The route to locating child predators is often through identification of their victims
More than a decade before the Internet transformed the way we live, science fiction writer William Gibson, who coined the term “cyberspace,” was churning out prescient stories centered on scoundrels using high technology.
Gibson's futuristic works of fiction are now a reality with a wide range of criminal activity taking place online, including the heinous and prolific crime of child sexual exploitation.
“Child pornographers are clever when it comes to remaining anonymous while committing crimes against children from their personal computers,” said Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “But ICE is getting better and more sophisticated in our techniques to uncover their devious schemes and monstrous deeds.”
A lot of child pornographers are drawn to the Tor, or the Onion Router. It's very difficult to track and identify child predators going through the Tor because the network is routed through thousands of relays across the globe and, therefore, identities are masked.
HSI, however, cracked a case in which 14 men were arrested for operating a child pornography website from the Tor. As a result of Operation Round Table, investigators dismantled an underground child exploitation enterprise in which men, posing as women, coerced young boys on social media sites to engage in sexually deviant behaviors. In March 2014, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that the coordinated strike from ICE and partnering agencies led to the identification of 251 victims in 39 states and five foreign countries.
In another case, HSI computer forensic analysts scrutinized photographic clues (including a prescription bottle and the make and model of a vehicle) and identified a toddler in the photo being sexually abused. As a result of this case, investigators identified 15 children who Stephen A. Keating of Jesup, Georgia, had sexually abused. Keating was sentenced to 110 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to his victims.
In fiscal year 2013, HSI investigations led to the identification of 927 victims of child sexual exploitation (589 girls and 338 boys). In fiscal year 2014, the numbers increased. HSI investigations led to the identification of 1,036 victims of child sexual exploitation (522 girls and 514 boys).
ICE is combating child sexual exploitation through many methods, including the Victim Identification Program (VIP), launched in late 2011. The VIP is a simple idea that combines traditional investigative techniques with the robust and growing technology of HSI's Cyber Crimes Center (C3).
Each process begins when HSI computer forensics agents are given material (images, video and/or audio) that shows a child or children being sexually abused. The material is enhanced and analyzed to look for clues that could identify the victim, suspect or geographic location. When enough clues form a viable lead, that lead is sent to the appropriate HSI field office for follow-up investigation.
“It's important to note that the focus on victims does not conflict with ongoing efforts to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes,” said HSI Special Agent Jim Cole, who serves as the VIP's national program manager. “The identification of victims often leads to the arrest of their abusers.”
C3 is currently providing a two-week victim identification training session to agents and analysts who've come from 14 HSI field offices from all over the country. Attendees are working on real cases as part of the training.
The VIP comes under the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit of C3. Located in Fairfax, Virginia, C3 brings together ICE cyber investigations and computer forensics to combat the global battle against cybercrime. On July 22, C3 celebrated the completion of a major renovation and expansion designed to enhance its operational and training capabilities.
For safety tips to protect children online, click on Online Resources to Prevent Child Exploitation.
For more information on how HSI's C3 combats criminal activity conducted on or facilitated by the Internet, click here.
From the FBI
Sexual Predator Sentenced to 29 Years
Targeted Young Victims Through Social Media
Social media is a great vehicle for keeping up with friends and family, networking with colleagues, and sharing common interests with others—and it's an especially popular way for young people to communicate with one another. But, like a car that's stolen by a bank robber to be used as a getaway vehicle, social media accounts can be hijacked by criminals and others for nefarious purposes. And it's often a young victim at the other end of the computer.
Which is why parents need to be aware of what could happen if their child unknowingly comes across someone on social media who poses a threat—and should talk to their kids about it.
Case in point: a 23-year-old California man who was recently sentenced to 29 years in federal prison for attempting to produce child pornography and enticing a minor. Jordan James Kirby used Facebook to solicit juvenile girls (as well as women) for sexually explicit photos, which he would then use to extort the victims for additional pictures and/or for sex acts with him.
Kirby, who lived in Paradise, California, created several bogus Facebook profiles through which he contacted hundreds of victims, many of whom were minor females. He would sometimes claim to be an agent for a modeling company and, after complimenting them on their looks, would offer the girls thousands of dollars for photos of themselves in various stages of undress. To tempt them, he posted pictures of himself holding large amounts of cash and photos of money spread out on top of his computer. Unfortunately, some of the girls he contacted were either duped by Kirby or enticed by the money and ultimately sent him the photos he requested.
Of course, once Kirby got the photos, he never sent the money. Instead, he would up the ante—threatening to send the photos to the girls' parents or release them on the Internet unless they sent him yet more pictures, or, in some cases, met up with him for sex acts.
Kirby's illicit activities became known when the parents of one of his victims—after discovering information on a home computer—contacted the FBI's Chico Resident Agency out of our Sacramento Field Office. Our case agent then contacted a detective with the Paradise Police Department for assistance with identifying local suspects. After the execution of several search warrants on Internet service providers, investigators identified and arrested Kirby in May 2014 on state criminal charges. In the meantime, the federal case was being built against him.
This joint investigation made good use of an FBI child forensic interviewer, the FBI's Computer Analysis Response Team, and the Paradise Police Department's familiarity with the town's young people.
Earlier this year, Kirby pled guilty in federal court to six criminal counts involving victims between the ages of 10 and 15. And this past May, he was sentenced to 29 years in prison.
A key aspect of the case, according to the FBI agent who worked it, was the willingness of that one victim's parents to immediately come forward to the FBI with their concerns—and computer devices, potentially containing evidence—when they suspected their daughter may have been victimized. Their action not only led to the eventual identification of Kirby, which protected their daughter from further contact with him, but also protected an unknown number of young girls who could have been victimized by him in the future.
Help Protect Your Kids from Online Sexual Predators
In addition to talking to your kids about the dangers of being sexually exploited online and offline, here are some concrete ways you can help them protect themselves on social media:
- Make sure the privacy settings on your kids' social media accounts are high, but also keep in mind that information can inadvertently be leaked by friends and family, so remind kids they should still be careful about posting certain information about themselves—like street address, phone number, Social Security number, etc.
- Remind your kids they should post only what they're comfortable with others seeing. Encourage them to think about the language they use online and to think before posting pictures and videos. And remind them that once they post something, they can't take it back.
- Be aware of who your kids' online friends are, and advise them to accept friend requests only from people they know personally.
- Encourage your kids to tell you if they feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online.
- Report inappropriate activity to the website or to law enforcement.
- Know that teens are not always honest about what they are doing online. Some will let their parents “friend” them, for example, but will then establish another space online that is hidden from their parents.
International Parental Kidnapping Case
Partnerships, Publicity Key to 9-Year-Old's Rescue
When 9-year-old Billy Hanson didn't return to Pennsylvania after spending the summer with his father in Seattle, the boy's mother called her local police department, setting in motion an international kidnapping investigation that led FBI agents halfway around the world to a tiny island in the South Pacific.
What would eventually bring the case to a successful conclusion was the extraordinary collaboration between local, federal, and international law enforcement and other agencies. But on that September day in 2014 when Billy was not on the flight he was supposed to be on, his mother “was obviously very concerned,” said Special Agent Carolyn Woodbury, who led the investigation from the FBI's Seattle Division.
Johanna Hanson had agreed to let her son spend that July and August living with his father, Jeff Hanson, aboard a 30-foot sailboat named the Draco . But after Billy arrived in Washington, she began receiving text messages from her estranged husband suggesting that Billy would not be returning in the fall—a clear violation of their court-approved custody agreement.
Johanna called the Hazelton Pennsylvania Police Department, who, in turn, contacted the Port of Seattle Police Department. In August, a welfare check was conducted, which showed that Billy and his father were on the boat in Seattle, and all seemed to be well. A week later, however, the airplane ticket Billy's grandfather had purchased for his return to the East Coast was never used—and the Draco was nowhere to be found.
The FBI-led Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the Seattle Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, was called for assistance. Task force members who went to the marina and elsewhere to conduct interviews learned that 46-year-old Jeff Hanson had given away some of his personal belongings, that he had previously sailed the Draco around the world, and—most significantly—that he had a six-day head start on investigators. In other words, he was likely on the open sea and could be headed anywhere. Investigators also learned another troubling fact, Woodbury said: “We were told that Billy didn't know how to swim.”
On September 12, 2014, a federal warrant was issued for Jeff Hanson, and Woodbury and task force members worked quickly to “get the word out” about the kidnapping. FBI offices up and down the West Coast were alerted, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The Coast Guard and U.S. Navy were notified, and hourly announcements about the kidnapping were made on maritime radio channels. In addition, the FBI's investigative publicity team distributed posters online and on social media networks showing pictures of Billy, his father, and the Draco .
“Our investigation suggested that Jeff Hanson would likely sail either to Mexico, South America, or the South Pacific,” Woodbury said. The FBI's legal attaché offices—known as legats—were contacted, and in Australia, Legat Canberra disseminated fliers and other information to the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre, an organization of police, customs and immigrations, and other agencies whose goal is to gather and share intelligence to stop transnational crime in the South Pacific. Meanwhile, news reports about Billy's kidnapping were being broadcast everywhere.
On October 29, 2014, Legat Canberra reported that Billy and his father had been seen on the remote island nation of Niue, located about 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand. The island has fewer than 1,200 residents, but a woman recognized Billy and his father from news reports and contacted the local chief of police.
Jeff Hanson was detained on immigration charges, and FBI agents from Seattle began the long trip to Niue, which is said to be one of the least visited places on the planet. There are only two flights on and off the island per week.
“The irony for Jeff Hanson,” said Woodbury, “was that he was immediately recognized in one of the most remote places in the world. For law enforcement,” she added, “it illustrates that collaboration and asking for the public's help were the absolute keys to solving this case.” Woodbury had particular praise for the international assistance provided by the Niue Police Department, the New Zealand Police, and New Zealand Customs Service.
After his harrowing odyssey, Billy was reunited with his mother. “This was no carefree adventure for him,” Woodbury explained. “It was a traumatic experience.” Investigators learned that shortly after the Draco left Seattle, the dinghy that carried most of the food and water for the trip was lost at sea. By the time Billy and his father reached Niue after 60 days aboard the Draco , the 9-year-old had lost 30 pounds.
On November 11, Jeff Hanson appeared in federal court in Seattle to face international kidnapping charges. He pled guilty in March 2015 and was sentenced last week to time served, which was about seven months in prison. As for the Draco , which was Hanson's residence, it remains in Niue in dry dock—some 5,500 miles from Seattle—accumulating dock fees.
Child Advocacy Centers help lessen trauma for children reporting sex abuse
There's one in Phelps, and another soon to come in Canandaigua
by Aaron Curtis
During last year's annual Bivona Child Abuse Summit in Rochester, an event speaker instructed those in attendance to recall their last sexual encounter.
Attendees were then directed to tell the person sitting next to them about that encounter in detail.
The exercise was an analogy used to express how daunting it would be for a child victim of sexual abuse to open up to authorities about the victimization they endured.
"Imagine being 6 years old and meeting a person for the first time in a strange place and describing that experience," said Sgt. Scott Kadien, of the Canandaigua City Police Department, who attended the summit.
The prevalence of sexual abuse in the U.S. is intimidating in itself.
Numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that one in four woman and one in six men have been sexually abused by the time they are 18.
And, according to experts, the prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine due to it not always being reported for an array of reasons, from the victim being ignored or not believed, to the victim's lack of comfort in opening up about the incident.
The Bivona Child Advocacy Center created the summit with the understanding of the need to build awareness and education about child abuse issues and to address problems like these.
The summit brings together into one room the gamut of those who serve at some level of authority in the lives of children, including members of law enforcement, attorneys and judges, mental health professionals, social workers and school personnel, among others.
Bringing these entities together is part of the a day-to-day operation for the 777 Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) operating across the nation. These include dozens in New York, such as the one stationed in Phelps since 2008.
According to Jennifer Brownell, director of the local CAC, there are a total of 17 agencies that are a part of the local team, composing the Finger Lakes Child Abuse Response Team, which was pieced together in 2002.
Aside from area law enforcement, the group includes members of the Child Protective Services branch of the Department of Social Services, the Ontario County District Attorney's Office, and mental health, medical and advocacy agencies.
In the past, these groups would often be largely detached in gathering the necessary information to help a child of sexual abuse. This forced a child to have to relive the trauma of their abuse multiple times and in multiple locations, to an array of strangers.
The CAC, plans to have a new location in downtown Canandaigua by the end of this summer, providing that soft landing for the abused and the people who are standing by the victim's side.
"We coordinate the county's response to child abuse through a team approach," Brownell said. "We all come together with our own goals, but blending those roles together to be sure to get the best possible outcome for a child."
Through the cracks
Former Phelps resident Caitlin Clare was 9 years old when the sexual abuse began for her, she said.
Following along with numbers released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showing that 90 percent of those who are sexually abused are done so by somebody they know, Clare's abuse was at the hands of a male relative.
One particular night in 2000, while her mother was not home, the abuse "got bad," Clare said.
"When my friend came over that night, I don't know what made me tell her, but I did," Clare recalls. "(My friend) ended up telling her mother, and in turn, she told my mom."
Shortly after, Clare recalls her mother confronting her about the abuse while they were driving home from church.
"She said, 'I want you to remember that if someone is hurting you, that you're supposed to tell me and you're not going to get in trouble for it,'" Clare said. "When I told her, she broke down."
When the anguish sank in, confusion ensued.
"The thing I struggled with the most is how poorly I handled it when Kate disclosed," said Kris Crawford, Clare's mother. "I didn't know what to do and I didn't know where to go. And honestly — other than saying 'I don't believe you' and ignoring the whole thing — I don't think I could have handled it any worse than I did."
Shortly after her daughter opened up about the abuse, Crawford confronted the culprit while her young daughter was present. It was also done in front of other members of the family.
"I look back at it and cringe," Crawford said. "What the hell was I thinking?"
As a nurse, which designates her as a mandated reporter, Crawford called the Child Protective Services branch of the Ontario County Department of Social Services to inform them of what her daughter went through.
"But they did not take the case, they declined it," Crawford recalled. Looking back, she believes this might have been from the lack of information she had regarding the incident.
Crawford struggled on, talking next to her daughter's pediatrician, who made the call to CPS. This time an investigation was opened.
Clare said that the next step was telling her story to a handful of strange faces. She had to talk to "around 10 different people at 10 different times," she recalls.
"It was hard because I felt like nobody believed me, and the amount of times I had to tell my story," Clare said. "I would get questions like, 'Are you sure that happened?'"
Along with the struggles that came with the abuse itself — accusations that Crawford was aware of the abuse, and the fear of her young daughter have to testify if the case went to trial — the man who Clare said sexually abused her was never brought to justice, she says.
"I resented my mom a lot," Clare recalled, pointing out that the statue of limitations today prevents any further actions against the relative.
She still has anger that the man who created the turmoil in her life was allowed to move on with his own. However, after years of therapy, which led to positive personal growth, Clare, now 25, looks back on the situation with clarity and a level of peace. Today she lives in Florida and is going to school to be a paramedic.
Clare said that she wouldn't want to relive her life, but both her and Crawford believe things would have turned out differently had the CAC been in place when they went through the devastating ordeal.
"I feel like if people that I talked to had more training, I believe justice would have been done," Clare said. "I think a lot of people fell through the cracks because they didn't know what to do then."
Meanwhile, Crawford works with the CAC, with the hopes of making a difference.
"I don't want other families to struggle the way I struggled with not knowing what to do or who to call or how to handle it," Crawford said.
The help is needed. In the city of Canandaigua alone, there are 34 registered sex offenders.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services has a public registry of sex offenders that can be searched by last name, county or zip code. Hundreds of names appear.
There is even an app that has been created that will that will show the user where registered sex offenders live in the user's community. The further you scroll out to view larger and larger portions of the community, the more red dots signifying a registered abuser appears.
Whenever a report of child abuse comes into the Ontario County Department of Social Services from the state central register, DSS is obligated to notify the Ontario County District Attorney's Office as well as the proper law enforcement agency based on jurisdiction.
"Our investigation is not about crime, our investigation is about abuse and neglect," said Eileen Tiberio, commissioner of the county's Department of Social Services. "But we also want to coordinate so the children don't have to tell their story more than once."
That's where the CAC comes into the picture.
At the CAC location, the alleged victim of sexual abuse is brought into a room that has kids' furniture, kids' toys — everything is done at the kid level as much as possible, Tiberio said.
"Depending on the age of the child and how much the child comprehends, that's how you taylor the interview to the child's development level, their comfort level," Tiberio said.
Within the CAC only one person is inside interviewing the child. The rest of the people who need to hear the interview, including police and members of the District Attorney's Office, are in another room watching through closed-circuit cameras. They can hear and see the interview so if specific questions need to be explored, they can reach out to the person in the room.
Medical exams are done in the building, bringing the medical realm to the scene as well. Also, therapy is provided to not only the abused but the family members.
"We are now addressing their needs immediately," said Sarah Utter, the victim and witness advocate of the Ontario County District Attorney's Office. "We're not interviewing them ten times over and shifting different locations."
From darkness to light
On July 27, the effectiveness of the CAC was on display in the North Courtroom of the Ontario County Court House, when a 9-year-old girl spoke to the man who sexually abused her before he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The little girl provided a graphic description of the abuse she endured at the hands of 35-year-old Jeremie Brass of Farmington, who was the boyfriend of the victim's mother when the abuse took place.
Brass stood shackled several feet away in the North Courtroom of the Ontario County Court House. The young girl was surrounded by family members and those who work within the CAC.
"I still have bad dreams about you hurting me and hurting my mom," the girl read from a prepared statement. "You should go somewhere bad because you hurt me and my mother. I hate you. I looked at you like a father, and now I don't."
The mother of the little girl had the opportunity to turn to the CAC, and the proper support system was put in place.
"To have an appropriate supportive adult family member — that's when kids realize that they are believed and then they can trust us," said Ontario County Assistant District Attorney Jim Ritts, who prosecuted the case and serves as a member of the Child Abuse Response Team.
"Children are resilient," Brownell said. "They can be survivors and go on to have positive and productive lives."
She pointed out that if a sexually abused child is not treated, then some of the later problems in life could include issues with mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, suicide and the potential perpetuation of the cycle of sexual abuse.
The work of the CAC is more than just the investigation into the crime itself; it provides the services needed to recover.
"We are able to work with children to provide the mental health services, to guide them through the process of becoming a survivor, to becoming someone who is not letting this victimization define who they are, who are able to find the beauty inside themselves," Brownell said.
"They need to know that what happened is not who they are — it is something that was done to them," she added. "We need to help them with that process."
Western Pa. prosecutors zero in on human trafficking; legislation pending
by Brian Bowling
A Clairton man recruited four underage girls in Ohio, pimped them out in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, then used the money to buy heroin that he planned to sell, a Dauphin County prosecutor said.
“This is your classic human trafficking case, where these girls were taken advantage of,” said Assistant District Attorney Stephen R. Zawisky.
Robert Middlebrook's plans fell apart when a state trooper in Lower Paxton pulled him over in February for a vehicle registration violation, he said.
In addition to Middlebrook, an adult female and the four girls, state police found about 8,000 stamp bags of heroin, he said. At first it looked like a straightforward drug case, he said.
“Once they started asking them questions, started talking to the girls, they put two and two together,” Zawisky said.
Putting two and two together in child sex trafficking and human trafficking in general is a relatively new phenomenon, said Mary C. Burke, a Carlow University psychology professor and founder of the Project to End Human Trafficking.
In the 12 years she has worked on the issue, researchers and law enforcement have made a lot of progress in identifying victims and prosecuting traffickers. But, she said, “The work is really underfunded.”
One result of that underfunding is that data collection is erratic and often dropped, so there are no good numbers on how many human traffickers or child sex traffickers are operating, she said.
The Western Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Coalition has helped seven to 10 minors this year and several more who were in their late teens or early 20s, she said. “We've been working with more and more minors,” she said.
One reason for the increase is the growing awareness by society and law enforcement that minors are victims, rather than criminals, when it comes to sex and other types of trafficking, Burke said.
“There are more out there that we're not identifying,” she said.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton emphasized that point at a July 22 news conference when he said there are no “child prostitutes,” just children who are victims of sex traffickers. He said the number of people in Western Pennsylvania selling children for sex is “more than a dozen and maybe dozens.”
In a subsequent interview, Hickton said he knows this from ongoing investigations but refused to elaborate.
In the past two years, federal prosecutors have brought child sex trafficking charges against five people. Four were convicted.
Middlebrook is likely to become the sixth person charged with federal trafficking. Zawisky said the FBI is investigating the case. FBI spokesman Greg Heeb confirmed the agency is working with state police but declined comment.
One complication is that Middlebrook disappeared after his release on $50,000 bond on state charges of drug trafficking and trafficking in minors, Zawisky said.
“To say that I was frustrated about the bail situation is putting it mildly,” he said.
