Cops are desperate to find “Baby Doe's” parents in dead-end case
by Steve Smith
(Picture on site)
Investigators have not yet been able to pinpoint the cause for death as the body of Baby Doe showed no signs of abuse or trauma. The state medical examiner's office performed the autopsy and failed to confirm either the manner or the exact cause of death. Police haven't even determined how long ago the child had died.
The district attorney of Suffolk County, Dan Conley, said that she was discarded and this indignity has struck a chord with Bostonians & New Englanders alike. But it may have also been accidental.
The police aren't aware whether the death was a homicide or an accident. The child was around 4 years old and had brown hair and eyes. She weighed close to 30 pounds & was three and a half feet tall as per the Massachusetts State Police. The blanket the child was wrapped in was sold at Walmart.
Katherine Phillips, another missing girl, was last seen with a pink tank top that had black & pink flowers on it with pink shorts. When the body of this unidentified girl was found, it had already entered the preliminary stages of decomposition. Preliminary testing confirmed that it wasn't Phillips from Mason County. The body had been discovered on the 25th of June and has not only left the police baffled but has also left the public confused as to how this girl isn't being missed somewhere.
Questions continue to be asked about her remains and how this girl washed up on the shoreline of Massachusetts is still a mystery. In real life, the child may not have looked like the image which is being circulated of her and that is why it is important for people to consider this fact when they are thinking of anything they might find worth reporting.
There are cases like this happening all the time and this is mostly because of the child's age and the situation in which she was found. It does however help motivate the public to help and touches the hearts of all involved.
Bill Cosby already being punished severely in court of public opinion
by Ray Jablonski
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- This week, the Associated Press obtained court documents from 2005 in which comedian Bill Cosby admitted to obtaining quaaludes, a hypnotic drug, with the intention of giving them to women with whom he planned to have sex.
Cosby, who turns 78 today, is unlikely to face criminal charges for any of the allegations against him since the statute of limitations in many of those cases have already expired, but he is certainly going to face many civil suits from his accusers. Though he may not receive criminal punishment, Cosby is already being punished heavily in the court of public opinion, losing sources of income and prestige as his reputation has been forever tarnished by the accusations against him.
Two more television networks are severing ties. Bounce announced this week it will stop airing "Cosby" — a sitcom that aired on CBS from 1996 to 2000 —"effective immediately," the Adweek blog reported.
The last network left regularly running a Cosby series in syndication — BET-owned Centric, which calls itself "The First Network Designed for Black Women" — has also thrown in the towel. A Centric rep told Adweek the network has pulled all Cosby Show episodes "until further notice."
Centric aired three episodes of "The Cosby Show" each day and had previously scheduled two Cosby Show marathons this weekend, Adweek reported.
Cosby was quietly dumped by talent agency CAA, which represented him since 2012, and he is now without talent representation in Hollywood, Hollywood business publication Deadline reported Wednesday.
"We do not represent him at this time," a CAA official told Deadline.
A statue of Cosby was removed from Walt Disney World, The Huffington Post reported . A bronze bust of the actor was removed Tuesday night from a section of the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park that pays tribute to TV legends.
A sexual assault survivor organization is petitioning the White House to revoke a Presidential Medal of Freedom the comedian received in 2002. The online petition garnered more than 2,600 signatures in less than 24 hours, CNN News reported.
"The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest award bestowed on civilians for their contributions to society," says the petition organized by Chicago-based PAVE, or Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment. "Bill Cosby does not deserve to be on the list of distinguished recipients."
PAVE's founder and executive director, Angela Rose, was abducted and sexually assaulted when she was 17, and she has spent her life working on behalf of survivors and trying to educate the public about sexual violence, CNN reported.
Taking the medal from Cosby is an "opportunity to send a very important message, especially to young people, to tell them that Cosby's actions should not be celebrated," she told CNN Thursday. "We are hopeful that the President and the administration, which has taken bold and powerful stances on the issue of sexual assault on campuses and the military, will also take a powerful stance on this."
Officials at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce have defended their decisions not to remove Cosby's star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, insisting it's "a part of the historic fabric" of the tourist attraction. Chamber president Leon Gubler told WENN-TV in Philadelphia he and his associates have been asked to remove the Cosby star amid the comedian's ongoing sex abuse scandal, and requests have increased this week.
"The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has received inquiries asking whether we are planning to remove the star of Bill Cosby. The answer is no," Gubler said. "The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a registered historic landmark. Once a star has been added to the Walk, it is considered a part of the historic fabric of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Because of this, we have never removed a star from the Walk."
Cosby has denied all wrongdoing, has never been charged with a crime and may never be since many of the allegations against him are so old. He's being sued but the legal process takes time, and in the meantime, his foes are trying to punish him any way they can, USA Today reported.
"Cosby is someone who's (an alleged) serial rapist, who lied to his wife, his family and the community," Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope, one of the leaders of the remove-the-star effort, told reporters in Hollywood Thursday, as USA Today reported. "This star that Cosby has on the Walk of Fame should be removed."
Cosby and his team of lawyers and publicists have remained silent on the ongoing scandal, and almost no one is defending Cosby in public except Whoopi Goldberg on The View and a black conservative group, Project 21, that criticized Cosby's accusers Thursday as opportunistic for waiting until now to accuse him, USA Today reported.
When the allegations against Cosby first reemerged last fall, his career and reputation suffered almost immediate consequences. He was dropped from the boards of colleges and universities, and his name was taken off educational scholarships and buildings, which had been the chief focus of his longstanding philanthropy, USA Today reported.
Public relations experts say Bill Cosby's admission revealed this week may have delivered a fatal blow to his career and legacy, regardless of whether he is ever found guilty of any sort of wrongdoing in a court of law, the Sinclair Broadcast Group reported.
Glenn Selig, founder of The Publicity Agency, told the Sinclair Broadcast Group people will likely assume if Cosby was obtaining the drugs, it was with the intention of taking advantage of women and there is something sinister in his behavior, even if he did not admit to that. The documents, which only contain portions of the deposition transcript, do not indicate Cosby ever acknowledged giving the women drugs without their consent or whether he admitted to actually using them with more than one woman.
Ernest Delbuono, senior vice president and chair of crisis practice at Levick, told Sinclair Broadcast Group if this was only a single allegation, people might be willing to ignore it, but Cosby's words in these documents come after dozens of women have accused him of acts ranging from unwanted sexual advances to rape.
"He's sort of gone down over the ledge on this one," Delbuono told Sinclair Broadcast Group.
The New Child Abuse Panic
by Maxine Eichner
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — FEW things are tougher for a parent than dealing with a child's serious medical condition, particularly if it is complicated and hard to diagnose. The parent has to make hard choices about treatment, navigating conflicting advice from doctors or even rejecting one doctor's opinion and seeking another.
Recently, the situation of these parents has gotten even harder. Some doctors and hospitals have begun to level a radical new charge — “medical child abuse” — against parents who, they say, get unnecessary or excessive treatment for their kids. That this care is usually ordered by other doctors hasn't protected parents from these loaded accusations.
Although most of these cases have nothing to do with real child abuse, credulous child welfare officials have too often supported the doctors, threatened parents with loss of custody, and even removed kids from their homes — simply because the parents disagreed with the doctor's plan of care.
Perhaps the most notorious such case is that of Justina Pelletier, a teenager who was being treated for mitochondrial disease, or “mito,” a rare metabolic disorder that interferes with energy production. On the advice of a metabolic geneticist at Tufts Medical Center who was treating her, she was admitted in 2013 to Boston Children's Hospital, so that she could see her longtime gastroenterologist, who had recently moved there. Without consulting the girl's doctor at Tufts, Boston Children's concluded that the girl's problem was not mito, but largely psychiatric, according to The Boston Globe.
When her parents disagreed and sought to transfer her back to Tufts, Boston Children's called child protection, asserting that the parents were harmfully interfering in her care. Although the Tufts geneticist supported the mito diagnosis, a juvenile court judge deferred to Boston Children's assessment, and Justina's parents lost custody. After more than 16 months in state custody, much of it spent in a locked psychiatric ward, Justina was finally returned to her parents — still in a wheelchair, still sick.
The term “medical child abuse” dates from the mid-1990s, as a condition related to Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disturbance in which a parent induces illness in a child to get attention. It has caught on with doctors over the last decade. But what constitutes “unnecessary medical care” — the heart of the test for medical child abuse — is vague and subjective. After all, doctors often disagree with one another when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of complicated conditions.
I WRITE from experience. My husband and I are lucky not to have been charged with medical child abuse during the eight years we tried to find answers to our daughter's mysterious illness.
Her symptoms began when she was 10 and had her first migraine. The headaches became so frequent, nauseating and painful that she missed most school for two years. Eventually, at 13, she received a diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, an autonomic nervous system disorder.
We learned how to deal with this condition, but when our daughter was 15, her health deteriorated once again. She started to fall — first once a day, then five times, then 20 times a day. The dizziness, fatigue and nausea worsened. When her neurologist refused to believe that the falls were caused by anything besides faintness from the nervous system disorder — though we could see that she was fully conscious and that her legs weren't working properly during the falls — we sought out other experts. None could explain the falls. Meanwhile, our daughter spent two years using a wheelchair to go all but the shortest of distances.
Many doctors suggested that she was exaggerating or even faking her symptoms. A few thought her symptoms resulted from psychological factors like stress. Others surmised that the problem was me: Perhaps because I had migraines when I was younger, I was overly sensitive to her pain. Or perhaps my refusal to accept the doctors' conclusions was preventing my daughter from dealing with her psychological issues.
When she was 18, our daughter learned that some patients with her nervous-system disorder had been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, which would also explain her intermittent leg weakness. We consulted a mito expert, and almost wept with relief when she believed our account of our daughter's symptoms. Tests confirmed that our daughter had mito. With luck and a team of exceptional doctors, she managed to get her life back. She recently finished her third year of college. Her wheelchair gathers dust in our basement.
As I've researched medical child abuse over the past year, several advocacy and support groups for patients with rare diseases told me they had seen an alarming rise in medical child abuse charges: MitoAction (which supports patients with mito); the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (disorders relating to white blood cells); the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation (a rare disorder of the connective tissues); and Dysautonomia International (autonomic nervous system disorders). Through these groups, I've surveyed 95 parents who have been accused, in 30 states.
Dr. Frances D. Kendall, the geneticist in Atlanta who diagnosed my daughter's mitochondrial disease, told me that she has seen a rising number of cases in which the parents of children with mito had been wrongly charged. Dr. Mark S. Korson, the geneticist who treated Justina Pelletier at Tufts, also said that such charges have snowballed in recent years.
Most states lump “medical child abuse” into general child abuse or neglect statistics, and can't break out separate numbers. Michigan is an exception. Its figures show that, on average, 51 charges of medical abuse have been made against caretakers each year between 2010 and 2013. Extrapolating this to the national population would mean more than 1,600 charges each year.
The precursor to medical child abuse, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, dates from 1977, when a British pediatrician published case studies of two mothers who had intentionally sickened their children — in one case, fatally — to get attention. However, controversy developed about whether this was a genuine psychological disorder, what motivated the mother (it is almost always mothers who are charged) and, critically, how to distinguish Munchausen mothers from those caring for genuinely sick kids. Munchausen charges were generally discredited after several mothers were shown to have been wrongly convicted based on grossly deficient expert testimony.
Sadly, while knowledge of Munchausen traveled across the Atlantic, skepticism about it did not. Starting in the mid-1990s, two doctors — Dr. Carole Jenny, a pediatrician specializing in child abuse, and her husband, Dr. Thomas A. Roesler, a psychiatrist — proposed that Munchausen's taint could be avoided by reconceptualizing the condition. Doctors, they said, shouldn't focus on the parent's mental state (as in Munchausen) but, instead, simply determine whether the child had received unnecessary and harmful, or potentially harmful, care at the behest of a parent. They defined “potentially harmful” to include any unnecessary medicine or diagnostic test that could have harmful side effects, even if the child wasn't actually harmed. Such care, they argued, should be labeled medical child abuse, and treated like any other kind of child abuse.
But there is no solid evidence that their standard helps to sort out parents who intentionally use medical care to hurt their children from well-meaning, innocent parents. Indeed, Drs. Jenny and Roesler recognized that most kids identified by their criteria were truly sick (though they believe the kids received excessive, inappropriate care) and that their criteria identified far more parents than the standard Munchausen criteria.
Dr. Richard G. Boles, a mitochondrial disease specialist who has worked on some 100 cases involving suspected medical child abuse, said that only about five fit the classic Munchausen situation and should be considered abuse. Of the rest, he says, about two-thirds involved a demanding mother who got on a doctor's nerves; the remainder involved a parent who was too anxious in dealing with doctors who couldn't give adequate answers.
Compounding the problems with the overly broad definition of medical child abuse is the considerable misinformation spread by its proponents. In 2013, a governor's task force in Michigan stated that “many cases of Medical Child Abuse go undetected because caregivers are skilled at deceiving the medical community.” No hard evidence, however, suggests that such parents are anything but rare. Medical child abuse is far more likely overcharged than undercharged.
The task force identified these warning signs of medical child abuse: a “highly attentive parent” who is “unusually reluctant to leave his/her child's side”; a parent who “demands second and third opinions”; a parent who “is not relieved or reassured when presented with negative test results and resists having the child discharged from the hospital”; and a parent who has “unusually detailed medical knowledge.” These warning signs accurately describe many, if not most, loving parents of medically fragile children.
In its zealotry, the medical child abuse movement resembles two other panics from the recent past: the sex-abuse panic of the 1980s and 1990s and, more recently, the panic over shaken-baby syndrome. In both panics, experts saw foul play where none existed, government officials took their views at face value, and people were wrongly convicted and imprisoned, their lives ruined. Medical child abuse is causing similar harm.
Jessica and Sean Hilliard of Attleboro, Mass., went through the agony of watching their 5-year-old daughter die in 2011 from what two outside specialists concluded was a genetic disease that affected mitochondrial function. The couple asked Boston Children's, where the daughter died, to test their 3-year-old son for the disease after he showed symptoms suggestive of it (mito can run in families). A hospital pediatrician specializing in child protection, citing a pattern of behavior that she contended suggested abuse, accused the parents of fabricating their son's medical issues, though she had not spoken with his outside doctors and therapists.
After the state declared the charges unfounded, the Hilliards transferred their son's care to Tufts, where he received several diagnoses, including mitochondrial disease. Even so, the Boston Children's pediatrician called a Tufts doctor who focuses on child abuse, who then reported the parents for “overmedicalization.” The state intervened, over the objections of doctors at Tufts who were treating the boy. To resolve the charges, the Hilliards allowed him to be weaned off his medications. This required a six-week hospitalization, during which his condition deteriorated, until the treatments were restored. Again, the charges were dropped.
(Asked about the Pelletier and Hilliard cases, a spokesman for Boston Children's disputed the facts but said the hospital could not discuss specifics of these cases because of privacy restrictions; he noted that health providers are obliged by law to report suspected abuse. Tufts said it couldn't discuss the Hilliard case.)
Sara and Paul Mayo of Arlington, Tex., checked their 16-year-old daughter into Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth last November. It was her third admission in two months for acute stomach pain with no clear cause. This time, she had difficulty walking after taking her prescribed medications. A hospitalist and a neurologist who had not treated their daughter previously diagnosed a psychological disorder, and said she required in-patient treatment. When the Mayos disagreed, asserting they wanted a second opinion from the Mayo Clinic (no relation) in Rochester, Minn., the Texas hospital called the authorities to report their suspicions of medical child abuse. The charges were dropped only after the Mayo Clinic found that the daughter had gastric ulcers , among other ailments.
(A spokeswoman for Cook Children's said that she could not discuss the case because of confidentiality rules, but added that the hospital was “morally and ethically obligated to protect children” and would “always err on the side of caution for that child.”)
OUR legal system protects parents' rights to make decisions for their kids, even if those decisions are sometimes less than ideal.
Courts have long dealt with cases of neglect, in which parents are charged with denying kids necessary care. In these cases, courts have allowed the state to require care only when doctors agree about the treatment, its medical benefits are clear, and its risks are small. This exception is narrow because courts recognize that parents are usually far better positioned — and motivated — than doctors or the state to know and do what is in their child's best interests. These protections should apply to medical-abuse charges.
Government should not get involved when doctors disagree about a diagnosis or course of treatment, the doctors have full knowledge of the child's medical record, and a parent chooses one doctor's opinion over another's. It should intervene only when there is evidence that a parent has intentionally provided significant misinformation to physicians, fabricated elements of the medical history or induced medical symptoms. Parents should always be allowed to seek second (and third) opinions.
We must protect children from the rare disturbed parent. But medical child abuse, as it has been understood, is far too big and blunt an instrument to accomplish this purpose. It has harmed too many genuinely sick kids, and made life hell for too many loving parents. It is time to end the medical abuse panic.
Maxine Eichner is a professor of law at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the author of “The Supportive State: Families, Government, and America's Political Ideals.”
Child abuse cases jump in Washington County as new state recommendations take hold
More social workers will be hired to keep up with changes.
by Kevin Giles
Washington County will hire several more social workers to cope with a soaring number of child abuse and neglect cases resulting from new state requirements in how those cases are reported.
The county division that oversees child protection and welfare cases projects 929 new reports this year, compared with 631 last year. The increase began after a state task force appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton issued findings in March that called for 93 changes to child protection laws.
To cope with the caseload, the County Board last week approved hiring five child protection workers and a supervisor, and will increase three half-time jobs to full time.
County taxpayers won't pay the costs, however. A state allocation of $582,400 will be awarded this month, and another $145,600 in February if the county can show it's meeting state requirements, Sarah Amundson, a child protection division manager, told commissioners.
For years, Washington County commissioners criticized state mandates that required programs but didn't fully fund them. State and federal mandates control about 80 percent of the county budget.
“I think this is an example of how we want to work with the state of Minnesota,” said Commissioner Karla Bigham, a former legislator. “They are actually coming with money with strings attached, so we are meeting benchmarks, so there is accountability.”
Another commissioner, board chairman Gary Kriesel, said he wanted to make clear to county residents that the steep rise in cases didn't result from shortcomings in how the county monitors them.
“It's important for the public to know that those guidelines are not the county's but they're mandated by the state and federal governments,” he said. “I don't want people thinking the county was asleep at the switch. The employees that work in the child protection arena are often distressed that they can't do more.”
The state task force that produced the recommendations concluded that investigating a broader range of child abuse reports would result in substantially heavier caseloads. Dayton appointed the task force in October after a series of stories in the Star Tribune uncovered evidence that at least 58 children in Minnesota had died from maltreatment since 2005, even when public agencies had been warned that those children were in danger from caregivers.
Possibly the most significant change, Amundson said, is that child protection workers now can consider family history when screening cases — meaning that more children will receive services that might involve court intervention.
High-profile cases, such as the alleged murder of 10-year-old Barway Collins by his father in Hennepin County, have stirred people to action. So has football star Adrian Peterson hitting his son with a wooden switch, Amundson said.
“As a professional in this field it's been fascinating to watch public perception,” she said. “On one hand, so many people are outraged that more isn't done, and then you have this Adrian Peterson case that is so highly publicized, the famous Vikings player, and a lot of people who felt he had every right to physically discipline his child despite all of those horrific injuries.”
In Washington County, most child protection cases involve physical and sexual abuse. Less common is child neglect, which involves such problems as truancy, lack of food and unsafe living environments such as garbage houses.
Amundson said many child protection workers have been handling 15 to 17 cases at a time — too many to meet new state requirements of timely face-to-face contact with at least 90 percent of child victims.
“If the caseloads get too big, they're just running,” she said of protection workers. “I want people making good decisions, not stressed out about seeing the next family. Ultimately we need to make sure kids are safe.”
Child abuse in Washington County
• To report child abuse or neglect in Washington County, call 651-430-6457. The county website, co.washington.mn.us, also has a link and reporting form.
• A Star Tribune story that summarizes child protection recommendations that Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/nhcauv6
Senior British Police Chief Charged in Massive Sex Abuse Inquiry
by Nico Hines
Accused of raping and sexually assaulting three boys just hours after Britain's largest inquiry into sexual abuse opens.
LONDON — A senior British police chief was charged with the rape and sexual assault of three boys Thursday, just hours after a massive public inquiry into child sex abuse was officially opened.
Gordon Anglesea, 78, a senior policeman in Wales for 34 years, is accused of abusing three boys between the ages of 11 and 16 in the late 1970s and '80s.
His arrest comes after decades of systemic cover-ups that left thousands of children victimized. Lowell Goddard, the judge presiding over the long-awaited Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, said she had reason to believe that more than 1 in 20 British children were sexually abused while police and the authorities systematically downplayed the number of crimes reported to them. Britain's police forces have only begun to properly investigate hundreds of cases of alleged child abuse in recent years.
