunday, whether in rain, sleet or snow, before Law eventually resigned in December 2002. Now, there are Sundays when Kellen is the only one.

The battle is not over. In 2006, former Pope John Paul II appointed Law archpriest at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, where he is still serving.

The Catholic Church has yet to remove hundreds of accused clergy members from their posts, which the survivors say leaves more children vulnerable.

That's why, 700 Sundays later, the survivors, many of whom hadn't seen each other in years, stood in the same spots holding the same signs with the message they have been trying to get across for more than a decade: This has to stop.

A reunion

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross cast a shadow over his face, but Richard Orareo stood tall, with one hand holding his cane and the other holding a poster of a girl who was raped by a priest from kindergarten through the seventh grade.

The church bells began ringing just as Orareo began to speak to a crowd of 20 other survivors gathered in front of the church.

“It's my competition,” Orareo said of the bells.

“But you can stand up to it,” said Paul Kellen.

Orareo has stood up to the bells, and up to the Catholic Church, for more than 13 years.

After The Boston Globe released its investigation into sexual abuse by clergy members, he became one of the first survivors to take his place as a self-proclaimed sidewalk protester in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

For 700 Sundays, survivors of clergy sexual abuse have gathered in front of the church. That's every Sunday for more than thirteen-and-a-half years.

Orareo first showed up outside of the church to demand the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law after The Globe released its investigation. Critics say Law, who gave mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, kept the Rev. John Geoghan in the ministry for years despite allegations of child sexual abuse. Geoghan was accused of abusing more than 100 children.

Survivors pose outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Photo by Guru Amar Khalsa

“Nobody ever signed up to do this,” said Kellen, who is the New England director of the National Survivors Advocates Coalition. “People just showed up because they felt like they had to do something. There's no formal meeting. We stand out here with the signs to get people to look before they go into the church.”

Kellen estimates there were hundreds of supporters lining the sidewalk in front of the church every Sunday, whether in rain, sleet or snow, before Law eventually resigned in December 2002. Now, there are Sundays when Kellen is the only one.

The battle is not over. In 2006, former Pope John Paul II appointed Law archpriest at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, where he is still serving.

The Catholic Church has yet to remove hundreds of accused clergy members from their posts, which the survivors say leaves more children vulnerable.

That's why, 700 Sundays later, the survivors, many of whom hadn't seen each other in years, stood in the same spots holding the same signs with the message they have been trying to get across for more than a decade: This has to stop.

A reunion

Survivors hold photos of children who say they were abused by clergy members outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Photo by Guru Amar Khalsa

Kathy Dwyer didn't know how to thank the survivors who showed up, so she brought donuts. She only got a dozen. She didn't expect many people to come.

Anniversaries, she said, can be painful. Even though it's been decades since the abuse and many of the survivors now have gray hair and wrinkles, their pain is fresh. The 700th vigil, though a milestone, was also an indication that more than a decade later, the Catholic Church hadn't established a system to remove clergy members responsible for abuse.

Sunday was also Dwyer's 70th birthday. Robert Costello brought her flowers. Everyone signed a card. But she said the best gift was seeing other survivors whom she hadn't seen in months, like Susan Renehan.

Dwyer, along with Ann Hagan Webb and Renehan, were some of the first protestors to speak up on behalf of female survivors. Much of the initial attention Dwyer said, was given to males who were abused by clergy members.

“I am here today, on my 70th birthday, because I was heard, and believed, and accepted,” Dwyer said. “But I might not be here that much anymore after this. I'm still healing, folks, and this is not my church.”

As the survivors greeted each other, they also picked up posters with faces of abused children. They gathered into a semi-circle and waited for Kellen to speak.

“You've all been here at some point or another,” Kellen said. “And people will ask why. We're here to get justice for the people who have been harmed, and for protection of children of the future.”

Dwyer and the other survivors find strength in each other. And though each experienced abuse differently, they all understand what it means to lose faith. They all understand what it means to find hope.

A struggle to be recognized

“This is your parents fault,” said a man heading into mass. He was speaking to Stan Doherty, a survivor who was holding a sign outside of the church. “You can't blame the priests for this.”

Doherty said the man, who declined to give his name, makes this comment most weeks before walking into the church. Doherty, like many survivors, is used to hearing taunts from passersby. He's used to being told to “get over it.”

He comes anyway.

Doherty said the survivors' presence makes church officials nervous, which he said means they're doing something right. Even though their protests were peaceful, Doherty believes church officials called the Boston police on them, and remembers the police being confused at the peaceful nature of the protests when they arrived at the church.

“I would say, ‘you've seen our average age,'” he said. “We can't do anything.”

Terrence Donilon, communications secretary for the Boston Archdiocese, said the church knows the survivors gather outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross each week.

“The Church continues to work to heal the wounds of clergy sexual abuse by remaining vigilant in its child protection programs and in providing pastoral support for survivors and families impacted,” he said.

James Flynn, an adult altar server at the church, said he's seen the survivors every Sunday, but doesn't mind their presence.

“It was tragic that happened, but the church learned a valuable lesson,” he said. “As an altar server, I go to classes to know that that's wrong, as does everyone else in the church. We are moving forward.”

Just yards away, Dwyer held a sign that read “You cannot move from a place you deny you are.”

See you next Sunday

This vigil, like all the others, was informal. The survivors who felt compelled to speak addressed the group. But the survivors also said it was important to remember those who couldn't be with them.

“I don't want to bring it here, but I have to,” Dwyer said. “Sexual abuse tortures us. There are many who have gone to their graves never telling. There are many who have taken their own lives.”

The survivors carry their names on pieces of paper as they walk the perimeter of the church while also holding signs with the faces of the child victims. After they finished their march, the survivors stopped in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross sign to pose for a photo. They held up their posters and smiled, not because of where they were, but because they were together.

After the photo, some of the survivors said quiet goodbyes and left. When only a handful remained outside, a procession of the church's clergy members and parishoners began to approach on the sidewalk.

“Get the posters out,” Doherty said. “We have a parade coming.”

A single-file line of parishioners from the church rounded the corner towards the survivors. They were led by altar boys wearing white robes and swinging gold censers with incense. The survivors looked the priests in the eyes. The priests looked down at their sheet music.

Some parents put their hands around their childrens' shoulders and held them close. The kids looked at the posters, at the black-and-white faces of children their age, before walking back into the church.

Those children, Kellen said, are the reason why the survivors will continue to stand in front of the church every week.

“We'll be here for the next 700,” Kellen said as he gathered up the signs. “See you next week.”


United Kingdom

The abuse of disabled people is a hidden crime we must face up to

by Frances Ryan

Almost 5,000 disabled adults – across 106 councils – have been sexually abused in England in the past two years, new figures show. As the NSPCC put it, this is the “visible peak” of what could be a bigger problem of sexual assault against disabled people. People with learning difficulties were the victims of almost two-thirds of reported incidents. The others had a range of physical disabilities. Disabled children are also likely victims.