In more than a decade as a prosecutor, he recalls few trafficking cases — mainly because Pennsylvania had such weak laws until a year ago, Zawisky said.
Act 105 of 2014 provided the state's first comprehensive definition of human trafficking and enhanced penalties for trafficking in minors.
One provision of the law is training police officers to spot signs of human trafficking, said Shea Rhodes, director of the Villanova Law School Institute to address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.A pending bill would have Pennsylvania join states that protect victims of child sex trafficking from prosecution for prostitution and related crimes, such as trespassing and loitering, she said.
Sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Stewart Greenleaf, S.B. 851 would set up a fund to provide services to victims. Money would come from fines imposed on people convicted of trafficking and related violations.
Figuring out the number of minors being trafficked, much less the number of traffickers, is difficult for several reasons, Rhodes said. A key problem is that many of the traffickers are adept at grooming their victims so that the victims see them as boyfriends and protectors.
“The man tells them that he loves them, buys them food, takes them to the beauty salon,” she said. “That's become your new normal. Why on earth would you sell out your boyfriend?”
When it comes to identifying and helping the victims, “We've barely scratched the surface,” Rhodes said.
Gov. Rick Scott signs anti-human trafficking bills
by Randi Nissenbaum
TAMPA -- On Thursday Governor Rick Scott signed legislation to protect victims of human trafficking. He signed four bills on the matter that will bring awareness of the growing crime. The legislature approved nearly $11 million for prevention and diversion services. $250,000 will go to a Bay Area sex trafficking prevention organization.
For Connie Rose, growing up was never easy.
“Little kids are born to want to have love, to want to have hugs right? They want to feel belonged.”
At just two years old, Connie says her father starting raping her. It was a horrible crime that lasted into her early teens. After that, her father sold her into prostitution.
“I figured in my brain, no sex with dad and sex with people I don't know was much better. And so I just lived this life still in high school, still doing the best I could.”
Connie managed to escape the life of sex slave when she turned 19. Today, she works at Selah Freedom, a Bay Area organization that helps victims of sex trafficking.
“It just really helped for me to go out and share my story.”
At Selah Freedom victims receive counseling, life skills, meals and even a place to live. This year they have helped over three hundred girls. Soon, thanks to a new push backed by Governor Rick Scott, they will have the resources to help many more says Co-Founder of Selah Freedom Elizabeth Fisher.
“We were approved for a quarter of a million dollars in the state budget.”
The money will go towards building larger facilities for victims and even a public office where victims can come in and escape their abusers once and for all.
“The buildings that we are looking at already have security built in. So these girls can come in and lock the doors behind them.”
As a way for victims can start a better tomorrow.
“Whatever has happened to you in your lifetime doesn't define who you are. The past is something that we inherited and the future is something that we can create,” said Rose.
The new bills require signs throughout the state with safe numbers for victims to call, stricter punishment for those who traffic sex slaves, and more identity protection for victims.
State Dept Report: Iran Officials Involved in Sex Trafficking of Women, Girls
by Anugrah Kumar
Iran's government officials were involved in sex trafficking of women and girls, and some of them even forced girls into prostitution rings, a report by the State Department says. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says the report shows the Obama administration's "irresponsibility" in striking a nuclear deal with Tehran.
"Iran is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor," Trafficking in Persons Report 2015 says. "Organized groups reportedly subject Iranian women, boys, and girls to sex trafficking in Iran, as well as in the United Arab Emirates and Europe."
Iran is among the six countries in the Middle East and North Africa that have been placed on the Tier 3 List, the highest level of concern.
"Organized criminal groups force Iranian and immigrant children to work as beggars and in street vendor rings in cities, including Tehran," the report explains. "Physical and sexual abuse and drug addiction are the primary means of coercion. Some children are also forced to work in domestic workshops. Traffickers subject Afghan migrants, including boys, to forced labor in construction and agricultural sectors in Iran. Afghan boys are at high risk of experiencing sexual abuse by their employers and harassment or blackmailing by the Iranian security service and other government officials."
It adds: "In previous years, there were reports government officials were involved in the sex trafficking of women and girls. Reports also indicated some officials operating shelters for runaway girls forced them into prostitution rings."
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida and chair of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, issued a statement saying the report gives "further evidence of the administration's irresponsibility in pretending Iran's nuclear program exists in a vacuum."
"The administration decided to negotiate with Iran exclusively on its nuclear program while ignoring Iran's other illicit activity and human rights record and is incorrectly arguing that it is only lifting nuclear related sanctions," Ros-Lehtinen said. "Despite the administration's claims, the sanctions being lifted on Iran were never intended solely for its nuclear program but were also designed to address its human rights record, including human trafficking, among other issues. As Iran's Tier 3 placement shows, human trafficking and human rights are not improving in Iran. We must not lift Iran's human rights sanctions as part of this weak nuclear deal."
In 2013, the report goes on to state, traffickers forced Iranian women and girls into prostitution in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. "From 2009-2015, there was a reported increase in the transport of girls from and through Iran en route to the Gulf where organized groups sexually exploited or forced them into marriages. In Tehran, Tabriz, and Astara, the number of teenage girls in prostitution continues to increase."
Iran's law fails to address the protection of trafficking victims. "Female victims of sexual abuse, including sex trafficking victims, are liable to be prosecuted for adultery, which is defined as sexual relations outside of marriage and is punishable by death," the report says.
"The Government of Iran does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. As in previous reporting periods, the government did not share information on its anti-trafficking efforts. Publicly available information from NGOs, the media, international organizations, and other governments indicates the Iranian government is not taking sufficient steps to address its extensive trafficking challenges, particularly with regard to the protection of trafficking victims."
Aurora targets $3.4 million in grants to stop domestic violence
Grants will be awarded to 23 community organizations, colleges and universities throughout eastern Wisconsin
by Guy Boulton
Aurora Health Care announced $3.4 million in grants Friday to develop and expand prevention and treatment programs for sexual assault and domestic violence.
The grants will be awarded to 23 community organizations, colleges and universities throughout eastern Wisconsin.
"Aurora Health Care is proud to be working hand-in-hand with these dedicated community-based providers throughout eastern Wisconsin to help stem the tide of domestic violence and sexual assault," said Nick Turkal, a physician and chief executive officer of Aurora. "Aurora has never shied away from difficult conversations and community concerns. While we've been championing efforts to put an end to domestic and sexual violence for more than 25 years, we know that there is still much work to be done and that — together — we can make a tangible difference."
The grants are part of a $10 million commitment announced in December to improve access to primary and behavioral health care as well as treatment and prevention programs for sexual assault and domestic violence.
The grants were announced as Aurora, the state's largest health system, was nearing the end of a fiscal year in which it posted unusually strong financial results. The health system reported income from continuing operations of $539.1 million on revenue of $4.7 billion for 2014.
The results, which included several one-time payments, were up from income of $195 million on revenue of $4.2 billion in 2013.
In December, Aurora awarded $6.6 million in grants to 22 organizations in eastern Wisconsin to improve access to primary care and behavioral health.
Among the grants announced Friday were:
¦ Sojourner Family Peace Center, Milwaukee County, will be given $1.4 million to help with construction costs for a new facility and to provide a sexual-assault nurse and counselor on site for the next five years.
¦ Near West Side Partners, Milwaukee County, will be given $499,998 to staff the PARC — Promoting Assets and Reducing Crime — Initiative to help address sexual assault in the Milwaukee neighborhood.
¦ University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha County, will be given $407,750 to develop a collaboration between UW-Parkside, Carthage College, Gateway Technical College-Kenosha Campus and Women and Children's Horizons Inc. to create a consistent and cohesive approach for increasing awareness of sexual violence and providing services to survivors.
¦ University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, will be given $255,000 to create a comprehensive approach to increasing awareness of sexual violence, enhancing prevention and expanding bystander education on campus.
¦ Marquette University, Milwaukee County, will be given $209,429 to support the Creating a Safe Campus Environment program to help prevent sexual violence and support survivors.
¦ University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Foundation, Brown County, will be given $127,786 to develop the Relationship and Sexual Violence Program to provide education around the topic of sexual violence.
¦ Jewish Family Services, Milwaukee County, will be given $48,325 to provide mental health and trauma-related counseling sessions to adults who are survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence.
¦ Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, Brown County, will be given $47,367 to add a crisis counselor and provide additional counseling services to survivors of sexual assault in Brown County.
¦ Women's Center-Waukesha County, will be given $45,000 to support collaborative efforts with The Child Advocacy Center of Waukesha County and to help hire additional counselors.
¦ Safe Harbor, Sheboygan County, will be given $44,000 to increase capacity to serve survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
‘More than 50 priests defrocked for sexual abuse'
MORE than 50 priests in England and Wales have been defrocked for clerical sex abuse since 2001, new figures show.
There have been 55 laicisations since 2001 - meaning they have been evicted from the clergy - after new rules were put in place to protect children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church.
But figures released by the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) showed the Church, rocked by a series of historic abuse scandals, received many more complaints of sexual misconduct against the clergy.
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And officials said there were a number of cases involving child abuse images where the victims could not be identified, meaning the number of overall victims may be much higher.
The Catholic church plans a national roll-out of a pilot project run in the Hallam Diocese in South Yorkshire which adopted a more pro-active approach to the issue of abuse. The ‘Hurt By Abuse' initiative resulted in a doubling in the number of people reporting abuse in a nine-month period.
The NCSC said the church's handling of allegations was improving but David Greenwood, a Yorkshire-based solicitor specialising in clerical abuse claims, maintained they should be dealt with by an independent body.
The NCSC's annual report showed an increase in the number of perpetrators subject to “covenants of care”, essentially withdrawing them from ministering and severely restricting what they could do in the Church, from 384 at the end of 2013 to 462 at the end of 2014.
There were 79 allegations of abuse against children during the last year. They involved 97 different forms of abuse against 118 victims, abused by 83 suspects.
NCSC acting chairman Chris Pearson said: “This report highlights in full the work of the Commission and this announcement is just a snapshot of some of that work and findings over the last year.
“We are moving towards a much more consistent and sensitive approach in response to the victims and survivors of abuse.”
The Commission has approved the setting up of a Survivors Advisory Panel to help inform the work of the NCSC and its safeguarding work within the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
David Greenwood, who works with support group Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, said allegations of abuse in both the Catholic church and the Church of England should be dealt with independently.
“Whilst both churches have improved their written policies and guidance there are really strong concerns about how that guidance is being implemented,” he said.
“It's really down to individual bishops in their own dioceses when to report allegations to the police and what action to take.
“The number of recent investigations and prosecutions of clergy for abuse suggests this is an ongoing problem and the response of the church in the past leads us to believe they can no longer be trusted to police themselves.
“I've called for a number of years for a completely independent body to take complaints regarding the two main denominations. We may have to wait until the national independent inquiry (into child abuse) makes its recommendations to have something concrete on that.”
Where's 'Father Manuel'? Police hunting fugitive priest, teacher accused of raping N.J. teen
by Mark Mueller
Twelve years ago, amid allegations he raped a 15-year-old boy in the rectory of a Plainfield church, the Rev. Manuel Gallo Espinoza vanished.
The Archdiocese of Newark, where Gallo Espinoza had served as a visiting priest, said he apparently fled to his native Ecuador after church officials informed him of the claim and suspended him from ministry.
Authorities never interviewed him. Within months, the investigation went dark.
Now, with the filing of a lawsuit by his alleged victim and an examination by NJ Advance Media, federal and county authorities have expressed renewed interest in finding and questioning the 51-year-old priest.
The NJ Advance Media investigation — drawing on law enforcement documents, public records and interviews — found that Gallo Espinoza obtained a visa to return to the United States in 2005. Three years later, unbeknownst to authorities in New Jersey, the man accused of raping a teenage boy took a job as a high school teacher in Prince George's County, Md., the inquiry found.
Gallo Espinoza abruptly left the post in February of last year, a spokesman for the district confirmed. The spokesman, Max Pugh, said he could not disclose the reason for the departure because it was a personnel matter. Pugh said he was unaware of any allegation of sexual misconduct involving the former teacher.
It's not clear where Gallo Espinoza is now. At his last known address — a block of modest one-and two-story homes in Lanham, Md. — neighbors said no one fitting his description lived at the house. One neighbor said she believed the home had been unoccupied for months.
The Archdiocese of Newark, which found the accuser's rape allegation credible last summer, issued a public appeal in March for anyone with information about Gallo Espinoza to contact the Union County Prosecutor's Office.
Later that month, two agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement visited Gallo Espinoza's alleged victim, asking about his account and showing him photographs of a man they believed to be the priest, who is not a U.S. citizen.
Mark Crawford, the New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy and support group, said he was present at the meeting, held in a government sport utility vehicle outside the accuser's apartment building in Elizabeth.
An ICE spokeswoman, Jennifer Elzea, declined to answer questions about Gallo Espinoza or say why the agents went to see the alleged victim.
"As a matter of agency policy, ICE can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation unless and/or until an enforcement action is pursued," Elzea said.
'Thank God I'm not dead'
The priest's accuser, Max Rojas Ramirez, said he wants Gallo Espinoza to be prosecuted for the alleged assault, which he says set his life on a downward spiral from which he has yet to fully recover. New Jersey abolished the statute of limitations on sexual assault in 1996.
"I want to see him in handcuffs," said Ramirez, now 28. "I've been through hell, and thank God I'm not dead, because I could be right now."
NJ Advance Media does not typically name alleged victims of sexual assault. It is doing so in this case with Ramirez's approval.
He openly acknowledges previous problems in his life, including drug use, suicide attempts and several stays in psychiatric hospitals — issues he traces directly to the alleged rape. Currently unemployed, he said he wants to use his name and disclose his prior difficulties to show he has nothing to hide.
Ramirez said Gallo Espinoza assaulted him in a bedroom at the rectory of St. Mary's Church in Plainfield just before Easter in 2003. Ramirez, then a member of the church's youth group, said he swiftly told his godfather, now a priest in North Arlington, and a second adult who served as the youth group's leader.
Less than two weeks later, a representative of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Metuchen reported it to the prosecutor's office, Catholic Charities confirmed.
In that same time period, the archdiocese told Gallo Espinoza he could no longer serve as a priest because of a sexual abuse claim, said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
Soon after, Gallo Espinoza was gone.
Mark Spivey, a spokesman for acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park, said that as a rule, he could not discuss investigations involving allegations of sexual assault.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case, however, confirmed the probe had been reactivated and said investigators would welcome new information about the alleged attack and the priest's whereabouts.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of the case, said the prosecutor's office conducted a thorough investigation 12 years ago but that it could not develop sufficient evidence to bring charges, in part because Gallo Espinoza fled before he could be questioned.
Complicating the probe, the official said, Ramirez did not respond to requests for an interview, a contention Ramirez denies.
He said he continued to live with his mother in Plainfield until he was 19 and that no one from law enforcement reached out to him. He said he did not report the alleged assault directly to police at the time because another parishioner — a close friend of Gallo Espinoza — told then-teenage Ramirez he would go to jail for accusing a priest.
NJ Advance Media is withholding the parishioner's name because he could not be reached for comment.
Ramirez said he eventually reported the alleged assault to police himself in 2010, after he began to get his life together. Two years later, he approached the archdiocese with his attorney, Greg Gianforcaro, and was interviewed by the Archdiocesan Review Board, a panel that investigates claims of sexual abuse.
In the summer of 2014, after considering Ramirez's claims and finding them credible, the board recommended Gallo Espinoza be dismissed from the priesthood, or laicized, said Goodness, the spokesman for the archdiocese.
"We certainly don't think he should be in ministry, and we have cooperated with authorities here so they could find him," the spokesman said.
A priest can be laicized only by the Vatican, and requests for laicization must come from a clergyman's home diocese. Goodness said Newark Archbishop John J. Myers recommended to his counterpart in the Diocese of Loja, Ecuador, last summer that Gallo Espinoza be defrocked.
To date, Gallo Espinoza has not been laicized, though the Diocese of Loja has suspended his priestly faculties, Goodness said.
The spokesman said the archdiocese did not know the priest had been working with students after he fled New Jersey.
NJ Advance Media found Gallo Espinoza worked as a Spanish teacher at Parkdale High School from May 1, 2008, through Feb. 28, 2014. The public school, in Riverdale, Md., is a few minutes' drive from his most recent address.
His employment was verified by birthdate and Social Security number. In addition, public address records show the same man once lived at the St. Mary's rectory in Plainfield. NJ Advance Media obtained a copy of his visa from the district through a public records request.
The district's spokesman declined to comment on the rape allegation. As a rule, he said, all teachers undergo a criminal background check before they are hired.
'Looking for guidance'
It began, Ramirez said, with confession.
At 15, Ramirez said he was aboil with emotion, confused and ashamed that he had an attraction to men. The attraction was all the more tainted because, at age 8, a male cousin had molested him, he said.
He thought speaking to a priest might help him sort out his thoughts.
Gallo Espinoza, known to Ramirez as "Father Manuel," had come to St. Mary's a few months earlier, assigned there by the archdiocese after his arrival from Ecuador.
He was not unfriendly, Ramirez said, but he was not especially talkative. Ramirez said he saw him mostly at youth group events, sitting in the back of the room and observing.
When Ramirez decided to speak to a priest about his confusion, it was Gallo Espinoza sitting in the confessional, he said.
"I was looking for guidance and trying to figure out all these things, and eventually I came to tell him about the attraction I had toward guys," Ramirez said. "I told him what happened to me when I was younger. I had never told anyone about the abuse, and I thought it was the best place to tell it."
The confession lasted no more than 10 or 12 minutes, Ramirez said. Gallo Espinoza, he said, offered no sage advice, telling him only to say a Hail Mary and pray on it.
As Easter neared, the St. Mary's community prepared for an enormous Good Friday procession through the streets of Plainfield. Gallo Espinoza was to help lead it, with Ramirez, then an altar boy, at his side. A week before Good Friday, Ramirez said he was at the home of the youth group leader with other members when Gallo Espinoza called, asking to speak with him.
The priest said he needed to see him in person, Ramirez said, and came to pick him up at about 10:30 p.m. Ramirez said he believed Gallo Espinoza wanted to go over their responsibilities for the upcoming procession. He learned otherwise when they pulled into the St. Mary's parking lot, he said.
Gallo Espinoza chose a dark spot in the corner, then climbed out of the car and took a case of beer and a portable radio from the trunk, Ramirez said. Gallo Espinoza, he said, lit a cigarette, cracked a beer and began to unburden himself.
"He started talking about how he doesn't feel good," Ramirez said. "He was telling me about people's confessions, about the things they've done, how he had a hard time listening to their crap. That's the word he used. He said he couldn't handle it anymore. He was depressed. He said he wanted to kill himself."
There was another issue troubling the priest, Ramirez said.
"He said somebody he knows in Ecuador is extorting him and wants to take his money," Ramirez said. "At that moment, he didn't say why. I'm sitting there thinking, 'What am I doing here? Why is he telling me all this?'"
It was near midnight when Ramirez, exhausted, asked Gallo Espinoza to drive him home, he said. The priest refused, he said, insisting he spend the night at the rectory.
Ramirez didn't call his mother. It wasn't unusual for members of the youth group to have sleepovers, and when he was with people from St. Mary's, his mother didn't worry, he said. Ramirez's father didn't live with the family.
Gallo Espinoza, in a black shirt and white collar, led Ramirez in a back door, through the rectory kitchen and to a bedroom, the accuser said. Gallo Espinoza told him he would sleep in a different room, though he continued to pace in the kitchen and drink beer, Ramirez said.
The teen drifted off.
'This is what God wants'
It was the weight that woke him, Ramirez said.
"I just felt something very heavy on top of me," he said. "It hurt. I was in pain. My eyes popped open, and he had his whole body on top of me. He started touching me and kissing me. I was shaking. I couldn't move. I couldn't talk."
Speaking in Spanish, Gallo Espinoza told him everything would be OK, Ramirez said.
"Don't worry," Ramirez said Gallo Espinoza told him. "This is what God wants."
He said the priest stripped him and began raping him. Ramirez said he then blacked out.
It was morning when Ramirez awoke.
Gallo Espinoza, he said, walked into the bedroom and matter-of-factly told him he wanted to give him a phone.
"He says, 'With all the stuff I'm going through, you seem like a good guy to talk to,'" Ramirez said. The priest went on, Ramirez said, offering him a computer as well.
Despite his fear and physical discomfort, the prospect of a phone and a computer excited Ramirez, he said. In a family of modest means, he had neither.
Gallo Espinoza then drove him home, Ramirez said, stopping by briefly again later to deliver the phone.
Over the next several days, Ramirez said, the import of what happened hit home. He slept through the weekend, he said, waking only to cry and eat. On Monday, April 14, he walked to the home of his godfather, Jeive Hercules, and told him everything, Ramirez said.
