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

July, 2015 - Week 1
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.


Huffington Post digs up a solid story on abuse in Baltimore archdiocese

by Julia Duin

Well now. I recently chanced on a Huffington Post story that came out in mid May but which was so gripping, it thought that it deserves comment even six weeks later. Consider this a kind of a GetReligion "file of guilt" post.

If the headline: "Buried in Baltimore: The Mysterious Murder of a Nun Who Knew Too Much" doesn't get you reading the nearly 7,500-word story, nothing can.

Yes, it's about clergy sex abuse and no, we shouldn't ever be tired of reading about these stories. Because in this case, a nun found out about the abuse and paid for it with her life. Start here:

On a frigid day in November 1969, Father Joseph Maskell, the chaplain of Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore, called a student into his office and suggested they go for a drive. When the final bell rang at 2:40 p.m., Jean Hargadon Wehner, a 16-year-old junior at the all-girls Catholic school, followed the priest to the parking lot and climbed into the passenger seat of his light blue Buick Roadmaster.

It was not unusual for Maskell to give students rides home or take them to doctor's appointments during the school day. The burly, charismatic priest, then 30 years old, had been the chief spiritual and psychological counselor at Keough for two years and was well-known in the community...This time, though, Maskell didn't bring Wehner home. He navigated his car past the Catholic hospital and industrial buildings that surrounded Keough's campus and drove toward the outskirts of the city. Eventually, he stopped at a garbage dump, far from any homes or businesses. Maskell stepped out of the car, and the blonde, freckled teenager followed him across a vast expanse of dirt toward a dark green dumpster.

It was then that she saw the body crumpled on the ground.

The body was that of a nun who had found out that Maskell was raping and abusing teenaged girls at the school.

The story goes on to talk about a Baltimore police detective who suspected the killer was a priest but that the archdiocese put pressure on his department to let the case go.

In Baltimore in 1969, (the detective) said, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to investigate a Catholic priest for any crime. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is the oldest in the United States, and the church considers it to be the premier Catholic jurisdiction in the country. More than half the city's residents identify as Catholic. According to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Baltimore City prosecutors have charged only three of the 37 Baltimore priests who have been accused of sexual abuse since 1980. Just two of those priests were convicted, and one of those convictions was overturned in 2005.

Decades passed and the nun's murderer was never found.

Meanwhile, Wehner, the girl at the start of this article, filed suit against the archdiocese and the priest in 1992 on sex abuse allegations. She also went to police for the first time to tell about the priest showing her the corpse of the murdered nun when she was a 16-year-old, a story picked up by the Baltimore Sun . Wehner's attorneys found about 30 girls who had been abused or knew of it during the late 1960s but the priest was never convicted.

Why? Maryland had an extremely short window in which a sex abuse victim can file a civil lawsuit. It has to be three years from the time it happened or the time when they discovered it and back in the 1990s, the victim had to have filed such a suit by the time they were 21. Maryland upped that age limit to 25 in 2003 but most abuse victims don't gather the mental fortitude or stamina to report abuse until at least their 30s.

An aside here: Maryland's refusal to raise the age limit for civil claims is partly due to pressure from the Catholic Church. I personally encountered this while reporting on a sex-abuse victim who wanted to sue the Washington archdiocese, which is just down the road from Baltimore. By the time he had come to terms with his trauma, he was well past 25 and powerless to go after his abuser. I began to hear about the archdiocese personally lobbying state delegates in Annapolis to go soft on the church. Some Maryland politicians have been trying to change the age limit for years but the church fights that to this day. Even the jaw-dropping testimony this past spring by a Maryland state delegate telling of the rapes and beatings he endured as a child failed to get the state legislature to change its mind. A major reason? The opposition of the Maryland Catholic Conference, which includes both archdioceses.

Back to the story of the nun's murder: The mystery was reignited in 2013 when some of the women who attended Keough teamed up with a retired Baltimore Sun reporter to see if they could get to the bottom of it all. The story says the investigation now has its own private Facebook page (which I could not locate any sign of) and this Huffington Post piece was the latest salvo at trying to get some justice for the slain nun and the abused girls. The article does give the archdiocese room to respond and adds that one of the victims was paid $40,000 as part of an abuse settlement and got an apology from the archdiocese.

Having done similar reporting in the past in the same geographical area, I'm impressed by the amount of people the reporter got to go on the record. One may or may not agree with other work HuffPo has done on the sex abuse crisis, but this one was a winner.

The story threads a clear narrative through a confusing thicket of events stretching back more than 40 years. In stories like these, the reporter always knows a lot more than what gets into print. There were probably names she could have used, things she could have written, but she may have lacked that extra piece of proof to withstand a libel claim.

What the reporter did get in shows a stunning amount of work with a group of people notorious for being afraid to talk with the media. I don't think most readers have a clue as to t he personal toll these stories take on a reporter and the determination many journalists feel in wanting to see justice done. I remember looking into a similar story several years ago about a high official in the Catholic Church whose crimes never made it into print.

Several journalists knew about him and, like me, tried to get his victims to talk. They would not, fearing they would end up like the slain nun. When I expressed my frustration to some Catholic friends, “What difference does it make?” they asked. “So many years have passed and you will destroy all the good this man has done.”

This Huffington Post story illustrates that it does make a difference to bring wrong to light, no matter how long the passage of time. It brings closure to the victims or their children so they do not go to their graves thinking the abuse was their fault.



After Josh Duggar revelations, 19 facts about child sexual abuse

by Cara Courchesne

News reports, blog posts, TV interviews, social media posts and more have covered recent reports of Josh Duggar, oldest of the Duggars to appear in their reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting,” admitting that as a juvenile he repeatedly sexually abused his sisters.

When high profile cases like these surface and more people become aware of child sexual abuse, it's important to be clear about the facts surrounding the issue.

Here are 19 facts about child sexual abuse to keep in mind as media coverage continues.

  1. Over 50 percent of calls to Maine's sexual assault crisis and support line relate to incidents of child sexual abuse. These calls range from concerned parents or caregivers to adult survivors of abuse.

  2. The majority of offenders are known to the child.

  3. Many child sexual abuse victims never tell, or delay telling, about the abuse. Many children do not tell because offenders successfully convince them that they will get in trouble or no one will believe them. The closer the relationship between the victim and the offender, the more difficult it is for the victim to come forward.

  4. Because child sexual abuse is so underreported, it can be difficult to understand the actual scope of the problem. Best available research suggests that one in four girls and one in six boys are victims of sexual abuse before they turn 18.

  5. There is no profile for someone who offends against children. Portrayals of sex offenders in popular culture may make us think that we could easily identify a sex offender. However, offenders are often respected community members with access to children.

  6. Being sexually abused as a child does not cause people to become sex offenders.

  7. Juvenile sex offenders who access effective treatment generally do not go on to reoffend. Reoffending rates over several years of study show that about 10 percent of juveniles go on to reoffend.

  8. Child maltreatment (which includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect) cost the United States approximately $124 billion in 2008.

  9. The signs of child sexual abuse vary, and it's important to recognize that the absence of signs and symptoms. For a list of signs and symptoms, visit the Maine Network of Children's Advocacy Centers.

  10. Prevention is possible. We know that there are many risk and protective factors associated with child sexual abuse, and protective factors include a supportive family environment and social networks.

  11. Setting and respecting boundaries within a family, such as privacy in dressing, bathing, sleeping and other personal activities can help prevent abuse. This helps children understand the boundaries of others and helps them set their own.

  12. Using the proper names of body parts can help your child understand their body, open the door for them to ask questions, and provide a space for them to tell you about any behavior that could lead to sexual abuse.

  13. Demonstrating boundaries is a great way to show children how to say “no.” Teach children that their “no” will be respected, whether it's in playing, tickling, hugging or kissing.

  14. There is such thing as age-appropriate sexual behavior. Being aware of these behaviors will help parents and concerned adults understand what is appropriate and what is not.

  15. It's not up to the children in our lives to protect themselves from abuse. The evidence is clear that programming for children does not prevent child sexual abuse, but it is important because such programs provide children tools to respond if they are abused. Maine's sexual assault support centers provide prevention programming to thousands of children each year.

  16. Adults can prevent child sexual abuse. If you are worried about another adult's behavior, there are steps you can take, including learning about child sexual abuse and warning signs, learning to have conversations about the issue, and speaking up to create safety plans and make a report.

  17. There is support available to you, whether you experienced child sexual abuse yourself, you are worried about someone in your life who has, or you are concerned about a child in your life. Maine's sexual assault support centers are available to answer questions and provide support and advocacy to you.

  18. In addition to sexual assault support centers, Maine has an increasing number of children's advocacy centers, which are designed to bring law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy, and child advocacy together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child sexual abuse cases. Children's advocacy centers help increase prosecution rates and reduce the cost of child sexual abuse investigations.

  19. The most effective kind of prevention happens before there is a victim to heal or an offender to punish.

The Duggar cases aren't going to be the last high-profile child sexual abuse cases in the media. The first step toward prevention is knowing the facts – and working toward turning the tide of child victimization. We can pretend it's the Duggar's religion and culture, but let's be real. It's our culture, too.



Stop dithering and give child abuse victims proper redress, expert urges MLAs

by Liam Clarke

Stormont must start planning a "redress scheme" for victims of child sex abuse - including those preyed on by paedophile priests such as Fr Brendan Smyth and others assaulted in Kincora Boys' Home, an international expert has warned.

In Australia and Canada, ex-gratia payments are being made to survivors of child abuse who are now adults.

In Canada it is £28,500 and in Australia it is an average of £14,400.

Criminology professor Dr Kathleen Daly said it was high time politicians started talking seriously about a redress scheme.

"These are considerable sums and victims and survivors are getting older - so we need to start talking now," she said.

"They need to move forward on it. It seems to me that there is a lack of political will to really step up to the plate at this time."

Dr Daly believes Northern Ireland can learn from the ongoing Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This is the most ambitious abuse inquiry ever held, perhaps the most ambitious public inquiry of any kind.

It is looking at an estimated 65,000 individuals who may be eligible for redress ­- cash compensation and lifelong counselling.

Of these, 7,000 are child migrants from the UK, including Northern Ireland, who were sent to Australia by the authorities.

Unlike our own institutional abuse inquiry in Banbridge, the Australian Commission examines abuse outside institutions. This could be relevant here because Kincora residents have claimed they were sent to meet men to be abused in their homes or hotels.

Dr Daly came to Northern Ireland at the request of Prof Patricia Lundy, a sociologist at the Ulster University. She has also met victims and survivors' groups, as well as the members of the Hart Inquiry into institutional abuse in Northern Ireland.

Her criticism of our politicians will sting MLAs, who have been vocal in support of abuse victims. Dr Daly intends to return to Northern Ireland to assist SAVIA and other survivors' organisations.

"I am calling attention to what needs to be done to create an effective redress scheme," she said. "As a first step I am calling for a wide-ranging, robust discussion of what is desirable, feasible and practical, as well as right and just."

In the Republic, two systems of cash payment were used.

Dr Daly said that women, generally single parents, who worked for nuns in Magdalen laundries were compensated "based more on the years in an institution, the amount of work which the young women did and a kind of top-up on a pension with ongoing social support and health benefits".

The other was a simple cash payment.

In Australia, where Churches are involved, they pay 55% and the State steps in with 45%.

Northern Ireland's historical abuse inquiry goes back to the foundation of the State in 1922, and for most of that time there was a Government at Stormont running things.

However, most of the Kincora abuse took place during direct rule, so Westminster might be considered responsible, especially in light of claims that the problem was covered up or even exploited by MI5.


Dr Kathleen Daly is professor of criminology at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Originally from the United States, Dr Daly used to teach at Yale University. She has been in Australia since 1995 and is author of Redressing Institutional Abuse of Children, a highly respected study.



Scotch College sex abuse victim breaks silence over cover-up of 'hero' molester

by Steve Lillebuen

A former Scotch College student who was sexually abused by a teacher has taken his case to the royal commission, saying the elite school community helped cover up abuse and glorify his molester for decades.

In breaking his silence after 36 years, abuse survivor Matthew Stuart says the top Melbourne school presided over a painful history of denial and omissions, including naming an award after the perpetrator, before finally apologising for what happened two years ago.

"It was outrageous what they did," he said. "I guess this is the way these kinds of schools and institutions think they can behave. They hide behind their prestige and do stuff that is absolutely disgraceful."

Mr Stuart decided to speak out after The Age revealed how the school acknowledged, for the first time, that students had been abused on school grounds.

The 51-year-old, one of five abuse survivors to reach a settlement with the school, is now urging others to come forward, hoping his story gives them the courage to seek help.

"I was an innocent kid. I've got nothing to be embarrassed about," he said.

Mr Stuart's abuse occurred in June 1979, less than six months after he moved from his family's NSW farm to begin his studies at the Presbyterian-run boys' school.

He was 15 years old and staying at one of the secondary college's boarding houses when he woke up to find Michael Achurch, his house master and a respected geography teacher, standing beside his bed.

His teacher was indecently assaulting him.

In the morning, Mr Stuart reported the sexual abuse to then principal Philip Roff, who removed Mr Achurch as house master, despite opposition from senior members of the school community.

But Mr Achurch remained teaching, meaning Mr Stuart had to see his abuser on a daily basis. He wasn't offered counselling over what happened either.

Police were called and a second student then came forward, saying Mr Achurch had done the same thing to him.

But the credibility of Mr Stuart has been repeatedly questioned for decades, which still makes him angry.

There were threats, too. Shortly after the incident, four men arrived at his parent's farm with a warning for his mother.

"They had told her that if my parents took any further action on the Achurch matter they would lose the farm," Mr Stuart said in written submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Police spent five months investigating Mr Achurch before notifying his lawyer on November 9, 1979, that his client was going to be prosecuted. Hours later, Mr Achurch crashed his car into a pole and died.

One of investigators on the case, now a retired detective, said Mr Achurch was going to be charged with offences involving multiple victims.

Police had no doubt he took his own life to avoid a trial, he said. A coronial inquest, however, ruled it a death by misadventure.

Mr Stuart has never been the same again. Haunted by the abuse and his teacher's death, he has suffered from severe depression and anxiety, requiring counselling and therapy for most of his life. "I felt like I had died and that this empty person had no control over who they were," he said.

His popular teacher's sudden death, however, propelled him into a revered status.

Death notices in The Age described him as "a true gentleman" while one of the school's magazines ran a glowing three-page tribute. In 1980, the school's rowing club named one of its boats after him.

There was even an award. More than 25 years later, the Michael Achurch Award was still being given out to boys who competed in Scotch College's 24 Hour Hike. Recipients were never told of the sexual abuse cases.

"He was basically made into a hero," Mr Stuart said. "It's this fantasy thing. And I guess this incident didn't fit with their fantasy – they just didn't want it to be true."

Mr Stuart said the school's 2001 history book, A Deepening Roar , then downplayed the abuse and questioned, again, if he was lying about it. The discovery plunged him into a deep depression.

In 2012, he contacted lawyer Vivian Waller, whose firm acts on behalf of more than 600 survivors of child sexual abuse.

Dr Waller said the number of abuse claims, most dealing with Catholic clergy, is expected to grow due to public awareness. "We can expect many more adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to come forward," she said.

In Mr Stuart's case, Scotch College apologised and paid out compensation in April 2013. The school no longer disputes that Mr Achurch was a child molester. It has cancelled the award and decommissioned the boat bearing his name.

Mr Stuart said the apology was genuine, with the school writing that it helped perpetuate a lie about the teacher's activities. "It's been incredibly healing," he said.

A school spokesman said it has been continually building a school culture that prevents abuse of any kind, with regular reviews of training and procedures, while settling historical abuse cases in the best interests of victims.

"It is not possible to imagine the suffering caused by those who betrayed the position of trust granted to them through the privilege of working with young people," he said.

Mr Stuart said Scotch College should be commended for this work. He's hopeful principal Tom Batty, who joined the school in 2008, will do even more.

He said the whole experience, however, reveals the disturbing truth of institutional responses to abuse: while there are those who do the right thing, they can be easily overpowered by others who perpetuate a culture of silence and denial.

That's why he's gone to the royal commission and given evidence in private hearings, he said. He hopes it shows everyone that abuse can happen anywhere.

"Institutions don't have feelings, but institutions can really hurt people," he said.

"But within these institutions there are good people. And I don't want to stop the good work that they're trying to do."

For help or information visit, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Adults Surviving Child Abuse on 1300 657 380


New York


Tompkins expert on responding to child sex abuse of boys


Editor's Note:  The column below was written by Tiffany Greco, education director of the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County.

June is Men's Health Month. I am not going to talk about prostate cancer, the most common cancer and second leading cause of death in men. Instead I want to discuss another men's public health problem that impacts just as many men as prostate cancer, but receives far less attention.

1 in 6 men report having experienced child sexual abuse before age 18. That is about 19 million of the men in our lives we call “son,” “father,” “brother,” “lover,” and “friend.” At least 4 times more men in our lives have histories of child sexual abuse than will die of a heart attack, the first leading cause of death in men. These numbers are staggering, and we know they still fall short of actual prevalence.

Child sexual abuse can have long-term health impacts on survivors, regardless of gender. The health risks between male and female survivors have more commonalities than differences. It is not uncommon for adult survivors of child sexual abuse, male or female, to experience long term health impacts such as post traumatic stress, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and shame and guilt.

And the struggles unique to male survivors of child sexual abuse have less to do with their experiences being different than that of females, and much more to do with society's rigid acceptance of what it means to be male. We make little room for a definition of masculinity that includes victimization. “Real men,” so to speak, are not victims.

Except that they are. The reality is that a lot of “real men” have life histories that include child sexual abuse. To deny the lived experiences of countless adult male survivors with arbitrary checklists of what it is and what is not “masculine” is egregious. This denial hinders the healing process for male survivors, and passively supports the ongoing culture of secrecy and shame that allow sexual abuse to flourish in the first place. Child sexual abuse remains one of the most underreported crimes in our country. Boys are even less likely to disclose their abuse than girls. Most male survivors carry the secret of their child sexual abuse well into their 30s, 40s, or 50s.

For the sake of men's health, this needs to change. Men (and the young children who will become men) should not have to deal with sexual abuse in isolation and confusion.The sexual abuse of children, male or female, has nothing to do with masculinity, femininity, or sexual orientation and everything to do with the abusive exploitation of power over them by someone likely known and trusted. Let us support the physical and emotional well-being of the men in our lives this month and always by reconstructing a definition of masculinity that makes room for all lived experiences - traumatic or otherwise - and that promotes the safety and healing of all survivors.

For further information and resources on this topic please visit,, or check out Victims No Longer by Mike Lew. If you are someone you know has experienced child sexual abuse, sexual assault, or domestic violence the Advocacy Center is available 24/7 at 607.277.5000 for support.


New Jersey

Morris pair accused of human trafficking

by Michael Izzo

A Boonton woman and a Morris Plains man were arrested early Friday morning and charged with trafficking of teenage girls, Morris County Prosecutor Frederic Knapp and acting Rockaway Township Police Chief Martin McParland Jr. announced.

The victims, 15 and 17 years old, said they were led to engage in prostitution by Debbie Kooken, 42, of Boonton, and Aldopus Mims, 38, of Morris Plains, between June 12 and June 16, the Prosecutor's Office said.

The 17-year-old alleged that Kooken would make arrangements for her and the 15-year-old to meet with several male clients at area hotels. Mims allegedly would then collect the money after the sexual acts were completed, the Prosecutor's Office said.