The charges against Anglesea, a man who was employed to protect the public from such criminals, reinforces the need for the far-reaching public inquiry into the way Britain's powerful cadre of sex abusers have been insulated from the effects of the law.
Goddard has promised to name the individuals and institutions responsible for abusing children or for covering up their torment for decades. Thousands of survivors have been invited to give evidence in the largest public inquiry in British history, which will run alongside the concurrent police investigations.
As the judge's words were broadcast via livestream, tears rolled down the faces of survivors who thought they would never see a day when Britain's most powerful institutions and influential men were held accountable.
“Children's lives were ruined. Adults' childhoods stolen. So many broken people. So many failed them,” Susan Crocombe, an abuse survivor, told The Daily Beast. “My tears were good tears… The tables are turning at last.”
The inquiry has been given access to classified files held by MI5, MI6, and Scotland Yard's Special Branch, while officials working for any institution have been granted full whistleblower's immunity to come forward even if their evidence would breach the Official Secrets Act.
“No one, no matter how apparently powerful, will be allowed to obstruct our enquiries,” said Goddard. “No one will have immunity from scrutiny by virtue of their position.”
The inquiry was announced more than a year ago but disputes over the extent of its powers and the identity of the chair delayed the opening until now. The first judge, Baroness Butler-Sloss, was forced to resign when it emerged that her brother had been implicated in covering up a VIP pedophile ring operating at the heart of the government in the 1980s. The leading lawyer selected to replace her, Fiona Woolf, stood down last year when it was discovered that she was a friend and neighbor of suspected pedophile Leon Brittan, a protégé of Margaret Thatcher and former Home Secretary.
The government subsequently decided that the only credible way to probe the alleged establishment cover-up was by bringing in someone from the other side of the world. Goddard is a New Zealand high court judge with no links to the British institutions that she now promises to expose.
“We must travel from the corridors of power in Westminster to children's homes in the poorest parts of the country, to hospitals, GP surgeries, schools, churches, and charities,” she said.
“Many victims and survivors have already waited far too long for recognition of the abuse they have suffered. Too many individuals and institutions have been sheltered from accountability through patterns of indifference or obstruction.”
The inquiry, which is expected to last five years, will include public hearings, although victims and survivors will be able to give evidence anonymously. New evidence of historic child sex abuse will by passed to the sprawling police operation, which is investigating allegations against 76 politicians and almost 250 “persons of public prominence.”
A “truth project” element of the Goddard inquiry will operate six regional centers, where victims will be able to go and testify in person, as well as a telephone hotline.
Carl, who was abused by a pedophile ring from the age of 7, told The Daily Beast he was likely to give evidence of his own ordeal to the inquiry. “I think it's looking more positive that it has done so far,” he said. “Still trying to digest it all but so far I'm very encouraged by what she said.”
Some of those involved in the battle to expose Britain's child abuse in the past were more cautious. Liz Davies, a social worker who told The Daily Beast that evidence she gathered of a pedophile ring in the 1990s was ignored by police, said she was disappointed by the lack of investigative experience on the panel.
“Where are the retired police officers, where are the investigators to look at the organized element of this child abuse?” she asked a Guardian correspondent. “I fear the perpetrators will be laughing today.”
Child sexual abuse inquiry 'could last until 2020'
The sexual abuse of children has left "scars" on victims and society, the chair of an inquiry into historical abuse in England and Wales has said.
Justice Lowell Goddard was speaking as she opened the independent inquiry, which she said could last until 2020.
It will examine how public bodies handled their duty of care to protect children from abuse.
Justice Goddard said there were suggestions that one child out of every 20 in the UK had been sexually abused.
She said many who are sexually abused as a child do not tell adults - and that if they do "their reports may go unheeded".
There may also have been systematic under-recording and mis-recording of child sex abuse by the police and other agencies, she added, meaning that "the true picture may be even worse than the current figures indicate".
Speaking about the scale of the problem, she said: "The need for accurate recording is one of the issues that the inquiry will have to confront."
The inquiry was first announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in July 2014.
It followed claims of a high-level cover-up of historical child sex abuse involving public figures, including politicians.
The New Zealand High Court judge, who led an inquiry into police handling of child abuse cases in her own country, was the third person named to chair the inquiry - her two predecessors resigned over concerns about their links with the establishment.
In her opening remarks, she said the task ahead was daunting, but that it could expose past failures of institutions to defend children.
Justice Goddard said the sexual abuse of children "has left permanent scars not only on successive generations, has left permanent scars not only on victims themselves, but on society as a whole".
But she added: "This inquiry provides a unique opportunity to expose past failures of institutions to protect children, to confront those responsible, to uncover systemic failures... and to make recommendations that will help prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the future."
Justice Goddard also said it was important to emphasise that this was the largest and most ambitious public inquiry ever established in England and Wales.
Despite the size of the investigation, she was "determined to ensure that it does not become bogged down in the delays that have bedevilled some other public inquiries in this jurisdiction".
What are the allegations?
In July last year, Labour MP Simon Danczuk called on Leon Brittan to say what he knew about paedophile allegations passed to him when he was home secretary in the 1980s.
The files were given to Lord Brittan, who died in January, by the late Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens, a long-standing campaigner against child abuse.
Mr Dickens's son has said the files - now missing - contained "explosive" paedophile allegations about powerful and famous figures, including politicians.
Since Mr Danczuk's comments brought the so-called "Dickens dossier" to the fore, the focus has moved to the wider issue of how historical child sex abuse allegations were dealt with by public bodies and other institutions across the country.
Previously there had been calls for an overarching investigation into historical abuse claims in the wake of revelations that TV entertainer Jimmy Savile abused hundreds of victims at hospitals, children's homes and schools.
The inquiry, which was given statutory powers and a new panel in February, will investigate whether "public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales".
Justice Goddard has decided abuse victims will not sit on her advisory panel, but there will be a separate Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel.
The advisory panel comprises Prof Alexis Jay of Strathclyde University, Drusilla Sharpling of the police inspectorate, Prof Malcolm Evans of Bristol University, and child protection barrister Ivor Frank.
Justice Goddard said she was determined to put as much information into the public domain as she could, as soon as possible. She also referred to annual reports being published, the first of which would be next year.
As she was giving her statement, the office of Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC confirmed that immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act will be offered to current or former public servants prepared to testify about allegations of child sex abuse.
It will not protect anyone who admits taking part in child sexual abuse.
Justice Goddard ended her statement by issuing a call for anyone with information about sexual abuse cases to come forward.
And she urged institutions responsible for caring for children, which may come under scrutiny, to take a "proactive stance towards the inquiry".
The NSPCC said a team of trained counsellors would operate a free dedicated helpline to offer support on its behalf.
Peter Wanless, the charity's chief executive, said many victims had "harrowing stories to tell", adding that the charity wanted to make "what could be a tortuous journey as easy as possible".
The chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, Keith Vaz, said the inquiry, which he described as a "once in a lifetime opportunity", could last a decade.
"And of course we wish [Justice Goddard] luck in the very difficult job that she's got, which could take up to ten years. I mean, this is going to be a very long inquiry."
In February, it was announced Justice Goddard had been chosen to lead the inquiry because she was "as removed as possible from the organisations and institutions that might become the focus of the inquiry", Mrs May said.
Baroness Butler-Sloss, the first inquiry chairwoman, resigned a week after it was set up.
This followed calls for her to quit because her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, had been attorney general in the 1980s.
Her replacement, the then Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, stood down on 31 October amid concerns over her links to former Home Secretary Lord Brittan.
An Open Letter Of Apology To Bill Cosby's Victims
by Nneka Samuel
The Associated Press recently made public court documents from 2005, in which Bill Cosby admitted to giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
Along with a bunch of other folks, I initially didn't want to believe that Bill Cosby was capable of the crimes he was accused of. But when one woman turned to five, then to 10 and then 30 some odd accusers, it became painfully clear that something wasn't right. The following letter serves as an open letter of apology to all of Bill Cosby's victims, known and unknown.
Dear Courageous Women,
You are owed far more than an apology, far more than this letter can even attempt to convey.
You were silenced, violated, and taken advantage of in the worst way by a man who betrayed your trust. Some of you were very young and forced to grapple with a trauma that's even harder to accept at such an important and already trying time in your life. And for that, I am truly sorry.
You were grouped into a perceived conspiracy to destroy the legacy of a cultural icon who used his wholesome image and philanthropic efforts to cover up his bloody tracks like some sort of predatory, sadistic Houdini. And for that, I am truly sorry.
I am sorry that your stories and personal testimonies weren't considered enough. Sorry that the collective chorus of more than 40 brave and courageous women armed with similarly horrifying stories held little ground against that of one man. Sorry that it's so hard to believe a woman when she “cries” rape, a negative trope that has been used to paint women as crazy and to trivialize the heinous act of rape in and of itself. It's birthed from the same crooked logic that allows a man to think that a woman “wants it,” especially when her consent is denied. And for those of you who felt you couldn't come forward out of fear of ridicule or shame, again, I am truly sorry.
As the number of accusers steadily grew, so did the accusatory questions hurled your way: “What were you doing alone with him? If he really drugged or raped you, why didn't you talk sooner?” Questions that suggested you were the monster, you were the one to blame. “Clearly, she's trying to extort money. She's just mad because her television career didn't pop off.” People didn't take heed of your stories in the here and now. But what makes them so sure you would have been believed in 1969, 1975 or any other decade spanning the more than 40 years that Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault?
I am sorry that Bill Cosby and his legal team fought tooth and nail to keep the 2005 court deposition in which he admitted to obtaining Quaaludes to administer to women he intended to have sex with under wraps. While it does not prove rape, I'm sorrier still for what it leaves out, for the questions Cosby was prevented from answering. I am sorry that his rights were more protected than your own. Sorry that he has never been criminally charged. Sorry that most of the accusations of sexual assault are barred by statutes of limitations that further protect him and people like him but not you.
I am sorry that Bill Cosby hid in plain sight behind the thick veil of patriarchy, money, fame, power and influence. Sorry that his holier than thou head was so far crammed into the billowy clouds of moral righteousness that he managed to convince some of us that his word was bond. Sorry that if he is indeed guilty of all that he's been accused of, he knew full and well exactly what he was doing. Yet he continued to do it time and again, using drugs and alcohol in an attempt to wipe the slate clean.
I am sorry for the women in his life – his wife, Camille, and his children. Coworkers who considered him family. Mentees.
Bill Cosby has yet to publicly admit his wrongdoings, but that day may never come. I am sorry he's not the one apologizing to you now, although nothing he has to say could possibly make up for all the damage he's done and pain he has inflicted. It's safe to say Bill Cosby is only sorry the world now knows the truth, but that pales in comparison to what you are owed. “Sorry” will never be enough, but maybe it can aid you in your ongoing road to recovery.
Childcare advocate weighs in on recent uptick of child abuse
by Stephon Dingle
Traditionally for children, Summer is the most anticipated time of the year. There is no school and it usually means vacations with friends and family, but for some children, it's nothing but a silent Summer of abuse and neglect.
Over the past week, there have been case after case of incidents involving some sort of child abuse. A mother in Alabaster was charged with smoking marijuana near her children. In Tuscaloosa, a former Northport police officer and his son were accused of sexually abusing a child that went on for almost a decade.
The latest is a disturbing case in Cullman County where a mother and her boyfriend allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the mother's own two children.
“In my 16 years in law enforcement this is probably one of the most brutal and graphic cases of child abuse that I have ever seen, it's just pure evil,” said Cullman County Sheriff, Matt Gentry.
With the recent uptick in child abuse cases in the area, child care advocate Joan Wright said there could be a couple of reasons for it happening.
“It may be that simply because children are home more, they're being expose to others in their life at a more frequent rate, than they had been at school time,” Wright said.
Wright is the executive director of Childcare Resources, and she believes that the uptick in cases making the news, in a way, could be seen as a positive sign.
“Because of so much news coverage around child abuse and neglect cases, more and more people are getting comfortable with coming forward and saying this isn't right,” she said.
Two years ago, the state of Alabama imposed tougher mandatory child abuse and neglect reporting laws, requiring anyone who witnesses a sign of abuse to report it immediately.
“I think that has started to gain a little traction, a little awareness, so it may be encouraging people now to speak up on behalf of children,” Wright said.
To report any suspicion of child abuse and neglect, you can contact your local authorities.
Officials: Don't hesitate to report child abuse
by Kirstin Garriss
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Within the same week, nine-year-old, Jack Garcia and six-year-old, Dustin Barnhart, were both abused at the hands of their mother's boyfriends. On Sunday, Jack died from his injuries and Dustin continues fighting for his life.
It's a set of tragedies that has the community talking and doctors say this dialogue should happen more often.
"The more we keep people's attention on it the more they're looking around at the children in their lives and wondering if they're safe and what they can do to keep them safe," said Andrea Blythe, Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Program coordinator at Meritus Medical Center.
Physical signs of abuse include injuries on the back, ears and neck area but doctors say some of the early warning signs aren't even physical, they begin with changes in a child's behavior.
"If you have a child who you know very well and is outgoing and confident, and always asking questions and suddenly goes quiet and withdrawn that can be an indicator something's going on at home that's putting them at risk," said Blythe.
Doctors say other warning signs include injuries that aren't consistent with the story and delayed medical care for those injuries.
"When asking a child about an injury please use non-suggestive questions, 'How did that happen?' And then let the child provide a narrative about how that happened," said Piercy. "So you're not inferring that was abuse and you're getting a clean disclosure that way," said Michael Piercy, Assistant Director for Adult, Child, Family Services.
The Washington County Department of Social Services says many critical child abuse cases involve a boyfriend as the abuser. They urge single moms to do their research about their potential partner.
"If you're a single mother, you really need to be careful who you introduce into the home," said Piercy. "If they have a history of domestic violence or assaulted behavior, that's not an individual you want to be bringing into your home and especially around your children."
Officials say if you suspect child abuse, don't hesitate to report it. They say not every call leads to an investigation, instead, it may be a gateway to help a struggling family.
"We're not interested in removing children from their home, we want to see them to be safe and we want to help parents understand how to do that successfully," said David Engle, Director for the Washington County Department of Social Services.
As the community comes together to honor these recent victims of child abuse, many say it'll take the entire community to fight it.
"Our responsibly as a community is to keeping our eyes open, keeping vigilant and keeping, asking hard questions and sharing that information," said Blythe.
For more information about the Washington County Department of Social Services, visit their website here or call their 24-hour at (240) 420 - 2222.
Authorities discuss child sex abuse numbers
by Dustin Grove
TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The Indiana Youth Institute compiled numbers from the state that show in 2013, the most recent year available, the Department of Child Services investigated nearly 16,000 claims of child sexual abuse. They said about 3,000 cases ended up being substantiated.
Statistics showed 123 substantiated cases from Tippecanoe County and surrounding areas. Local investigators say it's important to pursue these cases as they could lead to more perpetrators.
When it comes to child pornography, which is described by the U.S. Justice Department as a form of child sexual abuse, Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Det. Matt Couch said it's critical to get to the source of who's producing it.
“A lot of times, you can learn unknown people that are involved, that you never would have known about until you track them down through the content that they view [online],” said Couch.
At the end of the day, Couch said it's about protecting children who may otherwise not have a voice.
“They're not the adults. They've grown up thinking that adults know what's right and what's wrong, so they trust them,” Couch explained. “So ultimately looking out for the kids, who don't really have a voice to get out and express that they're being harmed.”
To report child sexual abuse, you can call local police or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's CyberTipline at 800-THE-LOST or visit the center's website.
Talking with children about sexual abuse
by Hollie Deese
It's a nightmare scenario, but no matter how protective parents can be, it's impossible to protect them from everything. And with an emotionally fraught subject, saying the wrong thing can have serious repercussions.
Lisa Dupree, a social worker with Our Kids Center in Nashville with 23 years experience working with sexually abused children, says it is important to create an atmosphere that gives permission for your kids to talk to you.
"We forget we are dealing with children," Dupree says. "Sometimes, we have talked ourselves into this notion that kids are little adults, but we can't be surprised when a 7-year-old acts like a 7-year-old or a 15-year-old acts like a 15-year-old. But most times, kids don't tell because they are afraid. It is just that simple. They are afraid."
And they are afraid for reasons their parents might not even be aware of. For example, one child kept abuse from a beloved family member secret for seven years because her mother told her if anyone ever hurt her like that, she would kill them.
"So she didn't tell because she worried her mother would kill him," she says. "Sometimes we don't think about the things we say in front of kids."
The better option is to be very intentional and think about what you really want, which is for your child to tell you if something is happening, and if they need you.
"Parents think they can prevent this from happening, but you can't always prevent this," Dupree says. "There are things you can do to minimize your child's risk, but it is always the person you least expect. If someone knew a person was dangerous they wouldn't leave their child there."
In fact, Our Kids Executive Director Sue Fort White says that of the nearly 900 cases they see each year, between 90 percent and 95 percent of the perpetrators are someone loved and trusted by the child and caregiver.
"There are children's behaviors that signal they are in distress, but that could be caused by any number of things — an absent parent, the death of a family member, a sick child," she says. "But the No. 1 thing that will tell you is what your child says to you. People think they can look at behaviors and analyze behaviors, but the reality is the No. 1 sign of a sexual assault is when a child reports it. Most of the time, there isn't injury because they don't want to lose access to the child."
Our Kids offers these tips for talking about such a tough topic:
What not to say: "Don't let anyone touch your private parts," or "No one should ever touch your private parts." Adults and older children are bigger, stronger and usually able to intimidate or manipulate a child. If you tell your child not to "let" anyone touch their private parts, children may think they will get in trouble if touching occurs. "The child then begins to carry shame and guilt that doesn't even belong to them," Dupree says.
Instead, say: "If anyone touches your private parts, it's OK to tell me" or "It's always OK to tell if someone touches your private parts."
What not to say: "Has someone touched you?" or "Has anyone touched you down there?" Don't ask your child constantly about being touched. In the literal mind of a child, of course people "touch" them — young children who need assistance with toilet training may be touched "down there" in ways that are appropriate and necessary.
Instead, say: "Is there anything bothering you?" "Are you OK?" or "Has anyone done anything that worries or confuses you?"
What not to say: "I promise not to tell anyone." Before a child discloses, they may ask you to promise not to tell anyone about the abuse or abuser. Your child needs to have a trusting relationship with you and making a promise you'll have to break could be damaging to the child, so don't make one.
Instead, say: "I cannot promise not to tell, but I can promise that I will do what I can to help you. Let's talk about what is bothering you. I want to help."
Judge orders kids held in juvenile center after refusing to see dad
by Taryn Asher, Fox 2 News
Three Bloomfield Hills kids who refused an order by a judge to go to lunch with their father have been ordered to a juvenile detention facility.
"I felt like I was watching them be executed," said Maya Tsimhoni.
The Tsimhoni family was in Oakland County's family court for a hearing on supervised parenting time when Judge Lisa Gorcyca took matters into her own hands.
June 24 court transcripts showed how upset the judge was. She ordered the Tsimhoni kids ages 14,10 and 9 to have a "healthy relationship" with their father.
She criticized them for avoiding him and even compared them to Charles Manson and his cult. Gorcyca then ordered the children to apologize and have a nice lunch with their dad.
When they refused, Gorcyca held them in contempt and had each child hauled off to Children's Village's juvenile hall - until they are 18 years old.
"No matter how bad the divorce gets, I think the court should not punish the kids for that," Tsimhoni said.
Tsimhoni admits the last five years have not been easy in and out of court through a messy divorce and allegations of parental kidnapping and alienation.
Her son at one point even tried to explain to the judge why he didn't want to spend time with his dad.
"Because he is violent and I saw him hit my mom," he said in court documents.
But Judge Gorcyca claimed he had been brainwashed.
"Since that day I cannot eat, I cannot sleep," Tsimhoni said. "I cannot understand something like that can even happen in this country."
Lisa Stern is now representing Maya, fighting to get her kids back and out of Children's Village where they have been for over two weeks.
"I have been doing family law for 20 years and I must say this shocks the conscience," Stern said. "I think we have a court with the best interest of children in mind. I think the judge was very concerned about reunification of this family, but went about it the wrong way.
"I know laws were violated and I know that the children were punished for crimes they did not commit."
The Tsimhoni kids are separated from both parents and now each other. Their mother isn't even allowed to visit.
Instead they are forced to live with troubled or neglected children and some who have committed crimes. But ironically, the Tsimhoni children did not.
FOX 2: "Even if the judge felt (their mother) was endangering these children, would this be the proper place to put these kids?"
"No," Stern said. "There are so many steps you can take before you can ... they would never get to a Children's Village."
"I want them back home," Tsimhoni said. "Help them heal, give them the love they need and deserve."
FOX 2 called Judge Gorcyca who did not respond, although judges can't comment on pending cases.
According to documents, they do plan to be in court again to review this case in September. She wants the kids to change but many feel this isn't the way.
FOX 2 called the father's attorney Kerri Middleditch and is waiting to hear back.