The charity Respond noted they had seen “some horrendous cases” involving young disabled people. “[There are] gangs of boys who don't have a disability who are grooming girls who do.” Your stomach may be starting to crawl at this point. Mine is. I think most of us would put the rape and assault of people with disabilities into the category of things we do not want to think about – let alone say out loud. But then, that is part of the problem. Hush it up. Ignore the warnings. Some things should not be real.

Here's the reality. Today's finding of sexual assault against disabled adults – and likely, teenagers and children – is part of the large-scale abuse of disabled people in this country. Disabled children and young people are three to four times more likely to be abused and neglected than their non-disabled peers, according to the NSPCC.

Disabled women are twice as likely to be assaulted or raped as non-disabled women – be it at the hands of a stranger or, more likely, their partner, a family member or the person they have trusted to care for them. According to research by Women's Aid, half of disabled women – and yes, this is often a gendered crime – have experienced domestic abuse.

I don't describe disabled people – including myself – as “vulnerable”. It's generally a patronising, pitying sort of comment. It also homogenises a vast, complex group: anyone from a 56-year-old woman who uses a wheelchair to a teenage boy with Down's syndrome. But the uncomfortable truth is that being disabled makes someone vulnerable to abuse: whether that is because a severe learning disability means a victim cannot understand what is happening to them, or because a spinal injury means a woman who is being assaulted cannot sit up.

To an abuser who likes power and control, a disability is perfect. It is easier to rape or slap someone who cannot move. Women's Aid refer to cases where abusers have withheld their girlfriend's medicine or deliberately refused to help them get to the toilet. Vulnerability comes in trying to leave too. Escaping abuse is difficult for any victim but it's only compounded when the person abusing you is the one you rely on to help you dress and get out the house. Cultural stigma around disability is as much of a trap – the belief that disabled people are sexless or stupid.

Carers, meanwhile, are often perceived as saints. As Dr Jackie Barron from Women's Aid described it to me when I previously reported on this subject: “You often hear: ‘Oh, he seems such a nice man' [when women discloses abuse]. This seems to be even more the case for disabled women. ‘This man is providing care. He's giving up his life' … It can mean they're much less likely to be believed.”

Even if they are believed, a deficit in specialist services means disabled victims often have nowhere to escape to. It may be from a paper who campaigned for the party who made the cuts in the first place but today's Sun front page is right: refuges are at crisis point. For disabled victims, that crisis has been in place for a while. Beverley Lewis House is this country's only specialist refuge for women with a learning disability. DeafHope UK is one of the only organisations designed to help physically disabled survivors of domestic violence.

It is telling that in January of this year – buried beneath other stories – was the warning that the new domestic violence offence of “coercive control” may not actually extend to carers – meaning abusive male partners of disabled women could argue they are acting in the interests of their victim, with full support of the law. As our skin crawls, it is worth forcing ourselves to look at the reality – we must confront not only the scale of abused, disabled victims but also this country's failure to help them.


United Kingdom

Girl who was 'victim of Asian abuse gang had sex with 60 men after first being approached in Woolworths aged just 12'

by Lucy Crossley

A schoolgirl victim of an Asian abuse gang was used for sex by 60 men after she was approached by a middle-aged father in a branch of Woolworths when she was just 12, a court heard today.

The girl and her friend were allegedly abused by 11 men from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire after being groomed into believing the men were their boyfriends, and what they were being subjected to was normal.

The men are standing trial accused of 'horrific sexual assault on a massive scale' and between them deny a total of 49 charges including rape, conspiring to facilitate child prostitution and drugging one of the girls in order to have sex with her.

Jurors at the Old Bailey were told that both girls came from broken homes and wanted to feel grown up when they were taken in by the men, with one saying they made her life 'a bit more exciting'.

They were bought alcohol, drugs and gifts by the men to gain their trust before being shared around the group, often being raped by three or four men at a time, Oliver Saxby QC, told the court.

'This case concerns child sexual exploitation on a massive scale,' said Mr Saxby. 'It features two young girls who were employed and sexually abused from the age of 12 or 13.'

He continued: 'Both girls were from unstable backgrounds, making perfect targets. Their lives were 'off the rails'. They were looking for excitement, for attention. For somewhere to hang out, away from school and home.

'They were wanting to feel grown up. And looked after. And they were easy prey for a group of men wanting casual sexual gratification that was easy, regular and readily available.'

The court was told that one girl, who can only be named as Girl A for legal reasons, was passed between 60 men for sex, after she met married father-of-two Vikram Singh, 45, while out shopping with her friends in the Aylesbury branch of Woolworths in 2006.

He then groomed her, had sex with her and gave her telephone number to other men who then also had sex with her.

She was aged between 12 and 14 when the abuse is said to have taken place, and the court was told that her alleged ordeal only came to light after she had given birth to two children.

Mr Saxby said Singh, who was born in India, had 'stared and smiled' at her when he first saw her, asking for her age and her number and introducing himself as Bicky.

He later met her in his car and took her to the cinema, where they kissed, and the court was told that he had made Girl A feel as though 'he did not care how much money he spent on me'.

'Over the next couple of weeks Singh "kept her sweet" with simple things tailored to the 12 or 13 year old girl he was grooming,' said Mr Saxby.

'And during this time they would go out for drives and he would kiss her and ask her to give him oral sex. "It was doing stuff like that until he was ready to have sex with me", she told the police.

'"I thought it was wrong but he was lonely and I felt sorry for him and maybe I did it for attention".'

Mr Saxby told the court that Singh had sex with the girl at her house, while her mother was at work, and that he had told her he was 'on Viagra "because of his age"'.

He said they would meet two or three times a week, and have sex in his car or at a house which he said belonged to a friend, but which the prosecutor says was Singh's own house, where his two children slept upstairs.

She then began receiving calls from other men who would ask her for sex, and whether she was a virgin, the court heard.

Mr Saxby said: 'When she told one such caller her true age - presumably it would have been 13 or 14 - he replied "I like that age". Singh always denied knowing anything about these callers but had a smirk on his face when he did so.'

The prosecutor said the girl kept going back to Singh, but later told police: 'It felt like a disgusting job I had to do for him'.

He said the last time Girl A and Singh had sex was in 2008, by which time she had met Mohammed Imran, .

The court was told that on that last occasion Singh had raped her in the back of his car when he was driving her to meet Imran, who the Crown say was sharing her out to other men for sex.

Sing was arrested in September 2014 after the girl identified him to police that March. He denied knowing Girl A and gave a no comment interview.

He denies four counts of rape, four counts of sexual activity with a child, and one of administering a substance with intent.

The court was also told that another of the 11 accused, Asif Hussain, 33, had tried to sell Girl A to an 'old Pakistani man who looked just like Osama Bin Laden'.

She had first seen him at a market stall, and would regularly have sex with him at his shared home, which she visited dressed in her school uniform.

The court was told that on the last time she saw Hussain, known to her as 'Lucky', he tried to sell her to a man, aged between 60 and 70, who lived in the basement of his block.