The 15-year-old also told investigators that Mims engaged in sexual acts with her, authorities said.

Kooken was arrested and charged with two counts of human trafficking in the first degree and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the third degree.

Mims was arrested and charged with two counts of human trafficking in the first degree, one count of sexual assault in the second degree and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the third degree.

Kooken and Mims were both taken to the Morris County Jail.

Kooken's bail was set at $300,000 with the condition of no contact with anyone younger than 18. Mims' bail was set at $400,000 with the condition of no contact with anyone younger than 18 and a waiver of extradition.

Judge James DeMarzo also issued a Nicole's Law restraining order against Kooken and Mims that bars contact with the two teens.

The news comes one day after a North Jersey Regional Human Trafficking Conference was held at the Morris County Public Safety Academy in Parsippany.

“I believe that human trafficking is inexcusable and an abuse that must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Parsippany Mayor James Barberio, who delivered opening remarks at the event. “I hope that through public awareness, we can call attention to this horrible crime and put an end to this gross injustice.”

Knapp and acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman also spoke at the event, designed to increase public awareness of human trafficking and fight the crime through education, collaboration and prosecution.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Survivor of child sex trafficking determined to help victims

by Vivian Wang -- the Journal Sentinel

Lucy Stear Swinford, 19, has short black hair and delicate features. She sports dark eyeliner and a few tattoos, and her voice is low and scratchy. It barely wavers as she talks about her experience as one of the estimated hundreds of human trafficking victims in Milwaukee.

The city has earned a reputation as a hub of commercial sex exploitation, especially of minors. In 2013, a nationwide FBI sting on human trafficking recovered 10 children in Milwaukee — the second highest number in the country.

Another study from that same year by the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission found that 77 children had been sexually exploited in Milwaukee in a two-year period — a number that experts said was likely a gross underestimate, as it only tracked the number who had made contact with police.

The Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee launched a new awareness campaign this month, called "Children Are Not For Sale," that set up three vending machines around the city filled with pictures of children instead of snacks.

"I've heard that people say things like, 'If you want to learn how to be a pimp, come to Milwaukee,'" said Debbie Zwicky, out-of-home care coordinator for Lad Lake, an organization that provides services for troubled youths. Stear Swinford spent nearly two years at Lad Lake during her time in the foster care system and credits support she found there as integral to her recovery.

Stear Swinford tells her story matter of factly, without pauses for breath or reflection. She grew up in Milwaukee under the care of her alcoholic mother and abusive father. She had her first drink at age 10, but when alcohol was no longer strong enough, turned to heroin.

By age 14 she had dropped out of school and was living with her 20-year-old boyfriend, robbing people to help pay for the rent — and the drugs.

Eventually she was caught and placed into the foster system, where she was transferred to a locked residential facility at 16 when she couldn't get clean. One day, when she was let out for an appointment with a therapist, she ran away.

At the nearest gas station, she called her drug dealer. He gave her a meeting spot. It was too far away to reach by foot, so she asked two men at the station for a ride. They readily agreed.

She got in the car. They child-locked the doors. One man climbed into the backseat beside her, pinned her arms and blocked her vision. Then she was inside a basement, zip-tied to a chair, and injected with ketamine.

For six days, the men brought her to gas stations and showed her to the attendants. Later, she would see those same men at hotels. That's all she remembers.

The vast majority of child victims are female, and 70% of them, like Stear Swinford, have been reported missing at least once, according to the 2013 study. Most victims are African-American.

Donelle Hauser, Lad Lake's chief program officer, said Milwaukee's problem is likely so serious because of high levels of poverty and income inequality in the city.

Stear Swinford still has nightmares about those six days. She managed to escape the house where she was being held one night when her captors left her alone, but she has no idea if they were ever caught.

Now she is channeling her experience into helping other victims. She speaks with other girls suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder about her recovery experience, and she hopes to meet with girls at Lad Lake's residential facility for child trafficking victims — the first of its kind in Wisconsin.

"I will have to deal with (that experience) for the rest of my life — there's no burying it — but it doesn't have to affect my life in a negative way," she said. "I want to make sure something positive came from that. I want to let girls know that there's hope."

She has been sober since Jan. 4, 2014. She earned her GED this past January.

Her next goal, she said, is to raise awareness for the scope of the problem locally. Very few people she talks to know that Milwaukee is such a hotspot of human trafficking.

"I know it's a hard thing for society to acknowledge, but it's harder for the victims who are suffering," she said. "We can't just pretend that something like that is not there."



Gov. Bryant receives human trafficking task force report

by Isabelle Altman

The fastest growing criminal industry does not involve illegal weapons or drugs. It involves the sale of human beings, and it's happening in Mississippi. 

This according to a report the Task Force On Human Trafficking submitted to Gov. Phil Bryant's office Wednesday. 

The task force was created by Bryant in December. It reviewed state laws and administrative practices pertaining to human trafficking, conducted research on modern slavery and trafficking and will make recommendations on how to reduce rates of the crime and assist victims. 

The task force was divided into five subcommittees, which made more than 30 recommendations to Bryant. 

Despite the fact that the global human trafficking industry could eclipse the global illegal drug trade within a decade, according to the report, it's not a widely talked about problem.  

"It's a very quiet problem," said Drake Bassett, president of Palmer Home for Children in Columbus, who sat on the task force.  

"We don't think of it as being right around the corner," he added. 

But according to the governor's report, it is a problem in Mississippi. 

Jackson-area counties see most incidents

In an assessment put together last September by Belhaven Social Work Department and private organizations, a team found 90 children who had been victims of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) in Hinds, Rankin, Madison and Warren counties, an area of the state known as a "hub" for sex trafficking in the South. 

The majority were exploited by family members, according to Ashlee Lucas, the human trafficking coordinator at Mississippi Office of Homeland Security. Lucas was part of the governor's task force. 

Factors that lead to domestic minor sex trafficking are particularly prevalent in Mississippi, the report found. They include not only poverty and lack of education, but a high rate of police corruption, crime, runaway and homeless youth and demand for prostitution. The report also stated that domestic minor sex trafficking has become so common it's been normalized and, in some cares, glamorized by teens.  

While the most common form of trafficking is familial trafficking, victims, particularly teenage girls, can also be trafficked by pimps or gangs, which coerce them into performing commercial sex acts, Lucas said. Other times victims will perform sexual favors to get food or a place to stay. 

John Jones runs Advocates for Freedom, a faith-based organization in Gulfport that works to bring awareness of and end human trafficking in the state. 

Jones' organization works to educate schools and law enforcement about how human trafficking looks in our state. 

Human trafficking typically takes the form of a young woman or girl enticed by a man to do sexual favors, Jones said. First he pretends like he loves her and just wants her help financially, then he hooks her on drugs and threatens her, Jones said. 

Human trafficking began getting recognition about three years ago, according to Jones. For that, he credits the 2012 Passion Conference, a four-day Christian conference for college students in Atlanta that brought awareness to modern slavery in the U.S. 

Jones attended -- it's how he became involved in the anti-human trafficking movement. 

"When you tell 45,000 college students something, it's going to spread, especially something like this," he said. 

Getting into position to combat

But if the governor's task force has anything to do with it, it won't just be private organizations that spread the word about the problem. 

The "Awareness" subcommittee recommended developing an entire media campaign involving both traditional and online media, including social media, just to make normal Mississippians aware of trafficking. 

Additionally, the task force recommended requiring law enforcement and educators be trained in recognizing human trafficking, which often looks like prostitution or child abuse. 

The task force also recommended utilizing already-existing resources -- like private organizations and national hotlines -- to solve the various problems created by human trafficking, rather than just creating all-new departments to work on the problem.  

"It was important to the task force to identify resources already available," Lucas said in an email to The Dispatch. 

However, the report also recommended rewriting laws and developing protocols specifically for dealing with allegations of human trafficking. 

For now, they're just recommendations, Lucas said. She and others on the task force have requested the governor set up an "Operational Task Force" or regional task forces to begin implementing the recommendations.  

They won't be implemented without considerable funding, however. That was part of the reason the task force stressed using existing resources. Plenty of churches, businesses and private organizations have offered to help fund the governor's efforts to combat the problem, Lucas said. 

The state will also seek federal grants and appropriations from the legislature.



Activists Rescue 270 Children From Trafficking in Berhampur

by PTI

BERHAMPUR (ODISHA):  Around 270 children were rescued from being trafficked to other states in recent months by childline activists and Government Railway Police (GRP) from the railway station in Berhampur, which seems to have become the transit point for child traffickers.    

Most of the children, rescued since 2014, are teenage girls from Kandhamal, Gajapati and Ganjam districts, said director of an NGO ISRD-Childline, Sudhir Sabat.      

Acting on a tip-off, child rights campaigners with the help of GRP personnel have been raiding trains and railway stations to foil trafficking bid, while in some cases, the traffickers escaped from the spot, he said.   

Giving details about some operations, he said the campaigners rescued 16 teenagers on May 20. Five of them were from Kandhamal, while others were from Cuttack and Dhenkanal districts.   

The GRP arrested four persons, including three women, for trafficking the girls to Samalkot and Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh promising them jobs in different firms, said co-ordinator of Childline, Berhampur, Prabhu Prasad Patra.          

Similarly on June 6, police rescued four children from the bus stand at Daringibadi in Kandhamal district, while they were waiting for a bus to come to Berhampur railway station from where they would have taken a train to Mumbai, in which a person from Jharkhand was arrested.   

Two children belonging to Kandhamal were rescued after being trafficked to Tamil Nadu, while three others of Gajapati district had been rescued from Goa, childline activists said.      

Berhampur railway station has emerged as a major transit point because it has good road connectivity with Gajapati and Khandamal districts. They come here in buses to catch trains of Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh, the campaigners said. An anti-human trafficking unit should be set up at Berhampur railway station to crack down child traffickers, said Sabat. At present, one unit is operating in the police headquarters of every district.



Argentine Judges Allowed to Resign After Child Abuse Ruling


BUENOS AIRES — Two Argentine judges whose controversial decision to reduce the sentence of a convicted child abuser provoked widespread anger here have had their resignations accepted, Argentina's state news agency reported on Saturday.

The judges, Horacio Piombo and Benjamín Sal Llargués, reduced the sentence because they claimed that the 6-year-old victim, a boy, had already displayed homosexual tendencies. They were allowed to step down by Daniel Scioli, the governor of Buenos Aires Province, according to Télam, the news agency.

The revelation of the judges' ruling infuriated Argentines, especially gay and human rights groups. The federal government's cabinet chief said it was “one of the greatest barbarities seen in our country.” The decision by Judges Piombo and Sal Llargués to halve the abuser's sentence was taken last year in the province's criminal appeals court, but it only came to light recently.

The sentence of Mario Tolosa, the vice president of a sports club who several years ago had raped the boy, a junior soccer player, was cut from six years to a little more than three. Local news reports said Mr. Tolosa had already been released from prison.

The judges based their ruling on what they said was the boy's sexual disposition, suggesting that he had homosexual leanings. In a television interview, Judge Piombo also justified the ruling by explaining that previous sexual abuse suffered by the boy at the hands of his father had rendered Mr. Tolosa's offense less severe. The boy's family has denied that his father ever sexually abused him. Judges Piombo and Sal Llargués were also fired as university professors after protests by students.

Some politicians had requested that Mr. Scioli, who is also running this year for president, refuse the judges' resignations so that an impeachment process, propelled by gay rights groups and politicians, could take its course. If the judges were impeached, the politicians argued, they might not have been entitled to pension benefits. After Mr. Scioli's acceptance, however, the judges will be able to claim the benefits, Télam reported.

The judges had previously faced controversy when they halved the sentence of another convicted child abuser, a pastor, in 2011, paving the way for his immediate release from prison.




More needs to be done to reduce child abuse

Minnesota has experienced a horrific parade of violence against children in recent years. Just last week, we learned of the death of Sophia O'Neill, age 2, of Minneapolis, stomped to death allegedly by her mother's boyfriend, age 17.

The disappearance of Barway Collins, of Crystal in March captivated the state until his body was found and his father was charged with his murder.

The murder of Pope County's Eric Dean, age 4, after 15 reports to the county of possible abuse went unaddressed, caused the Legislature to act.

And coming out in a trickle have been years of pedophile attacks by Roman Catholic priests, of which 179 in Minnesota alone have been accused.

It is easy to become angry at the accused and the convicted, to send them to prison and pretend that we have accomplished something. However, we have a major public health issue confronting us, and are nowhere close to solving it. The reported crimes are just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2013, local governments in Minnesota received 68,000 reports of alleged child abuse. Of those, about 48,000 were screened out with no more than a phone call.

In the wake of Eric Dean's death, Gov. Mark Dayton formed a task force to review the state's child protection efforts. It returned with 93 recommendations.

The Legislature responded by enacting several changes:

• Law enforcement must now review every report of alleged child abuse, even if the report was received initially by social services.

• A provision that kept child protection teams from looking at previously screened out reports was repealed.

• The priority for action was changed from keeping a family together to putting the safety of the child foremost.

• An additional $52 million was appropriated, most of which will go directly to hire more child protection workers. Currently, the caseload for such workers is about 20, and the goal is to reduce it to 15 cases per worker.

The governor's task force concluded that a continuum of responses is needed, allowing child protection workers to keep the child safe, but also to help families become properly engaged. A growing body of evidence shows that child abuse is much more widespread than news stories suggest. A landmark study of 17,000 adults completed in 1997 by Kaiser Permanente, a health maintenance organization, found that 28 percent of the respondents had suffered from physical abuse when growing up, 21 percent from sexual abuse, 15 percent from emotional neglect, 11 percent from emotional abuse and 10 percent from physical neglect.

The study also found that 27 percent of the adults had lived in a household where substance abuse occurred, 23 percent whose parents were separated or divorced, 19 percent in which a member of the household was mentally ill, 13 percent in which they saw their mother being treated violently and 5 percent lived in households in which at least one member was incarcerated. Subsequent studies continue to verify the relative accuracy of these statistics.

Social scientists call these conditions “adverse childhood experiences,” and they are causing our society billions of dollars in lost productivity from citizens who have a reduced learning capacity as a result of the abuse, and who are more likely to use drugs, alcohol to excess and tobacco, resulting in higher health care costs. Such victims have a greater likelihood of contracting heart, lung and liver diseases, obesity, cancer and high blood pressure.

The more adverse experiences an individual suffers, the more difficulty he or she has flourishing in life. For example, a child who experiences four or more of these adverse experiences is five times more likely to become an adult alcoholic than someone who experiences none of them.

The studies have found that these adverse experiences cause stress reactions in the brains of children, resulting in chemical changes in the frontal cortex that cause them increased anxiety for the remainder of their lives.

Child abuse victims are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, and 30 percent more likely to commit a violent crime at some point in their lives.

We know all these things, but huge questions remain: How do we break the cycle? How do we help children living in chaos develop the resilience they will need as adults? Since most abuse occurs within the home, out of public view, how do we address it before permanent damage is done?

To its credit, the Legislature almost doubled state spending on the School Readiness program and Early Learning scholarships for 3- and 4-year-olds this year, adding almost $90 million to preschool programs. But more needs to happen. Earlier detection is key. Minneapolis-based Generation Next says only 36 percent of Minneapolis 3-year-olds and 29 percent of St. Paul 3-year-olds are screened for developmental issues. Much adversity can happen to a child before then.

It is said that none of us do anything more challenging than raising a child. Perhaps we need to begin by reminding each other that it is not a right, but a privilege to raise children, and that we can still love our parents while adopting better parenting practices ourselves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers as a first step the vision of “assuring safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for every child and preventing child maltreatment.”

Let's give every child a chance in life. It's not happening now.



Omaha Police Find Children Locked Up Like Animals; Parents Face Charges

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT 6 News) - Martha Navarro, 33, and Venancio Vazques, 37, each face three counts of felony child abuse. If convicted, they could spend the next fifteen years in prison.

The couple is accused of abandoning their young sons, ages two and four, and locking them in a room for days at a time.

Last Wednesday, Omaha Police responded to a report of suspected child neglect at the family's trailer home near 126th and West Maple Road. The two young children were trapped in a room that was chained shut and locked with a padlock. Police had to break their way inside.

Once in the room, police noticed a strong stench of feces and urine, and they found both boys naked and without food or water.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine told WOWT 6 News that the boys' parents claimed they locked their sons away so they could go to work.

This isn't the first time their kids have been abandoned. In 2013, Martha Navarro was convicted for misdemeanor child neglect after leaving her young sons home alone.

County Attorney Kleine credits the boys' nine year-old sister for coming forward with information that led police to the trailer home. According to Kleine, the girl told her school and then the school contacted authorities. Kleine said: "She had a lot of courage and she did the right thing. She probably saved those children's lives."

Nebraska law requires anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect to report it.

Lisa Blunt, C.O.O. of Omaha's Child Saving Institute, told WOWT 6 News protecting children is the responsibility of the entire community. She said: "If you are aware that a child may be being harmed, abused, or neglected, and if you fail to report it, you in effect are guilty of neglect yourself because you have failed to follow the steps necessary to ensure that child's safety."

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protective Services hotline: 1-800-652-1999. While all reports are investigated, authorities are only contacted when a problem is found.


United Kingdom


Pedophilia is “Natural and Normal” ???

After the report into Jimmy Savile and the conviction of Rolf Harris, Britain has gone into a convulsion of anxiety about child abuse in the Eighties


“Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males,” said the presentation. “At least a sizable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children.”

This is just one statement made at a conference held at the University of Cambridge (UK) that included presentations like: “Liberating the paedophile: a discursive analysis,” where they discussed “Hebephilia”–the sexual preference for children in early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds. Another said, “Paedophiles are told they are the seducers and rapists of children; they know their experiences are often loving and tender ones. They are told that children are pure and innocent, devoid of sexuality; they know both from their own experiences of childhood and from the children they meet that this is not the case.” 

I'm appalled when I think about all of the adult survivors of childhood sex abuse by so-called “loving” perpetrators (myself included) who suffer even today from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. What a disservice by these academic ass-hats.

Read the complete article here:

'Paedophilia is natural and normal for males'

How some university academics make the case for paedophiles at summer conferences

by Andrew Gilligan -- The Telegraph

"Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males,” said the presentation. “At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children.”

Some yellowing tract from the Seventies or early Eighties, era of abusive celebrities and the infamous PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange? No. Anonymous commenters on some underground website? No again.

The statement that paedophilia is “natural and normal” was made not three decades ago but last July. It was made not in private but as one of the central claims of an academic presentation delivered, at the invitation of the organisers, to many of the key experts in the field at a conference held by the University of Cambridge.

Other presentations included “Liberating the paedophile: a discursive analysis,” and “Danger and difference: the stakes of hebephilia.”

Hebephilia is the sexual preference for children in early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds.

Another attendee, and enthusiastic participant from the floor, was one Tom O'Carroll, a multiple child sex offender, long-time campaigner for the legalisation of sex with children and former head of the Paedophile Information Exchange. “Wonderful!” he wrote on his blog afterwards. “It was a rare few days when I could feel relatively popular!”

Last week, after the conviction of Rolf Harris, the report into Jimmy Savile and claims of an establishment cover-up to protect a sex-offending minister in Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, Britain went into a convulsion of anxiety about child abuse in the Eighties. But unnoticed amid the furore is a much more current threat: attempts, right now, in parts of the academic establishment to push the boundaries on the acceptability of child sex.