The father is the only one that has the power to change it. If he feels the kids learned their lesson, he could have them released. But the day after the hearing, he left for Israel for work and is not expected back for two weeks.
Their mother appealed for an emergency hearing to the same judge, who has denied it.
Stern says she is asking the chief judge in Oakland County Family Court to review the case Tuesday.
Healthy relationships: Federal measure targets sex crimes
Logical legislation introduced this week in the U.S. Senate aims to promote “safe relationship behavior” in public secondary schools with a focus on preventing sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence.
The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 is a compromise version of the Teach Safe Relationships Act introduced back in February by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Miss. The idea for the original legislation came out of a December 2014 meeting Kaine had at the University of Virginia to listen to students' recommendations for preventing campus sexual assault.
“After meeting with a group of UVA's student advocates for survivors of rape and sexual assault, I was struck by how many of them expressed concern over the lack of high school education on consent and healthy relationships,” Kaine said. “Educating students about these crimes that disproportionately impact young people, both on and off our college campuses, can help raise awareness and prevent violence.”
Kaine is correct. One of the best ways to prevent sexual violence among adults is to educate them about healthy relationships at a younger age. The compromise measure introduced in the U.S. Senate this week by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., defines safe relationship behavior as developing effective communication skills and recognizing and preventing coercion, violence, or abuse, including teen and dating violence, stalking, domestic abuse, and sexual violence and harassment.
According to the Justice Department, more than 290,000 Americans are victims of rape and sexual assault each year with young women between the ages of 16-24 consistently experiencing the highest rate of intimate partner violence. These are statistics that can't be ignored. And one needs to look no further than at the continued and alarming headlines in the pages of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph for evidence of these growing number of cases of sexual abuse and sexual assault. Even more troubling is the fact that many of these cases involve juvenile victims.
In addition to providing guidance on safe relationship behaviors, the proposed federal measure also supports critical social programs for students, such as mental health and drug prevention.
While we aren't exactly fans of new federal mandates, one thing is certain — additional steps must be taken to help educate and safeguard our students from the dangers of sexual abuse and violence. And if we are to properly educate our students about safe relationship behavior, and the difference between dating and dating violence, this needs to occur at a young age.
That's why we believe The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 merits appropriate consideration and debate in Washington.
UBC law students search for justice for Woodlands School residents
by Mike Hager
A handful of UBC law students are spending part of the summer poring over documents they hope will shine a light on the abuse and neglect of children and teens during a 22-year period at New Westminster's notorious Woodlands School.
The students are participating in a last-minute push to complete the painstaking process of looking into whether 500 former residents were abused at the long-shuttered institution. They have until September, 2016, the deadline imposed by a B.C. Supreme Court judge earlier this year for them to file a claim with the provincial government.
In the ruling, the judge rejected a 10-year extension for the process requested by lawyers seeking compensation for clients who spent time at Woodlands, a facility for children with developmental disorders, as well as runaways and wards of the state.
Law student Ravneet Sidhu, who wants to be a corporate lawyer, first chased the pro bono Woodlands job for a chance to gain practical experience working directly with professionals at the class-action law firm Klein Lyons. But she soon found herself captivated with piecing together the murky and melancholic past of runaways, orphans and mentally disabled children, many of whom are now in their 60s and still battling the physical, mental and emotional scars of growing up at Woodlands.
“Some of them were admitted from three, four, five [years old], but then you get to read the file and you see them grow up and become adults,” Ms. Sidhu said from Montreal, where she is studying French before returning to work on the Woodlands project in August and going into her next year of law school.
She has now reviewed the time several former patients spent at Woodlands and said the hardest part has been learning how these people, often kids, were left to fend for themselves.
“A lot of the families were uninvolved and I can understand why they would be uninvolved; it's very hard for them to see their child in that position,” Ms. Sidhu said.
The Woodlands School opened in 1950 at the former site of the Provincial Hospital for the Insane and was shuttered in 1996. Its last vestiges were demolished four years ago.
In 2009, B.C. agreed to give $3,000 to $150,000 to any one of about 1,000 former students who could prove they were abused at the facility after 1974, when a new law gave people the right to sue the provincial government. By December, 2013, the government had paid $2.3-million to survivors.
David Klein said his firm welcomed the first cohort of six UBC pro bono students to the file in May of last year and has now involved 14 in total, with hopes of adding up to 12 more students this summer.
The students volunteer a couple of hours a week reading through thousands of pages of hand-scrawled notes, written by the nurses and psychiatrists that ran Woodlands, to try to determine whether a former patient was abused or neglected. At the end of their review, they write up a memo declaring whether there is evidence enough for a claim.
Larissa Dziubenko just finished volunteering on the case throughout her second year of law school. She said the work is incredibly tedious at first because students must learn the vernacular of acronyms nurses and doctors use to describe the medication given to patients.
Over six months, Ms. Dziubenko analyzed a thousand pages of files relating to a boy who entered the institution around the age of 10 and was discharged in his 20s when Woodlands shut down.
“He was diagnosed with ‘mental retardation of unknown cause,' ” Ms. Dziubenko said.
“It was quite a sad home story, with parents that just couldn't handle it.”
She couldn't find any pattern of abuse or neglect in the patient's files, but he was injured a couple times after “maybe smashing a window in frustration,” she said. There also were questions about whether he received the appropriate dosages of medication. But in her final report, Ms. Dziubenko doubted he would qualify for compensation because “at the time there weren't any hard-core standards for what you might give somebody in his situation.”
It may seem an impossible task for a small group of altruistic students, paralegals and lawyers to finish reviewing close to 500 more files before next September's deadline, but Mr. Klein said his firm has added staff to the file and claimed “we will meet the deadline.”
“If I don't, there isn't anyone else who will.”
New additions to DCS child-abuse registry becoming public, but with concerns
by Richard Locker
NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Children's Services has begun sharing the names of people who it believes have committed child abuse or neglect — but who have not necessarily been charged — with an online, publicly accessible registry of abusers of adults maintained by the state Department of Health.
DCS has long maintained an internal, secret registry of people whom the agency has “substantiated” for child abuse or neglect but has, as required by state law, worked with such institutions as schools, child-care centers and foster-care providers to verify whether potential new employees are on the list. State law prohibits people on the DCS registry from being hired as teachers or child-care providers and from being foster parents.
But now, based on a new review of a 1987 law that predates the 1996 creation of DCS, the department will make available names from its registry for inclusion on the separate “abuse registry” maintained by the Health Department. That registry is, by law, on the Health Department's website. Anyone can enter a name to see whether it's on the registry of people who abused adults, usually in such settings as nursing homes or home care.
A DCS internal review of its operating policies discovered the 1987 law apparently requires that the department share names added to its registry with the Health Department database.
“We think it's the right thing to do. DCS found this nearly 30-year-old statute and brought it to the attention of the Department of Health,” DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said.
The confidential DCS registry has about 154,000 names, but they will not be forwarded to the Health Department retroactively. Instead, DCS began notifying people on March 15 who were being added to its child-abuse registry from that date forward that their names could also appear on the public abuse registry and how to appeal their placement on it. DCS began on July 1 sending to the Health Department the names of people who did not appeal.
“We have to ensure that everyone gets due process,” Johnson said.
But among child-welfare advocates inside and outside the agency, there are concerns about the new policy — partly because inclusion on the registries is usually permanent and partly because it could hamper the confidential nature of DCS's work with families.
“First and foremost, nobody wants any vulnerable adult or child to be abused, so the intent of the Department of Health registry is to prevent that. People clearly belong on that (Health Department) registry who have abused adults,” said Linda O'Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. “That's different from some circumstances involving children. Clearly, people who have committed child sex abuse ought to be on the registry. Where it becomes grayer is circumstances involving intrafamily maltreatment but not sexual abuse — especially, for example, where young parents who may be under incredible pressures for a whole range of reasons do something stupid and wrong but are never likely to do it again. That's different from a situation where an adult is abusing somebody in a facility.
“Once you go on that registry, it circumscribes job and other opportunities for the future. It could be a mom with severe postpartum depression who neglects a child before getting treatment.”
The DCS registry includes people who have been convicted on child-abuse or neglect charges but also people, including minors, who have never been convicted or even prosecuted in the courts. The department places people on the registry whom its investigators and supervisors have “substantiated” for child abuse or neglect by a preponderance of evidence available to the agency.
Preponderance of evidence is the legal standard required for judgments in civil cases but is a lower standard than the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” required for a criminal conviction.
Inclusion on the DCS registry has major legal ramifications, such as the prohibition of hiring as school teachers and child-care employees. As a result, the law contains a due-process provision giving people a right to ask DCS for a review of their placement on the registry. Failing there, the decision can be appealed to a state administrative law judge for a full hearing and from there to Chancery Court.
A DCS finding led to the firing in 2009 of an Anderson County detective, who fought for years to clear his name before a Roane County chancellor found the state's action unfounded and ordered his name removed in 2012. That case put a public spotlight on the agency's policies even before the recent moves.
Placement on the registry is more or less permanent, and putting that information in a publicly searchable database magnifies concerns that predate the new policy. Such concerns have been discussed by the state Children's Justice Task Force even when the registry was secret.
“It's essentially putting a scarlet letter on people they have to live with the rest of their lives, which has tremendous impacts, particularly with employment,” said O'Neal, who also emphasized the registry is an important tool for protecting children. “In terms of nonsexual child abuse, there are times people should be allowed to get off the registry . ... You don't have to be 18 to be put on the registry. You could be a 15-year-old who did baby-sitting for siblings.”
She said that's even more of a concern with teenagers, since brain science has found that young people's brains are not fully mature until about age 25.
“A young person who was indicated for child abuse and was put on the registry and then went to college to become a teacher couldn't be a teacher ever. Sometimes people who have gone through some of these things really become leaders and great service providers because of their understanding,” O'Neal said. “It really will place a new and substantial burden on DCS to make sure that when they find someone indicated of child abuse, to explain the implications to them and give them the opportunity to pursue due process — and to make sure we don't put people on the registry who shouldn't be there because they are not a danger.”
Johnson, the DCS spokesman, said the department has carefully considered its move.
“We have worked hard to balance the need to protect families and to protect children with whom we work with the requirement to make these names available to the public registry. It is very complicated,” he said.
Judge Says UK Has Been Stunned by Scale of Child Sex Abuse
by Jill Lawless
Britain has been stunned by revelations about child sexual abuse, a judge said Thursday, warning that the true scale of the crime may be worse than an official estimate that one in 20 children has been a victim.
Justice Lowell Goddard opened a wide-ranging public inquiry into decades of abuse in Britain's schools, hospitals and other institutions, vowing that "no one, no matter how apparently powerful, will be allowed to obstruct our inquiries."
A dam of official silence around child abuse in Britain began to break after the 2011 death of entertainer Jimmy Savile, when dozens came forward to say he had abused them over decades. Subsequent revelations have implicated everyone from taxi drivers to entertainers, clergy and senior politicians. There have also been claims that police failed to investigate allegations of abuse for decades.
Earlier this year Goddard, a judge from New Zealand, was appointed to investigate how public agencies — including government bodies, police, hospitals, churches and the BBC — handled child-abuse allegations.
Goddard said estimates suggest one child in every 20 in the United Kingdom has been sexually abused but "the true picture may be even worse."
"The sexual abuse of children over successive generations has left permanent scars, not only on the victims, but on society," she said.
The inquiry plans to release its final report in 2020 but Goddard said there will be annual updates starting next year. Victims will be able to testify anonymously and former civil servants will be granted immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if they disclose official wrongdoing.
While the inquiry doesn't have the power to find people guilty of crimes, Goddard said it will not hesitate to name abusers.
"No one will be immune from scrutiny by virtue of their position," she said.
Children's Center working to help victims of child sexual abuse heal
by Barbara Peschiera
With so much attention in the media recently 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 child abuse intervention centers nationwide, 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, Children's Center and 20 other child abuse intervention centers in Oregon and their multidisciplinary teams (MDT) can help families navigate this difficult time. Child abuse intervention 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.
It is important to note that youth with sexual behavior problems are more common than most people realize. In fact, 89 percent of child abuse victims seen in Oregon child abuse intervention centers know their abuser. In Oregon, the perpetrators of child abuse and neglect are most often family members, making up 94 percent of all child abuse and neglect perpetrators, according to the Oregon Department of Human Services. As Clackamas County's sole provider for child abuse assessments, Children's Center will serve over 2,000 vulnerable children and families, community members and care providers this year.
Clackamas County has a program specifically designed to intervene when the sexual behavior of young children raises concerns, called Response to Inappropriately Sexualized Kids (RISK). As a RISK partner, Children's Center often responds to concerns, contacts the families to offer support and to refer them to appropriate services. The program is designed to provide treatment to children with sexual behavior problems. The good news is that this is an effective program that demonstrates these children can be treated.
As we have witnessed a more than 5 percent increase in the number of reported cases of child abuse and neglect in the state this past year, I 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. I also encourage parents and caregivers to contact their local Department of Human Services office and to learn more about the services offered by Children's Center.
For more information about Children's Center, please visit: http://www.childrenscenter.cc
Barbara Peschiera is executive director of the Clackamas County Children's Center.
Tweaks to state-mandated child abuse background checks
by Mary Wilson
Administrative staff, certain volunteers, and university employees are no longer required by state law to be fingerprinted and submit to criminal history and child abuse background checks.
The tweaks to the child protection law were signed by Governor Tom Wolf on July 1.
Lawmakers had beefed up background check requirements last legislative session in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. But some groups thought the changes went too far - like university professors who balked at having to be fingerprinted in order to teach their 17-year-old students.
Others were confounded by the employment descriptions lawmakers used to determine who would need the background checks. Schools weren't sure if parent volunteers would need clearances. Fire companies couldn't tell if their "junior firefighters" program meant all firefighters would need to be fingerprinted.
"We thought we'd been specific... giving kind of generalized definitions of who would need a background check, said Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks), who sponsored the changes. "We really weren't. It still confused people."
The new law clarifies that only people who are direct supervisors and responsible for the welfare of children must get the background check.
Added to the list of people who need to get the clearances are adult family members who work as caregivers for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
People who work at institutions of higher education are exempt from the background check requirement.
But some universities are still going above and beyond the state requirements. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is making all its workers and volunteers to get the clearances at an estimated up-front cost of $4 million, a spokesman said.
Governor Tom Wolf has waived the background check fee for volunteers in Pennsylvania.
Missouri Governor signs bills dealing with child sexual assault, protection orders for sexual assault victims
by Mike Lear
Governor Jay Nixon signed today two bills that supporters say will help victims, and some perpetrators, of sexual assault in Missouri.
One provision in those bills will allow the state Children's Division to intervene in cases of a child sexually abusing another child. State law has only allowed the Division to investigate when an alleged perpetrator has care, custody or control of an alleged victim.
Senate sponsor Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) said that was a problem with state law that many lawmakers and average Missourians didn't realize existed.
“People filled out the paperwork and did what they were supposed to do according to statute, but what we didn't have in place was the ability to go in and do an assessment and offer the family some help,” said Riddle.
She and other supporters said treatment of children who commit sexual abuse is far more effective than treatment of adults who commit such acts.
“What they found is if you can help the families that have these situations going on then we have children that grow up and are productive citizens in the community and they don't have to grow up to be sexual predators if there's intervention, and there wasn't the ability to do that before.”
Another provision in the two bills will allow victims of sexual assault to seek orders of protection. Senator Dan Hegeman (R-Cosby) said that was another hole in Missouri law that many did not know about.
“Many of us thought that would have been available years ago, and so it was a pretty easy sell in the General Assembly, passing both the Senate and the House without any opposition,” said Hegeman. “I look at the situation and just think if I had somebody who I knew or was related to me that would find themselves in the situation of sexual assault, I certainly would want that tool available to provide some protection for my loved ones and my friends and neighbors.”
Another provision in Riddle's bill would require licensed child care centers in Missouri to have sleep policies based on the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It would ban those centers leaving blankets, crib bumpers, pillows, soft bedding, stuffed animals, and other items that could contribute to suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome, in cribs with children under 1.
Her bill also requires that all public and charter schools clearly post signs in English and Spanish about the toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline, and requires that the state Children's Division develop an acronym to help children remember the hotline number.
Another provision requires private, public, and parochial day care centers, preschools, and nurseries to notify parents or guardians, upon request, if children enrolled with them have not been immunized. Riddle says the law would not single out any child that is not immunized, but would allow the care center to acknowledge if a child enrolled there has an immunization exemption on file.
Both bills were supported by groups including Missouri Kids First. Deputy Director Emily van Schenkhof called the language dealing with children being abused by other children the most important issue she's worked with the legislature on.
“It's, for me, very fulfilling to be a part of making these changes for our state, and of course there are so many people that helped out with it and so many people that touched this bill,” van Schenkhof told Missourinet. “It's really gratifying to be a part of it all.”
The bills are SB 341 and SB 321.
Seminars to educate adults on how to better prevent child sex abuse
by Candice Aviles, Lydia Williams
INDIANAPOLIS – A renewed focus on how to prevent child sex abuse is growing in light of the child porn investigation that sent FBI agents to former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle's Zionsville home.
Child porn is considered a form of child sexual abuse to the U.S. Department of Justice. Now the Indiana Youth Institute is taking the opportunity to educate as many people as possible on how to stop the crime before it even happens.
Experts say the incidences of child sexual abuse are prevalent, but go very underreported.
The Department of Child Services (DCS) investigated nearly 16,000 cases in 2013 – 3,000 of which were substantiated.
The Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) is stepping up to encourage change.
“Raising awareness and education with individuals really increases our ability to do outreach to child victims and give them an outlet to speak about what's occurred with them,” Susie's Place Director of Special Programs Emily Perry said.
Susie's Place is a child-care focused agency that advocates for kids, and works together with IYI.
IYI is hosting two free seminars for those who want to learn better ways to prevent child sex abuse.
“It's a five-step training process,” Perry said. “So, step No. 1 is learning the facts: What is child abuse, what to look for, what are some signs and symptoms that you need to be aware of.”
Step Two? Minimize opportunity. Perry says most child sex abuse happens in one-on-one situations.
“Step Three is going to be how to talk to youth about their bodies, their body parts, body safety – starting at a young age and talking often about body safety with kids is a key prevention element,” Terry said.
Prevention makes all the difference, especially here in central Indiana. In 2013 the DCS found 445 substantiated child sexual abuse cases in Marion County alone. That's significantly higher than surrounding counties.
Perry says educating adults can help curb the problem; if a child knows an adult can listen calmly and gather the facts, that child is more likely to trust an adult enough to come forward.
All are welcome to attend the two free seminars. One is from 9 a.m. to noon July 21, and the other is from noon to 3 p.m. July 29. Reservations are required. You can reserve your spot by tapping or clicking here.
From the FBI
Sextortion -- Help Us Locate Additional Victims of an Online Predator
Ashley Reynolds was a happy 14-year-old who loved sports, did well in school academically and socially, and enjoyed keeping a journal she intended her “future self” to read. But what happened in the summer of 2009 was so devastating that she couldn't bring herself to record it in her diary—or speak about it to anyone.
She had become the victim of sextortion, a growing Internet crime in which young girls and boys are often targeted. Her life was being turned upside down by an online predator who took advantage of her youth and vulnerability to terrorize her by demanding that she send him sexually explicit images of herself.
After several months, Ashley's parents discovered what was happening and contacted the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Ashley and her parents later supported the FBI investigation that led to the arrest of 26-year-old Lucas Michael Chansler, who last year pled guilty to multiple counts of child pornography production and was sent to prison for 105 years—but not before he used the Internet to victimize nearly 350 teenage girls. The majority of those youngsters have not yet been identified.
That's why the FBI is requesting the public's help—and why Ashley has come forward to tell her story—so that Chansler's victims can be located and will know, as Special Agent Larry Meyer said, “that this dark period of their lives is over.”
Meyer, a veteran agent in the FBI's Jacksonville Division who investigates crimes against children, explained that 109 of Chansler's victims have been identified and contacted so far, leaving approximately 250 teens “who have not had closure and who probably haven't obtained counseling and other help they might need.” He noted that Ashley is a brave person with a supportive family “and has been able to use this experience to make her stronger.” Unfortunately, that has not been the case for all the girls, some of whom have dropped out of school and tried to end their lives.
Chansler, who was studying to become a pharmacist, used multiple personas and dozens of fake screen names—such as “HELLOthere” and “goodlookingguy313”—to dupe girls from 26 U.S. states, Canada, and the United Kingdom. And he used sophisticated techniques to keep anyone from learning his true identity.
