National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


NAASCA Weekly Highlights

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

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

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

August, 2015 - Week 3
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a retired Registered Nurse from Ohio.

From ICE

ICE arrests child pornographer who is sentenced to 20 years in prison

With the advent of Internet communications, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) forensic specialists and special agents are witnessing a relatively new phenomenon in the twisted realm of child sexual abuse. Child predators often willingly perform devious acts against children at the behest and direction of a remote viewer, who may be located thousands of miles away.

Such was the crime HSI special agents discovered in February 2013 at the home of Jeff Clouse, 45 of Conyers, Georgia, who had hundreds of child pornography and videos on his computer, including live streamed video of a woman from the Philippines performing sexual acts on her minor daughters, ages six and eight, and taking direction from Clouse.

“Manilla is 8,736 miles from Atlanta,” said the lead HSI special agent in the investigation, R. Scott Harris from HSI Atlanta. “This investigation is another example of how today's child predator isn't always in the same room, or even in the same continent, with his or her victim.”

HSI special agents conducted a subsequent interview with Clouse who said that he actively traded child pornography on the Internet. Clouse used the videos as “currency” exchanging them with other pedophiles on a Russian file sharing site to obtain more child pornography. Clouse was arrested in October 2013. He pled guilty and was sentenced on Aug. 4 to 20 years in prison for producing and distributing child pornography via the Internet.

As far as the Philippine woman who sexually abused her children, Harris said “Unfortunately, that part of the story isn't so good. As long as she is overseas, there is little we can do.”

Harris said that the woman received no money from Clouse. “In these types of cases money doesn't usually change hands. The motive is purely perverse gratification and very rarely is any financial gain involved,” said Harris.

The investigation began with a lead from the HSI Cyber Crimes Unit, HSI's state-of-the-art center that combats criminal activity conducted on or facilitated by the Internet. Originally, HSI special agents from Phoenix, Arizona, targeted an individual exchanging child pornography with an email address in Atlanta, Georgia, which is how investigators were led to Clouse.

HSI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan said, “There will always be a segment of the population who exploits global communications and other new technology for their own selfish gain and sometimes, as in the case of child pornography, evil exploits. HSI will continue to save children from being sexually abused by arresting perpetrators, bringing them to justice and disrupting long-distance connections and file-sharing among pedophiles.”



A troubled young life led Pittsburgh girl into the hands of a trafficker

by Oksana Grytsenko

She tried many times to escape a grim life she had never chosen.

Kate had a turbulent childhood. At age 8 she was removed from her drug-addicted mother, and eventually ended up being adopted. At the age of 14 she was removed from her adoptive family after she reported to the police that she was the victim of physical and sexual abuse there. Allegheny County officials had her placed in foster care, but she struggled there too and eventually ran away.

She ended up homeless, sleeping under a bridge on freezing Pittsburgh winter nights. Kate — a pseudonym the Post-Gazette is using to protect her identity — was troubled and vulnerable.

So when a 36-year-old man picked her up and brought her to his house on Fifth Avenue in an area not far from Downtown, she thought at first she'd found a safe haven. He called himself her “mentor” and then her “boyfriend.”

But in fact he was a pimp who assaulted and trafficked Kate, finding her clients through a free classified ads website and driving her to them. The Post-Gazette is not publishing the name of the trafficker at the request of the FBI, which said it could result in repercussions for the victim.

She lived in his house for several months, along with several other women, including his official girlfriend. All were pimped out by him. One of the girls was Kate's adult cousin, addicted to cocaine.

Kate said she often felt anxious and depressed. “I had very poor self-esteem then,” she said in an interview at FBI headquarters on the South Side, her eyes filling with tears at the memory. “But at least I didn't have to worry where to sleep and what to eat.”

When the trafficker brought Kate, then 15, and another young woman to a hotel room in Oakland one Friday night in February 2012, she went in expecting another client. But the man waiting for them was an undercover police detective.

She didn't immediately realize it was a chance at freedom and a new life, because she ended up at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center. She would have run away if she could have. Instead she stayed and began the hard work of building a new life from scratch.

Kate wore a plain black T-shirt and black shorts during the interview, and sometimes nervously twisted on a chair as she talked about her past. She said she hoped it could help other girls trapped by traffickers, as she was.

“You are going to be strong,” she said, addressing those girls. “If it's not in your heart you are not going to live it.”

The experience of Pittsburgh-born Kate, who is now 19, is a typical of those who are victims of human trafficking in Western Pennsylvania. But unlike her, most victims return to the only life they have known.

Human trafficking is the second most lucrative crime in the world after drug trafficking, according to the United Nations. It involves about 21 million people and generates $150 billion in profits per year worldwide, the U.N. estimates. Two-thirds of those profits come from commercial sex work. Human trafficking victims are defined by the U.N. as people who are induced by force, abduction, fraud or coercion into sexual exploitation (sex trafficking) or labor services (labor trafficking.)

Under U.S. law sex trafficking also refers to all people under 18 who are induced to perform commercial sex acts, no matter whether force was involved. But in many states, including Pennsylvania, minors can be prosecuted for prostitution, and so are treated as offenders instead of victims.

With relatively low immigration rates in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, the most common human trafficking victims are local teens involved in commercial sex work. Many of them, like Kate, have suffered sexual abuse and have troubled home lives. Many are runaways.

There are some 800,000 children reported missing each year in the United States, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. One out of six runaways reported to the center in 2014 was likely to be a victim of child sex trafficking.

FBI officials say it is a difficult crime to investigate and prosecute. Brad Orsini, FBI supervisory special agent, said there were no human trafficking cases opened in Pittsburgh before 2008. Now there are more prosecutions as public awareness increases and law enforcement officials pursue more cases. This year there were at least 10 suspected victims of sex trafficking, said Lynsie Clott, director of programs at the Project to End Human Trafficking, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that works with the FBI. Six of them were minors. Increased public awareness and more use of trafficking laws has led to more prosecution of traffickers.

Kate's trafficker pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison in 2014. Kate initially was upset over his arrest and prosecution. She was emotionally attached to her trafficker, as many victims are.

Bridget Simunovic, an FBI victim specialist who works with Kate, said it took time to build up trust with the girl and help her to move on. “And it's still a struggle for her,” she said.

After the 2012 bust by the undercover detective, Kate was charged with prostitution and spent three months at Shuman Center. She then was placed in an independent living facility funded by Allegheny County Office of Children Youth and Families, where she lived with eight or nine other girls.

Her family situation remained difficult. Both her mother and father died that year. Though she has 17 siblings, some of them she has never met. Many live with their adoptive parents, and Kate didn't keep contact with most of them.

The next year, Kate had a baby of her own.

She started working to build a life for herself and her daughter.

She studied hard and graduated from high school. She broke off contact with her cousin, who is still involved in sex work.

“If you want to recover from crack, you shouldn't talk to those who do crack,” she said.

She began to move past the ties that had kept her with the trafficker. She now says she is satisfied that he has been prosecuted.

Soon after she turned 18, Kate packed her stuff and left the group home.

Her two-year-old child has become central in her life. During the interview, her face lit up when her daughter, who had been playing nearby, ran up to her chair.

“She is making me crazy but also happy,” she said.

Kate rents an apartment, sharing it with her daughter and her boyfriend.

She has a busy schedule, working six days a week as a nursing aide. In the fall she'll start college classes. She's particularly interested in psychology.

“I'm fascinated by mental illnesses, the way the brain works,” she said.

Ms. Simunovic of the FBI, who keeps in close contact with Kate, said she thinks Kate is determined enough to achieve the goals she has set.

Ms. Simunovic believes that only long-term support of trafficking survivors by law enforcement and social services will prevent them from going back to the streets.

“They need food, housing and constant support, unconditional love — all of those things they have never had,” she said.

Now Kate includes Ms. Simunovic in a list of people closest to her, along with her daughter, boyfriend and grandfather, whom she calls “poppa.” She said he was the only family member who always supported her and hopes to save money to have a bigger apartment where he could join her family.

Kate views her past ”a good life lesson.” Her daughter is the anchor of her new life.

“She has kept me moving [ahead] for so long,” she said.



Child abuse: Breaking the silence

by Alefia T. Hussain

Precise statistics on just how common child sexual abuse is are not easy to come by, because many survivors never tell a soul about the abuse

We didn't know. Because they didn't tell. You never suspected. Because you thought it can never happen. But it happened.

An uncle, an old friend of the family, squeezed a little girl hard and soft while she caringly sat in his lap. A big brother-like cousin stroked her soft thighs tenderly in some make-belief play. A trustworthy servant fondled her budding breasts. The touching continued. Only the nature and form varied with age… The boss made certain uncomfortable moves. She felt disgust. She told no one. No one knew.

But when we know that in Kasur's little village Hussain Khanwala as many as 280 girls and boys under the age of 14 are filmed being abused, their stories and pain cannot be pushed under the carpet or downplayed. There is reason enough to create hysteria. Because we know it happened. And we must learn lessons from the silent cries of abuse victims that never spoke up or only whispered for fear of being castigated.

This incident of sexual child abuse (CSA), in the backyard of Punjab's mega city Lahore, has created a storm in the country. So far, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered a judicial inquiry and some 22 FIRs of the case have been registered with the Ganda Singh police. Also, 10 culprits have been identified and seven arrested.

There were quick and clamorous reactions on social media and some mainstream media about the irony and even hypocrisy of the government officials. No one took an ounce of joy in this revelation. Their impulse is understandable, for this crime is rampant in our society but much hushed up.

Sahil, a non-government organisation working on CSA, released its annual publication Cruel Numbers 2013. In this report, the organisation stated that child abuse has significantly increased over the past few years.

The total number of sexual abuse cases in 2014, stand at a staggering 3,508, of which 2,141 are girls and 1,367 boys. Shockingly, it brings the number of abused children to 10 per day. This figure also shows an increase of 17 per cent from the last year.

The major crime category of rape/sodomy including gang rape and gang sodomy show that there were 1,225 cases and 258 cases of attempted rape/sodomy, gang rape and gang sodomy.

A total of 142 victims were murdered after sexual assaults.

The report claims to have a total of 6,531 abusers on record, of which 1,790 were acquaintances and 1,246 strangers to the victims.

Like always, the highest percentage of vulnerable age group among both girls and boys was 11-15 years.

Statistics show 38 per cent of cases of sexual assault took place within enclosed areas whereas 21 per cent cases took place in open spaces.

The urban–rural divide shows that 67 per cent cases were reported from rural areas whereas 33 per cent were reported from urban areas.

Precise statistics on just how common CSA is are not easy to come by, because many survivors never tell a soul about the abuse. And, if they never tell, obviously they are not at a place where they feel comfortable seeking professional help to deal with it. This compounds the tragedy as many survivors live their whole lives with the burden of shame – as if it was their fault. According to Dr Ambreen Ahmad, a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology who has practiced adult, child and adolescent psychiatry in both the United States and Pakistan, “the abuse continues to influence the survivor's attitudes, actions and behaviours often in very negative ways but they are not able to connect these with their experience of abuse because they have tried so hard to bury it deep inside of them.”

Dr Ahmad lists a number of reasons for this attitude of keeping silent: First, because “there is a shame attached to anything that is sexual in nature in our society; second, we give very little priority to children's needs, thoughts, opinions and desires, and we also do not think that children have any rights; third, to openly talk about CSA threatens some of our illusions about the sanctity of the home and family and the credibility of some authority figures whom for various reasons we have given the status of being people who cannot be questioned or doubted; and last, many parents are not aware of the serious short- and long-term consequence of CSA.”

But Dr Asha Bedar, clinical psychologist, believes that comparatively speaking CSA is not as hushed up as it used to be in the mid-1990s. People in general, schools, doctors, and in particular the media are a bit more open to talking about it. “This is just a start. Overall, it remains a huge taboo because it is about sex, and because it often involves people known or close to the child and often occurs in the privacy of our homes or neighbourhood… so CSA becomes a private matter, a private crime rather.”

The Kasur incident has put Amira Shafiq, a single parent of a 12 year old son and a 10 year old daughter, on guard. Although too young, her daughter has followed the incident closely and has felt “gross,” says Amira. Claiming to be “not a psycho mom”, she has warned her children against any interaction with strangers. “I told them both that you have a right to self defense. If you see any one making an inappropriate move towards you just scream, call out for help, talk to me or any family adult”.

Amira has directed her two young ones to “always move around in a group of friends. Never be alone for too long in school or any other public space.”

After the Kasur incident, she has made extra effort to ensure safety of her children, by coordinating their pick and drop from parties or elsewhere with friends. “You know this abuse case has left an indelible mark on my mind. I am a changed mom. Much more vigilant now than before! Like it can happen to anyone.”

I am a working mother with two kids, a son and a daughter, and have always relied on girl maids to mind the babies in my absence. I had my daughter when my son had turned six. In all this period I have had to change maids many a time. When my daughter turned three, I had an eighteen year old girl to look after her. One day, I went to a shop to get something, leaving the three of them on the back seat of the car. When I came back, I saw the maid getting too close to my son, tickling him in a strange way. That alerted me and, in a couple of days, I found her again in my son's room. I was shocked and fired her that very moment. All my friends said they could not expect this from a ‘girl'.” — Anonymous

Amira's fear is justified. Often the abuser is someone who is seen as an authority figure — adult family member, teacher, coach or maulvi sahib — and this is the most important dynamic behind the abuse. CSA occurs because the abuser believes himself to be and is in reality more powerful than the victim.

The nature of the abuse, the duration of it, the circumstances around it and the child's relationship to the abusers can all impact how the child processes the abuse and his or her ability to move beyond it. Experts agree that parents can play a crucial role in ensuring their child's safety. They must accept that the menace of child sexual abuse is prevalent and must take precautionary measures to prevent it. They must talk to them about good, bad and secret touch without feeling embarrassed.

However, and Bedar agrees, family responses to disclosure in such cases are often unhelpful or even further damaging. “I have come across numerous cases of incest (sexual abuse committed by a close family member) where the child has actually been emotionally strong enough to disclose it to a trusted adult (usually the mother), only to face very negative consequences, such as being doubted, being accused of making up the story, being blamed for attracting or encouraging the abuse, etc. And so these children are often left to deal with the most destructive sexual abuse on their own.”

Perhaps, the most effective way to check them is to break the silence and to empower our children to not be afraid to disclose abuse if it occurs. For our silence on this issue will only empower abusers.

As mature, responsible seniors we must understand, adds Bedar, “Children are vulnerable for two main reasons. At the most basic level, they are sexually abused simply because they are children. Children respond naturally to touch, love and attention; children love excitement and secrets; children love being made to feel important and special; children are taught to obey adults, especially adults in authority; and children are most vulnerable to fear, intimidation and threat.”

Outside my sons' school, I found a driver trying to get too cosy with an eight year old child who had got free from school and was waiting for his elder brother in the car. I went to the car and asked after the child. He looked frightened. I waited outside that car till his elder sibling came. I got their mother's number from him. I was a little apprehensive when I called her in the evening and told her about what I had seen. She was much too obliged for what I had told her. I only hope they fired the driver or made some other arrangement about sending their children to school. She said she would. — Anonymous

Another reason why our children are vulnerable to sexual abuse is because of a lack of awareness and skills. “We as a society are largely silent. Leave alone sexual abuse, we even have trouble talking about our bodies, our secret parts, without embarrassment,” adds Bedar.

Alongside, parents must know the facts versus the myths. For example, “CSA does not just happen in villages or in poor families. It happens within all socio-economic classes. Or that it is a myth that only girls can be abused. The fact is that boys are frequently abused or that women cannot be abusers or that sometimes the child is at fault if she is sexually abused” reiterates Ahmad.

Breaking the silence on CSA also means raising awareness of what needs to be done if a child is abused. In a country that lacks expertise in this area, such as paediatric forensic investigators, medical professionals or counsellors to tackle this crime the problem gets compounded. Therefore, Dr Ambreen Ahmad points out, “We do not at this point have enough trained or sensitised professionals at all levels. That is not to say that they do not exist at all but certainly this scarcity of trained professionals does become an obstacle in our being able to provide survivors and their families with the sort of care they need and deserve.”

She further stresses that the more we address this issue openly and boldly, the more steps we will be able to take to protect our children. For example, “there are countries where if an adult has a record of abusing a child, that person cannot be part of any organisation or institution, which involves looking after children. This, of course, requires that more cases are disclosed and prosecuted effectively and we develop systems to make these records public.”

We may be a long way away from this!

I was 8 years old when I was molested. I used to visit my friend once a week. His parents were family friends so my parents were comfortable letting me go to their house. Usually, my friend and his driver would drop me back. Sometimes, we would convince his driver to take us around the local market so we could have chips and coke. My friend would tell his parents that there was lots of traffic and that's why he would get late in returning. One evening, the driver turned the car in a deserted road and stopped it. He told me he wanted to show me something. Since I had known him since I could remember, I got out of the car. He told my friend to stay inside and he would take us one by one. He took me behind the car and molested me. I tried to get away but he was too strong. He kept telling me if I stayed still it would be over in a few seconds. So, finally I became still. Afterwards we got in the car. He didn't touch my friend. By that time even my friend knew something bad had happened so he also stayed quiet. The driver told us that we shouldn't force him to take the car around. I was too afraid to tell anyone because I knew I would be scolded for going to the market with my friend. That was the last time I went to their house. The man worked for the family for another ten years. I don't know if he did it to any other child. My friend and I never spoke about it. — Anonymous



Texans can help end child abuse

by Kurt Senake

The narrative around foster care in Texas usually centers on overloaded caseworkers, traumatized children and a flawed, underfunded state system. However, few of us look in the mirror and wonder what we ourselves can do to improve the lives of Texas children in foster care.

Upbring, the largest nonprofit foster placement and adoption agency in Texas, believes that as members of a caring community, we all share responsibility for helping to raise healthy children prepared to embrace successful lives.

In San Antonio, there are some wonderful stories of families stepping in to fill a great need. For instance, there are the contributions of David and Teresa Ebert. Licensed foster parents since 2000, Teresa is a registered nurse who has a big heart for foster children with primary medical needs — vulnerable children who require extra care and attention due to terminal illnesses. The Eberts have fostered more than 30 children over the past 15 years.

One of their many special stories is about a little girl named Angelina, who they adopted. Not expected to live, she was referred for hospice care services. Yet, miraculously, Angelina was released from hospice care four years ago and has been receiving 24-hour nursing care since.

We are privileged to work with many families throughout Texas like the Eberts. If we intend to fundamentally improve the foster care system, we need more families like theirs, as well as greater participation from every sector of our community.

Our mission is to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. With more than 13 percent of U.S. children subject to abuse or neglect by a caregiver each year, maltreatment of children is a pervasive problem affecting kids of every age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic background. Upbring recognizes the importance of improving the well-being of and long-term prospects for children, youth and families across our state.

We know that 30 percent of people who were abused as children become abusers; 66,572 Texas children were confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect last year, most for the first time. Also in the Lone Star State in 2014, more than 17,000 children were removed from their homes; additionally, as the result of a recent study, we now know that over their lifetimes, this abuse and neglect costs the Texas economy an estimated $454 billion.

If we intend to break the cycle of child abuse, we must be comprehensive in our strategy. Kids enter the child welfare system at different stages of their lives and we must address the full spectrum of their needs. To do so, Upbring has established an innovative continuum of services and partnerships tracking progress across five key markers: safety, life skills, education, health and vocation.

Currently, there is surprisingly little long-term data on Texas foster children or what strategies prove successful in serving them. To fill this void, Upbring is partnering with the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work on a first-of-its-kind-in-Texas study that will track the progress and well-being of foster children. With comprehensive data, we will be better positioned to more consistently care for and meet foster children's varied needs — and we'll be better prepared to help these children as they age out of foster care.

Kurt Senske is president & CEO of Upbring, the new Lutheran Social Services of the South, a faith-based nonprofit organization devoted to breaking the cycle of child abuse.



Guidelines, training of cops must to prevent sexual abuse of kids

HT Correspondents

Whether they are coming in from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi or from Bhopal, Patna and Chandigarh, the reports are remarkably similar. Adults working in close proximity with children - bus attendants, school support staff, and most shockingly, teachers and principals themselves - have been caught abusing children entrusted to them.

Some cases like the alleged rape of a 6-year-old girl at Vibgyor High School in Bengaluru last year have triggered such outrage that they have compelled the Karnataka state government and the police to issue child safety guidelines to schools and to work to enforce them. "The Child Helpline was flooded with calls after the Vibgyor school case. From six to seven calls per week relating to child abuse, it shot up to 75 calls on a single day," says Child Rights Trust director and RTE activist Nagasimha G Rao.

At this point we have to ask if Indian society has suddenly been overrun by paedophiles. Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, co-director, HAQ centre for child rights, New Delhi, believes children have always been vulnerable. "There is no upsurge in cases. The only difference is that parents are more aware now and they are no longer apprehensive about bringing such cases to the school management," she says. The shift in attitudes has meant that middle class parents at least are now talking about the issue, insisting that government-recommended safeguards be put in place at school, and pursuing culprits.

Sadly, government schools with their meagre budgets often cannot afford to install CCTVs or even have security guards throughout. They also suffer from a lack of awareness about the problem and a class bias on the part of the police when it comes to enforcement. Activist Muneer Katipalla of Mangalore points to the October 2012 rape and murder of a minor girl in the small temple town of Dharmashtala. "Boys from a powerful feudal family were suspects in the case and thousands had taken to the streets demanding that the police register a case against them. But there was absolutely no media coverage. The family had to travel to Bengaluru for that," he says.

Still, the intense media focus in some cases has brought with it a greater awareness of the extent of the problem. "Instead of hiding in shame, parents are responding with anger and outrage," says Dr Shaibya Saldanha, co-founder of Enfold, an NGO working to create awareness on child sexual abuse in Bengaluru. So what do parents who want to protect their children from the predators out there do? "Every school should have a child protection policy and a platform where such cases can be reported," says Thukral.

The State too needs to do more. The last central government study on child abuse was conducted in 2007 - clearly, the issue is not a priority. A perusal of the guidelines for schools issued in 2013 by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights to prevent child abuse also seems inadequate. It states that bathrooms in schools should be separate for boys and girls; that schools should ask parents to provide names of adults allowed to pick up a child, and that these individuals show identification.

But how are kids to be protected from predatory school authorities and support staff who have easy access to them on the premises and on the commute home? Unless specific guidelines are laid down, a national database of paedophiles built, and the police force be trained to, both, prevent such cases and to deal with them sensitively and effectively when they do happen, children will continue to be put in harm's way.


On the night of June 6, a 10-year-old daughter of a sex worker died at a private hospital in the city. The paediatrician who attended to the child at the hospital grew suspicious when she discovered the child was bleeding from the rectum. She alerted the police. A few days later a newspaper in Assam carried a report claiming that an Assam Congress minister's son had been arrested by the Bengaluru police on the suspicion that he had raped the child.

The report went viral on North East community Facebook pages and Whatsapp groups. The police and the hospital authorities, however, maintained a stubborn silence. Activists backed off when the post mortem report came in saying the child had died of dengue.

By mid-July, R Khaleemulla from the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) was the only activist pursuing the case. He got a few other doctors to read the post mortem report. They pointed Khaleemullah to a part of the report which said that the child had suffered a tear in the anal passage. "Other experts told me that the post mortem report does not explain what caused the tear. They said it could be because of forced entry," Khaleem said.