A key factor in what happened all those decades ago in the dressing rooms of the BBC, the wards of the NHS and, allegedly, the corridors of power was not just institutional failings or establishment “conspiracies”, but a climate of far greater intellectual tolerance of practices that horrify today.

With the Pill, the legalisation of homosexuality and shrinking taboos against premarital sex, the Seventies was an era of quite sudden sexual emancipation. Many liberals, of course, saw through PIE's cynical rhetoric of “child lib”. But to others on the Left, sex by or with children was just another repressive boundary to be swept away – and some of the most important backing came from academia.

In 1981, a respectable publisher, Batsford, published Perspectives on Paedophilia, edited by Brian Taylor, a sociology lecturer at Sussex University, to challenge what Dr Taylor's introduction called the “prejudice” against child sex. Disturbingly, the book was aimed at “social workers, community workers, probation officers and child care workers”.

The public, wrote Dr Taylor, “generally thinks of paedophiles as sick or evil men who lurk around school playgrounds in the hope of attempting unspecified beastliness with unsuspecting innocent children”. That, he reassured readers, was merely a “stereotype”, both “inaccurate and unhelpful”, which flew in the face of the “empirical realities of paedophile behaviour”. Why, most adult-child sexual relationships occurred in the family!

The perspectives of most, though not all, the contributors, appeared strongly pro-paedophile. At least two were members of PIE and at least one, Peter Righton, (who was, incredibly, director of education at the National Institute for Social Work) was later convicted of child sex crimes. But from the viewpoint of today, the fascinating thing about Perspectives on Paedophilia is that at least two of its contributors are still academically active and influential.

Ken Plummer is emeritus professor of sociology at Essex University, where he has an office and teaches courses, the most recent scheduled for last month. “The isolation, secrecy, guilt and anguish of many paedophiles,” he wrote in Perspectives on Paedophilia, “are not intrinsic to the phenomen[on] but are derived from the extreme social repression placed on minorities …

“Paedophiles are told they are the seducers and rapists of children; they know their experiences are often loving and tender ones. They are told that children are pure and innocent, devoid of sexuality; they know both from their own experiences of childhood and from the children they meet that this is not the case.”

As recently as 2012, Prof Plummer published on his personal blog a chapter he wrote in another book, Male Intergenerational Intimacy, in 1991. “As homosexuality has become slightly less open to sustained moral panic, the new pariah of 'child molester' has become the latest folk devil,” he wrote. “Many adult paedophiles say that boys actively seek out sex partners … 'childhood' itself is not a biological given but an historically produced social object.”

Prof Plummer confirmed to The Sunday Telegraph that he had been a member of PIE in order to “facilitate” his research. He said: “I would never want any of my work to be used as a rationale for doing 'bad things' – and I regard all coercive, abusive, exploitative sexuality as a 'bad thing'. I am sorry if it has impacted anyone negatively this way, or if it has encouraged this.” However, he did not answer when asked if he still held the views he expressed in the Eighties and Nineties. A spokesman for Essex University claimed Prof Plummer's work “did not express support for paedophilia” and cited the university's charter which gave academic staff “freedom within the law to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions without placing themselves in jeopardy”.

Graham Powell is one of the country's most distinguished psychologists, a past president of the British Psychological Society and a current provider of psychology support services to the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the National Crime Squad, the Metropolitan Police, Kent Police, Essex Police and the Internet Watch Foundation.

In Perspectives on Paedophilia, however, he co-authored a chapter which stated: “In the public mind, paedophile attention is generally assumed to be traumatic and to have lasting and wholly deleterious consequences for the victim. The evidence that we have considered here does not support this view … we need to ask not why are the effects of paedophile action so large, but why so small.”

The chapter does admit that there were “methodological problems” with the studies the authors relied on which “leave our conclusions somewhat muted”. Dr Powell told The Sunday Telegraph last week that “what I wrote was completely wrong and it is a matter of deep regret that it could in any way have made things more difficult [for victims]”. He said: “The literature [scientific evidence] was so poor in 1981, people just didn't realise what was going on. There was a lack of understanding at the academic level.” Dr Powell said he had never been a member of PIE.

In other academic quarters, with rather fewer excuses, that lack of understanding appears to be reasserting itself. The Cambridge University conference, on July 4-5 last year, was about the classification of sexuality in the DSM, a standard international psychiatric manual used by the police and courts.

After a fierce battle in the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which produces it, a proposal to include hebephilia as a disorder in the new edition of the manual has been defeated. The proposal arose because puberty in children has started ever earlier in recent decades and as a result, it was argued, the current definition of paedophilia – pre-pubertal sexual attraction – missed out too many young people.

Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who led the APA's working group on the subject, said that unless some other way was found of encompassing hebephilia in the new manual, that was “tantamount to stating that the APA's official position is that the sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal”.

Prof Blanchard was in turn criticised by a speaker at the Cambridge conference, Patrick Singy, of Union College, New York, who said hebephilia would be abused as a diagnosis to detain sex offenders as “mentally ill” under US “sexually violent predator” laws even after they had completed their sentences.

But perhaps the most controversial presentation of all was by Philip Tromovitch, a professor at Doshisha University in Japan, who stated in a presentation on the “prevalence of paedophilia” that the “majority of men are probably paedophiles and hebephiles” and that “paedophilic interest is normal and natural in human males”.

O'Carroll, the former PIE leader, was thrilled, and described on his blog how he joined Prof Tromovitch and a colleague for drinks after the conference. “The conversation flowed most agreeably, along with the drinks and the beautiful River Cam,” he said.

It's fair to say the Tromovitch view does not represent majority academic opinion. It's likely, too, that some of the academic protests against the “stigmatisation” of paedophiles are as much a backlash against the harshness of sex offender laws as anything else. Finally, of course, academic inquiry is supposed to question conventional wisdom and to deal rigorously with the evidence, whether or not the conclusions it leads you to are popular.

Even so, there really is now no shortage of evidence about the harm done by child abuse. In the latest frenzy about the crimes of the past, it's worth watching whether we could, in the future, go back to the intellectual climate which allowed them.



Waterbury priest suspended on child sex abuse allegations

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Waterbury priest who once ran the St. Francis Home for Children in New Haven has been suspended on accusations he sexually abused a minor at the school.

The New Haven Register reports ( that the Archdiocese of Hartford says in a statement it learned that the Rev. Jeremiah N. Murasso was accused of sexual abuse of a minor and that he had been placed on administrative leave until the allegation is resolved.

The state Judicial Branch website reports no criminal charges.

Since 2012, Murasso had been pastor of two Waterbury parishes, Blessed Sacrament and the Shrine of St. Anne.

The St. Francis Home for Children closed in 2012. Murasso, who headed the home from 1992 to 1995, could not be located Friday morning.



Anniston couple arrested on child sex abuse charges

by William Thornton --

A couple are behind bars in the Calhoun County Jail after Anniston police charged them with child sexual abuse Tuesday.

Sgt. Brett Lloyd of Anniston police said Heath Scoggins, 33, and Tracy Scoggins, 32, have been charged with two counts of sexual abuse involving a child less than 12 years old. 

Police received a report June 29 that a boy and girl younger than 12 had been sexually abused between July 2010 and December 2014.

Police are still investigating, Lloyd said.



As France Suspends Soldiers for Child Sexual Abuse, Will UN Tackle Impunity for Western Peacekeepers?

In the latest allegations of child sex abuse by Western troops in the countries they are supposed to be protecting, France has suspended two soldiers accused of sexually abusing two children in Burkina Faso. The soldiers reportedly filmed themselves abusing one of the victims, a five-year-old girl. The suspension of the French soldiers comes weeks after it emerged the U.N. failed to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation of children by French troops in the Central African Republic. Even after the exploitation was brought to the attention of senior U.N. officials, the U.N. never reported it to French authorities — nor did it do anything to immediately stop the abuse. A forthcoming report by the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services says peacekeepers frequently engage in "transactional sex," forcing impoverished citizens to perform sexual acts in exchange for food and medication. We are joined by Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS -Free World. Her group has launched the Code Blue campaign, which seeks to end the sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations military and nonmilitary peacekeeping personnel.

TRANSCRIPT -- This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form:

AMY GOODMAN : We turn now to new allegations of child sex abuse by Western troops in countries they're supposed to be protecting. France has suspended two soldiers accused of sexually abusing two children in Burkina Faso after the soldiers reportedly filmed themselves abusing one of the victims, a five-year-old girl. The incident apparently came to light after her father discovered the footage.

The suspension of the French soldiers comes weeks after it emerged the U.N. failed to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation of children by French troops in the Central African Republic. Even after the exploitation was brought to the attention of senior U.N. officials, the U.N. never reported it to French authorities, nor did it do anything to immediately stop the abuse.

The incidents in Burkina Faso and Central African Republic are the most high-profile to date in a growing controversy surrounding peacekeepers' conduct worldwide. A forthcoming report by the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services says peacekeepers frequently engage in "transactional sex," forcing impoverished citizens to perform sexual acts in exchange for food and medication.

For more, we go to Boston, where we're joined by Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS -Free World. Her group has launched the Code Blue campaign, which seeks to end the sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. military and nonmilitary peacekeeping personnel.

Paula, welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about this latest revelation in Burkina Faso and what it means.

PAULA DONOVAN : What it means, Amy, is that this problem is pervasive. Wherever there are foreign troops that are ostensibly protecting the most vulnerable civilians on Earth, this problem of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation is simply rampant. So whether they're U.N. peacekeepers or whether they're authorized under their own governments to be working in foreign countries, sexual exploitation and abuse is an absolute pandemic. And it's not being addressed or even reported by the United Nations to the Security Council and governments that could intervene together, collectively, to stop this horrendous problem.

AMY GOODMAN : Earlier this month, a U.N. panel recommended sweeping changes to the world body's peacekeeping operations worldwide. The report came amidst revelations of sexual abuses and exploitation by U.N. forces in countries like Haiti, Liberia, as well as CAR , the Central African Republic. The panel chair, the former president and prime minister of East Timor, actually, José Ramos-Horta, said there must be zero tolerance for such crimes.

JOSÉ RAMOS - HORTA : This is what has to be very clear: You commit a barbarity, you have no protection whatsoever. You are subject to the laws of the country where you are operating. You know, he cannot hide under the United Nations' roof.

AMY GOODMAN : So, Paula Donovan, does that satisfy you?

PAULA DONOVAN : It satisfies me certainly that President Ramos-Horta made that declaration. Unfortunately, the entire panel did not agree with that consensus, so President Ramos-Horta had to speak unilaterally as the chair and make that strong recommendation that the immunity that's provided to both the military peacekeepers who are operating in foreign countries and, even more importantly, to the United Nations civilian personnel who are—who exist in all these peacekeeping countries is simply an obstacle to justice. Justice can't be served as long as there's one form of investigation and prosecution for anyone affiliated with the United Nations and another for the other billions of us around the world.

AMY GOODMAN : So talk about the responsibility of the United Nations when it comes, for example, in Burkina Faso, to the French peacekeepers that are there. What's the relationship? And then, what about the French government suspending these two soldiers?

PAULA DONOVAN : Well, there are three categories, essentially, of foreign soldiers who operate in countries, mostly in Africa, and around the world. The French soldiers, in this instance, in Burkina Faso, were there through an agreement between their country and Burkina Faso to deal with anti-terrorism. And that wasn't under the mandate of the United Nations, although they would certainly cooperate with United Nations peacekeepers on the ground. And then there's a second category where the U.N. mandates are—rather, authorizes foreign troops to come in, again, with between—with a relationship between the governments. And then the third, and most prevalent, situation is when U.N. Security Council members authorize a peacekeeping mission, and soldiers from around the world are contributed by their countries and go and work together to maintain what's usually a very fragile peace.

In the Burkina Faso incident, these soldiers who are now suspended—not arrested, which I think is critically important to note, but the soldiers who have been suspended—were there as members of the French military. And France, of course, is a permanent member of the Security Council, as is the United States. The U.S. and France send their troops abroad to work in countries that are in crisis. And, of course, they should be operating where—you know, under any mandate or agreement, they should be operating as though they are the world leaders who are supposed to be setting the standards for the way that soldiers and other forces behave when they ostensibly assist governments that are in trouble.

AMY GOODMAN : I want to turn to comments made by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, head of United Nations peacekeepers during the genocide in Rwanda. He spoke in May at the launch of Code Blue, along with you, Paula Donovan—Code Blue, the global campaign to end immunity for U.N. peacekeeper sexual violence.

LT.- GEN . ROMÉO DALLAIRE : So there's a sense of a culture of silence out there, a culture nearly of impunity, that's within the construct of many of the contingents, because there's been no really effective means by holding people accountable and, in fact, prosecuting them in a timely fashion, and in so doing, permitting those who are in authority to influence their own command to impose discipline and to impose legal action against people who commit crimes. And so, removing the impunity from the civilian side is probably the most innovative idea I have heard in a longest time.

AMY GOODMAN : That was Roméo Dallaire, the lieutenant-general who headed the United Nations peacekeeping forces during the genocide in Rwanda. Paula Donovan, if you could follow up on what he is saying?

PAULA DONOVAN : So what Lieutenant-General Dallaire said in support of the Code Blue campaign and its goal of ending immunity for U.N. civilian peacekeeping personnel as the first step is absolutely crucial, if there is a situation—which there is currently—where anyone within the United Nations who is employed by the U.N. feels as though they can act with impunity, do whatever they want when they're sent to peacekeeping missions, because their employer, rather than the local law enforcement and local judiciary, will intervene if they're accused of a sex-related crime or a sex-related offense. So if someone who is employed by the United Nations who's accused of, let's say, sexually molesting a child isn't immediately brought into custody by local law enforcement, the United Nations intervenes and says, "This person is covered by immunity under a 1946 convention. We will move in with our investigators and first decide whether we think there's a credible allegation, whether we think there's enough evidence, whether we think that a prosecution should proceed." And that doesn't exist for anyone else in the world, except diplomats and U.N. personnel.

So this creates what Roméo Dallaire was describing as the culture of impunity. When you've got the standard-bearers at the top of the United Nations who are operating these peacekeeping missions and instructing soldiers about what they can and cannot do, who are immune from any normal process, at least for the period until their employers decide whether or not they really should be disciplined, whether they should even be arrested and—or accused of these crimes, that makes absolutely no sense. The soldiers throughout the world who are contributed to peacekeeping operations will simply look at the United Nations and say, "You're saying that you have zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, but we can see by your actions that you do this all the time and you get away with it, and sometimes your employer spends, you know, upwards of 18 months, sometimes five years, to investigate an accusation, while the accused U.N. employee continues about his business, continues to do his work, and the U.N. decides whether or not they're going to allow the appropriate authorities to take action." So this just sends a message throughout the world that we are pretending that we have zero tolerance, but in fact we are quite tolerant of these offenses.

AMY GOODMAN : Paula Donovan, I want to thank you for being with us, co-director of AIDS -Free World, which has launched the Code Blue campaign to seek the end of sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. military and nonmilitary peacekeeping personnel around the world.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go south. What about the black church burnings throughout the South since the Charleston massacre? Stay with us.


Are there hundreds of thousands of sex-trafficked runaways in the United States?

by Washington Post

In the United States, more than 800,000 children are reported missing every year, and nearly half end up living on the streets. Seventy percent will become sex trafficking victims, most within their first 72 hours of living on the street.” — Defiance College news release , June 15, 2015

One in 6 runaways in 2014 were likely sex trafficking victims. That is up from 1 in 7 in 2013.” — graphic by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, on its Web site.

Defiance College, a liberal arts college in Ohio, recently announced that students had developed software using facial recognition technology to help identify missing children from images online. As part of the news release, the college strung together a bunch of statistics to illustrate the severity of the sex trafficking problem among runaways.

Separately, the congressionally mandated National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) prominently displays on its Web site a separate set of statistics on sex trafficking among runaways.

As we have demonstrated in recent months, statistics on human trafficking are often heedlessly repeated without much scrutiny. The implication in both statements is that hundreds of thousands of runaways were sex trafficking victims. What's the evidence to support that?

The Facts

The Defiance College news release mentions four distinct assertions: 800,000 children are reported missing every year, and of that, nearly half end up living on the streets. Then, of that 400,000 or so, 70 percent will become trafficking victims — most within 72 hours. Do the math, and that's supposedly nearly 300,000 runaways a year trapped in the sex trade.

The news release provided no sources, but Tim Wedge, a Defiance College assistant professor, said the source of his statistics is NCMEC, though he did not provide citations.

“I did make a misstatement,” he added. “The statement that 70 percent of those children would be trafficked within 72 hours should have said that they would be ‘solicited for sex' within the first 72 hours. That mistake was mine, and not NCMEC's.”

This distinction obviously makes a big difference. But then Wedge pointed to the NCMEC's “1 in 6" statistic as evidence that the news release was largely on target. “NCMEC estimates that 1 in 6 of all missing children are actively being trafficked (2014 figures). Using their 800,000 figure, this would be about 128,000 a year,” Wedge said.

But there are huge problems with the 800,000 figure in the first place. While it is mentioned in a document on the NCMEC Web site, the organization notes that it is old data from 1999, derived from the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children (NISMART), a random-sample survey released by an arm of the Justice Department. As we have noted before, this same study is frequently misused for the misleading claim that 58,000 children a year are “abducted.” (The number of stereotypical kidnappings listed in the report is actually 115.)

David Finkelhor, a University of New Hampshire professor who is director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center and a key author of the study, said that the Defiance College news release glommed together a number of unrelated statistics from different studies to reach an unwarranted conclusion. “An extremely small percentage of runaways end up homeless,” he said, instead of the 50-percent figure in the college's news release.

The 800,000 figure in the NISMART survey refers to cases where parents reported children were missing to either the police or a missing children's agency. (All told, the report said, 1.3 million children were reported missing by their caretakers or were missed by the caretaker for at least an hour but no report was filed).  But 99.8 percent of the kids were recovered. That left only a total of 2,500 (0.2 percent) children who did not return home or had not been located; most were runaways from institutions.

On top of that, Finkelhor said that runaway population has declined significantly the past 20 years, in part because of cell phones and computers. “Kids have a longer lease these days,” he said, “Kids also have more stuff to do around the home. If they leave, they lose access to their toys.”

Staca Shehan, a sex trafficking expert at NCMEC, agreed that “800,000” is “no longer an accurate assessment of the issue.”

The other statistics in the college news release — that 70 percent of the homeless will become trafficking victims and the 72-hour claim – appear to be nonsense facts. Random reports, often from advocacy groups rather than social scientists, have made various claims over the years, often based on small samples and limited interviews.

It is also important to remember that the Federal Trafficking Victims Act of 2000 set age 18 as a dividing line for the sale of sex, no matter the age of consent in a state, so any runaway under the age of 18 who trades sex for shelter or food is by definition “trafficked,” even if no pimp is involved. A 2011 study funded by the National Institute of Justice found that nearly 90 percent of sex workers in Atlantic City under the age of 18 reported they had no pimp.

This brings us to NCMEC's 1 in 6 statistic, which Wedge used to justify his high estimates. We've already demonstrated that the 800,000 number is not relevant in the context of runaways. But what is the NCMEC statistic based on?

Deep in its Web site, NCMEC suggests that this number refers to cases reported to the organization itself. “It is not from empirical research,” Shehan acknowledged. “It is literally a trend that we see, but you could not extrapolate to say this is a nationwide statistic.”