Pretending to be 15-year-old boys—all handsome and all involved in skateboarding—he trolled popular online hangouts to strike up relationships with teenage girls. In one instance on Stickam, a now-defunct live-streaming video website, evidence seized from his computer showed four girls all exposing their breasts. “The girls are apparently having a sleepover, and Chansler contacted one of them through a random online chat,” Meyer said. “These girls thought they were having a video chat session with a 15-year-old boy that they would never see or hear from again, so they are all exposing themselves, not realizing that he is doing a screen capture and then he's coming back later—very often in a different persona—saying, ‘Hey I've got these pictures of you, and if you don't want these sent to all your Myspace friends or posted on the Internet, you are going to do all of these naked poses for me.'”
“It went from what would be relatively benign pictures to fulfilling Chansler's perverted desires,” Meyer said, adding that while adults know that a young person's life is only beginning in high school, “to a 13- or 14-year-old girl, thinking that all her friends or her parents might see a picture of her exposing her breasts, the fear was enough to make them comply with Chansler's demands, believing they had no better options.”
When FBI agents interviewed Chansler after his arrest, they asked why he selected that age group. “One of the comments he made,” Meyer said, “was that older girls wouldn't fall for his ploy.”
Ashley fell for Chansler's ploy in late 2008 when she was 14 years old. She was contacted online by someone who claimed to be a teenage boy with embarrassing sexual pictures of her. His screen name was CaptainObvious, and he threatened to send Ashley's pictures to all her Myspace friends if she didn't send him a topless image of herself. Without considering the consequences, she sent it. She didn't think the boy knew who she was or anything else about her. Nothing more happened until the summer of 2009, when Chansler's persona messaged again, threatening to post her topless picture on the Internet if she didn't send him more explicit images.
She ignored him at first, but then he texted her on her cell phone. He knew her phone number and presumably where she lived. Somehow he must have hacked information from her social media pages. Chansler was relentless. He badgered her for pictures and continued to threaten. The thought of her reputation being ruined—and disappointing her parents—made Ashley finally give in to her tormenter.
The next few months were a nightmare as Ashley complied with Chansler's demands. She was trapped and felt she couldn't talk to anyone. She kept thinking if she sent more pictures, the monster at the other end of the computer would finally leave her alone. But it only got worse—until the day her mother discovered the images on her computer.
“I just remember breaking down and crying, trying to get my dad not to call the police,” Ashley said, “because I knew that I would end up in jail or something because I complied and I sent him the pictures even though I didn't want to. I tried to think rationally, like this guy was threatening me. But I sent him the pictures, so that's breaking the law, isn't it? I am under age and I am sending him naked pictures of me. I didn't want to go to jail.”
Still, she was relieved that she didn't have to keep her secret any longer. And her parents were supportive.
Ashley's mother did some research and contacted the NCMEC's CyberTipline. An analyst researching the case was able to tie one of the screen names used to sextort Ashley to another case in a different state and realized the predator most likely had multiple victims. Eventually, FBI and NCMEC analysts were able to pinpoint an Internet account in Florida where the threats were originating, and that information was passed to FBI agents who work closely with NCMEC in child exploitation investigations.
When investigators executed a search warrant at Chansler's Jacksonville house and examined his computer, they found thousands of images and videos of child pornography. They also found folders labeled “Done” and “Prospects” that contained detailed information about the nearly 350 teens he had extorted online.
Meyer and the Jacksonville Crimes Against Children Task Force analyzed the images of the girls to identify and locate them. One victim was located through a picture of her and her friends standing in front of a plate glass window at their school. Reflected in the glass was the name of the school, which led to her identification. Another victim was found through a radio station banner seen in a video hanging on her bedroom wall. The station's call letters led to a city and, eventually, to the victim. More than 250 investigators, analysts, victim specialists, child forensic interviewers, and community child advocacy centers were involved in locating and interviewing the known victims.
But approximately 250 victims are still unidentified and may have no idea that Chansler was arrested and sent to jail.
“It's important that we find these girls so that they don't have to be looking over their shoulder, wondering if this guy is still out there and is he looking for them and is he going to be coming back,” Meyer explained, adding that “some of these girls, now young women, need assistance. Many probably have never told anyone what they went through.”
Ashley, now 20, is doing what she can to get the word out about sextortion so that all of Chansler's victims can be identified and other girls don't make the mistakes that she made. “This ended for me,” she said, but for many of Chansler's victims, “this never ended for them.”
When Meyer began working crimes against children cases eight years ago, he visited freshman and sophomore high school classes to talk about Internet safety. “Now,” he said, “we are going to fourth and fifth grade because kids are getting on the Internet at younger ages.”
He added, “We know that youngsters don't always make sound decisions. Today, with a smartphone or digital camera, an individual can take an inappropriate picture of themselves and 10 seconds later have it sent to someone. Once that picture is gone,” he said, “you lose all control over it, and what took 10 seconds can cause a lifetime of regret.”
For her part, Ashley hopes that talking about what she went through will resonate with young girls. “If it hits close to home, maybe they will understand. High school girls never think it will happen to them,” she said. “I never thought this would happen to me, but it did.”
Don't Become a Victim of Sextortion
Special Agent Larry Meyer and other investigators experienced in online child sexual exploitation cases offer these simple tips for young people who might think that sextortion could never happen to them:
- Whatever you are told online may not be true, which means the person you think you are talking to may not be the person you really are talking to.
- Don't send pictures to strangers. Don't post any pictures of yourself online that you wouldn't show to your grandmother. “If you only remember that,” Meyer said, “you are probably going to be safe.”
- If you are being targeted by an online predator, tell someone. If you feel you can't talk to a parent, tell a trusted teacher or counselor. You can also call the FBI, the local police, or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's CyberTipline.
- You might be afraid or embarrassed to talk with your parents, but most likely they will understand. “One of the common denominators in the Chansler case,” Meyer noted, “was that parents wished their daughters had told them sooner. They were very understanding and sympathetic. They realized their child was being victimized.”
The jig is up: Why the media were right to convict Bill Cosby
by Howard Kurtz
During the months when one woman after another was accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault, I would sometimes get complaints from viewers that he was being convicted by the media.
That's right. He was. Because the evidence was pretty overwhelming.
And now we learn that Cosby has admitted using drugs to get women to have sex.
I want to make a clear distinction here. Legally, Cosby is entitled to the presumption of innocence like every other American. He will likely never face charges, because the statute of limitations has long since expired on these cases.
But the court of public opinion is different. And in that arena, it long ago became clear that Cosby is a serial sexual abuser.
More than 30 women have accused him of horrible conduct, ranging from sexual assault to unwanted touching, all involving him giving them pills or slipping something into their drink.
When skeptics would ask whether these accusers were looking for a bit of fame or some kind of payday, my response was the same: Let's say half of them are. Let's say half of them are making it up. But all 30? That's utterly improbable.
Why did most of them wait so long to go public about allegations as much as four decades old? In part because it's embarrassing, and intimidating to make such accusations against the man who played Cliff Huxtable. And if you don't know that Cosby did this to other women, you could worry that no one would take your word against that of a rich and influential celebrity.
I also felt that if Cosby was being wrongly accused by so many women, why didn't he speak out? Why didn't he grant interviews and issue forceful denials? Instead he tried to pressure one reporter into not using what amounted to a no comment, and gave rambling, off-the-point responses in an ABC interview.
Kudos to the Associated Press for sticking with the story. It was the AP that went to court to obtain the records from a 2005 civil suit filed by Andrea Constand, who said she went to Cosby's home, that he gave her medication that made her dizzy, and she later woke up to find her bra undone and her clothes in disarray.
In the key exchange from Cosby's deposition, the comedian recalled an incident in Las Vegas in the 1970s.
"She meets me backstage. I give her Quaaludes. We then have sex," Cosby said.
The lawyer asked: "When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?"
"Yes," Cosby replied.
Cosby also admitted that he acquired seven prescriptions of Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with, though he did not testify that he actually drugged any of them. Cosby said he gave drugs to “other people,” but the questioning was cut off after his lawyers objected.
The lawsuit was settled on a confidential basis. The Cosby camp gave this statement to ABC: "The only reason Mr. Cosby settled was because it would have been embarrassing in those days to put all those women on the stand and his family had no clue. That would have been very hurtful."
Um, right. It would have been embarrassing for his family to know he was using drugs to force himself on lots of women.
Think about what these women have been through. Joan Tarshis, who said Cosby raped her when she was 19, told CNN that she "never thought this day would happen…
"First of all, I kept it a secret because I was afraid to talk about it, because of Mr. Cosby's power. Then, when we came out, and lots of other women started to come out, we were called liars. And now that the truth has come out -- that he has bought drugs in order to drug women to have sex with him -- I'm just so relieved that the truth has come out.”
Barbara Bowman, who was making the cable rounds yesterday, had earlier told the Washington Post about Cosby pinning her down while trying to take off his pants, until she fled: “The incident was so horrifying that I had trouble admitting it to myself, let alone to others…Why wasn't I believed? Why didn't I get the same reaction of shock and revulsion when I originally reported it? Why was I , a victim of sexual assault, further wronged by victim blaming when I came forward?”
Another accuser, Beverly Johnson, wrote this in Vanity Fair:
“In the end, just like the other women, I had too much to lose to go after Bill Cosby. I had a career that would no doubt take a huge hit if I went public with my story…
“I struggled with how to reveal my big secret, and more importantly, what would people think when and if I did? Would they dismiss me as an angry black woman intent on ruining the image of one of the most revered men in the African American community over the last 40 years?”
I guess I take this personally because I grew up listening to Cosby's comedy albums in his Fat Albert days, admired his trailblazing role on television with “I Spy” and also his courage in speaking out about problems in black families.
He is 77 now, and his career has been largely ruined: Projects sidelined by NBC and Netflix, “Cosby Show” reruns canceled by TV Land. He's still doing live shows, sometimes interrupted by hecklers.
But now that we have this admission in his own words, it is impossible to feel sorry for Bill Cosby.
Federal, Indiana authorities raid Subway spokesman's home
by Harish Dugh
FBI agents and Indiana State Police raided the home of Subway restaurant spokesman Jared Fogle on Tuesday, removing electronics from the property and searching the house with a police dog, two months after the then-executive director of Fogle's foundation was arrested on child pornography charges.
FBI Special agent Wendy Osborne said the agency was conducting an investigation in Zionsville, an affluent Indianapolis suburb, but wouldn't say whether it involved Fogle or describe the nature of the investigation.
Subway said in a statement that it is ”very concerned” about the raid, which it believes ”is related to a prior investigation” of a former employee of the Jared Foundation, an organization founded by Fogle to raise awareness about childhood obesity. Subway did not immediately say whether that employee was former foundation executive director Russell Taylor.
Federal prosecutors in May filed a criminal complaint charging Taylor, 43, with seven counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Fogle issued a statement after the charges were filed saying he was shocked by the allegations and was severing all ties with Taylor.
Fogle left his house just after noon Tuesday with his attorney, wearing a rain jacket with the hood up, and declined comment. The Indianapolis Star had earlier photographed Fogle stepping out of a police evidence van parked outside his home.
Fogle, 37, became the Subway restaurant chain's pitchman after shedding 245 pounds more than 15 years ago, in part by regularly eating Subway sandwiches. Subway began featuring Fogle in commercials soon after, and his story was instrumental in giving the sandwich chain an image as a healthy place to eat.
During a search of Taylor's home this spring, federal investigators say they discovered a cache of sexually explicit photos and videos Taylor allegedly produced by secretly filming minor children at the home. They said they also allegedly found more than 400 videos of child pornography on computers and storage media recovered from Taylor's home office in his Indianapolis residence.
Taylor's attorney, Brad Banks, said Tuesday his client was briefly hospitalized after the allegations surfaced but is now in federal custody. Sheriff's officials have said Taylor tried to take his own life in jail.
”The only thing I can say is that I'm aware that there's an ongoing investigation,” Banks said.
Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Indianapolis, said prosecutors ”are moving forward” with the case against Taylor. He declined to comment on Tuesday's raid at Fogle's home.
Neighbors said Fogle and his wife entertained frequently and would say hello but that they didn't see the couple outside a lot.
Jacob Schrader, 19, who lives across from Fogle's house, said the pitchman seems ”like a pretty private guy” and that he'd only seen him about a dozen times in the last five or six years.
”He's like an endangered species or something like that,” Schrader said.
Subway, which is based in Milford, Connecticut, and is privately held, has struggled in recent years. Last year, industry tracker Technomic said average sales for Subway stores in the U.S. declined 3 percent from the previous year. The company has about 44,000 locations around the world.
Independence & Relationship Abuse Survivors: Health Outcomes & the Obstacles on the Road to Freedom
by Tania Bradkin
On July 4th, Americans across the world celebrated Independence Day. While the word, "independence" is universally associated with sentiments of growth and relief, for the women and men that survive relationship violence, the positive effects of leaving their abuser are not at all as instant. In fact, did you know that once a victim leaves their abuser, that immediate exit period actually becomes the most unsafe timeframe for the victim? According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, as the victim's departure signifies the abuser's loss of control over the survivor, the behaviors of the abuser can escalate in an effort to regain power. This piece is dedicated to the women and men who have encountered any kind of interpersonal violence or are trying to get out and be free. My hope is that this piece will help provide some relief and more insight regarding the realities and effects of relationship abuse and the change we still need to come to fruition.
Every year, 12 million Americans will experience intimate partner violence. According to the Department of Justice, two out of three murders committed against females are committed by a partner; 1 in 4 women in this country are survivors of domestic abuse according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). Of the 3.5 million violent crimes committed in the United States between 1998 and 2002, 48%, nearly half, were crimes against a spouse. If half of the U.S. population of 318 million people consists of women according to the United States Census (2014), then approximately 40 million women in the United States will encounter abuse this year. Even more alarming, the largest segment consistently identified as the highest risk for victimization are women between the ages of 18-34 year olds (DOJ, 2015) with nearly 43% of college women reporting abuse (Love is Respect, 2015).
Domestic violence can affect anyone; no socio-economic population is immune from the possibility of experiencing abuse. It is important to note, however, a few broad strokes. There definitely are correlations between poverty and violence resulting in a "chronic vulnerability to being imprisoned, enslaved, beaten, raped and robbed" (U.S. News and World Reports, 2014). While several behaviors associated with domestic violence are now classified as crimes, and all states in the United States include at least one statute pertaining to battered women, those efforts have largely focused on the perpetrator of the crime and rarely the victim. Nationally, laws like the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 ([VAWA] introduced by then Senator Joe Biden and reauthorized in 2013)appear to be effective in lowering incidences of domestic violence, with violent acts reduced by 50%. Despite these promising numbers there are still not enough laws to further reduce those rates and adequately address the effects of domestic violence on the health of adult survivors. Moreover, given the plethora of data regarding the health outcomes of survivors, which I share below, it is simply mind boggling that "not guilty due to insanity" is a recognized, accepted legal defense but Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) is not. While some courts allow the introduction of BWS, a federal report (initiated as part of the efforts within VAWA in 1994) rejected terminology related to Battered Woman Syndrome because the research indicated there was more than one pattern of battering. Meanwhile, isn't that also true regarding insanity? Moreover, Battered Woman Syndrome is considered a subcategory of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) only after a woman has gone through two cycles of abuse.
The Definition of Domestic Violence
According to the Department of Justice (2014), domestic violence "can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone." These behaviors impact the health of the survivors in ways ranging from mental health issues to chronic physical health concerns. For the purposes of this piece, I will limit the scope of health effects to the tangible effects/impact we can see that primarily affect the physiological health of a woman and the more difficult to explain and measure effects that we often cannot see that fall into the social development and mental health realm.
Domestic Violence and Victim Health
We know that childhood traumas are considered a major public health problem that can result in lifelong mental and physical health consequences. The same holds true for adult female survivors who encounter abuse later in life, either for the first time, a one-time incident or multiple encounters of violence. These interactions however, and how they affect the health in adult survivors will have varying degrees as every case is unique due to a variety of circumstances as well as biological factors that make each of us unique beings. Moreover, the following health conditions caused by or related to domestic violence according to the CDC is only a partial list. Lastly, for the mental health section, also a partial list, it is vital to note that all of these conditions not only mirror every "mental health early warning sign" provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (2011) (which is long and can be viewed here) but a majority of these issues are also identified and recognized as a disability that "limits major life activity" according to the United States Department of Labor which can be viewed here.
Physiological Health Outcomes
Physical Trauma. Forced sex by an intimate partner, also called marital rape, can result in unintended pregnancy, pregnancy difficulties and "increased rates of pelvic inflammatory disease, heightened risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV/AIDS, unexplained vaginal bleeding, and other genital-urinary related health problems" (CDC, 2015). Blows to the head strongly suggest that women should be routinely screened for traumatic brain injury and post-concussive syndrome. Exposure to violence, such as verbal abuse and intimidation can play a role in eating disorders ranging from anorexic or bulimia to issues related to obesity. Physical abuse can also result in deafness, blindness, missing or partially missing limbs, HIV/AIDs (which can contracted in a rape) and/or impairments that require the use of a wheel chair. This latter list comprises the only four, specific physical health issues that are considered disabilities recognized by the United States government.
Other health conditions connected with intimate partner violence per the CDC (2015) include: asthma, bladder and kidney infections, circulatory conditions, cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain syndromes, central nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal disorder, joint disease, and migraines and headaches.
Death is another realistic health outcome of domestic violence. Each day, three or more women die due to domestic violence in the U.S. with females comprising 70% of victims killed by an intimate partner (DOJ, 2009). In fact, two out of three women murdered in the U.S. are killed by intimate partners; that figure rose in 2008 which from a macro perspective also happens to be the year that the United States economy began to experience a second Great Depression.
Homelessness and Poverty. Domestic abuse is the immediate cause of homelessness for many women according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (2015). Living on the streets, not having money, access to shelter or a shower for cleanliness as well as other basic needs like feeling safe, compromises the physical, mental health and overall well-being of women.
Mental Health. While the United States Department of Health and Human Services provides a list of early warning signs regarding poor mental health conditions that mirror a number of co-occurring disorders, which are also a result of domestic violence, only the following four mental health conditions are recognized as a disability: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder, major depression and bipolar disorder. These conditions can affect how a woman performs at work or at school, in the interactions with her children and others. Feeling unsuccessful due to mental health issues affects confidence and progress all of which adds more stress and strain on the health of survivors. Moreover, there are correlations between Battered Woman's Syndrome and PTSD.
Co-occurring Disorders, Alcohol & Drug Abuse. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, co-occurring disorders are defined as, "particular problems that often affect people who also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. These can include psychiatric problems like anxiety or depression, abuse of other drugs, as well as other illnesses such as HIV/AIDS" (2005). While many studies have confirmed that alcohol is a FALSE connection as a cause of domestic abuse, there are correlations that indicate that survivors do access drug or alcohol to relieve their pain (CDC, 2015) as well as other self-abusive and high risk behaviors that can "can also bring a sense of control over a person's environment and serve as a release of tension."
Co-dependency. Domestic abuse can also produce a seemingly intangible, inexplicable co-dependency between the abuser and the victim. What makes this emotional tie so striking is that the abuser need not be in the presence of the survivor for this invisible control and power phenomenon to occur. There are correlations between depression, major depression and co-dependency with feelings of shame, low self-worth, self-hatred and a loss of identity all of which adversely affect a woman's mental health and long-term health.
"Every 9 seconds a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten" according to the Partnership Against Domestic Violence; that's approximately four hundred women per hour, experiencing some form of abuse and pain. While we have made great strides towards reducing these statistics, more must be done particularly in regards to legislation and programs that can offer more protections. One of the more promising plans are interventions that incorporate abuser accountability. There must be more programs that treat and rehabilitate the abuser.
In the immediate, we must find ways to empower survivors of abuse and build on their resiliency, no matter what their level of strength may be, tap into that reserve, foster, and develop that skill set. The difficulty in doing so continues to be societal perceptions of relationship violence, the "she wanted or deserved it" mentality not to mention cultural contexts and expectations that women respond to the needs of others. For example, when a 2009 study found that 26% of college students believe that "some women secretly want to be treated that way," Vice President Biden didn't bury this disturbing figure; he incorporated this fact into his speech at a 2013 reauthorization celebration. If these statistics are correct, finding ways to reach our youth TODAY is of the essence but we also need more brave people like Vice President Joseph Biden who has been championing this change for decades as he states "because even 1 incident is too many" and "the best way to help move forward is to "add sunshine, light to an issue."
As a side it was very interesting, and alarming that when I signed onto the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which identifies itself as " the nation's health protection agency," and searched for domestic violence, the website, under the title of "Intimate Partner Violence: Consequences," leads with the financial costs of domestic abuse to society. Apparently, how much the institutionalization of gender inequality costs our nation and has a negative impact on our country's budget is the priority. While, of course, financial costs are incredibly important to address, I found the layout a bit symbolic of the larger challenges the issue of domestic violence continues to face.
