We need to do more to stop abuse of children
by State Sen. David Watters
No issue is more important than keeping our children safe.
This is why I partnered with Sexual Assault Support Services (now Haven), other child advocates, most notably Jessica Paradis, to create the Commission to Study Sexual Abuse Prevention Education in Elementary and Secondary Schools through my Senate Bill 348 in 2014. The commission was tasked to study current practices and legislation across the country, to identify model evidence-based curricula, to make recommendations on utilizing trained professionals and on training teachers and staff on sexual abuse reporting, to identify opportunities for collaboration, and to identify funding needs and sources.
With members drawn from the legislature, state agencies, schools, parents, and advocacy groups, the commission met frequently to take testimony, consider best practices, and craft recommendations. Kathy Beebe chaired the commission. She was the director of SASS, which has recently merged with A Safe Place to form Haven, which she now leads. Testimony and leadership was also provided by Lyn Schollett, executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, teacher Suzanne Carmichael, and Erica Ungarelli, Department of Health and Human Services. Jane Waterhouse played a key role in crafting the report and coordinating recommendations with the Department of Education. The full report of the commission is available at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/statstudcomm/reports/2147.pdf.
To summarize report findings, we learned that “Forty one percent of the most recent sexual assaults reported in the New Hampshire Violence Against Women survey occurred before the victim's eighteenth birthday, and 83 percent occurred before the age of twenty-five. Sixty-nine percent of the most recent sexual assaults committed against males in New Hampshire occurred before the victim was eighteen. Fifty-one percent of men who reported having been sexually assaulted said it occurred when they were age twelve or younger; another eighteen percent said they were assaulted between ages thirteen and seventeen. The NH Violence Against Women Survey results confirm previous findings that sexual violence is largely a crime perpetrated against youth.” In 2014, the Division of Children, Youth and Families investigated 1,147 reports of child sexual abuse, child advocacy centers interviewed 1,483 children, and crisis centers provided support services for 642 child sexual abuse victims and 148 adult survivors. It was clear from the testimony that we need more prevention education for our children.
As a UNH professor, it was especially disturbing to learn that “The New Hampshire Violence Against Women Survey found that 22.7 percent of women have been the victim of a sexual assault, with 19.5 percent having been the victim of sexual assault with penetration. These figures represent 112,909 New Hampshire women who have experienced sexual assault.” Childhood sexual abuse prevention education should lay a foundation to help women and men in higher education.
The commission issued recommendations covering education, prevention, and reporting programs for schools, and school partnerships with private providers, such as Haven, to expand age-appropriate lessons on personal safety and healthy relationships, potentially to all N.H. students. We support expanded use of trained professionals in community-based organizations, and other public and private organizations, to partner with schools in providing education. We call on the legislature to examine ways to expand resources for such health education through the adequacy formula.
Several recommendations were developed in cooperation with DOE, and I commend Commissioner Virginia Barry for her leadership and for her commitment to implement them. The commission recommends that DOE develop a model curriculum for use by trained teachers in schools that do not use outside agencies, and develop a teacher-training program. There is a need for DOE and DHHS to improve training on recognizing and reporting abuse. The commission recommends collaboration with the Sexual Violence Prevention Planning and Implementation Committee and the development of a communication plan on sexual abuse prevention education with superintendents and parent-teacher organizations. Finally, it is clear that we need legislation that clarifies that “child sexual abuse” is part of the definition of “child abuse” in the state health curriculum guidelines, so I have filed this legislation.
This commission and the resulting recommendations and legislation are a testimony to the extraordinary courage and commitment of survivors and advocates and to all those children who need to know that we will break the silence on child sexual abuse. I invite constituents to join me in raising our voices. Please contact me about my legislative initiatives that will keep all our children safe, surely part of our New Hampshire constitutional duty to “cherish” education.
State Sen. David Watters is a Democrat from Dover.