For 2014, NCMEC received a little over 10,000 reports. (In 2013, NCMEC received just under 9,000.) So that means that about 1,700 children in 2014 were reported to have some link to sex trafficking based on certain criteria — an arrest of a pimp, a caregiver's report that the child was involved in the sex trade or because the runaway was under 18 and exchanged sex for food, money or shelter. The numbers may have gone up because of better reporting rather than more cases, she said.

Shehan said NCMEC increasingly is trying to rely on its own data in its publications, because the organization has too frequently been cited as the source for numbers that it did not produce.

The Pinocchio Test - Four Pinocchios

This is yet another cautionary tale about the misuse of statistics. As an academic institution, Defiance College should not be so sloppy in cobbling together outdated and dubious “facts,” even in service of a potentially worthwhile endeavor. While the news release gave the impression of hundreds of thousands of sex trafficking victims, the actual number appear to be substantially smaller.

The Four Pinocchios are for the college, but at the same time NCMEC also needs to be more transparent about the source of its data — and its limitations. The organization needs to clearly explain that the “1 in 6” figure is not a nationwide statistic and merely reflects cases directly reported to NCMEC.  The organization also needs to more thoroughly scrub its Web site of outdated statistics, or else the mistakes made by Defiance College will be replicated by others.


Juvenile Records Often Have Lifelong Consequences: Experts Say

by Jamaal Abdul-Alim

WASHINGTON — Juvenile records can often have serious lifelong consequences — and the remedies of expunging or sealing the records are often too costly and too complicated to pursue.

That was the heart of the message that three juvenile defense attorneys delivered at the annual conference of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice recently as they urged juvenile justice workers to seek reforms that would make it easier for young people to squelch delinquent acts from their pasts and move on with their lives.

The push for change begins with recognizing that when a young person is found guilty of a particular offense, that finding may not be as “confidential” as some state laws would suggest, one speaker said.

“There's this idea that, ‘This is just kiddie court,' and it's no big deal, and families and children think about it this way,” said Riya Saha Shah, staff attorney at the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center. “They are given information that records disappear upon discharge from the case, and that it won't be on your ‘permanent record,' whatever that means,” she said.

“The truth of the matter is when a juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent, the consequences are quite severe. … we're still treating them in a lot of ways like little adults.

States often confuse the meaning of sealing and expungement, Shah said.

“Even if statutes said expungement shall occur five years after a juvenile's case is discharged, and after expungement, only law enforcement has access, that's not expungement,” Shah said. “That's sealing, because even law enforcement shouldn't have access to it.”

The records may be acquired by private companies or even the media. They can hurt young people's chances of securing education, housing and employment, Shah and her co-panelists said.

“The ... biggest barrier that comes into play is getting employment,” Shah said. “The police collect a lot of information. All of goes into their database. Employers can contact state police or a private database, and get information.

“Even if it appears as ‘juvenile,' employers may not be able to differentiate between juvenile and adult records, or maybe don't care because they think a juvenile who commits a crime is the same thing as an adult who commits a crime,” Shah said. “There's also education consequences.”

The Common Application, an online college application form used by hundreds of universities and colleges, asks specific questions about juvenile adjudications. Financial aid and public housing may not be offered, particularly if a person was found delinquent for a drug offense, she said.

Shah said juvenile adjudications can also make it difficult to get accepted into the military.

Other possible consequences, depending on the offense, include suspension or revocation of a driver's license, bans from becoming a foster parent or adopting a child, and being precluded from certain jobs that require licensure.

Dafna Gozani, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center, spoke of a 23-year-old client who — along with his girlfriend and newborn child — were denied public housing because he is listed on a sex offender registry for inappropriately touching a girl when he was 13 years old.

Things got worse, she said, when he moved into a hotel and erroneously thought he didn't have to notify law enforcement.

“You have to register in five days if you move,” Gozani said. ‘Now, he has a failure to register case. He got arrested and lost his job.”

Elise Logemann, staff attorney at the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center, noted how the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, known as SORNA, requires juveniles to register as sex offenders if they were 14 or older at the time of the offense and if the offense involved the use of force, threat, drugging or rendering the victim unconscious.

“One of the major consequences kids face when they're on the registry is stigma,” Logemann said.

In one study, she said, citing a Human Rights Watch report titled “Raised on the Registry,” 52 percent of youth offenders in sex offender registries experienced violence or threats of violence against themselves or family members that they directly attributed to their registration.

Nearly 85 percent experienced “negative psychological impacts,” and nearly one-fifth attempted suicide, Logemann said.

Even though juvenile registration is not required to be posted on the Internet under SORNA, many states still post the information online, she said.

A massive overhaul of the framework that governs juvenile records and deregistration may be distant, but there are more practical measures that advocates can seek at the state level, the attorneys said.

They suggested seeking smaller fixes, such as better notification schemes for expungement or sealing, and eliminating deregistration fees or requirements that an offender pay restitution in full before seeking an expungement.

Shah recommended making use of a scorecard — such as "Failed Policies, Forfeited Futures" — as a “tool for shaming” states into adopting juvenile record policies more favorable to young offenders.

“Legislators don't want to be in the bottom of anything,” she said.

3 thoughts on “ Juvenile Records Often Have Lifelong Consequences: Experts Say ”

  1. Michele Moore:

    And then there is my son in Texas. He plead guilty (bad decision) to a car jacking at age 18. The Prosecutor made a board of all his past crimes. The only thing is, he had never been convicted of anything before the carjacking. And she was lying. There was a little truth to some of the things but she was allowed to present it if he had even looked at a teacher funny, and she found it in school records, she put it on her board as one of Brandon's past felonious crimes. He got 20 years for a car jacking where no one was hurt and in fact, he never pulled a weapon but he did show a knife to a lady. I recently found where a man by the name of Jesse MacLeay Ph.D. from Trinity University published an article about my son where he used everything this prosecutor Samantha DiMaio had said and claimed that my son would never be able to be rehabilitated and should have gotten a life sentence based on what he did as a juvenile. So his juvenile record was not only used to get him a very long sentence but also made public and written about for everyone to see even though there were no convictions and not much truth either. Talk about how hard he's going to have it when he gets out.

  2. Anita S:

    My 17 yo son pleaded guilty to lessen a charge of a crime that he didn't commit , He was tried as a juvenile but will have a strike on his adult record. He has never been in trouble with the law but because he had problems with truancies, graffiti they made him out to be this street thug.. How will he find a decent job with that record? Almost setting these kids up for failure for a mistake . He will do his time for being at the wrong place at the wrong time but pay forever??? Not right

  3. Yvonne Dawson:

    This isn't related to the sex offender's registry, but I had a juvenile record for one case that I was found guilty of in family court. I had the record expunged when I turned 18. Now I am 44 years old. Several years ago I was accused of assault (I was found not guilty), and my lawyer said to the judge “My client *appears* not to have any prior convictions,” leading me to think that he was alluding to my expunged juvenile record. From what I hear even when it is expunged people can see that you have an expunged file. By the way, in my case it didn't cost anything to have it expunged. I just had to make a formal request for them to do so. So, onto today… now I am looking into a few college programs that might eventually lead to licensure and the questionnaires to apply for licensure do ask if you were ever arrested, and to explain, and if you have a juvenile record and to explain (it says even if it was expunged.) Now I am worried if I can pursue the career choices I am interested in, even though these were matters that occurred almost 30 years ago!


"Predator" teacher gets 22 years for sex with students

by CBS

LAKELAND, Fla. - A former Lakeland teacher who admitted to having sex with several of her students will spend the next 22 years behind bars, reports CBS affiliate WTSP.

On Thursday, a judge called Jennifer Fichter, 30, a predator, as he pronounced her sentence. Fichter was reportedly first accused of having inappropriate conduct with an eighth grader in 2008. She resigned from that school district later that year and in August 2011 was hired by another district. She is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student just one month after starting her new job.

"All I can say is I'm so sorry," the former English teacher told family members and the court.

When she was first arrested, Fichter would reportedly grin during her hearings, but the former teacher at Lakeland's Central Florida Aerospace Academy wept in court on Thursday, apologized and asked for mercy.

"I wish I could take it back, and my words are not going to suffice I know that," said Fichter.

In a recorded phone call played in court, Fichter admitted to aborting a pregnancy with one of her young victims. She also confessed to having multiple sexual encounters with at least two other boys.

"You were pregnant and had an abortion, is that true?" one of the victim's mothers asked her in a recording.

"Yes, that's true," replied Fichter.

The judge heard from a psychologist who said Fichter had made bad choices and her father asked the court to get his daughter help.

But victims and their family members say the 30-year-old former teacher had shattered their lives by preying on her teenage students, whom she met at parties, off-campus locations, and even her own apartment for sex.

"It hurts," said one mother addressing the court, "I saw myself losing my son before my very eyes and there was nothing I could do to reach him."

Prosecutors say Fichter lied to the victims' parents and had the students lie on her behalf, knowing she would be in trouble if she was ever caught.

Fichter faced up to 15 years on each of 37 counts of sexual contact with a minor.

The prosecutor said that just because Fichter is female, and her male students were willing participants, does not make them any less victimized.

"If a man came in here today, your honor, and told you that he continually had sex with his teenage female students over a period of years, because it made him feel good about himself, he would be buried under the jail," said the prosecutor.

The judge sentenced Fichter to 22 years, which was three years less than a plea deal she had rejected in April.

Fichter still faces charges in Hillsborough County, for having sex with some of the same students in that jurisdiction.


Los Angeles

For LAPD investigators, cases involving child victims can be hard to shake


Shrouded by darkness in the early dawn, the heavily armored investigators marched toward the Mid-City apartment on St. Elmo Street. One of the officers strode straight to a door on the first floor and banged on it, yelling in Spanish for it to be opened.

On the other side, a desperate young man was stuffing an iPad with 80 downloaded images of child pornography into the cushions of a couch, a detective would say later.

Within moments, 19-year-old Abraham Escoto, his father and uncle were standing outside. The lanky young man with disheveled hair had only recently moved to Los Angeles from Mexico to live with his father.

Now he was facing accusations that he had traded child porn over the Internet with someone in Russia.

Escoto told the investigators standing around him that he would never touch a child.

The Los Angeles Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children unit serves about 300 warrants each year in pursuit of child pornography suspects. In a high-rise building in Long Beach, 11 officers review an average of 350 child pornography cases a month.

The unit is a byproduct of an age in which almost everything can be shared electronically, whether on social media or in dark, digital back alleys. Detectives say many teens share nude photographs and videos, unwittingly contributing to a web of material that is distributed as child pornography. There are apps that essentially allow adults to pretend they are children, investigators say. 

Whether child porn is more prevalent now than it used to be is an open question. But officials say there are now many more ways to acquire and circulate in this digital world — and that's where the unit comes in.

Team members have found pornographic images of children as young as 9 months old. They have arrested suspects in tony neighborhoods and roach-infested motels, said Det. Gilbert Escontrias. They have arrested paramedics, teachers, police officers and city attorneys.

They comb through hundreds of tips from other LAPD officers and law enforcement agencies and the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

The center has reviewed more than 132 million child pornography images since it was created in 2002.

The case against Escoto started with a tip.

The missing and exploited children center notified investigators after it learned that someone had downloaded child porn, which was flagged by an Internet service provider.

Searching Escoto's apartment, Escontrias said, detectives removed dozens of DVDs with pornography and several pieces of hard drive. Using forensic equipment kept inside a mobile crime lab named "The Beast," investigators stripped the hard drives, looking for any illicit images.

Eventually released on bail, Escoto pleaded not guilty to child pornography possession charges. He will appear before a judge June 9.

Det. Carlos Monterroso said he has seen it all: a child predator who maintained a pristine Barbie doll collection, a suspect who believed he was a vampire. He has encountered child predators whose addiction to child pornography was so profound they refused to step away from their computer screen to use the restroom. 

Some cases are so intense that investigators are required to visit a psychologist.


Working with Internet service providers, search engines such as Google, and social networking sites such as Facebook, investigators request email and phone records to prove a suspect has downloaded child pornography.

Escontrias, an LAPD veteran with 31 years' experience, said his unit once encountered a man who had plastered child pornography on the wall of his apartment as if it was art.

In another case, Escontrias said, the unit received information that an 85-year-old woman had downloaded child pornography. The woman was confused when investigators showed up at her home. But soon they realized that her grandson had set up an unsecured, open Wi-Fi network that was shared throughout the entire multi-unit condominium and someone had used it to download child porn.

Last year, police arrested Christopher Richard Garcia, a former deputy Los Angeles city attorney. Detectives found child porn on his computers and other electronic devices.

Garcia, who previously worked with the U.S. attorney's office and a joint electronic crimes task force, pleaded no contest in October and was sentenced to five years' probation.

The former prosecutor is required to register as a sex offender for as long as he lives.

Some cases fall into a gray area, Escontrias said, because of the age not only of the children in images, but of those caught with the images. When underage teenagers and pre-teens share nude images of others their age, those images could be considered child pornography, he said.

In those situations, Escontrias said, he and other investigators then have to visit parents and sit down with their children.

"Parents have to be very aware," Escontrias said. "It's a digital playground."

Once an image hits the Web, he said, it tends to stick, getting downloaded and shared by child predators.

"The biggest issue is the fact that this stuff doesn't go away," Escontrias said.


For investigators, maintaining their mental health is important in the LAPD's Internet Crimes Against Children unit, Escontrias said. The detective, who used to work in a mental health detail, hosts "Mental Health Days" that allow investigators and their families to unwind during social gatherings.

Monterroso tries to keep his work at the office. A married father of two, he hits the gym and takes his children to softball and Boy Scout outings — anything to keep the unsavory details of his job from worming into his brain, he said.

But some cases are difficult to shake.

Monterroso, a tall, broad-shouldered detective with a friendly grin, recalled a case involving a teacher who taught children with autism. Monterroso got a tip that child pornography was found on the teacher's computer.

During a search of his home, investigators found several journals detailing his encounters with children. In them, the teacher described his affinity for a student whom he had molested, the detective said.

The boy suffered from severe autism and couldn't speak.

Monterroso presented the case to prosecutors, who filed charges against the teacher based on the illicit images. But they declined to file molestation charges because the boy couldn't talk about what had happened to him.

Monterroso said it felt like a defeat. But it's also why he does what he does.

"That's my purpose," he said. "It's to protect [children] because they don't know what's going on."



New program gives domestic violence victims security systems

by Sarah Cassi --

Domestic violence victims in Lehigh, Northampton and Berks counties will have a new tool to protect themselves as well as feel safe in their own homes.

The district attorneys from all three counties announced on Tuesday a new program called MVP – Maximum Victim Protection.

West Bethlehem-based company Altronics Security Systems is donating panic buttons, installing security systems and waiving a $40 monthly monitoring fee for domestic violence victims working with the district attorneys offices.

"They're providing a very needed service to our most vulnerable victims," Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said.

Bob Heimbecker, general manager of Altronics, said, "I hope it's like insurance and we never have to use it."

The panic button has a 5-acre range from the security system. Demonstrating it at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Heimbecker said when a person hits the panic button, it connects with a call station and the person can stay on the line with the operator until police arrive.

It's not just for adults. Heimbecker said the system can have up to four panic fobs to outfit a family.

"The kids will be protected," he said.

A newer system also has GPS monitoring. If a person is wearing the panic button, "we would know where they are all the time," Heimbecker said.

Martin said the Lehigh County program will not be for all domestic violence victims. Martin said the victims would have to be in danger of imminent harm, have a protection from abuse order and must be cooperating with prosecution in a related criminal case.

"There are a lot of victims out there that are subject to this kind of threat," Martin said.

An example Martin gave was a woman who worked with his office, whose former husband was reaching the end of his maximum prison sentence.

The man made very violent death threats to his ex-wife, Martin said, and "we were all convinced that this woman was going to the victim of a very serious assault, if not a homicide."

Police agreed to do extra patrols in the woman's neighborhood, but she also received an Altronics system.

Kimberly Silvestri, the victim/witness coordinator in the Lehigh County District Attorney's Office, worked with Altronics to bring about the new program.

Silvestri described explaining the system to a victim, and watching the woman develop a sense of security and start to relax as she learned about the panic button.

"She just felt safe in her home," Silvestri said.

Diane Zanetti, executive director and CEO of Turning Point of Lehigh Valley, said safety is a quality of life issue.

There is nothing more disheartening for a domestic violence victim than to choose to leave an abusive situation for safety, "only to find out that's not been accomplished.

"What this does is add another layer of assurance," Zanetti said.

It also shows domestic violence victims that prosecutors and authorities understand their level of fear, she said.

"It's a way of saying that living with that kind of fear is unacceptable to us...that victims understand they have other allies" Zanetti said.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said the program will be important, and is a sign of the private sector working with the public sector.

"We're all well aware that in unfortunate situations the victim's safety is jeopardized," Berks County District Attorney John Adams said.



Easton man, 82, accused of indecent assault on 13-year-old

by Pamela Sroka-Holzmann --

The sexual assault that led to Tuesday's arrest of an 82-year-old Easton man involved a male victim who was 13, court records say.

Harold Elmer Sutton, who lived in the Harlan House public housing building at 221 S. Fourth St., faces charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corruption of minors.

Police interviewed the alleged victim, who was acquainted with Sutton. The boy told police, according to court documents, that he was touched inappropriately and had sex with Sutton from January to June 2015 at Sutton's home. Sutton also made the boy watch pornography at his apartment, police say.

When police interviewed Sutton, court documents say he admitted to inappropriately touching the boy, performing a sex act and watching pornography.

Sutton was arraigned Tuesday before District Judge Richard Yetter III, who set bail at $200,000. Sutton failed to post bail and was sent to Northampton County Prison.

The judge ordered Sutton to undergo pretrial services and have no contact with the victim.


New Jersey

N.J. fire department captain allegedly tried to meet fake mom, underage daughter for sex

by Greg Adomaitis --

STRATFORD  — A borough man's alleged attempt at meeting up with a woman and her underage daughter to have sex was foiled on Wednesday, as Burlington County Prosecutor's Office investigators were the ones posing online as the female parties.

Jesse M. Kopala, 39, of North Atlantic Avenue, was arrested in Mount Laurel after he showed up a destination with the alleged intention of meeting with the two females he had met online.

"In reality, he had been communicating with a detective from the Prosecutor's Office High-Tech Crimes Unit," according to a news release.

Kopala works as a delivery truck driver and is also an "active volunteer" with the Stratford Fire Department. He serves with a rank of captain, according to the prosecutor's office.

Kopala was arrested by Mount Laurel police officers after arriving yesterday at the pre-arranged location, which was not released by authorities. He was charged with criminal attempt sexual assault and criminal attempt endangering the welfare of children

The investigation began after Kopala and a detective reportedly began online communications.

"Kopala indicated that he wanted to have sex with the underage girl and wanted the
mother to participate, too," the news release states.

During his first appearance Thursday in Burlington County Superior Court, Judge Thomas P. Kelly set bail at $75,000 with no 10 percent option. Kopala is being held in the Burlington County Jail. The case will be sent to a grand jury for possible indictment.


New Jersey

2nd child sex abuse lawsuit filed against ex-sheriff, Warren County

by Steve Novak --

A new lawsuit alleges Warren County knew about an ex-sheriff's sexual transgressions with young boys and allowed it to happen -- the second such civil action to be filed in three years.