Hercules, now an assistant pastor at Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Ramirez said Hercules contacted the youth group leader, Antonino Salazar, and that the three drove to St. Mary's, where the two men confronted Gallo Espinoza in an office while the teen waited in the rectory, Ramirez said.
When the three emerged, Ramirez said, Gallo Espinoza stared at him in fury.
"He looked like he wanted to kill me," Ramirez said. "I was scared."
He said Salazar then brought him to a Catholic Charities office in Bound Brook, where the teen told a priest and a nun he'd been sexually assaulted. Ramirez said the priest led him away and told him he was calling the police to report it.
Terrified he would be arrested, Ramirez said, he fled the church and found his own way home. He said it was the only time he intentionally avoided police in connection with the Gallo Espinoza investigation.
Ramirez said he does not, in fact, know if the priest in Bound Brook made the call that night. The record reflects that Douglas J. Susan, the compliance officer for Catholic Charities, notified the prosecutor's office of the alleged assault in a phone call and by letter on April 25, 2003, 11 days after Ramirez says he reported it to his godfather and the youth group leader.
NJ Advance Media's efforts to reach Salazar for comment were unsuccessful. Authorities interviewed him through a Spanish-language interpreter in June of that year, according to a copy of his statement. In it, he said Ramirez told him Gallo Espinoza had "sexual relations" with the teen.
Asked about Ramirez's demeanor when he made the claim, Salazar responded, "He was crying."
It remains unclear how quickly Gallo Espinoza fled and whether his sudden departure could have been avoided.
Goodness, the spokesman for the archdiocese, said Gallo Espinoza "just disappeared" without informing anyone.
"I can't be specific in terms of time, but it was relatively soon," Goodness said.
Asked if informing Gallo Espinoza of the allegation amounted to tipping him off, Goodness said the archdiocese followed protocols crafted by the nation's bishops in 2002 — the height of the clergy sexual abuse crisis — to strengthen protections for children.
Under those protocols, a priest is to be removed from ministry as soon as an allegation is made, regardless of its authenticity. Priests are entitled to know in general terms why they are being removed.
Crawford, the New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, contends the prosecutor's office missed an opportunity to question Gallo Espinoza by not moving immediately to find him once the archdiocese reported the allegation.
The advocate also criticized investigators for not doing more to look for the priest in the months after he fled and after Ramirez came forward to police in 2010, a period when Gallo Espinoza was teaching in Maryland.
"It's a travesty of justice and a failure," Crawford said. "They should have been looking for him then, and they should be looking for him now."
Ramirez said he, too, wants Gallo Espinoza to be located by police. He said he filed suit against the archdiocese, in part, because he hoped it could lead to information that might reopen the criminal case. The suit was filed in March.
"What I want most is for him to be criminally charged," Ramirez said. "That was my intent from the start."
Prosecutors learn new strategies in child abuse cases
by Rae Larkins
DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) -- Legal professionals learned a lesson about handling child abuse cases Friday.
The Southeast Alabama Advocacy Center organized a training session led by Boz Tchividjian at Flowers Hospital. He's a law professor, the founder of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment and a former prosecutor.
"We're here to come together to talk about what we can do to do our jobs better, and when we do our jobs better more children are protected and the offenders are less protected," Tchividjian said.
He shared updates regarding recent Supreme Court decisions in child abuse cases.
Sometimes the child doesn't testify in court making it harder for prosecutors to collect evidence. He talked about those challenges. He also spoke about how to prepare for trial and how to cross examine a witness under the circumstances.
"My hope is that we can talk about all of these issues, and by the time we walk out of here including myself will be just that much more prepared to do our jobs with excellence," Tchividjian said.
Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center covers Houston, Henry, Dale and Geneva counties. Executive Director Sherryl Walker says there were 368 new child sexual abuse victims last year.
"Prosecutors and lawyers, judges nobody really likes to handle these child abuse cases so, and it's scary for the parents, it's scary for the children. So we're trying to just enhance the skills of our people who work these cases so they'll be more sensitive to the issues surrounding court with children," said Sherryl Walker, the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center executive director.
Officials say there's a high turnover rate with front line workers. They plan to continue having these sessions every year to make sure they're doing their jobs effectively.
More than 600 cases of suspected child abuse cases not reported due to IT system failure
by Melinda Howells & Andree Withey
Education Minister Kate Jones has launched internal and external reviews and a manager and a contractor who worked on the system have been stood aside.
Police are reviewing the cases which were not reported to check if the children are safe, but it is unclear at this stage if any have suffered further abuse as a result of the delayed notification.
Ms Jones said the abuse had not been passed on to police due to a coding failure in the new child protection IT system, which began in January.
It was only discovered on Thursday.
"What we saw was a system failure," she said.
"I think it is an expectation of every single one of us that if you are making a change to an IT system, the very first thing you would do is test that system properly.
"Clearly there were not enough checks and balances at the time to ensure the changes made in January were working.
"Our number one priority is always the safety of our children and we have acted swiftly and promptly to ensure that every single one of these cases is reviewed by police as urgently as possible."
Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Cameron Harsley said the 644 missed notifications were being assessed.
But he said principals would have gone to police directly if they suspected that a child was in immediate danger.
"I am confident that there is only a minimal amount of children that may have been placed at risk, and we will continue through that process over the coming days and weeks to have a response to each one of those matters that we have been notified about," he said.
The new system was introduced in response to the recommendations of the Carmody Inquiry into Child Safety.
There are three categories of notification that principals may use:
a report to police and child safety when it is believed a child is at risk at home;
a report only to the child safety department; and
a report to police when the school believes a parent or guardian at home is acting in the best interests of the child, but there is information that needs to be passed on.
The computer fault only affects the third category.
Ms Jones said she was "outraged and angry that there was a failure in the implementation of this recommendations in January this year that has seen the system changes not notifying police".
It was unclear whether any children had suffered further abuse as a result of the delay in notifying police.
Ms Jones said that was her "deepest concern".
"That is why as soon as I became aware of this, we had the police working with our education officers to review every single one of these reports manually," she said.
The system went live on January 22, during the caretaker government period.
Ms Jones said it was up to the LNP government to ensure that proper testing occurred, but Opposition education spokesman Tim Mander criticised the delay in identifying the problem.
"For this IT failure to have gone undetected for six months is deeply concerning and the problem must be fixed immediately," he said.
Ionia County Infant Mental Health program builds, strengthens child-caregiver relationship
by Molly Perez
In the best of worlds, a mentally healthy adult starts life as a mentally healthy infant. The baby's first important relationship is that with their parent/caregiver. In this first relationship, the infant learns security and trust in others by being nurtured and protected – physically and emotionally. But sometimes there are challenges early in life that threaten this relationship. Intervention early on can make a big difference in the infant's (or toddler's) health.
The Infant Mental Health (IMH) program at Ionia County Community Mental Health seeks to promote the infant's emotional, social, behavioral and cognitive development, as well as their mental health, by building a secure attachment between them and their primary caregiver. The program works not just with the infant or toddler (age 0 to 3) or just with the caregiver. A clinician comes into the home and builds, strengthens or supports the relationship between the two. Services reduce abuse, neglect, developmental delay, and behavioral and emotional disorder.
IMH clinicians may do the following in their work with the child and caregiver dyad:
· Supporting Attachment/Relationship Based Activities (which are play/interactions between an infant/toddler and parent down at the infant/toddler's physical level, noting and reading eye contact, being emotionally present during everyday interactions, like feeding, diapering, dressing, etc.);
· Modeling (the IMH Clinician is responsive and supportive with the caregiver and in turn supports the caregiver in being likewise with their infant/toddler);
· Speaking for the Baby (the IMH clinician literally describes the emotions expressed in an infant/toddlers cries, giggles and behavior to support the caregiver's understanding);
· Relationship-Based Therapies (counseling/therapeutic support to a caregiver who may be experiencing a psychiatric illness and noting how that impacts the infant/toddler).
Infant Mental Health was first developed in the 1970s by a social worker and lay analyst, Selma Friaberg, at the University of Michigan as a home-visiting program for families where challenges in the relationship between the infant/toddler and caregiver posed a risk to the infant's/toddler's development. Today there are IMH providers in many communities. In Ionia County the IMH program is provided through Community Mental Health, but in other areas it is offered through early childhood centers, obstetricians' offices and hospitals.
There is a variety of circumstances that can disrupt caregiver-infant/toddler attachment. The caregiver may not be feeling connected to their child, or may be dealing with their own mental illness – major depression, anxiety or a psychiatric diagnosis like bipolar disorder. A parent of a child who was born premature or isolated in neonatal intensive care may need services provided through the IMH program when they find that they are having difficulty bonding with the baby.
We may have a pregnant woman who is struggling with an unexpected pregnancy. Perhaps she is starting to have worries or fears about how she is going to connect with the baby effectively. That connection begins in utero, so we can begin to build the relationship even before birth.
We are regularly addressing the caregiver's mental health. Perhaps they weren't attached to their parents in a healthy way, so they don't know how to connect in a healthy parental role. We can help the caregiver identify what is healthy, what isn't healthy, and in what ways they want to make things better with their own relationship.
Caregivers sometimes have their own issues of trauma. A parent who was abused or neglected as a child might be a candidate for the program if they never learned to process their own trauma history. We also can work in therapy with someone who is using or has a history of substance use as it relates to their ability to care for their child.
There also are some child-specific circumstances where the IMH program can be recommended, such as for an infant/toddler who suffers multiple separations, such as those in the foster care system, or a child identified with Failure to Thrive (for non-physiological reasons).
IMH clinicians have a master's degree in social work or counseling. They must also secure an Infant Mental Health Endorsement, which requires additional training that typically takes two years to complete. There are three clinicians at ICCMH who provide direct services. All have been trained in assessment tools that look at the relationships between the caregiver and the infant or toddler and rate attachment, initiative and the child's ability to regulate their own emotions. The clinician evaluates specific activities (such as an infant or toddler seeking a caregiver for reassurance) to see if those things improve over time.
Success is different for every family. Some define it as “knowing how to respond when baby cries.” For another caregiver it might be making sense of their own childhood trauma so as not to allow it to negatively interfere with their own parenting practices. Lots of times it's as simple as “I enjoy being a parent now.” While that's a simple statement, it's invaluable for the life of that family.
For me, it's rewarding to educate individuals. It's a joy to know that families are being strengthened even before birth. Babies are sponges and they are impacted by everything (positive and negative) that happens in their presence. Sometimes people think that, when children are that small, they won't remember, but that's not true. How they experience the world comes out in their body, their behavior, and their cries. I love that we bring awareness to those pieces!
To learn more, visit the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health at mi-aimh.org or call Ionia County Community Mental Health at 616-527-1790.
Rally outside Edward Bullock's trial seeks 'justice' for sex assault victims
by Steve Novak
(Pictures, including that of NAASCA family member Carol Levine, are on the site.)
"We want justice to be served," Sarah McLeod told a passing driver. "We're here on behalf of the children."
The Washington resident was one of a handful of people outside state Superior Court in Flemington on Tuesday, their signs and T-shirts echoing her call for justice.
The rally, participants said, was in support of victims of sex abuse, specifically the assaults allegedly committed by former Warren County sheriff Edward Bullock.
Inside the courthouse, testimony in the 86-year-old Bullock's trial continued for a second day.
"If the victim sees us and they feel any kind of support ... if it brings attention to the story, it will be worth it," said Sara Stewart, another Washington resident who said she organized the rally through word of mouth.
The event outside the courthouse caused some changes to the proceedings inside. The jury was asked at the start of the day if they had seen any flyers about the protest posted around Warren County, in Flemington or online. None indicated they had.
The jury was also sequestered inside the courthouse during the lunch break and escorted to their vehicles at the end of the day to avoid exposing them to the protesters.
Stewart said she is frustrated about how long the case has been going on -- the allegations that Bullock sexually assaulted a boy date back almost 30 years.
"We're not out here to make a spectacle, just inform people," she said, adding that they plan to return for the verdict.
The case is still being heard in court, but among the group, there was no doubt what the trial's outcome will be.
"He needs to repent," McLeod said of Bullock. "He needs to ask God for forgiveness or he's going straight to hell."
Ex-Warren sheriff Edward Bullock declines to testify in child sex assault trial
by Steve Novak
Former Warren County sheriff Edward Bullock declined Wednesday to take the stand in his own defense on child sex assault charges from almost 30 years ago.
With no other witnesses for the defense, the trial will head to closing statements and deliberations Wednesday. It is the third day of testimony in state Superior Court in Flemington.
Bullock, 86, has been charged with three counts each of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault on a 10-year-old between 1986 and 1988. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 90 years in prison.
Bullock's attorney, Brian Corley White, concluded cross examination Wednesday of the accuser -- who is not being identified by lehighvalleylive.com due to the nature of the charges -- after his testimony began Tuesday.
White pressed the accuser on discrepancies between his testimony and what was said in a civil suit filed against Warren County, which is pending the conclusion of the criminal trial.
After the accuser left the stand, the jury was excused as the defense motioned for an acquittal.
"The evidence is clear," Warren County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael McDonald countered. "It speaks for itself."
Judge Angela Borkowski denied the motion. Bullock was then asked if he wished to testify, which he declined. The jury will be instructed not to assume his right to silence is a sign of guilt.
Because he will not speak, Bullock's 1992 guilty plea to official misconduct and his subsequent jail sentence will not be mentioned. Bullock resigned his position a year earlier when charged were filed alleging he tried to curry sexual favors from a state trooper posing as a 17-year-old boy.
Jury weighs evidence - and what's missing - in Edward Bullock's trial
by Steve Novak
The fate of Edward Bullock rests with a jury and what was presented in court.
And, maybe, what wasn't.
"Other than (the accuser's) say-so, you have been given no other evidence," the former Warren County sheriff's attorney, Brian Corley White, told the jury in his closing statement Wednesday, emphasizing gaps in a child sex assault case that dates back nearly 30 years.
The jury -- six men and six women with two men as alternates -- began its deliberations late Wednesday afternoon and was released after an hour. Jurors will return Thursday morning to continue.
Bullock is accused of sexually assaulting a child on three occasions between 1986 and 1988, while he was serving as sheriff. Now 86 years old, he faces a maximum possible sentence of 90 years in prison if convicted on all six counts.
As witnesses, the state called the accuser, two prosecutor's office investigators, a former Hackettstown police officer, a former town dispatcher, a retired county probation officer and two former sheriff's officers in three days of testimony in state Superior Court in Flemington.
Bullock did not testify, and the defense called no other witnesses.
The assaults are alleged to have happened twice in Bullock's courthouse office and once while the sheriff was transporting the boy from Hackettstown police headquarters to the county youth shelter, when the 10-year-old was allegedly raped.
Police logs showed Bullock picked up the boy from police on the evening of Jan. 7, 1988, and former sheriff's officers said Bullock would volunteer to do youth transports and kept stuffed animals and candy in his office.
White commended the investigators, but said it was not enough.
"You can give them an 'A' for effort," he said, "but you can't give them a conviction for effort."
Few records from the time were found. The core of the prosecution's case against Bullock is the testimony of the accuser, whose reliability was questioned by the defense for drug use and the length of time that has passed. He is not being identified by lehighvalleylive.com due to the nature of his allegations.
"If (Bullock) did this, he's a monster," White said of his client in his closing, challenging the accuser's account of the rape by saying if it was true it would have happened again. "A monster doesn't show restraint. A monster doesn't have discretion. The reason it never happened again is because it never happened at all."
White also questioned the accuser's motives, saying he waited 25 years before going to authorities and that when he did, he went to a civil attorney to file a lawsuit -- which is pending against Warren County.
"He's got skin in the game. And the skin is green," he said.
Warren County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael McDonald, who closed after White, disputed those statements and told the jury there was "more than enough" evidence to convict Bullock.
"Is this some type of money grab? No," McDonald told the jury. "For (the accuser) it's about justice, and holding that defendant accountable for what he did to him all those years ago."
The accuser, who led a troubled life that had him in and out of the courts since he was very young, ran away for years to California and got arrested in Wisconsin before returning to New Jersey and confronting his past, the prosecutor said.
He waited decades to address the case because he was "a kid whose every contact with the government ... was bad," McDonald said, and the first thing the man did on his return was submit a records request about Bullock, not file a lawsuit.
The prosecutor also rejected White's statements that the accuser was making up a story about the sheriff, adding that subsequent investigation backed up the claims.
"Do you truly believe he invented this entire event?" McDonald said, referencing testimony when the man was showed a photograph of where the rape allegedly took place. "Do you remember his reaction when I showed him this photograph? Did you see the fear and the shaking ... ?"
McDonald did concede the evidence was not complete, that after more than two decades many of the records that could have documented Bullock's drive with the boy had been lost.
But, he told the jury, "You have more than enough evidence to return a verdict of guilty on Mr. Edward Bullock."
What's next in the trial?
The jury began its deliberations late Wednesday afternoon and was released for the evening after about an hour. They will reconvene Thursday morning to continue.
When the jury was selected, they were told to be ready to continue into Tuesday if necessary.
Ohio man arrested after daughter's decomposing body found in crib, police to probe girl's 2013 death
by Fox News
Authorities in northeast Ohio say they will take a closer look at the 2013 death of an infant whose father was arrested Wednesday after the decomposing body of a second baby was discovered.
Eric Warfel is being by the Medina County sheriff's office on a $1 million bond. He faces a fifth-degree felony charge of abusing a corpse.
Police say a cable company employee found the body of Warfel's daughter, Ember, in a Medina apartment on Wednesday. During a court appearance Thursday, a judge said that Warfel told authorities that Ember died on or around June 18. Warfel admitted that he did not remove the body from the crib and did not alert anyone about Ember's death. According to the judge, the accused added that he threw garbage into the child's bedroom to disguise the smell.
Cleveland.com reported that Warfel was staying at a motel in nearby Middleburg Heights when Ember's body was found. The site reported that police detectives discovered what they believe to be cocaine Thursday during a search of Warfel's motel room.
Another daughter, Erin Warfel, died in March 2013 when she was just five months old. An autopsy report could not determine the cause. However, the report, which was seen by Fox 8 reported that Erin was small for her age, below the third percentile for weight and at the third percentile for length or height.
Cuyahoga County online records show that Warfel and the children's mother, Molly Galdamez, divorced in December 2014. Warfel's 7-year-old daughter has been placed into the custody of her grandparents. Galdamez is believed to be living somewhere in New York state.
A neighbor of the couple in Cleveland told Fox 8 the family members would "never make eye contact with you." She added other neighbors reported that the older daughter was not attending school and claimed she would come home at night and see all the lights in the house on.
"The kids were, like, hanging out of the windows," she said. It is not clear what contact, if any, Child and Family Services had with Warfel or his children.
Garden provides healing for domestic, sexual abuse victims
by Evrod Cassimy
WAYNE, Mich. -- Trying to move on with everyday life can be tough for any family dealing with domestic or sexual abuse, especially when young children are involved. Now, a local organization is providing families with a peaceful place to heal during such a difficult time.
"We try to maintain a very normal home like environment,” said First Step CEO, Amy Youngquist. “So we're different than other shelters where you have just a bunch of cots in a gymnasium and we have a very home like mini apartment-like suites that families share."
First Step is a Wayne organization specializing in providing care for families of domestic and sexual violence. It unveiled a healing garden and outdoor fitness center this month.
"The research shows that free play and unstructured play is really the best thing for kids," Youngquist said. "We really model it after what hospitals are doing national wide which they're creating a lot of healing gardens. We try to have something for everybody from a one year old to a 17 year old to a 55 year old."
And the peaceful environment is helping family members cope, too.
Youngquist said the serene space helps clients battle depression and other conditions.
Jonathan Dreyfuss of Greenspace Systems designed the garden space.
"Healing gardens, per say, have become fairly ubiquitous in hospital settings and I realized this was a perfect setting and opportunity to build in these distinct spaces for not just the residents but also for the staff," Dreyfuss said. "There is a lot of deep emotional scarring and trauma these folk go through and I realize they really needed a place to come to where they could relax and get back to sort of being human again."
For nearly 40 years, First Step has provided this service free of charge. The new space allows them to help these survivors eventually move on to a normal and healthy lifestyle.
Some shelters only allow victims to stay for around 30 days. At First Step, families can stay for three months up to around a year. Field trips to places like the zoo are provided for the kids while the adults receive one on one counseling or sometimes in groups.
For more information on First Step, visit: www.firststep-mi.org.
7 warning signs that human trafficking is happening on your flight
by Katrina Lamansky
Editor's note: The CNN Freedom Project wants to amplify the voices of the victims of modern-day slavery, highlight success stories and help unravel the tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life.
(CNN) — It's vacation season for much of the world, with travelers flocking to airports to jet off for some hard-earned R&R.
But it's not just holidaymakers who fly on planes. Airports are also hubs for human trafficking — where adults or children are transported into forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, and traffickers often use air travel to move their victims. Sometimes, victims are flown into another country on the promise of a legitimate job, other times traffickers move their victims within a country, to keep them powerless or to avoid detection.