The Cambodian Organization that Stalks Western Child Molesters
by Simon Henderson and Peter Holslin
Rong Rattana was watching. Rattana, a Child Protection Coordinator for the Cambodian non-governmental organization Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), had been on the American man's trail after seeing him ride through the city of Siem Reap on a motorbike with a young Cambodian boy in tow. For months, Rattana and other APLE investigators followed the man.
He was living on the outskirts of town, in a $1.2 million home outfitted with a pool and a water slide. The man, Jack Sporich, was a retired engineer who'd moved to Cambodia from Arizona, after spending nine years in US prison and another three in a state hospital for molesting young boys.
APLE investigators put Sporich's home under surveillance. They watched all day and saw three young Cambodian boys come and go. In interviews later detailed in court papers, the boys told APLE investigators that they called Sporich "dad." He gave them money for school and let them play on his computer. They told APLE that he'd slept in the same bed with them, bathed with them, and in those moments, he would sometimes reach down and play with their genitals.
The Cambodian group's investigation—a detailed account, which was outlined in a federal court complaint against Sporich filed in April 2009—led directly to Sporich's arrest in Cambodia and deportation back to the United States to face charges in federal court. Last month, 81-year-old Sporich was sentenced to ten years in prison for molesting two of the boys. It was a major success for APLE.
APLE sits at the forefront of efforts to crack down on child sexual exploitation in Cambodia, and over the years has become well-known for its hardcore approach. Relying on a team of covert investigators and a web of informants, the organization is dedicated to hunting down Western tourists who for years have regarded Cambodia—one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries—as a playground for hiring underage sex workers and sexually exploiting young children.
APLE's efforts have led to numerous convictions and the rescue of hundreds of abused children. In the process, it's become a key ally with the Cambodian police as well as with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security that runs its own Child Exploitation Investigations Unit. But the group has also been dogged by online critics, some actively defending convicted or accused sex offenders they see as wrongfully jailed. And in recent months, criminal charges against a former APLE director suggest that cases like Sporich's—as disturbing as they are—are just one part of a complex and deep-seated problem.
Cambodia is well-known as a destination for "sex tourism." While many adult sex workers ply their trade willingly, the country has also been haunted by the history of red-light districts like Svay Pak, a village on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh where brothels openly pimped out girls as young as five, and a "virgin trade" drew the most corrupt local and foreign customers.
Abuses of children in Cambodia once flew under the radar in part because the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen was hampered by corruption and lack of resources. But efforts shifted in the mid-2000s as the government began working closely with countries like the United States and Australia, arresting and then deporting foreigners to face trial in their home countries. The United States stepped up its own efforts by passing a law, part of the Protect Act of 2003, which makes it illegal for citizens and permanent residents to engage in sex acts with minors while traveling in a foreign country—a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
But none of these efforts would be nearly as effective were it not for APLE, which often sniffs out suspects before anybody else. The group, founded in 2003 by the French activist Thierry Darnaudet, has become immensely powerful. Though it operates relatively modestly (according to its financial statement for 2014, the organization had an annual income of $519,213 with outgoings of $491,834), the group works alongside American law enforcement, with the official blessing of Cambodia's Ministry of the Interior (MoI). According to Samleang Seila, APLE's president, a government-issued Memorandum of Understanding empowers the group to do its own preliminary investigative work to assist official authorities.
Every sector in Cambodia, whether education, agriculture, or tourism, has been assisted by NGOs. Ours is a proven model in developing countries, and it is our belief that Cambodia's police force is getting stronger and will soon be wealthy and healthy enough to take up these cases by themselves," Seila told VICE.
According to Cambodia's Ministry of Interior, APLE's investigations have led to more than 680 children being rescued from sexual abuse—55 percent boys, 45 percent girls. The group also maintains a crime hotline, which rang up 227 reports last year, leading to 23 arrests; it offers free legal support and social assistance to children and their families affected by sexual abuse.