Our greatest challenge in changing society's perception of this issue will be getting those in political leadership positions to look beyond the issues of costs and help find more ways to get legislation such as Battered Woman Syndrome recognized and in place. We might also consider adding traumatic brain injury and the prevalence of co-occurring disorders as additional disabilities defined by our government as these health conditions also affect a meaningful segment of the population. These laws and types of actions go beyond the scope of financials and instead, address the tangible and intangible effects of domestic violence, providing concrete protections that recognize the effects of abuse and the ramifications of abuse on the women, men and children as survivors. Legislation that affirms the reality of these consequences, that takes our evidence-based data and translates it into legislation, would be a strong start in the right direction to bring an end to domestic violence.
From extended family to the children who witness the abuse to the employers and friends who suspect it, domestic violence will touch EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US at some point in this lifetime. With more concrete change and support for our survivors, maybe one soon we will end this epidemic and lead the world in establishing a zero tolerance for any kind of abuse of our women and men.
More information can be obtained via the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.
The best way to fight child abuse is by reporting it
by Tamela Baker
It's unusual for two severe cases of alleged child maltreatment to occur in such quick succession as they did last week in Hagerstown and Hancock, according to a Washington County Sheriff's Office detective.
"We don't normally get such tragic cases so close together," said Detective Casey Swope, who was heading to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to check on the welfare of the Hancock 6-year-old.
The boy was reportedly on life support after an alleged beating early Friday morning. His mother's boyfriend faces charges in the case.
It was the second report of severe child abuse in the area in a week. In the other case, 9-year-old Jack Kirby Garcia died Sunday of injuries he received June 30 in the city.
His mother's boyfriend has been charged in the incident in which Garcia was allegedly beaten for taking a piece of birthday cake, according to charging documents.
Although the timing of the two incidents might be unusual, what isn't unusual is the incidence of child abuse in the county.
The county averages 185 reports of child maltreatment per month, according to the most recent child welfare services data from the Maryland Department of Human Resources.
Those reports don't always indicate actual abuse or neglect — "they're not always accepted for investigation," said Mike Piercy, assistant director for Adult, Child and Family Services at the Washington County Department of Social Services.
The department follows established guidelines for response, but "usually we accept 115 to 130" for investigation, he said.
The "115 to 130" cases investigated every month earn the county a dubious distinction.
"We're usually in the top five (counties) in the state," social services Director David Engle said.
Severe cases in which a child must be hospitalized occur approximately once a month, Piercy said.
Although Swope stays busy investigating reports — "we get cases all week long" — she noted that "we're not as busy when school's out."
That doesn't mean abuse doesn't happen; it just doesn't get reported as often, she said.
"Kids confide in each other during school," she said. "Someone tells a teacher or counselor, and they report it."
In fact, "most child welfare referrals come from Washington County Public Schools; from teachers and counselors," Engle said.
Their due diligence could account for the high number of reports, he said.
With the county's attention riveted on the two recent severe cases — and with children being perhaps more vulnerable when school's out — Engle and Piercy want to let everyone know help is available, both for victims and adults who might do harm to a child.
"We want to get the word out that there's a lot of help available," Engle said. "Anyone can call us … neighbors, family members, friends — if you know that a parent is struggling, please call us."
Social services has conducted "a number of public awareness campaigns" to combat child abuse in Washington County, with officials making appearances at the Hancock Walk to End Child Abuse, events at Elgin Station, service organization meetings and others, Piercy said.
"We'll come speak to anybody," Engle added.
Pa. hotline available
Pennsylvania maintains a hotline to report suspected child abuse. The telephone number is 800-932-0313.
“If you are wrong (about what you suspect), nothing bad is going to happen. If you're right, that call may save a child's life,” Dianne Kelso said.
Kelso is executive director of Over The Rainbow Children's Advocacy Center in Franklin County, Pa. The center offers forensic interviews, forensic medical exams and mental health counseling.
“One of the most important things is children's voices need to be heard, often in their own way depending on their age and cognitive ability. We really need to listen to children when they have a story to tell,” Kelso said.
In 2013, there were 283 reports of alleged child abuse in Franklin County. Of those, 42 were substantiated as child abuse, according to Over The Rainbow's statistics.
Community members should be vigilant for children's physical injuries that don't have rational, appropriate explanations, Kelso said.
A former police detective, Kelso has heard adults say they wish they would have reported warning signs before something debilitating or fatal occurred to the child.
“In my personal experience, I think most child abuse cases that have ended at their most horrific, there were signs prior to that end,” she said.
How to recognize signs of child abuse
The Maryland Department of Human Resources has compiled a list of warning signs that a child might be abused.
A child might be potentially experiencing physical abuse if he or she:
• Has frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
• Is always watchful and “on alert," as if waiting for something bad to happen.
• Has injuries that appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
• Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
• Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
A child might be potentially neglected if he or she:
• Wears clothes that are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
• Has consistently poor hygiene, is unbathed, has matted and unwashed hair, or noticeable body odor.
• Has untreated illnesses or physical injuries.
• Is frequently unsupervised, or left alone, or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
• Is frequently late or missing from school.
A child might be potentially experiencing sexual abuse if he or she:
• Has trouble walking or sitting.
• Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
• Doesn't want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
• Has a sexually transmitted disease or becomes pregnant, especially if under age 14.
• Runs away from home.
A child might be potentially showing the signs of mental injury if he or she:
• Is excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
• Shows extremes in behavior, such as being extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive.
• Doesn't seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
• Acts either inappropriately like an adult, such as by taking care of other children, or inappropriately like an infant, by rocking, thumb-sucking or throwing tantrums.
Warning signs do not automatically mean a child is being abused. However, such signs may draw your attention to the child and the child's situation and reveal additional warning signs, according to experts.
Passing bill would boost aid to child abuse victims
by R. Seth Williams and Chris Kirchner
You never get used to it. Listening to a young child recount being sexually abused is always heartrending, no matter how many years you have been at the job.
That's why, together, we work to help victims of child abuse obtain justice and the healing they need - one of us as the district attorney of Philadelphia, the other as executive director of the Philadelphia Children's Alliance. Our partnership on behalf of these victims has been exemplary.
Child predators use many tools to control and silence their victims. Abusers convince the children that they are to blame and that if they come forward, no one will believe them and no one will care. As a result, children are reluctant to disclose the abuse, it continues, and they experience devastating emotional damage.
Child-abuse victims need expert medical attention, mental-health counseling, and special care in the criminal justice system. But they haven't always received the care they deserve.
For decades, the typical practice in a child-abuse case was to force the child to recount - and thus relive - the abuse through multiple, repetitive interviews with well-meaning professionals who were mandated to intervene. Those interviews often took place at emergency rooms, police stations, doctors' offices, and other intimidating locations that only added to the trauma.
The Philadelphia Children's Alliance, like other child-advocacy centers, brings together police, child protective services, prosecutors, medical professionals, mental-health counselors, and child advocates to help a child at every step - from investigation through prosecution of the abuser to receipt of specialized medical help and mental-health counseling. The goal is to protect the child and to limit additional trauma by providing coordinated investigations in a comforting location, with all necessary services readily available.
Unfortunately, every year, victims of child abuse are denied crucial help due to funding shortfalls. Forty-four of Pennsylvania's 67 counties do not have a child-advocacy center. And centers in Pennsylvania may have wait times of six to 12 weeks for mental-health services and two to four weeks for nonemergency forensic interviews. This is but one example of an incredibly worthy victim-services program that can serve more people if given more appropriate funding.
Instead, these programs are often shortchanged because of federal budgetary tricks. Let us explain how this came to be and offer a simple solution.
There is a special fund that provides dedicated support for crime victims. Created in 1984 by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), it is funded exclusively through fines and penalties paid by federal criminal offenders. That fund pays for critical direct services and assistance, including emergency shelters for domestic-violence victims, crisis intervention for victims of physical and sexual abuse and other violent crimes, and support for families of homicide victims. In 2013 alone, tens of thousands of victims in Pennsylvania received support. From 2010 through 2014, sentenced offenders paid more than $12 billion into this fund.
Again, this fund is financed exclusively from fines paid by criminals. It is self-sustaining, and no taxpayer dollars are used to support this fund. An amazing concept - offenders paying for services to victims.
So what's the problem? Isn't $12 billion enough to support crime victims?
Here's the catch: The government blocks the use of 70 percent of these funds by imposing a spending cap. The cap exists to ensure that there is sufficient money in the fund year after year. Unfortunately, the cap, in existence since the formation of the fund, is no longer based on reality. It is so low that it prevents most of the VOCA money from being used and denies critical services to victims.
This is a bipartisan problem. Members of both parties have permitted it to occur and persist. Despite the best efforts of victim advocates and many of our colleagues, the problem has only worsened.
Thankfully, there is a rather simple solution. Legislation to lift the cap or, alternatively, raise it to a sufficient level needs to be enacted. The Fairness for Crime Victims Act, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), would accomplish this critical goal. If it's enacted, victims of crime nationwide would see support funds rise from $745 million in fiscal 2014 to $2.6 billion in fiscal 2016. In Pennsylvania, victim-services groups such as the Philadelphia Children's Alliance would see the amount of available funds more than quadruple, increasing from $17 million in fiscal 2014 to $80 million in fiscal 2016.
Protecting children, victims of domestic violence, and other victims of violent crime has always been a decidedly nonpartisan issue, as evidenced by the fact that Toomey's legislation was approved unanimously by the Senate Budget Committee. We urge swift approval of this legislation so that our most vulnerable can be assured of receiving the services they so desperately need.
R. Seth Williams is the district attorney of Philadelphia.
Chris Kirchner is executive director of the Philadelphia Children's Alliance. Email: Chris@philachildrensalliance.org
Bill Cosby: The lawyers weigh in
by Andrea Mandell
On Monday, Bill Cosby's latest big reveal landed with a thud.
According to unsealed testimony obtained by the Associated Press from an old sexual assault case, Cosby admitted to obtaining drugs for the purpose of giving them to women for sex. The drugs in question included quaaludes.
The revelation stemmed from a 2005 case, when former Temple University employee Andrea Constand accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in his home in Philadelphia in 2004. The 77-year-old comedian testified under oath in connection with that lawsuit that he gave her three half-pills of Benadryl.
Cosby's lawyers had fought the release of the documents on the grounds that it would embarrass their client. But U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno questioned that logic, unsealing Cosby's testimony on Monday. "Why would he be embarrassed by his own version of the facts?" Robreno said.
The damning testimony swayed many of Cosby's last supporters. Singer Jill Scott, who had called the Cosby allegations "insane" in December, tweeted that "the sworn testimony is proof," and added she was "completely disgusted."
So what changes for Cosby now in the eyes of the law? The statute of limitations has expired in almost all the cases women have brought against him over the years, but several civil suits against the comedian are pending.
Celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents 17 Cosby accusers, says she is "hopeful" she and Judy Huth, who filed a civil suit against Cosby for allegedly molesting her inside the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 years old, will be able to use his latest admission in court.
"This confirms the allegations of numerous victims who have said that he has used drugs in order to sexually assault them," says Allred.
California passed a law in 1990 allowing allegations of underage sexual abuse to be made in civil suits years or decades later. Huth, now 55, alleges that when she was a teen, Cosby "took her hand in his and performed a sex act on himself without her consent."
Now, Allred says, "we are very hopeful that we will be able to use this admission in the case of Judy Huth v. Bill Cosby, which Mr. Cosby is attempting to block by filing a writ with the California Supreme Court. Coincidently, (on Monday) we filed a brief on behalf of Ms. Huth in the California Supreme Court in opposition to Mr. Cosby's effort to have Ms. Huth's case dismissed."
Lisa Bloom, an attorney for model Janice Dickinson in a defamation case against Cosby (and the daughter of Allred), said: "If (the) report is true, Mr. Cosby admitted under oath 10 years ago sedating women for sexual purposes. Given that, how dare he publicly vilify Ms. Dickinson and accuse her of lying when she tells a very similar story?"
Dickinson's experience? The former model alleges she met with Cosby in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in 1982 to talk about a job offer. She says he offered her a glass of wine and before she passed out. Dickinson says she remembers him raping her.
"The women have been saying they've been drugged and abused, and these documents appear to support the allegations," said lawyer Joe Cammarata, who represents accuser Therese Serignese, one of three women suing Cosby for defamation in Massachusetts.
The victims are speaking up, too.
On Monday night, Patti Masten told Anderson Cooper those assaulted by Cosby feel "complete validation" by his unsealed testimony. Masten says in 1979 she "woke up, naked, bruised and battered" in Cosby's hotel suite after taking "two sips" of a drink Cosby fixed her.
Barbara Bowman, one of the first in a string of woman to accuse the 77-year-old TV legend of sexual assault, told CNN's Don Lemon Cosby's comments are a game-changer. "I've worked so long and hard to tell my story and screamed on deaf ears. It really was quite amazing… everything turned 180 today."
Cosby's representatives have not returned requests for comment.
River recovery operation set to resume for 7-month old boy
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) — A recovery operation is set to resume for a 7-month-old boy missing after police say his father jumped with him into the Connecticut River Sunday night.
Middletown police spokesman Lt. Heather Desmond said the recovery work was to begin Tuesday morning.
Aaden Moreno was reported missing when police say his father, 22-year-old Tony Moreno, jumped from the Arrigoni Bridge between Middletown and Portland. A search began immediately and extended into Monday.
Police spoke with family members and visited homes where they believed Moreno may have taken the child.
Firefighters pulled Moreno from the river and he was listed Monday in serious condition in Hartford Hospital.
Police say charges are expected when the investigation is completed.
Parents Force Teen to Live in the Woods For Eating Pop-Tart
by Maya Rhodan
A South Carolina couple is facing neglect charges for allegedly forcing their teenaged daughter to live in the woods as a form of punishment.
James and Crystal Driggers are accused of not allowing their 14-year-old to enter their home for at least two days because she ate a Pop-Tart without permission, NBC News reports. The girl was reportedly told not to come home for a week; someone from her household was to deliver her food at specific times. According to authorities in the report, the girl was told to pitch a tent in the woods and was provided with only a roll of toilet paper, a whistle, a flashlight, and a watch.
The girl's grandmother was able to take her in and report her situation to police, but after a short while police discovered she was sent back out. The parents were arrested and face one count of unlawful neglect of a child and could face more.
The Catholic hierarchy still doesn't get child abuse
The church's obsession with normal sexual activity engendered a warped view of sexual abuse within the hierarchy
by Jacky Jones
The evidence of Cardinal Seán Brady, retired Archbishop of Armagh, to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Banbridge, Co Down, cannot be taken seriously. Or else he still doesn't get child abuse. He used the word “scandal” to describe the cover-up of Fr Brendan Smyth's abuse. This use of language means that Cardinal Brady sees sexual abuse as a moral issue, not a crime.
His claim that the Catholic Church hierarchy did not understand paedophilia is irrelevant, and a distraction. No one needs to understand paedophilia to realise that sexual assaults on children are criminal acts. Child abuse is like domestic violence and adult rape. Such crimes are always about the abuse of power and using fear to get what you want. Child abusers do it because they can, not because they have irresistible urges.
Cardinal Brady also claimed that the hierarchy did not understand the effect of sexual abuse on children. What part of raping and buggering girls and boys did they not understand? What effect did they think these criminal acts would have on children? When adult women and men are raped, the consequences are catastrophic. How much worse must it be for children? With rape and buggery there would have been injuries. Yet Cardinal Brady asked the two boys who had been abused by Smyth whether they “liked” what was done to them. When gathering evidence during the canonical inquiry in 1975 he ought to have known that children were at risk of serious harm. Swearing witnesses to secrecy is akin to aiding and abetting these crimes and left hundreds more children at risk of rape. Let's hope that those in the church who are now charged with safeguarding children have a better understanding of the law.
Laws dealing with sexual assaults on minors go back nearly two centuries. The Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 covered rape and sexual assaults of girls and boys. “Whosoever shall be guilty of the crime of rape . . . shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude for life” and “persons convicted of aggravated assaults on females and boys under 14 years of age may be imprisoned or fined”. The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1935 also covered sexual abuse. “Any person who unlawfully and carnally knows any girl under the age of 15 shall be guilty of a felony and shall be liable on conviction thereof to penal servitude for life.” Buggery of boys was also covered and attracted a sentence of life imprisonment. These Acts were updated and strengthened by the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act 1990. The new Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill will provide greater protection for children when it is finally enacted.
The inquiry has highlighted the reluctance of people in authority to blow the whistle. Fr William Fitzgerald, who also gave evidence, served with Smyth at Kilnacrott Abbey, and warned him to stay away from altar boys. Fr Fitzgerald knew the effect of sexual abuse on children, yet did not go to the Garda. When interviewed on RTÉ Radio 1's Drivetime programme he said he did not make the link between the abuse and the need for Smyth to be dealt with by the law. In fact, the only way to stop child abuse is through the criminal justice system. Perpetrators must be caught and punished. Psychiatrists are not needed. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition, 2014), the bible of the American Psychiatric Association, notes that “most people with [paedophilic disorder] do not have a mental disorder”.
Since the Inquisition, the church has been policing the sexual behaviour of consenting adults, with disastrous consequences for the health of Irish people. This obsession with normal sexual activity engendered a warped view of sexual abuse within the hierarchy. It is time to debunk some of the myths surrounding sexual abuse and view it as a heinous crime, not a behavioural problem that needs treatment. Sexual abuse is still happening and children need the law on their side.
The Rape Crisis Network Ireland annual report for 2014 estimates that “four out of five victims of sexual violence, including children, will not access justice”. Only one- third of survivors report to the Garda and only a few of these cases ever see the inside of a courtroom. Survivors must feel very bitter now that they know the Garda was informed about Smyth's criminal activities in the 1970s and did nothing. Survivors will probably sue the State, and the taxpayer will, as usual, end up paying the bill for the incompetence of people in authority.
Dr Jacky Jones is a former HSE regional manager of health promotion and a member of the Healthy Ireland Council.
Justice for childhood sexual abuse survivors
by Neil Jaffee
Childhood sexual abuse survivors who seek legal redress against their perpetrators share a common goal: a fair chance to establish the truth of what was done to them as children. No more, no less. But given the unfairness of our justice system's disposition of survivor cases, that goal is elusive and too often unattainable. However, in the past several weeks, there have been developments that could advance incrementally the goal of survivors to obtain justice against their abusers.
First, prosecutors in Minnesota recently filed unprecedented criminal charges against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as a corporation, accusing church leadership of failing to protect children from a known abusive priest. The criminal charges and accompanying civil petition allege that the archdiocese's repeated mishandling of complaints against the priest was part of an institutional pattern of permitting predatory priests to continue working in the church and having access to children. The criminal charges consist of six misdemeanors, each carrying a maximum fine of $3,000. In other recent cases involving archdioceses, an individual church leader, rather than the entire archdiocese as an institution, was charged with failing to properly supervise abusive priests.
The investigation of the Minnesota archdiocese corroborated evidence arising from numerous civil cases against the archdiocese and priests filed by survivors after the state legislature enacted a law that opened a three-year window for filing lawsuits involving childhood sexual abuse claims that were previously barred by the statute of limitations. This led to official reports of sexual misconduct by priests and produced record evidence against the priests and the church leadership, culminating in the charges against the archdiocese. Only days after the criminal charges were filed, two of the archdiocese's bishops resigned their posts. (A bill that would have increased the window to file suit in Maryland from seven years to 20 years after the victim turns 18 failed in the legislature this year.)
Second, less than a week after the Minnesota charges were filed, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis approved the creation of a tribunal that will adjudicate accusations against bishops of covering up or failing to take action in childhood sexual abuse cases against priests. The tribunal will address both the backlog of cases against pedophile priests and the disposition of claims against church leaders that they covered up, or otherwise failed to protect children from, sexual abuse by priests. To be sure, there are certainly many unanswered questions as to how the tribunal will proceed, both procedurally and substantively, including what types of punishment it will impose on guilty bishops. Moreover, since the tribunal will consist of church officials adjudicating the guilt of other church officials, there is good reason to be skeptical of the tribunal's ultimate worth. But at a minimum, the pope's action will raise awareness globally of the child sexual abuse epidemic and will cause bishops to be held accountable for the sexual crimes committed by priests on their watch.
Finally, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a ruling last month that will strengthen the prosecution of child sexual abusers. In Ohio v. Clark, the court held that statements made by a child to his teacher that identified the child's abuser were admissible as evidence at the abuser's trial. Because the child made the statements out-of-court, they were not subject to cross-examination by the defendant. Also, the child, who was three years old, did not testify at trial. However, the court found that the admissibility of the statements did not violate the defendant's constitutional right to confront evidence against him because the statements were not made with the primary purpose of creating evidence for the abuser's prosecution and therefore, were not "testimonial." The court noted that the teacher's status as a mandatory reporter of abuse did not convert the conversation between her and the child into a law enforcement mission to gather evidence for prosecution. Thus, in child sexual abuse prosecutions, a child's statements to individuals who are not principally responsible for prosecuting criminal behavior, reporting the abuse and naming the abuser, will likely be admissible as evidence against the perpetrator.