Earlier this month, he found the paediatrician who had first attended to the child and who also shared his suspicion. The doctor agreed to speak out against the post mortem report filed by her colleagues in the forensic department and made a written submission to the Child Welfare Committee saying that she found signs to indicate that there was "peno-anal entry".

The Committee ordered the police to re-open the case and register an FIR last week. While the police top brass continue to maintain a high level of secrecy, Khaleemullah is pursuing the matter doggedly. He suspects the child was being trafficked and is demanding that a DNA test be conducted to establish the biological relationship between the child and the woman claiming to be the mother. "I will be the happiest person if it is finally found that the child was not raped."


A 10-year-old girl in the Saraswati Nagar area of Balaghat district was raped by her teacher this July. She told no one out of fear and shock disclosing her trauma to her parents almost after a month - after watching a TV programme which featured a story similar to hers. The accused, Mahesh Korwane, was arrested after the parents registered a complaint at the Kotwali police station, under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

Twelve tribal girls of a government middle school of Khandabad village in Sehore district underwent the same trauma in April. They refused to go to school as one of their teachers, Ajay Garg, allegedly used to touch their private parts. He also warned them not to report the matter to anyone. Garg was transferred after some parents lodged a complaint against the teacher with the school administration but no legal action has been taken against him.

Apart from having the dubious distinction of topping the states in rape cases, Madhya Pradesh tops in number of minor rape cases as well. In 2013, for instance, a 10-year-old visually challenged orphan girl was allegedly raped by a teacher from her school. The crime was revealed when the girl became pregnant.

According to data of the National Crime Records Bureau for 2014, in all 2,354 cases of minor rapes were reported in the state - the highest in the country. Instances of child sex abuse were reported more in rural areas. In urban areas, instances of child sex abuse are reported more outside schools.

"In rural areas, there is not much security in schools and teachers are also not much aware. In urban areas, however, teachers are strictly instructed to remain alert. In urban areas, cases of sexual abuse are reported in school buses or outside school premises," says director Childline NGO ArchanaSahay.


On August 15, a distraught man walked into a police station in suburban Mumbai to report that his daughter had been sexually assaulted by her school bus attendant. She was three.

The attendant took her aside under the pretext of helping her go to the toilet, and allegedly molested her. "At night, she started crying and told her parents. They took her to a private doctor, who found that she had a swelling on her private parts," says senior inspector Raghvendra Thakur. The child kept saying 'Uncle' was responsible, so the police questioned the school bus driver and the attendant and arrested the latter.

While security at school is an issue, a larger issue emerging in metros like Mumbai - with their large unregistered work force and unmonitored service providers - is ensuring that the child is also safe while commuting to school and back. "When it comes to non-teaching staff, school bus drivers and attendants, it is vital to do background checks and register employees with the police," Thakur says.

In light of the growing number of incidents in Mumbai, there have been recent moves to enforce such checks. Last month, for instance, the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) in Mumbai made it mandatory for the 153 schools it manages to provide character certificates for all employees. "Under our new child protection policy, it is also mandatory for all schools to have CCTV cameras and counsellors and a grievance committee to look into such complaints," says ABE joint secretary Fr Francis Swamy. The Mumbai School Bus Owners Association, meanwhile, is considering training more women to drive school buses. While having discussions on how to prevent abuse is a positive trend, reactions to complaints of abuse remain defensive.

"Too many schools still see it as defamation," says Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum, an association of parent-teacher associations. "Currently, there are still no fixed guidelines in schools about how to tackle the issue of child sexual abuse. We are now in talks with the state education department to formulate fixed guidelines." For parents, however, the nerve-wracking daily wait for their child to return home continues."We have spoken to our son repeatedly to try and help him understand the issue, but I still worry about him every day, especially now that I am reading about so many attacks in the newspapers," says Sujata Bhattacharjee, mother of a five-year-old.


She was rehearsing along with other kids on the afternoon of August 10 for an Independence Day performance when her classmate Chintu (name changed) said the principal wanted to see her in his office. She did not return for a long time so Chintu went to check. And he saw something through the window of the principal's office.

He reported the matter to a lady teacher but instead of taking action, she asked the boy to shut up. After rehearsal, Chintu told his brothers about the incident who then alerted the girl's parents following which the repeated sexual abuse of 11-year-old Sonam (name changed) and other girls came to light.

"Sir told me these (sexual abuse) are extracurricular activities which all children do in the school and I also had to follow. If I resisted, he beat me up with a cane," Sonam, a Class 2 student at the private school, says somberly. She does not betray any emotion. This is perhaps because her sexual abuse at the hands of 52-year-old Babu Lal Sharma, school owner-cum-principal, had been going on for more than five months.

After the incident came to light, two more students of Class 4 and 5 alleged molestation and lodged police complaints. The accused was detained on August 10 at the Kardhani police station and later arrested under Section 376 of the IPC and the POCSO Act.

"Eight more girls of the locality reported similar treatment by the accused but the families are not ready to lodge police complaints fearing social stigma," says Narendra Singh of Jagrati Foundation, a NGO, who is assisting Sonam's family in the case.

The accused is in jail and the school, which has atleast 40 students and three female teachers, opens as usual but Sonam's future is uncertain. Her father, a daily wager hailing from Sheohar in Bihar, has not enrolled her in any other school and is thinking of returning to his native village.


According to Atiya Bose, director, Aangan, an NGO that works for prevention and protection of children exposed to harm, child sex abuse is rampant, and not restricted to a certain class or location. To identify a child facing abuse, parents need to probe when they notice a sudden change in the child's behaviour - withdrawn, aggressive, suddenly refusing to go to school, or not doing too well in their studies. Teachers and school staff also need to be alert and take note of such behaviour in children.

Since the onus is on the kids to report abuse, their admission needs to be followed by swift action from the parents, school administration and the police, she says. "Once the kid talks, you can't mess around. If the child's complaint is not taken seriously, what life lessons are they going to end up taking from this?" Adults who report such incidents also need to be protected against any harm.

However, Bose feels that there's too much focus on the post-harm situation, rather than that on ensuring that appropriate preventive measures are in place. Parents and school administrators need to ask: Is the school staff trained and sensitized to the issue? Are there enough checks on the staff (including contractual staff) and visitors in school? Are children being left alone in certain vulnerable situations such as going to the toilet? "It's a collective problem, not an individual one. We need to accept that it's happening everywhere. And school management, parents and teachers need to be seen as working together to address the issue, " she says.


According to the data of National Crime Records Bureau for 2014, 2,354 cases of minor rapes were reported in Madhya Pradesh - the highest in the country. 12,623 cases of child rape were reported across the country in 2013, compared to 8,541 in 2012-an increase of 45%.


Children who act out need better handling

by Janet Rosenzweig -- vice president for programs and research at Prevent Child Abuse America

from "Healthy Kids" blog on

There has been lot of buzz about a video shot last year of a Kentucky deputy sheriff handcuffing an 8-year-old schoolboy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This summer, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the deputy over that incident and a similar cuffing involving a 9-year-old girl.

The video is almost a caricature of how not to deal with children, and it should prompt parents to ask a simple and important question:

Even if the personnel at my child's school wouldn't think of calling the police if he acted out, would they know the right way to handle him?

There are a host of reasons that your child might misbehave. This child's acting out was attributed to his diagnosis of ADHD, a problem faced by about 10 percent of American children, but all children risk exposure to traumatic events that can result in acting out. For example:

One of five children may experience some type of sexual abuse before his or her 18th birthday, and in about a quarter of those cases, the abuse will be from another child or adolescent.

More than 1.5 million children's parents divorce each year, meaning up to 20 million children experience divorce before they reach age 18.

At any point, almost 3 million children under 18 have an incarcerated parent; as many as 10 million children suffer this before they reach age 18.

Each of these adverse childhood experiences can have immediate and lifelong effects on social and emotional health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New research conducted in Philadelphia is expanding the list of such adverse experiences, demonstrating that poverty, racism, and other factors have the same negative effects on social, emotional, and physical health as the original eight identified more than a decade ago. The experiences can be a cause for dramatic changes in behavior, with boys being more likely to act out and girls being more likely to quietly internalize the pain.

Children too young to have had any such adverse experiences still are at risk for environmental circumstances impacting brain development and, therefore, potentially their behavior. For example, research shows that inadequate nurturing and exposure to constant stress can cause structural changes in how a baby's brain develops and how a child learns to react to his or her environment.

Enlightened educators and caregivers embrace concepts such as trauma-informed practices and social-emotional learning to intervene with troubled young people. We have great resources to support this work in Philadelphia, and parents would be wise to determine whether the schools and agencies serving their children have brought these resources home.

I challenge parents to ensure that kids in their school districts who act out due to disability or trauma are treated with evidence-based strategies to help them recover and grow.

The next crying child could be yours. Don't you want him or her treated properly?



Experts: Bellefontaine mom's history mirrors some child killers

by Katie Wedell

BELLEFONTAINE — Brittany Pilkington, the 23-year-old Bellefontaine mom accused of fatally smothering her three young sons, struggled to raise her growing family in social isolation and a controlling relationship, prosecutors and her mother said.

She also reported having thoughts of depression, may have been prevented from seeking help and has made allegations of physical abuse as a child, prosecutors said.

It's a description that mirrors some of the trends identified in decades of research on filicide — when a parent kills their child.

As the community struggles to make sense of the deaths of three young children, a deeper look at the family's history and the young mother's mental state may shed some light on how these events unfolded.

“She's not a monster,” Pilkington's mother Lori Cummins said.

A 2007 review of psychiatric research by Case Western Reserve professor Dr. Phillip Resnick showed that filicidal mothers show frequent depression, psychosis, prior mental health treatment and suicidal thoughts.

“The mothers were often poor, socially isolated, full-time caregivers, who were victims of domestic violence or had other relationship problems,” the article in World Psychiatric said.

But every case is unique, Resnick said, and no set of factors automatically means someone will harm their child. He's studied mothers who kill their children for the past 50 years.

“It's not like there is a profile,” he said.

Numerous motives

Police have accused Pilkington of killing 3-month-old Noah Pilkington on Tuesday; 4-year-old Gavin Pilkington in April and 3-month-old Niall Pilkington in July 2014. Noah had been returned from foster care six days before his death.

Her bond has been set at $1 million.

She confessed to smothering all three boys by holding a blanket over their faces, prosecutors said, because she was jealous of the attention her husband gave their sons instead of their daughter. She has since claimed she is innocent in a jailhouse conversation with her mother.

“I can't see her doing this,” Cummins said.

Resnick has interviewed dozens of women who have killed their children and said while trends have emerged from the data, there is truly no profile the perpetrators follow.

A Brown University study published last year in Forensic Science International found that the number of filicides in the U.S. has remained steady over the past three decades at about 500 per year.

About one-third of the children killed consistently are infants younger than 1 year old. Close to three-quarters of the more than 15,000 cases studies involved children younger than 6 years old.

That study found that men are more likely than women to kill their children, accounting for about 54 percent of deaths.

Reasons that women kill their children appear to fall into a handful of categories, Resnick said.

Some killings are altruistic, when a mother believes death is in the child's best interest. That's sometimes the case in murder-suicides.

When Lashanda Armstrong drove her minivan into a freezing New York lake in 2011, she told her children, “If I'm going to die, you're going to die with me,” according to media reports quoting her 10-year-old son who survived. Three younger children drowned.

Some children die as a result of child abuse or neglect, while others may be killed because they are unwanted. That's most often seen with teenage mothers, unplanned pregnancies or those who didn't know they were pregnant.

The rarest motive is spousal revenge, according to Resnick's research, when a parent kills the child specifically to emotionally harm the other parent.

This motive was suggested in the case of China Arnold in Dayton. She put her 28-day-old daughter in the microwave after a drunken argument with her boyfriend over whether the infant was his biological daughter. Arnold is serving life in prison.

Some cases come down to psychosis, Resnick said, and then there really isn't any comprehensible motive.

Christina Miracle of Clermont County was found not guilty by reason of insanity after performing a religious ceremony to baptize her 6-year-old son — trying to bring her dead brother back to life — when she suffocated the child in 2004, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Family dynamic

Any number of health issues can come into play and affect a parent's likelihood of harming their child or themselves, said Sue Fralick, vice president of operations for Mental Health Services for Clark and Madison Counties, including depression, bi-polar disorder and substance abuse.

Family dynamics and personal history could also play a role.

“I like to say, ‘What's happened to this person?' instead of, ‘What's wrong with you?'” Fralick said.

Women are more likely to kill a child when they lack the resources to care for that child, Resnick said. That can be financial or emotional support, such as help from a spouse or family.

Brittany Pilkington was under the control of her husband Joseph Pilkington and had lost contact with much of her family, according to Logan County Prosecutor William Goslee.

“He kind of kept her at home taking care of the children,” Goslee said. “He managed to keep her very isolated and therefore she had no friends.”

Multiple attempts have been made to contact Joseph Pilkington but he couldn't be reached for comment.

No charges are planned against Joseph Pilkington in relation to his children's deaths, Goslee said.

Thaddeus Hoffmeister, professor of law at the University of Dayton, agreed a high threshold would need to be met to prove he knew his children's lives were at risk.

“You could charge him with child endangerment,” he said, but you'd have to prove he knew or should have known the boys would be harmed.

While being interrogated by police, Brittany Pilkington described her 3-year-old daughter as her best friend.

Brittany Pilkington's mother said her daughter appeared to be sheltered.

“She couldn't even hardly get out of the house unless it was with him,” Cummins said.

Joseph Pilkington originally came into his wife's life when she was about 8 years old. He dated her mother, Cummins, for about seven years and lived with the family.

Even after the couple broke off their relationship, Joseph Pilkington continued to live in the home and became involved with Brittany Pilkington when she was 17.

“I didn't think anything of it,” Cummins said of the initial relationship.

But when her daughter became pregnant, she tried to talk Brittany Pilkington out of getting married because she said she had first-hand experience with what she called his controlling ways.

“I wasn't too happy because she was still in school,” Cummins said.

Her daughter had ambitions of being a nurse and Cummins believed she'd do better to marry someone who wouldn't hold her back from that.

“I told her, ‘Nobody's forcing you to get married to him, and he can't force you,'” Cummins said.

They did get married — two months after Brittany Pilkington turned 18 and a few months after the birth of their first son. She graduated high school, but stayed at home to raise the children.

Cummins said she and Joseph Pilkington disagree over whether he was ever a father-figure to Brittany Pilkington before they got married.

“He says he was just there to help me out,” Cummins said.

She doesn't believe he knew anything about the cause of the deaths until last week.

Pilkington told investigators that she was abused by her father, Goslee said. Her father denied that and says he would never lay his hands on her.

“She developed a rather jaded relationship with men generally, fathers specifically, and then add to this the component of this highly controlling husband,” Goslee said. “Now she's giving birth to little boys and I have my own working theory in the case that she did not like little boys because she was afraid that they would grow up to be abusive like her father, maybe controlling like her husband.”

Getting help

Brittany Pilkington told investigators she wanted help after Niall died because she thought she might be depressed, Goslee said, but her husband may have prevented it.

Her mother says Brittany Pilkington never came to her saying she felt depressed or thought about harming her children.

“She's quiet. She keeps it inside,” Lori Cummins said. “But I could see it myself.”

Her daughter was a good mother, she said, and her grandchildren were happy and laughing when she saw them.

But the young mother was doing everything at the home herself, Cummins said, and seemed to be overwhelmed with her pregnancies and the stress of raising children. She had four children in five years.

“I told her she don't need no more because she's got her hands full,” Cummins said.

Cummins didn't suspect though that her daughter was capable of killing her children and still believes in her heart that she's innocent.

Health experts in Clark and Logan counties said they look for a number of signs in mothers that could indicate postpartum depression or other mental health issues, including:

Inability to sleep or sleeping more than normal.

Change in appetite.

Extreme concern about their children or lack of interest in them.

Feeling unable to love or bond with children.

Anger, anxiety or panic attacks.

Fear of harming the baby or being left alone them.

Sadness or excessive crying.

Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

The best thing someone concerned about a loved one can do is to listen and try to find solutions, including alerting mental health professionals.

Some people have trouble bonding with their children or find they're frustrated and don't really like parenthood.

“You feel guilty about that feeling,” Fralick said, and then ashamed to share it with anyone. “Being able to say it and not have people judge you and then find a way to solve it,” is the best result, she said.

No one is turned away from community services because of an inability to pay, Fralick said.

“The gateway is open for people to get help,” she said.

Unmatched coverage

Staff Writer Katie Wedell interviewed investigators, family members, neighbors, mental health leaders and experts on child killings, as well as reviewed court documents and several medical reports to bring you this in-depth story.

Parents who kill, by the numbers:

500: Children killed by their parent each year in the U.S.

16 to 29: Percent of women who kill their children who also commit suicide.

72: Percent of children killed by a parent who are younger than 6 years old.

Sources: Brown University and World Psychiatry


Warning Signs of Predators for Parents

by Jennifer O'Neill

News about sexual offenders is dominating the headlines — most recently about Subway pitchman Jared Fogle, who is reportedly planning to plead guilty to child porn charges and crossing state lines to pay for sex with minors, and admitted teen molester Josh Duggar.

But parents who assume their child could never be a victim should know that the reality is nine out of 10 children who are sexually abused are victimized by someone they know — including relatives, family friends, clergy, teachers, and babysitters, according to the National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC).

“The offender usually uses coercion and manipulation, not physical force, to engage the child,” reports the American Academy of Pediatrics in a sexual abuse prevention tip sheet for parents. Deborah Callins, prevention director at the NCAC, tells Yahoo Parenting, “They take advantage of a child's natural curiosity.” So how can mothers and fathers identify the close people most likely to have ulterior motives, or who might want to take advantage of your child? Here are a few simple ways to see the red flags that are often right in front of you:

Take cues from your kids.

“Parents can protect their children by being better listeners,” she says. “Are they hearing what their child is actually meaning? If a child states he or she doesn't want to spend time with a particular person, the parents may assume their child thinks the person is boring. But the real message the child might be trying to send is that the person makes him or her feel uncomfortable.” So stop a moment and try to really get to the heart of the matter before you insist that little Madison drive to the park with Uncle Jim to play on the swings if she's dragging her feet. “Your children could be sending you little hints,” explains Callins. “You need to dig a little for more information.”

Consider whether someone seems to be ‘testing' your child's ability to protect himself.

Does a family friend always insist on “hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child, even when the child does not want this physical contact or attention?” asks sexual abuse prevention organization Stop It Now! in its resource sheet, Behaviors to Watch Out for When Adults are with Children. Such seemingly innocuous behaviors indicate that the adult is ignoring a child's social, emotional and physical boundaries — and that's a big red flag.

Take note if a person is sexually suggestive around your kid.

If someone always tends to point out sexual images, or tells dirty or suggestive jokes in the presence of kids, take heed, suggests Stop It Now! That goes for comments about a child's “developing body” or a teen's dating details, too. “It may be nothing, or it may be a warning signal that the person is grooming your child,” explains Callins. He or she may be trying to figure out how curious your child is about sex, how much they know about it, and whether they may be willing to participate in it. “Perhaps the parent doesn't even realize that it's an issue — ‘Oh, that's just how my cousin is,' or ‘That's just how he talks,'” she says. “But it could also be a test.”

Callins advises removing your child from such a situation if it makes you or your kid uncomfortable, and then talking about it separately afterward with both the person and your child. “That way, it's out in the air,” she says. And that way there's no question about your boundaries — and whether you'll be aware if somebody tries to cross them.


Why Wasn't Subway's Jared Fogle Charged With Human Trafficking?

The new federal sex trafficking law makes very clear that anyone paying for sex with a teen is guilty of the crime of human trafficking.

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Under the new Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA), passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in May, anyone who solicits or engages in prostitution with a person under age 18 is subject to federal sex-trafficking charges. In fact, one of the main reasons for the new law, according to supporters, was to make absolutely clear that sex buyers should be treated similarly to those who use force or coercion to compel commercial sex. So why wasn't former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle booked on federal sex trafficking charges?

In addition to Fogle's alleged child-porn collection, he is accused of traveling to New York City on two occassions to pay for sex with 16- and 17-year-old girls. Whether these girls were forced into the sexual activity is irrelevant as far as federal law is concerned; the JVTA makes very clear that anyone paying for sex with a teen is a) guilty of the crime of human trafficking, and b) required to pay $5,000 into a domestic trafficking victim's fund, which will be used to cover the cost of future anti-trafficking efforts.

Critics of the JVTA pointed out that many people charged with human trafficking are not big-time criminal kingpins but petty pimps and others unlikely to be able to afford the $5,000 fee, which comes in addition to any other court-ordered fees and penalties. Fogle is certainly one mark for which this wouldn't be a worry.

But the feds didn't even attempt to book Fogle on sex trafficking charges, instead charging him with "traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor," in addition to receipt of child pornography. (He is expected to plead guilty to both charges, in a deal that will likely net him between five and 12.5 years in prison.) Not even the media have been throwing around the words "sex trafficking" in conjunction to Jared, though they seldom miss an opportunity to work the phrase into coverage of consensual sex work of any kind.

Perhaps the reason for the public's lack of linking Fogle to sex trafficking is that this—paying to have sex with ostensibly willing 17-year-old women—isn't what we think of when we think about sex trafficking. But it's exactly the kind of thing that federal and state sex-trafficking laws indict. Rightly or wrongly, this is what we are talking about, legally , when we talk about sex trafficking.

Now, as someone opposed to both the overfederalizaiton of crimes and the charging of "johns" as sex traffickers, I'm not arguing that the feds should have booked Jared on sex-trafficking charges. But it does seem strange, and perhaps hypocritical, that they did not. What a perfect opportunity this would have been to show off the vast reach of the new JVTA in a high-profile way! Whatever their reasons for sparing Fogle sex-trafficking charges, the Department of Justice hasn't been shy about using them more generally. Here are a few people the feds have gone after as sex-traffickers recently:

•  Mariah Haughton, 18, a Michigan woman convicted of human trafficking for recruiting other teens into sex work (when she was 17 herself) and helping them post ads on

•  Jonathan Purnell, 28, a Michigan man who initially faced 13 counts of human trafficking for allowing friends to use his car to drive teen women to prostitution jobs.

•  Anthony Lee Brown, 48, a Cincinnati man charged with sex trafficking for driving individuals from Ohio to Kentucky to engage in prostitution.

•  Adrian Palmer, 49, a Pennsylania hotel security guard convicted of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking for "providing protection and asssistance" to people, including some teens, engaged in prostitution at the hotel.

•  Kanubhai Patel, 74, a Louisana motel owner convicted of sex trafficking for renting rooms to those he knew were engaged in prostitution.

•  Julie Haner, 19, an Oregon sex worker who drove her 17-year-old friend across state lines to work prostitution jobs with her.



Death of Vaucluse woman shines a light on the plight of adult survivors of child abuse

by Jessica Clement

THE SCARS of child sex abuse left upon Vaucluse woman Vivien Kuhl proved a burden too heavy to carry through her adult life.

A fortnight ago, at age 58, Ms Kuhl, a woman who had a distinct flair for fashion and food, cut her own life short following a period of depression and anxiety.

Her death has thrown the spotlight on the struggles of adult survivors of child sex abuse and the scarcity of services to assist them in our own community.

Ms Kuhl's older sister, Fiona Robson has told the Wentworth Courier how she and her sister were sexually assaulted as children aged as young as four. Their abuser was a man they both knew and trusted well.