Still, APLE is just one player in what are often highly complex international court cases. Take Ronald Gerard Boyajian, an American who was arrested along with Sporich and Erik Leonardus Peeters in 2009 as part of a joint US-Cambodian initiative dubbed "Operation Twisted Traveler." The investigations involved APLE, Cambodian police, the FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Boyajian allegedly paid a ten-year-old Vietnamese girl 20,000 Cambodian reil (about $5) to perform oral sex on him. According to the initial complaint filed against him in US Central District Court of California, the investigation was jump-started by APLE, whose investigators witnessed Boyajian visiting a child brothel in Svay Pak. Later, according to court papers, the girl identified Boyajian in a photo line-up and said she had met with Boyajian multiple times. At one meeting, she said he told her, in Vietnamese, "Kid, go to work."
Boyajian—who had previously been convicted in 1994 on 22 counts of statutory rape in Orange County, according to records from the county's Superior Court—pleaded not guilty and hired a veteran Beverly Hills attorney, Danny Davis, to do research in Cambodia and punch holes in the prosecution's case. Davis suggested there were inconsistencies in the victim's account, and in 2012 he tried to get the case thrown out, arguing unsuccessfully that the charges were unconstitutional.
But that was just the beginning of what's turned out to be an epic saga of challenges and delays, causing Boyajian's case to lurch along with little progress for the past six years. After numerous stalling tactics, Boyajian's new trial date is set for November 3, but his court appointed assistant, George Buehler, says it might be delayed again.
So it's clear that APLE's investigations don't guarantee legal slam-dunks. Carol Smolenski, executive director of anti-child-trafficking advocacy group ECPAT USA, says these US child "sex tourism" cases can be especially hard on young survivors of sexual assault, who have to travel overseas to testify in US courts. As a result they may be re-traumatized by giving testimony, and they're also vulnerable to scrutiny from defense attorneys eager to discredit them.
"I remember speaking to some of the investigators about wanting to take the kids to an amusement park, because they were in a hotel for ten days, you know? And they're kids! They're cramped up," Smolenski said, referring to one US case. "But they really can't take them to an amusement park, because then that becomes something that the defense can use to say, 'That's why the kids are testifying. Because you wined and dined them.'"
Back in Cambodia, APLE has maintained a growing influence. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has led to accusations that the group has become too powerful. One of their most outspoken critics is James Ricketson, an Australian filmmaker and blogger who has become an advocate for a convicted rapist named David Fletcher. On his blog, Ricketson attacks the group and its founder, and highlights what he believes to be flagrant examples of shaky evidence collected by APLE that has been used to implicate suspects. In short, Ricketson thinks Cambodian authorities have given too much leeway to the organization.
"Evidence collected by APLE should be challenged by a lawyer representing the accused, but the veracity of APLE's evidence is rarely challenged in Cambodian courts," Ricketson said in an email to VICE. "This is a reflection on the incompetence of the country's judicial system, not on APLE's superior investigative abilities. It is time for the Cambodian government to stop outsourcing the policing of Cambodian law, with no oversight, to NGOs such as Action Pour les Enfants."
Seila dismissed the criticism, saying it comes from a misperception about how APLE operates.
"People seem to believe we are investigating cases by ourselves. What we do under the proviso of our MoI is to identify suspects, to pass information, and to carry out preliminary investigations," he said. "We don't make evidence—we assist the Cambodian police force in their investigations and our role is to support child victims from testimony throughout the process."
The US embassy in Cambodia and a spokesperson from Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment for this article. But the group also has the backing of other Cambodian groups dedicated to fighting child exploitation, like First-Step Cambodia, an NGO that provides resources for survivors of sexual abuse. Alastair Hilton, First-Step's organization's Technical Advisor and co-founder, said that "APLE, along with many other local and international organizations, has provided support, training, and resources to the MoI for a number of years in an effort to improve responses to and protection of children and others affected by and at risk of abuse. This has in many cases also resulted in sharing of intelligence and information leading to the arrest of a considerable number of Khmer and foreign nationals."
In general, it's perfectly legitimate for a private organization to help official law enforcement by providing resources and leads, says Diane Marie Amann, a professor of international criminal law at the University of Georgia School of Law.