But you can help. By being aware of the telltale signs that someone is being trafficked, you may be able to keep them from a life of modern slavery.
We asked four organizations involved in anti-trafficking initiatives to share some of the signs that could indicate that a passenger is being trafficked through an airport.
What you should do
It's important to remember that even if you spot a number of these signs, it doesn't necessarily mean someone is being trafficked. But if you do suspect someone is being trafficked, do not confront suspected traffickers or attempt to rescue suspected victims — instead, call emergency services or alert the airport authorities.
1 — A traveler is not dressed appropriately for their route of travel.
You might notice right away that a traveler has few or no personal items. Victims may be less well dressed than their companions. They may be wearing clothes that are the wrong size, or are not appropriate for the weather on their route of travel.
2 — They have a tattoo with a bar code, the word “Daddy.”
Many people have tattoos, so a tattoo in itself is obviously not an indicator, but traffickers or pimps feel they own their victims and a barcode tattoo, or a tattoo with “Daddy” or even a man's name could be a red flag that the person is a victim.
3 — They can't provide details of their departure location, destination, or flight information.
Traffickers employ a number of tools to avoid raising suspicion about their crime and to keep victims enslaved. Some traffickers won't tell their victims where they are located, being taken, or even what job they will have.
Because victims don't have the means to get home or pay for things like food, they must rely on traffickers in order to get by, forcing them to stay in their situation.
4 — Their communication seems scripted, or there are inconsistencies with their story
Sometimes traffickers will coach their victims to say certain things in public to avoid suspicion. A traveler whose story seems inconsistent or too scripted might be trying to hide the real reason for their travel and merely reciting what a trafficker has told them to say.
5 – They can't move freely in an airport or on a plane, or they are being controlled, closely watched or followed.
People being trafficked into slavery are sometimes guarded in transit. A trafficker will try to ensure that the victim does not escape, or reach out to authorities for help.
6 – They are afraid to discuss themselves around others, deferring any attempts at conversation to someone who appears to be controlling them.
Fear and intimidation are two of the tools that traffickers use to control people in slavery. Traffickers often prevent victims from interacting with the public because the victim might say something that raises suspicions about their safety and freedom.
7 – Child trafficking
A child being trafficked for sexual exploitation may be dressed in a sexualized manner, or seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A child may appear to be malnourished and/or shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, such as bruises, scars, or cigarette burns.
This list was compiled with help from the following organizations:
Airline Ambassadors International: Offers a human trafficking awareness program to educate airport staff about the problem.
Polaris: Works to combat and prevent modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
Free the Slaves: Campaigns against modern slavery around the world.
International Justice Mission: Works to protect the poor from violence in the developing world.
Months late, state's annual child abuse report is 'full of flaws,' lawyer says
by Julianne Mattera
Child advocates say the state's most recent annual child abuse report is "full of flaws" and has inconsistencies that need to be addressed.
The state Department of Human Services released its 2014 annual child abuse report on Monday — nearly three months after the May 1 deadline outlined in state law.
The delay was concern enough for child advocates who rely on the report's statistics, which are used to determine funding levels, improve programs and measure how well children are being protected in the state.
But only days after the release, as first reported by ABC27, Jason Kutulakis, a Carlisle attorney and who had been a member of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, stumbled upon a change in the report. The statistic for the number of reported cases handled by a regional agency that became unfounded — which automatically occurs after 60 days if agencies do not determine whether the case qualified as child abuse or request an extension — dropped from 66 to 2.
Department of Human Services spokeswoman Kait Gillis told ABC27 that chart included in the report Monday was inaccurate and was replaced with accurate information on Tuesday. In response to PennLive's questions on the report, Gillis said late Thursday evening that she would provide a comment from the department Friday morning after meeting with people who wrote the report.
"I can assure you we will work to immediately correct any issues," Gillis said.
The scope of the issues isn't clear, but Kutulakis, Cathleen Palm, founder of the state's Center for Children's Justice, and PennLive found multiple errors in the report.
For instance, statistics of fatalities and near fatalities for several counties — including Cambria, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster and Montgomery — listed in a county-by-county chart don't match up to the number of summaries of child fatalities and near fatalities that come later in the report.
"We've struggled to have any confidence in the fatality data for a while," Palm said. "... It stands to reason that if we're struggling to get something like the fatality number right, are there other elements of the report, are there other elements of the numbers that we're struggling to get right as well?"
Concerning the chart involving the unfounded cases, Palm said the Department of Human Services told her that there had been an error in the first child abuse report because the agency pulled data from two different reports.
That clarification on the one chart was "good news" Palm said, but it leaves "open the question as to whether or not the original error filled-table impacted the report overall."
As of Thursday evening, when Palm spoke to PennLive, she still was seeking answers.
And Kutulakis, too. He said the public should have a full explanation of what happened.
"The whole thing is full of flaws," Kutulakis said.
"That report is so critical," Kutulakis said. "There should be some explanation more than: We just made an error."
Kutulakis and Palm said advocates, agencies, counties and attorneys rely on the data to improve the system, divvy out funding and measure how well kids are being protected in each county.
"If we are not collecting good data, whether it's on child abuse cases or child neglect cases, there's no way as a system we can deliver services effectively," Kutulakis said. "It's impossible."
Pilot service launched to aid victims of child abuse
by Matt Oliver
A PILOT support service for survivors of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse has been started in Oxfordshire.
It emerged as a report on progress made by county authorities since the Bullfinch child sex abuse scandal in 2011 said a key area for improvement was establishing “fit for purpose” services for children into adulthood.
More than 370 children were identified as suspected victims of CSE in the past 15 years by a serious case review published in March.
Maggie Blyth, the independent chairwoman of the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board, said that the pilot was launched because raised awareness about CSE was giving adults the courage to come forward and to report sexual abuse they had suffered as children.
She said: “There are adults disclosing what happened to them in Oxfordshire and there is not sufficient support or therapeutic provision.
“Sometimes the type of support that is needed is not acute enough to require a psychiatrist and is more than a GP can offer in 10 minutes.”
Ms Blyth said the pilot was launched in April, involving social workers and the NHS to offer improved support.
“It might be counselling, or one-to-one support for a short period of time, and we are monitoring its impact.
“You can't predict how many adults are going to make disclosures, you have to be reactive.
“The other way is to make sure that you have trained professionals, GPs are really important here, but you must have other trained professionals in adult social care and the voluntary sector who can provide that support.”
She added: “I would like to see in Oxfordshire that those services are created and maintained, not just for victims of CSE but of child sexual abuse as well.”
The pilot came as Sophie Humphreys, a child protection expert appointed by the government to comment on progress made in tackling CSE, said therapy services available for victims were “sparse, and often not adequate”.
She said: “There is a genuine need for further ‘fit-for-purpose' therapeutic services for adults who have been victims of sexual abuse in their childhood.”
Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld has also backed better support services and said a “counselling hub” was being set up for victims.
He said: “It is crucial that all victims of crime, including victims of CSE, get the support they need to help them cope and recover from their experiences.
“[The hub] will be a single point of contact for victims of crime to access.”
Mr Stansfeld added that last year £1.7m of grant funding was provided to organisations supporting victims across the Thames Valley.
That included £50,000 to the Step Out Project at the Oxford-based charity Donnington Doorstep, which works with hundreds of adults and children.
Child abuse surges by 50 percent in Korea
by Claire Lee
Earlier this month, a 34-year-old mother was arrested for running away after strangling her 6-year-old son to death in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province. During her tearful meeting with the police, she confessed to committing the crime out of anger, as her husband had recently left her following a series of fights over child care. She had been on medication for severe postpartum depression.
“The initial plan was to kill myself,” the mother told the police. “But I was afraid that my son would lead a miserable life without his mom. I was going to commit suicide after ending his life, but I became scared (to end my own life) after he died.”
The tragedy is just one of the dramatically increasing number of child abuse cases in South Korea. According to the latest data released by the Welfare Ministry on Thursday, the number of child abuse cases increased by 50 percent in 2014 from the year before, with more than 80 percent of the abusers being parents.
This means 1.10 in every 1,000 Korean children was abused at least once last year, while only 0.73 in every 1,000 children experienced the same in 2013. Last year alone, 15,025 suspected cases were reported. Among them, 10,027 were confirmed as child abuse violations.
The study showed that the largest number of cases, or 48 percent, involved more than one type of abuse, including physical abuse. The second most common type of abuse at 18.6 percent was child neglect, which is a pattern of failing to provide for a child's basic needs -- including food, hygiene and clothing. About 15 percent of the cases involved emotional abuse, while 14.5 percent consisted of physical violence.
Among the 10,027 confirmed abusers, 8,207 were the victims' parents. The largest number of cases, 33 percent, were caused by the parents' “lack of knowledge and skills in child care,” such as not being able to differentiate abuse and discipline.
Twenty percent of the cases were triggered by the parents' social isolation, as well as their stress stemming from financial difficulties. Ten percent of the abusers had conflicts with either their spouse or other family members. Also, the majority of the abusers, 32.4 percent, were unemployed.
“Child abuse cases has been hard to crack down because it happens behind closed doors in the ‘private' sphere,” said Lee Tae-ho from the National Child Protection Agency.
“It is still viewed by many (Koreans) as a private family matter that need not involve the criminal justice system.”
One of the child abuse victims Lee encountered had bruises all over her body when she was reported by her school teacher. Trying to hide her scars and bruises, the middle school student would always wear thick, black tights even in summer. Her parents would hit her whenever she didn't meet her curfew, or did not dress “appropriately” for her age.
When Lee visited the victim's home to speak with her parents, they told him, “Who do you think you are to interfere with our private lives? We disciplined her because she's ours and we love her so much. What more do you need?”
Her father also told Lee that he, too, had been “disciplined” the same way by his parents when he was a child, and that he didn't think ”there was anything wrong” with it.
“There is still a general perception (in Korea) that a parent knows about his or her child the best, and that children are possessions or properties of their parents (rather than independent beings),” Lee said. “Korean culture (which emphasizes hierarchy and respect for the elders), has long favored parental rights over children's rights.
“The number of child abuse cases are increasing partly because more people are acknowledging what it is and report whenever they witness the victims or abusers.”
Among the 10,027 young Korean victims, 14.6 percent of them were infants aged 0-3. The report by the Health Ministry said being exposed to abuse during the first four years of one's life can be particularly dangerous, and it can severely damage a child's social development and leave lifelong psychological scars. Abusive or neglectful behavior toward infants include limited physical contact with the child -- such as no kisses or hugs or other signs of affection -- and failing to bathe or feed the baby regularly.
“As abused children cannot express emotions safely, adult survivors of this abuse can struggle with anger and have a difficulty maintaining relationships,” the report said.
“It is necessary to make it mandatory for all parents with young infants to receive education on parenting, and for all medical institutions and health care workers to check for signs of child abuse when they receive children patients for regular health check-ups.”
Overseas studies have long shown that personal stress influences a parent's behavior toward their children. Parents who are financially struggling or having marriage stress have a higher chance of abusing -- or neglecting -- their children, according to a 1991 study by Michigan State University.
Along with stress, social isolation of a parent because of having to raise a child alone has also been linked to child abuse and neglect, according to a 2002 report by the World Health Organization.
Lee from the National Child Protection Agency said family preservation and therapy for both abusers and victims are as important as seeking justice for the damage done to children. “The issue cannot be stopped by just punishing the abusers,” he said. “In the long term, the government should make efforts to eliminate risk factors for child abuse, such as parental stress or financial difficulties. Welfare programs as well as psychological therapy are both needed in order to establish this.”
The myth of child prostitution
by Malika Saada Saar
(CNN) Last week saw the premiere of "Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking," which exposes the hidden realities of child sex trafficking in the United States. It's a powerful documentary. But there's even more to the story.
While I watched, I thought of many of the young girls I have come across through my work fighting child sex trafficking, girls who have been bought and sold for sex, and whose real names and lives remain unknown. I thought of Camille, a girl I met last week who was sold to adult men, repeatedly raped and yet arrested for prostitution at the age of 15. I thought about Michelle, whose trafficker tattooed his name onto her cheek to make it clear that she was his property.
As "Children for Sale" highlights, these children's stories of sexual violence and trafficking in America are not much different than in nations such as India, Cambodia or Nigeria. Indeed, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are estimated to be at least 100,000 American children trafficked for sex each year. They are abducted or lured by traffickers who prey on their trust. They are routinely raped, beaten into submission, and when they try to run away, the traffickers will often torture or gang rape them. Or both. Many of these children are supposed to be cared for in our foster care system.
But what law enforcement, prosecutors and lawmakers are failing to address properly are the very people responsible for this heartache -- the buyers. What about those who buy our children for sex? In any other context, what a "John" does when he purchases a girl would be construed as statutory rape or sexual assault of a minor. There should be no difference between raping a child and paying to rape a child.
And yet there is: There is a culture of impunity for raping children when someone pays for the act. Buyers of sex with underage girls are rarely arrested, and if they are arrested at all, it is typically for misdemeanor solicitation -- they generally avoid the same kind of punishment -- and disdain -- meted out to adults who molest or rape kids.
Instead, the person who is criminalized and shamed is the girl, who will be treated as a delinquent rather than a victim -- named and arrested as a child prostitute. Disturbingly, more than 1,000 children every year are arrested for prostitution, even though many of them are not legally old enough to consent to sex.
The arrest of children for prostitution also disproportionately affects African-Americans. According to the FBI, for prostitution arrests under the age of 18, African-American children comprise 59% of all prostitution-related arrests in the United States.
But girls who are subject to repeated rape, abuse and exploitation are not child prostitutes -- they are victims and survivors of child rape, and they deserve all the legal protections, supports and services afforded to other child victims of abuse.
We must, in language and law, eradicate the notion of the child prostitute -- which is why I have launched the No Such Thing campaign, which seeks to eradicate the term child prostitute from our language and public dialogue. And the law.
We owe it to Camille and Michelle, to make clear to them that the victimization and abuse they have suffered is no different or more tolerable than other forms of child sexual abuse. We owe it to the girls still left behind, the girls who are for sale, to hold accountable those who have purchased and raped them. We must create for these girls, who are mighty and strong yet so hurt, opportunities to heal and to live out their potential.
Put simply, there is no such thing as a child prostitute.
Malika Saada Saar is the executive director of Rights4Girls, a human rights organization working to eradicate child sex trafficking in the United States. The views expressed are the writer's own.
A video of Yankton-area men strutting around in red high heels has started making the rounds on Youtube.
The video is just one part of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes campaign in an effort to raise awareness of the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. The video also gets people excited for the River City Domestic Violence Center & River City Family Connections' Family Strong Event set for Aug. 29.
Desiree Johnson, executive director of the River City Domestic Violence Center, said they made the video as a result of the support they've received in Yankton.
"Over the years, so many men have shared such heartwarming reasons why they choose to participate each year," Johnson said. "The purpose of the video was to really capture those special moments and share them with the community and all the survivors of the community."
She added that having a number of men step up helps bring the issues into the light.
"Because domestic violence and sexual assault are such scary issues for the community, people don't really want to believe they're occurring so abundantly in our home town," she said. "The video really captures some brave men coming forward and making a statement that it's OK to reach out in these scary situations and embrace the adults and children that are struggling with abuse of any form."
This is set to be the eighth year that the City of Yankton will host the walk.
Johnson said they've noticed a number of participants over the time the city has hosted the event.
"Every year, we have about 70-80 walkers," she said. "Over the last few years, we've really been encouraging family members to participate with the men that are walking in the red high heels. So if you have a child, or a grandchild who wants to hold your hand and walk with you, we're strongly encouraging that this year because we believe, too, that's teaching the next generation the power of respect and valuing every human being."
The Family Strong Event, in addition to the walk, will also include the "Silence Hides the Violence" 5K walk/run and children's fun run, and a family fun day which includes a free lunch, games and other activities.
Johnson said she's seen the event help in the shelter's goal of bringing awareness to the issues.
"The main goal is to create awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse," she said. "That's the goal for the event every year. As the years have passed, the event only continues to grow and more people are getting involved with it. I just see it as a huge movement forward on the domestic violence platform for our community. Yankton is just such a small, friendly community, but anybody that's in the advocacy field or law enforcement or emergency care can really tell you that there's a lot of things that can happen behind the four walls of a home that people maybe don't know about. … We're trying to bring that out of the shadows."
For more information on the Family Strong Event, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1655342561363832/.
Paedophile Peter Lewsam jailed for abusing 75 children in department toy aisles
by Joanna Menagh
A Perth paedophile who recorded himself sexually abusing 75 young children in the aisles of department stores over a three-year period has been sentenced to 16-and-a-half years in jail.
In a case described by Judge Stephen Scott as "every parent's nightmare", Peter Anthony Lewsam deliberately went to the toy section of the stores to target girls aged between two and 10.
He recorded the abuse on his mobile phone.
In some instances, the child was with a sibling or their parents were in the next aisle.
The District Court heard he offered some of the children lollies, and in other cases he could be heard asking children how old they were.
He was caught in January this year when he was interrupted by the father of a four-year-old girl.
She is the only victim who has been identified.
Lewsam also took footage up the skirts of two girls dressed in school uniforms, and up the skirt of an adult female.
The recordings were all found when police searched his home.
They also discovered hundreds of videos and images of child pornography on Lewsman's computer.
He pleaded guilty to more than 120 charges, including indecently recording a child under 16, sexual penetration of child and possessing child exploitation material.
Judge Scott said it "beggared belief" how Lewsam was able to abuse so many children in a public place and be caught only once.
He said a message had to be sent to the community that those who "steal the innocence" of young children will be punished
"You are a serial paedophile and you are a high risk of reoffending," he told Leswam.
The 16-and-a-half year sentence was backdated to January this year when he was arrested.
He will have to serve 14-and-a-half years before he can be released on parole.
I Was Raped As A Child, And Dogs Gave Me The Strength To Go On
by Bernard Lima Chavez
There is something about bloggers that you should know. We write many more posts than we actually share. Sometimes, we write something that we fear is too personal and we shelve it.
It speaks a truth too bluntly or loudly, or perhaps we are afraid that our readers will be turned off, so we tuck away these posts as if souvenir postcard confessions.
We choose not to share them because the brutal honesty we poured into it reveals something of our lives we aren't prepared to share; yet, we cannot bring ourselves to delete them, for you can't unwrite the truth. I have dozens of these posts sitting around, collecting dust, awaiting an uncertain future.
But there are times that we choose to bellow from our blog. When this happens, we aren't writing it or publishing it for you, our readers; we are doing it for ourselves. Although we hope it will resonate with you, the point is disclosure on our terms. Anything beyond that is gravy.
Bloggers create a platform for ourselves and every once in a while we allow ourselves to say exactly how we feel. We say it exactly how we want to say it, and in doing so, we give ourselves permission to be fallible and vulnerable and exposed to the bone in a public space for all to see.
We write it, we own it and we publish it. Consequences be damned.
Today is that day for me.
I am frequently asked, Why deaf dogs? . It's an understandable question and my stock answer is that I always root for the underdog. Deaf dogs need advocates, they need awareness of their existence and people who share their lives with deaf dogs need both support and comraderie. For those deafies in shelters or private rescues, the odds are stacked especially high. These dogs are frequently big, adult, unruly dogs who have never been trained, often because their owner didn't know he was deaf. He was written off as a stubborn, ill-mannered dog who refused to learn. And now he's in the shelter system, often with a clock ticking loud enough that even he can hear it. These dogs deserve our help.
Advocating for deaf dogs is one part of the social contract that goes along with sharing your life with a deaf dog. You do it for all the deaf dogs out there, but you also do it for the one who changed your life forever. I made a promise to Edison very early on: I will work to help his people anyway I can.
But as honest as that answer is, it isn't the whole truth.
It's not an accident that I chose to go into animal welfare. There are reasons I prefer the company of dogs over any other species, especially human. It's not a coincidence that pit bulls and other demonized breeds resonate with me and that I am drawn to injured, neglected or abused dogs. There is an explanation and it's neither noble nor altruistic.
I recognize myself in them, and by saving them, I hope to save a part of myself that desperately needs a helping hand.
Between the ages of 6-10, I was sexually abused by a family member living in our home. The consequences have haunted me ever since.
Soon after the abuse started, I told my mother. She didn't pause and she didn't listen. I'm not sure she even looked up. Instead, she denied it. She matter-of-factly told me that it didn't happen, that I was wrong, and then she went back to cleaning the bathroom, located at the top of the stairs that led to the basement where I had just been forced to do unspeakable things. That day it happened in a dark corner next to the sump pump.
He continued to live in our home for four more years and he molested me the entire time.
One of the consequences of childhood sexual abuse can be deeply rooted, seemingly insurmountable trust issues, which I battle everyday. I find it extremely difficult to open up to people, to assume anything other than they will hurt me. This is an obvious and logical response for survivors that most people can understand.