He never faced police charges over the abuse but both victims carried the scars of their experience deep into adulthood.

Plagued by their trauma, working careers were cut short, relationships strained and day to day life became a battle.

Ms Robson said she had “made a pretty good go of an overdose” herself and had relied on her sister to help her through the darkest times.

She said their experience of the public health system had been frustrating, unhelpful and often re-traumatising, and left both reliant on prescription medication and at the mercy of mental health service providers that “simply don't have the training” to deal with the impact of childhood trauma.

“And what are we doing about it?,” Ms Robson asked.

She said one port of call, the charity Bravehearts, had been exemplary in their approach to therapy and counselling and it is in partnership with the Queensland-based organisation that Ms Robson now hopes to channel her grief into achieving better services for people like herself.

“I have a vision of what's needed and it's a vision I believe would have saved my sister,” Ms Robson said.

Under this vision services across the country could expand to build a retreat for adults to kick acquired addictions, feel safe and begin to get their lives back on track under the watchful eye of “trauma-informed staff”.

“I had been trying to get the right help for Viv for so long. She saved my life, I'm only here because of her and the only way forward for me is to raise awareness.

“Amid all the shock and regrets that's what I'm going to dedicate myself to.”

Bravehearts research manager Carol Ronchin said the story of Fiona and Vivien had become more common as society finally began to deal with the scourge of child sex abuse.

“As a community we need to ensure we have the services to assist those victims who are now adults,” she said.

“In NSW in particular there are huge gaps that have not been filled.

“Unfortunately, there has not been an equal amount of funding to organisations to provide that support and meet those needs.

“Many victims have reached out before and have not been treated well or been left on a waiting list.”

Ms Ronchin said there was “so much that needed to be done in this sector” including funding support services, improved training and raising awareness.

Bravehearts had a presence at Ms Kuhl's funeral held at St Michael's, Vaucluse and in lieu of flowers, mourners were urged to make a donation to Australia's leading child protection advocates.

For advice and information call the Bravehearts Information & Support Line on 1800 272 831 or visit:


A recent history of New England prep school scandals

by Staff

New England's elite preparatory schools are famous for their prestige and tradition. But not every tradition is good.

The rape trial of former St. Paul's School student Owen Labrie has raised questions about whether the New Hampshire prep school tolerated a culture of sexual conquest. But his school is not the only prestigious private institution to have its reputation tainted by allegations of sexual impropriety or abuse.

Here are some recent scandals at New England prep schools and their outcomes. In several cases, victims contend that schools cared more about protecting their reputations than protecting their students.



Location: Deerfield, Mass.

Prominent alumni: Members of the Rockefeller family; David Koch, businessman and activist

Annual tuition: Up to $57,000

In 2013, Deerfield Academy posted a letter saying former teacher Peter Hindle, a Deerfield faculty member for 44 years, had committed an “outrageous violation” and “admitted sexual contact with a student.” Eventually two others would come forward saying they were abused by Hindle.

But Hindle will not be charged. A prosecutor told this week that while there was “substantial credible evidence of improper sexual conduct by Peter Hindle,” he could not be charged because the statute of limitations had run out.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian told that he settled a case brought by one accuser for $350,000, a figure that a Deerfield spokesman declined to confirm Tuesday.

Asked Tuesday if he had admitted to an improper relationshionship, Hindle told “Partially, I'd say yes.” He declined further comment.

Deerfield said in 2013 that while investigating Hindle that it also received two “direct, independently corroborating accounts” of sexual conduct by another teacher, Bryce Lambert, involving two students.

Lambert has since died. A lawsuit filed last month said Hindle was one of two supervisors who “negligently transferred” the boy to Lambert while they were on interscholastic sports trip to Connecticut.

Deerfield spokesman David Thiel said the school had learned from the Hindle case.

“The academy today values student safety above all and adopted a comprehensive review of policies and procedures based on this incident,” Thiel said. “I can also tell you that our thoughts have been with the survivors, and we continue to think about the survivors, and keeping our students safe.”



Location : West Newton, Mass.

Prominent alumni : Howard Hughes, famous business tycoon; Sen. Edward M. Kennedy; Secretary of State John Kerry

Annual tuition : Up to $59,050 for domestic boarding students

A lawyer filed a lawsuit in December 2014 on behalf of several former students of Newton's prestigious Fessenden School who said they were sexually abused by four teachers there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Fessenden told graduates in a 2011 letter that it had received two abuse claims, one involving a former assistant headmaster, Arthur Clarridge, who was arrested in November 1977 for his involvement in a child sex-ring operating out of the city of Revere.

Clarridge admitted paying for sex with boys there and explained that he typically visited the house on Tuesday nights because “that was the only night I didn't have dormitory duty from supper to bedtime.'' He denied any impropriety with students.

The other abuse claim involved a friend of Clarridge's. In 2010, the school reached a settlement with one student in “the low six figures,” said Michael Garabedian, who represented the students.

After receiving the allegations, school officials searched their records and found two other complaints, one of which involved Clarridge, that alleged abuse in the 1960s and ‘70s.

In December, the school told the Globe that it had reached out to graduates to apologize for “intolerable behavior that occurred in the past” and to offer the victims counseling.



Location : North Andover, Mass.

Notable alumni : Steve Forbes, former presidential candidate; James Spader, actor

Annual tuition : Up to $55,560

In January 2013, school officials said former headmaster Lawrence W. Becker had an “objectionable, manipulative” relationship with a student and had hired an escort while traveling on school business. In a statement, Becker said the revelations caused “me and my wife great pain, sadness and embarrassment.”

The school said Steve Forbes, the former presidential candidate who served as president of the Brooks School's board of trustees from 1987 to 1997, knew about the relationship with a student and tried to address the matter but did not report it to other school officials. Forbes said in a statement that “every step was undertaken with the advice and direction of the school's outside counsel,” and that the matter did not involve sexual abuse.



Location : Brookline, Mass.

Annual tuition : Ranges from $25,200 for Pre-K to $40,800 for Grade 9

Notable alumni : Jonathan Kraft, president of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots

In December 2013, Carlo Morales, a Park School teacher's assistant, was charged with aggravated statutory rape of a student at a public school where he had previously worked. He is scheduled to receive a trial date in October.

Also in December 2013, teacher Gregory Grote pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and assault and battery. The charges against him were later dropped.



Location : Andover, Mass.

Notable alumni : George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, presidents of the United States; Humphrey Bogart, actor

Annual tuition : Up to $50,300

Dr. Richard Keller, who was medical director at Phillips Academy for 19 years until 2011, was sentenced to 6½ years on child pornography charges last year after authorities said they found more than 500 photographs and at least 60 DVDs during a search of his home.

Phillips said Keller had previously been reprimanded for viewing adult porn on a school computer in 1999 and for showing students an “inappropriate cartoon.”



Location : Milton, Mass.

Notable alumni : Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy

Annual tuition : $53,330

In 2005, Milton Academy expelled five male students after they received oral sex from a 15-year-old sophomore girl in a school locker room. Two of the male students were charged with statutory rape and served no jail time after accepting plea deals.

The events inspired two Milton alumnae to write an exposé of the sex subculture at Milton, called “Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep School.”



Location : Groton, Mass.

Notable alumni : President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Annual tuition : Up to $55,700

The school was indicted in June 2004 on a charge of failing to report to the state that a 16-year-old student said he had been sexually assaulted by other students in 1999. The school pleaded guilty and was fined $1,250. The Associated Press reported that no individuals were charged. A 2006 Boston magazine article, “The Boy Who Cried Rape,” detailed a student's decision to come forward and the backlash he suffered.



Location : Sheffield, Mass.

Notable alumni : New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza

Annual tuition : Up to $52,150

In 2000, a school employee accused headmaster Paul Christopher of sexually harassing her. After she went public, more than 20 women accused Christopher, who had written a book on ethics, of harassing them or subjecting them to abuse including come-ons, dirty jokes, crude language, inappropriate touching, French kissing, and “blatant efforts to seduce them,” the Boston Globe Magazine reported. Christopher resigned, citing health concerns. The school subsequently reached a settlement, the terms of which were not disclosed.


MLB enacts domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy

by David Brown

For the first time since collective bargaining began, the commissioner of Major League Baseball will be empowered to discipline individual players for acts of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Along with the announcement of the establishment of a joint committee that will be tasked with evaluating and (if necessary) supervising the treatment of a player, commissioner Rob Manfred will be given power to punish the player as he sees fit. No maximums, no minimums. And that's regardless if the player is convicted or enters a guilty plea in a legal case.

Intervention, treatment and confidentiality provisions also are written into the agreement, which was announced jointly by the commissioner's office and the players union.

The NFL has a personal conduct policy that is supposed to cover similar issues, but league commissioner Roger Goodell has undergone mass criticism of how he and the league handle individual cases, such as that of Ray Rice. The NBA also has written policies covering personal conduct -- which, it's been said, need improvement -- but the league has received praise for how it handled a recent case involving Jeff Taylor.

The highest-profile domestic violence case recently involving an MLB player probably is that of Milton Bradley and his ex-wife, Monique Bradley. How that unfolded is likely a big reason why MLB and the players union came to this agreement.

MLB made its announcement Friday, with Manfred saying in a statement:

"Major League Baseball and its clubs are proud to adopt a comprehensive policy that reflects the gravity and the sensitivities of these significant societal issues. We believe that these efforts will foster not only an approach of education and prevention but also a united stance against these matters throughout our sport and our communities."

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said:

"Players are husbands, fathers, sons and boyfriends. And as such want to set an example that makes clear that there is no place for domestic abuse in our society. We are hopeful that this new comprehensive, collectively-bargained policy will deter future violence, promote victim safety, and serve as a step toward a better understanding of the causes and consequences of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse."

In case of a suspension, it would be unpaid, and the player could not accrue major league service time toward a pension while he sits. Any punishments could be appealed, and MLB already employs an independent arbitrator for disputes.

If you want to read the policy in its entirety, have at it:

A. Treatment and Intervention

The parties have established a Joint Policy Board, comprised of three experts in the field of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or child abuse, and two representatives each from the Players Association and the Commissioner's Office. The Joint Policy Board is responsible for evaluating, and where appropriate, supervising the treatment of a player.

An expert member of the Joint Policy Board will submit his or her proposed Treatment Plan to the full Board for approval. The expert who prescribed the Treatment Plan will be responsible for overseeing the player's compliance with the Plan.

A player's Treatment Plan may require him to submit to psychological evaluations, attend counseling sessions, comply with court orders (including child support orders), relocate from a home shared with his partner, limit his interactions with his partner, relinquish all weapons, and other reasonable directives designed to promote the safety of the player's partner, children, or victims.

The Joint Policy Board will refer persons affected by domestic violence to appropriate intervention services.

A player who fails to comply with a Treatment Plan may be subject to discipline by the Commissioner.

All information relating to a player's involvement with the Joint Policy Board shall be kept confidential.

B. Investigations

The Commissioner's Office will investigate all allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse in the Baseball community. Consistent with the parties' collective bargaining agreement, the player and the Players Association shall cooperate in the investigation, including making the player available for an interview.

The Commissioner may place a player accused of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse on paid Administrative Leave for up to seven days while the allegations are investigated before making a disciplinary decision. The agreement contains procedures for a player to immediately challenge that placement before the Arbitration Panel (below).

C. Discipline

The Commissioner shall have authority to discipline a player who commits an act of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse for just cause. There is no minimum or maximum penalty prescribed under the policy, but rather the Commissioner can issue the discipline he believes is appropriate in light of the severity of the conduct. The Commissioner's authority to discipline is not dependent on whether the player is convicted or pleads guilty to a crime.

A player may challenge his discipline before the parties' Arbitration Panel, which consists of a representative of each party and the parties' agreed-upon Impartial Arbitrator. A challenge to discipline will be governed by the “just cause” standard. The Panel may consider evidence of both aggravating and mitigating factors concerning the Player's alleged actions when relevant and appropriate.

The Commissioner may elect to discipline a player immediately after the conclusion of the player's Administrative Leave, reinstate the Player and defer his disciplinary decision to until after resolution of any criminal charges, or under certain circumstances may suspend the player with pay until legal proceedings are completed (at which point the paid suspension may be converted to an unpaid suspension).

All disciplinary suspensions under the policy that are upheld are without pay and suspended players will not accrue Major League service.

A Club may not discipline a player for a violation of the Policy unless the Commissioner defers his disciplinary authority to the Club. Any such Club discipline may also be challenged through the arbitration process.

Under the new policy, the parties have agreed that prior precedent and past practice of disciplining players for engaging in an act of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse may not be relied upon by a player to support a challenge to the severity of his discipline, but that all other disciplinary past practice and precedent will remain relevant.

D. Training, Education and Resources

All players will be provided education in English and Spanish about domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse at regular intervals. (All Major League players participated in education sessions during Spring Training of 2015, and Minor League players at all levels have received training organized by their respective Clubs throughout the season).

A confidential 24-hour helpline (in English and Spanish) staffed by a team of experts in domestic violence has been established for players and their families, and we have identified highly-qualified resources in every Major League market who can provide on-the-ground support and resources to those affected by domestic violence.

The parties shall regularly provide resources to players' families, including referral information, websites, hotline numbers and outreach facilities.

The parties will develop an annual program of community outreach which may include public service announcements featuring players, domestic violence awareness days at ballparks and other activities designed to spread awareness on the issues. Many Clubs already partner with anti-domestic violence organizations in this area, and many Players and their families already actively support domestic anti-domestic violence organizations in their communities.



Summit Set For Next Month To Help Local Child Abuse Death Panels Feeling 'Swamped'

by Sascha Cordner

The local and statewide panels tasked with reviewing child abuse death cases is holding a summit next month to bring them all together.

Since the Florida Legislature put new rules in place for the State and Local Child Abuse Death Review Committees to follow, some local panels have complained of being “swamped” and “overwhelmed.” That's according to members of the statewide panel chaired by Dr. Robin Perry.

“I always say that the local committees have the finger on the pulse of what's going on in that community,” said Perry. “But, again with the new statutory obligation, they're feeling swamped or dumped on, and yeah, that's a real feeling and we've heard that as well.”

So, he hopes by having different breakout sessions during the September meeting and working through their differences will help. Perry says the first workshop will be led by some local chairs.

“…that actually have been very proactive or very effective or they might be a bit innovative in some of the ideas that they've integrated into the process,” he added.

And, Bruce McIntosh , fellow panel member and Child Protection Team Statewide Medical Director, called it a good idea.

“…because it would give the chairs of the weaker, less well-functioning committees a chance to learn from those that are doing it better,” said McIntosh. “So, I think it's a great format.”

The all-day summit meeting that starts at 9 a.m. is set for September 8th at the JW Marriott hotel in Orlando.



Woman says she secretly recorded Jared Fogle's conversations

by Faith Karimi and Anderson Cooper

When Rochelle Herman first heard Jared Fogle's alleged off-color comments about young girls, she was so disturbed, she knew she had to do something, she said.

She recorded conversations with him for the FBI.

Fogle, a pitchman for Subway at the time, was attending a health event at a school in Florida in 2007 when the incident occurred, Herman said. She was covering the event for a local station when Fogle made a random comment.

"He told me that he thought middle school girls were so hot," Herman said. "I was in shock ... I actually was questioning, 'Did I really just hear what I think I heard?' I looked over at my cameraman ... and he was just astounded," she said.

Years later, Fogle is planning to plead guilty to child pornography charges. His plea will include crossing state lines to pay for sex with minors, prosecutors said this week.

The plea deal would see him serve between five and 12½ years in prison in a stunning downfall from a celebrated pitchman to a sex offender.

'He talked about' sex with minors

Herman saw Fogle numerous times over the years, and his comments and admissions got more brazen, she said.

"He talked about sex with underage children," she said. "It was just something that he really, really enjoyed," she said.

Herman said she notified law enforcement authorities, and the FBI asked her to wear a wire to record her conversations with Fogle.

For years, she said, she worked undercover with authorities to gather evidence against Fogle.

"He trusted me for unknown reasons," Herman told CNN's AC360. "He had said to me numerous times over the course of years about having sex with minors."

He got so comfortable with Herman, she said, he included her children in their conversations.

"I had two young children at the time, and he talked to me about installing hidden cameras in their rooms and asked me if I would choose which child I would like him to watch," she said.

'I had to play a role'

Although she was horrified by his suggestion, she focused on gathering evidence to put him behind bars.

"During the time that I had with the FBI, I had to play a role. I had to play a certain part in order for Jared to be able to trust me and talk further into detail," she said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis, where Fogle was based, said Herman's information was part of the federal investigation into the former pitchman.

Tim Horty of the U.S. Attorney's Office said authorities also connected Fogle to alleged child pornography during their investigation into Russell Taylor.

Taylor, a former director of Fogle's charity that focuses on children's health, is facing child pornography charges as well. Authorities allege he had images and videos of minors engaging in sexual conduct that he shared with Fogle.

Fogle will plead guilty to possessing and distributing child porn and to traveling across state lines to have sex with at least two teenage girls.

Attempting to make amends

Under the plea deal, the government will recommend less than 13 years in prison for Fogle. And his lawyers agree to ask the judge for no less than five years in prison.

Fogle, 37, will also pay restitution to the 14 victims who were secretly photographed or who he paid for sex. Each victim will get $100,000 to help with counseling, support and other assistance.

By admitting to the crimes, Fogle is accepting responsibility and attempting to make amends, his defense team said in a statement.

His lawyers said he is also undergoing examination by sexual conditions experts with a goal of becoming healthy.

No date has been set for his next court date, where he will formally enter a plea.

Fogle became a household name 15 years ago after he lost more than 200 pounds on what he described as the Subway diet. He became the face of the restaurant chain, appearing in ads nationwide.

Subway cut ties with him this week.


More Bill Cosby accusers step forward as lawyer vows to grill the 'real' comedian

by Nicky Woolf

Lawyer Gloria Allred has said she will ask “any question and every question” of Bill Cosby in a deposition in October and hopes to extract answers from “Bill Cosby, not the friendly father-figure of his television character, Dr Huxtable.”

“We want the real Bill Cosby to show up,” she said.

Asked by the Guardian what the scope of her questions to Cosby would be, Allred said she would not comment directly on strategy, but said she had a “wide latitude in the questions we can ask”.

The deposition, which is scheduled for 9 October, pertains to the case of Judy Huth, who is accusing Cosby of sexually assaulting her in1974, when she was 15.

Because Huth is an adult survivor of child abuse, her lawyers argue, she is currently the only accuser of Cosby where there is a possibility of circumventing the statute of limitations on sexual assault.

Allred was speaking at the Friar's Club in midtown Manhattan alongside two new accusers of Cosby – one known by the pseudonym “Elizabeth”, the other named Charlotte Fox – whose claims take the number of women who have so far come forward with allegations of sexual assault by the former comedian well past three dozen.

Elizabeth said she met Cosby in the summer of 1976 on a flight to Los Angeles, when she was 20 years old and working as an American Airlines flight attendant. She said Cosby invited her to the Playboy mansion the next day, and sent his car to pick her up the following morning.

That evening, after dinner at a restaurant called Tokyo KaiKan, Elizabeth said she became “light-headed” and entered “a trance-like state”.

“I don't remember how we got to his hotel room,” Elizabeth said. There, she continued, “I could barely stand up; I felt like I was going to pass out or get very sick. He made me kneel down.”

She paused, wiping tears from her eyes. “I don't want to repeat what happened next. All I know is that it was the most horrifying thing that could happen to an innocent young woman.”

She said that afterwards Cosby called her, wanting to fly her to Monaco to meet him; he also said he wanted to get her a place in New York where they could meet. “I told him it wasn't the wine that made me sick and he knew it,” she said. “He sent me three dozen roses.”

Elizabeth said she didn't come forward at the time because no one would have believed her.

Fox, also telling her story for the first time, said that she had been a 23-year-old aspiring actress in the 70s when she met Cosby on the set of the show Uptown Saturday Night, where she was an extra. She, too, said that Cosby invited her to the Playboy mansion. She said that they ate and drank, and then she became ill.

Fox said the next thing she remembered was being “sort of awake, in a bed, with no clothes on and there was Mr Cosby, in a robe, crawling from the bottom of the bed”. She, too, cried as she told her story to the assembled reporters.

“I was incapacitated,” she said, “and couldn't say no. He engaged in sexual activity with me.”

Also speaking was Sarita Butterfield, a Playboy model who came forward in 2014, telling the New York Daily News Cosby assaulted her at his house on Christmas Eve in 1977.

Martin Singer, an attorney representing Cosby, did not respond to a request for comment. Singer has previously dismissed similar allegations made by other women as “discredited” and “defamatory”.



Arts program helps women with disabilities navigate sex, relationships

by Marianne Combs

Each Wednesday morning, about a dozen women gather to talk about health, sex and relationships. They range in age from their mid-20s to their late 50s. Two of them are in wheelchairs.

The women have developmental disorders, and for many of them, this is the first time they've had any sort of sex education. A new program is using the arts to teach women with such disabilities how to have meaningful relationships while protecting themselves from all-too-common sexual abuse.

"Individuals with disabilities are often perceived in many instances to be infantile in their relationships, or maybe asexual, and it's just not true," said Julie Guidry, executive director of Upstream Arts in Minneapolis. "Individuals with disabilities are just as likely to have a physical relationship, to have sex, to have complicated relationships."

Upstream Arts has been working with people with disabilities for 10 years, teaching basic communication skills for both social and work situations. Last year it added this class, "The Art of Relationships." Over the course of 12 weeks the class covers sexual and reproductive health, healthy relationships and, perhaps most importantly, how to say no.

According to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, as many as 83 percent of females with developmental disabilities are survivors of sexual assault.

"A lot of it is family or friends — and that really breaks my heart," said Katie Thune, health educator. "That's not OK. That hurts."

The experiences of the women in this class reflect the statistics. Many of them have suffered sexual abuse. One woman was raped by all three of her brothers, but her parents refuse to believe her.

In this week's class the women focused on using words to communicate that they felt uncomfortable, or that they needed more personal space.

Fifty-seven-year-old Becky said she appreciates getting to learn both about sex and social skills.

"I wish I'd known a long time ago," she said, "before I had my son."

Becky doesn't get to see her son, who she estimates is now 25 years old. He was sent away to foster care.

Despite the often tragic stories, the women laughed as they used theater, painting, movement and song to build their social skills and their sexual vocabulary. Most of the women were familiar with words for male and female body parts, but when asked if they'd heard the word "orgasm," the room fell silent. No one knew what it meant. So Thune explained it to them.

"They're adults," she said later. "And it's OK to have love. They should have that in their life."

Unfortunately, for some parents the idea that their developmentally disabled child might have a sexual relationship is too frightening to contemplate. Some parents, upon reading the Upstream Arts curriculum, withdraw their adult children from the program. Guidry said the reaction is understandable.

"I think the family members want to first make sure the individual they're supporting is safe, healthy and well cared for," she said. "And kind of at the bottom of the list is the notion that they might have an intimate relationship with somebody."

Jane, 52, has been in a steady relationship for three years.

"Oh I'm getting a lot out of this class," she said. "I'm going out with my boyfriend, and I'm getting what to do in our relationship and what not to do in our relationship."

Jane said she and her boyfriend want to get married and live on their own, with occasional staff visits. But first they need to master some skills, like cooking for themselves.