'According to [the victim], he looked just like Osama Bin Laden,' Mr Saxby said.

'She noticed that there was porn on the television and she assumed he had been waiting for her.

'His flat was like a cellar. Hussain told her that the man wanted to sleep with her and encouraged her to do so, saying that the man had money.

'She got freaked out and ran off.'

The court heard the girl, who is now 21, had children by the men she was abused by in 2010 and 2011, but it is not clear who their fathers were. It was then that social services and then the police first became aware of the alleged abuse.

The prosecutor said Girl A was on the child protection register for neglect.

Her mother was depressed and worked late and she played truant from school, spending her days wandering around Aylesbury.

Jurors were told that both she and a close friend, known as Girl B, were befriended by the gang members and showered with inexpensive gifts such as alcohol, DVDs, food, and occasionally drugs.

Mr Saxby said: 'The men are accused of sexual assault on a massive scale. It features two young girls who were exploited and sexually assaulted from the age of 12 or 16.

'The sexual abuse included vaginal, oral, anal rape. Both girls were from unstable backgrounds which made them perfect targets. Their lives were off the rails. They were looking for excitement, for attention, for somewhere to hang out away from school and home.

'They were wanting to feel grown up, and looked after. And they were easy prey for a group of men wanting casual sexual gratification that was easy, regular and readily available.

'They were befriended. Encouraged back to addresses, given attention, made to feel wanted, bought things.

'They were being conditioned, exploited, their trust was being established and they were sexually abused.'

He added the girls did not feel as though they were raped, and were brainwashed into thinking they were in relationships with the men.

He said: 'To them at the time their notion of what was right and wrong having been completely distorted this was normal, natural.

'They were in relationships. Notwithstanding they were children they spoke in terms of these men as their boyfriends. And they were being passed from man to man.

'The scale of it is, you may agree, horrifying. A estimated that she had sex with about 60 men - 6-0, almost all Asian.'

The court was told that the 11 men on trial were among a larger group of men who abused the girls, and that each allegedly acted with 'total disregard of the law and the legal prohibition on the sexual abuse of children'.

Mr Saxby told the court that most of the men knew one another and all lived in Aylesbury, where the abuse occurred. Some were married with children with several men working in a market and a few working as taxi drivers.

The prosecutor said the first girl tried to explain why she had had sex with so many men, and read out the statement she gave to police.

She had said: 'You get passed round. It wasn't particularly me looking for them. It was them looking for me. It's just that they pass your number around. Or you're with one of them and they invited three or four of their friends round and then you have to sleep with them.

'Because you're in their place and they're making your life a bit more exciting, so you do what they want. I just knew Asian men wanted to sleep with me.

'I didn't think they found me attractive. I was happy that I was wanted. I felt popular. Like they wanted me and I got a load of attention, that was it.'

The court heard Girl B, who is now also 21, also came from a broken home and spent time in care.

She told the police: 'From aged 13 to 15 I was reckless. I was very vulnerable. I was easily led. I was out seeing men, getting drunk, running away, getting arrested. I wanted attention and I was looking in the wrong place.'

Singh, Harmohan Nangpal, 41, Arshad Iqbal Jani, 33, Hussain, Mohammed Imran, 38, Akbari Khan, 36, Faisal Iqbal, 32, Taimoor Khan, 29, Jerome Joe, 35, Sajid Ali, 35, and Sohail Qamar are all accused of rape.

Sohail Qamar, 41, also faces one count of actual bodily harm against one of the girls.

Each of the 11 men is said to have sexually abused the first victim, whilst Taimmor Khan and Akbari Khan sexually abused her friend.

The attacks are said to have taken place between 2006 and 2012.

Outlining the charges, Mr Saxby said the eleven men variously face four offences - rape, sexual activity with a child, administering a substance for sexual activity and arranging or facilitating child prostitution.

He said, in police interviews, the girls talk of having 'agreed' to have sex with these men.

'There is no talk of fighting them off or screaming for help or anything like that,' he said.

But the prosecutor continued: 'Attention. Company. Compliments. Gifts. Somewhere to hang out, people to be with.

'Drink. Drugs. Excitement. The establishing of trust, of belonging, of being part of a group.

'A sense of dependency. The perception of being liked and wanted and being grown up.

'The sense that sex is just a "natural progression" - that to deny it would be unfair, and a let down.

'In a word, 'grooming'.'

Mr Saxby asked jurors: 'Why were these adult men, some married, some with children of their own, interested in spending time with young girls - other than with cheap, easy sexual gratification in mind?

'And why did they befriend them, invite them to their homes, pay them attention, buy them gifts, gain their trust, give them drink and so on - other than to break the girls' 'freedom and capacity to choose' so they got what they wanted on the pretext of consent?'



Child abuse on rise, but vigilance can help ease it

by Traci Moyer

ANDERSON — Child abuse has no boundaries.

“The one thing people need to know is child abuse can happen to anyone,” said Annette Craycraft, executive director of East Central Indiana CASA, Inc. “Sometimes people think that child abuse maybe only happens to families living in poverty or living in a certain section of town or community. We see child abuse all across the community.”

CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Its volunteers advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the child welfare system. Working with children who have been abused, the volunteers are often the first to see trends and changes that affect the well-being of kids.

In Madison County, child abuse is on the rise.

More than four children die every day across the nation as a result of child abuse and most of those children were younger than 3, according to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children.

In the last 10 years, more than 20,000 children in the United States were killed by a family member in their home — almost four times the number of soldiers killed while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Madison County right now is ranked sixth in the state for substantiated CHINS (Child in Need of Services) cases,” Craycraft said. “The number of cases has really increased in the last couple of years.”

Since 2009, the substantiated number of neglect cases in Madison County has risen from 302 to 500 in 2013. In 2013, the national rate of child abuse was 9.1 victims per 1,000 children, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In Madison County, it's 21 victims per 1,000 children.

A court can decide that a child who is neglected or abused and not getting required care or treatment is in need of services if the child is endangered by something a parent did or did not do, lives in a home where illegal drugs are manufactured, poses a risk to themselves or others, is a victim of a sex offense, is a missing child, is disruptive in school and parents do not participate in disciplinary proceedings or is born with a disorder caused by a mother who abused alcohol or drugs while pregnant.

James Wide, with the Indiana Department of Child Services in Indianapolis, said in the last year the number of CHINS cases across the state have spiked.

From February 2014 to February of this year, the number of CHINS in the DCS system increased from 13,792 to 17,316, Wide said.

“The increase in substance abuse and better reporting are definitely factors in the increased case­load,” he said.

Craycraft said the local increase in child abuse cases strongly correlates with the county's drug problems. She said it is more common to see child abuse in a home where drugs are used or there is poverty.

“We see more abuse in families living in poverty because the cycle of poverty sometimes causes stressors that may cause more of that abuse,” she said.