It remains to be seen how these developments will impact the struggle for justice by adult survivors. But those of us who advocate on behalf of survivors — and survivors themselves — should be encouraged that these vital issues are receiving attention from the media and, more important, from both legal and religious authorities. The winds of change continue to blow toward survivors' pursuit of truth. In the end, their truth will prevail.
Neil Jaffee is legal counsel at Vertigo Charitable Foundation in Fairfax, Va.
Boys and men: Survivors of sexual assault
by Malinda Williams
While women have a higher risk of sexual assault during their lives, males are also all too commonly the victim of sexual assault, particularly as boys and adolescents.
According to recent studies, approximately 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before they turn 18; 1 in 33 men are sexually assaulted as adults. Because the reporting rate for male victims, especially for males who were victimized by other males, is low, these numbers do not reflect the true rates of male victimization.
Like sexual assaults against women, sexual violence against men is an act of power and control using sexual assault as the weapon. Most of us have some knowledge of the male rape epidemic in prisons. Male sexual assault is also common in our military: in 2013, males were the victim in 53 percent of 26,000 military sexual assaults.
Men are the perpetrators of sexual assaults against boys and men far more commonly than women. The majority of the perpetrators of sexual violence against men are white, heterosexual men. Many perpetrators are married or in long-term relationships with women. While girls and women do sexually assault boys and men, a 2010 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found that males perpetrated 93.3 percent of rapes against males. Another study put the number of male perpetrators of male sexual assault at 86 percent.
According to the National Center on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (ptsd.va.gov), at least 10 percent of men in the U.S. experience trauma from being sexually assaulted. Male survivors are more likely to suffer from PTSD, anxiety disorders and depression than non-victims. These men have a very high rate of substance abuse: about 80 percent of men who were sexually abused become problem drinkers versus 11 percent for male non-victims.
Males who were sexually abused as children are more likely to run away as teens; participate in delinquent or criminal acts; or engage in other risk-taking behavior, such as unprotected sex. Some male survivors of sexual assault will become hyper-masculine: have many female sexual partners or act “macho” to reinforce their masculinity.
The organization 1in6.org is a good resource for male survivors and their families. The site provides information about male survivors and the many myths about male sexual assault, including:
Boys and men can be sexually used or abused, and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.
If a victim liked the attention he was getting, or got sexually aroused during abuse, or even sometimes wanted the attention or sexual contact, this does not mean he wanted or liked being manipulated or abused, or that any part of what happened, in any way, was his responsibility or fault.
Sexual abuse harms boys and girls in ways that are similar and different, but equally harmful.
The sexual abuse of boys has nothing to do with an abuser's sexual orientation.
A boy abused by a male is not necessarily gay, nor was he abused because he is gay, nor can the abuse make him gay.
Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. The boys are not “lucky.” They are exploited and harmed.
Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others.
CAV provides counseling and support for all survivors of sexual and domestic violence, including both men and women of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Malinda Williams is the executive director of Community Against Violence, Inc. (CAV) which offers FREE confidential support and assistance for adult and child survivors of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking; community and school violence prevention programs; re-education BIP groups for domestic violence offenders; shelter; and community thrift store. To talk with someone or get information on services available, call CAV's 24-hour crisis line at (575) 758-9888. taoscav.org
Religious Trauma Syndrome: How some organized religion leads to mental health problems
by Valerie Tarico
At age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia. When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister. “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said. “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.
But my horrible compulsions didn't go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn't just the bulimia. I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help couldn't fix the core problem: I was a failure in the eyes of God. It would be years before I understood that my inability to heal bulimia through the mechanisms offered by biblical Christianity was not a function of my own spiritual deficiency but deficiencies in Evangelical religion itself.
Dr. Marlene Winell is a human development consultant in the San Francisco Area. She is also the daughter of Pentecostal missionaries. This combination has given her work an unusual focus. For the past twenty years she has counseled men and women in recovery from various forms of fundamentalist religion including the Assemblies of God denomination in which she was raised. Winell is the author of Leaving the Fold – A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion, written during her years of private practice in psychology. Over the years, Winell has provided assistance to clients whose religious experiences were even more damaging than mine. Some of them are people whose psychological symptoms weren't just exacerbated by their religion, but actually caused by it.
A few years ago, Winell made waves by formally labeling what she calls “Religious Trauma Syndrome” (RTS) and beginning to write and speak on the subject for professional audiences. When the British Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychologists published a series of articles on the topic, members of a Christian counseling association protested what they called excessive attention to a “relatively niche topic.” One commenter said, “A religion, faith or book cannot be abuse but the people interpreting can make anything abusive.”
Is toxic religion simply misinterpretation? What is religious trauma? Why does Winell believe religious trauma merits its own diagnostic label? I asked her.
Let's start this interview with the basics. What exactly is religious trauma syndrome?
Winell: Religious trauma syndrome (RTS) is a set of symptoms and characteristics that tend to go together and which are related to harmful experiences with religion. They are the result of two things: immersion in a controlling religion and the secondary impact of leaving a religious group. The RTS label provides a name and description that affected people often recognize immediately. Many other people are surprised by the idea of RTS, because in our culture it is generally assumed that religion is benign or good for you. Just like telling kids about Santa Claus and letting them work out their beliefs later, people see no harm in teaching religion to children.
But in reality, religious teachings and practices sometimes cause serious mental health damage. The public is somewhat familiar with sexual and physical abuse in a religious context. As Journalist Janet Heimlich has documented in, Breaking Their Will, Bible-based religious groups that emphasize patriarchal authority in family structure and use harsh parenting methods can be destructive.
But the problem isn't just physical and sexual abuse. Emotional and mental treatment in authoritarian religious groups also can be damaging because of 1) toxic teachings like eternal damnation or original sin 2) religious practices or mindset, such as punishment, black and white thinking, or sexual guilt, and 3) neglect that prevents a person from having the information or opportunities to develop normally.
Can you give me an example of RTS from your consulting practice?
Winell: I can give you many. One of the symptom clusters is around fear and anxiety. People indoctrinated into fundamentalist Christianity as small children sometimes have memories of being terrified by images of hell and apocalypse before their brains could begin to make sense of such ideas. Some survivors, who I prefer to call "reclaimers," have flashbacks, panic attacks, or nightmares in adulthood even when they intellectually no longer believe the theology. One client of mine, who during the day functioned well as a professional, struggled with intense fear many nights. She said,
I was afraid I was going to hell. I was afraid I was doing something really wrong. I was completely out of control. I sometimes would wake up in the night and start screaming, thrashing my arms, trying to rid myself of what I was feeling. I'd walk around the house trying to think and calm myself down, in the middle of the night, trying to do some self-talk, but I felt like it was just something that – the fear and anxiety was taking over my life.
Or consider this comment, which refers to a film used by Evangelicals to warn about the horrors of the “end times” for nonbelievers.
I was taken to see the film “A Thief In The Night”. WOW. I am in shock to learn that many other people suffered the same traumas I lived with because of this film. A few days or weeks after the film viewing, I came into the house and mom wasn't there. I stood there screaming in terror. When I stopped screaming, I began making my plan: Who my Christian neighbors were, who's house to break into to get money and food. I was 12 yrs old and was preparing for Armageddon alone.
In addition to anxiety, RTS can include depression, cognitive difficulties, and problems with social functioning. In fundamentalist Christianity, the individual is considered depraved and in need of salvation. A core message is “You are bad and wrong and deserve to die.” (The wages of sin is death.) This gets taught to millions of children through organizations like Child Evangelism Fellowship, and there is a group organized to oppose their incursion into public schools. I've had clients who remember being distraught when given a vivid bloody image of Jesus paying the ultimate price for their sins. Decades later they sit telling me that they can't manage to find any self-worth.
After twenty-seven years of trying to live a perfect life, I failed. . . I was ashamed of myself all day long. My mind battling with itself with no relief. . . I always believed everything that I was taught but I thought that I was not approved by God. I thought that basically I, too, would die at Armageddon.
I've spent literally years injuring myself, cutting and burning my arms, taking overdoses and starving myself, to punish myself so that God doesn't have to punish me. It's taken me years to feel deserving of anything good.
Born-again Christianity and devout Catholicism tell people they are weak and dependent, calling on phrases like “lean not unto your own understanding” or “trust and obey.” People who internalize these messages can suffer from learned helplessness. I'll give you an example from a client who had little decision-making ability after living his entire life devoted to following the “will of God.” The words here don't convey the depth of his despair.
I have an awful time making decisions in general. Like I can't, you know, wake up in the morning, “What am I going to do today? Like I don't even know where to start. You know all the things I thought I might be doing are gone and I'm not sure I should even try to have a career; essentially I babysit my four-year-old all day.
Authoritarian religious groups are subcultures where conformity is required in order to belong. Thus if you dare to leave the religion, you risk losing your entire support system as well.
I lost all my friends. I lost my close ties to family. Now I'm losing my country. I've lost so much because of this malignant religion and I am angry and sad to my very core. . . I have tried hard to make new friends, but I have failed miserably. . . I am very lonely.
Leaving a religion, after total immersion, can cause a complete upheaval of a person's construction of reality, including the self, other people, life, and the future. People unfamiliar with this situation, including therapists, have trouble appreciating the sheer terror it can create.
My form of religion was very strongly entrenched and anchored deeply in my heart. It is hard to describe how fully my religion informed, infused, and influenced my entire worldview. My first steps out of fundamentalism were profoundly frightening and I had frequent thoughts of suicide. Now I'm way past that but I still haven't quite found “my place in the universe.
Even for a person who was not so entrenched, leaving one's religion can be a stressful and significant transition.
Many people seem to walk away from their religion easily, without really looking back. What is different about the clientele you work with?
Winell: Religious groups that are highly controlling, teach fear about the world, and keep members sheltered and ill-equipped to function in society are harder to leave easily. The difficulty seems to be greater if the person was born and raised in the religion rather than joining as an adult convert. This is because they have no frame of reference – no other “self” or way of “being in the world.” A common personality type is a person who is deeply emotional and thoughtful and who tends to throw themselves wholeheartedly into their endeavors. “True believers” who then lose their faith feel more anger and depression and grief than those who simply went to church on Sunday.
Aren't these just people who would be depressed, anxious, or obsessive anyways?
Winell: Not at all. If my observation is correct, these are people who are intense and involved and caring. They hang on to the religion longer than those who simply “walk away” because they try to make it work even when they have doubts. Sometime this is out of fear, but often it is out of devotion. These are people for whom ethics, integrity and compassion matter a great deal. I find that when they get better and rebuild their lives, they are wonderfully creative and energetic about new things.
In your mind, how is RTS different from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Winell: RTS is a specific set of symptoms and characteristics that are connected with harmful religious experience, not just any trauma. This is crucial to understanding the condition and any kind of self-help or treatment. (More details about this can be found on my Journey Free website and discussed in my talk at the Texas Freethought Convention.)
Another difference is the social context, which is extremely different from other traumas or forms of abuse. When someone is recovering from domestic abuse, for example, other people understand and support the need to leave and recover. They don't question it as a matter of interpretation, and they don't send the person back for more. But this is exactly what happens to many former believers who seek counseling. If a provider doesn't understand the source of the symptoms, he or she may send a client for pastoral counseling, or to AA, or even to another church. One reclaimer expressed her frustration this way:
Include physically-abusive parents who quote “Spare the rod and spoil the child” as literally as you can imagine and you have one fucked-up soul: an unloved, rejected, traumatized toddler in the body of an adult. I'm simply a broken spirit in an empty shell. But wait…That's not enough!? There's also the expectation by everyone in society that we victims should celebrate this with our perpetrators every Christmas and Easter!!
Just like disorders such as autism or bulimia, giving RTS a real name has important advantages. People who are suffering find that having a label for their experience helps them feel less alone and guilty. Some have written to me to express their relief:
There's actually a name for it! I was brainwashed from birth and wasted 25 years of my life serving Him! I've since been out of my religion for several years now, but i cannot shake the haunting fear of hell and feel absolutely doomed. I'm now socially inept, unemployable, and the only way i can have sex is to pay for it.
Labeling RTS encourages professionals to study it more carefully, develop treatments, and offer training. Hopefully, we can even work on prevention.
What do you see as the difference between religion that causes trauma and religion that doesn't?
Winell: Religion causes trauma when it is highly controlling and prevents people from thinking for themselves and trusting their own feelings. Groups that demand obedience and conformity produce fear, not love and growth. With constant judgment of self and others, people become alienated from themselves, each other, and the world. Religion in its worst forms causes separation.
Conversely, groups that connect people and promote self-knowledge and personal growth can be said to be healthy. The book, Healthy Religion, describes these traits. Such groups put high value on respecting differences, and members feel empowered as individuals. They provide social support, a place for events and rites of passage, exchange of ideas, inspiration, opportunities for service, and connection to social causes. They encourage spiritual practices that promote health like meditation or principles for living like the golden rule. More and more, nontheists are asking how they can create similar spiritual communities without the supernaturalism. An atheist congregation in London launched this year and has received over 200 inquiries from people wanting to replicate their model.
Some people say that terms like “recovery from religion” and “religious trauma syndrome” are just atheist attempts to pathologize religious belief.
Winell: Mental health professionals have enough to do without going out looking for new pathology. I never set out looking for a “niche topic,” and certainly not religious trauma syndrome. I originally wrote a paper for a conference of the American Psychological Association and thought that would be the end of it. Since then, I have tried to move on to other things several times, but this work has simply grown.
In my opinion, we are simply, as a culture, becoming aware of religious trauma. More and more people are leaving religion, as seen by polls showing that the “religiously unaffiliated” have increased in the last five years from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. It's no wonder the internet is exploding with websites for former believers from all religions, providing forums for people to support each other. The huge population of people “leaving the fold” includes a subset at risk for RTS, and more people are talking about it and seeking help. For example, there are thousands of former Mormons, and I was asked to speak about RTS at an Exmormon Foundation conference. I facilitate an international support group online called Release and Reclaim which has monthly conference calls. An organization called Recovery from Religion, helps people start self-help meet-up groups
Saying that someone is trying to pathologize authoritarian religion is like saying someone pathologized eating disorders by naming them. Before that, they were healthy? No, before that we weren't noticing. People were suffering, thought they were alone, and blamed themselves. Professionals had no awareness or training. This is the situation of RTS today. Authoritarian religion is already pathological, and leaving a high-control group can be traumatic. People are already suffering. They need to be recognized and helped.
New State Law Creates Child Abuse Registry, Begins July 2016
by Renetta DuBose
Augusta, GA– The government plans to crack down on child abuse with a new state law. Senate Bill 138 creates a child abuse registry known as the ‘Child Protective Services Information System.‘ The 30 page law includes several changes to the Department of Family and Children Services, mainly allowing the registry to have the names of convicted child abusers or those involved in substantiated cases investigated and reported to DFCS. The list starts with those connected to child abuse on and after July 1 of next year.
We often think of beatings, but there is a wide range of ways a child in the state of Georgia can be abused. So, lawmakers are cracking down on it.
Head Start Director Ernestine Smith told News Channel 6, “If it's 20 degrees, sending a child to school in a sundress and flip flops is neglect and that's a portion of child abuse.” She also said, “Not providing food for them is a child abuse characteristic. Not getting medical care for children when they have some type of illness is abusing a child.”
Smith, who is over all of the CSRA Head Starts said she is not sure if the job application will change since it just asks about a prior felony. She said it is a national search, but a person would have to have been convicted of a crime.
She added that she is pleased to know that the state is making a way for her agency to go beyond the typical background check when it comes to hiring for local Head Starts.
“It might have slipped because if it was substantiated it might not be on the criminal record. Certainly all criminal records check, if you've been found guilty and gone through the court system, it will be there,” she said.
While the registry may seem like the one similar to searching for sex offenders, the child abuse registry will only be accessible to a select group such as government agencies, law enforcement and the Department of Early Care and Learning, which acts as a partner to the CSRA Head Start.
“It will be another piece of information that we can use to provide employees who are good for our children and who can help us provide a safe and nurturing environment,” Smith said.
Click here to see the entire SB 138.
Statewide hike to raise awareness of child abuse planned September 19
PRINCETON — West Virginia Child Advocacy Network and Child Protect of Mercer County, Inc. are asking hikers across West Virginia to take a climb Sept. 19 to support their work and raise awareness of child abuse at the Second Annual Statewide wvCANclimb Hike.
In the past year alone, Child Advocacy Centers in West Virginia provided support and service to more than 2,900 children, organizers stated.
“We provided help on the road to hope and healing for over two hundred hurting children in Mercer County alone last year,” Child Protect Director Shiloh Woodard said.
Organizers said wvCANclimb is a statewide hike on Sept. 19 in support of Child Protect and the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN). Established in 2006, WVCAN is the network that coordinates and provides a comprehensive response to child abuse in West Virginia. To increase awareness, knowledge, and education, the WVCAN said they are proud that nine cities and towns will participate in the second annual wvCANclimb.
The Princeton hike will take place at Camp Creek State Park. The hike will start at 8:30 a.m. and will have easy and advanced hike options available for participants. Early bird registration is available through July 31.
“Every climb made during this hike is helping the abused children of West Virginia climb out of their abuse and conquer their trauma,” Woodard said.
For more information and to register, visit www.wvcanclimb.org
Officials encourage reporting of suspected child abuse
by The Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — State and local officials are calling on New Mexicans to contact authorities if they suspect a child is being abused or neglected.
Gov. Susana Martinez was among those to issue the reminder Monday during a news conference in Albuquerque. She says reports of suspected abuse decline over the summer months when children are not in school.
Teachers are among those who most often report suspected abuse.
However, a ruling issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court earlier this year clarified a state statute that calls for “every person” to report abuse or neglect, not just those occupations spelled out by the law.
Child welfare officials say the state's abuse and neglect hotline received more than 17,000 calls during the first five months of 2015. That's on par with last year.
California Assembly votes to strengthen law protecting sexually abused students
by Patrick McGreevy
State lawmakers voted Monday to close a loophole that allowed the Los Angeles school district last year to avoid penalties in a lawsuit involving a 14-year-old student who said she was sexually assaulted by a teacher
Legislation that now goes to the governor would bar adults sued by minors over sexual assault allegations and who are in positions of authority from using the defense the child consented to the sexual contact.
It also would prohibit those sued in such civil cases from raising a minor's sexual history as a defense.
“We are one step closer to protecting our children against abuse and inconsistencies in the legal system,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), bill's author.
Last year, a court found against a student who sued the Los Angeles Unified School District alleging negligence and asserting that she suffered emotional trauma when she was 14 and was sexually abused by her 28-year-old teacher at Edison Middle School.
District officials argued that school staff did not know about the abuse and that the teacher and eighth-grade student took steps to conceal their months-long sexual relationship.
The teacher was sentenced to three years in prison in a criminal case. But in the later civil suit, a jury found for the school district, partly because the student allegedly consented to sexual activities with her teacher.
Criminal law is clear that minors cannot consent to sexual acts. But civil law is less clear, and courts have ruled in civil cases that minors consented.
“Differences between civil and penal code when it comes to matters of consent are dangerous and threaten to let sexual predators off the hook for child abuse and negligence,” Lara said.
Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) said on the Assembly floor Monday that the bill “protects child victims of sexual predators and sexual abuse.”
The Assembly passed the bill, SB 14, on a 75-0 vote. It had already passed the state Senate.
Also Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that prohibits school districts from purging a teacher's personnel file of credible complaints about, substantiated investigations into or discipline for egregious misconduct, including sexual abuse of students.
Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach) said his bill would preserve records for administrators to detect behavioral patterns that suggest children may be at risk. It would help criminal prosecutors when new acts are alleged. The measure is AB 1452.
Meanwhile, the Assembly approved a bill that would allow a child 13 or younger who is a witness in a violent felony to testify by closed-circuit television.
Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) introduced the measure in response to a Fresno case in which a child had to take the stand to testify face-to-face against a man accused of killing her father.
The proposal, SB 176, was previously approved by the Senate but goes back there for approval of minor amendments.
Judge orders sex abuse victim to identify self in civil suit
by Terrie Morgan Besecker
A woman who sued Old Forge borough and others for sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager has been ordered to identify herself in court documents related to her case.
U.S. District Judge Robert D. Mariani said the public's right to know outweighs the woman's privacy concerns and directed her attorneys to file any new documents under her given name.
The woman, identified as “Jane Doe,” filed suit in 2012, seeking damages for harm she suffered after being sexually abused by former Old Forge Police Chief Larry Semenza, former police Captain Jamie Krenitsky and former volunteer firefighter Walter Chiavacci.
Mr. Semenza was convicted in October 2013 of corruption of a minor and failure to report child abuse after accusations he sexually abused the girl starting in 2004, when she was a 15-year-old junior firefighter in the Old Forge Hose & Engine Company. Mr. Krenitsky and Mr. Chiavacci pleaded guilty to indecent assault for sexually abusing her.