The opposite and less obvious reaction is that sometimes I trust too much. To non-survivors, this probably makes no sense, but I assure you that it does- as much as anything about raping children makes sense.
If you are violated as a child, you quickly learn ways to cope and keep yourself safe. Pushing people away is a defensive maneuver that provides the illusion of safety. However, in keeping a safe distance, you inadvertently perpetuate those feelings of aloneness and helplessness you felt during your abuse. The rape was the trauma, but the aftermath is what will kill you.
If you don't connect with someone, something, you have nothing to cling to during dark flashbacks and crippling anxiety. Sometimes, the little boy that still lives inside me is so desperate for protection, for connection, for the possibility of healing, that he reaches out too far, too soon or to the wrong person.
Personally, I use humor to both reach out and to push away. If I make you laugh, you will like me and that feels good to someone who is just now learning to like himself. Yet, I'm still safe because you only know the man I pretend to be, not the boy I really am.
But dogs. They are healing. In dogs, I trust completely. And when I focus my mind on them, I feel better.
Dogs are the most amazing creatures ever put on this earth. No other being will love you like a dog, unconditionally, in your darkest, meanest hours, those ugly days when you can't make the flashbacks stop and you pace and pace and pace, waiting for it to pass.
Dogs are pure and loyal and true. They depend on us for everything. In this way, dogs represent the child I was before I was molested. Innocent. Trusting. Forgiving.
Dogs are also confident, clear about their boundaries and will fight back if cornered, threatened or hurt. In this way, dogs represent what I wish I could have been for myself when I was powerless to make him stop. Strong. Unwavering. Fighter.
Writing this now, I feel a heaviness in my belly, an ache, and the nausea. Some memories still trigger vomiting for me, and my mind is flooding right now.
But if I concentrate on my dogs, my anxiety subsides, my stomach unknots and I can no longer feel myself gagging like I did so many times so very long ago.
I have close, intimate relationships with each of my dogs. We share secrets, tell stories and lick each others wounds.
Each of my dogs has a story, a past that still affects them today.
Darwin was a 6-month old puppy, running scared and alone, uncollared and unleashed, through a CVS when I found him. Like me, he was terrified of getting close yet desperate for love and safety and comfort. He spent a long time sizing me up, watching my every move before he allowed himself to approach me. I understand that caution and careful consideration.
Galileo was a 5-month old puppy who had been abused to the breaking point, literally. He had fractures in his lumbar vertebrae and was unable to walk on his hind legs. He is the sweetest, kindest dog, yet four years later we still see the scars of the abuse. He's terrified of loud noises, of brooms, of sticks, and if you move towards him too quickly, he will cower to the floor. He dreams a lot, and they don't seem pleasant. I can relate to that.
Edison and Foster are deaf and, accordingly, invisible to most of the world. Being invisible is a terrible thing. You know you have a body, you know you have a voice but, still, you live in the margins. Unseen. Unheard. Unknown. This one is personal for me.
I have so much in common with my dogs, individually and collectively, and I believe we found each other for very specific reasons. Each one helps me as much as I help him.
Because I allow myself to connect with them, I can more safely connect with myself and my past. My boys allow me to experience love, freely and unabashedly. They tell me their secrets and I listen, and in the very moment that I need them the most, they will wake up, walk over and nuzzle me with their nose.
They love me and protect me in precisely the same ways my abuser and my mother failed me. They are the safety I've longed for almost 40 years, and without them, I'm not sure that I wouldn't be dead.
But that is the magic of a dog. They can turn chicken shit into chicken salad with nothing but a wagging tail and a lick upon your face.
If you are experiencing sexual abuse or if you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, please seek support and help. A good place to start is RAINN.
Also be sure to check out DogAndHisBoy.com to read more from Bernard Lima-Chavez.
FBI: Child Abuse ‘Almost at an Epidemic Level' in U.S.
The agency rescued 600 children last year
by Tara John
Tens of thousands of children are being sexually exploited each year in the U.S., according to an investigation by the BBC.
Despite rescuing 600 children last year, the FBI says child sex abuse is at epidemic levels where tens of thousands of children are believed to be sexually exploited in the country each year. “The level of paedophilia is unprecedented right now,” Joseph Campbell of the FBI told the BBC.
Campbell, who works in the Criminal Investigation Division, has seen individuals from all walks of life engaged in both child pornography and child exploitation, calling it a problem “almost at an epidemic level.”
Hundreds of American children are also being sold into sex, according to the BBC, where poverty and neglect are thought to be some of the main reasons why young kids are vulnerable to sex trafficking.
Jenny Gaines, who works at Breaking Free, a Minnesotan-based advocacy group that provides support for former sex workers, says many “manipulate and take advantage of underage girls.” Half the women who visit the support group were under the age if 18 when they were first sold for sex.
Boy hospitalized, 90 animals seized in child abuse case
by Anna Lee
GRAY COURT — A 2-year-old boy remains in the hospital in critical condition after he was found unconscious in a filthy home with dozens of dead and dying animals, Laurens County authorities said Wednesday.
Deputies said they were called at about 6 p.m. Tuesday to a home on Martins Lake Road, where they noticed “deplorable living conditions and a foul odor within,” an incident report said.
Authorities have since charged Savannah Victoria Morgan, 25, of Gray Court, with three counts of child neglect and one count of child abuse and cruelty to animals, according to arrest warrants.
Warrants allege Morgan exposed a 2-year-old to physical abuse, causing the boy to suffer medical injuries such as bleeding in the brain and bruising to the head, neck and back.
The child had to seek medical treatment and was airlifted to Greenville Memorial Hospital, authorities said.
The boy's mother originally told deputies that he choked on some chips and that she called 911 when she went into his room and saw he wasn't breathing, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Two other children were taken into emergency protective custody due to suspected physical abuse, the Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies who were at the children's home said they saw soiled diapers, clothing, feces, trash and broken glass on the floor and numerous live and deceased animals kept in plastic bins and cages. Two emaciated dogs were found chained up behind the residence and had no food or water, one report said.
Animal Control officers seized nearly 90 animals from the scene Tuesday night. The list of deceased animals included 48 rats, 11 gerbils, 10 python snakes, six tarantula spiders and two bearded dragons.
Morgan is being held at the Laurens County Detention Center, where jail officials said her bond was set at $85,000.
State auditors gain access to confidential child abuse records: Q&A
by Jan Murphy
A recent change in state law gave the state auditor general's office a little more power when it looks into the management of child welfare agencies and their use of state tax dollars.
This new authority that grants auditors access to child-specific records might not go as far as some child protection advocates might think or want, but Auditor General Eugene Depasquale said he believes it will be one more way to ensure that protection of children is of the highest priority.
Law enforcement and child welfare agencies still are at the forefront of child protection. But he said this new access his auditors are granted removes potential roadblocks that would interfere with their ability to review whether taxpayers' money spent on child welfare services is being spent legally, effectively and efficiently and how laws are being implemented.
DePasquale welcomes this authority. He already has an audit of ChildLine, the agency that receives suspected reports of child abuse as well as processes background check clearances, in his office's crosshairs.
He also is looking to do a random sampling of cases at the county level to ensure compliance with state laws designed to protect children from abuse and neglect.
PennLive sat down with DePasquale on Monday to discuss this change tucked in the recent update to the Child Protective Services Law. He talks about its impact on his office's work and what it might mean or not mean for the protection of Pennsylvania's children. Here are excerpts from that interview:
Did receiving this authority to access confidential child abuse reports come as a surprise to you?
The short answer is a little bit of yes, meaning we had not really had major problems with what we had access to to begin with. But we were starting to see the issue crop up. I think it was in Crawford County where a district magistrate out of nowhere said we couldn't access juvenile records [as part of an audit to verify that fines and fees were being paid and the appropriate amounts of money were being forwarded to the commonwealth]. ... We do think the new law clears up some ambiguity and I think makes it clear how we are able to do our job moving forward. But the reason we were surprised is that we have not had major resistance in the past. But we started to see it in Crawford ... which means others might have followed. ... This ensures that at least that won't happen.
Do you see this authority giving you the ability to conduct routine audits of children and youth agencies or performance audits of child protective services?
We're not sure if it will take it to the performance audit level. ... But having said that, look, making sure we're able to look at those records ... obviously you never know what you can see in that situation. But at this point, we're not convinced that gives us the power to do performance audits there. Clearly we have the ability to do financial audits.
Do you see audits being triggered by publicized incidents of suspected child abuse such as Dauphin County's Jarrod Tutko Jr. case?
What we believe we clearly have the authority on is auditing a state agency's implementation or enforcement of the law. We don't believe we have the authority to audit cases because that's mostly done at the county level. ... We clearly can do a performance audit of a state program and we have ideas actually in the hopper specifically like ChildLine at the Department of Human Services that we are going to be taking a look at in the very near future. We haven't picked a date to start that but ChildLine is one that we are going to audit.
Would the ChildLine audit focus on reports of dropped or unanswered calls from people reporting suspected child abuse or the delays it experienced last winter in processing background check requests?
That's correct. Similar to what we did at the Department of Environmental Protection. We didn't go out and inspect the wells ourselves. We audited how they went about their inspection process. ... That's exactly how we would approach it with ChildLine as well. For example, do they have dropped calls and if so why? Is it because they have a bad phone system? Or don't they have not enough staff? That's' where we really dig in.
What would an audit of a child welfare agency look at?
It would certainly be limited to the state law and regulations and then certainly on any financial aspect of it of what the state is owed. That's really because our number one mandate is on making sure state taxpayer money is spent as efficiently and effectively and as legally as possible. That is where our mandate is. But certainly on implementation of the law we have jurisdiction there as well.
Are the confidentiality requirements related to auditing child protective services similar to the ones your auditors have in other areas of state government they audit?
Obviously the sensitivity of this issue is different because you are dealing with children. But we do operate under those confidentiality agreements across the board. But we also recognize that the sensitivity of this is certainly different than when you are dealing with, for instance, an audit of a state agency and it's all adults and nobody is questioning whether any laws have been broken.
Would this auditing power give you the ability to audit how county agencies investigated reports of suspected child abuse?
We're not convinced we have that ability. I'm not going to say we won't try it. And we may end up having some pushback on that. We're not convinced 100 percent whether we do or don't have that authority. We know where we clearly do. We're not convinced we have it there.
Do you anticipate having to go back to the Legislature to have it set parameters on this authority granted to your office?
We're going to monitor this new law and how it's going specifically for auditors in the field and then we'll make an assessment on that. If we're running into problems between now and the end of the year, during next year's budget hearing that's when I would look to raising that potentially.
What overall public benefits do you see being derived from your office being given this access to child-specific case records?
I believe it will do a better job in making sure children are protected. And I think this takes important steps in clearing up aspects of our law to make sure who has authority and make sure protection of children is the highest priority.
Who should be nervous about your office having this authority?
If you are doing a good job and doing what you should be doing, you shouldn't be nervous. However, the ones that are most likely nervous are the ones who are not doing the right thing.
Doctors Devise A Better Way To Diagnose Shaken Baby Syndrome
by Tara Haelle
To tell if a baby has been injured or killed by being shaken, the courts use three hallmark symptoms: Bleeding and swelling in the brain and retinal bleeding in the eyes. Along with other evidence, those standards are used to convict caregivers of abusive head trauma, both intentional and unintentional, that can result in blindness, seizures, severe brain damage or death.
But in recent years a small cadre of experts testifying for the defense in cases across the country has called into question whether those symptoms actually indicate abuse. Though they are in the minority – disputing the consensus of child abuse experts, pediatricians and an extensive evidence base – they have gained traction in the media and in courtrooms by suggesting that shaking a child cannot cause these injuries. Instead, they argue that undiagnosed medical conditions, falls or other accidents are the cause.
So researchers have developed and validated a tool doctors can use to distinguish between head injuries resulting from abuse and those from accidents or medical conditions. The method, described in the journal Pediatrics Monday, asks doctors to check for six other injuries, each of which increases the likelihood that a head injury resulted from severe shaking, blunt force or both.
"It is vitally important that abuse head trauma is diagnosed accurately so that the team looking after the child can ensure that they receive appropriate support and are protected from further harm," lead study author Laura Elizabeth Cowley, a PhD student at the Cardiff University School of Medicine in the U.K., said in an email.
"However, it is also important that accidental head injury cases are not wrongly diagnosed as abusive," she continues, "because this can have devastating consequences for the families involved."
The tool itself is simple: listing rib fracture, seizures, long-bone fractures, bruises on the head or neck, periods of not breathing called apnea and bleeding in the retina of the eyes. The more of those a child suffers, the more likely the case resulted from abuse.
The researchers used medical records and child protection files of 198 babies with head trauma to see how well the tool identified child abuse. Extensive investigations, often including confessions or independent witnesses, had already established whether these children, mostly under 1 year old, had been abused.
By using a standard that at least three of the six symptoms were needed to presume abuse, the method correctly identified 82 percent of 133 cases as not abusive. It also correctly found that two thirds of the other 66 children had suffered abusive head trauma, though it missed 13 cases of abuse in which the child had few of the physical symptoms used by the tool. Twelve cases mistaken for abuse involved substantial injuries from a car accident or other situations in which a pediatrician would probably not use this tool.
"Part of the challenge is that there is no gold standard for making a diagnosis of child abuse – you can't do a blood test," said Cindy Christian, chair of both Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. "It's always going to be a clinical diagnosis with social investigation. A bruise is a bruise. A broken bone is a broken bone. A subdural hemorrhage is a subdural hemorrhage. There are certain injuries that are much more highly correlated with abuse, and there aren't very many things that cause these together."
More than a half million U.S. children suffer abuse each year, including approximately 30 cases of abusive head trauma among every 100,000 infants, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Each year about 80 children die from abusive head trauma. They are among the 1,500 children who die each year from abuse or neglect in the U.S.
In 2009, the AAP reclassified "shaken baby syndrome" as abusive head trauma to be more inclusive of all the ways a child's head can be injured through abuse, including but not limited to violent shaking.
Doubters of shaken baby syndrome exploited this shift in terminology to claim that shaking alone could not cause the triad of injuries often used in court cases – brain swelling, subdural hemorrhaging (bleeding between the brain and its outer membrane) and retinal bleeding. One of those doubters is Jan Leestma, a neuropathologist from Chicago who has testified for the defense in dozens of court cases on abusive head trauma.
"The idea that you can shake a baby and cause subdural brain hemorrhage – you can't without an impact," Leestma said. "I don't mean to say there's no child abuse – of course there is – but shaking as abuse is a straw man. It probably can't produce the kinds of things that people say it can."
Yet a strong body of research shows that shaking can injure infants and toddlers and cause these symptoms. A study in which perpetrators confessed to shaking the child showed that violent shaking, on average about 10 times until the baby stopped crying, could cause all these symptoms – even when three quarters of them involved nothing more than shaking.
The real straw man argument is the idea that diagnosing abusive head trauma relies solely on those three injuries and can lead to false accusations of abuse, said Bob Sege, division director of Family and Child Advocacy at Boston Medical Center and a member of the AAP Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.
"At a personal level, our first reaction is really hoping it's not child abuse and to go through all the other possibilities to make it be something else, but sometimes you can't," Sege said.
When a child comes in with those symptoms, pediatricians conduct a thorough physical exam to look for other injuries, get a full history from the parents and look for inconsistencies in caregivers' stories. They also often enlist other experts, such as radiologists, ophthalmologists and child abuse specialists, to look at the evidence.
"There are certain bleeding problems and very rare metabolic diseases that might cause some of these symptoms," Sege said. "They're unfortunately very uncommon compared to child abuse, which is not as uncommon as I wish it was."
A common pattern in these cases arises when good but overwhelmed parents become frustrated with a baby's crying and reach their breaking point, so they shake the baby to stop the crying, Sege said.
"If you're a parent and you feel that [frustration], that's the time you put the baby down screaming and crying, close a door, make a cup a tea, call a friend, whatever you need to."
The method described in the study quantifies what pediatricians see in their clinical work, Christian said. She hopes it will make it more difficult to deny abuse when it occurs.
"All of our clinical experience and evidence shows that shaking can be extraordinarily harmful to a baby," she said.
Montana families, counselors demand changes in child abuse cases
by Amy Beth Hanson
HELENA – Mental health counselors and families of children involved with child protective services told Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday that they wanted to see wholesale changes within the state agency.
Bullock listened intently as counselors called for more training for caseworkers and families asked that they be respected instead of bullied. Some called for the resignations of key administrators within the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
The governor declined to hear details of specific cases, saying it would be a "disservice to substitute my judgment for what the courts are saying," but told those in attendance that there was nothing more important than keeping kids safe and that he wanted to hear ideas to make the Division of Child and Family Services better.
"We're more than willing to help, but it has to change," said counselor Robin Castle of Great Falls. She said caseworkers need more education and training and should respect the recommendations of trained counselors rather than blackballing those they disagree with.
My recommendations "go in one ear and out of the other, but the more I fight, the more I am retaliated against," said Castle, who said the agency is withholding payments for her services and won't refer new cases to her. Counselor Patty Jaracezski said she has faced similar consequences for disagreeing with agency opinions.
"They are the most corrupt, powerful agency in the state," Jaracezski said.
Several of those in attendance said caseworkers should lose their jobs if they threaten families.
"Retaliation is not OK," said Ali Bovingdon, the governor's deputy chief of staff. The department has instituted a new policy requiring retaliation reports to be investigated by the agency's human resources department, she said.
Jay Walton said he is fighting the agency's placement of his grandson with the boy's biological father. A caseworker in 2007 determined the man had abused his daughter. He was never charged. The man's attorney, Pat Paul, has said his client did not wish to comment.
Walton, however, was charged with contempt of court for sharing a confidential Child and Family Services report about the girl's very specific allegations.
Bovingdon and Tara Veazey, the governor's health policy adviser, promised to look into their concerns and recommendations.
Group members promised to continue their picketing of DCFS offices around the state until they see improvements.
Child abuse reporting up; thousands of children remain at risk in Pennsylvania
by Julian Routh
A record number of child abuse reports were made in Pennsylvania in 2014, new state statistics show, but a disturbingly high number of children remain vulnerable despite efforts to improve the investigation of abuse allegations.
According to the state's annual report on child abuse, there were more than 47,000 general protective service referrals in 2014, a number that has risen more than 30 percent since 2010.
The referrals — which are assessed by county youth services agencies — often point to children who are experiencing “non-serious injury or neglect,” but can also involve children at significant risk of abuse.
“Clearly that's a barometer that children and families remain in a pretty high crisis state,” said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Pennsylvania-based Center for Children's Justice. “There's a heck of a lot of vulnerable kids.”
Between 2010 and 2014, more than 400 children died or nearly died as a result of abuse or neglect in Pennsylvania, according to a report from the Center for Children's Justice. Often, children who die from abuse or neglect were once the subject of a general protective service referral, Ms. Palm said.
“The referral is an early warning sign that if we don't do something, something much worse could happen to the child,” she said.
Though the referrals are concerning to experts, the number of child abuse reports the state is receiving has never been higher, the annual report shows.
ChildLine — the state's child abuse hotline — reported 29,273 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect in 2014, more than 2,000 greater than the total in 2013.
The state has worked to open lifelines for reporting abuse since 2012, when it convened a task force to make recommendations on how to improve state laws to better protect children.
The state has since passed 23 laws addressing the issue, including one that expanded the list of mandated reporters of child abuse and another that broadened the definition of abuse. In 2014, both laws passed and the state launched KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov as a hub for information on child protection.
“We anticipate the number of reports of suspected child abuse will continue to rise as laws go into effect and awareness continues to grow,” said Michael Race, spokesman for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. “Now people are not only aware of what abuse looks like, but aware of how to report it.”
Of the 29,273 reports, about 11 percent were substantiated after investigation, which is down from nearly 13 percent in 2013 and nearly 15 percent in 2010.
In the opening of the report, Theodore Dallas, state secretary of human services, said the decrease in substantiated reports is a sign of progress.
But Mary Carrasco — director of A Child's Place at Mercy — said the decrease is because the data hasn't caught up with the legislation. She expects the number to increase once the state sees the effects of the 2014 law that lowered the threshold for substantiating child abuse.
“If the substantiation rate increases, it doesn't mean you're doing worse,” Dr. Carrasco said. “It means more kids might get help.”
With a growing number of child abuse reports and pressure to substantiate them, child protection experts worry that youth services agencies and caseworkers will be strained
“You could have the systems so overwhelmed with responding to reports that they really don't rise to the general protective service referrals,” Ms. Palm said. “Then they're distracted from kids who might be falling through the cracks.”
Drugs, child abuse not the cause of Hancock County's DHS crisis
by WESLEY MULLER
HANCOCK COUNTY -- Several internal factors within Hancock County's Youth Court and its Department of Human Services office, rather than drug use or child abuse, appear to be the primary causes of the county's high number of children in state custody, according to a report by the state Legislature's investigative committee.