"I think that collaboration with what we call 'civil society' is always positive," Amann said. "Criminal justice systems tend to need resources, and if there are private organizations that have familiarity with the situation, maybe better access or first access to the victims, it certainly is appropriate for them to cooperate."
Still, in a country where every week brings new headlines about pedophiles, recent events suggest that nobody—not even APLE—should be above suspicion.
In March, dozens of Cambodian police officers and government officials descended on a school and orphanage in Phnom Penh. The compound was called Our Home, and it was a residence for 60-plus kids, who were quickly evacuated and transferred to three different child protection centers in Cambodia. The children lugged their belongings in black plastic bags, and they had looks of confusion and fright on their faces as they were helped onto the back of covered pickup trucks. Meanwhile, the police arrested Our Home's owner, Hang Vibol.
The charges against him were shocking. For years, Vibol had been involved in fighting child exploitation; he had even served as APLE's former director of child protection. But in recent years he had become a target of an APLE investigation, and was now charged with abusing at least nine minors who were living at Our Home in 2013 and 2014.
Vibol's first hearing was held behind closed doors earlier this month. While behind bars he has protested his innocence, claiming that the evidence against him was fabricated in retaliation as part of an ongoing personal vendetta that began when he left APLE back in 2004, which he says was prompted by the organization's tactics. In a letter sent to VICE in March, Vibol said he was even planning to testify in Boyajian's case prior to his arrest, "in order to disclose all the activity of APLE in the US."
"I opposed the work of APLE," Vibol wrote in the letter. "APLE carries out activities that are beyond its competence by trespassing into police work, [using] the poor, who are the victims, by providing them food and coaching them to demand compensation from the accused."
Vibol has also levied accusations against APLE founder Thierry Darnaudet, accusing him of child molestation and embezzlement. Darnaudet (who no longer works for APLE) is now in the process of suing Vibol for defamation.
"At first it hurt when I read stuff on the internet about me, Seila, and APLE at large," Darnaudet wrote in an email to VICE. "Then I laughed as the allegations are so amazing and so twisted that it blew my mind away to think about how some people have time and interest to come up with such conspiracy theories. I feel bad for Seila, as I know how hard he works, how honest, meticulous, and how much integrity he has."
Vibol's arrest has proven somewhat controversial for APLE. The criminal charges against him stemmed from an APLE investigation and following the arrest, the head of Cambodian human rights group Licadho, Dr. Kek Pung, publicly questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for APLE to investigate its former director for sex offenses, when Vibol was being sued by Darnaudet over similar accusations. APLE quickly refuted those claims. Seila, APLE's president, told The Cambodia Daily earlier this year that Darnaudet had severed ties with APLE in August 2014, just before the investigation into Vibol began.
The group First-Step Cambodia is now helping to support the kids evacuated from Our Home as well as the dozen who are testifying against Vibol. Hilton, the Technical Advisor and co-founder, has maintained his faith in APLE. He pointed out that despite all this, APLE is still leading the charge in the movement to protect children from sexual abuse in Cambodia and rescue its victims.
"If APLE did not investigate, it would be unlikely that anyone else could or would," said Hilton.
Florida DCF has little oversight in Manatee County child abuse cases
by Kate Irby
MANATEE -- The Florida Department of Children and Families directly oversees child protective services in all counties except six: Broward, Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Seminole and Manatee.
In four counties, including Manatee, a statute enacted in 1998 established a grant agreement giving the sheriff's offices "all responsibility" for child protective investigations. Since then, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office has had sole discretion over child abuse investigations, with little oversight from DCF.
For fiscal year 2015-16, the sheriff's office received more than $4.9 million from DCF as part of the grant agreement. The money is earmarked for the Child Protective Services Division and "may not be integrated into the sheriff's regular budgets," according to the statute.
Gov. Rick Scott has proposed an additional $22.9 million for DCF in next year's budget to provide an additional 272 case managers. It is unclear whether the Manatee County Sheriff's Office will receive a piece of that pie, since they employ investigators and not case managers.