In the civil case, Judge Mariani noted federal civil law allows plaintiffs to file lawsuits anonymously if they can show they will suffer “severe harm” if they are identified. Mere embarrassment or economic harm is not enough, the judge said.
In the Old Forge case, the woman sought anonymity, saying many of her friends and colleagues did not know of the abuse and she feared irreparable harm to her professional and personal reputation.
The borough's attorney, Harry Coleman, opposed allowing her to use a pseudonym, arguing that it was not in the public's interest to allow part of the case to remain secret.
Judge Mariani agreed.
In his ruling last week, the judge said the potential harm to the woman's reputation was “unfortunate.” It was not sufficient to warrant her continued anonymity, however, particularly since she opted to name the borough as a defendant.
“It was she who chose to bring this civil suit in pursuit of monetary damages,” the judge wrote. “Plaintiff's suit now goes beyond looking to punish the individuals by including Old Forge Borough. In making this an issue of public entity liability, plaintiff has made her case an issue of substantial public interest.”
The judge acknowledged there is strong interest in protecting the identity of a child sexual assault victim. The woman in this case did not file the lawsuit until she was 23, however, which better prepared her for any negative publicity that may follow, he said.
“She is now well into adulthood, a factor which reduces the chance of her suffering severe emotional harm...,” the judge wrote.
Peg Ruddy, executive director of the Women's Resource Center in Scranton, said the woman's age at the time she filed the suit should not matter.
“This case started when she was a child. Just because she has matured as an adult now shouldn't matter. I think her identity should still be protected,” Ms. Ruddy said.
Judge Mariani's ruling applies only to this case. Rulings in other cases will be left to the individual judge's discretion.
The decision puts other victims of sexual assault on notice that their privacy may be compromised if they seek a civil judgment, said Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
Ms. Houser said a recent amendment to state law allows child victims of sexual assault to have their names redacted from criminal case filings, even if they are now an adult. The law does not apply to civil cases, however. That puts victims in a difficult position should they opt to seek civil damages, she said.
“We certainly do see some victims make their names public. For others, protecting their privacy is an important part of healing,” she said. “We believe victims have a right to pursue justice in the criminal and civil system. ... It's a shame victims are entitled to seek justice in either system, but the rules are different.”
Attempts to reach the woman's attorneys, Matthew Slocum and Arrianne Slocum of Scranton, were unsuccessful.
While Judge Mariani's ruling requires the woman's name be revealed in court filings, The Times-Tribune will adhere to its policy of not identifying victims of sexual assaults.
“The decision by the judge in this case does not diminish our compassion and concern for the victim or change our policy,” said Times-Tribune Managing Editor Joe Butkiewicz.
The Truth about Child Sexual Assault
by Gary Levine
On June 11, 2015, the Naples Herald posted my column entitled “Sexual Abuse of Children Remains Prevalent, Unreported, Study Says.”
Immediately thereafter, a persistent stream of e-mails and comments warranted a closer look at the Sachs Media child sexual abuse survey completed on behalf of Lauren's Kids…a South Florida 501(c)(3) founded by Lauren Book with both educational and legislative missions. Ms. Book, a victim of child sexual abuse, seeks to “prevent sexual abuse through education and awareness, and to help survivors heal with guidance and support.”
We reached out to Ms. Book who was kind enough to answer our questions and to revisit that which the Sachs poll revealed.
The responses to our column were passionate and addressed a host of issues related to child sexual abuse. After consideration, I thought it best to attend to one issue at a time.
REPORTING OF SEXUAL ABUSE: Over reported? Under reported?
Of those alleging sexual victimization to the Sachs interviewers, 59% of female respondents and 47% of male respondents claimed to have disclosed the abuse. This response is disconcerting. It reflects far too large a percentage of unreported and unaddressed abuse. Additionally, it allows for perpetrators of child sexual abuse to remain unidentified and potentially abuse others. The survey goes on to question the alleged victims regarding their ability to report known sexual abuse of another child. A total of 46% responded in the categories of “somewhat confident,” “not too confident,” or “not confident at all.”
The State of Florida requires EVERYONE to report suspected child sexual abuse. Please note the word “suspected.” The state law does not require confirmation, nor does it require that the reporter take on the role of “judge or jury.”
Florida statute 39.201(1)(c):
“Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is the victim of childhood sexual abuse or the victim of a known or suspected juvenile sexual offender, as defined in this chapter, shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department.”
Despite the statute, when asked “if you found out that one of your family members was sexually abusing a child in your family, what would you do?” approximately 19% responded “would try to deal with it as a private matter” or “would do nothing.” Also disconcerting.
The byproducts of reporting sexual abuse…especially familial abuse…are intimidating, daunting and formidable. Such reporting often yields judicial involvement, incarceration, shame and removal of children or perpetrators from the home.
The survey addressed reasons for failing to report:
“Don't want to disrupt the family”
• 9% of women, 11% of men
• 8% of abused, 10% of not abused
• 5% of parents, 17% of non-parents
“Would feel too much shame for the family”
• 8% of women, 13% of men
• 9% of parents, 12% of non parents
o 7% of mothers, 15% of fathers
o 8% of parents of only girls, 13% of those with only boys
o 4% of mothers of only boys, 28% of fathers of only boys
o 8% of mothers of only girls, 10% of fathers of only girls
o 7% of mothers of both boys and girls, 10% of fathers of both boys and girls
• 7% of abused, 12% of non-abused
o Among CSA victims, 6% of women and 10% of men
“Fear that the child could be ridiculed by peers”
• 29% of females, 31% of men
• 31% of parents, 28% of non-parents
o Among parents, 40% of those with only girls, 26% of those with only boys
o 37% of mothers with only girls, 43% of fathers with only girls
o 26% of mothers with only boys, 26% of fathers with only boys
• 31% abused, 30% non-parents
“Don't want to get law enforcement involved”
• 5% women, 9% men
• 6% parents, 9% non parents
• 6% abused, 8% not abused
“The fear of being dragged through a lengthy legal process”
• 23% female, 24% male
• 23% parents, 26% non parents
• 23% abused, 24% not abused
“The fear of being sued”
• 16% female, 14% male
• 14% parents, 18% non parents
• 13% abused, 17% not abused
And lastly, “concerns that the child may not be accurately recalling what happened.” I found this data to be most distressing…
• 47% female, 49% male
• 49% parents, 48% non-parents
o 45% parents of girls, 44% parents of boys
o 42% mothers of boys only, 47% fathers of boys only
o 43% mothers of girls only, 50% fathers of girls only
o 48% mothers of girls and boys, 57% fathers of girls and boys
• 47% abused, 49% non-abused
o 46% of abused women, 47% of abused men
Consider this: Nearly half of the parents surveyed would lack faith and confidence in their child's report.
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: On the rise or declining?
A reader mentioned studies done by David Finkelhor and Lisa Jones, from the University of New Hampshire, indicating a decline in such abuse (http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/CV137J.pdf and https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/199298.pdf .. the later completed for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention).
I asked Lauren Book to address the known frequency of child sexual abuse.
Gary Levine: I've had some polarized comments made regarding my column. Having worked with abused and neglected children for so many decades, and continuing to do so, I continuously encounter children who have either reported sexual abuse or who demonstrate many of the symptoms of having been sexually abused. I believe that such abuse is brutally unreported and that, if we were capable of learning the true extent of this molestation, we would be devastated. A reader commented that a David Finkelhor and Lisa Jones report indicated that sexual abuse has fallen 69% since 1992 (I imagine that the reader was referring to their 2006 paper ‘Why Have Child Maltreatment and Child Victimization Declined?'). What are your thoughts regarding this statement?
Lauren Book: Statistics show that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be victims of sexual abuse before age 18. We know that sexual abuse cases are widely underreported, so it would be extremely difficult to analyze accurately whether child abuse cases have decreased. Children often don't report abuse when it happens. In my case, I was being horrifically abused – sexually, physically and emotionally – and I didn't talk about it for six long years.
There is still so much work to be done to educate the general public about this issue. In our recent poll, we found that 1 in 5 Floridians actually believed that a child 12 or younger sometimes acts in ways that entice abuse. This is truly horrifying.
Child sexual abuse is unlike other crimes. If a person is walking down the street and sees fire coming out of a window, they can call 9-1-1. However, with child sexual abuse, there's no sign that obvious to let outsiders know that children are being hurt and need help.
We are learning about child sexual abuse cases at a greater rate today. Adults are disclosing decades after they were abused. I don't necessarily believe that the rate of sexual abuse has fallen like the statistic says. It's a good thing that these conversations are happening and we need to continue to educate adults and children alike that it's OK to tell.
The Sachs survey depicts an alarming incidence of child sexual abuse. Let's review their findings:
“Were you sexually abused prior to age 18?”
21% yes at first ask
• 30% of women
• 15% of men 2% don't know 3% don't want to say
• Of the 3% who don't want to say, 33% later reported that their first sexual experience was forced.
As there is frequently a misinterpretation as to the components of child sexual abuse, the respondents were provided a list of acts that constitute such abuse. Those who answered “no”, “not sure”, or “don't want to say” to first question were presented with a list of what constitutes CSA, and then asked the question about CSA again. Of these:
• 9% then answered yes
o 12% of women
o 7% of men
In sum, the follow represent the portions of respondents who were sexually abused during childhood:
• 27% total
o 38% of women
o 21% of men
For those readers who addressed child sexual abuse as “dramatically reduced,” “not as significant as the media indicates” or “grossly exaggerated,” please take a moment to consider these statistics. While I have always maintained a healthy fear of stats and data…even a 50% margin of error would indicate that more than 1 in 10 youth are sexually abused…an unacceptable and disturbing figure.
PREVENTION: How do we protect our children at home and in the community?
Gary Levine: While familial sexual abuse is often difficult to uncover and even more difficult to prevent, abuse by community members (i.e. coaches, clergy, teachers) seems to be more preventable. I'm not confident that we, as a community, are diligent enough when it comes to background checks and thorough interviewing. What are your thoughts?
Lauren Book: We must never be complacent and think we're immune from people who mean to do us and children harm – especially because more than 90 percent of sexual abuse is committed by someone the victim knows, loves and trust. Background checks are one method to identify offenders who have already been caught, but it's also important to remember that many abusers will pass a background check.
Abuse, especially familial abuse, is very difficult to uncover. Background checks are simply not enough – they aren't the “be-all and end-all” of keeping kids safe. Maintain constant communication with your children and make sure they know they can talk to you any time they feel confused, unsafe or uncomfortable.
The most important defense is arming children with the safety vocabulary to use when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. We know that most abusers work up to direct contact and abuse through a process called grooming. If a child can recognize potential red flags prior to becoming a victim, he or she is more likely to bring concerns to a trusted adult early. The adult can then remove the child from contact with that person and report suspected abuse to DCF. We have developed a handbook for youth-serving organizations to help train staff and volunteers to recognize signs of abuse and steps to take if they suspect abuse.
Gary Levine: Along those lines, how do you recommend a parent (or caregiver) protects his/her child when involving them in community activities such as soccer, dance, little league?
Lauren Book: It's important for parents to get to know the coaches/teachers and speak to other parents –but it's also critical to talk to children in the classes. Ask them directly: “How do you feel around this coach or teacher? Have you ever been alone with this person? Have you ever felt uncomfortable around this person? What happened?” And the critical final step to this process: really listen when children give you their answers.
Be present at classes and watch the teacher interact with the students. Any preferential treatment toward one child can be a warning sign of grooming. Be sure the teacher knows how involved you are in your child's life.
Teach your child the difference between a safe secret and an unsafe secret (a safe secret will eventually be told and will make everyone smile) and tattling and reporting (reporting is OK because it involves a safety situation). Children also need to know the real names for their private parts and that no one should look at or touch them anywhere a bathing suit covers, unless it is a parent or doctor and they are hurt.
If something feels unsafe, “icky” or not quite right, children should know to go to someone in their “trusted triangle” (three adults who can drive, including one who is outside the family) and use their voice so they can be heard and helped.
EDUCATION: Is this a pragmatic and rational approach to address this issue?
Gary Levine: Your website indicates that you believe that “95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness.” When you consider the dynamics, complexities, threats and fears surrounding child sexual abuse, specifically familial abuse, how do you arrive at such a significant figure?
Lauren Book: This statistic is sourced from the Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute. Our effectiveness testing research of the Pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum showed the students experienced a 77 percent learning gain in their knowledge of critical personal safety information. As a preemptive measure, abuse education and awareness play a critical role in ending the cycle of abuse. The vocabulary and tools children learn from the Safer, Smarter Kids lessons empower them to use their voices to stay safe.
Those surveyed disagree. Only 22% of poll participants indicated that most cases of child sexual abuse are “preventable through education, safety training and awareness.”
The Sachs report, however, confirms stigmas and struggles discussing and educating children about child sexual abuse. As a result of the sigma and mortification associated with such discussions, children are not provided with the tools and knowledge required to prevent and report such abuse.
“Which of the following do you feel may prevent parents from teaching their children about child abuse prevention?” (select all that apply):
“Difficulty finding age-appropriate materials”
• equal between women and men
• 31% of parents, 39% of non-parents
• 31% of those who have been abused, 35% of those who have not been abused
“The feeling that these are hard topics to talk about at any age”
• 48% of women, 45% of men
• 45% of parents, 52% of non-parents
o Of parents, 46% of those who have a girl, 41% of those who do not
• 51% of those who have been abused, 46% of those who have not been
“Fear that the topic of child sexual abuse could itself be an inappropriate thing to discuss”
• 31% men, 37% of women
• 28% of parents, 43% of non-parents
• 28% of those who have been abused, 34% of those who have not been
“Fear that discussing child sexual abuse could scare or disturb children”
• 50% of women, 48% of men
• 46% of parents, 55% of non-parents
• 46% of those who have been abused, 48% of those who have not been
“A lack of understanding about what to tell children to watch out for”
• 53% of women, 46% of men
• 47% of parents, 54% of non parents
• 52% of those who have been abused, 49% of those who have not been
Sum of total barriers perceived…please consider that more than half perceived at least one barrier!
53% identified only 1 barrier to teaching children about child abuse prevention
• 13% identified 2 barriers
• 15% identified 3 barriers
• 8% identified 4 barriers
• 11% identified 5 barriers
The average respondent identified 2.1 barriers
• Equal between women and men
• Parents identified far fewer barriers compared to non-parents
o Slightly more concerns among parents who have boys compared with those who do not have boys.
• No difference between those who were abused and those who were not
LONG TERM EFFECTS: Does sexual trauma have long-term effects?
Having worked closely with victims of sexual abuse, the repercussions are difficult to witness. 74% of those surveyed indicated that they have experienced “quite a few” or “some problems or difficulties” as a result of their abuse. 74%! My experience has sorrowfully shown me how these “difficulties” range from depression and other mental health issues to suicide. Many of the children under my supervision have had significant trust issues…are unable to form meaningful and lasting relationships…have difficulties that have resulted in academic and vocational failure.
INFORMATION: Is there additional information available online?
I received a number of requests for additional, but accurate, information and guidance.
Gary Levine: Where can parents find the most qualified information regarding educating their child about sexual abuse?
Lauren Book: Lauren's Kids provides many resources to help parents have conversations about safety with their children. Our Safer, Smarter Kids website has an entire parent section about the Safer, Smarter Kids curriculum so parents can continue the educational experience for their children. Each lesson in the curriculum includes a Parent Letter that is sent home so parents are engaged in lesson topics, enabling parents to extend in-classroom activities into their own homes.
The Safer, Smarter Kids Parent Toolkit is an interactive Web tool designed to educate and encourage conversations between parents and children about making safer and smarter choices. The tool leads families through scenarios to practice safe choices, videos to learn valuable lessons, and tips for both children and parents. Keeping the lines of communication open with children is important so they will see parents as trusted adults they can talk to when they feel “icky” or uncomfortable.
So…there we have it…a closer look at a frightening issue often seen as taboo. As I often look upon statistics with uncertainty and scrutiny, I welcome our readers to question any and all presented data.
Nevertheless, one sexually abused child is one too many.
Avery Taylor And Shayne Lund: Horror Couple's Child Sex Abuse Revealed In Sick Text Messages, Photos
Avery Taylor and Shayne Lund are a young couple in Canada whose rather innocent outward appearance conceals some of the sickest desires and crimes imaginable — crimes that both have now admitted in court, and on Thursday, were revealed in graphic detail. The couple openly discussed their grotesque activities and plans in text messages in which they discuss kidnapping and sexually abusing little girls, fantasies which they acted upon repeatedly, according to their guilty pleas.
Warning: Graphic details ahead
Nude photographs of young girls taken by Taylor and Lund were also released by authorities as part of the 100-page “statement of facts” made public July 2, though other images of child pornography taken by Lund and Taylor have been placed under seal. Lund is the son of an Ontario police officer and all of his crimes took place in three Ontario cities.
According to the court documents, Taylor, 21, told investigators that when the couple was dating in the summer of 2013, she learned that Lund, 23, had an “obsession with having sexual intercourse with small children.”
And she was determined to do whatever she could to help him fulfill his degenerate fantasies, using her job as a babysitter to gain access to young girls for Lund to rape — a craving he often described in stomach-turning detail that left little to the imagination.
“I need a little ‘un I'm dying I need my kinda fix,” read one text from Lund to Taylor, using the term “little ‘un” which the couple used to refer to child victims. “I swear I'm just gonna walk into the girls bathroom and grab one.”
Taylor's response was “Dare you ;)”
That text came during an exchange about a plot between the two to kidnap a girl from the bathroom of a drive-in movie theater, knock her out with drugs, and sexually assault her. They never carried out that scheme.
But the demented couple did succeed in other plots to abuse little girls. One five year-old girl was blindfolded and tricked into oral sex with Lund in the guise of a “taste test,” during which Lund wore a condom coated with strawberry flavoring.
In one text, Taylor tells Lund that she has “got” a little girl, and suggests, “Let's take her to the beach … we can get her in the water where no one will see.”
When they attacked the girl under the cover of water, Lund filmed the attack using a waterproof video camera. But the little girl screamed and the couple were not able to take the assault as far as they had planned.
Lund later texted Taylor that the couple should attempt to rape the little girl again, but this time, they would drug her first.
“She's too smart … as bad as I want her she's a screamer,” wrote Lund in the message. “But insnly hot an nice body … mmm. We need to knock her out.”
The pair even fantasized about parenting a child, but disagreed on whether Lund would be allowed to sexually abuse their own daughter, if they had one.
“Why shouldn't her dad be her first? I couldn't hold myself back…not at all,” Lund wrote.
“I would let u have every other child in the world. But I would(n't) want you to mess with our baby,” his girlfriend responded.
The revelations came less than a week after a married couple in Pennsylvania, Robert and Holly Greiner, were arrested and charged with sexually abusing children over a period of years.
Unbelievably, Lund had a previous girlfriend, Kathryn Thompson, who also admitted to helping and encouraging Lund in his sexual pursuit of children. Thompson pleaded guilty to 11 charges, and admitted to encouraging him to rape a four-year-old. She also confessed to engaging in bestial sex acts with her own family's dog.
Avery Taylor has also pleaded guilty to 11 charges including producing child pornography, sexual assault, and conspiring to drug a child. Shayne Lund entered guilty pleas to 35 counts that ranged from sexual assault against children, conspiracy to drug and rape children, creating child pornography, and sexual acts with animals. Neither has yet been sentenced.
Maryland mom charged with neglect after baby found on roadside
by The Associated Press
PASADENA, Md. — A baby was left on the side of the road Sunday and her mother has been charged with child neglect, officials said.
Officials with the Anne Arundel County Police Department say Sandra Clara McClary is also charged with reckless endangerment after her three-month-old daughter was found just before midnight in a scuffed carrier in Pasadena after a resident called to report the abandoned child.
Authorities say the scuff marks lead them to believe the carrier may have fallen from a moving car.
Authorities say McClary left the baby on the side of the road.
The baby was taken to a local hospital after she was discovered and is in good condition. She is in the custody of the Department of Child Protective Services.
A Rotherham abuse survivor speaks out
(Video on site)
Sarah Wilson, who suffered years of grooming and sexual abuse from Rotherham's notorious paedophilic gangs, tells how she survived
by Olivia Goldhill
When Sarah Wilson was 11 years old, a 30-year-old man raped her in the school playground at night. The paedophilic attack was so traumatic that Sarah, who had no understanding of sex, was left numb to tears. When she returned home that night, she felt not only a deep sense of shame and disgust but also a fear that normal life was now over.
Sarah's rape was the grotesque beginning of her systematic grooming and sexual assault. She was plied with alcohol and drugs, driven across the country to be raped by multiple men in one night, and ignored by both the police and social services. Her story is not unique. Sarah is one of at least 1,400 children who were sexually exploited by gangs of predominantly Pakistani-origin men in Rotherham from 1997 to 2013. But when a report last summer finally revealed the scale of abuse in Rotherham, Sarah's only surprise was that someone finally cared.