While the document does not mention him by name, the accusations closely mirror criminal charges faced by former sheriff Edward Bullock, who is scheduled to be tried this month.

The lawsuit, filed June 22 in state Superior Court in Belvidere, references "John Doe 1" as being the county sheriff in 1988 and '89, and pleading guilty in 1992 to a criminal charge of official misconduct related to sexual allegations -- both of which match Bullock's history.

Notice of the first lawsuit, which preceded the criminal charges the 86-year-old Ocean County resident now faces, was filed in 2012. It claims the victim, identified only as W.M., was a 10-year-old boy who was repeatedly abused and raped at least once by a county employee in 1987 and '88, including while being transported by the employee to a county-run youth shelter in Oxford Township.

New, but similar, allegations

The most recent lawsuit has much of the same claims. This victim, identified as C.C., was 14 and 15 years old and under the county's care during four encounters with the sheriff, the lawsuit says.

The first incident began with the sheriff selecting C.C. from a group of boys being held in a cell at the Warren County Courthouse, bringing him back to his office and giving him backrubs, the lawsuit says. The sheriff volunteered to drive the teen to the Warren Acres juvenile detention center, parked the car on the side of the road and fondled the boy, the document alleges.

The abuse allegedly became more sexual with each encounter. C.C. reported it to a Warren Acres employee, the lawsuit says, but was yelled at and told to "stop looking for attention."

After another dealing with the sheriff, the teen ran away from the shelter after realizing "the staff either did not believe or would not take action to prevent further abuse," the lawsuit says. He was eventually detained by police, had another court hearing and was again driven to Warren Acres by the sheriff, who sexually abused him on the way, the suit alleges.

The teen later tried to commit suicide by swallowing all the pills in a bottle, was hospitalized and sent to a behavioral health center, the lawsuit says.

The suit seeks various damages. It levies five claims against the sheriff, including sexual abuse of a child and battery and assault. It also accuses Warren County in four counts, including negligence. The sheriff's actions, the suit alleges, were well-known to county employees.

"It's what the county knew, what they didn't know, what they should have done to protect these kids," said C.C.'s attorney, Brad Russo.

Criminal case up first

In the criminal case, Bullock faces three counts each of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault when his trial begins July 20. He could face a sentence of up to 90 years in prison if convicted.

Bullock remains free on $100,000 bail.

Russo, the attorney who represents the plaintiffs in both lawsuits, said the civil cases by judge's order will not proceed until the criminal charges are concluded. When that is done, the civil cases may be consolidated, he said.

First Assistant Prosecutor Michael McDonald said the criminal case is moving forward. Bullock's attorney, Brian Corley White, could not be reached for comment. 

The county's attorney, Joseph Bell, also did not return a call, and Freeholder Director Ed Smith declined to speak about the most recent lawsuit.

Bullock resigned in 1992 after admitting he tried to curry sexual favors from a state trooper posing as a teenage boy in a sting operation. He pleaded guilty to sex-related official misconduct and served nine months in the Hunterdon County jail.

Bullock reportedly told state investigators he had sexual contact with eight juvenile boys he met at Warren Acres but was never charged with any wrongdoing related to it.

RELATED: Man claims he was sexually abused as a child by Warren County Sheriff's Department employee

RELATED: Accuser's relative curses at Ex-Warren County sheriff in child molestation hearing




Support for LGBTQAI is good thing

by Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski

Question: I've been on social media a lot since the Supreme Court decision about marriage. I'd like to ask you two questions for your column.

1. Why do people come out of the closet? I know the promise of happiness or pressure from others might make a person come out but if it's unsafe I don't see why people do it. Isn't it safer in the closet?

2. Why do so many Christians feel the need to post hateful and mean comments about gay people? I understand disagreeing but why hate?

I'm a Christian and I don't feel that way. I spoke with my youth pastor and he agreed with me. What do you think?


Mary Jo's response: Excellent, insightful questions – your thoughts reflect a young person who is other-directed. Thank you for writing.

Before we look at LGBTQAI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, ally/asexual, intersex) individuals and their possible reasons for coming out of the closet, let's talk about the concept of closeting, or hiding a part of oneself.

Have you ever considered the way many people keep secrets? Secrets can be very serious. I've been honored to serve young survivors of child abuse. Often children do not disclose abuse out of fear, shame or guilt. Many other young people hide their real sexual experiences from adults because they fear judgment. People living with a life -threatening illness like HIV or cancer may stay in the closet and keep those diagnoses hidden. Our secrets may be less intense but still important to us. A student may hide a poor grade; a child who is bullied may be afraid to share what's really happening. Trust helps a person feel safe enough to open closet doors.

The people affected by the Supreme Court decision on marriage are LGBTQ individuals, so your question about coming out refers to people finding the courage to be true to those identities. Is it safer in the closet? It can be. I know many young people who are in real danger of rejection or physical abuse when they come out. Think about the stress of pretending to be someone you're not every day of your life. How do you think you'd feel? I've spoken with many young people who've come out. These are some of their reasons:

• I couldn't keep lying to people I love.

• I was tired of pretending. I was tired of being afraid.

• I thought my coming out might help another human being who was struggling.

• I was so depressed before I came out. When my parents accepted me my life became so much better.

• I didn't see any reason to hide who I really am. Why should I?

Responding to the needs and feelings of others with empathy and understanding is a mature response. Model respect. I wish we didn't live in a world where people are labeled. Since one of the foundations of my work is my belief that each person is a person of worth, regardless of ability, age, class, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, religion or belief system or sexual orientation, I try to avoid judgment. Striving to be nonjudgmental isn't easy. I still try.

Your second question involves faith. A person's faith is personal. Many people of the same faith have different perspectives. As you grow through life, you will grow in your faith. My own faith is strong; my papa taught me how to live my faith by his example. He was a very nonjudgmental person. He answered my questions. I'm glad you spoke with your youth pastor and I'm glad he eased your mind. A trusted adult who can help you with faith questions is a gift.

Regardless of a person's religion, I think social media allows people to make anonymous comments; hurtful or even hateful comments can be made when hiding behind a computer screen. Disagreeing and expressing one's opinion is OK; hate can lead to violence. I agree with you. I don't think hating other people is a Christian belief.

Living your faith is about you and God, not about you and anyone else. Try to do the right thing and avoid judging others, even when it's difficult. Please note: Our peer educators put a lot of thought into their responses. Some of them wanted me to use their names in the column. I refused. My job is to protect them. Their courage is humbling and I am grateful for their honesty.

Peer educator response: To your first question, we simply believe people come out of the closet to be themselves. People today are more accepting than in the past so more people are coming out. It's really about acceptance. Even if there are risks, in the end, it's probably worth it. It's hard to be around people you love without them knowing all the important parts of you. Staying in the closet means lying to the people you care about. It's also harder to find a partner in the closet. Second question: Some of us are Christian but we feel no hatred towards LGBT people at all. We think people are angry when something happens they don't agree with … and some of those people get hateful.

A few of us are both Christian and LGBT. Most of our fellow Christians know but still love us. They may not accept that part of our lives but they still welcome us to church with open arms. As to coming out, we agree with acceptance as the primary reason. It feels amazing to be able to talk openly and honestly to our families. Coming out means being true to ourselves and not having to worry about hiding any more – which is very good.


United Kingdom

Poor police record on child cases

by Press Association

Only a third of police cases involving vulnerable children are handled to a good standard, inspectors have found.

Of the 576 cases involving vulnerable children across eight forces in England and Wales looked at by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), 177 were found to have been dealt with to a good standard, while 220 were viewed as inadequate and 179 were deemed as adequate.

The cases, which the HMIC examined as part of the National Child Protection Inspection programme, are part of a system which displays inconsistency and weakness from the first contact of a child with police and through to the investigation.

The findings are from three reports launched by the HMIC, which warns that the police must reassess their approach to child protection or risk failing a new generation.

Dru Sharpling, who led the inspections, said: "Children must come first - there can be no compromise when it comes to child protection. Getting it right most of the time can never be the explanation for failures that have devastating consequences for the child, carers and families."

She noted that the quality of risk assessments - the fundamental building blocks of child protection practice - is patchy.

On "too many occasions" the HMIC found that investigations into child abuse or neglect were poor and plagued by delay. They also found that responses to reports of offences against children - ranging from online grooming to domestic abuse - was inadequate.

It was noted that in one case police and social services agreed, without consulting a medical practitioner, that the likely cause of vaginal bleeding in a four- year-old was eczema even though the child had made sexual allegations against a family member.

In contrast, the report highlighted a detective, with much-needed good communication skills, helped a 13 year-old who was having a sexual relationship with a 20 year-old.

The detective identified the girl as a victim of sexual abuse, arranged for specially trained officers to interview the family, provided advice and reassurance, quickly involved child care services, arrested the alleged perpetrator and took action to safeguard other children.

The inspectors were "surprised" that some officers accused children of crimes rather than treating them as a potential victim. Arrests had also been made for minor matters, such as pushing and shoving by siblings. The inspectors also heard that children were accused of lying when reporting an offence of sexual assault.

The report - In Harm's Way: the role of police in keeping children safe - concludes: "The level of child abuse and neglect is so high that it is difficult to process or comprehend. Responding on a case-by-case basis may be inadequate for the task.

"We found limited evidence that the police listened to children, and poor attitudes towards vulnerable children persisted in some teams. We also found that investigations were often inadequate, with insufficient action taken to disrupt and apprehend some perpetrators."

It also noted that although progress has been made "the gap between expected good practice and actual practice on the ground is significant".

The HMIC praised the "pockets of excellent practice" it found but stated that this seemed to be because of dedicated and professional individuals and teams, rather than a united, understood and applied focus on protecting children at force level.

The HMIC also hoped for a shift in old target-driven methods of policing, arguing that children must be placed at the heart of what policing does next.

Home Office minister Karen Bradley said: "This is difficult and complex work but police forces must do all they can to improve their response to child sexual abuse and exploitation.

"We are committed to ensuring police have the resources they need and we have prioritised child sexual abuse as a national threat, providing a clear mandate for forces to collaborate across force boundaries, to safeguard children and to share intelligence and best practice."

The other newly-launched reports were: Online and On the Edge: Real risks in the virtual world, about how police deal with the online child exploitation, and Building the Picture: An inspection of police information management.

In the report about potential online abuse the HMIC found that of the 124 case files examined across six forces, 52% were inadequate or needed improvement.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless described this as "a damning indictment" of police forces.

He said: "Despite national commitments and the dedication of officers tackling these darkest of crimes, at a local level vital opportunities to protect children are being missed by the police."

Karen Froggatt of Victim Support, said: "Children are vulnerable and deserve to be given the utmost protection from sexual predators - this report shows that they are being let down by agencies that are supposed to protect them."

Chief Constable Simon Bailey of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) described the scale of child sexual abuse as "staggering".

The NPCC estimates that police will be investigating over 70,000 cases of child sexual abuse - an increase of 88% from 2012.

He pointed out that the HMIC's reports found that "protecting vulnerable people is a priority for all police forces, and considerable efforts and resources have been allocated to this end" but said there was still much more to do to provide the best service.

He said: "We are at a crossroads.

"We have got to fundamentally change our approach to policing so that our absolute focus is on working proactively with other agencies to protect the public from harm committed on or offline.

"This requires a cultural shift away from largely reactive policing that targets acquisitive crime with success measured by crime statistics and conviction rates.

"It must be supported by all agencies that work with children getting better at spotting signs of abuse, cruelty or neglect and intervening early to prevent harm.

"Police chiefs must lead this change but no-one should underestimate how much of a transformation this is.

"Changing the culture of 43 individual organisations with between 44,000 and 1,800 people working in them does take time."

David Tucker of the College of Policing said: "Helping forces to respond to child abuse is a high priority for the college and we have developed products to do this. "We keep this area under constant review and will use this report to help us ensure that we give the best support we can to officers and their forces."


Reform Should Follow Historic Steps By Scouts

by Marci Hamilton

Robert Gates, the highly respected former defense secretary in the Bush and Obama administrations,- recently brought some enlightened thinking to the Boy Scouts of America in his role as the organization's board chairman. He announced that gay men should be eligible to be scoutmasters. That announcement follows the decision by the organization to deep-six the ban on gay scouts last year. These are historic steps forward.

Now Gates needs to turn to the other boys that the organization made suffer, the ones abused by the scoutmasters it knew were dangerous.

Indeed, the time has come for a full accounting by all organizations responsible for child sex abuse. There is only one reliable route to accountability and full disclosure to the public: legal justice.

Yet the law in too many states has silenced these victims.

The technicality that keeps these victims from obtaining justice is the statute of limitations, the deadline for filing civil claims and criminal charges.

Numerous states have made incremental but important progress on statues of limitations over the last decade. Just this year, better laws have been enacted in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Dakota, and Utah. Other states have set the example for unmasking predators and aiding victims, including Delaware, Hawaii, and Minnesota.

New York has one of the four worst statutes of limitations in the country, while New Jersey and Pennsylvania are stuck at decidedly mediocre. You can find out more about individual states at

Some states are mired in politics, with legislators deferring to the very institutions that have protected predators rather than taking a stand for justice. While Delaware set the standard in 2007 by reviving expired statutes of limitations for all victims, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania appear to be twiddling their thumbs.

There are legislative heroes in each state that have committed much political capital to making reform happen, but they can't scale the wall of opposition without leadership taking up the cause.

In New Jersey, it is State Sen. Joe Vitale (D., Middlesex) who has persistently introduced legislation to try to bring his state to the forefront of common sense and decency while also doing the right thing for abused children. His proposal significantly expands the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse from age 20 to age 48, providing victims sufficient time to sue perpetrators and the organizations that enabled them.

Even though the Vitale bill has bipartisan support, the Senate leadership has yet to agree to a simple yes-or-no vote. Vitale's legislation should be posted for a vote.

The same story can be told about Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Rozzi (D., Berks) and New York Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D., Queens), both of whom have dedicated hundreds of hours to the cause of victims while backroom lobbyists persuade other members to block statute-of-limitations reform from even getting a vote.

Any one of these states could start a chain reaction of truth that leads to justice in the others, because child predators often traveled in these three states with their target children. The Poconos, the Adirondacks, New York City, and the Jersey Shore were common destinations for abusers to take the kids for some "fun."

In a perfect world, statute-of-limitations reform wouldn't be needed because the Boy Scouts, family perpetrators, and Catholic bishops would just do the right thing or have the decency not to lobby against the victims.

But this is far from a perfect world - especially for the molested children.

Legislators should no longer listen to the interest groups that knowingly let the abuse happen in the first place. Instead, they should hear the cries of all of the victims. It's well past time for each of these states to act, but it's not too late to finally do the right thing.



Hospitality House: Domestic violence help just a call away; mission grounded in education, resources, community cooperation

by Kristina Wilder

Increasing awareness about abuse and the availability of resources for victims is the best way to curb domestic violence, according to Hospitality House for Women Director Malinda Kogerma.

Hospitality House has provided services to child and adult survivors of domestic abuse since 1978, Kogerma said.

“We are one of the first domestic violence shelters in Georgia,” she said. “We came about through a group of concerned citizens banding together to form the organization. Floyd was on the cutting edge because that was really when domestic violence began to be noticed.”

Hospitality House provides shelter and counseling to victims, but also tries to educate the community through awareness initiatives, including an annual fundraising walk downtown.

“We go out to speak about domestic violence, we sponsor Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” she said. “It is not just about making October awareness month. We want it to bring awareness all year.”

The nonprofit runs a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week hotline at 706-235-4673 that victims can call to get help. It also offers counseling for victims and shelter for them and their children, as well as clothing and the everyday items they need, she added.

“Many women who come to us, they will come with just the clothes on their backs,” she said. “They literally take their children and flee.”

If someone cannot come to the shelter, Kogerma said that workers at Hospitality House help them create a safety plan.

“We tell them to come up with a friend to call, or someone to reach out for help to, or to call us if something happens and they are in fear for their safety,” she explained.

Once someone decides to come to the shelter, they are set up in housing in a safe, secure environment with adequate income.

Kogerma said that sometimes women do return to their abuser.

“If they leave, then decide to go back, and then leave again, they can always come to us again,” she said. “It doesn't matter how many times. We will still help.”

Licensed counselors work with victims and an advocate will go to court with them if necessary, Kogerma said.

“Floyd County is very good about putting services into place to help people,” she said. “The police, the social services agencies, everyone works together.”

There's also a family violence intervention program that is state-mandated for batterers who are arrested for domestic violence. “Compassion,” which is the county's program, is directed by Rex Hussmann.

“It is a 24-week, state-certified program,” Hussmann explained. “Batterers are required, upon conviction of a simple assault under the Family Violence Act, to go through it.”

Hussmann said the program combines education and support to help batterers change behavior.

“It is not therapy,” he said. “The issue cannot be blamed on mental health. Participants are asked to discuss their feelings about power and control and dominance. They are encouraged to stop using anger to frighten and control their partner.”

Hussmann and Kogerma both said they are hoping to develop a coordinated community response team to work together on domestic violence.

Kogerma said the latest statistics show that a woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States, and that intimate partner violence is the leading cause of female deaths during pregnancy.

“Women who are victims are eight times more likely to be killed by a partner if there are firearms in the house,” she said. “When you see the headlines, it makes you physically sick.”

She said victim-blaming is also a problem.

“There are a lot of reasons women don't leave,” she said. “Because of children, because of financial reasons and security and fear of what may happen. When a woman tries to leave, that is often the most dangerous time.”

Domestic violence is also the third leading cause of homelessness among families, she added.

“It is an act of power and control,” she said. “When the batterer feels that control is relinquished, it is the most dangerous time. I've heard stories of abusers stealing car keys, hiding things, locking victims in their homes. It really does happen.”

She encouraged anyone who needs help to contact the Hospitality House.

“Please let us help you,” she said. “Help is out there for you, please take it.”


United Kingdom

New helpline for reporting child sexual exploitation

by jspiteri

Dorset Police and the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) are supporting a new helpline which gives young people another way of reporting Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

The dedicated freephone helpline called 'Say Something' will provide assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, will be managed and operated by the charity Missing People.

The helpline which allows young people to make reports and discuss concerns about themselves or friends has been funded by The Department for Education. It is a joint initiative between the charities National Working Group (NWG) Network and Missing People.

Young people can either call or text the helpline on the anonymous 116 000 number. They will be able to access appropriate advice and support from trained and experienced staff and volunteers. If during the call any immediate safeguarding concerns for a child are raised, the charity can then share information with the police.

Detective Chief Inspector, of the Dorset Police Public Protection Unit, Chris Naughton said: "I am pleased to support the launch of this new helpline which gives children another way of engaging with support services.

"Any additional way children and young people have to report and discuss their concerns about child sexual exploitation is very welcome.

"It is vital children feel confident to talk to about their concerns, and that adults listen and believe young people when they chose to confide in us."

Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of child abuse that involves the manipulation or coercion of young people to engage in sexual activity in exchange for money, gifts including alcohol, tobacco and drugs, accommodation, affection or status.

Dorset Police encourages everyone to think, spot the signs and speak out against abuse, and adopt a zero tolerance attitude to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children.

Signs that a child may be at risk include drug or alcohol misuse, sexual health issues and sexualised behaviour, sudden access to money or new things, self-harm, change in appearance, change in temperament, low self-esteem, unexplained injuries, criminality, older friends and acquaintances and repeatedly going missing, absent or truant.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: "This is another great initiative designed to help young people report abuse, or seek advice on potential abuse scenarios.