Last year, Claire Benway was a manager at the human service organization Opportunity Partners when she found out about Upstream Arts program and enrolled several of her clients. She described the program's work as "cutting edge." People with disabilities need education around safe boundaries and sexual relationships, she said. But as far as she knows, Upstream Arts is the only program providing it.

"Nobody wants to touch it," she said. "It's scary, it's hard, it's sensitive and it's real people. And it can be frightening."

According to a state report, Minnesota is home to approximately 100,000 people with developmental disabilities. Upstream Arts, with its Art of Relationships class, currently serves 30 to 60 women each year.



Boy Scouts' Request to Keep Sexual Abuse Files Confidential Denied by Florida Judge

by Chris Joseph

In 1983, a young Boy Scout met with two of his scout leaders and some other scouts at TY Park in Hollywood. The boy, now a 40-year-old man, says the scoutmasters gave him and other scouts alcohol, showed them pornography, and had them run around naked. The scoutmasters eventually molested the boys, the victim says, during scouting events and even in the scoutmasters' homes. The various incidents of sexual abuse alleged by the victim are all detailed in a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the South Florida Council of Boy Scouts of America. The lawsuit also goes on to say that the Boy Scouts of America knew about the scoutmasters' abuse and covered it up to protect them and the organization.

But Miami-Dade Judge Jose M. Rodriguez of the 11th Judicial Circuit recently ruled that the Boy Scouts of America must turn over documents that detail incidents of sexual abuse.

Those internal files, which at one point were known as the "Perversion Files," had records of adult scout leaders who had been accused of sexual abuse by scouts. Since the 1980s, the Boy Scouts of America have been fighting to keep these records from being obtained and made public.

The victim in the Florida lawsuit, identified as GE DOE, says that his encounter at TY Park happened when he was only 8 years old, sometime in either 1983 or 1984.

“The TY Park incident was the beginning of me realizing something wasn't right with this, but you repress it and you don't say things because it's a scout leader and you're 8 years old,” he said via NBCMiami. “My only regret is that the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution has since expired.”

The GE DOE lawsuit was originally filed in 2014, but the Boy Scouts of America again filed for confidentiality to keep their files sealed even though, as the lawsuit states, the Boy Scouts of America knew that the scoutmasters were "engaging in inappropriate relations with boys and/or had a propensity to engage in sexual misconduct." The lawsuit goes on to say the organization "did nothing" to prevent the men from abusing the boys they were entrusted to lead.

However, in Rodriguez's ruling to deny confidentiality, the judge says, "Since child abuse thrives in secrecy, there is a compelling interest in producing these files as it increases transparency on the potential mishandling of sex abuse claims. A society interested in protecting children from criminal assaults would not reasonably leave to the discretion of a children's social club the disclosure of information regarding criminal assaults on children.”

Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts of America's communications director, Deron Smith, released a statement regarding GE DOE's lawsuit, saying, “While we can't discuss the lawsuit, the behavior included in these allegations runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands."

Smith goes on to say that in the decades since the victim says he was abused, the Boy Scouts of America have consulted with experts from law enforcement, child safety, and psychology to protect their scouts.

"Today, the BSA seeks to prevent child abuse through a comprehensive program of education on the subject, the chartered organization leader selection process, criminal background and other checks, policies and procedures to serve as barriers to abuse and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse,” Smith added.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says the ruling to deny the Boy Scout's request to keep their files confidential will make kids safer and deter child sex crimes and cover-ups.

"For far too long, our court system has seemingly valued the privacy of adults over the safety of kids. Ever so gradually, this trend is being reversed, and not a moment too soon," Clohessy says in an email statement. "We hope the disclosure of these files will prompt others who were sexually assaulted by Scout officials to come forward, expose predators, protect kids, and start healing. And we hope this ruling will prod other employers and institutions to 'come clean' about child sex crimes and cover-ups, since it's increasingly clear, as Martin Luther King said, that 'no lie lives forever.'"

GE DOE says he has suffered emotional and psychological injuries as a result of the abuse, according to the lawsuit. He is seeking damages in excess of $15,000.


How America Mistreats Sex-Crime Victims

by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig

Jared Fogle, the former Subway sandwiches spokesman, appeared in an Indianapolis court Wednesday on charges of possession of child pornography and paying to have sex with underage girls. As part of a plea bargain, Fogle will pay $1.4 million dollars—$100,000 to each of his 14 victims, whom prosecutor Steven DeBrota described as “now adults in desperate straits.” The money, DeBrota explained, will help Fogle's victims pay for education, medical treatment, and counseling.

The payout's aims are not unlike those of VOCA, the 1984 Victims of Crime Act which funnels perpetrators' bail bonds, penalty fees, and criminal fines into grants for victims' services organizations. And it echoes the logic that brought VOCA into being in the first place: Victims lose something in the process of victimization, and they should not be forced to compensate for that loss themselves. But VOCA and court-determined payouts like Fogle's aren't nearly sufficient to address the long-term ramifications of victimization, especially in cases of sexual assault.

Along with the immediate physical and psychological issues stemming from the sexual assault, many victims are left with ongoing disorders that put them at risk for further complications down the line. Among the most concerning of all is the tendency for victims of sexual assault to turn to substance abuse in the months and years following their victimization. A 1997 study found that victims of sexual assault are three to ten times more likely than non-victims to struggle with substance abuse. A 1992 study found victims of rape are 26 times more likely to have two or more problems related to substance abuse, such as trouble at work, school, in relationships, or with the police.

The risk of succumbing to substance abuse as a result of sexual assault varies somewhat by demographic, with some groups in greater danger than others. Black women are already at greater risk of being sexually assaulted than their white female counterparts, but two studies illuminate the long-term consequences of their high-risk status as well. Consider this 2013 study that found that black women are more likely to develop substance abuse problems following a sexual assault than members of other racial demographics, and this 2010 study of black female survivors which suggested lower-income black women are at an even higher risk of developing substance abuse issues than the remainder of their cohort. Men and boys also suffer the ongoing impacts of sexual assault when it comes to sexual abuse: One study found that 80 percent of male victims of sexual assault battled alcoholism as adults, compared with 11 percent of male non-victims. The likelihood that a person will struggle with addiction differs, therefore, depending on his or her life situation. But the tendency of sexual assault to lead to substance abuse is something of a grim constant across the board.

Treating addiction can be costly, with some inpatient rehabilitation programs running between $7,500 to $120,000 per month—an expense that is not always covered by insurance. And the costs of leaving substance abuse untreated can be even greater.

Substance abuse is associated with a higher risk for sexual assault; this has the perverse effect of putting people who have already been sexually victimized at an elevated risk for being victimized again in the future. Substance abuse increases the likelihood of ending up in the criminal justice system. A 2002 analysis of local-jail inmates conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that some 68 percent of people held in local jails were dependent on drugs or alcohol; when it came to state prisons, the numbers were even more disturbing. “Illegal drug use was more common among abused state prison inmates than among those who said they were not abused,” the same BJS survey found. “An estimated 76 percent of abused men and 80 percent of abused women had used illegal drugs regularly, compared to 68 percent of men and 65 percent of women who had not been abused.” Histories of sexual victimization and substance abuse seem primed to put victims at a permanent, lifelong disadvantage, concluding sometimes in incarceration and often worse.

Settlements like Fogle's, if they come in time, could assist victims in putting their lives back together before chronic substance abuse issues set in. But rarely are perpetrators as well-heeled as Fogle, and victims should not have to count on lucrative payouts from their abusers to offset the damages of abuse. The humane, cost-efficient solution is to make substance abuse treatment programs (both inpatient and otherwise) readily available at low or no cost. It will pay off: Studies have shown that each dollar spent on substance abuse treatment yields roughly seven dollars in benefits through increased productivity and reduced criminality. While the Affordable Care Act does cover substance abuse treatment, a universal healthcare system— the kind suggested by Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, for example—inclusive of substance abuse treatment would expand coverage even further.

But even that's not enough. We must put an end to our highly punitive carceral approach to drug abuse, putting rehabilitation in the hands of healthcare providers rather than prison wardens. An increasing number of politicians from both parties agree on this point, though most of the talk of criminal-justice reform remains exactly that. For the sake of victims, let's hope that talk turns into concrete policy.



New IL law aims to make investigations into child abuse easier

by Zach Robinson

A new Illinois law will give prosecutors greater power to compile evidence of past allegations of child abuse.

Under the new law, state's attorneys will be able to get information on past investigations of child abuse, that did not yield any conclusive evidence leading to prosecution.

Until now, access to those records was limited to prosecuting crimes related to the filing of false reports of child abuse.

The new law will allow prosecutors to use records of past allegations to help establish a stronger case, for investigations related to more recent incidences of child abuse.

“We need to make sure that law enforcement has all the information they need to keep our children safe,” said Rep. Brandon Phelps. “This law will give prosecutors the information they need to go after those that have a pattern of abusing children.”

Advocates for the bill say prosecutors should be able to look at these past reports - even if that evidence appeared unfounded at the time - because new evidence may shed more light on whether abuse of a child is actually taking place.



Study: Child sexual assault ‘far too common' in Indiana

A report by the Global Health Communication Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis states that adolescent sexual assault is “far too common” in the state.

The report, “An Investigation into Adolescent Sexual Assault Underreporting in Indiana,” was made public Wednesday at the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana's meeting.

“It confirms a lot of what we thought we knew and raises a lot of questions about things we still need to know,” said state Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, who advocated for the study and, along with Professor John Parrish-Sprowl, who directed the study, presented its findings to the commission.

According to the report, 1 in 6 high school girls in Indiana had been a victim of sexual assault by the time she reached age 18. About 25 percent of adults surveyed said someone had touched them in a sexual way before age 18, and 86 percent of those cases were unsolicited.

Hale said the state needs a strategy to respond to the problem. She thinks further study is needed to factor in social media, emerging technology and sexual exploitation of young people.

The review highlights areas of concern, including unreported incidents and the lack of a comprehensive, statewide data collection system and central database, the (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star reported. It also recommends educating students about healthy relationships and training teachers about how they should respond and assist students who are victims of sexual assaults.

Another thing the report determined is that “a good deal of sexual assault occurs within the home and within the family” or extended family, said Parrish-Sprowl, who also is director of the Global Health Communication Center. Victims in those cases may be less likely to report the assault because they don't know to whom they should turn, it states.

But the solution could come from outside the family, especially in the form of a school or after-school program, Parrish-Sprowl said.

“That's where adolescents spend a lot of time around adults who can hear them and help connect them with services,” he said.

About 75 percent of the adults who reported being sexually abused when they were younger than 18 said the abuse involved a family member, friend or another person they knew who didn't live in their household. Among those sexual assault victims, the average age at which the initial abuse occurred was just over 9 years old.

“This is an extremely complex issue to address,” Hale said. “We're supposed to learn about things from family, but when family is perpetrating the crimes … that cuts off a lifeline.”

Indiana also must change its approach to sexual education, which now focuses on abstinence, so children can learn that not all sex is consensual and those who are sexually abused can realize they're victims, she said.

“We absolutely need more education for students so they understand what consent is and understand how to report when they need to,” Hale said.



Waco: Class Fighting Child Sexual Abuse Expands To The Web

by Lauren Partain

WACO - A class that has encouraged parents and children to talk openly about sexual predators and sexual abuse is expanding.

Pediatrician Dr. Soo Battle created Camp Careful to teaches children about "stranger danger", the threat of sexual predators and sexual abuse prevention.

"Usually predators don't want to prey on kids that know what they are doing so they like to prey on kids that have never heard of this stuff and don't know what to do about it," said Battle.

"So the more your kid knows about it, they can protect themselves."

After seven years of classes, she is making it easier for parents to learn the facts when class is not in session.

She has created a Facebook page, website and blog for parents to easily access.

In her blog, Battle plans to touch base on topics such as appropriate behavior from teachers and classmates and ways to teach children to say "no".

"You tell your child a million times as they grow up, look both ways when you cross the street," said Battle.

"So if you tell them over and over and over again about their private parts and how to keep safe then they will have that inner feeling of this is not right and they will learn to stop the situation, hopefully the first time it happens."

To register for Camp Careful or suscribe to Battle's blog, click on the link.



Jared Fogle: Another VIP claiming to help children but who allegedly harmed them

by Justin Wm. Moyer

When Jared Fogle founded the Jared Foundation in 2004, it seemed like an obvious move. Fogle, by his own account, had developed an unhealthy relationship with food as a youth that led him to tip the scales at 425 pounds before embarking on his famous “Subway diet.” Armed with little more than willpower and six-inch turkey subs, Fogle dropped more than half his body weight, possibly saving his own life — and definitely launching his career.

Why not parlay his Subway spokesmanship into charitable work and prevent children from falling into the same traps he had?

“To fight childhood obesity,” he said in 2007 when asked why he founded the Jared Foundation. “I talk to schools. The kids know me. They watch way too much television. It's been neat. It really has positively impacted people. It's just in Indiana right now, but we're hoping to go nationwide.”

No evidence has been presented that Fogle abused young people through his foundation or that he had some responsibility over the children he was allegedly abusing.

But now that Fogle's attorney has said Fogle will plead guilty to possessing child pornography and having sex with underage girls, the Subway pitchman's work with youth rings alarm bells of hypocrisy, at the very least.

In that respect, though on a much lesser scale, his situation may resemble that of Bill Cosby, who spent years going around the country preaching ethics to young people and parents but now stands accused by more than 40 women of sexual misconduct, which he denies.

While the court document charging Fogle did not say he actively recruited children through the Jared Foundation it noted that he “was the organizer of a charitable foundation in Indiana, which held events there and in other states” as well as “a spokesperson for a business having multiple worldwide retail locations, which he frequently visited for marketing purposes.”

And it said Fogle “repeatedly made travel plans in order to have his business trips coincide with his pursuit of commercial sex acts.”

The director of the Jared Foundation was Fogle's alleged conspirator and “close personal friend” who facilitated the production and distribution of child pornography and “frequently accompanied the Defendant on various business trips.”

Indeed, as the New York Post reported — and photographs confirm — Fogle was in New York City working for Subway around the time prosecutors said he “engaged in sexual acts with Minor Victim 13? at the Plaza Hotel.

Prosecutors said Fogle, in some cases, “met the minors during social events in Indiana” — and experts say “the vast majority of the abuse against minors is from either a family member, or someone they know such as a coach, teacher or church leader,” as Discovery wrote in 2011.

“This notion of the creepy stranger,” Fred Berlin, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic in Baltimore, told Discovery, “that's a rarity.”



Jared Fogle — the monster next door

by Tim Swarens

INDIANAPOLIS — Jared Fogle was sold to us as the genial guy next door with an inspiring story, a story about a morbidly obese young man who lost more than 200 pounds, earned a new life, and won fortune and fame. All by eating fast food.

That image, of course, was a lie.

Fogle, in truth, was a monster.

A monster who trafficked in child pornography.

A monster who, according to court documents, bought and raped — no other word for it — teenage girls.

A monster with the shamelessness and audacity to text one of his victims, a 17-year-old, a day after paying to have sex with her, to ask for an even younger child next time.

“The younger the girl, the better,” was Fogle's request, according to court records.

A friend of mine, a person of special insight and wisdom, uses a thought tool to help people avoid the type of decisions that can destroy a marriage and family, ruin a reputation and inflict lasting shame and pain on themselves and those they love.

Before you make the first step down a path you know you shouldn't take, picture the eventual consequences. Picture the potential devastation if your private choices became public knowledge.

Then run hard the other way.

The sad thing is that many people, even if they think about such things beforehand, don't have the self-awareness or self-control needed to avoid their own destruction. Fogle, lost in his sick impulses, certainly didn't.

Even sadder, is that Fogle isn't alone in committing these most horrific of crimes.

On an August night four years ago, for the first time I felt ashamed to be a man — ashamed by the suffering that others of my gender were casually inflicting on the helpless and hurting.

On that night I was on a side street in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, when I passed an open air bar filled with men from Western nations. Upstairs was a clearly marked brothel, in a nation where child sex trafficking is common and where men travel half way across the planet to abuse terrified girls and boys, children as young, and in some cases even younger, than Fogle's victims.

Statistics on the number of child trafficking victims are notoriously shaky, in part because it's an underground economy that's especially difficult to measure. Too many activists fighting this scourge too often cite unreliable data.

With that caveat, however, the United Nations, in its 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, found that child trafficking is on the rise, that children make up a third of all trafficking victims, and that girls are twice as likely as boys to be sold. In most cases, they are sold for sex.

The evil of child pornography also has increased. In 2011, then- U.S. Attorney Eric Holder reported “a historic rise in the distribution of child pornography, in the number of images being shared online, and in the level of violence associated with child exploitation and sexual abuse crimes. Tragically, the only place we've seen a decrease is in the age of victims.”

So Fogle is far from alone in his perversions. He's hardly the only one saying, “The younger the girl, the better.”

The monsters in our midst often hide behind masks of normality. But the monsters are real nonetheless.

Sometimes that monster is a guy prowling the darkest alleys of the Internet.

Sometimes, it's the guy on our TV screens selling us sandwiches.



How to talk to kids about Jared Fogle

by Olivia Lewis

INDIANAPOLIS — As Subway's one-man brand for years, Jared Fogle became a popular and recognizable figure in our culture.

Now the story of Fogle, who admitted to having sex with minors and distributing and receiving child pornography, provides parents and guardians an opportunity to hold important conversations with their children about inappropriate touching and sexual assault.

Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin, a clinical professor and assistant chairperson at the School of Public Health at Indiana University Bloomington, has worked with kids and teenagers around sexuality issues.

She answered a few questions for The Star. The answers have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

1. Should we talk to kids about Jared Fogle?

Sherwood-Laughlin: If they ask, then yes it's OK to talk about it because they may think this could happen to them. They are scared. They may ask why he is being arrested, what did he do. It is important to address their questions and alleviate their fears but also to inform them about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors between adults and children.

2. How early is too early to talk to children about this?

Sherwood-Laughlin: As soon as children start learning about their bodies, naming body parts, which parts of our bodies are private, who is allowed to touch their bodies (e.g. parents giving their children a bath, potty training, health care providers doing examinations in their offices). These messages need to be discussed and reinforced throughout a child's life based on their developmental age and maturity level.

3. What should we say to them?

Sherwood-Laughlin: We talk to kids based on their developmental capabilities. By age 3 to 5, children begin to understand privacy, and the difference between good and bad, and know who are trusted adults they can talk to and ask questions. A great resource for developmental age appropriate conversations is:

4. Do we use the same language when talking to boys and girls?

Sherwood-Laughlin: Yes, the messages are the same. It's about who to trust and why, it's about asking questions, it's about protecting their bodies and privacy.

5. What predator signs should we tell children to be aware of?

Sherwood-Laughlin: Be cautious of strangers who ask to see their bodies or touch their private parts. It's important for adults and parents to explain to their children who they can trust and who they cannot. I realize it's not as clear as we would like as there are family members or friends who we should be able to trust, but we do not always know what they are doing that is illegal.

6. How should parents act when having these conversations?

Sherwood-Laughlin: Calm, honest, open, approachable, informed.

7. Who should we tell them to talk to if they have more questions?

Sherwood-Laughlin: Pediatrician, family doctor, other health care providers such as social workers, nurses, faith-based professionals, teachers, other trusted adults who have experience with child sexual abuse.


Why we understand so little about child sex abuse

by Sarah Kaplan

Reading the news that former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle will plead guilty to possessing hundreds of pornographic images of children and having sex with underage girls, it is hard not to be horrified.

Indeed, the people investigating Fogle's case could barely contain their outrage.

“This is about using wealth, status and secrecy to illegally exploit children,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said at a news conference announcing the plea deal.

“I cannot think of anything more repugnant than sexually victimizing a child,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter later added. “Any and all resources have been and will be committed to seeking out who you are, no matter where you live or who you are.”

A man with fortune, fame and a heartwarming story, who had established a foundation in his own name to help children combat obesity, was seeking out sex with children — “the younger the girl the better,” he wrote, according to court documents.

In front of the federal courthouse in Indianapolis, a large crowd gathered Wednesday to gawk at the former TV personality. They taunted and jeered, hurled insults, voiced their disgust in the bluntest terms.

One person wanted to know, according to the Indianapolis Star, “Why'd you do that?”

It's nearly impossible to comprehend what would drive Fogle to do what his lawyer acknowledges he did. Human sexuality is already complicated, and the desire to have sex with a child is considered so shocking, so perverse, that we aren't inclined to try and understand it.

However justified, experts say, the righteous revulsion we feel when we hear about crimes like those alleged against Fogle is making it harder to explain them and prevent them from happening.

The science of sexual disorders, termed paraphilias, is far less developed than other areas of psychiatry, and there are few resources for treating potential abusers. There's almost no way to identify child abusers before they commit a crime, at which point it's already too late.

Meanwhile, penalties for sex crimes against children have gotten harsher and harsher — often in response to horrifying stories of violence and abuse. The federal mandatory minimum sentence for a sex offense by an adult involving a child under 16 is 30 years.

“Right now, our society is more equipped to look at it as a moral problem than a medical or scientific problem,” psychiatrist Fred Berlin said. “But there is a biological basis for these cravings … and society is just giving lip service to that side of it.”

He added, “Nobody chooses to be attracted to children.”

Berlin is the director of the Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit at Johns Hopkins University, where he works with sex offenders, among other patients. He says that there's a lot we still don't know about the role that hormones, the brain and environment play in sexual attraction.

Although the federal government began to prosecute far more sex offenders after the advent of the Internet — and subsequent availability of illegal child pornography — made it much easier to track down likely child abusers, research into factors that contribute to child sexual abuse has lagged behind. Scientists are only just beginning to use neuroimaging to identify what parts of the brain are responsible for sexual cravings, and clinical studies of child sex abusers are often hard to come by. Some of the most famous studies in the field — like a 2009 report by psychologists with the Federal Bureau of Prisons that found a connection between child pornography possession and the molestation of minors — are disputed because they focus on small sample sizes of imprisoned offenders.

And because there's so much stigma associated with the issue, there are not enough pedophiles willing to self-report to figure out how many people feel this attraction but never commit an offense. Many states also have mandatory reporting laws that require therapists to report patients who discuss sexual fantasies or cravings involving children — in California, the law is so strict that hard proof is not required to make a report. The regulations are designed to protect children, who are typically unlikely to report abuse themselves. But critics say that they prevent potential abusers from speaking about their cravings before they commit a crime.

He added that it's difficult to find researchers who are willing to devote themselves to studying these kinds of sexual disorders, and even harder to find funding for such research.

“We have a society that sometimes finds it difficult to deal with these issues of sex and so on, and that has led to us having less support for the kinds of research that would actually be very helpful,” he told The Washington Post.

What we do know suggests that pedophilia stems largely from the brain. According to psychologist James Cantor, a former editor of the journal Sexual Abuse and an expert on paraphilias, pedophiles have less white matter — the “cables” of cells that transmit signals across the brain — than the general population.

“There doesn't seem to be a pedophilia center in the brain,” he told Gawker in 2012. “Instead, there's either not enough of this cabling, not the correct kind of cabling, or it's wiring the wrong areas together, so instead of the brain evoking protective or parental instincts when these people see children, it's instead evoking sexual instincts. There's almost literally a crossed wiring.”