PEER is the Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review. It found that irregular policies in Hancock County Youth Court as well as problems with DHS staffing and heavy workload rates have contributed to the record high number of children in custody.
PEER noted the number of Hancock County children in state custody increased 148 percent in the last five years, making it the state's highest per-capita rate as of December.
The committee pointed out the workloads of 43 percent of Hancock County's caseworkers and 48 percent of its supervisors exceeded the standards set by both DHS policy and the so-called Olivia Y. federal consent decree. The decree is the result of a 2004 lawsuit that made sweeping changes to DHS after allegations that Mississippi's foster-care system was failing to adequately protect children in its custody.
The Hancock County Youth Court's risk-reduction policies for drug testing, investigations by court intake personnel and visitation "differ significantly from those of other counties within the state," the report said.
PEER considered external factors identified by Hancock County community stakeholders, including illicit drug use, a transient population and single-parent households.
The report concluded that although those external factors may contribute to the problem, "no causal relationships were established by the data."
"The high rate of child maltreatment in Hancock County does not explain the disproportionate number of children in DHS's custody in that county," the report said.
PEER supported that finding by comparing Hancock County to other counties with similar child-maltreatment rates, including Tippah, Yalobusha, Pike and Pontotoc.
Those counties had similar child-abuse rates but "substantially fewer" children in custody, PEER concluded.
State Sen. Kelvin Butler of McComb, a PEER committee member, said the comparative data was a key finding in the report.
"When you look at it and then compare it to other counties and find out its still high, it almost becomes confusing," he said. "Something's going on. That's what we were trying to find out."
Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam, who launched an investigation into the county's DHS office in February after receiving several complaints of caseworkers forging or altering documents, said he appreciates the effort PEER put into the study.
"I think they came close to hitting it on the head," he said. "Maybe this will get things stirred up to where people can fix it."
However, Chancery Judge Sandy Steckler, who supervises the Hancock County Youth Court and serves on the county's Youth Court Task Force, said he disagreed with PEER's findings in a response he wrote to the committee.
"Your report questions the wisdom of the more aggressive stance on drug testing in Hancock County, but our records show 81 (percent) of those being tested are positive," Steckler wrote.
PEER, however, conducted a comprehensive review of drug use in Hancock County and failed to find causal data to support the relationship between drugs and the high number of children in custody.
The sheriff said his annual drug-arrest statistics also fail to show Hancock County has a worse drug problem than other counties.
PEER did not include any investigations of fraud or forgery allegations in its review.
Arizona Department of Child Safety adds warning to child abuse hotline
by Mark Remillard
PHOENIX -- The Arizona Department of Child Safety said it is hoping to reduce false claims with a new message on the department's hotline.
DCS recently added a message to the Arizona Child Abuse Hotline to remind callers that making false allegations of abuse or neglect is a felony.
Department Spokesman Doug Nick said DCS has already seen an affect since it was added a few weeks ago.
"We've had a number of hang ups because of that," he said.
In its latest semi-annual report, DCS reported receiving 25,508 calls between October 2014 and March 2015, but Nick said only about 14 percent of those calls are substantiated.
"That means a lot of calls are coming in that don't have substance and you have to wonder what's going on there," he said.
Reducing the number of false allegations could help avoid wasted time and resources, Nick said.
"If somebody was to call for harassment purposes or because they're angry at somebody, or whatever reason - if it's a false allegation that just takes resources away from cases where a child is truly in danger," he said.
Nick added that the goal of the message is not to deter callers or discourage those who do suspect actual abuse or neglect.
"We do want to know when there is a true allegation of abuse or neglect," he said.
Workshop aims to teach signs of sexual child abuse
by Adam Black
ASHLAND -- A shocking statistic has led to one local organization offering prevention workshops about children who are sexually abused.
“One in 10 children will be or have been sexually abused by the time they reach their 18th birthday,” said Lisa Phelps, executive director of Hope's Place in Ashland.
The workshops are set for 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday and will give participants the chance to learn about sexually abused children and what signs to watch for if they think a child is being abused.
“Everyone is a mandated reporter by law in Kentucky,” said Phelps.
The sessions, which will take about two hours, are to educate participants on how to react if a child does disclose information to them and who to contact and receive services from. Trainees will also get the chance to hear from survivors of sexual abuse and what they did to overcome the obstacles they faced.
“Last year alone, in the five counties we serve, we had 350 reported cases,” she said.
The workshops are a new program Hope's Place has started to educate others and prevent sexual abuse. With the help of the organization Darkness to Light, Hope's Place will be able to provide workshops throughout the year once a month. Participants who take the workshop will be nationally certified and be able to take home a free workbook with important information and contacts.
“Many people tend to think it's not my problem, but it is,” she said.
The workshop also counts toward a continuous educational credit for social workers and counselors who need the credits. During the workshops light refreshments, lunch and dinner will be served depending on the workshop attended.
“I think anyone who works with kids, around kids or has kids should take the workshop,” said Phelps.
Both workshops for Thursday still have openings available for anyone interested. The workshops are free of charge and will be at Hope's Place, 1100 Greenup Ave. If interested in attending, call (606) 325-4737 to reserve a seat.
Fonda Thompson of Open Arms says child abuse not limited by race or economic status
Open Arms was founded in 1991 to fight child abuse following a recommendation by a grand jury
by Terry Lewis
ALBANY — As executive Director of Open Arms, an organization which bring healing, hope, and help to children, adults, and their families in need of support, intervention and prevention as a result of child abuse, Fonda Thompson has seen it all in her 20 years with the group.
On Monday, she shared some of that with members of the Kiwanis Club of Albany.
“Abuse and homelessness are not limited by race or economic status,” Thompson said. “Sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and the lack of adequate housing span across our entire society.”
Founded in 1991, Open Arms was formed in response to a grand jury's recommendations to fight child abuse. The Bridge was opened as a shelter for confirmed cases of abuse and neglect or for runaway and homeless youth. Since then the organization has expanded its services.
“Our mission it to offer healing hope to children, focusing on four areas,” Thompson said.
— The Bridge accommodates children ages birth to 18 years, providing necessities including food, clothing, shelter, recreation, job training, advocacy, education, medical attention, and counseling.
— The Transitional Living Program provides a safe and stable home for disadvantaged youth ages 18-21 transitioning from foster care or homelessness into productive citizens in the community.
— The Runaway & Homeless Program is part of a federal initiative to provide shelter and safety to runaway and homeless youth.
— The Street Outreach Program program provides mentoring and prevention methods to street youth. Staff members in this program work in low-income areas and in “hot spots” for troubled youth.
“We see bruised bodies and broken bones every day. It blows my mind,” Thompson said. “When I first came here 20 years ago, I used to go home and cry every day. Now when I go home I get mad as hell … pardon my French. Over the past 20 years people are becoming more aware of what's going on. Schools and teachers are paying more attention now.”
Thompson closed by asking the Kiwanis “to keep all the children in your prayers, and remember abuse can happen in every family.”
She added the club could help Open Arms with donations of hygiene products and clothing.
Rape, molestation and servitude: The sickening full list of 503 sexual abuse offences against a 13-year-old girl as her father and seven other men are arrested over 'paedophile ring' in Western Australia
by Louise Cheer
(Breakdown of charges on site)
The sickening list of more than 500 sex abuses committed against a 13-year-old girl by her father and his associates includes charges of rape, molestation and aggressively recording to create child pornography.
Western Australia Police swooped on eight men over 503 charges against the young girl, who they said was the victim of horrific abuse for more than two years as part of an undercover paedophile ring.
The men, aged between 34 and 47, are alleged to have started their heinous ring when the girl was just 11 years old.
One man was hit with more than 228 individual charges, including 170 related to filming the girl, 16 of sexual penetration of a child and six of sexual servitude of a child.
Police also discovered more than four-million images and 200,000 videos in the possession of one man.
It is alleged by police the girl's father was the one who facilitated the horrific abuse.
Detective Inspector Glenn Feeney said a member of the public had raised the alarm with police and they arrested the men last week in the suburbs of Attadale, Wanneroo, Wembley, Coodanup, South Bunbury, Banksia Grove and Bedfordale.
He described the alleged abuse of the girl as 'particularly horrifying'.
'She was rescued from this horrible situation... she is safe,' Det Insp Feeny told reporters on Wednesday.
'It's a disgusting matter... there are no words to describe it.'
The sex crime division investigator said when they found the girl she was physically okay but psychologically he could not say except that she would be needing and receiving a lot of counselling for a long time.
They have all appeared in court, with one of them pleading guilty to his charges, and will come before the court again in later in July and August.
Investigations into the incident are continuing.
Idaho Falls man uses new legal tactic to get long-delayed justice for child abuse
by TOM HOLM
IDAHO FALLS — Matt Morgan's effort to punish his uncle for sexual abuse three decades ago has traveled a unique legal course.
After exhausting traditional legal avenues, Matt Morgan's legal team used claims of fraud to bring Terry Morgan to justice, winning a $395,000 judgment Dec. 2.
It is a legal tactic that could be used more extensively in the future, especially for those trying to press sexual abuse cases that can't be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired, said Boise attorney Andrew Chasan.
Chasan said the pursuit of Terry Morgan under a fraud claim is innovative and could open doors for other victims. Chasan is using a fraud claim against the Boy Scouts of America, alleging that the Idaho branch of the scout group knew scouting posed a danger to young boys.
He said pursuing a single abuser for fraud is inventive.
“It (Morgan's case) doesn't have the strength of precedent as if it came from the (Idaho) Supreme Court,” Chasan said. “But it helps prop the door open for others.”
Matt Morgan approached Clint Casey and Dan Skinner in September 2012.
They decided to take a two-pronged approach to the case.
First, they attempted to overturn the state's statute of limitations for child abuse, which provide a case can't be prosecuted after five years.
Court records show District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. ruled July 9, 2014, that he would not allow the child abuse claims to proceed. Idaho Code 6-1704 says criminal child abuse claims can be brought forward if the victim is over 18 and becomes aware of the abuse “within five years of the time the child discovers or reasonably should have discovered the act, abuse or exploitation.”
When that claim failed, Matt's attorneys endeavored to find a new route. They argued fraud, basically claiming that Terry Morgan had lied to his nephew.
Watkins allowed the fraud claims to stand. Watkins said the theory behind fraud was not restricted to claims of financial harm and that Terry lying to Matt could be considered fraud, court records show.
“Nothing in Idaho expressly confines fraud to commercial transactions,” Watkins said.
The lawyers argued Matt was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative amnesia in 2010. Dissociative amnesia causes a temporary wipe of the memories of abuse. The diagnosis made litigation possible under a fraud claim. Testimony from Matt's family members saying Terry Morgan groomed Matt for abuse bolstered the case.
A unanimous jury decision on Nov. 6 found that Matt's uncle had groomed him for sexual abuse, which amounted to fraud under Idaho law.
Skinner said this verdict allows accessibility for victims to confront abusers who were never pursued criminally.
“We did a little research and we realized that maybe this is something that hasn't been done before,” Skinner said.
Chasan said that though this use of fraud is insightful, it has been used before. The most famous case was when defendants sued tobacco companies for damages, claiming companies knew the danger of cancer but kept it from the public.
Terry Morgan's attorneys appealed the case to the Idaho Supreme Court on July 2, court records show. If it survives appeal, the decision could become precedent for similar cases nationwide.
Matt may never see the money because Terry Morgan can't afford it. But Matt said the real victory is shining a light on child abuse.
“I think the statute of limitations should be changed,” Matt said. “There needs to be some good positive things that come from this experience.”
Repeated efforts to reach Terry Morgan were unsuccessful.
Rebuilding a life
When his uncle raped Matt Morgan when he was 12 and 13, it kicked off a lifetime of repressed memories, alcohol abuse and what he hopes is, one day, redemption.
The 49-year-old owner and manager of Morgan Construction, a local design and construction business, buried the memories of the abuse for three decades.
Matt became a rare statistic. He is among the few men who speak out against their abusers. Although research shows that one in six men have suffered sexual abuse before the age of 18, Matt became a rarity because he spoke out about the abuse. He sued his uncle, won a judgment and is now moving forward, trying to be more than a statistic.
Now Matt wants to bring some good from the years of pain he suffered. He never wants another child to go through what he endured. That's what his nonprofit organization Building Hope Today is for. Matt wants to have the organization bring awareness to the sexual abuse of children.
Matt wants to give a voice to the voiceless and help them shed the pain of abuse.
“You want to find guys like me? You can find them in the cemeteries and the jails,” Matt said. “I have these emotional wounds that I'm working on to become scars and not wounds.”
Matt said his parents split up when he was 12 and his father took him to live in a home two houses away from his uncle, Terry Morgan. Terry frequently stopped by the house when Matt's father was at work, court records show.
Terry stepped into the void left by an absentee dad. Court records show he brought pornographic magazines and showed them to Matt. Terry told the young boy the women depicted in the magazines were his mother.
After showing him the pornography, Terry molested Matt, court records show. He raped and fondled Matt all summer. The abuse only subsided when Matt went back to school in the fall.
“I just closed my eyes when he did that to me,” Matt said. “I just friggin' left. I didn't let any of it rent any space in my brain.”
He said he spent the next three years flunking school and getting into trouble. “I was frustrated and confused, I struggled for a number of years. I took a hold of that hammer and just decided I wanted to be good at it. I gave it everything I had and I threw myself 100 percent into it and it became my craft.”
Matt repressed the thoughts of the abuse for 30 years until night terrors of his uncle raping him ravaged his sleep.
The memories came back in bits and pieces. Matt was suffering from dissociative amnesia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dissociative amnesia is the inability to retrieve memories from a stressful situation such as abuse or war, according to the Cleveland Clinic website. After being diagnosed in 2010, Matt began counseling.
The memories of dissociative amnesia sufferers are not entirely wiped from the mind and can be recalled through therapy or triggered by someone's surroundings.
Matt said he used alcohol to help press down the memories. Now, he is now four months sober. But before and during the trial his drinking brought him to a low point.
One day Matt looked down at the glass as he was drinking alone and decided he needed to change. Matt got clean.
“I got something the majority of people who are abused don't get, the opportunity to ... to pursue that vindication,” Matt said. “Here I sat and thought how ungrateful I am to keep on drinking myself to sleep.”
A rare case
Matt Morgan's decision to confront his uncle makes him an outlier.
In a 1988 clinical study of 25 men who had been sexually abused, only one reported the abuse when it happened. A 1990 study found that 44 percent of the men sampled had never told anyone about being abused, compared to 33 percent of women who had never disclosed the abuse.
In a separate clinical study, 31 percent of men abused as a child had told someone about it when they were young, compared to 61 percent of women
Surviving sexual abuse: Why sweeping it under the rug causes problems
by Tricia Harte
The topic of child sexual abuse can be difficult to broach, but psychologists advise parents to continue addressing the issue after-the-fact. If the abuse is ignored or swept under the rug, psychologists warn it could damage the child victim's development.
Trauma sparks a certain physiological response in victims. Adrenaline, increased heart rate, and other symptoms of high stress can lead to fragmented memories of the trauma. Those memories cannot be properly stored in a victim's brain without a cohesive narrative, and as a result, tend to pop up in flash backs.
Psychologist Dr. Erin Leonard explains that the trauma needs to be continually addressed in an empathetic way at each developmental stage of life.
“When the children keep this sort of secret it really does have a shaming and self-blaming effect and they end up feeling at-fault and to blame for this,” Leonard explains.
The way victims are handled, both by law enforcement and psychologists, has changed in recent decades.
In the 1980s when Erika Monroe was kidnapped and raped she retold her story week after week as investigators built their case. Each time she said she felt “interrogated” by the officers, each time she felt the pain of the trauma all over again.
Monroe is now in her thirties, and looks back at the lack of psychological care she got as an adolescent, “if someone were to have asked me, ‘do you think by being raped that it's affected your relationships now?' Then maybe it would have made me think about it.”
Dr. Leonard explains that traumatic memories stay fragmented because of the psychological state in a moment of panic. Those memories cannot be stored in long-term memory until there's a cohesive “narrative” of what happened. Leonard says talking to a therapist or addressing the situation calmly and emphatically can help consolidate that memory so it stays out of the forefront of the mind.
One Michiana mother, Carol, is processing her own child's recovery after she was sexually abused by two adolescent girls. Carol's daughter, Katie, came forward six months after the sexual encounters and explained what happened to her: the two girls, ages 12 and 15, performed oral sex on her in addition to other penetration.
Carol placed Katie in therapy after calling the Department of Child Services, so far Katie is able to talk in great detail and clarity about what happened to her, however, the deviant sexual nature of the acts is somewhat lost on her young mind.
“There's not a pamphlet out there, at least that I'm aware of, that tells you this is how your child might behave,” said Carol.
Like many child victims, Katie has daytime flashbacks, night terrors, she developed imaginary friends since the abuse and she has a heightened sexual awareness for someone her age.
Carol recognizes that there is still a lot of work to go through in terms of helping Katie adjust, as Dr. Leonard explains, the trauma won't be fully healed with one round of therapy immediately after the act.
“When the child grows and develops cognitively and emotionally, the trauma needs to be reprocessed at that level,” Leonard explains.
Childhood sexual traumas can create obstacles at different developmental stages, especially when a victim starts thinking about their first sexual encounter, contemplating marriage or having children. Each phase of life presents its own challenges.
Turning back to Erika Monroe, one thing she wished she did more of as a teen struggling with her abuse was communication. Her mother and father never talked about it, neither did her extended family or friends, “it was just something that was not spoken about.”
After one failed and uncomfortable round of hypnosis when she was 10, Monroe never sought additional counseling. She felt the decades-old approach was abrasive and accusatory, causing her to shut down and tell her parents she didn't want to talk to the therapist again.
“There should've been grief counseling for my parents, for myself because something very valuable was taken from us that night. Something very valuable was taken from me,” Monroe said she wished someone advised her family to go see a therapist to help everyone learn about PTSD, triggers and adjusting to life after rape.
Psychologists say the parents of child sexual abuse victims need to come to terms with the abuse and then provide a model for their children. Accepting the abuse took place is an emotional and difficult task for parents, and without addressing the parent's emotional needs, the problem can get swept under the rug.
Child victims are likely to suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, self-esteem issues and aggressive behavior. They're more prone to drug and alcohol use and are likely to suffer from sexual difficulties in the future.
Domestic Abuse Survivor: Cosby Victims Coming Together is 'Very Powerful'
by Morgan Zalot
For Beth Rubin, a local woman who endured two decades of domestic abuse at the hands of the father of her children, the 35 women who came together to tell their stories about their alleged sexual assaults by Bill Cosby are more than inspiring.
They're empowering, Rubin, 64, said Monday during an interview at her Elkins Park home, the day all 35 women -- together -- graced the cover of New York magazine in a stunning show of strength in numbers. The women's stories have the potential to save lives and give women the push they need to get out of abusive situations, Rubin said.
"It's very powerful. When you're going through this, you're very much alone. You're in fear of that person, and you're in fear of everything, and very depressed and isolated," said Rubin, a retired Philadelphia schoolteacher who is mother to three adult daughters. "So it just gives credence to your story. It empowers you ... you give it up during the abuse, you give up your power. And it feels like you're getting it back when you can tell your story and be honest."
The 35 women who are accusing Cosby came together to tell their stories to New York magazine, which published each of their accounts and put photos of all of the women -- who span ages, races and lifestyles -- on the cover of its July 27-Aug. 9 issue.
Rubin, who works a volunteer for the Women's Center of Montgomery County's hotline and as a court advocate for women in the process of obtaining protection-from-abuse orders, said that since issues of violence against women have been propelled to the forefront of the nation's awareness, she's noticed an uptick in abused women seeking help. She said she believes the women coming together to tell their stories of alleged abuse by Cosby will empower more women to come forward.
"It says that you have a voice, just use your voice. Don't squelch it. Make it known," she said. "It's hard, because you feel like it reflects on you, that you're the one that got yourself in, because we're so used to victim-blaming."
Rubin said she herself had to reach her breaking point alone -- and that it took her several years and more than one separation and reconciliation with her abusive husband to do so. Her daughters begged her to leave their father, to whom she was married for 23 years before she finally got out of the relationship, she said.
What pushed her over the edge was "when he put his hands around my throat," Rubin said. "I kept saying, 'I'm done,' but when he actually put his hands around my throat ... I called the Women's Center. I was a caller. That was in 1995."
Her mother helped her by renting her an apartment, and she made a plan. She and her daughters -- 11, 15 and 18 at the time -- left while her husband was away on a business trip.
Now, nearly two decades later, Rubin says she's at the best place in her life.
Cosby's accusers banding together is a step in the right direction and much progress has been made since her own abuse began in the 1970s, Rubin said -- but there's still work to be done, she cautioned.