The process of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, DCF and the Safe Children Coalition has come under scrutiny after the gruesome discovery of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas' death. The Bradenton girl's body was found stuffed in a freezer Oct. 18 and her mother, Keishanna Thomas, has been charged with abuse of a dead body, aggravated child abuse and child abuse. There are 12 documented reports of abuse by Keishanna Thomas on file with the sheriff's office and DCF in the 14 years before the child's body was found.
Charlie Wells, Manatee County sheriff in 1998, said the DCF oversight agreement was the result of a discussion between certain sheriffs and then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
"At the time, DCF was just having monumental problems with kids that were either physically abused or killed," Wells told the Bradenton Herald last week. "DCF was taking a beating."
Wells said he can't remember if Bush approached him about the agreement or if it was the other way around. What he does remember is DCF was an absolute mess, with negative headlines appearing every day, and he felt something had to be done about it.
When the sheriff's office took over the process, Wells said he offered the department's child abuse investigators the chance to keep their jobs within the sheriff's office as long as they could pass a background check.
"I think there were 25 workers with DCF at the time, and less than half passed their background checks," Wells said. "I don't remember the issues with all of them, but I remember one guy during a polygraph test admitted to currently using cocaine."
DCF 'pilot program'
The program was meant to improve child protection services in those counties, and in some ways it was a pilot program, Wells said. The statute states explicitly that DCF could look into implementing the program with sheriff's offices in other counties starting in 2000, but only two additional counties, Hillsborough and Seminole, have signed on.
Maj. Connie Shingledecker, who heads the Child Protective Services Division of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, said the sheriff's office handles all investigations, only getting input from DCF once children are removed from the home and legal services need to establish probable cause. The Safe Children Coalition then handles all voluntary child protective service programs and works with families after children have been removed. The coalition also handles temporary and foster care of children.
The Safe Children Coalition has continued to deny all requests for comment in the Janiya Thomas case, referring all the Herald's requests to DCF and the sheriff's office.
John McKay, a former Florida state senator representing Manatee County in 1998 who became Senate president in 2000, said the program was a way to try what seemed like a good idea when DCF was going through turmoil. If it worked out in those counties, it was thought the program could eventually expand throughout the state.
"You've always got to keep evaluating what's working," McKay said. "I've been out of it for a few years, but I've always been pleased with the job that they're (the Manatee County Sheriff's Office) doing."
McKay stressed the switch was all about trying to better execute child protective services, noting DCF wasn't working well because of the amount of tasks it had to deal with at the time.
"It wasn't about trying to save money. It was just a thought of who could do a better job," McKay said.
A look at child deaths
Child fatalities in those six counties aren't particularly different than the rest of the state, according to DCF reports.
Child deaths in 2014 in the six involved counties make up 27.5 percent of total state deaths, most from Broward and Hillsborough, which have the second- and fourth-highest populations in the state.
The Florida county with the highest population, Miami-Dade, only has 31 child deaths since 2008, compared with Broward's 42.
Manatee County had seven child deaths in 2014, none with prior involvements by child protective services. So far in 2015, Manatee has had 10 child deaths, five with prior involvement with child protective services within the past five years and two with prior involvement in the past 12 months.
Collier County, with a population similar to Manatee's, has had four child deaths in 2015, one with prior involvement with DCF in the past five years and none with prior involvement in the past 12 months.
Marion County, another county with similar population to Manatee, has had 12 child deaths in 2015, six with prior DCF involvement in the past five years and none with prior involvement in the past 12 months.
In those counties, CPS is accountable to DCF. Within the sheriff's offices, investigators are held to the same standards as DCF employees and are under the supervision of the sheriff's office. The sheriffs in those counties then submit a report to the Senate president, the Speaker of the House and the governor each year.
State Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said the most recent report shows the work by sheriffs' offices are on the same level as the work by DCF.
"It was neck and neck with state versus county, like just half a percentage point off," said Boyd, the House vice majority leader and majority whip.