Other studies have suggested that pedophilia is related to problems in the frontal or temporal lobes — areas of the brain involved with impulse control and sex. In one well-known case, a man became addicted to child pornography after undergoing a temporal lobectomy to treat his epilepsy.

“I still don't understand it,” the man, identified as Kevin, told the podcast Radiolab. “It was me, but it was me with a complete lack of neurological control.”

Cantor, Berlin and others are quick to point out that not every pedophile becomes a sex offender. Berlin believes that the majority of people who are attracted to children don't act on their desire. Unlike many European countries, the United States has few voluntary therapeutic programs for people with pedophilia, though support groups like “Virtuous Pedophiles” work to help people resist their attractions.

Likewise, not every sex offender is a pedophile. Berlin said that some child pornography downloaders consider themselves “collectors,” like people who collect stamps. They are not so much turned on by the images as obsessed with them. And some adults who molest children are attracted to the sense of power, or violence, or the ability to instill fear in another, rather than fact of their victim's age.

Although the oft-cited 2009 Bureau of Prisons study made a connection between child porn and physical child abuse, researchers also say that not everyone who watches child porn is also a “contact” sex offender. (Though the production and consumption of child pornography is certainly abusive to children — it creates a demand for content, and victims can be traumatized again and again by the knowledge that pictures of themselves are still circulating.)

A 2011 review of research in the journal Sexual Abuse found that roughly half of online offenders admitted to a contact offense. The other half were “fantasy offenders,” study author Michael Seto explained to the New Yorker. They exhibited none of the antisocial traits characteristic of child abusers and most other types of criminals — lack of empathy, impulsiveness. Instead, their activity was confined solely to the dis-inhibiting world of the screen.

We don't know if Jared Fogle was a pedophile. Prosecutors allege that he fell into the first category of child pornography watcher — online offenders who exploit minors in the real world as well. Prosecutors say he traveled to have sex with two teenagers, and solicited the girls to help him find even younger victims.

As part of his plea deal his lawyer described Wednesday, he will seek treatment for what his attorney termed “his medical problem.” The deal also won him a guarantee from prosecutors that they will seek a sentence of 12½ years or less — much lighter than what is meted out to most offenders, law professor Melissa Hamilton said.

“Federal sentencing guidelines for these offenders are harsh, and often when there is one of these highly publicized cases of abuse, they get harsher,” Hamilton, who teaches at the University of Houston Law Center, told The Washington Post.

She pointed to the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which set up a national registry for sex offenders and allowed for the civil commitment (continued detention after a prison term is over) of sex offenders. The act is named for a Florida 6-year-old who was abducted from a shopping mall and brutally murdered by a serial killer.

Civil commitment — a procedure initially set up to protect inmates with mental illness who are deemed unfit to be released from prison — remains controversial. The policy is predicated on the logic that civil commitment prevents pedophiles from abusing more children. When it was challenged in the Supreme Court in 2010, the court ruled in favor of civil commitment.

“If a federal prisoner is infected with a communicable disease that threatens others,” read the majority decision, “surely it would be ‘necessary and proper' . . . to refuse (at least until the threat diminishes) to release that individual among the general public, where he might infect others.”

The largest study of sex offenders conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that roughly 5.3 percent of those imprisoned for a sex crime are re-arrested.

The federal mandatory minimum sentences for sex crimes against children are strict: five years for downloading pornography, 15 years for producing it, 30 years for sex with a victim who is under 16 and at least four years younger than the perpetrator.

According to Hamilton, judges disagree with these federal guidelines more often than those for any other crime.

It's not difficult to see why the penalties for child pornography and sex abuse are so high. The idea of a child being exploited by adults is upsetting, and the testimony given by victims before Congress and at advocacy events is even more so. The collective social impulse in recent years has been toward harsher condemnation of sex offenders, not less (consider the movement against sexual assault on college campuses, the outrage about the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby). There are few activist groups advocating for reduction of federal mandatory minimum sentences for child abusers, as there are for drug offenders.

When the U.S. Sentencing Commission considered reducing the recommended sentences for sex offenses against children, the proposal was swiftly shot down in Congress

“What politician thinks that he or she could be re-elected if they sponsored a bill to undercut sentences for sex offenses against children?” Hamilton said.

The exploitation of a child is horrifying and saddening, a collective embarrassment for society, Hamilton noted. It implies that we cannot protect the thing that is most precious to us. And we have an understandable impulse to punish those who commit such crimes.

But many psychologists say that the emphasis on imprisonment rather than rehabilitation doesn't protect victims.

“All of the attention is on known sex offenders and just heaping on the punishment,” Elizabeth Letourneau, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies child sexual abuse, told Slate in 2012. “This is said to be due to an interest in prevention, but it's really about retribution. If people are really serious about preventing children from being molested or raped, it may very well necessitate the uncomfortable acknowledgement that some people are born as pedophiles.”

“All we do is drive it underground,” she added, echoing Berlin.

Berlin acknowledges that it's hard to sympathize with men like Fogle. But he also pointed out that society once viewed alcoholism and drug addiction as disgusting and deviant, problems to be blamed on the person who suffered from them. Now most people agree that addiction is a medical condition, one that requires treatment beyond prison time. He thinks we should view sex crimes the same way.

“We need to condemn these behaviors but also to understand that fundamentally decent people can be struggling with urges and cravings they need help with,” he said.

It's a message that will “ring hollow to many,” he acknowledged. But to one person, “It might make it easier to say, ‘I need help.”


3 Compassionate Organizations Fighting Sex Trafficking In The U.S. That Deserve Your Support

by Elizabeth King

Human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States. Children and adults, both men and women, can be vulnerable to trafficking, which can include slave labor, the sex trade, very low-paying jobs, and other dangerous situations that can be difficult to escape. Often, we may think of human trafficking and child sex trafficking as problems prominent only outside of the U.S., but the issue persists there today.

In 2014, the National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline received reports of 3,598 sex trafficking cases . Also in 2014, it was estimated that one in six runaway minors reported to the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children were believed to be the victims of sex trafficking. These statistics are frightening, but there are several organizations working to end the trafficking of adults and children alike. From hotlines to safe houses, hardworking groups are providing hope for thousands of victims every year. Here are some organizations to consider supporting if you want to help battle sex trafficking.

Ark Of Hope For Children

Ark of Hope for Children seeks to assist children who are victims of human trafficking, child abuse, and bullying. The organization runs a temporary safe house for victims of human trafficking, and also provides support services, such as hotlines and live chats, for victims in need of immediate assistance and support. You can donate to the Ark, and learn about their various volunteering and fundraising opportunities, on their website.


Polaris works to fight human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world. They run the National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline, a 24-hour-a-day call-in resource for victims and those who feel that they have found people who may be victims. They work on policy advocacy for human trafficking victims and survivors, and create extensive data analysis and reports. You can financially support Polaris through their website's donation page.

UNICEF's End Trafficking Program

Among its various humanitarian programs, UNICEF has efforts specifically aiming to protect children from exploitation. Through the End Trafficking program, UNICEF provides resources to the public so that we can all recognize the signs that a child is being exploited, and know where to reach out so that victims can receive expedient assistance and care. The End Trafficking program is also currently supporting legislation that would protect runaway and homeless youth from trafficking. UNICEF has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a group that monitors and scores not-for-profits on their use of funds. You can support their work for children affected by human trafficking through their website.



KC diocese offers healing services to victims of sex abuse

by Elizabeth A. Elliott

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., currently without a sitting bishop since the April resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, is reaching out with healing services to those sexually abused by priests.

The services, Healing Our Parishes through Empathy (HOPE), are the first of their kind in this diocese, according to Carrie Cooper, director of the Department of Child and Youth Protection.

The services, which are not Masses, are being held at various times and locations over the next 10 months, culminating with a Service of Lament June 26, 2016, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The services are being led by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the neighboring Kansas City, Kan., archdiocese, who is the temporary administrator of the Missouri diocese.

The first service was held at St. Thomas More on Aug. 12. More than 100 people attended the service, according to Cooper. The second is scheduled for Sept. 9 at St. Elizabeth Parish.

Kenneth Orenick, of Kansas City, Mo., attended the service. He is a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest when he was six years old at St. Ann's Church in Fairmount, Mo. Orenick said he understands that the church is trying to make a difference and thought the service was heartfelt.

"The archbishop did a good job of expressing his personal sorrow and his concern. He was there as a guest, and I think he did a really good job of presenting examples of what it means to heal. I think everybody was pleased at his demeanor and his words and his sincerity."

Orenick said he talked with priests after the service in the south Kansas City parish and had a one-on-one conversation with the archbishop.

"I told him I appreciated him coming here, but in my opinion a repeated apology does not help the victims," said Orenick. "We had dinner with Fr. [Donald] Farnan [pastor of St. Thomas More Parish] and one of the other victims who was abused by a KC priest who has never been convicted. [I have] never been that close to someone that was a true ongoing victim who was also abused and just overwhelmed that this 55-year-old man was struggling to stay alive.

"Apologies are basically lip service to an insidious policy of the clergy protecting the clergy in cover up," he said.

Orenick polled about 20 people after the service to get their response to the evening's service. Some said they were uncomfortable speaking with Naumann while he was dressed in liturgical robes. "If the archbishop would have come in his black suit without his regalia and spoke as a person not as an archbishop, it would have been more credible and touched us more deeply," Orenick said others told him.

Cooper said that to invite people to the services, the diocese sent letters of invitation from Naumann in early August to 59 people who had been plaintiffs in sexual abuse lawsuits against the diocese from 2008 and 2014.

The staff of the Child and Youth Protection office offered personal invitations to survivors they have worked with, she said. Parish priests have been asked to promote the services. Flyers have been inserted in parish bulletins and posted to parish websites. Ads were also placed in the Kansas City Star and the diocesan newspaper.

Cooper said the services are part of the diocese's preparation for the Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8.

"Our goal is to reach out to those who have been hurt by the church and let them know we're there for them and we care about their healing journey."

In September 2012, Finn, then-bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., was convicted of a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse in the case of Shawn Ratigan, a now-former diocesan priest who was convicted of child pornography charges. Finn served a two-year suspended sentence in Jackson County, Mo., and struck a deal later that year with a Clay County, Mo., judge to avoid a similar charge by entering a diversion compliance agreement that included regular meetings with the county prosecutor for five years.

Fallout from the Ratigan case came in 2014, when an arbiter and judge ruled that the diocese had violated five of 19 child safety measures it agreed to as part of a 2008 settlement with abuse victims, and the diocese had to pay $1.1 million for breaching the terms.

Last September, the Vatican sent Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario, to the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese to investigate the leadership of Finn. Some seven months later, Finn resigned. His replacement has not yet been named.

According to Cooper, the archbishop and eight priests attended the Aug. 12 service. Independent counselors were available before, during and after the service in the back of church, in case anyone wanted to talk. Cooper said the counselors talked to several survivors interested in more information.

The archbishop noted during his talk, a copy of which was provided to NCR , that clergy sexual abuse creates a deeper, complicated wound.

"It is a spiritual wound resulting, not only by having been hurt by someone you had a right to trust, but from someone who represented to you the Church and in some measure even symbolized God," he said. "The unique and insidious nature of these wounds is that they can impede those victimized from being able to approach the very place one should be able to come for healing and comfort -- the Church and even more devastatingly it can block out ability to reach out to Our Lord -- Divine Physician, the ultimate healer."

The archbishop also offered an apology to those who felt they were not treated with respect when they came forward to make the diocese aware of the abuse.

"As the Administrator for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, as the leader for the moment of the Catholic Church in Northwest Missouri, I offer my heartfelt apology on the part of the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the Diocese," he said. "I am ashamed and saddened that this terrible injustice was done to you by a member, a representative of our Church. I apologize that we failed to protect you."

He went on to say, "I also apologize to the priests, religious and laity for the pain you have suffered because of our failure as bishops to protect the innocent, to provide compassionate care to the victims, and to respond swiftly, transparently, and effectively to the misconduct of the clergy or other representatives of the Church."

David Clohessy, executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said the services were a textbook public relations plan by the diocese.

"Wounded adults can heal themselves, with or without action by bishops," he said. "Innocent kids and vulnerable adults, however, cannot protect themselves from predators without action by bishops."

Services are to be held in parishes where there were known abusive priests, St. Elizabeth on Sept. 9, and Nativity of Mary on Nov. 11. Cooper said they are choosing these places on purpose.



An open letter to my niece's rapist

by Gail Johnson

On Jan. 18, 2015, you brutally raped my 17-year-old niece.

It was at a condo in Alberta after someone—you? —slipped her the date-rape drug.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I had never fully grasped the true horror of sexual assault until you did what you did to my niece. It enrages me that you haven't grasped the true horror of rape either.

To protect her identity, we'll call my niece Denise. That evening, she went to a party with a friend we'll call Rose in a part of town Denise had never been to before. Rose later left.

The car ride there is the last thing Denise remembers.

What happened after she got there still leaves me infuriated, heartbroken, and dumbfounded.

Denise woke up late the next morning fully clothed in that condo. She didn't know where she was. She opened the door to the bedroom she was in. She saw three adult men, all strangers.

She ran, leaving her cellphone and jacket behind.

Once she got home, she felt groggy, disoriented, unwell. She went back to sleep.

Later that afternoon, she woke up sore. Down there. In both places.

She cried. And cried. And cried.

Then she told her mom. My older sister.

They went to the hospital, which referred them to the sexual assault centre. They were there through the night, for nearly 12 hours.

The attention they received there was exceptional, caring and compassionate. Staff told them that about 40 per cent of its cases are exactly like this one, where the victim has no memory of the assault.

Denise was examined and found to have vaginal and anal tearing. Swabs were taken for DNA evidence and to test for sexually transmitted illnesses. She was given medication for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, HIV and other diseases you may be carrying. She was given the morning-after pill to prevent becoming pregnant with your child.

I feel awful for all the young girls out there who wouldn't have been able to tell their mom what happened and who would have had to go through all that alone.

She and her mom were exhausted when they got home at 6 a.m. Monday morning. Denise went back to bed. Her mom phoned me.

She cried. And cried. And cried.

The next day they went to the police. The forensic unit took pictures of the marks on Denise's body: She had an enormous bruise in the form of a handprint on her inner thigh. She had a hickey on her neck. She had some kind of burn on her back; it was about two inches long and resembled the mark an iron would leave. (She never even gained consciousness while you were holding that hot object against her body. What was it?)

Her mom watched as the police took photos of her daughter, saw the evidence of your savage assault on her skin. Helpless and horrified, she had her heart break again and again for her only child.

Since that night so many months ago, Denise has, for the most part, moved on. But I guarantee you she has thought of you every single day since Jan. 18, as have her mother and father, as have I.

I live in another province (but you can bet if I did, I would have shown up at that condo the next day with a bunch of large, hired bodyguards). I can only guess what you look like, how old you are, what you do for work, whom you call friends, and what you do in your spare time. Oh wait. You sodomize young women who have been drugged into a coma-like state. Yet you have gripped my imagination, filled it with fury.

You have probably forgotten all about Denise—and all about the other young women you probably sexually assaulted before and probably have assaulted since. But she carries the trauma of that evening with her, and she will carry it with her until the day she dies. And so will those who love her.

Were you acting alone or did your friends join in on the attack?

Regardless, with your awful acts, you have proven that rape doesn't just affect the victim. It's an assault on an entire family.

Imagine telling this story to her grandparents, her mom's mom and dad. At 85, these two Prairie folk are remarkably lucid and spry. They've lived through some terrible times, but they've never experienced anything like this. They can't begin to comprehend how this could happen, why you would ravage their granddaughter, how any human being could inflict such physical, emotional, mental, and sexual harm on another, especially someone so innocent, so trusting, so young. Denise was the flower girl at my wedding. I first held her when she was six weeks old and have bragging rights to getting her first smile.

What were you doing that Sunday while Denise was getting medical care? Were you watching sports, drinking beer, boasting about your actions, or getting off on memories of rough sex with an unconscious minor? Or had you already forgotten her by then?

I wonder what happened to you to make you able to do this, if you were abused yourself during your youth, if you grew up in a broken home without any love and affection. You must know on some level that what you are doing is wrong. But do you know how deeply you have scarred not just Denise but all those who love and care for her?

A part of me wants to sit down with you and explain all this to you face to face, to help you understand just how far-reaching the implications of your actions have been and continue to be. I want you to apologize and feel remorse, to learn and become a better person, to turn your life into something positive. Part of me wants to forgive you. Another part of me wants to see you suffer terribly like every other girl and woman in the world who has been raped.

It has been many months since you raped my 17-year-old niece. She is loved and she is strong. She has gone to counselling and will probably go again. She will overcome, and we will all move forward.

But you will never vanish completely from our thoughts. You have harmed Denise the most, but you have hurt so many.

If you are victim of sexual violence, you're not alone. Find crisis centres, hotlines and support groups across the country here.



Vt. Divided Over Confidentiality in Child Abuse Cases

by Jess Wisloski

Montpelier — Attorney General Bill Sorrell said that limiting confidentiality around family court could improve transparency and accountability in the child protection system, but others are not convinced.

Cases dealing with child abuse and neglect are typically handled behind closed doors, and the records are generally not available to the public.

In an interview Wednesday, Sorrell said that level of confidentiality has been enforced since he began practicing law in the 1970s — but that changing the policy could bring accountability to court proceedings that have long been out of the public's view.

“There are a number of good policy reasons that could support more transparency or sunshine, if you will, on abuse and neglect proceedings,” Sorrell said.

Opening up records related to child protection proceedings could help to increase public awareness of abuse and neglect, as well as help the public better understand the resources necessary to adequately protect children, he said.

More access to the records would also allow for greater oversight of the judicial system, he said. Judges and attorneys would not be able to hide behind a system that currently operates with absolute confidentiality, Sorrell said.

But others — including Matt Valerio, the defender general — staunchly oppose Sorrell's proposal.

“It's more about politics and trying to satisfy some kind of public interest,” Valerio said Wednesday.

Confidentiality in family court proceedings is meant to create an environment where families can heal and rehabilitate safely, Valerio said. Often proceedings involve deeply private evidence, including medical and mental health records, which confidentiality is intended to protect.

“The idea is to preserve the therapeutic nature of the court,” Valerio said.

Sorrell first outlined his argument to lawmakers a year ago when a legislative committee met to study the child protection system in the wake of the deaths of two toddlers.

Ultimately lawmakers did not opt to include Sorrell's proposal, which made changes to broad aspects of the state's system for addressing child safety.

Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, chair of the House Human Services Committee and a social work lecturer at the University of Vermont, said by phone Wednesday that the Legislature did adopt some new policies to increase communication around child protection procedures.

“We tried to walk the line between protection of children and confidentiality and not having someone's private life unnecessarily open to public view,” Pugh said.

The child protection legislation did make some changes as to who has access to records about a particular case.

Under the new law, certain people familiar with the child will have access to some information about the case — a list that includes physicians, educators, foster parents and others.

Pugh said that reflection on current policies can be beneficial — so long as the emphasis remains on child protection.

Department for Children and Families Commissioner Ken Schatz said that the department opposes opening court proceedings for cases involving children in need of supervision.

“We think they have the real serious potential of causing stigma for the child and that would only lead to further traumatization,” Schatz said.

For one, Schatz said, Vermont is a small state: even if the names of children are withheld, their identities would be immediately obvious based on the identity of parents.

Schatz also said that privacy is a concern in the Internet age, when private information related to a court proceeding may follow a young child through their teenage years into adulthood.

Schatz said that he believes the changes under the legislation passed this year address concerns and ensures that people who need access to information about a case can get it.

Meanwhile, DCF routinely does internal evaluations regulating the work of the family services division with regard to child abuse and neglect cases. The department also puts out an annual report, he said.

Valerio said that an internal review process ensures that individual attorneys within the Defender General's Office are routinely scrutinized, and help to monitor the functionality of the child protection legal system as a whole.

The office then holds mandatory training sessions that bring attorneys up to speed in areas that there may be weaknesses.

David Cahill, executive director of the Department of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs, sees arguments on both sides of the debate.

“There may be certain structural defects in the family justice system, just as there are potential defects in any system of government, that would stand to benefit from the collective wisdom of society,” Cahill said.

On the other hand, he said, the argument must be weighed against the right to privacy.



What are the signs of possible child abuse or neglect?

by Mike Iuen

WICHITA, Kan. -- Sometimes a relative, a neighbor or a friend may see something unusual in a child that may point to abuse or neglect.

Law enforcement officers say don't hesitate to report those things so the professionals can investigate.

In many cases the signs of child abuse are there. One just has to recognize them.

Lt. Travis Rakestraw with the Sedgwick County Missing and Exploited Children's Unit says there is a difference between a rambunctious child and a victim of abuse.

"Kids that are moving around, playing, they're going to get some bumps, bruises, shins, knees, we understand that," said Rakestraw.

Some of the things investigators look for include injuries to soft body parts such as ears, neck, cheeks, upper arm. Also a sudden change in behavior.

"If you know kids and you know them well and you know their habits, if all of a sudden those habits change dramatically, that's kind of a red flag," said Lt. Lin Dehning of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.

And when these signs show up investigators also look for parents neglecting the child or drug abuse in the home.

"The number one goal is the safety of the child," said Lt. Rakestraw. "Kids can't protect themselves. They rely on adults to be their protection."

And Rakestraw says it's important to listen and not discount what a child says is happening to him or her.

"Our investigators have been through specific training to do forensic interviews with kids," said Lt. Rakestraw. "To talk to them, make them feel comfortable and to listen."

Rakestraw says his office works with the Wichita Police and the Department of Children and Families and there is a hotline to report suspected abuse.

That toll free number is 1-800- 922-5330.


South Dakota

State could require training for reporting of child abuse

by Bob Mercer

PIERRE | A state panel working to combat sexual abuse of children in South Dakota began consideration Tuesday about whether to ask the Legislature to require training in mandatory reporting for people in professions that often deal with young people.

The Jolene's Law task force looked at the online program used in Arkansas as a possible model for South Dakota. Several panel members said there could be small amounts of federal funding available within the budgets of several departments of state government.

“It is kind of a big issue,” said Casey Murschel of Sioux Falls. A former state legislator, she is part of several advisory groups working with the task force. She said the committee researching mandatory reporting supports a training requirement.

Murschel said that as a minimum people in school settings should be required to receive training.

Roxanne Hammond, a policy attorney for the state Legislative Research Council, told the task force the Arkansas program offers a TV training video that can be tailored to the profession and an Internet portal.

“This is one of the things that could be an easily achievable goal for this group,” Hammond said.

TateWin Means, a task force member from Pine Ridge, suggested that training in mandatory reporting could be more effective if it becomes a condition for professional licensing and certification and if it aligns with tribal law or state law.

The task force didn't take a formal vote on whether to recommend the training requirement but the chairwoman, Sen. Deb Soholt, said the outline is taking shape.

“We're going to move forward in that direction, and more to come at our next meeting,” Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, said.

The task force did vote to endorse a proposal for a new Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment that would be located at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

The state Board of Regents last week made the center one of its budget request priorities to the governor for the 2016 legislative session. The regents are seeking $210,725 in base funding and authority for a new position for a center director.

A handful of task force members unofficially gave the proposal their backing earlier this summer so the plan could be presented to the regents. The center would be part of USD's School of Health Sciences, whose dean is Michael Lawler.

Jay Perry, a member of the regents central staff, said Lawler supports the plan. Perry said Mike Rush, the regents' new executive director, is on board after receiving a briefing from Soholt.