"Seeing them the way they actually are in a large group is powerful. I hope that individual women do find their voice and tell their story and aren't afraid," she said. "I think it really has to be a dialogue with men ... That's what we need, is men talking about how they can be virile and strong and not be sexually aggressive. I think we have a ways to go, but it's great that people are talking about it."
Some violence is targeted at women and girls – we can't ignore that
by Alison Saunders
As director of public prosecutions, I have made it absolutely clear that my focus is on improving the experience of criminal justice for victims – all victims. I do not differentiate in our treatment of victims – male or female, adult or child, current or non-recent. But what is also clear is that some offending is based on gender. Violence against women and girls (VaWG) is recognised worldwide and by the UK government as a form of offending where gender really does play a part.
As the United Nations describes it: “Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and … violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”
At the Crown Prosecution Service this includes certain types of offending such as domestic abuse, sexual offences including rape, forced marriage, stalking, honour-based violence, trafficking, female genital mutilation and prostitution offences. These crimes are personal, invasive and traumatic – regardless of the gender of the victim – and the sheer volume of them is staggering, particularly when it is widely accepted that reporting rates are low. And of these thousands upon thousands of cases, we cannot shy away from an uncomfortable truth – they are inextricably linked to gender.
Over the past five years our records show that most (84%) of the victims of these crimes, where gender is recorded, are female; and almost all (93%) of the perpetrators are male. Those figures are not changing, but we at the CPS want to recognise, acknowledge and help those victims who are not necessarily caught by the VaWG umbrella – that is, the men and boys who can also be victims of domestic abuse and sexual offending and the other VaWG crimes.
We absolutely must not and do not ignore the fact that 16% of these victims are male and that is exactly why we include them in our report and our analysis – many of the same issues apply to bringing these cases, regardless of the gender of those involved. Similar stigmas and some of the most pervasive myths and stereotypes are associated with both male and female victims – for example, the belief that women who don't scream were not raped, just as the belief that “real men”, also, don't get raped. This issue is extremely important – men should not feel that they cannot report cases because of misconceptions or feeling judged and that is why we include them in this report rather than refusing to acknowledge their equal status as victims of these horrible crimes.
I fully accept the concerns raised by some, however, that we need to be clearer in our annual VaWG report about the inclusion of men and boys, which is why I have arranged for amendments to be made to the current, and all future, reports. We will clarify our introductory remarks and we will also, where possible, include a breakdown of gender volumes. So I reject the notion that we are excluding men and boys – rather, I stress that we are being inclusive in our approach.
Ultimately I believe we all want the same thing – to address the fact that, regardless of gender, the victim still has to confront too many obstacles that may stop them reporting a crime and supporting a prosecution. These victims still face society's stereotypes and expectations of how they should behave, they face a sometimes formal and intimidating courtroom process, and of course they face the difficulty of having to relive the crime – in front of a room full of complete strangers – something many feel unable to share with even close friends and family. These are tough issues that require our support and we have looked at these crimes to build experience and expertise, so prosecutors can build the strongest cases for the court while delivering a better service for victims.
I hope my willingness to address these concerns will be welcomed, but until it is no longer the case that the vast majority of these crimes are committed by men using power, coercion and violence against women, amending the title of VaWG would put the victims of these crimes back into the dark, where they have been kept for far too long.
Remarks by Secretary of State Kerry at the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report Ceremony
SECRETARY KERRY: Sarah, thank you very, very much. Thank you all for being here this morning and witnessing my first three yards on one crutch in public. If my doctor sees that, I'm in serious trouble. Not supposed to do that till next week, but I couldn't resist.
I really can think of no better way to start this week than with such a gathering of really remarkable people, all of whom are determined to make a difference in a cause that really counts.
And I am very, very honored to be here. Particularly happy to see from Capitol Hill my friend and former colleague, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Chris Smith, who has been just such a longtime champion on these issues. Both of them are two champions in this fight. Delighted to see the First Lady's chief of staff, Tina Tchen. Thank you for being with us. And also, I want to just recognize quickly Jeff Zucker, the head of CNN. CNN has made a special cause of this. I see their accountability reports as I travel around the world, and Jeff, we're very, very appreciative to CNN for their commitment to this cause. Thank you, all of you.
There are members of the diplomatic corps here, and that is absolutely vital to us because international cooperation is the key to our being able to have an impact and make progress, and we are.
There are leaders from civil society here, and they are, all of them, bolstering the networks that are being built around the world to try to fight back, increasingly creating sophisticated strategies, and that's the only way we're going to succeed in this battle. It's a battle against money, it's a battle against evil, and it's quite remarkable that in the year 2015, we face a modern version of slavery, something we actually fought a civil war over here in this country. It is vital for us to be able to push back against this.
I am particularly grateful to the entire Trafficking in Persons team who stood up a few moments ago. I'm grateful to Kari Johnstone, who has been the acting director, and Sarah Sewall, who has overall supervisory responsibilities for this task. But it's really a task that is brought together by every division, every office, every mission of the entire State Department.
This report is the product of really an entire year-long effort. These folks will leave here today and they begin on next year's report. And it is a constant process of following up with the employees at our diplomatic posts around the world, gathering facts, information, and helping to lay it out. And this report is important because it really is one of the best means that we have as individuals to speak up for adults and children who lack any effective platform whatsoever through which they are able to speak for themselves. Because of its credibility, this report is also a source of validation and inspiration to activists on every single continent who are striving to end this scourge of modern slavery.
I want to emphasize, as I did last month when we issued a report on our human rights observations around the world, the purpose of this document is not to scold and it's not to name and shame. It is to enlighten and to energize, and most importantly, to empower people.
And by issuing it, we want to bring to the public's attention the full nature and scope of a $150 billion illicit trafficking industry. And it is an industry. Pick up today's New York Times, front page story about a young Cambodian boy promised a construction job in Thailand, goes across the border, finds himself held by armed men, and ultimately is pressed into service on the seas – three years at sea, shackled by his neck to the boat so that he can't escape and take off when they're around other boats. If that isn't slavery and imprisonment, I don't know what is.
We want to provide evidence and facts that will help people who are already striving to achieve reforms to alleviate suffering and to hold people accountable.
We want to provide a strong incentive for governments at every level to do all that they can to prosecute trafficking and to shield at-risk populations.
And in conveying these messages, let me acknowledge that even here in the United States, we Americans need to listen and improve. Like every nation, we have a responsibility to do better – a better job of protecting those who live within our own borders, whose passports are taken away from them, who are imprisoned for labor purposes or for sex trafficking.
This morning, we are honored to welcome, as has become our tradition, eight truly remarkable human beings – eight people who have distinguished themselves in the quest to stop trafficking. I might add that where they live, many of these people do so at great personal risk.
These men and women have journeyed from as far away as Africa, the Baltics, South America, and Europe in order to be with us today.
They are genuine heroes – courageous individuals who are helping to prevent trafficking and to assist victims, to secure the release of captives and to enhance legal protections for the vulnerable, to educate the public and to expose the – and to end the loathsome practice of child sex tourism.
My friends, thank you for being here and thank you for helping to reinforce what these heroes are doing.
And if there is a single theme that connects the diverse work of these heroes, it is the conviction that there is nothing inevitable about trafficking in human beings. It's a choice.
That conviction is where the process of change really begins – with the realization that just because a certain abuse has taken place in the past doesn't mean that we have to tolerate that abuse in the future or that we can afford to avert our eyes and pretend that we just don't know what's going on. Instead, we need to each be asking ourselves – what if that victim of trafficking were somebody we knew? What if it was a neighbor? Or still worse as a nightmare, what if it was a son or a daughter or a relative?
The more we ask these questions, the more each of us will understand that not only is this a fight that we have to attempt, not only do we have a responsibility to bring every aspect of our institutions of our government together in order to push back and to educate and to make people aware of this, but it's a fight we absolutely have to win. It is a modern-day human rights challenge of enormous proportions.
And we always need to draw strength from the fact that momentum in human rights work is a very powerful force.
When criminals in one city are arrested for using children in the commercial sex trade, believe me, the pressure on authorities in nearby cities to make arrests builds.
When country A becomes known for its success in putting human traffickers in jail, the leaders in country B are drawn into a virtuous competition.
And when the practice of using forced labor to catch fish, to process meat, to sew clothing, to assemble toys is exposed, then authorities will have a good reason to look at other industries – and consumers will then have cause to question the origins of the global supply chains of what they have chosen to buy and what is placed before them in stores or online.
I don't have to tell this audience that traffickers are both ruthless and relentless. They know how to exploit the hopes of those desperate to escape poverty or to find shelter from disaster or from strife. Traffickers prey upon the most vulnerable. They target the weak, the despairing, the isolated. And they make false promises and transport their victims across borders to labor without passports or phones in places where the language is unknown and where there are no means of escape. If the victims rebel or become ill, the traffickers often use violence to ensure that their profits continue and their crimes are concealed.
That is why this TIP Report needs to be read as a call to action.
Governments need to strengthen and enforce the laws that they have on the books, and prosecutors must take pride in turning today's traffickers into tomorrow's prisoners.
The private sector also needs to be a part of this effort by blowing the whistle on companies that use labor that is under age, under paid, and under coercion.
Investigative journalists can continue to assist by shining the spotlight – as The New York Times, Reuters, AP, and The Guardian, CNN and others recently have – on abuses in the seafood and other industries.
Advocacy groups, faith groups, faith leaders, educators, and researchers should continue to intensify the pressure for bold action so that together we will win more battles in a fight that will surely last for some time to come.
And throughout, we have to be true to the principle that although money may be used for many things, we must never, ever allow a price tag to be attached to the heart and soul and freedom of a fellow human being.
A few years ago – I guess actually, if the truth be told, 40 years ago – when I was a prosecutor in Boston, I launched one of our country's very first “violence against women” divisions in the district attorney's office. We were determined at that time that people should not be victimized twice – once by the crime and then again by the system. We even prosecuted a man for raping a woman who was a prostitute – a case that no one thought we could win, but we did, because “no” means “no”; “against will” means “against will”; and in those situations, force is never acceptable.
Today, as Secretary of State, I look around and I am deeply inspired by the efforts that are being made in America and countries on every continent to push back against the bullies and the exploiters.
I'm inspired by the leadership that we have seen from our commander-in-chief, from Congress, from civil society, from the religious community, and from our many overseas partners.
I welcome President Obama's nomination of Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Coppedge to serve as the next director of the TIP office with the rank of ambassador-at-large.
And I am inspired each day by the efforts of our own diplomats and staff, and especially the dedicated and tireless Kari Johnstone and her team over here who I ask now – I ask her, Kari, if you'd come up here and join me so that we can honor – individually and collectively – the anti-trafficking heroes that we have among us this morning.
First, I ask Ms. Betty Pedraza Lozano from Colombia to stand. I don't know if we have anybody to translate. I am not absolutely fluent in Spanish, and she only speaks Spanish. But today, we recognize your steadfast efforts to restore the rights of adults and children who have been victimized by human trafficking, your commitment to help survivors, and your relentless advocacy for victim care. Ms. Pedraza, congratulations and thank you so much for what you have done. Thank you. Muchas gracias.
From Latvia, Ms. Gita Miruskina. And we recognize – Gita, we recognize your relentless campaign to enhance the legal understanding of human trafficking in Latvia and throughout the European Union. Your dedication to assisting victims and your excellence in providing legal services to the survivors of modern slavery are extraordinary. Thank you very, very much. Thank you so much.
All the way from Madagascar, Ms. Norotiana Ramboarivelo Jeannoda, and she has achieved remarkable accomplishments in launching the National Union of Social Workers to promote human rights, your staunch advocacy for improvements in your country's anti-trafficking laws, and your extraordinary efforts to support and protect victims. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.
Next, Ms. Catherine Groenendijk-Nabukwasi from South Sudan. We recognize your hard work in caring for and protecting children who are vulnerable to trafficking, your steadfast commitment to the right of every girl and boy to an education, and your persistent engagement to increase justice for survivors of modern slavery. Congratulations and thank you very, very much.
Mr. Moses Binoga is here from Uganda. Mr. Binoga, we thank you for your leadership role in your country's anti-human trafficking taskforce, your sustained efforts to increase public awareness of trafficking, and your unwavering support for the victims. Thank you so much and congratulations.
Now, from the United Kingdom, Ms. Parosha Chandran. We recognize she's a barrister and we recognize your landmark initiative to develop and advance the rule of law on trafficking in the United Kingdom and abroad, your support for victims and your unparalleled achievement in providing legal services to those who have endured and survived modern slavery. Thank you so much and congratulations.
And closer to home, from the United States, Mr. Tony Maddox. Mr. Maddox, we congratulate you for your sustained campaign to raise public awareness and understanding of human trafficking on a global scale, your advocacy on behalf of victims, and your dedication to ensuring that survivors and their stories are heard. Congratulations to you and well done.
And finally, from Iraq, Ms. Ameena Hasan. Ms. Hasan, we honor you for your courageous efforts on behalf of the Yezidi religious minority in northern Iraq, for insisting that the world give heed to the horrors that they face, and for your firm commitment to helping the victims and saving lives. We congratulate you and invite you to say a few words about your work and about the situation that now exists in Iraq. Ms. Hasan. Thank you.
KY Attorney General Candidate Beshear Releases Child Abuse Prevention Plan
Attorney General candidate Andy Beshear releases a seven-point plan to combat child abuse in Kentucky. The full plan, Preventing Child Abuse In Kentucky: A Seven-Point Plan, highlights Beshear's commitment to protecting Kentucky children and families and ending the child abuse epidemic in Kentucky.
“As Attorney General, my mission will be to end Kentucky's child abuse epidemic so that every child can grow up in a safe and secure environment,” said Beshear. “Kentucky has one of the highest physical child abuse and child abuse death rates in the country. As a father of two young children, I cannot live with this reality. It's time to make preventing child abuse a priority for leaders across our country, and especially right here in Kentucky. I am committed to ending this epidemic and if elected, I will work with anyone, Democrat or Republican, to implement my seven-point plan and make Kentucky a safer place for our children.”
A summary of the central proposals can be found below, and the full plan is available here.
Create a Child Abuse and Exploitation Division: The Child Abuse and Exploitation Division will bring together specially trained investigators, prosecutors, and policy experts with vast experience in combatting child abusers and helping victims. The Division will work with local prosecutors and law enforcement on a statewide mission to vigorously and aggressively prosecute child abusers, sexual predators, and human traffickers.
Expand use of latest technology to combat abusers: We will work to expand Kentucky's use of technology to identify and keep abusers out of our childcare industry so that every entity has the tools and data they need to ensure no abuser is able to outwit the system and slip through the cracks.
Regulate all sectors of our childcare industry: Currently, Kentucky law does not regulate caretakers in certain groups, such as summer camps, that care for thousands of Kentucky children each year. We need to extend Kentucky law and regulation to all portions of our childcare industry so that all our children are protected.
Integrate our non-profits' ideas into state policy: Our regulations should adopt best practices that have been created and tested by our most effective non-profits. The Child Abuse And Exploitation Division will work to coordinate non-profit efforts to ensure we maximize our combined efforts.
Require participation in STARS program and better monitor day cares: Currently, the STARS program is only voluntary for day care providers that do not receive childcare assistance funds from the state. By mandating that all Kentucky day care providers participate in the STARS program, we can better monitor our day cares to ensure quality child programs are in place.
Conduct a thorough review of foster care system: We will push the state Legislature to conduct a top to bottom study of our foster care system that compares our current guidelines and procedures with best practices so we can make any necessary changes so that foster children can live without fear of abuse.
Promote good parenting: The number one way we can protect our children is through good parenting, which provides a safe, healthy, and nurturing home environment. Promoting good parenting will be a top goal of the Attorney General's Office, which will be achieved by working with community organizations that aim to help strengthen families across Kentucky.
Throughout the campaign, Beshear will release additional plans that highlight his commitment to protecting Kentucky children and families.
Annual report shows child abuse cases are on the rise
by Megan Trimble
The numbers are staggering. Each year, the state Department of Human Services compiles an annual child abuse report. The most recent year in which data is available is 2013. It's a dense, 129-page document that paints a grim picture of the abuse endured by children at the hands of people they love and trust.
Cathy Utz, deputy secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families, said the 2014 annual report should be posted to the state Department of Human Services website within the next few weeks.
Here are some sobering statistics from the 2013 report:
• ChildLine, Pennsylvania's child abuse hotline, registered 26,944 reports of suspected abuse or neglect ; an increase of 280 reports from the previous year.
• Pennsylvania substantiated 13 percent, or 3,425 reports of child abuse in 2013, the same rate as 2012.
• There were 38 substantiated child fatalities in 2013, five more than the previous year.
• There were 52 near-fatalities that were substantiated for child abuse.
• Law enforcement officials received 9,273 reports for possible criminal investigation and prosecution , representing 34 percent of all reports.
• Sexual abuse was involved in 53 percent of all substantiated reports, a decrease of 1 percent from 2012.
• There were 3,280 children listed as abuse victims .
• 80 percent of sexually abused children were girls.
• 59 percent of the suspects had a parental relationship to the child.
• There were 4,163 injuries reported ; some children received more than one injury.
• Physical injuries were 26 percent of total injuries.
• Sexual injuries were 64 percent of total injuries.
• 20 percent of suspects were mothers ; 40 percent of abusive mothers were 20-29 years of age.
• 21 percent of suspects were fathers ; 39 percent of abusive fathers were 30-39 years of age.
• 59 percent of abusers had a parental relationship to the victim child.
• Mothers and fathers were responsible for 40 percent of all injuries.
Norwich paedophile ring: Woman, 34, at centre of sickening abuse at child sex parties
by Martin Fricker
A woman was convicted of being at the centre of a paedophile ring today which subjected five children to sickening abuse at sex parties.
Marie Black, 34, and other seemingly ‘respectable' adults raped and attacked the two boys and three girls for more than a decade.
A court heard that Black played an instrumental part in abusing the terrified youngsters in and around Norwich and London.
Ten people stood trial accused of being members of the paedophile ring - which forced the children to have sex with each other.
Black and two men were convicted of carrying out sex attacks, while another woman was found guilty of ABH.
Six other people, including four women, were cleared of all charges after a three-month trial.
The paedophile ring's members threw parties and played card games to decide who would abuse which child, Norwich Crown Court heard.
The young victims were rewarded with certificates carrying slogans such as ‘secrets are good' and ‘do not tell anyone'.
They were sexually assaulted in front of one another - and children's toys, including Barbie dolls, were also used in sex acts.
The abuse became so routine that the victims, who were all aged under 13, came to accept it as normal.
Black had denied 26 offences and jurors convicted her of all but three counts after 19 hours of deliberations.
She sobbed as she was found guilty of offences including rape, conspiracy to rape and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Afterwards she was overheard in the dock saying: “I've been stitched up.”
During the trial, prosecutor Angela Rafferty QC said Black played an instrumental role in the paedophile ring.
She told jurors: “Many of the defendants have become good at appearing normal and respectable.
“This is what you would have to do in order to be child abusers to the extent alleged here.
“Their victims were very young and had been treated dreadfully throughout their lives.
“One of the children did not realise that sexual contact between adults and children wasn't normal.
“Children cannot endure the level of abuse you will hear about without consequences.”
One of youngsters told detectives he had been abused by members of the paedophile ring since he was two.
He said: “They would do some games where the boys were in one room with the men and girls were in another with the women.
“The adults would have a card game. The winner would get to choose a boy to start touching their private parts and then hurt them afterwards.
“They used to make us stand naked and tell us what to do.”
Asked about Black, he said: “She would stand there laughing. I just thought it was usual and that everybody did it.”
Black claimed the allegations were false and concocted by Norfolk County Council's children's services department.
The trial was delayed last year when prosecutors raised concerns over changes made by social workers to statements taken from the children.
This resulted in Norfolk Police launching an investigation into alleged misconduct, although no charges were ever brought.
Michael Rogers, 53, from Romford, Essex, was found guilty of 14 counts including cruelty, rape and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Jason Adams, 43, from Norwich, was found guilty of 13 similar counts.
Carol Stadler, 59, from Norwich, was found guilty of ABH but cleared of nine other charges, including serious sexual assaults.
All four will be sentenced in September.
Car Seat Alarms Won't Prevent Parents From Leaving Kids in Hot Cars
by Jeanne Sager
Did you get all excited when you saw companies were building alarms to save you from being the next mom or dad featured in a " baby left in hot car " headline? Welcome to the club. Now put away your wallets.
You don't need to buy any fancy schmancy electronic device to prevent the horror of forgetting your baby in the car on a hot (or cold) day. Good thing too ... because new research has found the possibly well-intentioned products being picked up by very well-meaning parents aren't worth the money. Sorry folks, but it's true.
The researchers who looked at car seat sensors including the ChildMinder Smart Pad System, the Deluxe Padded Safety Seat Alarm System, and SafeBABI found a load of "inconsistencies." Cellphones got in the way. The devices would turn themselves on or off. A liquid spill would cause a malfunction.