"Anything that increases signposting in this crucial area has to be commended, and will hopefully increase reporting."

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Naughton continued: "We encourage everyone from all walks of life to think, spot and speak out. There is a responsibility on everyone in society to do all they can to protect vulnerable people. Together, we can work to inform, educate and prevent this form of child abuse.

"We are resolute in our determination to identify perpetrators of CSE and bring them to justice."

If you have any concerns that a child you know may be a victim of Child Sexual Exploitation report it to Dorset Police on 101 or in an emergency dial 999 and make an immediate report.


United Kingdom

Methodist Church to make significant changes to safeguarding policies

The Methodist Conference yesterday (29 June) vowed to make significant changes to its policy and procedures in a move to make the Church a safer place for all. This follows the publication in May of an independent review of past safeguarding cases related to the Church from 1950 to 2014.

The Past Cases Review identified 1,885 past cases, which included physical, emotional, domestic and sexual abuse as well as cases of neglect. In approximately one quarter of these cases, church ministers or lay employees were identified as the perpetrators or alleged perpetrators.

The Conference discussed the findings of the Review and appointed an implementation group to take forward the report's 23 recommendations. Former Barnardo's Deputy Chief Executive Jane Stacey, who led the independent review, has been appointed as a member of the implementation group, which will be chaired by the Rev Gwyneth Owen.

"The Past Cases Review has undoubtedly been a wake-up call for the Church, and one we cannot ignore" said Rev Owen. "The recommendations of the report are many and wide-ranging but at the heart of it all lies the need to bring about significant cultural change. (

"Safeguarding is not just something that is done by specialists. It cannot be reduced to criminal records checks and staff training programmes. Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility and each one of us has a duty to do what we can to make the Church a safe place for everyone."

The recommendations include improvements to record keeping and storage, a review of all current safeguarding training materials and the identification of further resources to support victims and survivors of abuse. One of the most urgent concerns highlighted by the recommendations is the need for greater levels of accountability and supervision, as well as a formal code of conduct, for ministers.

Additionally, selection criteria for senior church positions will be developed to include awareness of and ability to deal effectively with safeguarding issues. Until the Methodist Church has more robust accountability processes in place and fully operational, there will be an annual independent audit of progress on the recommendations.

Addressing the Conference, General Secretary the Rev Dr Martyn Atkins reiterated the Church's apology for the failure of its current and earlier processes fully to protect children, young people and adults from abuse inflicted by some ministers and members of the Methodist Church.

"It is essential that we recognise the failings of the past," he said. "However, without a commitment to change and the willingness to take the hard steps to achieve that change, we know that an apology alone could never be enough. This is the challenge that lies before the Church today and will be a continuing challenge for us for many years to come."

Outside the Conference hall a group of volunteers invited Conference members to engage with 'Broken Biscuits' - a visual response to the Past Cases Review. The installation comprised a display of 1,885 broken biscuits on 19 canvases, symbolising the 1,885 cases identified by the review.

* Past Cases Review

* Report on implementation of the Past Cases Review

* The Methodist Church in Britain



Kids with sexual behavior problems not uncommon


With so much attention in the media regarding the Duggar family and the actions of their eldest son Josh when he was a teenager, numerous issues have been raised surrounding sexual behavior problems in youth, and how parents and caregivers can appropriately respond.

For children's advocacy centers, many of our most heart-wrenching cases involve families in which sibling abuse has occurred. Parents are distraught about the victimization of one child, while terribly worried about the legal consequences to another child. The anguish of parents as they struggle to provide emotional support and effective intervention to both the child victim and the child with sexual behavior problems is real and palpable.

Thankfully, there are 23 children's advocacy centers and their multidisciplinary teams (MDT) around Pennsylvania that can help families navigate this difficult time. Children's advocacy centers, and their MDTs, serve as a gateway to services that can help victims heal and ensure youth with sexual behavior problems receive effective treatment and are held accountable for changing their behavior. We represent five of the CACs in Philadelphia and the surrounding region.

It is important to note that kids with sexual behavior problems are more common than most people realize. Eighteen percent of the over 315,000 sexual abuse cases seen by children's advocacy centers last year involved an offender under the age of 18 — most often a sibling, cousin, or friend from the neighborhood or school. There are many reasons children and youth may develop a sexual behavior problem: lack of privacy and boundaries; exposure to sexualized materials or environment; curiosity that gets out of hand, and others.

Whatever the reason, it is critical to ensure these youth receive evidence-supported treatment to interrupt this cycle of behavior, so that all children in the home can be safe. If we can identify these issues and interrupt this behavior early and appropriately with treatment, we as a society may ultimately prevent future child sexual abuse from occurring.

Finally, and most importantly, at the heart of every child sexual abuse case is the child victim. We should not minimize the trauma child victims suffer as a result of abuse by youth with sexual behavior problems. Whether the offender is a sibling, friend, or extended family member, the victims suffer a betrayal of trust and a loss of personal safety that is deeply wounding. Similar to other forms of child sexual abuse where the offender is within the family, these child victims struggle with both their fear of continued abuse and their love for the family member who has harmed them.

As a society, we have failed to protect these victims and we owe them the treatment resources needed to heal, as well as our support as they go through the challenging healing process. Critical to that healing process is the privacy and space to heal outside of the glare of the television camera and the reporter's news cycles.

When victims are “outed” publicly in the way the Duggar sisters were, this experience can be as traumatic as the abusive incident. Victims routinely report media attention as stressful and many are ill prepared for the consequences of such media scrutiny. The loss of privacy and control over this most intimate part of their life can mirror the loss of control felt at the time of the abuse.

Some adult survivors find speaking out about their experiences empowering. However, the common thread in this experience is one of choice — the victim made the choice to tell their story, and exerted some control over the timing and narrative, and is psychologically ready for such a public disclosure. We can all help victims become survivors by sending a clear message to media that we do not want the names of victims shared without their permission, nor should victims be hounded to tell “their side” of the story.

As professionals who have witnessed countless cases of child abuse and neglect over the years, we hope this instance will only further draw attention to the issue of child abuse and how we all are responsible for protecting our nation's children.

Nimisha David, director of the Bucks County Children's Advocacy Center, Network of Victim Assistance
Chris Kirchner, executive director, Philadelphia Children's Alliance
Patricia Kosinski, executive director, Family Support Line, Delaware County
Abbie Newman, executive director, Mission Kids, Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County
David M. Sassa, executive director, Chester County Child Advocacy Center
Deborah Ryan, deputy district attorney, Chester County District Attorney's Office, Child Abuse Unit



A place for peace:

New Sojourner Center will be impactful project

by Erica Breunlin

When Sojourner Family Peace Center opens its brand new, 72,000-square-foot facility later this year, it will not only transform Milwaukee's approach to healing survivors of domestic abuse, but it will also push to halt the cycle of violence that travels between generations.

The Sojourner Family Peace Center, a two-story safe haven located at 619 W. Walnut St. in Milwaukee, will dramatically shift the way victims of violence reach support services as the center aggregates services under one roof.

Those services encompass everything from criminal justice system support to legal care, health care, employability and education – services that historically have operated in silos and created a very fragmented system for abuse victims to navigate.

The new center, a collaborative project of anchor partners Sojourner, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, follows an internationally recognized model of wrapping services around families in a one-stop shop locale.

“It's bringing people together – service providers together – to help families that are hurting,” said Carmen Pitre, executive director of Sojourner Family Peace Center, a Milwaukee-based organization that aids families afflicted by domestic violence.

“Sojourner has been a leader, both locally and nationally, by creating innovative programming that impacts the lives of those affected by violence,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “Sojourner and its primary partner, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, are marshaling all available resources in our community into a coordinated, centralized service delivery system with accountability to victims and survivors and their families. The city – through my office, our Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and our Police Department – is delighted to be partners in this effort and will continue to support Sojourner and all citywide efforts to give hope to families for futures without violence.”

The model Milwaukee is adopting, known as the Family Justice Center model, has inspired centers in more than 80 communities across the globe, as another 100-plus communities are currently developing their own versions of the center's model.

All are “built around the simple concept that victims should be able to go to one place for everything that they need,” said Casey Gwinn, president of San Diego, Calif.-based Alliance for HOPE International, the umbrella organization for the model.

“When everybody works together, it's easier for victims to get help,” Gwinn said, since victims can avoid having to retell their story to agency after agency. “When victims have to go from agency to agency, they tend to give up and they tend to go back to their abusive situation in the absence of making it easier for them to get help.”

The new Sojourner Family Peace Center, which will likely be substantially completed in September, will belong to a subset of 10 Family Justice Centers that combine domestic violence services and child advocacy services.

But while most of those centers have three or four agencies co-located together, the new Sojourner Family Peace Center will consist of more than 10 co-located agencies, making it the most comprehensive center of its kind.

The Alliance for HOPE International has referred to the new Sojourner Family Peace Center as “the state-of-the-art” model, Pitre said, as it contains the “most comprehensive continuum” of services of any center and has the most extensive range of partnerships.

Since San Diego began co-locating agencies in 1990, its domestic violence homicide rate has dropped 90 percent, according to Gwinn, who hopes to see a similar outcome for Milwaukee.

On average, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office prosecutes more than 2,500 domestic violence cases each year, according to Kent Lovern, chief deputy district attorney at the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office and a longtime Sojourner board member.

“If we can put key partners together in one location, we can try to diagnose the co-occurring difficulties within those families at a time when they're asking for our help,” said Lovern, who was one of the first Milwaukee proponents for this kind of all-inclusive center. “And I think that if we see a strengthening of families in this city, we'll see a strengthening of neighborhoods.”

Co-locating a cross sector of services

Within the new center, services will be provided by co-located partners: Sojourner Family Peace Center, the Milwaukee Police Department's Sensitive Crimes Unit, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, Legal Action of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Public Schools, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Jewish Family Services of Milwaukee, Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, Wraparound Milwaukee, Marquette University College of Nursing, and Aurora Health Care.

The center, which Sojourner anticipates will be move-in ready in December and fully operational in January, will be grounded by a social service perspective that incorporates law enforcement as it works to heal families ravaged by domestic abuse.

While some centers within the Family Justice Center model are law enforcement driven, Milwaukee's infrastructure better warrants a social service emphasis in light of how advanced it is, according to Pitre.

Unlike many cities, Milwaukee has long had specializations that address sexual assault embedded in its police department and district attorney's office. The Milwaukee Police Department contains a Sensitive Crimes Unit, and since 1975, the district attorney's office has operated a specialty sexual assault unit that includes therapists who assist with the review of cases and outreach to sexual assault victims.

Milwaukee also has four specialty courts that hear nothing but sexual assault and homicide cases, and three additional courts that prosecute domestic violence and child abuse cases.

The Sojourner Family Peace Center's focus on social services will build on those law enforcement specializations already in place while also tending to the long-term needs of survivors working to heal, a process that can take years.

“Social service agencies are better equipped to stay engaged with families as they're on that journey of healing,” Pitre said.

This model “brings the best of both worlds together,” she added.

The new center will feature the Sojourner Truth House Shelter, with crisis housing for families in need. The shelter will contain 56 beds among single rooms, double rooms and 11 family rooms that can interconnect to accommodate larger families. The shelter will also include a full menu of amenities for those living there, including a living room for adults, a living room for teenagers, a café, a laundry room and a workout facility.

While the organization's current shelter has two bathrooms for its residents, the new shelter will quadruple bathroom capacity with eight.

On the security side, the shelter will be staffed with a 24-hour security guard and will be outfitted with bullet-resistant glass and a security system through which visitors must be buzzed in.

The shelter, which hugs the corner of West Galena Street and Sixth Street, will also be surrounded by fencing and will sit atop a garage so that it is elevated off the ground.

“We tried to think as meaningfully as we could about the security features,” Pitre said, particularly as Sojourner Family Peace Center taps into a growing trend of hosting shelters at locations that are well-known and accessible in the community.

The reality, Pitre said, is that people know where the shelter is located or can find it through engines like Google Maps.

Operating the shelter more publicly “raises the bar,” Pitre said, as it pushes the community to take collective responsibility for the safety of women and families.

“It brings it out into the spotlight,” she said. “We can own it differently in the community.”

In addition to the shelter, the new facility will house Sojourner Family Peace Center's case management services for survivors and children and those services that help survivors traverse the civil and criminal system.

Many of the center's services catering specifically to youth will be headed by Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, which will provide physical, mental and dental services through its Child Advocacy Center.

Children's Hospital also plans to staff the building with personnel from its Child Abuse Prevention Fund, which supports prevention measures in Wisconsin so children do not ever fall victim to abuse.

The hospital will also locate Project Ujima at the new site, which helps young victims of abuse overcome their trauma and move beyond the cycle of violence.

Among the additional services to be made available at the Sojourner Family Peace Center:

•  The Milwaukee Police Department's Sensitive Crimes Unit will be located in the building.

•  The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office will staff the building with district attorneys and victim witness personnel to help victims who have criminal cases pending or in the process of being charged.

•  Legal Action of Wisconsin will provide a paralegal and attorney to assist with the legal needs of individuals and families using the center

•  Milwaukee Public Schools will equip the center with a social worker.

•  Jewish Family Services of Milwaukee will provide two adult therapists who will support adults through trauma-related issues in an in-house health and wellness center.

•  The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare will deploy a supervisor and six workers to the center to reinforce the safety of children impacted by family violence.

•  Wraparound Milwaukee will co-locate its Mobile Urgent Treatment Team in the building to respond to area children in crisis.

•  Marquette University College of Nursing will run a student/faculty health clinic, serving the basic health needs of the center's adult clients, helping them find a medical home and helping them access insurance.

•  Aurora Health Care will provide sexual assault advocacy services and exams with a nurse.

•  An education center will serve as the backdrop for Sojourner's outreach and youth initiatives and will also be open to neighborhood groups needing meeting space.

•  An interdenominational chapel and meditation center will be open for clients to worship in whichever ways are meaningful to them.

Off-site, Sojourner will continue facilitating recovery programming for domestic violence offenders at a space it leases out of Wisconsin Community Services' building. The organization hopes to add to its programming for offenders in the future.

Localizing the national model

Among the earliest advocates of an all-inclusive center like the one in the works was Bob Chernow, president of the Tellier Foundation, which supports Milwaukee County organizations and projects.

Chernow, a futurist, began thinking about how Milwaukee could innovate its approach to domestic violence after attending a World Future Society conference, where California police veteran Bob Harrison highlighted how he had reduced domestic violence incidents in Vacaville, Calif., by 68 percent over five years.

Harrison now serves as president of California-based consultancy ER Harrison & Associates Inc. and leads police organizations through workshops on team development, strategy and planning.

After three years of struggling to find a leader or agency that would listen to him, Chernow connected with Lovern on his vision to bring Harrison to Milwaukee for an assessment of city resources that respond to family violence.

Harrison studied Milwaukee's landscape of resources for more than two years, an effort funded by the Tellier Foundation, and in 2007 presented his findings to about 70 key stakeholders during a meeting convened by Barrett and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

It was Harrison who pointed Milwaukee in the direction of the Family Justice Center model – a model that quickly piqued the interest of those attending the meeting.

For Chisholm, the model's approach to snuffing violence, not just healing it, complemented his philosophy on how an elected prosecutor should engage with the community.

“It's important that we respond to crimes as they occur and hold people accountable, but it's every bit as important that we think to the long-term health and safety of the community, and that means engaging in processes like this where we think we can do something that will turn the problem around,” Chisholm said.

The following year, a team of Milwaukee leaders traveled to San Diego to attend the annual Family Justice Center Conference, see a Family Justice Center firsthand and connect with others running centers around the country.

The prospect of introducing a Family Justice Center to Milwaukee prompted a 2009 merger of the Task Force on Family Violence and Sojourner Truth House, which resulted in the Sojourner Family Peace Center.

From there, the new organization established a group to identify a proper site for the new facility, with priority on finding a location that would be near the courthouse, would be accessible via bus, and would be welcomed by the surrounding neighborhood.

After whittling the list of possibilities down from 50, Pitre said the selected site along West Walnut Street and Sixth Street was one the search group could not take off its list.

Sojourner Family Peace Center purchased the site from former owner Prince Hall Masons for $300,000 in late 2010 and demolished the Plymouth Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which stood vacant on the property, in 2011.

When Pitre, Chisholm and Lovern approached Peggy Troy, chief executive officer of Children's Hospital, and Bob Duncan, executive vice president, community services at the hospital, about a partnership opportunity three years ago, the hospital jumped aboard almost instantly. During initial discussions, Duncan said CHW recognized that the new center's mission paralleled its own – to have the healthiest kids in the country living in Wisconsin.

It became apparent “that this is the right thing to do for our children and families,” he said.

In addition to contributing its child services to the Sojourner Family Peace Center, Children's Hospital has been a significant funding force for the project. Thanks to a joint effort on the part of CHW and Sojourner, the center garnered a grant of up to $10.6 million from the State Building Commission at the end of 2013.

Pitre credits Troy and her team for listing the Sojourner Family Peace Center among their top priorities.

“Without her leadership, I don't think this would have happened,” Pitre said.

In addition to state funds, $4.4 million for the project came from a New Market Tax Credit transaction, and more than $12 million was generated by donations to the Sojourner Courage Capital Campaign. The funding pot passed the campaign goal of $26.5 million in March.

Funds in excess of construction costs will be used to cover a decade of incremental operating costs for the building, according to Pitre.

Pitre said she has an “amazing sense of gratitude” for donors' respect of Sojourner and its services, adding that the success of the capital campaign says something about people's faith in the organization.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the founders before us that built such a strong foundation,” she said.

Stopping the cycle of violence

Now, as Pitre stands before the center, a sense of awe tops her jumble of feelings on the project.

“I know what it's like to be in awe – to be in awe of something – to be struck by awe,” she said.
She also knows her job is far from over.

“Now, we have the work of really sewing together the fabric of our services and looking at how we all need to change to better serve families,” Pitre said.

Once Sojourner Family Peace Center opens, one of the first steps will be ensuring a seamless continuation of services for the organization's client base, which last year exceeded 8,500 women, children and men.

The long-term vision emphasizes extinguishing the generational cycle of violence that domestic abuse breeds – an observation Lovern has made personally during his career of prosecuting domestic violence cases and gun and gang offenders.

“As we would analyze the history of those young offenders who were committing violent crimes, we were seeing that many of these young men were coming out of households that were afflicted by domestic violence or child abuse or neglect,” Lovern said.

Delivering services that get at the root causes of family struggles, identifying warning signals of family violence at earlier stages, and treating children at earlier stages of family conflict will be key in preventing violence among future generations, he said.

To measure outcomes of the new center, Sojourner is assembling a committee that will establish which metrics should be measured and can be measured, and how different clients define success.

To Pitre, success will be gauged as the center's partners find new ways to work together so families are reaching out for help earlier in the cycle of violence, more young people are engaged in curbing violence, and partners have more robust conversations about their roles in keeping families healthy.

“I think we have good will,” Pitre said. “I think we have good relationships, and I think families deserve this integrated services model. And I believe we'll get there.”


Ordered to live with an abuser: How and why American family courts fail children

by Amy Wright Glenn

Sarah's story

“Pregnant at 22,” Sarah remembers. “I was pregnant at 22; naïve, too trusting and scared.”

Sarah was a devoted student enrolled at a local community college. She waitressed part time to pay for school and lived with her parents in Woodbury, New Jersey.

“I started seeing Rick that November,” she recalls. “I met him at the restaurant.”