Boyd said legislators would be open to expanding the system throughout the state, but they prefer to have sheriff's offices approach them about wanting the program, rather than forcing it on law enforcement offices possibly not be equipped to handle child protective services.
The most recent report to Florida government leaders available, for fiscal year 2013-14, ranked all involved sheriffs' offices at least 95 percent for quality performance. Manatee County received a 95.2 percent quality performance score, with interviews with other involved children its lowest performance score.
New law aims to reduce child abuse through school prevention programs
by Mike Averill
A law establishing prevention programs aimed at reducing the number of children who are sexually abused each year takes effect Sunday.
House Bill 1684, authored by Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, is known as “Erin's Law.”
It requires schools to have their educators complete an evidence-based training for recognizing and reporting the signs of child abuse.
“Last year in Oklahoma we had about 9,000 children who had some form of abuse; 6,500 of them were sexual abuse. We have a problem here in Oklahoma,” Denney said. “My ultimate goal is to reduce that 6,500 number, hopefully to zero, so that all Oklahoma kids have the opportunity to grow up healthy.”
The law also requires schools to offer child abuse prevention training to their students in grades K-5.
“Most of our schools have developed school safety committees that teach what to do in cases of fires, tornadoes and active shooters. My hope is that we teach kids how to protect themselves and teach them about personal boundary protection,” Denney said. “Like tornado and fire drills, we will talk about how this is your personal space and you have a right to your space.”
The goal is for schools to begin implementing the programs by the end of this year or the start of next school year.
“I hope local school boards will research a curriculum that will fit their district best,” Denney said, adding that schools shouldn't have to look too hard to find a curriculum and that some districts, including Stillwater, already have adopted this concept.
Twenty-six states have passed similar laws as of September.
The law is named after Erin Merryn, who after being abused as a child in Illinois has become an activist working to get similar laws passed in all 50 states.
Sen. A.J. Griffin was the bill's principal Senate author.
“Ending child abuse in Oklahoma requires that everyone who serves children and families understands their role in the process. Our educators care deeply for the children in their classrooms. Arming them with information improves the chances that children are kept safe,” Griffin said. “Any tool which allows schools and parents to partner to protect children from victimization must be an option. Our communities are encouraged to use all resources to prevent the abuse of children.”
The bill saw some GOP opposition in the House because of concern that the programs might lead to children making false abuse claims against their parents and other adults.
“It was hard fought because it's a sensitive subject, but protection of our kids is the most important thing,” Griffin said. “I'm very excited it passed and it's going to be implemented.”
Secretive Catholic society admits Vatican is investigating child abuse claims against founder
by Fox News Latino
LIMA, Peru (AP) – A secretive Roman Catholic society with chapters across South America and in the U.S. has revealed under pressure that a Vatican investigator is looking into allegations that its founder sexually molested young recruits.
The scandal at the Peru-based Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, or Sodalitium for Human Life, has close parallels to other recent cases of charismatic Catholic leaders in Latin America being accused of sex abuse — as well as the church dragging its feet on investigating claims and trying to keep scandals quiet.
This week, Sodalitium's general secretary disclosed the Vatican investigation after two journalists published a book detailing the accusations against founder Luis Fernando Figari, 68.
Co-author Pedro Salinas, a former society member, has been publicly accusing Figari since 2010 of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. According to the book, three men lodged complaints the following year with a Peruvian church tribunal alleging Figari sexually abused them when they were minors.
There is no indication the tribunal did anything with the case, including notifying prosecutors. Nor is it known when the Vatican was advised.
Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, the conservative archbishop of Lima with jurisdiction over the tribunal, was quoted as telling the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio this week that case is "regrettable and painful" and claiming
"We have acted with absolute transparency and rapidity," he said.
No criminal probe was opened in Peru until after the mid-October publication of "Half Monks, Half Soldiers." Prosecutors, though, say the statute of limitations has almost certainly run out as the alleged crimes occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.