I could go on, but you get the picture. If you're looking for fail-safe, these aren't going to help you. Actually, if you're looking for fail-safe, never going out in a car with your baby is probably your only option because LIFE HAPPENS. Very good parents have had this happen to them, and it could happen to anyone.
Fortunately, there ARE some things you can do, easily, and without breaking the bank, to help keep yourself on the ball:
1. Put your purse or wallet in the backseat. We have a tendency to put these beside us, so we can grab and go. But if they're in the backseat beside the baby, "grab and go" isn't going to happen.
2. Store something large in the carseat and move it to the front seat when baby's buckled in. That visual reminder right next to you is hard to ignore even when you're frazzled. Make sure it's something big enough to notice, and some bright colors don't hurt. This is a good use for that ugly fuchsia stuffed mouse that Great Aunt Betsy made.
3. Set up a regular phone call system with your daycare provider. Often the "baby left in hot car" tragedies seem to happen when a parent varies their routine to take a child to daycare for their partner. A daycare provider who knows to call if the baby hasn't arrived by a certain time can avert tragedy.
4. Hang something from your rear view mirror when baby is in the backseat. Another visual reminder, this works well if you make a routine: hang it up after you strap in baby; remove it and stow it in your console when you remove baby. One of those dangly baby toys from the stroller works good for this.
Jehovah's Witnesses did not report 1006 alleged sex abusers to police, royal commission told
by Rachel Browne
The Jehovah's Witness Church in Australia received allegations of child sexual abuse involving more than 1000 of its members over a 60-year period but did not report a single claim to police, a royal commission has heard.
Instead, the church, which has almost 70,000 active members, followed its policy of handling allegations internally.
The opening day of the hearing into the Jehovah's Witnesses at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told that church elders blamed at least two victims for their sexual abuse.
The commission heard that alleged abusers could be cast out of the church if claims were proven but a requirement that at least two witnesses give evidence to an internal judicial committee meant many alleged perpetrators were not questioned.
Counsel assisting the royal commission, Angus Stewart, SC, said the church had recorded 1006 cases involving individual perpetrators within the organisation since 1950.
However, the church had a strict policy of not reporting allegations of abuse to secular authorities.
The commission heard that the church abhors child sexual abuse, which it recognises as a "gross sin and crime".
"Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the only way to finally end child abuse is to, as they put it, 'embrace God's kingdom under Christ' and to 'love God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself', so as to be saved when the end comes," Mr Stewart said.
When church elders received a complaint about abuse, they could cast out a perpetrator if the allegation was proven.
The commission was told that since 1950, 401 members had been cast out or "disfellowshipped" but more than half were later reinstated.
Almost 60 people have contacted the royal commission regarding allegations of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses, with two due to give evidence.
One survivor, using the pseudonym BCB, will tell the commission she was molested by a church elder in Western Australia from the age of 15.
The commission will hear that when she disclosed the alleged abuse, she was forced to confront the perpetrator, who joked about his conduct.
Mr Stewart told the commission that church elders considered the "spirituality and the seductiveness" of the complainant in determining the complaint.
A church elder told the woman, now aged 47, she would "drag Jehovah's name through the mud" if she gave evidence to the royal commission.
A second abuse survivor, given the pseudonym BCG, will give evidence she was molested by her father, a church elder.
The commission will hear evidence that church authorities made her directly confront her father about the allegations and his response was to "blame her for seducing him."
She later contacted police and her father, given the pseudonym BCH, was sentenced to three years in prison for unlawful and indecent sexual assault.
The hearing continues.
Student sexual violence: 'leaving each university to deal with it isn't working'
Victims of rape and sexual assault say they are not being taken seriously by elite universities, with devastating results, a Guardian investigation reveals
by Karen McVeigh and Elena Cresci
When Lindsay's friends dropped her off a block from her home in a cab after a night out, they expected that the Oxford law student would return there safely. But Lindsay, then in her second year, never made it to her home that night in October 2011.
When she came to in the morning, she was in the bed of a stranger that, it turned out, was about 30 minutes' walk from her home. The man began to sexually assault her. He told her he had found her wandering the streets, lost and cold.
“When I woke up, I was completely out of it,” said Lindsay. “It was surreal. I didn't process what was going on. I was completely nonresponsive.
“That still haunts me, but apparently it's not uncommon to seize up. I felt disconnected and dissociated, like I wasn't in my own body.
“The only self-defence I could muster was saying: ‘Don't come in me.'”
She remembers someone on top of her, having sex with her, pushing him off, waking up and feeling confused. Later, she wondered if she had been drugged. Yet, amid her confusion, her hazy memory and the missing details, she knew she had been violated.
Lindsay, who was “horribly drunk” after a breakup, can recall only fragments of the night before, but her experience is all too frequent. A study by the National Union of Students in 2010 showed that one in seven students were victims of serious sexual assault or serious physical violence.
A Guardian investigation in May found fewer than half of Britain's most elite universities were monitoring the extent of sexual violence against students, and one in six said they did not have specific guidelines for students on how to report such allegations.
Following that report, scores of students got in touch to report allegations of sexual violence at university towns, where Rape Crisis groups say there is a a “hit or miss” approach to dealing with sexual violence.
“At first I felt really stupid and I blamed myself for being drunk enough for this to have happened,” said Lindsay. “The stereotype of stranger rape, down a dark alley, is so damaging. But, academically, I know I was in no state to consent to sex. I was too incapacitated.
“I know the law, and I was raped. If you come across somebody who is lost and cold, then your response should not be to sexually assault them.”
With the help of a friend from the US, where universities have a legal obligation to investigate a sexual assault, she combed her institution's website for support. “There was nothing like that,” Lindsay said. “There is still nothing on sexual assault on the student welfare counselling page.”
Lindsay's friend took her to an emergency doctor, where she was given the morning-after pill and anti-HIV medication. She emailed the counselling service for an appointment. But once there, she said, a counsellor told her: “Well, it's not your fault, and it's not his fault either. I want to talk to you about why you were so drunk.”
Lindsay said: “I found the whole thing to be deeply traumatic. I was so upset, I threw up.”
Taken together, the stories of those who contacted the Guardian provide a remarkable insight into how universities' policies and practices to combat sexual violence are failing in terms of advice and support to students, let alone action to deter sex attackers.
Susuana Amoah, women's officer at the National Union of Students, said: “It's really disheartening, but not surprising, to hear that students reporting sexual assault are being met with victim-blaming and poor advice.
“Many students don't even make it to the reporting stage because of the lack of clarity around the complaints and disciplinary procedures available to victims of sexual harassment and assault by universities.”
The NUS, which has examined the policies of 35 higher education institutions in England, Wales and Scotland on sexual violence, is expected to publish its report today. It is calling for Universities UK to develop national guidance to tackle the problem.
Some of the 50 students who contacted the Guardian reported historical allegations, although many told of recent experiences. They told harrowing stories of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, in one case, attempted suicide, that followed their alleged attacks.
Some had dropped out, failed to obtain expected grades or taken a longer time to obtain their degrees.
Only one reported a positive response, and that was from a student union. Most were women, although at least one was a man. Many spoke of being blamed for the attacks on them, others of a failure to provide support or practical help such as counselling or time off from their studies.
What they had in common was how alone they felt in being left to cope with the most traumatic experience of their young lives.
Lindsay, rare among alleged survivors of rape in that she did report her attack to police, as well as to her institution, said she was let down by both authorities.
Home Office figures show that only 15% of sexual assault survivors report to police. When they do report, only a fraction of alleged assaults make it to prosecution. Research by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in 2015 showed that only 28% of alleged rapes of adults and children in England and Wales reported to police were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The investigation into Lindsay's attack was so flawed that in March this year she received an apology from Thames Valley police for their failure to properly investigate.
The reality of sexual violence on campus, where the alleged perpetrators and victims often live and work in close proximity, and where survivors are unlikely to report to police, means that universities are the front line in terms of reporting and support. Many have numerous policies on such issues. Yet, according to those who spoke to the Guardian, they are not working.
Asked what was most difficult for her following the alleged assault, Lindsay cited a meeting with her university counselling team six months afterwards. She had instigated it to complain and to make suggestions on how they might be extra careful to ensure victims would not feel blame in the future.
The response, she said, was disbelief. She said they told her: “Perhaps you are wrong because you were a bit upset? Are you sure you were remembering correctly?” Lindsay added: “It was profoundly upsetting. It was remarkable they were so defensive. It makes me angry to this day.”
Each of the three survivors the Guardian spoke to at length, whose alleged assaults happened in the past four years, spoke of a failure in their institution's duty of pastoral care.
“I was a total mess and didn't know what to do with myself or cope,” said Lindsay. Four years on, she was continuing with her studies but it was “still hard”.
Lindsay considers herself lucky to have a supportive supervisor who arranged time off; friends who stood by her; and a knowledge of the law on consent, which gave her the confidence to go to the police. There had been improvements at the university since her attack, four years ago, she said, but they were small ones.
“Whether someone receives a positive or negative response seems to depend entirely on luck as to who you disclose to.” Sexual violence against students was “incredibly common”.
When contacted by the Guardian for a response, Oxford University said that it would not comment on confidential counselling to individual students.
It stressed the professionalism of its counsellors and its guidance on validating a victim's experience without judgment. The university, it said, offered “strong professional support and counselling to anyone bringing forward a complaint”.
Much sexual violence at universities involves alcohol, consumed by the perpetrator, the victim or both, adding a layer of complexity to an offence around which many misconceptions still lie.
Dianne Whitfield, chief officer at Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, where 10% of their clients are students, said that it was crucially important that the first response was supportive.
“If that first response is negative or judgmental, it could cause huge problems in their mental state,” she said. “It shuts them down. They are already blaming themselves for not foreseeing that a person may be a sexual predator.”
Whitfield said that because of the victims' tendency to blame themselves, counsellors needed training in how to offer support without judgment or prejudice. But the students who spoke to the Guardian appeared to experience the opposite.
Caroline, a student at Cambridge University, who alleges she was sexually assaulted in October 2014, was alarmed at how “dismissive” her tutors were when she turned to them for help.
Her alleged assault was by a close friend. She had been at a party and he insisted on walking her home. Once there, they kissed consensually. But she made clear she did not want it to go further. “I turned away and said no,” she said. “He continued as if I had said nothing. I squeezed my legs tightly together, shut my mouth and crossed my arms.”
She added: “He stayed all night. I asked him to leave several times and he ignored me. When he finally got up to go, he tried to give me a long kiss goodbye but I wouldn't open my mouth and started crying.”
The alleged attack had a profound effect on Caroline. She said she was so distraught her doctor prescribed antidepressants. She could not eat or sleep. She was scared to go to lectures, in case she bumped into her assailant.
She sought advice and support, but found the response of her tutors compounded rather than alleviated her distress.
Caroline first sought the help of a female tutor.
“She was quite sympathetic, but asked lots of questions which made me feel like I was to blame. Why I didn't fight harder. She couldn't understand why a close friend would act in that way. I said I wanted to leave university and leave the country and she told me I was being dramatic.”
The female tutor said she would report it to a more senior tutor, Caroline said. She ended up telling four different members of staff, three of whom were “fairly dismissive”.
“It wasn't a pleasant experience,” said Caroline. “They were not malicious, they were trying to be kind. The second tutor – a typical Oxbridge academic – I spoke to was upset that the college didn't know what to do. He was laughing at the situation and how ridiculous it was. He said something like: ‘Oh God, what are we going to do?' But I was suicidal. And having him laugh in my face felt like a total betrayal.”
When contacted for comment, Cambridge University forwarded a statement from the college where Caroline was studying. It said: “The college will support and assist the victim of any harassment or assault.
“However, allegations of rape and other sexual assaults, as with any behaviour which would constitute a serious criminal offence, can only be investigated by the police and considered by the prosecuting authorities. Because of the nature of the crime the college cannot undertake an independent investigation into allegations of sexual assault.”
A series of freedom of information requests from the Guardian to elite universities reveals that this policy, to refer students to police, is common. Some go further, even insisting that student survivors of sexual assault report to police, if any action is to be taken by the university. This is against advice from Rape Crisis and other groups.
Sarah Green, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, which is lobbying for universities to better investigate sexual violence, said specialist organisations would never prescribe reporting to police. Green said: “There is an issue about respect for the victim. You don't tell women what they should do either for themselves or others. Women are known to their attackers, so there's a whole load of decisions going on before that one.”
Ellie Muffitt, from Harrogate, Yorkshire, a freelance journalist who has waived her anonymity to write about her alleged sexual assault at Manchester University, described the lack of control she felt when forced to go to the police at the age of 18, five years ago: “I remember how overwhelmed and vulnerable I felt when someone in a position of power was telling me that only the police could deal with it and, if the university was going to do anything, I would have to go along with that.”
Muffitt, who suffered PTSD and dropped out of university after a court case in which her alleged assailant was acquitted, believes there should be national guidelines on how universities should respond to sexual violence allegations. “Leaving each university to decide how to deal with it isn't working,” said Muffitt.
Faye, a PhD student at a redbrick university, had been locked out of her building after saying goodbye to friends after a girls' night in, in May 2013, when a male student appeared. Somehow, they ended up in her flat. She had been drinking and was so drunk she could not stand up. But, like Lindsay, she had no doubt in her mind that what happened next was rape.
Two days later, after a traumatic visit to hospital for a barrage of sexual health tests, Faye told her PhD supervisor about the attack. Her response was casual, Faye said. “She said: ‘I had an undergraduate student who something similar happened to and she ended up taking leave of absence. You can always do that,'” said Faye. “I was never offered any kind of personal support or professional advice or directed to a source of external support.”
Later, her supervisor offered her a retrospective leave of absence for a few weeks. But the trauma Faye suffered was “all consuming” for two years, she said. “I was having panic attacks, waking up screaming, thinking that someone was at the bottom of my bed.”
The relationship Faye had with her supervisor became strained. “My progress stalled. She told me she was very concerned about my lack of progress, and made increasing demands on me.”
No mention was made again of Faye's alleged attack, or how she was coping.
“The indifference of the university still stings and is a factor which has led to the utter demotivation I felt towards my academic work. As an institution, they have done the minimum they could do. I suppose their options are limited if you don't go to the police.
“In terms of my supervisor, she's a fallible human being. But she hadn't been trained. You could argue that a PhD supervisor has a pastoral responsibility.”
Faye, who did not want her university to be named, for fear of putting further strain on her relationship with her supervisor, said she was reluctant to go to the police, because of the low chances of conviction and the fact she would have to live with being his accuser.
“What's happened changed everything. The world is a different place now, and I am a different person. I'm still trying to come to terms with that, minus the support of my university. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Names have been changed.
Malaysia, Cuba Taken off US Human Trafficking Blacklist
by MATTHEW PENNINGTON
The State Department has taken Malaysia and Cuba off its blacklist of countries failing to combat modern-day slavery, leaving the U.S. open to criticism that politics is swaying the often-contentious rankings in its annual human trafficking report.
Thailand, downgraded with Malaysia last year because of pervasive labor abuses in its lucrative fishing industry, remained on the blacklist. That will add to the growing strains in its once-strong relations with Washington. Critics contend that Malaysia's upgrade is related to its participation in a U.S.-backed trade agreement among Pacific Rim countries. Thailand is not part of the proposed agreement.
The department released Monday the annual U.S. assessment of how 188 governments around the world have performed in fighting the flesh trade and other forms of exploitative labor.
Cuba has for several years been stuck on the lowest ranking, "tier 3," amid allegations, denied by Havana, of coerced labor with Cuban government work missions abroad. Its upgrade comes a week after the U.S. and Cuba formally restored diplomatic relations after a half-century of estrangement. The U.S. also removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in late May.
The department said Monday Cuba has for the second consecutive year reported efforts to address sex trafficking but has not reported efforts to tackle forced labor.
The Trafficking in Persons Report is one of several annual assessments issued by the department on human rights-related topics, but it's unusual in that it ranks nations, which can ruffle diplomatic feathers. It is based on the actions governments take, rather than on the scale of the problem in their countries. Globally, more than 20 million people are believed to be affected in industries such as mining, construction, the sex trade, and domestic service.
President Barack Obama now has 90 days to determine whether to apply sanctions against tier 3 governments. The president can block various types of aid and could withdraw U.S. support for loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But the U.S. often chooses not to, based on its national security interests, as it did last year for both Thailand and Malaysia, which Washington views as important partners in its strategic outreach to Asia.
Among the 23 nations still stuck at tier 3 are Iran, Libya, North Korea, Russia, Syria and Zimbabwe.
Uzbekistan was promoted after two years on the blacklist. The department cited a government prohibition on forced labor of children in the 2014 cotton harvest, although it said government-compelled use of adults in the harvest remained "endemic."
Other nations upgraded from tier 3 were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua New Guinea and Saudi Arabia. Those downgraded to tier 3 were Belarus, Belize, Burundi, Comoros, the Marshall Islands and South Sudan.
Malaysia's upgrade is likely to raise the most hackles in Congress and among human rights activists. Earlier this month, 19 U.S. senators wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry urging that Malaysia stay on the blacklist. One hundred and sixty House members also registered concern, arguing that an upgrade would not be merited and would appear driven by "external considerations."
Malaysia is one of 12 nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the key economic plank of Obama's Asia policy. The nations' trade ministers are meeting in Hawaii this week, hoping to close on the agreement after years of negotiations. Malaysia's ranking is contentious as an anti-trafficking amendment to legislation crucial for the deal's eventual ratification by Congress limits the president's ability to secure free trade agreements with countries assigned to tier 3.
"By upgrading Malaysia, the U.S. is selling out victims of human trafficking," said Melysa Sperber, director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking. "It also undermines the integrity of the report and jeopardizes the credibility that has been built up over many years."
The department said Malaysia has proposed legislative changes to strengthen its anti-trafficking law, and has more than doubled the number of trafficking investigations and substantially increased prosecutions in the period covered by the report, but the number of convictions had decreased compared with 2013.
Like Thailand, Malaysia has faced intense international criticism over trafficking of stateless Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladesh aboard overcrowded boats. Dozens of graves as well as pens likely used as cages for migrants have been found in abandoned jungle camps on both sides of the Thai-Malaysian border.
Thailand contends it has taken action to combat trafficking to merit an upgrade from tier 3. Days ahead of the release of U.S. rankings — after the reporting period for the 2015 rankings — state prosecutors recommended charges against more than 100 people, including a Thai army general, implicated in trafficking of migrants.
But Thailand remains under the spotlight over slavery in Southeast Asia's fishing industry. A year-long Associated Press investigation has led to more than 800 people being rescued or repatriated in recent months. In April, the EU gave Thailand six months to drastically combat illegal and unregulated fishing or face a seafood import ban.
Home for human sex trafficking victims opens in the Ozarks
by Linda Russell
MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo. -- It's sometimes called modern day slavery, and it's happening here in the Ozarks. In Missouri last year, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports 39 cases of sex trafficking and 9 cases of labor trafficking.
A new transitional home in Mountain Grove is helping to restore the victims.
It's come together in less than a year; a 5,500 square foot home for victims of human sex trafficking. Steve and Tressa Dunlap say a TV interview started it all. "They took her as a hostage and held her in a brothel and forced her to work there," says Steve.
The woman was from another country, but the Dunlaps learned the problem is also here. "At that moment in time, it hit our hearts that there's young girls out here that are praying, God if you're real, if you're alive, help me. I want out of this," says Steve.
On Time Ministry hopes to be their refuge. Tressa says, "It's just restoring and teaching them that they are beautiful and they are wonderful, and helping them to become who they're supposed to be without all the brokenness."
Trafficking doesn't necessarily start with kidnapping. A woman may be approached on the street, drugged at a party, or deceived by trafficker.
"Tall, dark and handsome, and begin to shower them with gifts and starts building a relationship with them, and eventually deceives them into doing things because they love him. And then sometimes they're threatened," Steve says.
Steve and Tressa began reaching out to victims, and were soon asked to run a transitional home in Mexico, then one here. "A gentleman bought this facility for us and said, I want you to do in Missouri what you're doing in Mexico," says Steve.
Each of the 7 bedrooms was furnished by different churches and volunteers. Tressa says, "Each room has its own personality and the girls love it, because each girl is different, and when they move in, that becomes their room."
Two women have already moved in. They're welcome to stay for two years, and will receive counseling, medical care and whatever they need to rebuild their lives.
"The need is tremendous. And when good people have a chance to get involved, they really want to, so we'd encourage others to do the same thing and make it happen, because there are so many more victims out there," Steve says.
To reach On Time Ministries in their Mountain Grove location, Cedar Mountain, visit their website here. They have a list of needs on the website, and can always use more volunteers, as it's run completely by volunteers right now.
If you're a trafficking victim and need help, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-78-88.