Those would include a lack of employment, making it harder for people to provide for a family; inadequate housing, creating unsafe living environments for children; and families' inability to afford child care or medical care, Craycraft said.

Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger said more needs to be done to stop the increase in child abuse cases.

“To decrease child abuse is a monumental task, but education, volunteer assistance and harsh sanctions is the key,” he said.

He said the hardest thing for his deputies is seeing repeat offenders committing crimes against children.

“We feel like we are beating our heads against a wall,” Mellinger said. “The cases are emotional and draining, and when you see the same violators repeatedly, it is hard to understand.”

Craycraft said it is imperative for the community to become involved in order to help lower child abuse, but more importantly to help save children being abused.

“Children don't ask to be born,” she said. “They don't ask to be brought into this world. They are often put into a big massive child welfare system because of stuff that was done to them, not because of anything they do. Everything they have known and loved is uprooted, and it's the most serious time of their life.”

Craycraft said in Indiana, anyone who suspects child abuse is required by law to report it. She said the confidentiality of a person reporting abuse is always maintained.

Mellinger is also urging the public to become more involved and report suspicions of child abuse.

“Too many people fear reprisal or inconvenience, and sometimes this leads to offenses going unreported,” he said. “There is nothing worse than a case being discovered and then a neighbor saying ‘it was only a matter of time.'"

Reporting abuse

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call Indiana's Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Reports of abuse and neglect are kept confidential, and those making the report can remain anonymous

Helping victims

Madison County is searching for people who want to make a difference in the lives of children who were abused by a parent or caregiver. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is seeking volunteers. The must be age 21 or older, can pass a federal, state and local background checks, and are willing to participate in 30 hours of specialized training and courtroom observation. Contact CASA at 649-7215.



Child Predators - Reporting child sexual abuse

by Tricia Harte

It's estimated that 90-percent of child sexual abuse victims know the offender, either through family ties or through their community.

But in an increasingly digital age, child predators are hiding behind the anonymity and legal grey areas of the Internet to post and trade child porn in addition to soliciting potential victims.

The numbers are startling: one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before reaching adulthood according to the Centers for Disease Control. By that measures, the Department of Justice estimates 30 to 40-percent are sexually abused by family members, and half by someone they know and trust.

“Child sexual abuse is an adult's responsibility,” said Candy Yoder, President & CEO of Child and Parent Services (CAPS) of Elkhart County.

Victims of molestation are often taken to places like CAPS for forensic interviews after child sexual abuse is reported. Special interviewers take their statements days, weeks, sometimes year after the abuse took place.

According to Yoder, the best way to catch abuse is by having a somewhat awkward conversation with one's child.

“One of the parents' first job is to help the child name their body,” Yoder explained, “the child also needs to trust their gut. If they have a ‘funny feeling' and that's often how children will talk about it, that it's okay to tell their parent about it.”

Victims, sometimes as young as two years old, can have a difficult time describing what happened to them. If they're educated about body parts, and where the “no-go” zones are, they can better identify when something bad has happened to them.

Yoder estimates half of sexual abuse incidents never get reported, oftentimes because the victim never speaks up, or because they don't know where to go.

When abuse is reported, law enforcement and the Department of Child Services (DCS) handle the investigation.

“They come in one of two ways,” said James Pippen, regional manager for DCS, “The 1-800 hotline or through law enforcement.”

If the child involved lives with the accused molester, DCS responds within an hour. If the child is more removed or if the abuse happened years prior, DCS sends a case manager within 24 hours.

Case managers talk with parents and coordinate forensic interviews to get the victim's statement as soon as possible. Those interviews are recorded and shared with local law enforcement and the prosecutor's office to spare the victim from reliving the abuse.

“The child already had something horrific happen to them, we don't want to re-traumatize them,” Pippen explained.

In child sexual abuse cases, evidence is limited. Oftentimes the only thing DCS and police have to go off of is the child's own testimony.

“Is there enough to believe that this probably did happen and once we figure that out, what's the appropriate steps in order to keep this child safe,” Pippen added.

On the digital front, law enforcement is charged with an entirely different realm where child sexual abuse and solicitation is possible, and it's not confined to a house, room or playground.

Child predators can access a seemingly endless supply of child pornography and social media sites where young children “hang out” with a click of a mouse.

“It's really kind of a never ending battle between law enforcement and the predators to see who has the upper hand,” said Eric Tamashasky, legal adviser and cyber crimes expert with the St. Joseph County Police.

Much of what St. Joseph County's cyber crimes unit deals with comes through the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children's (NCMEC) cyber tip-line. Anyone can go to the website and anonymously report solicitation, obscene materials, child pornography or instances of child trafficking.

NCMEC goes through all of the anonymous reports, and forwards them along to local agencies.

“You're always trying to figure out the new hot site where a lot of solicitation is taking place,” said Det. Phil Williams with St. Joseph County Police.

Law enforcement agencies across the country reported a 230-percent increase in reports of child enticement online between 2004 and 2008. That number is due, in part, to investigators' ever adapting abilities to track down those tips to computers and users.

Just a few years ago, the majority of child solicitation happened in chat rooms like Yahoo or AOL, now Williams said there's so many different avenues that it's “incredible, you find new ones every day.”

Utilizing not just “To Catch a Predator” style stings, cyber crimes units tap into more sophisticated methods of tracking cyber users who are trading and extorting child pornography in addition to sexually soliciting minors.

“Fundamentally, one of the most important things is that they're afraid of who they're talking to really isn't a kid, it's a cop. And that fear is something that we're always going to encourage and we have to,” Tamashasky is referring to undercover officers working on some of this sites, posing as young children to see who they can catch in the act.

Cyber crimes units review transcripts, chat logs, photos and images reported to NCMEC, sometimes there are no tips in a week, sometimes there are dozens.

“Sometimes it can be crushing because there's a lot out there, and sometimes it goes quiet, that can be scarier than when it's crushing because it means people aren't reporting the crimes we know are happening,” Tamashasky added.

If you would like to report an anonymous tip online click here.



Durham rape survivors lose long-term counselling support

Durham rape crisis centre caps counselling sessions in an effort to reduce waiting list

by Reka Szekely

DURHAM -- Durham sexual assault and abuse survivors say they feel like they're being pushed out of therapy after the local rape crisis centre capped the number of one-on-one counselling sessions available to victims in an effort to trim waiting lists.

In April, the Durham Rape Crisis Centre began informing clients that their one-on-one counselling sessions would be capped at no more than 24. New clients will be limited to 16 sessions.

Group sessions, the crisis line, peer support, advocacy and court accompaniment and other services would continue to be available after clients hit the cap. However, after they hit the cap clients would go back on the waiting list for one-on-one counselling.

“I felt panicked when they told me, just thinking about it makes me feel panicked and insecure,” said Crystal Renata, an Oshawa resident and childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse survivor. “Not everybody can handle group situations. It's a private, intimate, horrible to the core thing that's happened.”