“We're all on the same page and want to see this go forward,” Perry said.

Soholt said the center would be involved in work throughout South Dakota.

“There have been preliminary conversations already with the executive branch making sure this is positively looked at through the governor's budget as this rolls forward,” she said. “I would share the preliminary conversations have been very positive.”



Catholic church in Scotland asks forgiveness from child abuse victims

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia pledges to make reparations and change practices after independent report accuses bishops of covering up crimes for decades

by Severin Carrell

The Scottish Catholic church has offered a “profound apology” to victims of child abuse and the church's failure to investigate and punish the culprits, after a damning independent report into its conduct.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the official head of the Scottish church, told a congregation in Glasgow on Tuesday that their bishops were “shamed and pained” by the abuse suffered by children and adults over recent decades. “We say sorry. We ask forgiveness.”

After pledging to act on an independent inquiry commissioned by the church, which accused its bishops of covering up the crimes for decades, Tartaglia said: “Child abuse is a horrific crime. That this abuse should have been carried out within the church, and by priests and religious [orders], takes that abuse to another level.

“Such actions are inexcusable and intolerable. The harm the perpetrators of abuse have caused is first and foremost to their victims, but it extends far beyond them, to their families and friends, as well as to the church and wider society.”

A commission chaired by Andrew McLellan, a former prisons inspector, had told the church that an apology for the abuse and comprehensive action by the church to make reparations and overhaul its procedures was essential for the future of Catholicism in Scotland.

McLellan said the particular case “which stuck with me” involved one woman repeatedly locked in a darkened room as a child by a nun who was her carer. “The same nun sexually abused me. I told the priest in confession, the priest told the nun and together they raped me,” she said. “I was still only eight years old.”

“This report gives the Catholic church a chance, an unrepeatable chance, to make things better. If this opportunity isn't taken, survivors will know that there's no hope left for them in the Catholic church in Scotland,” McLellan said on Tuesday, after highlighting repeated recent pledges of action by successive popes and senior Scottish bishops.

“If this opportunity isn't taken, many Catholics who are longing for a new beginning will feel betrayed by the church. If this opportunity isn't taken, the public credibility of the Catholic church in Scotland will be destroyed.”

The McLellan inquiry was set up by Scotland's bishops in November 2013 after a string of highly damaging historical abuse scandals came to light, including repeated child abuse by paedophile priests, which was often covered up or ignored, systematic abuse by staff at Fort Augustus Catholic boarding school, and the admissions of sexual misconduct against adult priests by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, then the UK's most senior Catholic.

The church's own investigations in 2013 disclosed that there were also 46 live allegations of abuse against priests made between 2006 and 2012, leading to seven prosecutions.

In 2013, there were another 15 allegations made, six of which were historical. Three priests were removed from roles involving the public, and two cases are with Scottish prosecutors, with prosecutors also studying allegations of abuse by nine men at Fort Augustus between 1967 and 1992.

The inquiry by McLellan, a former moderator of the Church of Scotland, the country's largest Protestant church, was not set up to investigate specific cases or allegations.

The Scottish church has its own parallel historical abuse inquiry under way, which is expected to detail the true extent of abuse within the church. But McLellan said numerous cases in Scotland were brought to the commission's attention.

However, the 12-member commission, which included two bishops, the former judge and Lord Advocate, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, and the broadcaster Sheena McDonald, failed to make any specific recommendations on overseeing and policing its cardinals.

One of the central complaints in the Keith O'Brien affair – the biggest crisis to hit the Scottish church in modern history – by his adult victims was that they felt powerless and unable to complain because he was cardinal.

The only person in the Catholic church worldwide able to sanction him was the pope, which will remain the case in any future scandal involving a cardinal.

McLellan said some general recommendations on tackling a deeply rooted culture of secrecy in the church were relevant to the O'Brien scandal but he said he could not tackle the question of a cardinal's impunity from local control because the Scottish church itself did not have any power to sanction its most senior cleric.

“There was nothing that the bishops themselves could do to exercise any authority over the cardinal,” he told the Guardian. But he added that the cloud of secrecy still surrounding the O'Brien affair also prevented the commission from offering firm judgments about solving that problem.

“I believe few Catholics in Scotland themselves know what has happened,” he said. “It would be rash for me to make any recommendations based on hearsay rather than evidence.”

Even so, the commission stated that the church's failure to control Fort Augustus boarding school because it was seen as independent had to be addressed. In a statement unveiling his report, McLellan said: “It has been a slow and complicated business to determine who is responsible for what in dealing with the scandal at Fort Augustus.

“These structural difficulties mean nothing to survivors and nothing to the public. What the survivors need, and what the public expect, is that the church as a whole will take responsibility for what has happened and what must happen and refuse to take refuge in quibbles about authority,” he said.

The commission found numerous flaws in the church's current procedures, including failing to impose the same rules and standards on all dioceses; a failure to involve victims of abuse in drafting its central policy document on safeguarding; ignoring widely accepted United Nations definitions of abuse and audit processes that did not give comparative figures or guidance on sanctions.

Among its eight headline recommendations and numerous subsidiary recommendations, the commission unanimously said:

•  The Scottish church had to make support for victims of abuse “an absolute priority”, including a full public apology.

•  The church should set up a fund to pay for counselling for abuse victims.

•  The church had to stop pretending that different dioceses and religious orders were autonomous when it came to upholding its rules on abuse.

•  The duty of bishops in protecting and helping victims needed to be explicitly set out in the church's guidelines on “awareness and safety”.

•  The church needed independent, external scrutiny of its safeguarding policies and their effectiveness to end the practice of the church policing itself.

•  The church had to be far more rigorous in making sure all its priests and staff had the correct training in preventing abuse and safeguarding.

•  Bishops and priests had to stop appearing to blame victims for their abuse.

The report stated: “Justice must be done, and justice must be seen to be done, for those who have been abused and for those against whom allegations of abuse are made.”

It added: “There are clearly parishes in which commitment to safeguarding is still resisted because of complacency and lack of interest.”

McLellan said three things had to happen. “First, and most important, a beginning will be made to heal the hurt and address the anger which survivors feel,” he said.

“Second, the Catholic church in Scotland will confront a dark part of its past and find some healing for itself. Third, a significant step will be taken in restoring public credibility for the Catholic church.”



Electric shocks for abuse victim: inquiry

by Megan Neil

Robert Cummings was told it was his own fault bigger boys were raping him at a youth centre and electric shock treatment would cure him of his homosexuality.

When the 16-year-old ward of the state reported the frequent rapes by boys at Victoria's Turana youth centre, a doctor told him: "Well, we need to up your dosage of electricity."

Mr Cummings told the royal commission into child abuse: "I remember at times screaming from the pain of the electric shocks and being thrown from the chair.

"I learned from that point on not to say anything about the abuse as I felt I was still being punished and was not being believed about what was happening to me."

The 60-year-old said he was subjected to 12 electric shock sessions over two months in 1971. Shocks were administered when images of naked men appeared on a screen.

Mr Cummings said he sought help from a centre officer when his older cellmate started abusing him, but the "screw" told him: "It's only happening because of your homosexuality. This is your fault. You need to be cured."

Mr Cummings said he told the officer he was not homosexual, but had been abused at a Methodist institution, Harrison House, and assaulted by the boy in Turana's Quamby section.

Two centre officers frogmarched a scared Mr Cummings to an adult mental facility where a doctor told him: "You're here because you're homosexual and we're going to cure that with electric shock treatment."

Mr Cummings said he became a further target when the other boys found out.

"I was being called bum boy. I was abused by other boys on a frequent basis because they knew about the sessions at the hospital," he said.

"On most days I was fighting off boys to stay safe. No one protected me at Quamby and the screws did nothing."

Mr Cummings said he never asked for, nor agreed to, the therapy and told doctors he did not want it.

The hearing was told two doctors involved in sending Mr Cummings for the treatment now live in New Zealand and have not responded to requests to give evidence to the royal commission.

Retired psychologist Thomas Verberne, 88, introduced electrical aversion therapy as a treatment for homosexuality at the Parkville Psychiatric Unit but could not remember administering the treatment to Mr Cummings.

Mr Verberne said the voltage could not be turned up and it was designed to induce minimal pain to bring about the desired effect.

"The discomfort or pain with the shock was quite comparable to you having a rubber band around your wrist and you flick it," he said.

Mr Verberne told the commission he would not have administered the therapy if a patient had protested and would have reported the abuse if he knew Mr Cummings was being raped.

The retired psychologist said he felt very sorry about the impact the treatment had on Mr Cummings after hearing his evidence.

"If I'd known that that was the case, or would have been the case, I would never have dreamt of starting it," he said.

"Robert, I'm very sorry about all the consequences of having been involved in the therapy that I gave you."

Mr Cummings returned to Turana at 19 years old to help boys as a recreation officer and spent four decades as a youth worker.



Michelle Byrom Was Abused For Years & Then Almost Executed — But She's Not The Only One

by Vanessa Golembewski

In the tranquil town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, there's a small house with an inviting backyard. There's a sheepdog, Chelsea, who lovingly greets guests as soon as they get out of the car. There's a porch full of garden knickknacks; faux frogs hidden in succulents, some tomatoes lined up underneath colorful wind chimes. And there, sitting peacefully in a wheelchair on a quiet July morning, is Michelle Byrom — a woman the state of Mississippi nearly executed — who is seeing her first few weeks of freedom after 15 years on death row.

Michelle's story sounds like something out of a spy novel. She was convicted of a murder-for-hire plot against her abusive husband, Edward Byrom Sr., in 1999. According to prosecutors, Michelle paid Joey Gillis — a friend of her son — to murder Edward Sr. Her son, Edward Byrom Jr., confessed to shooting his father, unable to take his verbal, mental, and physical abuse any longer. But in an effort to protect Edward Jr., Michelle told law enforcement that she took full responsibility for her husband's death.

Judge Thomas Gardner convicted Michelle of capital murder in 2000. If her husband was so abusive, prosecutors argued, why didn't she just leave him? Judge Gardner sentenced her to death by lethal injection. She spent 15 years on death row at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl. During that time, she maintained her innocence. Her son even confessed to shooting his father to a court-appointed psychiatrist. But that confession was not weighed at trial. Edward Jr. even pointed police to the murder weapon, testing positive for gunpowder residue on his hands and shirt. Yet Michelle remained on death row. Then, hours before her scheduled execution in March 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court — at last acknowledging the incompetence of her defense and spotting exculpatory evidence that wasn't admitted at trial — vacated her conviction. Michelle was transferred to Tishomingo County Jail in Iuka, where she awaited a new trial. Except, she never had that trial. Her attorneys told her if she plead no contest on June 26, she could walk away right then and there. So, she did.

Days after Michelle's release, I sent her a letter to a P.O. box listed through one of her support groups. I asked if I could come interview her, and two weeks later she called me to say she was ready to tell her story. So I flew down to Nashville, drove a rental car to Murfreesboro, and got to know a woman who's seeing what the world looks like after 15 years cut off from society.

The world has changed a lot since Michelle was first incarcerated. She's still in a period of adjustment during which she's surprised by little things most people never notice, like the carpool lane on the highway or the disappearance of video rental stores. But, despite all this change and progress, for women like Michelle who have suffered — or are suffering — domestic violence in Mississippi, the world looks as bleak as ever.

The Night Of The Arrest

After Edward Sr. was found dead, the sheriff came to question Michelle, who was in the hospital being treated for pneumonia and under heavy medication. “Listen, we are going to be able to pull enough together,” the sheriff told her, according to official case documents. “Don't leave [Edward Jr.] hanging out there to bite the bullet.” Michelle — in a drug-induced haze and wanting to protect her son — took the blame. “I will take all the responsibility,” she told the sheriff, and made up something about asking Gillis to shoot Edward Sr. She was arrested there in the hospital and brought to prison wearing just two hospital gowns: one on her front and one on her back.

The details of her trial are disheartening. No witnesses — including a court-ordered psychiatrist — were called to testify in her defense. Michelle claims she knew some of the jury members personally. (Her son played baseball with one male juror. Another female juror was in Michelle's Sunday school class.) Key evidence — like her son's confession to the murder — was never shown to the jury. In an article he penned for The Jackson Free Press days before Michelle's scheduled execution, former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz wrote that Michelle's trial was "riddled with errors." Diaz's assessment of Michelle's unfair trial is lengthy, but the highlights include that “basic trial and appellate responsibilities were neglected or inadequately performed,” “necessary objections were not made,” and — perhaps most upsetting — “the appeal filed on [Michelle's] behalf relies in large part on unsupported assertions and vague innuendo, and falls below what I consider professionally acceptable.”

Had the state Supreme Court not overturned her conviction, Michelle would have been the first woman executed in the state of Mississippi since World War II.

A Life Of Abuse (& Where Mississippi Fails Women)

By the age of 15, Michelle had left her home in Yonkers, NY, to become a stripper. Shortly after, when Michelle was 17, she met Edward Sr., who was 32 at the time. “Back then, I was looking for a father figure,” she told me. They dated, had Edward Jr., and were married five years later. But, before long, her marriage became a relationship in which she was horrifically abused and isolated from her friends and family.

“He made sure I didn't have money. He made sure I kept away from my family, [by] hundreds of miles,” Michelle said. She didn't bring any of her female friends around because, when she did, Edward Sr. always “wanted something to do with them,” she explained to me. “And I don't really know what else I could have done. Anywhere I would have went he would have found me, and he would have hurt anybody that tried to help me.”

Michelle's stories about her husband are hard to stomach. In addition to regular beatings, isolation from her friends and family, and the overarching fear Edward Sr. instilled in her, to keep her from leaving, he forced her to have sex with other men and videotaped it for his own pleasure. Michelle claims he once suspected her of having an affair with the exterminator, so he forced her to ingest a block of rat poison, pouring whiskey down her throat after each bite.

It's a shocking story, but Keith A. Caruso, MD, a forensic psychiatrist, claimed in his court-ordered psychiatric assessment that Michelle has Munchausen syndrome, after having been abused all her life, and was ingesting the poison herself in an attempt to escape her abuser. This is common in abuse victims, so it's understandable that this was his conclusion.

I asked him if, hypothetically, there's a possibility that a domestic violence victim's symptoms could simply present as Munchausen's, but in reality be extreme abuse. “Hypothetically, symptoms could be caused by abuse,” he told me over the phone. “But if that is the case, the person should have told their lawyers, as it could possibly be considered imperfect self-defense.” Michelle couldn't possibly have known that legal intricacy, but it points to yet another item on a list of things Michelle's defense team could have done better.
Compounding that is the fact that Mississippi is a notoriously difficult place to find help as an abused woman. In fact, it's not a great place to be a woman in general. In 2012, a study based on data from the National Women's Law Center, National Partnership for Women & Families, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence named Mississippi the worst state for women to live. According to this study, 22% of women were living below the poverty line and only 21% were college-educated. Mississippi is one of four states to have never had a woman in Congress or as governor. The state legislature is just 15% female. The state also has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, but just one abortion clinic — on the brink of closure. A 2014 Violence Policy Report named Mississippi the fifth in the country for the most women murdered by men.

Michelle was aware of the limited resources that were available to her in 1999 in Mississippi, but she said there was “no way” she could have utilized them. “It would require me to leave the house, and anybody that helped me in any way would be in serious trouble,” Michelle said. “He had ways to get to people.”

And yet, the prosecution's major argument against Michelle was one that's unfortunately familiar to many survivors of domestic violence: If your husband was abusing you, why didn't you just leave? Why didn't you just get out of it? Michelle did leave — many times. But, Edward Sr. would always find her. “And when the beatdowns came, they were bad.” Even afterward, her doctors — all male — would just advise her to go to a shelter.

But, in 1999, the only domestic violence shelter serving Tishomingo County, where Michelle lived, is in Tupelo — over an hour's drive from her home in Iuka. And in 1999 — a time when the internet and cell phones were not readily available, especially to women in Michelle's circumstances— the best way for Michelle to get help would be through her friends and neighbors. Even today, in 2015, that shelter in Tupelo remains the only one in the county.

To put that in perspective, consider this: Vermont, which has a population of about 600,000, has 12 domestic violence shelters. Mississippi, with a population of almost three million, has 13 shelters.

In Mississippi, doctors are always mandated reporters for children, required to report to authorities when they believe abuse or neglect is at play. But, for adults, they're only mandated reporters in certain circumstances. Those circumstances are if there's a gunshot or knifing, or if the adult is deemed a “vulnerable person.” That is, if they are mentally or physically handicapped. Doctors can also make decisions to report abuse on a case-by-case basis if they feel there's a larger threat to the safety of the hospital or public safety in general. Otherwise, an adult woman with signs of abuse is considered capable of leaving an abusive relationship. Michelle, diagnosed as mentally ill by Dr. Caruso over the course of her trial, was never reported to authorities, likely lost in the shuffle of the many doctors she saw over the years — who were arguably the only people who could have realistically helped her.

Her Experience In Prison

With all this in mind, it's clear that Michelle should never have been sent to death row. According to her, she's not alone in her circumstances. She said it seemed like a lot of her fellow inmates were in prison for self-defense against their abusers. Michelle mentioned, for example, Rachel Moore — who's currently serving a life sentence in Mississippi for shooting her abusive husband. After Rachel's husband beat her one evening, she grabbed a shotgun. She fired a warning shot into the air and gave him several verbal warnings to stay away from her. When he continued to approach her, she shot him.

Judge Gardner was also the trial judge for Moore. “Judge Gardner has a big problem with domestic violence,” Michelle said. “I think he has a problem with females, period. I don't know if he's married or not. If he is, I feel sorry for his wife.”

Neither the Mississippi Attorney General's office nor the Mississippi Department of Corrections could provide me with numbers regarding how many women are in Mississippi prisons for retaliating against their abusers. However, Amnesty International pointed me to a source that says, “85 to 90% of women in prison have a history of being victims of violence prior to their incarceration, including domestic violence, sexual violence, and child abuse.” According to the MSDOC, as of August 3, 2015, there are 1,722 women in Mississippi prisons.

Michelle's conviction was overturned just hours before her scheduled execution in March 2014. She learned the news from Lisa Jo Chamberlin, the other woman on death row. “I came out of the shower and she said, ‘Shell, you're on the news! You're not gonna die! You got a new trial.'” Michelle didn't believe her at first, but once she saw it on TV she knew it was real. “About five minutes later, here come the law library people with the papers, and there on the top: new trial. I told the woman, ‘Bend down here, I'm gonna give you a hug.'” Everybody in the zone celebrated.

That celebration speaks to a sort of tenuous camaraderie among the inmates. In fact, Michelle still keeps in touch with some of her former fellow inmates. She was fortunate to have a good relationship with both the guards and the other prisoners. “I never had to worry about getting attacked,” she said. “Most of the inmates and the guards had my back.”

Still, Michelle said she has no good memories of prison. But there were certainly moments when she laughed. Like one Halloween when she used her makeup kit to make her face look like that of a witch and scared a couple of the guards. Or the way she earned credits toward her seminary degree while serving her sentence. She recently finished all three seasons of Orange Is the New Black, which she says resembles nothing of real prison life. But she does identify with Red and the maternal role she sometimes plays to younger inmates. “The characters are pretty good.”


There were a lot of people pulling for Michelle's release. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty published a blog post campaigning for her removal from death row. A lengthy discussion of Michelle's story appeared in The Atlantic. People who had never even met Michelle, but knew she wasn't receiving justice, started Facebook groups in her support, like Justice for Michelle Byrom and Help Save Michelle Byrom.

Diaz, the former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, was particularly active in getting Michelle's conviction overturned. His opinion wasn't considered in the Supreme Court's upholding of Michelle's sentencing, however. At the time, he was under indictment from federal prosecutors who were accusing him of bribery. He was later acquitted and cleared, but because of the pending investigation, his vote didn't count and he was forced to step aside.

Diaz told me he wrote a dissent in 2003 pointing out the errors in her case, including the ineffectiveness of her attorneys and her lack of real representation. “It was shocking,” he told me over the phone. “Whoever represented her at trial did a horrible job.” He had similar words for whoever filed her first appeal. It wasn't until her post-conviction proceedings that Diaz felt she finally had proper attorneys on her side. “There's no doubt that, had she had adequate representation [earlier], she would never have received the death penalty in this case.” This opinion was later adopted by the majority.

Days before Michelle's execution, a reporter from The Jackson Free Press asked Diaz if he'd like to write an article about the situation in his own words. “I had to speak out and say something,” Diaz said of his decision to write it. “I couldn't just sit there and let the state of Mississippi execute a woman that I had previously thought didn't deserve execution.” It isn't lost on Diaz that 11 years is a long time to wait for another Supreme Court review. “That's 11 years of this woman's life spent on death row, when I think it could have been...she shouldn't have been there in the first place.”

After Michelle's conviction was overturned in March 2014, she was transferred to Tishomingo County Jail, where she was to await a new trial. But, 15 months went by and no trial date was set. So when she was offered a no contest plea deal, she took it. For Michelle, that meant she didn't get a guilty conviction, but is still considered a felon.

The Innocence Project, an organization that helps those who are wrongly imprisoned, usually only takes cases that can use DNA evidence to exonerate someone. So it wasn't the right fit for Michelle. But its communications director Paul Cates was able to shed some light on why people like Michelle would inevitably take a no contest plea. “It's an unfortunate case because they're not really giving someone a real option there,” he told me. Michelle said she didn't fully understand what it would mean to plead no contest. All she knew was that she could walk away right then and there. “It's definitely an issue we're concerned about, but at the end of the day it's understandable how someone, after waiting for so many years and who's been denied justice for so long, could take a plea against their best interest in order to get out of prison.” Michelle is a free woman, but is still seen as a felon because of her plea.

According to Amnesty International's senior death penalty campaigner James Clark, nationally, the average time spent on death row is 20 to 25 years. Michelle spent just 15 there before the state of Mississippi was ready to execute her. In other states, like Virginia, it can be even faster — just six or seven years. Some say having a prisoner serve an unnecessary amount of time before executing them is like having them serve two sentences: one of many years in prison, another of death. Conversely, having more time before an execution would allow for potential exoneration.

Michelle's story coincides with an important moment in the national conversation about the death penalty. Many lethal injection cases have been botched in recent years, according to Clark. Sometimes this means the person is experiencing pain, but showing no visible signs of it due to a paralyzing element in the drug. Other times this means the paralyzation didn't take, and the person is showing outward signs of pain. “Most states have lost their supply of lethal injection drugs because many pharmaceutical companies that produce them have stopped manufacturing them, or have restricted their supply,” Clark told me on the phone. He said that, despite companies' requests that these drugs not be used for the death penalty, the states' departments of corrections do it anyway.

A New Beginning

When Michelle was released from prison on June 26, her brother Kenny picked her up. She moved in with him and his wife Paula in their home in Tennessee. (Though, on the way they stopped for a Whopper at Burger King — a meal Michelle said was “better than sex.”) Over a Bloomin' Onion at The Outback Steakhouse — a snack high on Michelle's bucket list — she talked about her readjustment to the outside world.

Indeed, the world looks different to her now, though not entirely unfamiliar. She's been introduced to things like text messaging and Facebook. She has an email address and a Samsung tablet — her first-ever touchscreen device. One of her new favorite songs is Meghan Trainor's “All About That Bass.” Why? “She's bringing booty back.”