Last week, a National Crime Agency investigation announced that around 300 suspects had been identified, including two serving or former Rotherham councillors. Taxi drivers, who were involved in trafficking victims, have also come under scrutiny. Around 25 taxi drivers no longer have licenses due to child abuse concerns, and hundreds of taxi drivers are planning to strike in response to rules requiring them to install CCTV inside their cabs.
As Rotherham finally begins to address almost two decades of paedophilic grooming, Sarah Wilson, who's now 23 years old, has written an autobiography, Violated, revealing the details of her abuse. Here she sits down with The Telegraph to tell her story.
Groomed as an 11-year-old
Sarah first became vulnerable to grooming because she was isolated and bullied at school. She had no friends her own age and so, when older girls invited her to hang out, she was grateful for the chance to belong and she accepted the alcohol and cannabis they offered. One girl, 15-year-old Nadine, brought Sarah along to meet her 30-year-old “boyfriend” and other grown men. Years later, Sarah learnt that once paedophiles' victims became young adults, they would be pressured to find new, younger girls. Nadine wasn't simply Sarah's friend, but her pathway to abuse.
“The teachers saw me get bullied but they weren't bothered really, they just left it,” says Sarah. “It was just petty bullying but that's what pushed me towards hanging around with older people and I think that's where it all started to go out of control.”
Sarah drank vodka with Nadine and, one night, the older girl introduced her to two grown British Pakistani men. They preyed on Sarah immediately, asking whether she was a virgin and laughing when she said “yes” – even though she looked like a young child. One of the men put his hands on the inside of her thighs as part of a “test” to see whether there was a gap between her legs, which they told her was proof that she had had sex.
“I felt intimidated, it was a horrible feeling,” says Sarah. “Any child would feel embarrassed. I thought the men were too old but I don't know what I thought was happening. What does an 11-year-old really understand, apart from growing up and playing with Barbie dolls?,” says Sarah.
She was forced to give one of the men oral sex soon after they first met but, after the initial assault, Sarah was not physically attacked for more than a year. Instead, she was introduced to a wider circle of Asian men, who fed her alcohol and cannabis until she became dependent on the drugs.
Soon after her 12th birthday, Sarah got into a car with a fat 35-year-old British Pakistani man who took her virginity. A friend at the time warned Sarah that the man was a paedophile and shouldn't be trusted, but Sarah ignored her.
“I wish I'd listened to her now, because then maybe I wouldn't be sat here,” says Sarah. “Maybe I would have turned out worse or maybe I would have become a lawyer or doctor. But I didn't have a say on how I was going to turn out because my abusers had that say. That was up to them, how my life was going to be.”
By the time Sarah was 13 years old, she was addicted to the cocaine and amphetamines that she was frequently fed, and rape had become a standard part of her life. She would be collected from her house and driven across the country, where she'd be forced to have sex with dozens of men.
On one occasion, Sarah remembers lying on a dirty mattress in a dark room in an unknown city in England. Sweaty men, their faces hidden by shadows and each old enough to be her father, would take turns to climb the stairs to the room and have sex with her.
Vodka helped numb the experience, but Sarah remembers focusing her attention on a cobweb in the corner of the room. She made her body go limp and her mind go blank.
“You just have to shut yourself off,” says Sarah. “Otherwise, you've f***ed it. If you showed your emotions, you'd just get beaten up. If you say, ‘No, I'm not doing that', what are the consequences going to be? There's nothing you can do.”
Whenever she was with the men, she refused to focus on the reality. And whenever she was alone, she shut down her mind through constant sleep. “As soon as I opened my eyes, it would be to join them,” she says.
When Sarah's drinking and abuse first started, her mother Maggie knew her daughter was unhappy at school but, as a single mother with four children, she was working double shifts late into the night and unable to monitor Sarah constantly. She tried to ground and punish her daughter, and called the police whenever Sarah went missing. But by the time Maggie quit her job in desperation to focus on keeping Sarah safe, it was too late to control her.
Sarah was addicted to drugs and became violent whenever her mother tried her to stop going out to get her fix. Maggie confronted her daughter's abusers but they either laughed or threatened her with violence. And without any support from the police, she was left powerless.
“She had the guys up by the throat saying, ‘You do know she's only 12 years old?',” says Sarah. “They just laughed in her face. She tried to drag me home, they dragged by back. I had 15 guys pull me out of my mum's house but I hated her. That's the extent of brainwashing in child exploitation. They make you think that they're the only people you have.
“They'd say, ‘Your mum doesn't love you does she, or else she'd be out here looking for you'. She did go out and drag me home but because they brainwashed me so much, I didn't see what my mum tried doing. All I could see was what my abusers were telling me.”
Local authorities were not blind to the town's paedophile rings. When Professor Alexis Jay published her investigation into Rotherham abuse last summer, she criticised the police and council for their failure to take victims seriously. “South Yorkshire Police regarded many child victims with contempt,” she wrote. “Nobody could say 'We didn't know'.”
In Sarah's case, she is angrier at the police for their apathy than at her paedophilic abusers, and she says the authorities carry most of the blame for her suffering. “If they were such professionals, why has it taken up to now to pull their finger out their arses and actually start doing something?,” she says.
On one occasion, her mother showed Sarah's mobile phone to the police and pointed at the telephone numbers for 177 adult Asian men, but the police claimed that the Data Protection Act prevented them from investigating. The police told Maggie that Sarah's behaviour was a “lifestyle choice” and, although they stopped the cars she was being trafficked in on several occasions, they would chat with Sarah's attackers and showed no concern for a child travelling alone with several grown men.
Sarah called the police herself only once - to report a particularly brutal rape - but the officer laughed and refused to investigate. After speaking for a couple of minutes on the phone, the police officer said that as several weeks had passed since the attack, there wouldn't be any evidence and the incident was not worth looking into.
When I ask Sarah what she'd like to say to those police officers now, she is briefly frozen in anger.
“Drop dead. I'd tell them to drop dead,” she says. “Why would a 12-year-old girl have 177 numbers of fully-grown men in her phone? The police thought that if we were getting raped, we wouldn't keep going back. But the sex and drugs were not my decision. A child cannot consent to anything – they can't consent if they want a packet of sweets or a fizzy drink. How can a child consent to sex with a 30-year-old man? The police just looked at us as dirty little prostitutes.”
She's similarly disgusted by her two social workers, who used to moan about their caseload and treated both Sarah and her mother with disdain. “I f*ing hate them. They're crap, they're crap, they're just crap,” she says. The social workers, she claims, never showed any concern for Sarah, and acted as though they couldn't wait for the workday to end so they wouldn't have to think about Sarah any more.
When Sarah was briefly moved to a care home, the staff there were fully aware of the abuse but would ask, “Who are you sleeping with tonight, Sarah?,” as though paedophilic rape was an acceptable norm. When Sarah was driven home by her abusers, the staff would sometimes use care home funds to pay the taxi fare.
Race was an undeniable factor in Rotherham abuse: the vast majority of the paedophiles were men with Pakistani origins, while the victims were nearly all white girls. But despite this, Sarah remains remarkably unprejudiced. “I can't class Asian men as the same because of what happened to me. There's good or bad in every single race.”
Although Sarah was systematically abused by predominantly British Pakistani men, she was also saved by one. A middle-aged man called Hamid became Sarah's “guardian angel” when he saw the 16-year-old in a grocery shop and asked her to give him a call if she was ever in trouble. Hamid was a relatively wealthy owner of a chain of corner shops and, unbeknownst to Sarah, he was already dying of caner when they first met.
He soon became her protector, warding off her attackers and allowing Sarah to stay in one of his properties as she detoxed from drugs. Hamid found Sarah a waitressing job with one of his friends, bought her a new phone so her old abusers couldn't contact her, and became the intervention that allowed Sarah to rebuild her life.
“He was the dad I never I had,” says Sarah. “He'd tell me off if I stepped out of line or did something I shouldn't, and he never touched me. When I was with Hamid, my abusers wouldn't dare look at me.”
“I can't say Asian men are all the same because they're not. Hamid was a religious Muslim man, a very good man, and saving a young girl was a good deed for him. If a Muslim does a good deed, they can go straight up to Paradise when they pass away, and that's what he was doing. He was like an angel that just fell from the cloud. I love him to bits,” she says.
Sarah's nightmare didn't end once she had escaped her abusers and overcome her drug addiction. In 2010, her younger sister Laura was murdered , becoming Britain's first white victim of an honour killing.
Laura was never groomed by the older men, but aged 15 she fell in love with a 16-year-old called Ashtiaq Asghar. The couple broke up when Laura discovered that Asghar had cheated on her, and she had a brief affair with Asghar's friend, Ishaq ‘Zac' Hussein, and became pregnant with his daughter.
Laura then rekindled her relationship with Asghar, but this was kept a secret from his devout Muslim family. One night, Laura confronted Asghar's family and told them that she loved Asghar and wanted to marry him. Asghar was furious, believing that Laura had bought shame on his family, and plotted her murder in response.
Asghar lured Laura to a canal in Rotherham and stabbed her more than 40 times, before throwing her body in the water.
Sarah says that the police were slow to look for her sister, and it was left to her to arrange a search party along the canal, where she found her sister's bloody shoe. Sarah collapsed to the ground, screaming. “It was like a house of bricks and fallen on top of me,” she says. “The police said that if I'd jumped in, I would have gone down with her, because of shock.”
In December 2013, Asghar was sentenced to 17 ½ years imprisonment.
Sarah recounts the details of her abuse in a loud, flat voice. She can explain the mindset of the police and the specifics of when she was raped, but years spent repressing any emotion have turned the defence mechanism into an unbreakable habit.
Even when she says she'd like to tell her apathetic police officers to “drop dead”, she then breaks into a laugh. The most emotion she shows is when discussing Laura's death. Sarah bends her head as she talks about her sister's murder and picks repeatedly at the label on her water bottle, ripping off the paper in short shreds.
Sarah hasn't had any therapy to help cope with her trauma. She was offered bereavement counselling when her sister died but after the first session, the therapist said she could have a second appointment in two months time. “I told her not to bother,” says Sarah.
Sarah says she hasn't heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, though she seems to show the classic symptoms, and doesn't understand depression. “Some days I just sit there all day and cry, and some days I can laugh about it all,” she says.
She has flashbacks and nightmares, periods of insomnia and intense anger. “I sit there and think, I just need to go out and batter someone. But then I think, where's that going to get me?” Sarah also suffers panic attacks, which can be triggered by anything from a spider on the wall to a fly buzzing near. “I get right stressed and then I just hide away for a couple of days,” says Sarah. “I won't leave the house.”
Sarah is currently working with the police to help them recognise signs of grooming, and has begun to compile evidence to build a case against her attackers. She has recently given birth to her 14-week-old son, Myles, and plans to raise him in Rotherham. When I ask why she doesn't move away, she's quick to respond: “My sister's buried there,” she says.
“Rotherham's my town, why should I be run out of my town because of what they did?,” says Sarah. “If it was up to me, I'd be living next door to the b******s to intimidate them. Rotherham's where I was born and grew up. It's my home.”
MSU research on how skulls fracture could impact child abuse cases
by Matt Mencarini
EAST LANSING – The years that Todd Fenton, Roger Haut and their research team spent smashing infant pig skulls in a lab at Michigan State University could change the way forensic scientists interpret skull fractures in children and the way they determine what's child abuse and what's not.
What they found was that multiple skull fractures and fractures that aren't connected can come from a single impact. They found that the greater the impact force the more fractures there were, and that the direction — or line of the actual fracture — pointed back to the location of impact.
Currently, when medical examiners or doctors see a child's skull with multiple fractures, it's an immediate red flag for child abuse, said Fenton, director of the MSU's Forensic Anthropology Laboratory.
"It might have happened that way. But it also might have been from one blow," he said. "Knowing what we know now, our fear is that there may be people that have been wrongly accused of child abuse based upon those protocols."
Fenton and Haut, a professor of biomechanics, use the example of half an orange peel placed on a table with open end facing down. If you press on the top, the force puts a strain on the peel at its edges. If it gets great enough, it will crack, but at the edges and not the location of the initial force.
Their research could make it possible for forensic scientists to prove or disprove child abuse by examining the location, number and direction of skull fractures, something the researchers call the "fracture patterns."
There are two general standards for forensic evidence to be admitted as evidence in a trial, both requiring that it be accepted by its scientific community, said Fred Fochtman, director of the Forensic Science and Law Master's Program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
"Scientists are always open," he said after hearing a summary of Fenton and Haut's research. "They're rarely skeptical, unless it sounds weird. And this doesn't sound weird."
'Fill this scientific gap'
was frequent trips between their two offices on the fourth floor of East Fee Hall that set the project in motion a decade ago.
Determining the circumstances of a child's death are difficult, so as early as 2005, Fenton said he found himself walking down the hall to talk with Haut, an engineer, whose expertise was helpful even though it wasn't related to child abuse.
"It became very clear at that point that we could probably pull together and solve this scientific gap, or fill this scientific gap," Fenton said.
The research was funded by the National Institute of Justice and used infant pig skulls, which were struck with varying force and with instruments of varying sizes. The researchers then recorded the fracture patterns.
Fenton and Haut were careful to note that all the skulls were from infant pigs that died by accident and weren't euthanized for research purposes.
According to their research, instead of several fractures being a sign of several impacts — a possible sign of abuse — it can be a sign of a single incident, like a child falling out of bed.
What their model doesn't show is intent, as in did someone intend to drop a child, Haut said.
"We can maybe help determine what actually happened," he said. "And then we can compare that to testimony, either from a defendant or the prosecution."
Forensics in the courtroom
Fenton and MSU's Forensic Anthropology Laboratory consult with medical examiners and law enforcement around the state to help identify human remains and determine the circumstances of death.
But whether Fenton and Haut's model makes it into courtrooms will be up to prosecutors or defense attorneys.
If it's helpful for a jury to understand the charges and it's evidence a scientist can discuss then it might be worth trying to admit as evidence, Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Doug Lloyd said.
"But in the back of their mind they know there will be motions about whether to accept it," he said. "Even if it's successful, there's a good chance it's appealed."
The recent trend in expert witness testimony is to discuss how confident the expert is in the findings rather than giving definitive determination, Fochtman said, because any science has its limits.
"Obviously they can examine the evidence and present the scientific findings," he said. "The term science now is tantamount in forensics. Is there any kind of uncertainty associated with it? In true life, in real circumstances, there is always some uncertainty."
Fenton and Haut's model is accurate with the infant pig skulls, depending on the factors, between 82 and 95 percent, according to their research.
If they get additional funding, they'll begin working on fracture patterns in adult pig skulls.
They're also working with computer scientists to build and expand their database of the recorded skull fractures to make analysis easier and available across the country. They call it the Fracture Printing Interface — a nod to fingerprinting, a staple of forensic science.
"Pediatric deaths have been and still are quite challenging to determine the circumstances of death," Fenton said. "And often times, when those cases go to trial, expert witnesses line up on both sides and it can become really contentious.
"Before we started to do our work, the foundational basis for interpretation of cranial fractures really wasn't out there."
Mother says newborn being moved back to ICU after slipping from nurse's hands
Uniontown Hospital spokesperson says official status of nurse involved ‘remains under review'
(Video on site)
A newborn child who slipped out of a nurse's hands Tuesday morning at Uniontown Hospital is back in intensive care Saturday, the mother told Channel 11's Damany Lewis.
On Thursday, the mother said baby Eli was doing well and reported that he was moved out of the intensive care unit.
According to a release from Uniontown Hospital, just after 6 a.m. Tuesday a child slipped from the hands of a 30-year veteran nurse at the Family Beginnings Birthing Center while the nurse was seated and caring for the infant.
The hospital said the infant was immediately assessed by medical personnel and a full battery of tests were performed. According to the release from the hospital, no injuries were initially discovered, but the child was transferred to UPMC Children's Hospital as a precaution.
On Tuesday afternoon, Eli's family told Lewis that their son had a fracture and was bleeding on the right side of his skull. His family said his injuries wouldn't require surgery.
Eli's mother, Jacqueline Hunt, told Lewis the first time she saw her son he had a neck brace on.
“The pediatrician came in and told us that (the nurse) was feeding him and burping him, and she was drowsy and fell asleep and dropped him,” Hunt said.
The hospital said an internal investigation is being conducted. In addition, Eli's family contacted Uniontown police, who responded and are investigating the incident.
“If she was tired, she should have known professionally not to pick up this child,” Hunt said.
According to Hunt, she was told about the incident about an hour after the incident happened -- not immediately.
“It's just heartbreaking. I mean, if it was an accident, you can admit and tell us it was an accident. There's no need to lie,” Hunt said.
The hospital's release sent to Channel 11 News Tuesday included the following statement:
“At Uniontown Hospital, we are committed to making a healthy difference in every life we touch and when such an unfortunate incident occurs, we take it very seriously and personally. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the child and the family. We are sorry that such a wonderful event has been overshadowed by an unfortunate situation. We are thankful that it appears that this incident did not result in significant injury and we will continue to work to ensure that we do all we can to prevent such incidents from occurring.”
Eli was taken to Children's Hospital as a precaution because he wasn't eating normally.
“I just want to make sure my boy is OK,” Hunt said.
Lewis reported the neck brace was removed Wednesday morning.
Eli's mother tells Channel 11 the skull fracture will heal over time. However, he will be unable to go home until he eats better.
In an updated statement Wednesday, Josh Krysak, coordinator of community relations at Uniontown Hospital, confirmed that after testing negative for injury at Uniontown Hospital, doctors at Children's discovered Eli had “a minimally displaced skull fracture” but that “all indications we have received point to a full recovery.”
Additionally, Krysak said they're continuing to also support the nurse involved in the incident.
“We are also supporting the nurse involved in the incident, recognizing her dedication to her job and the anguish she is suffering. Her official status remains under review as we continue to gather information regarding what occurred,” he said.
More needs to be done to reduce child abuse
by ECM Editorial Board
Minnesota has experienced a horrific parade of violence against children in recent years. Recently, 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, a few months ago 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 we 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 case load for such workers is about 20, and the goal is to reduce it to 15 cases per worker.
Sherburne County Health and Human Services officials have learned its child protection division will receive enough new funding to add four new staff to deal with increased child protection assessments and the expectation of new cases. The county will get $262,000 in July and up to $65,000 in February, director Mary Jo Cobb reported June 16 to the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners.
New laws enacted by the Minnesota Legislature immediately began advancing the pace of child protection intakes and assessments locally. There were 217 in 2012. That figure increases in 2013 (247) and 2014 (279), with the first three months of 2015 putting Sherburne County on pace to do 392 assessments.
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 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.
Boy Chained With Chicken Around His Neck Shares Story Of Child Abuse
For years, a boy, who has remained unnamed, would spend his days in Union County, N.C. handcuffed and shackled to a steel anvil. He always feared the moment he would start to hear footsteps near his room because he knew once the grown-ups entered, the abuse would resume.
He was whipped with belts, burned with electrical wires and his fingers were broken with pliers - all to "teach him a lesson." The abusers, who have since pleaded guilty and sentenced to prison three months ago, were his adoptive mother, Wanda Sue Larson - a supervisor with the Department of Social Services in Union County - and her longtime boyfriend, Dorian Harper, an emergency room nurse, according to Daily Mail.
The abuse finally ended in November 2013 after police discovered the boy in handcuffs, chained to the front porch of the house with a dead chicken hung around his neck.
When police entered the roach-infested house that was "covered with urine and animal feces," they found something else: four other children, ages 7 to 14, who had been adopted by the couple over the years. The children were removed and placed in protective custody, according to ABC News' Philadelphia Associate.
While all the children were victims of abuse, the now-13-year old boy recieved the brunt of it.
"I was scared to death. I thought I wouldn't survive," he told the Associated Press.
Despite her horrific crimes, Larson, 58, was sentenced to just 17 months in prison on four counts of child abuse. Larson was given credit for time served after the child abuse arrest and was released from jail on April 9.
Harper, 58, was sentenced to up to 10-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty on March 17 to "maiming, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury and assault with a deadly weapon."
The boy now lives with his biological mother - in the same county that his abuser has resettled to, according to Examiner.
So why was he in foster care to begin with?
Court documents show he was "put in foster care a decade ago after problems arose at the home of an aunt where he had been staying while his mother was moving from another state, and he ended up with Larson. When the boy's mother found out he was in foster care, she tried to get him back, but Larson said the boy had developed a bond with her family and he stayed with her. Eventually she became his legal guardian," the AP reports.
The boy told the AP that Larson lied about where his mother was - telling him that she was in the hospital and could not see him.
"She'd say, 'Your mom is in the hospital. She's there because of your behavior. You're killing her,'" he said.
The boy now sees a therapist twice a week. His mother said he is recovering, but still wakes up suffering from horrid nightmares that his abusers have taken him away from his mom.
"I woke up and I thought it was real," he said. "It was just a dream, but I couldn't go back to sleep."