Donna Graham, executive director of the DRCC, said the organization made the decision in response to the constant waiting lists victims face when seeking services in Durham and said the DRCC was under pressure from its primary funder, the Ministry of the Attorney General, to reduce waits.

In some cases women wait more than a year for one-on-one counselling said Ms. Graham and there are currently 40 people on the wait list.

“That's low,” she said. “We've had it up over 70 to 80 in the past.”

The DRCC has three full-time counsellors who each have a case load of 20 to 30 people. Ms. Graham said the majority of Ontario's rape crisis centres have capped one-on-one counselling sessions and she believes the DRCC may have been the last organization in Durham to offer long-term, one-on-one counselling.

“Long-term open-ended counselling doesn't really exist anymore in the world of non-profits,” she said.

The problem is funding. Though there have been top ups, Ms. Graham said the Ministry has not increased the organization's base budget in more than seven years. The DRCC has had the same number of staff for about a decade.

“Because of that our waiting list has grown and grown and the demand for service has grown as Durham Region has but our funding has not.”

Ms. Renata understands there's a waiting list, but she's upset by the fact that she's losing such an important service due to funding.

“I'm pissed, I'm very angry, I'm very upset. I feel victimized again. I feel I'm not going to be able to complete the process over a few dollars.”

The Ministry of the Attorney General is the primary funder for Ontario's rape crisis centres spending $13 million per year. Each year since 2011-12, the ministry has topped up the annual funding by $750,000.

Brendan Crawley, a spokeswoman for the ministry, said via e-mail that the ministry was aware of the policy change at the DRCC.

“In March of this year, as part of the government's Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan, the Premier announced further additional funding for Sexual Assault Centres to support their ongoing efforts to improve the services they provide to victims of sexual violence and to enable them to help more people through greater community coordination,” wrote Mr. Crawley. “This plan includes an initiative to undertake a comprehensive review of existing counselling services for sexual violence victims. The goal is to identify ways to improve service delivery, accessibility and timely access to services across the province, as well as enhanced collaboration among service providers to improve overall outcomes for clients.”

Dr. Hannah Scott is a UOIT criminologist with a specialty in victimology and said she believes victim services across Ontario need more funding.

“Victim services have always been chronically underfunded, we've always been concerned with funding the offender and making sure the offender doesn't reoffend, but the victims have been left to recover with very few resources,” she said.

Dr. Scott said counselling works and helps people cope. She said counselling is relatively low cost compared to emergency mental health services in hospitals. She compared it to treating a patient with high blood pressure with medication instead of waiting until they end up in the emergency room with a stroke or heart attack.

“Counselling works much the same way, it helps people cope it helps people move through trauma,” she said. “It helps people move away from the trauma and into a better life. If we don't help people in that way then these people may succeed and move through it on their own but they may not.”

Now 38, Ms. Renata said she was in and out of hospitals for years seeking mental health help. She suffered a major breakdown after someone close to her was assaulted and she ended up in the psychiatric intensive care unit at Lakeridge Health. She was ultimately referred to the DRCC through the mental health diversion program through the courts.

She's been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and dissociative disorder. She sees a psychiatrist every few months, but says usually it's a matter of refilling her medication prescriptions.

It's the one-on-one counselling that she feels is making a difference and she fears she'll end up in the emergency room again without it.

“I could never say before lately that I could ever see myself as a functioning member of society,” she said.

Teele Storrme--not her legal name but the name she goes by in the community--has been a DRCC client for more than four years. She suffered sexual abuse as both a child and an adult and says it took her a long time to be able to speak to counsellors at the centre.

“When I started I was not able to use my words to express almost anything,” she said.

Both she and Ms. Renata question whether four months of sessions is enough time for a client to be at the rape crisis centre to become comfortable with a counsellor.

Like many victims of sexual abuse, Ms. Storrme internalized her pain over the years turning to self-harm. Her arms are riddled with scars from her wrists to above her elbows.

“When people ask me, I say I've been through a war and these are my scars which is basically what PTSD means,” she said.

She calls her counselling sessions at the DRCC a lifeline.

“It has taken a very long time, I've been able to find my voice in a constructive manner,” she said. “Without them I don't think I would have found the words to share my pain without causing myself pain.”

Meanwhile Ms. Renata said will continue to fight for services.

“I've already written a letter to the ministry and Kathleen Wynne and I will continue to fight so I can keep my therapist,” she said. “There's just got to be a better way. I don't want to lose everything I've gained because of this.”

Community impact

• As a result of constant waiting lists at the Durham Rape Crisis Centre, one-on-one counselling sessions for sexual assault and abuse victims have been capped at 24 sessions for existing clients and 16 for new ones

• More than 40 people are currently on a waiting list for counselling services at the centre

• Although Durham Region has grown considerably in recent years, the local rape crisis centre has not received an increase in its base funding for more than seven years



What you should know about child abuse in Utah

by Emiley Morgan

SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this year, Rob Parrish got a call informing him that a man named Leland Thomas Demille had died.

Parrish has been an attorney for more than 30 years and worked on countless cases, but Demille's is a name he would never forget.

“He was one of the first people in Utah convicted with murder for killing a child,” Parrish said, referring to child abuse-related deaths. “Back then, it was uncommon for anyone to be convicted of anything higher than manslaughter.”

Parrish, a relentless prosecutor with extensive experience and skill working on child abuse homicide cases, started his career in the 1980s in the Utah Attorney General's Office. He is intimately familiar with the changes in the legal landscape and treatment of such cases.

“In the 1980s, it was still sort of the public perception that people who even kill kids never meant to do it. There was this sense of, ‘We've been stressed by taking care of kids, too. We can understand that they lose it,'” Parrish said.

“There was this attitude that kids' lives are less important because they have less of a history."

He has seen the evolution from close range, still working as a deputy district attorney while also traveling and training others across the country as an expert in this heartbreaking field.

“The best news is that it's not just the legal system, but the public perception of child abuse and child abuse homicide in general has changed — not just here in Utah, but all over the country,” Parrish said. “The general public has much more understanding of what's going on and much less tolerance for people who maim and abuse children.”

But as cases of child abuse continue, with another fatality attributed to abuse reported last week, the push is on to educate the public about the resources in Utah available to help children by helping parents and bring an end to tragic stories.

Protecting children

Utah is home for several organizations working to protect children and educate their parents and caregivers, including the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, Primary Children's Center for Safe and Healthy Families and Prevent Child Abuse Utah.

Defending and advocating for child victims of abuse was not a lifelong goal for Parrish when he started his career at the attorney general's office after passing the Utah State Bar in 1980. He first worked in criminal appeals before he transferred to the litigation division, where he represented state agencies in civil lawsuits, before taking on felony-level criminal cases.

He was called to help on the case against Demille in 1985.

When Demille was convicted of murder in the death of 3-year-old Ronnie Davies and sent to prison, it became a turning point in Utah. It was the first case in the state to be recognized as a non-accidental trauma child death.