Still, her prison lifestyle lingers. Michelle eats usually only once a day, and sleeps just a few hours each night. She has Lupus and is mostly dependent on her wheelchair and her brother to get around. (She also doesn't have a driver's license.)

Because of her disability and her status as a felon, Michelle probably won't find much work. And, at the age of 57, suffering from Lupus, perhaps she shouldn't be expected to go out and find work.

Kenny and Paula's home, and Michelle's room in it, is much different from her maximum-security cell. Their walls are covered with pictures of their ever-growing family and inspirational quotes: Live, laugh, love reads one decoration.

She has laugh lines on her face from her nearly constant smile. She hopes to be a grandmother. She may attend her son's wedding later this year.

She misses her husband at times. “When this all started happening, I kept thinking he was gonna pop out and say, ‘Haha, gotcha.' This is some kind of joke,” she said. “I still think about him. We did have some good times.” That's the kind of woman Michelle is: one who seeks out the silver lining, even when the cloud is feeding you rat poison.

I asked Michelle what advice she would give herself if she could go back to 20 years ago. “Watch what you wish for,” she said. “I wished that I were out of the situation I was in and it came through, just not the way I intended it to happen.” But even this grim truth was punctuated by her infectious laugh.

While in prison, she became quite spiritual. Part of that spirituality is her forgiveness of those who have wronged her. “I can forgive these people,” she said, “but I can't forget. I do think that they're going to have to ‘fess up to what they did, and they're gonna have to face God one of these days.”

Michelle was told there isn't any additional legal action she can take, since she pled no contest. I asked her if she's considered filing a complaint against Judge Gardner to the Mississippi Commission for Judicial Review. “I was told it would be a waste of time,” she wrote to me in an email after our visit. “No judge is going to go against another judge.” Even the satisfaction of trying isn't enough to tempt her, as she sees the state of Mississippi as an impenetrable force. “Who down South would go against a judge from the South?” she wrote.

Instead, Michelle is focusing her efforts on the positive things she can do to help others. She's considering becoming a motivational speaker for those experiencing domestic violence. “I'd left many times, and why didn't I just keep going?” she said. ”But just because I didn't succeed doesn't mean somebody else who tried couldn't.”

Ultimately, Michelle is protective to the bone. It's that very tendency to safeguard others that likely landed her in prison in the first place. And it's that same instinct that made her ask, in our final email exchange, “Well, what did you think of poor Rachel Moore's story?”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 .

If you would like to help Michelle with medication, clothing, or personal items, you can visit her YouCaring site , which gives her 100% of the proceeds.



The lasting impact of childhood family violence

by Dr Cathy Kezelman

The crimes of family violence and child abuse first hit the headlines in the 1970s and 1980s when political feminist waves exposed the issues within Australian society. For the first time, sexual and other forms of abuse and violence were publicly named, personal stories were told and power imbalance and control were identified as key factors in the perpetration of such violence.

Australia's first royal commission into family violence will wrap up public hearings after four weeks of evidence from victims, advocates and support services. We've learnt that the impacts of early experiences of family violence and child abuse are often both significant and long-term.

However, until recently, society has continued to ignore and stigmatise the daily challenges often experienced by the five million Australian adults living with the effects of childhood trauma and abuse.

Childhood trauma results from various forms of abuse, including but not limited to, sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Different forms of violence and trauma regularly co-occur. For example, 55% of Australian children who have experienced physical abuse are also exposed to domestic violence, while an estimated 40% who have experienced sexual abuse are also exposed to domestic violence.

Further to this, from more than 4000 calls to the Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) Professional Support Line in 2014, a staggering 65% of callers reported that their childhood trauma, including abuse, had occurred within the home. Such statistics demonstrate that this is a national emergency and more so because the effects last long after the violence stops.

Both childhood abuse and family violence are an exploitation and imbalance of power, predicated on an inherent lack of respect and a betrayal of trust within an intimate and primary relationship of care. Such trauma violates the victim's right to safety and wellbeing through fear, threat, dominance, control and repeated physical and psychological harm.

These scourges thrive on secrecy, silence and the complicit hands-off bystander response, which has characterised our society until now. Compounding these factors is the appalling lack of accessible affordable specialist services. Lack of such services means that victims are not provided with the opportunities they need to rebuild their lives.

Violence, trauma and abuse – especially within the home – are rarely isolated events; they are often repeated, prolonged and extreme. In a recent report commissioned by ASCA, an individual who has been abused or otherwise traumatised in childhood is at significantly higher risk of impaired social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing as an adult. They are also at a higher risk of adopting coping behaviours, such as alcohol and substance abuse, overeating and smoking, the harmful repercussions of which compound the propensity to mental illness, attempted suicide and suicide.

However, our growing understanding of brain plasticity has established that possibilities for recovery are real. Critical to recovery are the positive relational experiences, which are central to a person's wellbeing and vital in building on people's inherent strengths towards a better future. Survivors seeking to recover from childhood trauma need to be and feel safe, with opportunities to discuss, process and make sense of their experiences so they can find a path to recovery. Such support needs to come from the community, including from family and friends but also professionally.

With the Royal Commission into family violence coming to a close, we can only commend the support from the Victorian Government and in particular Premier Daniel Andrews who made it his election promise to review what he called as the states most urgent law and order emergency. However now, we must ensure there is a continued response to family violence and childhood trauma and abuse in Australia.

By addressing childhood trauma and abuse in adults, Australia can save an estimated $9.1 billion annually. It is therefore critical that governments of all persuasions build on their good work in establishing and supporting such Commissions. They need to demonstrate the way they value their citizens by providing much-needed resources and specialist services to enable our fellow Australians to recover.


New Jersey

Judge reviewing P'burg mom's claim that DYFS trumped up child abuse charge

by Nick Falsone

A Phillipsburg mother who claims New Jersey caseworkers took away her child under trumped-up charges of child abuse will take her case before a federal appellate court this fall.

The attorney for Michelle Mammaro, who's been in a legal battle with New Jersey's Division of Child Protection and Permanency for several years, said an Oct. 2 hearing has been scheduled before the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

At stake is whether the lawsuit has enough merit to proceed. The New Jersey Attorney General's Office, which is representing the division in the case, wants it tossed on the grounds that the caseworkers should be immune from such litigation given the nature of their jobs.

"Child welfare caseworkers, when deciding whether to remove a child from a parent's custody due to concerns of actual or imminent abuse or neglect, are required to engage in a difficult decision-making process that involves weighing the competing rights of parents and their children," New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Benjamin H. Zieman wrote in a legal brief arguing the state's position.

Attorney: Constitutional rights violated

But Kenneth Rosellini, Mammaro's attorney, said the state's position sets an awful precedent that tramples on parents' constitutional rights.

"Her case is very significant," he said, referring to his client. "Parents have a right to be free from investigation unless there's actual evidence of imminent abuse and neglect."

Rosellini said there was no such evidence in this case.

A domestic assault in July 2011 set in motion the events that led to the state taking Mammaro's child. Her husband at the time, Damon Mammaro , choked her and stabbed her with a fork before fleeing with their then-19-month-old daughter, Daniella, from their Phillipsburg home. The husband was later arrested in Easton. He's since been convicted of aggravated assault and sent to state prison.

New Jersey's Division of Child Protection and Permanency, operating at the time as the Division of Children and Family Services, or DYFS, intervened.

Caseworkers get involved

DYFS caseworkers launched an investigation into child abuse targeting only Damon Mammaro. But they later expanded the scope and in September 2011 filed charges of child abuse against Michelle Mammaro.

The caseworkers told Michelle Mammaro that reports of her using drugs shifted the focus of the investigation.

Michelle Mammaro said caseworkers interrogated her and told her they'd take her daughter unless she submitted to a drug test. Her urine screen tested positive for marijuana, and she and her daughter relocated to a domestic violence victim's safe house. Caseworkers mandated that she be supervised in the presence of her daughter while staying there.

When she exhausted the time limit for stays at the safe house, she and her daughter moved to a friend's home in Watchung, New Jersey. Police then came to the home and forcibly removed her daughter in October 2011, according to Mammaro.

Mother and daughter separated

Mother and daughter were separated for five days until a judge intervened and ruled that DYFS didn't have grounds for the removal, Mammaro said.

The mandate that Mammaro be supervised while with her daughter remained in place, but she was able to designate her boyfriend's mother as the supervisor and live with her.

It wasn't until June 2012, nearly a year after her husband attacked her, that Mammaro was able to rid herself of DYFS. A family court judge found her not guilty of the child abuse charges DYFS brought against her.

Mammaro filed the lawsuit in October 2013. The attorney general's office appealed, but a federal judge in January ruled against the state. The Third Circuit appearance on Oct. 2 is an appeal to that judge's ruling.

Support for her cause

Mammaro acknowledged making one pivotal mistake through the whole ordeal: smoking marijuana given to her by a friend the night after she was attacked. She said she did it to self medicate, but regrets it.

She's now 29. Her daughter is 5. She's received an outpouring of support on social media since her case first went public. She said the lawsuit is about more than just money.

"I have to make something good come out of this," Mammaro said. "It seemed like they preyed on me because I was the victim of domestic violence and that's not fair."


TLC announces new documentary confronting child sexual abuse

by the Director of Publicity, Discovery

SILVER SPRING, Md. (August 18, 2015) - An estimated one in ten children will be the victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18. In light of recent events around 19 Kids and Counting, and in an effort to promote education, raise awareness and advance the conversation on this matter, TLC has partnered with two of the nation's leading abuse prevention organizations, RAINN and Darkness to Light, on a new documentary addressing the issue.

Breaking the Silence will air commercial-free on Sunday, August 30 at 10/9c and shine a light on the challenging journey faced by those affected by child sexual abuse, as well as offer useful information where people can turn for help. The documentary is part of a multi-platform partnership between TLC, RAINN and Darkness to Light that will include ongoing Public Service Announcements and information at containing access to important resources, experts and easy tools to support pending legislation.

Viewers will hear from experts, including a prevention training conducted by Darkness to Light, attended by Jill and Jessa, of the Duggar family, who want to use their situation to help others and promote adult education for the protection of children. And it will highlight the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN which provides free, confidential support to those impacted by sexual abuse 24/7.

The true prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to calculate, as most victims do not disclose their experiences. It's a silent epidemic, where open and honest discussion about its effect on the estimated 42 million survivors in America today is rarely heard. Breaking the Silence shows us how we all play a pivotal role in recognizing the signs of child abuse and preventing it - and teaching children that there are anonymous, safe places they can go to for help so they don't suffer in silence.


Rhode Island

Children In Crisis: Home Visiting Aims To Prevent Child Abuse And Neglect

by Kristin Gourlay

A nationwide family home visiting program aims to prevent child abuse and neglect, and help kids get off to a healthy start. Will it work?

Every week, family visitor Angela Monteiro checks in on her moms. That's what she calls the clients in her home visiting program – mostly new and first-time mothers. She lugs a laptop and binders full of educational handouts to each appointment. This morning, she visits Dominique and two-month-old baby Symphony in their modest Newport townhouse. We won't use their last names to protect their privacy.

“Hi ! You're a happy baby! She's getting big!"

Symphony smiles and gurgles as Monteiro gives her a squeeze, then hands her back to mom. Dominique is in her mid-twenties, soft-spoken.

Monteiro comes every week through a program run by Rhode Island's health department. It's for families facing risks like poverty, single parenthood, or a history of child abuse or mental illness.

“I'm just wondering how your week has been going," asks Monteiro.

“It's going," says Dominique, "but it's kind of slow, I'm still looking for work.”

Monteiro offers to help Dominique clear any barriers to finding work. She helps her set some goals for the coming week, like getting her driver's license. And for the rest of the session she teaches Dominique about a milestone in healthy child development.

“I thought we'd start off with a nice activity since the baby is awake and alert.”

Monteiro asks Dominique to sit the baby on her knees and bounce her to the rhythm of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” bouncing higher on the same word each time.

“And we do this to give babies opportunities to experience cause and effect, and patterns," says Monteiro, "and to remind parents to play traditional games with their babies. And it also helps to lay a foundation for early language development.”

Dominique practices some other brain-building games until baby Symphony gets hungry.

Monteiro says moms – and sometimes dads, too – like the program because most parents want to know how to give their children the best start in life. It's also free and voluntary.

“We're out here just to provide more maternal education. Because we know in the past 10 years there's been a significant amount of research done on early brain development.”

Like the research that shows talking to your baby, as early and as often as possible, helps develop her language skills. Or the studies that show how poverty and neglect can damage the architecture of young brains.

Dominique says doctors suggested the program when she was pregnant with her second child.

“I just figured, OK, it's been a while since I did this. My daughter, she's about to be six, I'm starting all over again, so why not go and get as much information as I can.”

Monteiro hopes that information will build Dominique's parenting skills.

But there's another reason why, every week, a quiet army of nurses and social workers like Monteiro fans out into communities across the country. They're part of the federally funded Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. It's a multi-billion-dollar experiment to get kids off to a healthier start and prevent child abuse and neglect. Health care providers have been making house calls for centuries. But there's never been a family visiting effort this broad, or this coordinated.

Kristine Campagna oversees Rhode Island's home visiting programs.

"Those programs have been studied and researched, using typically randomized control trials that show proven evidence of good outcomes," says Campagna, "such as increased school readiness, as well as decreases in child abuse and neglect.”

When it comes to counteracting the kinds of stress that put families at risk for abuse or neglect, the evidence for these programs is mixed. But it's promising enough that the U.S. Health and Human Services agency just doled out a second round of funding to extend the programs.

In Rhode Island, Campagna says the money will help visitors enroll more families and work with them longer.

She emphasizes the program is voluntary – not punitive. It's supposed to help families beat the odds stacked up against them.

“There are families with single parents, have more than one child, maybe all under the age of five, or they are living in poverty and in neighborhoods that might not be the safest," she says, "that they may not have graduated high school but are looking to continue their education and be provided support.”

Campagna says parenting doesn't come with a guidebook. Home visitors do, adhering to a standard curriculum.

But they go off-book too, helping families piece together the other resources they might need, like job training, or housing.

“So, how has your week been going for you guys?”

In Newport, Monteiro meets her next client, 19-year-old Tavia and her son Elias.

Tavia's short hair is sleeked back, and she's wearing a long yellow summer dress. Elias wiggles off his chair and roots around for a snack. He's a solid little guy, with curly black hair.

Monteiro pulls out a handout about nutrition for toddlers.

“OK, so, dad, how about you take ‘good nutrition?' And mom you'll take ‘responsive and preventative health care?'

Tavia says she got pregnant her senior year of high school. She fell behind. And a counselor suggested the family visiting program. Her first visitor was named Deb.

“So we meet Deb, and I'm like, this is ridiculous, I don't want to do this program. This is silly," Tavia says. "And then Deb is like mad cool, so I'm like, 'OK, I'll just try the program.' And then, I was just in it. I was in it from the time I was seven and a half months pregnant until I had my son.”

Now, Elias is one. Tavia is working on getting into college, to study singing. She says she's confident she knows how to raise Elias. But the program has filled in some gaps in her knowledge.

“There's more technicalities than I thought there were," says Tavia. "Like about when to give them baby food or what age they should be. Or when you should introduce this or when you should introduce this…”

Monteiro will stick with Tavia and her other clients through their children's second or third birthday. She hopes it's enough to set them on a path to success, and that they'll never have to interact with her counterparts in the child welfare system.


Surviving Child Sexual Abuse By Helping Others

by Susan Komisar Hausman

When I was seven years old I was raped by a neighbor and dear friend of our family. Everyone thought he was a great guy. I had no context in which to understand what had happened to me, so processing it took many years. I told no one. I grew up believing, in spite of dates here and there, that when it came to men I did not know what I was doing (one young man once asked me, exasperated, "Why are you so intimidated by me?"). I also believed that my words, thoughts and actions, in almost every realm, were without merit. Worthlessness and depression permeated my being; meaning and purpose eluded me. Eventually, I connected with my now husband, a man I'd known since childhood. I'm now 57 and in September we'll be married 30 years. Ten years after our wedding, I gave birth to our daughter, the true light of my life.

One evening years ago I received a call from my mother telling me the neighbor had died. As I drifted to sleep that night, my mind flooded with images of his face, alternating from lust to rage, lust to rage. I jolted. My husband asked what was wrong and I told him. I also told him "I know where this is going and I can't do this right now." Days later, I turned to a trusted therapist who told me it would all have to come out of me and that my body would let me know when it was ready.

It took several more years for me to face what had happened, but as I journaled each day, the understanding of my feelings of worthlessness, intermingled with the memories of this man writhing atop me, not caring if I could move or even breathe, burgeoned. I finally grasped what he had done and the numerous ways it had affected my life. Slowly, I allowed a small circle of confidantes to share in my journey. Their unwavering support and compassion bolstered me.

One day, when my parents were visiting, my dad remarked about several books regarding abuse he'd noticed on my bookshelf.

"Did something happen to you when you were little?" he asked.

Yes, I said. And then I told them. The man had been their good friend. They'd believed the facade, as I had. All along I'd worried they might not believe me and defend that facade, but I couldn't have been more wrong. They listened thoughtfully and stood staunchly by my side.

Mom told me after dad died years later that he had cried every day about what happened. To this day that brings a tear to my eye. It is never just the child who suffers from child sexual abuse. Family and community are never the same either.

In the wake of all my newfound awareness, I sought resources for survivors of child sexual abuse. Online one day, I came across Darkness To Light and was riveted. The organization's mission to educate adults on preventing and responding appropriately to abuse resonated with me. On a beautiful October day in 2006 I became a facilitator for D2L's prevention training, then brought the program to my community. I went on to become an instructor, training the trainers, eventually heading up the prevention effort at our local YMCA. It is the rare training I lead where someone doesn't share with me their own survivor story -- sometimes for the first time -- or that of someone near and dear to them.

I also wrote a children's book about trusting and telling. A small, self-published effort, the words had come easily, but I grappled again with issues of confidence and self-worth. Support from those around me -- especially my husband and daughter -- buoyed me and eventually the book, "Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling," was published and released in 2009. There were readings and speaking events with children, therapists, teachers, and parents. I heard from people all over the world.

So many opportunities unfolded, but one moment in particular stood out. After one event, a young girl who'd stood in line with her mom to speak with me, approached. I knew she'd been gifted a copy of my book -- and was an abuse survivor -- as her mom had given permission for a friend to obtain a book from me and to have me inscribe it. When it was her turn in line, the young girl said nothing. Instead, she reached over and hugged me ... and hugged and hugged. There were no words. None were needed. I'd always said if the book helped even just one child, it would have been worth it. It so was.



The lasting impact of childhood family violence

by Dr CathyKezelman

The crimes of family violence and child abuse first hit the headlines in the 1970s and 1980s when political feminist waves exposed the issues within Australian society. For the first time, sexual and other forms of abuse and violence were publicly named, personal stories were told and power imbalance and control were identified as key factors in the perpetration of such violence.

Australia's first royal commission into family violence will wrap up public hearings after four weeks of evidence from victims, advocates and support services. We've learnt that the impacts of early experiences of family violence and child abuse are often both significant and long-term.

However, until recently, society has continued to ignore and stigmatise the daily challenges often experienced by the five million Australian adults living with the effects of childhood trauma and abuse.

Childhood trauma results from various forms of abuse, including but not limited to, sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Different forms of violence and trauma regularly co-occur. For example, 55% of Australian children who have experienced physical abuse are also exposed to domestic violence, while an estimated 40% who have experienced sexual abuse are also exposed to domestic violence.

Further to this, from more than 4000 calls to the Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) Professional Support Line in 2014, a staggering 65% of callers reported that their childhood trauma, including abuse, had occurred within the home. Such statistics demonstrate that this is a national emergency and more so because the effects last long after the violence stops.

Both childhood abuse and family violence are an exploitation and imbalance of power, predicated on an inherent lack of respect and a betrayal of trust within an intimate and primary relationship of care. Such trauma violates the victim's right to safety and wellbeing through fear, threat, dominance, control and repeated physical and psychological harm.

These scourges thrive on secrecy, silence and the complicit hands-off bystander response, which has characterised our society until now. Compounding these factors is the appalling lack of accessible affordable specialist services. Lack of such services means that victims are not provided with the opportunities they need to rebuild their lives.

Violence, trauma and abuse – especially within the home – are rarely isolated events; they are often repeated, prolonged and extreme. In a recent report commissioned by ASCA, an individual who has been abused or otherwise traumatised in childhood is at significantly higher risk of impaired social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing as an adult. They are also at a higher risk of adopting coping behaviours, such as alcohol and substance abuse, overeating and smoking, the harmful repercussions of which compound the propensity to mental illness, attempted suicide and suicide.

However, our growing understanding of brain plasticity has established that possibilities for recovery are real. Critical to recovery are the positive relational experiences, which are central to a person's wellbeing and vital in building on people's inherent strengths towards a better future. Survivors seeking to recover from childhood trauma need to be and feel safe, with opportunities to discuss, process and make sense of their experiences so they can find a path to recovery. Such support needs to come from the community, including from family and friends but also professionally.

With the Royal Commission into family violence coming to a close, we can only commend the support from the Victorian Government and in particular Premier Daniel Andrews who made it his election promise to review what he called as the states most urgent law and order emergency. However now, we must ensure there is a continued response to family violence and childhood trauma and abuse in Australia.

By addressing childhood trauma and abuse in adults, Australia can save an estimated $9.1 billion annually. It is therefore critical that governments of all persuasions build on their good work in establishing and supporting such Commissions. They need to demonstrate the way they value their citizens by providing much-needed resources and specialist services to enable our fellow Australians to recover.


DSHS failures are rarely punished

by Will Drabold

The state of Washington's largest department is tasked with caring for the state's most vulnerable residents — abused children, foster kids, mentally handicapped adults. But time and again, it has failed.

Over the past eight years, the Washington state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has been hit with scores of lawsuits, ultimately paying $166.4 million for personal-injury claims. Many of the most severely injured were children who were tortured, starved or raped. Some died.

DSHS employees behind these failures rarely are punished, The Seattle Times has found.

From those scores of lawsuits, the newspaper selected one dozen of the high-cost, child-welfare cases for which records were readily accessible. Many of these cases made headlines and resulted in verdicts or settlements ranging from $750,000 to $11 million, some $75 million in all.

Using court records, public records and interviews, the newspaper identified 48 DSHS staffers involved in the failures in these 12 cases.

None of the 48 was fired or suspended. None was demoted or lost pay.

That is according to DSHS, which ran the 48 names through its human-resources databases at the newspaper's request. (The database only shows records that affect compensation.)

Whether any of the 48 staffers were given lesser forms of discipline, such as reprimand letters, is unclear. DSHS in May said it would takes several months to provide answers. (Recently, the agency said one staffer had been given a letter of reprimand. It hasn't completed its research.)

Slightly less than half the 48 still work for DSHS; some have retired.

The review of the 12 cases — as well as several dozen interviews with current and former DSHS employees, state employee-union officials, personal-injury lawyers, children's advocates and others — turned up some common failings: overlooked complaints of abuse; delayed or inept investigations; placement of children in unsafe homes.

DSHS' lack of focus on personal accountability is a significant problem, said Tim Tesh, a personal-injury lawyer who has sued DSHS many times. Policymakers can suggest reforms, he said, but “often, it's that the worker didn't follow procedures that are already in place. What good does reform do you when the worker just doesn't follow them?”