Rick was nearly 10 years older, making him appear sophisticated and worldly.

“My mother met Rick once and summed him up with one word: trouble. I didn't listen.”

Initially, Sarah was drawn to Rick's intensity. The sexual attraction was strong, but it didn't take long before Sarah realized he had a horrid temper. Three weeks into their relationship, Rick grabbed her by the jaw with his right hand. His fingers pressed deeply into her skin as he spit obscenities into her face.

“I was so scared,” Sarah remembers. “I froze in fear.”

Once Sarah got home, she took action.

“I sent him a text saying it was over, that he would never see me again.”

A month later, Sarah discovered she was pregnant.

Sarah didn't plan on telling him. In fact, she considered contacting the police to file a restraining order to stop his incessant calls and messages.

“I just got a new phone instead,” she states, shaking her head.

Eventually, Rick did stop driving by her parents' home and Sarah began to focus on her pregnancy.

“I couldn't live with myself if I had an abortion,” she recalls. “I decided to see the baby as an unexpected gift.”

That summer, Sarah gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Trisha. The child was welcomed warmly into Sarah's family.

Over a year passed.

“Then, one day, my dad and I took Trisha to the park,” Sarah recalls.

While they pushed her in the swing, Sarah's father brought up the subject of contacting Rick.

“A man has the right to know he's a father,” he said.

That evening, Sarah called Rick to let him know about Trisha.

“That one phone call changed everything,” she states with tears in her eyes.

Children as property divided

There's a scene in "Mad Max: Fury Road" where Immortan Joe is deterred from firing his weapon during an adrenaline-packed chase. The fearful antagonist lowers his gun upon discovering that one of his pregnant “wives” is on board the targeted vehicle.

“That's my property!” Immortan Joe declares -- his rage spewing from behind clenched jaws.

Of course, Immortan Joe is more monster than man and his character is crafted to represent the deepest shadows of aggression and greed. As moviegoers, we see this and rally behind the brave women fleeing his captivity. We recoil from the notion that a man would look upon his child, or his child's mother, as property.

While dozens of well-respected organizations work tirelessly to improve the legal status of those escaping domestic violence and abuse, the damning fact remains that America's children are too often treated as property to be divided between contentious parents in family courts. Furthermore, the courageous parents who flee with their children from violence risk losing custody of the children they fought so hard to protect.

Joyanna Silberg Ph.D., executive vice president of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence, asserts that family courts, in general, are “horrifyingly uninformed” when it comes to how domestic violence and/or child abuse manifests in people's lives. The “signs and prevalence of violence” are rarely understood or appreciated. Tragically, this results in courts routinely ordering children to live with abusive parents.

How is this possible?

Silberg has served as an expert witness relating to allegations of abuse in family courts in more than 27 states. She explains that the “underlying paradigm” in family court law is of “equal distribution” and this viewpoint impacts everything -- particularly how children are treated. Generally, family courts regard it as in “the best interests” of a child to facilitate or mandate equal time or contact with both parents.

But what happens when one parent and/or child is a victim of another parent's violence? In such cases, equal time and distribution do not create a wise paradigm to consider, nor are these principles in any way supportive of a child's best interests. Certainly, the Immortan Joes of our world do not deserve unsupervised visits with their “property” while non-abusive parents risk losing custody for failing to “facilitate contact.”

According to Silberg, most Americas are “shockingly unfamiliar” with the paradigms guiding family law and many abused mothers are aghast to discover that simply telling the truth about their own or their child's experience “often works against them.” Because abuse allegations are hard to prove, abusers can easily frame a mother as “a manipulative woman” and tell the judge that she has a “long history of lying.” If abuse isn't proven in court, this only reinforces the misconception that the victim isn't trustworthy.

Interference of custody

For Rick, the discovery of the presence of a child in his life only served one purpose: control. Within a few months, Rick filed for paternal rights at the local courthouse. By cashing in on his legal claim to his fatherhood, Rick could once again be in contact with Sarah – a woman he now despised.

“Can you imagine my horror when I read through the court documents?” Sarah says as her voice fills with anger.

Little Trisha had never met her biological father, but suddenly, it was mandated that the 17-month-old spend every other weekend with him. Even if the parent in question were emotionally stable and safe, for a securely attached, breastfeeding toddler, such a sudden separation from the primary attachment figure would be jarring, difficult and scary.

Highly regarded British psychologist Penelope Leach, whose books have been read by millions, asserts that children under 4 should not be separated overnight from their primary attachment figure -- unless the young child is “securely attached to each parent and turns to each parent for comfort.” Leach criticizes family courts that require parents “share” young children and argues, “when people say that it's ‘only fair' for a father and mother to care for their 5-year old daughter on alternate weeks, they mean it is fair to the adults – who see her as a possession and her presence as their right – not that it is fair to the child.”

For Sarah, the idea of placing Trisha into Rick's hands for weekends of unsupervised time was terrifying.

“I was stunned. I had no idea what to do,” she recalls.

The night before Rick's first court-ordered parental visitation, Sarah packed her bags in a panic and fled.

“My mothering instincts took over,” she recalls. “I had to run.”

Looking back, Sarah laments the fact that she didn't seek out legal counsel or file a temporary restraining order. She left a hurried note to her parents and spent the next few months living with Trisha at a friend's home in Philadelphia. It didn't take long for their whereabouts to be discovered. By then Rick had levied charges of “interference of custody” against her.

Today, Trisha lives with Rick. Sarah has no contact with her daughter and her parents' home is a quiet, sad place. Grief fills her chest, replacing the warm and nurturing milk she loved to offer her little girl. Sarah took a semester off and is working diligently with her lawyer in order to regain primary custody. If convicted of the pending charge, Sarah could lose permanent custody.

She cries: “All I do is focus on seeing my daughter again. I'm so worried that Trisha thinks I've abandoned her! My body aches with stress and fear. My heart is breaking, and I know her little heart is too.”

What if, instead of fleeing to a friend's apartment, Sarah had sought refuge in a domestic violence shelter? What if she had sought out legal support? Would that have mattered?

Family court

In the 2014 fiscal year, Women Against Abuse -- the only organization offering a safe haven for those fleeing domestic violence in Philadelphia -- housed more than 500 women and children in its emergency safe havens. Tragically, more than 12,000 requests for emergency shelter were denied due to lack of space. If Sarah had called seeking refuge, it is likely there would not have been room for the mother and daughter. Nonetheless, the Women Against Abuse Legal Center has six full-time staff attorneys who offer pro bono representation to survivors of domestic violence with regards to abuse, support and custody. In 2014, the center represented more than 900 individuals. Certainly, Sarah would have benefited from their expert advice.

“There are many pathways for battered mothers to both lose and secure custody,” states attorney Gabrielle Davis. “Competent legal advice and strong domestic violence advocacy are key.”

Davis is a policy adviser at the Battered Women's Justice Project and former law professor at the University of Toledo College of Law.

Molly Callahan, the director of Philadelphia's Women Against Abuse Legal Center, notes that children who grow up witnessing abuse “suffer long-term consequences.” Such children are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems and regard verbal or physical violence as a normal means of resolving conflict, potentially becoming future abusers themselves. While Pennsylvania statute requires family courts to prioritize safety, Callahan reports: “Too often we see a default position where a non-custodial parent gets every other weekend, without enough consideration of the individual case … Our hope is that judges look at the totality of the circumstances and craft an order that protects the child's emotional and physical well-being -- and that protects the adult victim of abuse.”

There are many tools at a family court judge's disposal. She or he may order therapeutic visitation, require custodial figures to attend classes on parenting or mandate batterers' intervention programs. When judges competently draw upon these tools, survivors of violence and abuse can successfully protect their children from unsupervised contact with an abusive parent.

However, wisdom does not represent the prevailing trend – even for those who have legitimately been admitted to, and received support from, domestic violence shelters. Silberg recalls: “In my last 20 years of experience with family court, I have never once seen the fact that a woman went to a domestic violence shelter be successfully used as proof of existing abuse.”

Furthermore, some judges have been known to view the support given at a domestic violence shelter as “a tactic of manipulation” on the part of a parent who is not “giving a child over to facilitate contact.”

Eyes turn to Florida

Sarah's story is a crafted amalgam of true stories shared with me in my research. Some women and children experienced brutal physical violence – including sexual assault. Some parents faced the damaging daily drain of a verbally abusive and manipulative co-parent. One mother lost complete contact with her 6-month-old son during the months she fought to establish her case for sole custody. In 2013, a Pennsylvania mother was ordered by a judge to stop breastfeeding her 10-month-old to facilitate overnight visits with the father.

This week, on July 2, Florida mother Heather Hironimus goes to court to fight the felony charge of interference of custody. Many media reports of the Hironimus story simply state that Hironimus took her 4 ½-year-old son “and fled” to escape an unwanted and unwarranted court-ordered circumcision. The subsequent dramatic and intense debate regarding genital cutting has obscured an important fact. Hironimus and her son didn't just flee. Unlike Sarah in the story crafted above, Hironimus sought out the legitimate refuge our society upholds as vital for the protection of the abused.

Upon evaluating the evidence presented, an esteemed Florida domestic violence shelter chose to open its doors to Hironimus and her son and offer needed counseling, support and safe haven. Patterns of alleged abuse and harm, predating the court-ordered circumcision, would have been central determining factors.

Many are shocked to discover that domestic violence survivors can be punished with loss of contact and custody for keeping their children safe in the shelters specifically designed to offer refuge to families in crisis. How many find themselves in this unconscionable situation? It's very difficult, nearly impossible, to determine how many abused American parents face an interference of custody charge after receiving the legitimate aid of a domestic violence shelter. Attendance at a shelter is confidential, and data regarding custodial charges are kept by each individual state. States may not know if shelters were involved; shelters may not know if criminal charges are later filed.

If Hironimus is convicted, she risks losing contact with, and custody of, the beloved son she has sacrificed so much to protect. If convicted, a little boy will grieve far more than the loss of his right to physical integrity. Being ordered to live with an allegedly feared and allegedly abusive parent, while being legally cut off from the one parent to whom he is securely attached, is a terrifying possibility.

Needed reforms

Surely, all family court judges would agree that safety is a higher priority than contact, and the statutes in many states, including Florida, do provide an affirmative defense of custodial interference charges. For example, according to Florida statute 787.03, domestic violence may be used as a valid defense in an interference with custody case. However, the way family courts are currently structured too often allows the system to be misused by abusers in order to have unsupervised time with their children. According to Silberg: “Current laws, in most states, lead to judges removing children from a parent who refuses to facilitate parenting time even when abuse is strongly suspected in the other home.”

This week, tens of thousands concerned about the fate of the Hironimus boy turn their eyes to Florida. Certainly, we should follow the court proceedings carefully and advocate for justice. Yet, we must also advocate for American parents, the vast majority of whom never find their stories reflected in the news, who struggle to protect themselves and their children from violence and abuse. Some of these parents will seek formal support; others won't.

“One of the main reasons why mothers don't leave abusers relates to the fear of the loss of custody,” states Sue Julian, former team coordinator for the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

This doesn't just apply to mothers. Fear of dividing the family and a denial of the severity of my mother's escalating mental illness delayed my father – for years – from initiating a needed custody claim to protect my youngest siblings from harm. I know what it is like to sit in court with my parents, one on each side of the room, involved in an acrimonious dispute over the future of my youngest three siblings. I've felt my heart tear with grief as I witnessed the two people who once united in tender passion to bring me into this world no longer look each other in the face, relying instead on the cold and broken protocols of family court to determine the fate of my family.

We cannot afford to fail America's abused and neglected children. A restructuring of the family court paradigm is in order. One possible solution would be to change the burden of proof required to substantiate abuse. Most significantly, according to Silberg, family courts “shouldn't be adversarial systems” at all. Silberg contends that if every lawyer, “if every member of the family court team,” had the same moral obligation that a guardian ad litem has with regard to prioritizing a child's mental and physical well-being, we all would be better off. A child isn't a piece of property to be equally divided. Removing the contentious litigating atmosphere and protocols in family court and replacing them with a shared moral obligation that prioritizes a child's well-being is “the top requirement.”

Until such reforms occur, America's family courts inadvertently place innocent children at grave risk of harm. Whether this harm entails marking a child's body with an elective surgery akin to how a dog owner crops her pet's ears or treating a child as property in the custody game of revenge – our most vulnerable citizens bear the burden of a faulty system.

An intake legal advocate at the Battered Women's Justice Project described how survivors of domestic violence, fearful of the custodial implications of acting upon their plight, are their “most frequent and most desperate callers.” Until family courts are reformed, this will continue to be the case.


Washington D.C.

Gillibrand joins bipartisan Senate push for legislation to protect children from sexual abuse

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help protect children from sexual abuse by funding school programs that provide age-appropriate lessons to primary and secondary school students on how to recognize and safely report sexual abuse. Twenty-six states have passed a version of “Erin's Law,” legislation that requires public schools to provide child sexual abuse prevention education to students and professional development for school personnel. Gillibrand, Heller and Feinstein's Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act provides federal funding for schools to develop and implement or expand these programs for students, parents and guardians. In 2013, there were a total of 60,956 instances of child sexual abuse reported to Child Protective Services agencies in the U.S. However, this estimate only represents cases of child sexual abuse reported to and confirmed by child protection authorities. Many such cases are never reported to welfare or legal systems.

“Our children need to have an age-appropriate understanding of sexual abuse and know how to safely report to an adult if they have been victimized,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Erin's Law is helping to fill an important gap in our prevention and awareness work, and the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act will make sure schools have the resources needed to develop or expand these programs and provide parents, guardians and school personnel with the tools to help prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.”

Twenty-six states across the country have passed a version of Erin's Law, named after childhood sexual assault survivor and advocate Erin Merryn. Erin's Law emphasizes the importance of educational programs that help prevent sexual abuse by using age-appropriate techniques to instruct children on how to recognize and report sexual abuse. Research has consistently shown that educational programs designed to prevent child sexual abuse are effective at teaching children skills to identify dangerous situations and prevent abuse. Such programs have also shown to be effective at promoting disclosure and reducing self-blame by victims. Two other critical aspects of Erin's Law include professional development for school personnel and information for parents and guardians in how to recognize signs of child sexual abuse, talk to children about child sexual abuse, and how to respond when a child discloses sexual abuse.


United Kingdom

Child sex abuse crackdown launched in St Helens

by Tom Belger

St Helens council is launching a crackdown on child sex abuse in the borough.

A new team of four specialists will be recruited to "prevent and disrupt" child sexual exploitation (CSE), working within the council's youth service.

The outreach team will work particularly with vulnerable young people on the streets, raising awareness about inappropriate relationships and providing support to victims.

But the project has only received funding so far for a 12-month "temporary" service, and the council has said its creation should not be seen as cause for alarm.

Labour councillor Sue Murphy, cabinet member for children, families and young people, said: "Child sexual exploitation and abuse can have a devastating impact on young people throughout their lives.

“The new dedicated outreach team will be an important asset – supplementing the good work that's already carried out in this area by the council and its partners.”

According to the St Helens Council website, there are two main aspects to the project.

The first is "intelligence gathering" to develop and share understanding of abuse within the borough.

The second is developing "diversionary activities aimed at disrupting" abuse, by making alternatives available to potential and existing victims.

The project will also promote the Listen To My Story initiative, a campaign by Merseyside's police force, councils and charities to educate people about child sexual exploitation.

The announcement comes after a series of high-profile child sex abuse cases nationally and a rise in reporting in recent years.

The ECHO revealed earlier this month how Merseyside Police are recording more than two child sex abuse allegations a day.

A total of 744 allegations of sexual offences against children were made to the force in 2013/14, research by the NSPCC found.



Maine kinship families forming bonds, seeking support

Guardians, often grandparents, say they could use more support from the state as they try to raise children.

by Craig Crosby

The child was not even technically Amy Cooper's granddaughter. The baby had just been delivered by a woman who was already four months pregnant when she struck up a relationship with Cooper's son, and the couple had moved into Cooper's home.

The mother, Cooper said, was a drug addict and alcoholic. Cooper imagined the child's life in the woman's care, and couldn't stand the image.

“They wrapped her in a pink blanket, and I took her home with me,” said Cooper, who now lives in Bangor. “I was bound and determined that this child was not going home with her.”

That was 20 years ago. The girl, and a boy born to the same woman a few years later, have lived in Cooper's care ever since. They form one of the thousands of kinship families that exist throughout the state.

The number of children living in kinship families dwarfs those in foster care, but unlike foster families, kinship families receive almost no support from the state or the communities in which they live.

“They really are not a well-known group of people, and they're increasing every month,” said Beverly Daniels, executive director of Families And Children Together, an agency that advocates for kinship families. “They're kind of a lost group right now.”

Kinship families are most often made up of grandparents, particularly grandmothers, raising their grandchildren, although there are numerous examples of other relatives taking in children not their own.

In 2010, there were more than 5,000 children in Maine homes where grandparents were the primary caregivers, according to U.S. Census statistics. There was no parent present in about 2,600 of those homes.

By comparison, in 2011, there were 1,536 children in Maine foster care. About 300 of those children were in the care of a relative.

“We have discussions about drugs, mental health and crime. Who's taking care of the kids?” said Jan Strout, of West Gardiner. “You know all these people that are drug addicted, in jail, or here or there? Most of them have got kids. Many, many families are willing to step up and take custody of those kids.”


Strout, 69, and her husband did just that more than a decade ago when they took in their grandchildren. The children, both younger than 15 at the time, called Strout to come and get them at their mother's house.

Strout knew her daughter did not want her to take the children away, but the children were desperate.

“They threw their coats out of the second-story window. They snuck down through the cellar and met me in the car,” Strout recalled. “I told them if I take you out of this house today, I will never be invited back. They said don't leave us. I took them.”

Most families, including those formed by foster care or adoption, have several months to prepare for a new child, but Daniels said kinship families are often formed like Strout's: in an emergency situation fraught with emotion. The children often have a combination of emotional and physical disabilities.

For many years, Families And Children Together had legal, social and financial programs to help kinship families navigate those waters, but the state, under the administration of Gov. John Baldacci, cut much of its funding. Daniels said there are many agencies that would help kinship families, but there is never enough money.


Kinship support groups, such as Augusta Area Kinship Support, headed by Strout, recently tried to make their presence felt. Strout and 68-year-old Jan Partridge, of Belgrade Lakes, who is raising a pre-teen granddaughter, in May organized a legislative breakfast that attracted dozens of state lawmakers and officials.

“Our purpose was to raise awareness that we're out there,” Strout said. “We're not complaining. We're just saying, ‘Hey! We're out here.'”

They have been heard at the Department of Health and Human Services. Jim Martin, director of Child and Family Services since December, said his agency is putting together a request for proposals that would allow the agency to partner with a private agency to support kinship and foster families. He hopes to have a contract in place early next year.

“It's become clear to me we're not where we want to be in supporting kinship families and foster families across the state,” Martin said.

But as his agency spends more time responding to child abuse complaints, Martin said there is not enough time to help kinship families. That's why he is seeking an outside agency to focus solely on their issues and those of foster families.

“We're working with national partners to see the models and programs used in other states,” Martin said. “We're also actively listening to staff and families to understand what they need.”

Donna Lufkin, of Gardiner, who is raising her nieces, an 8-year-old and a 9-month-old, said having someone immersed in the issues and legal process of kinship families is key.