Ronnie had bruises and welts all over his body and a skull fracture from a blow to the head that one doctor said was equal to being dropped from a third-story window and hitting concrete. Demille, the boyfriend of Ronnie's mother, told police the little boy collapsed in the bathroom. An investigator thinks he picked up the child by his feet and swung him against a bathtub or the basement concrete.

Parrish would help prosecutors around the state handle 10 similar cases between 1985 and 1990, when he applied for and received a federal grant that facilitated a child abuse assistance unit in the attorney general's office.

That unit eventually became the Child Protection Division, which continues in the state.

Parrish left the attorney general's office in 2000 to serve as director for the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. While there, he was able to work with medical experts to create a tool he knew would help in the courtroom — graphics and animation that illustrated the internal injuries children can sustain through abuse.

“When I was doing the specialty unit and all those things in court, I started realizing that it was very difficult to have an expert witness draw things on a piece of paper or chalkboard and have the jury understand what they're talking about. … I got the impression that the juries just weren't getting it,” Parrish said.

A pathologist in the northwest had already created a slideshow that illustrated the effects of shaken baby syndrome, which motivated Parrish to take it to the next level. The CD he helped develop is in its third version and still used in courtrooms around the country.

Shaken baby syndrome

Located in Farmington, the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome was formally created in 2000. Though based in Utah, its prevention and education efforts reach much farther.

“Our belief statement is that we believe all babies can be safe from harm,” said Marisa McPeck-Stringham, the center's information and research specialist. “Our Period of Purple Crying program is implemented all over the country and in several countries outside of the U.S. We've worked with Canada and Australia, and we worked with Israel to get it translated in Hebrew and Arabic.”

A team employed by the center travels and meets with health administrators around the country to teach them about the crying prevention program, which seeks to educate parents about infant crying and arm them with resources and coping mechanisms.

“The point of the period of purple crying is to normalize infant crying,” McPeck-Stringham said. “It teaches parents that crying is normal and it's not forever. It's the period, and periods have an end. … If a baby is healthy, it's OK if they cry. It's OK if you put them down and walk away. It's better they're down and in a safe place than with a parent who is on verge of snapping.”

McPeck-Stringham said she grew up learning about shaken baby syndrome in school, but some people are still unfamiliar with the impacts of shaking a child. At least once a week, she fields phone calls from concerned parents who are worried they may have harmfully shaken their child by jumping or rocking.

“People know it (shaken baby syndrome) exists, but aren't sure about the mechanism,” she said. “I get at least several calls a month. We always tell them that if they are concerned, to speak to their child's doctor.”

Changing attitudes

Changing and impacting society's perception of abuse hasn't come without its frustrations. Years ago, Parrish said reputable news outlets published pieces questioning the validity and existence of shaken baby syndrome.

“Every single one was full of bogus information,” he said.

McPeck-Stringham said she, too, was aware of the reports and said the medical community has never wavered on the legitimacy of shaken baby syndrome.

“It's a public health issue,” she said. “What you're seeing is these experts who always testify for the defense and they're compensated for that financially. It's kind of like the anti-vaccine debate. The mainstream medical community has always affirmed that vaccines are beneficial and that they are safe, but there's a tiny, fringe movement who say it's not. It's the same with shaken baby syndrome.''

After two years at the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome and six years directly representing children as a guardian ad litem attorney, Parrish returned to prosecution work in the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office in 2008. He continues to handle child abuse homicide cases there while, at any given time, also consulting attorneys in other states on child abuse-related cases.

“The one thing that has motivated me throughout my career is realizing how few people want to specialize in this area,” Parrish said. “There's kind of a real need for somebody to handle this type of case, not just here in Utah, but nationwide.

"When I started handling cases and got into the facts of the case and realized what a tragedy it is when people kill kids by abuse, that's when it sort of hit me that there's a niche that needs to be filled. I never thought of myself as becoming an expert. That was never my purpose, but just being willing to do it and willing to learn and willing to do the homework that's necessary.”

When his days in court are over, Parrish hopes those he has trained and mentored will pick up the torch. Regardless, he is confident that Utah is much better equipped to help, protect and defend children who have been abused than it was 30 years ago.

“I think things are going to be much better in the future in terms of the way these things are handled,” he said, noting the Children's Justice Centers around the state and nodding specifically to Primary Children's Hospital's Center for Safe and Healthy Families. “They're very active in making sure these cases are handled well and not just ignored and not just missed and that will continue,” he said.

Working together

One such case involved 4-year-old Vanessa Hart, who died in 2010 after sustaining massive head injuries. In a hearing held that year on the evidence against the girl's father, who was charged along with his girlfriend in Vanessa's death, Dr. Kristine Campbell testified that she was contacted about the girl after she arrived in the emergency room at Primary Children's Hospital.

Campbell said she was told there were injuries that appeared to be non-accidental, prompting her to pull the child's available medical history and assess the injuries herself.

“Vanessa was critically injured,” Campbell testified at the time. “She had very obvious, life-threatening injuries from the time she arrived at Primary Children's.”

The doctor would ultimately find that the girl had internal abdominal injuries that proved fatal.

Though the child did not survive, her case illustrates the value of work performed at the Center for Safe and Healthy Families, where professionals in a range of fields, including doctors, mental health professionals and social workers, band together to assess and treat children who may have been abused or neglected.

Dr. Toni Laskey, the center's medical director, said the process staff uses is an objective one and is ultimately aimed at aiding children in need.

“It's meant to be comprehensive,” she said. “It's meant to think about other possibilities so we can help a family. It's not about pointing fingers or accusing people. Our job is focused on making sure a child can be physically and mentally OK.”

Children are referred to the center in a variety of ways: by law enforcement, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, emergency room visits, even parents or other individuals who come on their own initiative with concerns. In the cases where abuse is found and charges are necessary, able and committed prosecutors are crucial.

“The longevity is really difficult, it requires such a special skill,” Laskey said. “If you can't have somebody who is passionate about it and willing to learn, then you really lose a valuable asset.”

Each year, the center helps around 2,000 families, both at the hospital or at 10 satellite sites spanning the state, according to Primary Children's spokeswoman Bonnie Midget.

“One of the things that makes us very strong is we work as a team. Not just within Safe and Healthy Families, but also with our colleagues at Primary Children's,” Julie Bradshaw, the center's director, said, noting that doctors with specialties ranging from radiology to neurosurgery work with the center's physicians. “We work with whoever we need to make the right diagnosis.”

Bradshaw said the center has come a long way since its start in 1975 when it was “on the cutting edge” for even addressing the issue of child abuse.

“No one in the field was talking about it except for some pediatricians,” she said. “There were early pediatricians throughout the country who were noticing odd things about kids and were talking about it, but it was not something being dealt with on a systematic basis.”

Now, there are a range of experts who contribute to every diagnosis to ensure it is the right one.

“I think that one of the misconceptions about our child abuse physicians is that they're a lone wolf and make a single determination, and that isn't even true,” Bradshaw said. “It's a team effort by a group of people working hard together through hours of consideration to make sure we're coming up with the correct diagnosis. I think that makes us very strong.”