DSHS said paying a victim does not mean an employee made a mistake.

Jennifer Strus since 2013 has been head of the Children's Administration, the division responsible for payouts of $141.4 million. She would not comment on how her predecessors handled employees who may have made mistakes years earlier.

Any failures must be well-documented before the agency can take action, she noted. DSHS in recent years has improved training and how it tracks complaints of abuse and also reviews the performance of employees implicated in claims against the agency.

Being a social worker is the “toughest job in state government,” Strus said. A combination of large case-loads, employee turnover and budget cuts makes it “pretty hard to do great work,” she said.

Cheryl Schaefer, 28, isn't comforted by these words. She and three siblings suffered years of abuse in a foster home under DSHS supervision in northeastern Washington. Up until 2001, court records show, they were beaten, forced to overeat, throw up and eat their own vomit, and suffered sexual abuse.

According to court records, Schaefer and her siblings said the caseworker repeatedly ignored their cries for help.

A 2012 lawsuit, filed by Tesh against DSHS, was settled for $5.3 million.

‘I can't do my job'

Complaints about how DSHS handled foster kids and reports of child abuse have tagged the agency for years. In 1998, lawyers for 13 foster kids filed a class-action lawsuit against the state, saying foster children were being harmed across the board by inadequate care. The state Supreme Court, in the landmark 2003 Braam decision (named after one of the plaintiffs), upheld a lower court and put Washington's child-welfare system under judicial oversight.

The Braam case led to several improvements, including sharply cutting back on children bouncing from one foster home to another. The court oversight continues, in part because a key court-ordered mandate remains unfulfilled: foster-child caseloads of 18 or fewer for 90 percent of social workers.

Besides the court, state lawmakers recently required DSHS to be more accountable for mistakes. DSHS was required to do automatic reviews of botched child-welfare cases only when someone died in state care, a “fatality review.”

As of July 24, under “Aiden's Law,” DSHS must review worker actions if a child experiences a “near fatality” within one year of a previous incident of abuse.

State Sen. Steve O'Ban, R-University Place, who sponsored the legislation, called it an improvement. That lawmakers had to force DSHS to review such cases “speaks volumes,” he said.

Most of the multimillion-dollar settlements come from the DSHS Children's Administration division. There more than 1,800 social workers oversee nearly 10,000 children in foster care and last year looked into 90,000 reports of child neglect or abuse. Turnover is high — about one in six staffers leaves each year. Starting pay can be as low as $32,688.

Joyce Murphy, a social worker in Vancouver who's worked for a decade at the agency, said she has failed to see children once a month, as required by DSHS policy. She blames it on her caseload, which she says over the past four years has averaged about 25 children — well above the national standard of 15 and the DSHS average of 19.

“I can't do my job,” she said. She worries each night that one of her clients will die on her watch.

No one died in the case of two young Snohomish County boys, ages 3 and 6, who were being starved and beaten by their father and his girlfriend in 2006, but it does illuminate the tragic results when workers utterly fail to do their jobs. The case is one of many that reveals the personal consequences for such failures can be slight.

Between May and July 2006, a neighbor filed four complaints with DSHS, saying two young boys were being starved and beaten by their parents. She would later say that no one at DSHS ever followed up with her, court records show.

The father, Danny Abegg, and his girlfriend, Marilea Mitchell, kept a padlock on the refrigerator and withheld food to punish the boys. A social worker, Aubrey Kilgore, in one visit reported that the house “had plenty of food in it.”

He went back a second time after a sheriff's deputy, shopping at Wal-Mart, saw bruises on the face of the 3-year-old, and alerted DSHS. This time, Kilgore required the parents to see a family therapist, documents show.

The child-welfare case was transferred that fall to another social worker, Deanna Neff. Among her failures, she gave Abegg eight-days notice she would be visiting the home, giving him time to hide evidence of abuse. Nor did she speak to the more severely abused younger brother, Shayne, records show.

A few months later, Ada Sharp, who had no experience or training investigating child abuse, was given the case, court records show. Other warning signs surfaced, records show, but Cherokee Screechowl, the area supervisor, ended the investigation in February 2007.

A month later, someone alerted authorities that a little boy was being “starved.” Paramedics rushed Shayne, now 4, to the hospital where he was found in urine-soaked clothes, emaciated, with a body temperature of 87 degrees. After being given food at the hospital, the boy told doctors not to let his parents know that he had eaten. A veteran paramedic later said he had not seen “a worse case of neglect or malnourishment.”

After Abegg and Mitchell were charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment, the case, with its sickening details and claims of DSHS failures, exploded in the news. Gov. Chris Gregoire asked for a special review, and DSHS said its employees failed to protect the two boys.

At the time, a DSHS spokesman said two employees linked to the case had resigned. DSHS recently said one of the four did receive a letter of reprimand.

Kilgore and Sharp still work at DSHS. Neff resigned from the agency. Screechowl resigned in 2007, came back in 2011 and then re-retired.

Screechowl could not be located; the others did not return calls for comment.

Shayne Abegg received $5 million from the state in 2009 after a judge compared him to a concentration-camp survivor. His older brother received $2.85 million two years later.

‘It is a war zone'

If the high-profile Snohomish starvation case didn't result in someone being punished, what sort of case would?

“This story has been going on for 30 years,” said Dennis Braddock, DSHS secretary from 2000 to 2005. He once described DSHS' culture as “bunkerlike” and said he tried to hold staffers to account but faced an uphill battle.

“Republicans don't like administration,” he recently said. “Democrats all side with the union. So management gets the short end of the stick in (employee) disputes.”

It's a proven formula: To effectively serve children and families, social workers need a reasonable number of cases to manage, a finding backed by decades of state and national studies.

The average caseload for child-protective-services (CPS) workers — Children's Administration employees who investigate reports of child neglect — is 16, well above the national standard of no more than 12. Also, it takes on average two years for a CPS investigator “to become proficient,” DSHS said.

Greg Devereux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees, which represents unionized DSHS staff, describes social-worker caseloads, burnout and turnover in dire terms: “It is a war zone.”

Some former DSHS officials and child advocates point to his union when noting that individual discipline doesn't always occur. DSHS is required to have substantial documentation to punish negligent employees, they assert, and the arbitration process can be time consuming.

“That's ridiculous,” Devereux said. The union makes sure DSHS “fairly holds people accountable.”

In the past eight years, the union went to arbitration on only two cases of Children's Administration social workers who were terminated, he said. One firing was upheld; the other employee was reinstated.

“I don't think anyone in the field can credibly deny that there's a scary connection between overburdened workers and risk of harm to kids,” said Ira Lustbader, litigation director of Children's Rights, a national organization that advocates and files lawsuits to bring accountability to child-welfare systems.

Lustbader's organization has filed lawsuits in other states arguing high caseloads are a civil-rights violation for children because it puts them in harm's way.

“These kids don't vote. They're poor. They're disproportionately of color. They're not a legislative priority,” he said.

Not held accountable

Even so, heavy caseloads cannot always explain away mistakes or why they go unpunished. According to interviews with 10 plaintiff attorneys who have brought personal-injury cases against DSHS, none of them has heard of a social worker being disciplined for failing to protect someone.

David Moody is a Seattle lawyer who has brought lawsuits against DSHS that resulted in $86 million in verdicts or settlements since 2000. “There's a constellation of warnings and a corresponding constellation of failures by DSHS to heed those warnings,” said Moody, lawyer for the Abegg children. “No one is held accountable.”

DSHS Secretary Kevin Quigley declined to be interviewed.

In an email, he wrote that the agency has an improved performance-evaluation system and is more aggressive about dismissing subpar workers during their probation period.

“I understand the solution for some is to blame the caseworker every time a mistake is made, but when we are some 30 percent above a reasonable caseload, that can be like sending the Seahawks to play the Super Bowl with two-thirds of a team then firing them when they lose,” Quigley wrote.

Some officials note that the state does have another tool to hold DSHS accountable: The Office of Family and Children's Ombuds. Director Patrick Dowd says the office plays a neutral role when it intervenes in cases in which DSHS failed to act or was unreasonable.

However, he said, his office's “focus is on the actions of the agency and not the specific caseworker.”


The dark road to decriminalization: Why tolerating prostitution is dangerous

by Maggie Lawson

Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) -- In a controversial new policy move, global human rights organization Amnesty International has announced that they support the worldwide decriminalization of consensual prostitution and sex work.

While the group claims this will ultimately help women, a swarm of critics – scholars and celebrities alike – mobilized in quick and fierce opposition, arguing that bad far outweighs the good.

Announcing the development on August 11, secretary general Salil Shetty lauded the “historic day for Amnesty International,” while noting that the decision was not made “easily or quickly.”

This shift, according to Amnesty, marks a step towards an effort to regulate the sex industry more closely, aiming to lower the amount of exploitation and abuse that women who are involved in prostitution notoriously experience.

The new policy would also theoretically encourage better health care for women in prostitution and reduce the stigma involved with the industry.

Preceding Amnesty's decision, the New York Times published a piece on the slippery slope of the sex industry – calling it a vague, gray area, especially when it comes to its decriminalization.

“Can we really draw a bright line between a person who has casual sex, in private, with various lovers, and a person who has sex in private, with various short-term and long-term lovers, from whom she accepts monetary support?” the piece asks, arguing that private, consensual acts – whatever they may be – have a right to be protected.

However, a slew of therapists, sex trafficking survivors, and celebrities have recently spoken out against the policy change to decriminalize a criminal business – saying that there is in fact a very bright line that should be drawn to keep prostitution on the criminal side.

“It's a terrible idea,” said Tina Frundt, founder of Courtney's House in Washington, D.C.

“This has been tried and failed – in the Netherlands, in Germany – they've closed down over 30 brothels because we are talking about a criminal industry that we are trying to legalize,” Frundt said.

“Criminals think like criminals. It's a die-hard criminal business making millions,” she added.

Many brothels in Germany or Amsterdam obtain fake identification for minors and adult women who are forced over from other countries so that they can be sold in a legalized market, Frundt said.

For the underworld of prostitution, global decriminalization is the best thing that could happen.

Frundt herself is a survivor of child sex trafficking and founded Courtney's House in 2008 to help women and children heal from domestic sex trafficking and commercial sex exploitation. She sees multiple people per day who have experienced trauma and wounds from the trafficking industry.

If prostitution is tolerated globally, especially within the United States, she believes the amount of people who seek help at Courtney's House will double – simply because trauma comes with the territory.

Frundt is not alone in her stance against decriminalizing prostitution.

Candace Wheeler is a therapist with Restoration Ministries, an organization that aims to heal and help sex trafficking survivors. She believes that Amnesty's new policy could have a dangerous effect.

“As a therapist, I don't really see a difference between sex trafficking and prostitution,” Wheeler told CNA.

She said her main job is to heal the wounds that have been caused by the prostitution and trafficking industry. Although Wheeler recognizes the need for legal boundaries, she was skeptical about what decriminalizing sex work could result in.

“There has to be some kind of accountability,” she said, and pointed to Amsterdam's tolerant policy for sex work within the country, asserting that their model just doesn't work.

“What they have found (in Amsterdam) is that tolerance is not protecting women who are in prostitution there, because it's mostly women who are trafficked from other countries, and they are realizing that their tolerance is a huge problem,” Wheeler said.

“If it's decriminalized, then that just opens up the door for that kind of business. We could have established brothels and red light districts, and then crime comes with that, and drugs – and I am the person that gets to see them afterwards and try and heal them,” she said.

Celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep echoed this stance by signing a letter asking Amnesty to rethink their decision on decriminalizing an unregulated $99 billion global sex industry.

These celebrities are also joined by various survivors of the sex trade, who have experienced the “inescapable harms the sex trade inflicted,” as stated in the letter.

Medical professionals, gynecologists and mental health professionals have also asserted that regardless of how a woman ends up in the sex trade – consensual or not – their experience can lead to long term physical and psychological harm, and in some cases, death.

“Growing evidence shows the catastrophic effects of decriminalizing the sex trade,” the document reads, pointing to the German government who found that decriminalizing the sex industry did not make women safer or the industry more regulated.

Instead, it's tolerance only increased the amount of human trafficking and expanded “legal brothels” within the country.

The signed letter also states that decriminalizing the industry will only transforms brothel owners into businessmen and women into “deals.” In addition, lifting the ban on prostitution will do nothing to separate the difference between the women who have a choice in the trade and the women who are forced into it – it will only give the industry a green light to continue forward.

“Amnesty's reputation in upholding human rights for every individual would be severely and irreparably tarnished if it adopts a policy that sides with buyers of sex, pimps and other exploiters rather than with the exploited,” the letter read.

“By so voting, Amnesty would blow out its own candle.”



Pa. police forces swamped with child abuse cases amid stricter reporting standards

by Megan Guza

Western Pennsylvania police departments are swamped with child abuse referrals but have no extra staff to investigate them, a result of changes to state laws prompted by the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Police in Allegheny County investigated three times the number of child abuse referrals in the first six months of 2015 as they did during the same period last year. The number of detectives working the cases remained the same.

“We prioritize what we feel should be looked at first,” county police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said.

He said his detectives have felt the increase in caseload but, “You have to do what you have to do.”

In the first six months of 2014, the county's Children, Youth and Families referred 559 cases to police. Of those, 304 cases were assigned to county detectives, and 119 were assigned to Pittsburgh police. In the first half of this year, CYF referrals jumped to 1,448 — 933 to county detectives and 387 to city police.

Cathy Palm, executive director of the Center for Children's Justice based in Berks County, said the increase likely stems from expanded definitions and mandatory reporting requirements in laws that took effect Jan. 1.

“One of the challenges in Pennsylvania right now is that we know the numbers are up, we know the reports are up, but we don't know what's happening after the reports,” Palm said. “Is law enforcement really able to respond to the number of reports coming in, in terms of things like overtime and staff?”

Two dozen laws were born out of a task force formed in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse revelations in 2011. The former Penn State assistant football coach was convicted in 2012 of molesting young boys over 15 years.

The saga resulted in an overhaul of the child abuse reporting laws, particularly what constitutes abuse and who must report the abuse to whom.

Previously, mandated reporters were to inform a superior and that person would go to police. Now, mandated reporters call in suspected abuse to a state hotline, ChildLine.

In Allegheny County, cases assigned to Pittsburgh and county detectives account for 91 percent of child abuse cases. The remaining 9 percent were assigned to municipal police departments.

The county stands out, but it is not alone.

In Westmoreland County, Children's Bureau referrals between January and June jumped from 3,067 in 2014 to 3,587 in 2015 — a 17 percent increase. The number of cases assigned to police jumped from 1,347 to 1,657 — a 23 percent increase.

CYF in Armstrong County reported a 40 percent increase in referrals, up to 745 in fiscal year 2014-15 from 534 the year before. It was necessary to reassign caseworkers to intake, according to CYF director Dennis Demangone.

Data from other Western Pennsylvania counties, and the state, were not available, though a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services confirmed an increase in referrals statewide.

The changes to the laws updated the definition of physical abuse from “serious injury” to “bodily injury.” A previous threshold for pain — “severe” — was changed to “substantial.”

Kicking, burning and biting are considered abuse regardless of injury. Exposing a child to harmful medical treatment can qualify.

Neglect was redefined to include a one-time event of a particularly serious nature.

Changes included expanding the number of individuals who are mandatory reporters — professionals who by law must report suspected abuse.

Palm said that with the emphasis on reporting, the same emphasis must be put on investigating.

“You don't want to make the mistake of saying, ‘We won't investigate this one,' and that's the one you really should be investigating,” she said. “If you're going to increase at the front end, you really need to make sure you have enough people to respond to those reports.”

Pennsylvania State Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm said beyond the overload of cases, the increase can take an emotional toll.

“People are human,” Storm said. “It isn't happening to you, but vicariously, you do start to absorb some of it. It can really color the way you see the world.

“These are some of the worst cases: You're talking about kids who have been harmed,” Storm said. “As much as, as a police officer, you don't want to take your work home with you, these are the kinds of cases that stay with you.”

Palm said the numbers could spike again in coming weeks, when school resumes.

“We generally see a drop-off in the summer months because there are not as many eyes on the kids,” she said. “Counties … might already be struggling with the demand in the first six months, and they'll likely see another uptick in demand on the system.”


West Virginia

Biker group walking WV child abuse victims to school

by Celsea Spears

Empowering children.

That's the mission behind Bikers Against Child Abuse, or BACA, and the reason the Kanawha Valley chapter of roughly 10 motorcyclists is walking child abuse victims to school this week.

“To see them smile, to see them hold their head up, their chin up and look you in the eye because maybe they couldn't do that before with others because they were afraid - it's a blessing for us,” said BACA patch member “Bootsie.”

BACA members said thousands of children in West Virginia are abused physically and/or sexually. Some of those children are too scared to walk to class in fear the perpetrators will find and hurt them again, BACA members said.

Friday marked the second day the Kanawha Valley chapter walked two child abuse victims to Cabell County schools. 13 News is not releasing the names of those children or schools in order to protect their identities.

BACA also escorts children to court in child abuse cases. “Pipe,” president of the BACA Kanawha Valley chapter, said they will also go to parks with children or sleep on their front porches if they're too scared to sleep at night - anything that helps the children feel safe.

“Empowerment today meant them being able to walk and laugh and talk and smile on their way to school this morning,” Bootsie said. “They're the hero - they're the strong one. We're just the supporter.”

Each motorcyclist must go through a background check before becoming a part of BACA. Anyone who'd like to join the organization can find out more information at their monthly meetings, held on the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Eleanor Fire Department.
BACA can be reached on their hotline at 304-760-9373 or via email at



Thoughtful Parenting: Preventing child abuse

by Clarice Hubbell

One in four girls and one in seven boys are victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18. These statistics are scary and staggering.

Due to the prevalence of child sexual abuse, parents should educate themselves on strategies to protect their child. Sexual abuse crosses all boundaries and is not limited by ethnicity, geography or socio-economic standing.

One of the most important ways to prevent child sexual abuse is to be educated on who the offenders are and stranger danger and to realize tales of creepy men in vans offering candy to lure in unsuspecting children are largely false. Ninety percent of sexual offenders are known to their victims. They are family members, people in positions of trust (coaches, teachers, etc.), and older children — 50 percent of offenders are teenagers.

Grooming is the process by which an offender draws a victim into a sexual relationship and maintains that relationship in secrecy. Sexual offenders establish a trusting relationship with their victim by spending time with the child and making them feel special.

Offenders often use presents, gifts and other tricks to manipulate and silence the victim. The grooming process gradually desensitizes the child and violates their boundaries. Victims are taught by threats, manipulations, bribes and blackmail to keep the abuse a secret.

Offenders give their victims the impression that they have consented or even that they initiated the relationship. In this way, offenders shift the blame from themselves and onto the child. The child may then feel responsible for the abuse and feel too ashamed or scared to tell anyone.

For younger children, teach My Private Body Rules:

• I know what to call my private body parts. Use anatomically correct names like penis and vagina. Cute names confuse children, send messages of shame and complicate investigations

• I am responsible for my private body parts and have the right to keep them private. Teach your child that no one has the right to touch or look at their private body parts. The only exceptions are for hygiene and medical exams. Other people are responsible for keeping their own private body parts private. It is never OK for someone to ask you to touch or look at their private body parts.

• Other people's private parts are also private, and I am not allowed to look at or touch their private body parts. It is not OK for someone to show me pictures of people without their clothes on.

• Games with private body parts are never OK. Many children and adults have misconceptions that a sexual abuse incident would be violent, painful and terrifying. In fact, most sexual abuse occurs in the context of a “game." Remember, a perpetrator is concerned about secrecy — if it were violent, it would be more likely to get reported.

• Telling is the only way to make private body rule breakers to stop. If anyone tries to break a private body rule, you should never keep it a secret and always tell an adult that will help. If your child knows about someone having a private body rule broken they need to tell to make it stop.

(My Private Body Rules are courtesy of: Meghan Hurley Backofen, LCSW.)

Please call the Routt County Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline
at 970-367-4056 to report concerns about a child's safety and wellbeing.

Clarice Hubbell is a certified child life specialist and lead case manager for Partners in Routt County. She a member of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition and is chair of the Parent Empowerment Taskforce.



Nonprofit's 'promise' is to help Oklahoma parents end child abuse

The mission of Parent Promise is to give new and expecting parents in the Oklahoma City area the tools and education to effectively raise children and, ultimately, to prevent child abuse and neglect

by Savannah Evanoff

The mission of Parent Promise struck a chord with Janet Brown, a mother
and special-education teacher.

?The nonprofit organization's mission is to give new and expecting parents the tools and education to effectively raise children and, ultimately, to prevent child abuse and neglect.

“The fact that children are dying, hurt and killed every day, we can prevent this through education,” Brown said. “It's not something where we're going in after it's happened. We want to prevent it. It's a proactive benefit.”

?After 15 years of attending Parent Promise fundraisers, Brown is now a Parent Promise board member and co-chair for the Melody Lane fundraiser. The annual dinner auction is named in honor of a former board member.

?The 2015 Melody Lane fundraiser will be at Aug. 29 at the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club. The theme is “South of the Border,” and it will feature live mariachi music, Mexican food and a cash bar with margaritas. Jennifer Reynolds, host of the TV show “Discover Oklahoma,” will emcee.

?“We had around 250 people last year,” Brown said. “This year I hope we surpass that.”

Items up for silent and live auctions include a trip to Costa Rica, club section tickets to see the Oklahoma City Thunder and a five-course dinner for six people at the Rococo North Park restaurant.

First five years vital

The first five years of a child's life are some of the most developmentally important.

?Sarah Njuguna, program supervisor, said this is the time when children's brains are making important connections.

?“The biggest part of that is positive, nurturing interaction with an adult who they're close to or connected to,” Njuguna said. “If that connection doesn't start when they're young, it's really hard to make those connections.”

Parent Promise targets the early years of a child's life by educating new and expecting parents on the most effective ways to interact with a child.

Executive Director Sherry Fair said Parent Promise only accepts expecting parents who are at least 29 weeks pregnant and parents with children younger than 1 year, because the program is more effective when initiated at a young age.

“We have a wide variety of parents and walks of life that the parents come from, but we see a lot of single moms who are probably between the ages of 17 and 25,” Njuguna said. “Many times they've come from a background where either they've been abused or neglected as a child, or they've seen domestic violence. So they need a positive role model to teach them and talk to them about what a healthy relationship is.”

Mike Mullins, an attorney with Mullins Martinez Sexton & Reaves, P.C., said that once a child has experienced abuse or neglect and is in the court system, the damage is already done.

?“Parent Promise provides critical guidance and education to intervene before abuse or neglect occurs thereby preventing the fallout a child and family experience from an abusive situation,” Mullins said.

?The Parent Promise program is voluntary, and an intake interview will help determine the specific needs of a family, Fair said. If family members are willing, the family will be assigned a family support worker who will stay with them through all five years of the Parent Promise services.

?“Staying with them the full five years really helps those to best prepare for their child to enter school on grade level,” Fair said.

?Parent Promise provides visitation services and education to help parents interact with their children up until the time the child enters kindergarten. It also will assist with other resources, such as helping a parent pursue a GED.

?All proceeds from the Melody Lane Fundraiser will support Parent Promise's mission of preventive education.

??“There's no economic boundaries on child abuse. We're there to provide help and benefit the families,” Brown said. “I would encourage people to come to this to help Oklahoma prevent child abuse through education.”