“From moment to moment even, it will vary. With the same worker at times,” Lufkin said. “They'll tell you one thing, and then the next time you see them they will tell you something completely different. It's difficult at times, but you just keep doing it and get through it.”

Cooper said part of the reason answers are so elusive is that the issues faced by adoptive and foster families differ from kinship families.

“We're not adoptive. We're not foster,” she said. “We're grandparents. We're kin.”

Martin said the information his department has received from Daniels and others from kinship support groups has been instrumental in creating the request for proposals.

“They really care about the well-being of these children, and they want nothing but the best for them,” Martin said. “That passion is apparent when you talk to them and get the opportunity to hear their story.”


Daniels said the biggest challenge kinship families face is financial. Many of the grandparents are living on fixed incomes or are retired and unable to earn more money. A large percentage of kinship homes are headed up by single grandmothers. Absent state support, the grandparents often band together to help each other out, hosting bake sales and other fundraisers to help other families in need. Last week, a Bangor woman was collecting items for a yard sale to go into the “pay it forward” fund for Family And Children Together.

“These grandparents are helping to support others,” Daniels said. “They're a group to be reckoned with. These grammies are not going to stop.”

Other challenges revolve around the grandparents' inability to protect their grandchildren from their parents. There are stories of legal battles for guardianship and dealing with the aftermath of the state's push to reunite the children with their biological parents.

“Each one of us has a horror story is what it comes down to,” said Dawn Zammuto, 48, of Farmington, who is raising 3- and 5-year-old grandchildren. “It's a story that is heartbreaking, mainly for the children.”

Diane Loranger, 66, of Saco, who is raising 12- and 14-year-old grandchildren, said much of that heartbreak is caused by the state's push to reunite the children with their parents even when they have a pattern of substance abuse and mental health problems. Without the stress of raising the children, the parents are able to pull their lives together, Loranger said, but that falls apart when the state pulls the children out of kinship care and puts them in the parents' home.

“The person that really suffers is the child,” Loranger said. “You've got one more wound that the child won't recover from because no matter what people tell you, children are not resilient. Children are survivors. Every scar that's left from a failed reunification is something that child will have to contend with through adulthood.”

Lufkin said her 8-year-old daughter's reunification after living with Lufkin's family for two years was “horrendous.”

“It took this child from a very happy, secure child and turned her into somebody who is afraid of everything and has severe anxiety,” Lufkin said.

Loranger said she would like to see one attempt at reunification, rather than multiple. If that effort fails, she believes the state should move forward with a permanent kinship placement and allow visitation between the parents and children.

“The statute of best interest of the child has no teeth,” she said. “It's always subject to somebody's subjective interpretation. We need a much more stringent statute.”

Neither of Lufkin's daughters are legally adopted. She said the process is too difficult and too expensive. The family, who took in the youngest child last fall, said there is a process just to figure out who will pay for formula and diapers.

Partridge said kinship families save the state enough money that it could help families with those legal challenges. She said kinship care costs the state about $500 per year for every child compared to $30,000 per year for children in foster care. Partridge told lawmakers this year that the state could use a portion of that savings to help kinship families with attorney fees. She said she spent more than $50,000 to adopt her granddaughter. Partridge's daughter has now taken Partridge back to court in a bid to have the adoption annulled.


Strout said there are kinship parents in her support group who have lost their children after caring for them for six years or more. Most of the time the parents' desire to get the children back is motivated by a quest for additional state aid, she said.

The fear of losing the children to the parents turns kinship parents into hostages, Lufkin said. The families will not seek help or live with extreme difficulty, for fear of igniting an incident that will lead the children to be taken away.

Strout's children, both of whom have graduated from college since begging her to take them home, have been reunited with their mother. Strout, too, has restored her relationship with her daughter.

“The ultimate goal is to stay well and heal and protect the family,” Strout said. “I think it works better within a family than in a foster situation.”



Counseled by a predator: Minn. rape victim stunned by discovery

by Ruben Rosario

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. – Linette Gavin was not surprised when she heard the news that criminal charges were filed this month against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for failing to protect children from pedophiles in their midst.

The charges were "long overdue and probably the only way to bring a catalyst for change," said Gavin, 57, a married mother of two who was raised Catholic. "Their lack of transparency over the past decades put a lot of children in harm's way, including myself."

Gavin is not a victim of clergy sexual abuse. But she has a related story to tell, one that involves surviving a brutal abduction and rape, an attempted suicide and a scary bout with breast cancer. Yet, one lingering emotional scar is what she strongly feels, in hindsight, was neglect and betrayal by church officials in her parish during the most traumatic year of her life more than four decades ago.

Gavin was 15 years old when a stranger lured her into his car while she was walking home from school in South Minneapolis one September afternoon in 1972. Her eyes were duct-taped shut and she was driven at gunpoint to a motel in St. Paul and sexually assaulted. She was let go on the Minneapolis side and walked home in a state of shock. The case was never solved.

When informed, her parents, devout Catholics, contacted police and turned to their parish at St. Albert the Great, staffed by the Dominican order, for spiritual guidance and help for their daughter.

Brother Edmund Frost, then the school's religion and sex education teacher, was assigned to counsel her.

"We met just a few times, and I remember at the time that he seemed supportive," she recalled recently. "I remember he asked me to pray a lot."

On March 21, 2006, 33 years later, Gavin read about a $450,000 settlement between the Dominican order and a man in his mid-40s who accused Frost of repeatedly molesting him in the early 1970s.

The man was represented by St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson.

She learned that at least two brothers and another boy made similar accusations stretching from 1969 to 1974, the year before Frost, who is deceased, was shipped to a parish in Louisiana. The three cases were dismissed in the 1990s because the statute of limitations to file a claim had expired.

The brothers said Frost and the late Ronan Charles Liles, a Dominican priest at the church, groomed them with movies and outings, plied them with alcohol and took turns sexually assaulting them at cabin outings, the rectory and elsewhere in "tag-team" fashion. The order later acknowledged that the accusations were credible.

Gavin was stunned. She had no idea. The news bubbled up anxiety, distress, anger and other feelings she had stifled and controlled in recent years.

"This was the person that my church had assigned to provide support, consolation, guidance and care to a young person in the aftermath of a horrific sexual crime," she wrote in a letter sent to the archdiocese as well as the head of the Dominican religious order.

"More shocking, more irresponsible and more unprincipled, it could well be that a vulnerable, traumatized and victimized 15-year-old girl was placed in the care of a predator whose behaviors were known or suspected, even if they were hidden from view," she wrote.

Suicide attempt

Richard Gavin, her husband of 28 years, was even more irate.

"Bottom line is, they assigned a child molester to counsel a minor who was coping with PTSD," Richard Gavin said. "Brother Edmund was another threat to Linette's life that could have been avoided if the truth was in play. No parent would have authorized this situation."

Linette Gavin attended Regina, an all-girl Catholic high school, at the time of the abduction and rape. As traumatic as they were, "I was relieved at the time that he let me go because he had a gun and I wasn't sure that I was going to be killed," she told me recently.

She first told friends, then her parents. Cops in Minneapolis and St. Paul showed her mugshots but she did not recognize her assailant.

Like most kids in the South Minneapolis parish, Linette Gavin knew Frost.

He ran Thee Corner, the church youth center.

"We all liked him," she said. "He was very nice and he seemed supportive."

But whatever counseling he gave her did not stick. She became increasingly depressed during that school year. Her father, she said, chafed at professional counseling.

"He did not want me to go see a psychiatrist," she said. "He felt like we could just put it behind us and keep going on."

She swallowed a bottle of Percocet, a pain medication prescribed for her after she was injured in a car accident, during the summer of 1973.

She was hospitalized and spent six weeks in a therapy program. It helped her at the time. But she continued to struggle for the next 10 years as she took classes following high school graduation and pursued a career in the health industry field.

Seeking an answer

Then a friend recommended Carolyn McGinnis, a psychiatrist. That turned out to be a turning point in her life. The $100-an-hour sessions for the next two years were more than worth it. She got on with her life, got married, gave birth to two kids and worked 16 years as a health care coordinator at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. She now works at an Allina clinic in Woodbury.

Then came the 2006 article about Frost. Richard Gavin, concerned about his wife's state of mind, complained to archdiocesan and Dominican order officials and sought out a lawyer to at least help mediate some help for her.

That effort was put on hold after Linette was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a lumpectomy and, although cancer-free now, she must daily ingest a drug for at least three more years.

In 2009, the Gavins once again contacted church officials.

The archdiocese agreed to pay to have Linette visit with Sister Mary White, who also is a psychologist. They also agreed to foot the bill to have Linette revisit McGinnis, who had by this time relocated to Grand Rapids, Minn.

Linette said she went to Sister White for about a year and mostly got good and kind spiritual counseling but never an answer to what she really wanted to know all these years: Did church officials know of Frost's child molestations at the time they assigned him to counsel her?

She remembers White telling her: "They will never tell you that." Reached earlier this month, White said she did not recall making such a statement.

"That is exactly what I remember her saying and then giving me the book 'The Courage for Truth' by Thomas Merton, which I still have," Linette said.

She suspects officials at St. Albert knew something was amiss with Frost "because he had been teaching the boys and then suddenly got reassigned to Regina the year it happened to me," she recalled.

Anderson, who labored to get the personnel file on Frost during the 2006 settlement negotiations, said the documents he obtained do not clarify whether they knew at the time of Linette's rape. But the file notes that Frost was kicked out of the seminary in 1955 for "immaturity."

"The Church has used a lot of coded words over the years in written documents to disguise sexual abuse among its priests, but this could mean anything," Anderson said.

Telling her story

Linette also asked Father Kevin McDonough, then the archdiocese's vicar general, if she could see Frost's personnel file. McDonough told her the archdiocese had little to do with the Dominican order and that she would have to deal with them on the request.

"He told me that it might be difficult to get Brother Frost's dental records," she said. "He also told me that the Church had cleaned things up, and that Frost and others were old cases."

The recent criminal charges stem from the conviction of Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest who pleaded guilty in 2012 to abusing two brothers in his parish and is serving a five-year prison sentence. The fact that McDonough and others knew of Wehmeyer's penchant for cruising for sex in parks and other behaviors for years before the conviction makes Gavin even more certain that the Dominican order, if not the Archdiocese, knew about Frost.

She stopped seeing Sister White, whom she still admires and likes, after she was told that she could no longer see her, but to meet with Greta Sawyer, a victim advocate employed by the archdiocese.

"That's when I dropped it," she said of her quest.

She decided shortly thereafter to tell her grown son and daughter about what had happened to her in 1972. Then, a few weeks ago, she decided to take McGinnis' advice, which was: They will not help you, so tell your story and try to help someone else.

If she wants anything from the church, the one that she knows has many good people in it that do good things, it's an apology and an admission that they screwed up when they assigned Frost to help her.

She is resigned that she will never get that. Jane Straub, a victim assistance specialist with the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, lauds Gavin for sharing her story.

"She wants, needs and deserves some acknowledgement that the church did not take care of her," Straub said. "Even if she was not abused by Brother Edmund, he was a sexual offender of children put in charge of another child who had experienced sexual trauma. Is there a person from the church who can at least say, 'That was not right?'"



Can You Recognize a Bully?

KENTUCKY — How do we recognize, deal with and prevent bullying, particularly in schools?

A leading authority on bullying offered some ideas June 12 in a University of Kentucky training session called "The Meanest Generation: Teaching Civility, Empathy, Kindness and Compassion to our Angriest Children," at Eastern State Hospital in Lexington.

Malcolm Smith, founder and director of the Courage to Care Project who serves on the faculty of Plymouth State University, said one myth about bullying is that it only occurs in large schools. "Actually, I'm more worried about children in a rural school," Smith said. In rural areas, he said, bullying can be a huge problem because there's nowhere to hide, everyone is often into everyone else's business, and an issue can escalate into a feud when families get involved.

Smith defined bullying as a single incident or pattern of written, verbal, electronic or physical actions intended to harm a pupil or his or her property; cause emotional stress; interfere with that student's right to an education; or disrupt the school's operation. Smith debunked a common theory about bullying that became popular in the 1980s-that bullies lack self-esteem. "Bullies are not kids who have low-self-esteem," Smith said. "The average bully is the kid who is a narcissist." Smith believes that a person becomes narcissistic if he or she never learned to bond and love as a child.

He argued that a lack of empathy and rising narcissism-which is characterized by an overinflated view of one's talents and a high level of selfishness-are the true causes of bullying. Empathy is the tendency to react to other people's observed experiences. Research shows that 70 percent of current students score higher in narcissism and lower in empathy than they did 35 years ago. Smith believes this is related to the rise in technology, the culture of self-esteem, the decline of time spent playing-which is often when children gain social competencies-and the overexposure of children to meanness and violence through the media.

Bullies are more likely to have been involved in domestic violence and child abuse; are more likely to commit crimes, drink and smoke; and have a greater propensity toward becoming anti-social adults. Signs that a child is a victim of a bully include exclusion, fear, lack of friends, erratic attendance, depression, withdrawal or clinging to teachers and staff.

Because bullying is characterized by an imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the victim, Smith urged school counselors and teachers not to try mediating a bullying situation, especially not by talking to both the victim and the bully in the same room or worse, leaving them to "work it out." Smith said, "You have to educate the social-emotional deficit in the bully, and you have to comfort the victim." Instead of simply punishing the bully, an authority must discipline him or her, which involves teaching.

To properly discipline a bully, he or she must be required to take responsibility for the behavior and explain to the authority why the behavior was wrong. Then the student must discuss alternative actions that could have been employed. Finally, the student must not only apologize but also perform an act of kindness toward the student he or she bullied.

Smith urged teachers and counselors to recognize and address bullying, explaining that it is not ever a good thing or a positive part of a growing experience, as some people think. He pointed out that adults in the workplace are protected by harassment laws and don't have to face bullying alone, so children shouldn't have to, either. He said to combat bullying, "model good social skills yourself, advocate for safer schools and better laws, work with your school parent-teacher organization, engage parents and students in prevention and work on culture and climate."



Pedophile Rights? Austin Texas City Council Member Likens Pedophilia To Homosexuality In Wake Of Legalized Gay Marriage

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage throughout the land, Austin, Texas City Council Member Don Zimmerman took to Twitter Friday night to make comparisons between same-sex marriages and pedophilia, not surprisingly inspiring some emotional responses.

According to the Statesman, a person identified as Austin Council Member Zimmerman was participating in a Facebook conversation touching on the subject of gay marriage when he told another in the conversation to replace “gay” with “pedophile.” Doing so, surmised Zimmerman would lead to the conclusion that “there is no such thing as pedophilia, only (inter-generational) love.”

Of course, the popular argument against those who compare gay-marriage and gay rights with pedophilia and pedophile rights, is that a child can't consent to a sexual relationship with an adult, and therefore there's no comparison. Same-sex relationships between legally consenting adults have nothing in common at all with a pedophile having a relationship with an underage minor that can't legally consent to the relationship with the pedophile anyway. Case closed.

So, pedophile rights? Don't be ridiculous.

But the Northern Colorado Gazette reports that pedophiles and pedophile groups are indeed fighting for their alleged rights, based on the same arguments, and seeking the same rights and status, that the Gay Rights Community successfully used to win their fight.

In fact, the point of view voiced by many pedophiles and pedophile groups, not to mention Austin City Council Member Zimmerman, is that the sexual orientation status pedophiles seek is no different than that of heterosexuals or homosexuals.

And the psychiatric community, along with many in the U.S. government, apparently seem to agree, advocating for a re-definition of pedophilia consistent with how homosexuality was redefined in 1973.

In a claim that might shock many, in 1998 the American Psychiatric Association reported that “the ‘negative potential” of adult sex with children was “overstated” and that “the vast majority of both men and women reported no negative sexual effects from childhood sexual abuse experiences.”

The Federal Government has also already granted “protected status” for pedophilia and pedophiles, along with the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act listing “sexual orientation” as a “protected class.”

After Republicans tried to amend this act by saying “pedophilia is not covered as an orientation,” Democrats shut the amendment down, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fl) making the case that no American should live in fear because of who they are, including pedophiles.

“This bill addresses our resolve to end violence based on prejudice and to guarantee that all Americans, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability or all of these ‘philias' and fetishes and ‘isms' that were put forward need not live in fear because of who they are. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this rule.”

The bill was also reportedly praised by the White House.

“At root, this isn't just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another — whether we embrace our differences rather than allowing them to become a source of animus.”

In the end, while pro-gay-rights advocates call any comparisons between gay rights and pedophile rights fear-mongering, the pedophile community does appear to be fighting for their alleged rights.

Along with other psychologists and others in the University Community, Harvard Health Publications wrote, all the way back in July, 2010, that, “Pedophilia is a sexual orientation and unlikely to change. Treatment aims to enable someone to resist acting on his sexual urges.”


How to alter attitudes to smacking: show parents the facts

Many parents who believe in corporal punishment are unaware of the psychological as well as physical harm that spanking causes children. Exposing them to the facts provides a quick and easy way of persuading some, at least, to change their minds.

A research team in Dallas, Texas investigated how young single people and parents would respond to on-line information about a growing fund of evidence linking corporal punishment to poor parent-child relationships, aggressive and delinquent behavior among children, depression and an increased risk of child physical abuse.

Surveys have found as many a three out of four adults in the United Sates believe that “a good hard spanking” is an appropriate and sometimes necessary way to discipline children. Existing research also shows how favorable attitudes towards corporal punishment are a strong predictor that those who are– or may become – parents will use it.

Parents who spank more frequently tend to believe it will make their children more compliant and respectful. Since their intention, in most cases, is to promote good behavior, not cause harm, the Dallas researchers anticipated that introducing them to key factual messages from research could help prevent smacking by changing attitudes.

They began by testing their approach with 118 university students who were shown summaries of research exposing the connections between corporal punishment, child abuse and adverse emotional and behavioral outcomes for children. This achieved a significant reduction in attitudes favoring smacking – although there was unexpectedly no difference in the change achieved among students simply asked to read the summaries and those required to engage with the information more actively.

Randomized controlled trial
The researchers then organized a trial where 263 parents of children aged 2 to 8 years were randomly assigned to either view the seven, brief research summaries about the harmful effects of corporal punishment (each two or three sentences in length) on their computers, or to a control group who were shown information about the relationship between daycare and child behavior.

Before viewing the information all the participants had completed a questionnaire about childrearing including their attitudes to both corporal punishment and daycare. When they completed the questionnaire again after the web presentations, it was found that 47 per cent of parents in the group showed the information about corporal punishment held less favorable attitudes towards spanking than before, compared with 32 per cent in the control group.

Although robust research into parenting programs has previously demonstrated how participants can be persuaded to apply effective, non-violent disciplinary strategies at home, the Dallas research suggests that providing parents with basic information about corporal punishment via the Internet, offers a quick, cheap and effective contribution to prevention.

Lasting changes?
The study does, however, have limitations, including a predominantly White sample of parents who were mostly mothers. As the researchers acknowledge, their information-giving approach needs to be tested with samples where fathers and other cultural and ethnic groups are more strongly represented. There also needs to be a longer-term investigation into how durably people's attitudes were changed and whether altered attitudes translated into less use of corporal punishment.

Additionally, it would be helpful to know more about a minority of parents (14.6 per cent) in their intervention group whose attitudes towards smacking became more favorable after viewing the research summaries than before. This may indicate that some parents will cling even harder to mistaken beliefs when confronted with contrary evidence. But the possibility that the approach might have unintended side effects ought to be explored.