The center also strives to go beyond the physical, offering mental health services to child abuse victims and their families as they work through the complicated emotions surrounding abuse.

“We have a very robust mental health side, so we're providing total, wrap-around health care,” Laskey said.

The center strives to make its contact with children therapeutic from day one, and even families who were angry to have been involved in treatment have offered thanks.

“From the first medical visit to the last day they're here for a mental health visit, they're learning that they're OK and their parents are learning so much more about how to give them support and how to move on with their lives — and they do — and that's why I've been able to do this for 40 years,” Bradshaw said.

Train parents

During her tenure, Bradshaw said she, too, has seen advances and setbacks.

“I think we, in terms of treatment are far more sophisticated than we were 20 years ago,” she said. “We have evidence-based practices that work and are much more sophisticated, and I think we continue to evolve in the whole medical end of the program, because of the science we are able to bring to bear.”

Fatalities are the worst-case scenarios. Identifying and stopping abuse is the goal of those involved in fighting child abuse and assisting children in whatever recover they need.

“I always emphasize that the treatment works. Kids can get better. That's the good news,” she said. “While kids go through really difficult things sometimes, the treatment helps, and while bad things happen, they can come out of this in good shape in the end.”

In 2014, Utah's Division of Child and Family Services reported that child protective services were called in on 20,294 cases.

Trina Taylor, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah, said those numbers have more or less held steady, with only slight variation since 2010, when there were 19,838 cases. Typically, it takes two generations to effect change, she said, and prevention remains crucial.

Prevent Child Abuse Utah works with families who are at risk through trainings in the home from the time a baby is born until they are 3 years old. Taylor said prevention is more effective and less expensive than addressing abuse after the fact.

“We believe the parents are the best expert on the child, so nationally we have to fund and support in-home programs that start with babies — giving them a better chance at life,” she said. “We know nationally that outcomes are better and costs are cheaper as opposed to prison, mental health treatment, lawyers … not to mention the emotional destruction that is a result of abuse.”

Parrish said training is crucial. He feels many adults don't know how to parent their children. They will have age-inappropriate expectations, prescribe adult motives to infants, or think they can make a child stop crying.

"If we really want to make a difference for future generations of parents and children, we will stop just assuming that the ability to procreate comes with a built-in ability to nurture children and begin to mandate that all kids receive some basic parenting training well before they will become parents, along with 'booster' training throughout middle school and high school," Parrish said.



Plum teachers get refresher on how, when to report child sexual abuse

by Mary Niederberger and Jonathan D. Silver

Amid a still-unfolding high school sex scandal that remains under active investigation, Plum teachers will be in class themselves Tuesday for a refresher on how and when to report suspected child sexual abuse.

The lesson likely will not be lost on anyone.

That's because as the teachers file back into the classroom the next day, one of their colleagues instead will be traveling to a district judge's office for a hearing on criminal charges that he had sex with a female student.

Suspended English teacher Joseph Ruggieri, 40, of New Kensington is one of two Plum educators charged with crimes involving sex between teachers and students. Chemistry teacher Jason Cooper, who is also suspended, already has been held for trial for having sex with a different female student.

And one week after Mr. Ruggieri's preliminary hearing, another co-worker, suspended chemistry teacher Drew Zoldak, will make his own court appearance on a charge of intimidation. He is accused of humiliating Mr. Ruggieri's alleged victim in a classroom before her peers.

Against this troubling backdrop, parents in the district have asked publicly whether administrators and faculty have been turning a blind eye to sexual hijinks for years, an accusation that superintendent Timothy Glasspool flatly denies.

“The belief that the high school staff, faculty and administration accepts sexually inappropriate relationships or would condone the type of behavior is absurd,” Mr. Glasspool said recently.

“We devote a large amount of our in-service time to the safety of our kids. My kids are in this district, and there is nothing that we don't do to keep our kids safe.”

Plum's in-service retraining for the district's 268 teachers, school resource officers and administrative staff had been scheduled long before police in February arrested Mr. Ruggieri and Mr. Cooper.

But Mr. Glasspool acknowledged that the choice of topics — refresher lessons in mandated reporting, training in appropriate use of social media, and the district's “educator misconduct” policy — resulted directly from the lurid accusations that have roiled the district and now overshadow the school board races in Tuesday's primary election.

“This has been very hard on the whole borough,” Mr. Glasspool said of the accusations against the teachers.

Meanwhile, a sprawling probe continues. Plum police have acknowledged that the department is investigating other allegations against Mr. Ruggieri. And the Allegheny County District Attorney's office is exploring suggestions that the school district has fostered a culture of permissiveness that has long allowed inappropriate relations between teachers and students to flourish.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. last month said his office expected to conduct several dozen interviews to determine whether others at the school, in both the current and past administrations, knew of the relationships that led to the criminal charges but did not report them — even though they are mandated reporters under state law.

His office declined comment Friday.

Attorney Michael DeRiso, who represents Mr. Cooper, concurred with parents who have suggested there is a pattern of permissiveness in the district.

“I think that over a number of years this situation has been there,” Mr. DeRiso said. His client's arrest, he said, “opened the can of worms.”

Mr. DeRiso said eight to 10 Plum alumni have contacted him to describe “inappropriate conduct, comments, sexual misconduct between male teachers and students.”

“Interestingly, some of the comments they made were, ‘I can't believe they got Mr. Cooper when others have been doing it for years,'” Mr. DeRiso said. “So when comments like that are made, to me you have a serious problem in a school, and there's no way — there's just no way possible to me — that administration did not know …”

Mr. Cooper, 38, of Verona stands accused of getting involved in a sexual relationship with a student who was 18 after they began talking about “personal matters she was dealing with at that time,” police said. He is charged with institutional sexual assault, corruption of a minor, witness intimidation and serving liquor to a minor. He was held for court last month.

Mr. DeRiso is not contesting that there was a sexual relationship or denying that the school district has a right to take administrative disciplinary action. But he has argued that Mr. Cooper did not commit a crime because his alleged victim was not a minor.

In April police charged Mr. Zoldak, 40, also of New Kensington, with telling his class that he was absent from school for a day because investigators from the DA's office were questioning him “because of her” as he pointed to Mr. Ruggieri's alleged victim, an affidavit said.

“The only comment I would make is we are challenging the factual allegations. In other words, our defense is that it didn't happen,” Mr. Zoldak's attorney, Alexander H. Lindsay Jr., said Friday.

“I can't get into the factual allegations. I don't think that would be appropriate. But the challenge here is that it did not happen. In other words, what we're talking about is these allegations of things that were said, things that were done, were not done. So that's the defense.”

Part of Tuesday's sessions for teachers will be refresher courses on extensive training the district staff had in August 2013 by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, Mr. Glasspool said.

But another section will focus on the district's “educator misconduct” policy adopted by the board Feb. 25, eight days after Mr. Ruggieri's arrest.

The policy, approved in response to new state legislation, defines sexual abuse or exploitation as “the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct.”

Sexual misconduct, under the policy, is defined as “any act, including but not limited to, any verbal, nonverbal, written or electronic communication or physical activity, directed toward or with a child or student that is designed to establish a romantic or sexual relationship with the child or student.”

Mr. Glasspool said it was an “unfortunate coincidence” that the school board adopted the policy shortly after the arrest.

The policy requires any educator who knows of sexual abuse or misconduct to report it to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the superintendent and his or her immediate supervisor.


United Kingdom

Police force loses DVD interview with child sexual abuse victim

The security breach, containing a "graphic and disturbing" account from a victim went unreported for two years

by Rozina Sabur

A police force has apologised to a victim of child sexual abuse after officers lost a DVD containing their interview.

South Wales Police have been fined £160,000 after it lost the video recording which formed part of the evidence in a sexual abuse case.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said the video contained a "graphic and disturbing" interview with a victim who had been sexually abused as a child.

Despite the security breach going unreported for almost two years, the police force said on Monday it is considering an appeal against the fine.

A second interview had to be abandoned due to the victim's distress. But South Wales Police said the loss of the DVD did not prevent a successful prosecution of the in the case after the defendants were eventually convicted in court.

“Despite the DVDs containing a graphic and disturbing account, the discs were unencrypted and left in a desk drawer,” said the ICO.

The interview was recorded in August 2011 but the loss was only discovered by staff after an office move in October 2011.

Assistant chief constable Richard Lewis said: "South Wales Police takes its responsibilities for the management and security of information extremely seriously and has apologised to the victim in this case.

"Once it was apparent what had happened South Wales Police voluntarily referred the details to the ICO and launched a full investigation into this incident.”

As a result of the loss, two officers have now been given management advice and training.

The ICO said “lack of training” was responsible for the security breach going unreported for nearly two years. The DVDs have still not been recovered.

Although the DVDs were stored in a secure part of the station, there was no specific force-wide policy in place to deal with storing interviews of this nature safely in its police stations, said the ICO.

South Wales Police said it has immediately sought to change its processes and a new policy has been put in place.

Mr Lewis said: “Where information of this nature was previously stored locally, South Wales Police is now moving to a central storage facility which, using a barcode system, will be far more robust in monitoring the movement of materials such as DVDs.

"All employees are made aware of the policies and procedures which govern the management of information and since this incident a mandatory training package for all staff handling personal data has also been introduced.

"This is the first incident of a serious nature regarding loss of sensitive data for South Wales Police and unlike similar incidents which have occurred nationally, where materials have been lost in a public place, the DVDs were stored in a secure area of a police station to which access is restricted.”

Anne Jones, assistant Commissioner for Wales said the force had failed to take all appropriate measures to prevent the accidental loss of personal data.

She said: “This breach is extremely serious and despite guidance from our office, the Ministry of Justice and Association of Chief Police Officers stating it is essential to have a policy on storing this sort of information they still haven't fully addressed the issue.

“The monetary penalty given to South Wales Police should send a clear message that organisations have to take responsibility for personal data and the way in which it is stored.”

However Mr Lewis said that while the force accepted the ICO decision, the fine was “very significant” at a time of such austerity.

“It is money which does not go to the victim but passes back to the Government and are funds that could have been used locally by the force to help enhance policing and provide vital services to our communities,” he said.

He added that the force was currently considering whether to now appeal against the penalty.

In addition to the £160,000 fine, the Information Commissioner has asked the force sign an undertaking to ensure the changes are made to implement policies to stop any incidents happening again.


Why Parents Shouldn't Ignore Their Kids' Behavioral Issues

by Agata Blaszczak-Boxe,

Parents who are concerned about their kids' behavioral problems may not bring them up with their child's doctor, but they should consider doing so, researchers say.

In a survey of nearly 1,300 parents of children ages 5 to 17, researchers found that only half of the parents said they would tell the doctor about temper tantrums that seemed worse than the child's peers', or if the child appeared to be more worried or anxious than usual.

Only 37 percent of the parents said they would tell the doctor if their child had trouble getting organized to do their homework.

But children's emotional and behavioral health is closely related to their physical health and development, the researchers said. Telling the doctor about children's behavioral problems is important because doing so may help detect serious health issues, such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and substance abuse, they said.

Parents can start conversations with their child's doctor by just saying, "Hey, we noticed this," said Sarah J. Clark, author of the report and an associate director of the University of Michigan's National Poll on Children's Health. "That opens the door for the doctor to ask more questions of the parent and of the child," she said. [11 New Warning Signs Help Spot Mental Illness in Children]

The doctor could then screen the child for potential behavioral health problems, offer tips, or refer him or her to a mental or behavioral health specialist, she said.

Among the parents who said they would not discuss behavior issues with a doctor, 50 percent said the reason was that they did not think behavior problems were medical issues. Another 40 percent said they would prefer to handle the issues themselves, and 30 percent said they would rather consult someone other than a doctor.

Most parents in the study (60 percent) said they would tell the doctor if their child was very sad for longer than a month, the researchers found.

Although issues such as temper tantrums or trouble organizing homework are not necessarily alarming, they should not be dismissed, either, Clark said. "They are worth a conversation," she told Live Science.

If behavioral problems are ignored, "the danger is that the kid struggles unnecessarily because they are not getting the help they need," Clark said.

There are two major signs that should prompt parents to consider talking about behavioral problems with a child's doctor. One of them is when something seems out of the norm for the child, and the other is "when something seems to be out of step with other kids that same age," she said.

The new report was published today (May 18) as part of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.



PM vows to protect kids

Declaring that too many children are being subjected to heart-rending violence and physical, sexual and emotional abuse, often carried out by family members and other persons they trust, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller last night reiterated her Government's commitment to an immediate and firm response.

"Cabinet last week had a lengthy discussion on the matter," Simpson Miller said in a broadcast to the nation focusing on issues affecting children.

"As a result, the Cabinet has approved a submission from the minister of justice to, among other things, prescribe harsher penalties for persons who murder, rape or commit other serious violent offences against children."

The move is one which was first announced by de facto Information Minister Sandrea Falconer last week and requires that the victim's status as a child be treated as an aggravating feature resulting in a harsher sentence on conviction.

Simpson Miller also noted yesterday that Cabinet approved a proposal for those cases to be given priority treatment in the trial list with respect to scheduling and disposal.

"Work is also under way for legislation to be passed to create a new offence of parental neglect. When this comes into effect, a parent whose child is found in circumstances consistent with inadequate parental care and attention can be charged and tried for parental neglect."

Such circumstances would include children found unsupervised on the streets or other public places late at night, or a child found living with an adult where the arrangement exposes the child to the risk of sexual or other abuse.

"Every single one of us must make the safety and security of Jamaica's children our personal priority," Simpson Miller said.

"Parents, guardians, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers must see the safety and security of our children as their responsibility."