Founded in 1971, Sodalitium has a presence in schools and churches and runs retreat facilities with communities in Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Italy and the United States. Its members are mostly lay Catholics but also include clergy.
After the book's release, the society issued three successive press releases as a public clamor for greater accountability and transparency intensified.
First, the society revealed that Figari, who is not a priest, has been living in relative isolation at a Sodalitium community in Rome since 2010 and has been out of public life and governance of the society since then. At the time of his departure as general secretary, Sodalitium said only that Figari was stepping down for health reasons.
It added that the society's current leader, Alessandro Moroni, decided in 2014 to intensify the regime of "prayer and retreat" being followed by Figari
The statement also noted Figari wasn't alone in being accused: The book says the society's No. 2, the late German Doig, was accused of sexually assaulting a minor. He died in 2001. A decade later, after the allegations against him first surfaced, the society said his candidacy for beatification had been canceled.
In a second statement Oct. 21, the society said the book's allegations were "plausible" and needed to be thoroughly investigated. It said it created a committee to hear complaints from other possible victims and asked forgiveness, calling the accusations against Figari "cause for deep grief and shame."
It said Figari insists he is innocent, though it notes he hasn't said so publicly.
This week, the third release disclosed that the Vatican had on April 22 named a local bishop to investigate the society. Figari departed Lima three days later for Europe, according to local published reports.
The book's co-author, Paola Ugaz, said she and Salinas wrote in January to the Vatican office in charge of apostolic church societies detailing the allegations against Figari. They never got an answer, she said. But the official to whom they wrote, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, signed the April 22 decree.
The scandal is similar to one in Chile involving the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a charismatic priest who in 2011 was sentenced by the church to a lifetime of penance and prayer for sexually abusing young people. The local archbishop sat on allegations against Karadima for years, refusing to believe them, and only passed them on to the Vatican after the scandal exploded globally in 2010.
The case also has parallels to a scandal at the Legion of Christ, which was headed by the late Mexican priest Marcial Maciel. The Vatican under St. Pope Paul II ignored decades of credible abuse allegations against Maciel and discredited his victims. Only in 2006 did it act, giving him the same sentence as Karadima.
The Peruvian bishop assigned to the Figari probe, the Rev. Fortunato Pablo Urcey of Chota, is ordered by the decree to "verify the true authenticity of accusations" past and new against Figari and file a full report.
But Urcey, the secretary general of Peru's council of churches, said in a radio interview this week that he didn't consider himself an investigator as much as a supporter of Sodalitium.
In an interview with RPP radio, he said he had no plans to interview the ex-members who filed the complaints or to read the book.
"I like the designation 'visitor' better than 'investigator' because I'm not an investigator," he said, recalling his official title as an "apostolic visitor." Three times during the interview, Urcey said he would do all he could to "save the charism of this congregation," a reference to the spirituality that makes it unique.
Urcey did not return phone messages left by The Associated Press. Efforts to reach a spokesman for the Lima ecclesiastic tribunal also were unsuccessful. The body's deliberations are secret.
The society's current leader, Moroni, said in an interview with the newspaper El Comercio this week that he contacted the tribunal about the accusations against Figari more than two years ago.
Tribunal officials responded that "they are an independent body and they didn't have to give us any kind of information until they reached a decision," he said.
In an article published Friday, Salinas, the co-author, urged that Moroni be removed, calling him complicit in a culture of abuse that Salinas said included Figari's burning of his flesh with a candle flame for about a minute in front of fellow initiates.
A Peruvian non-governmental organization, the Institute for Defense of the Rights of Minors, asked prosecutors last week to investigate Cipriani, Lima's archbishop and an Opus Dei member, for obstruction of justice.
Its president, Daniel Vega, said none of the men who filed complaints against Figari with the tribunal were ever contacted by it afterward.
"There is a recurring conduct of the cardinal and his entire team of covering up crimes and not informing the criminal justice system."
CASA director reiterates importance of reporting child abuse
Special to the Progress
Of course you can be prosecuted for acting against the law, but can you be prosecuted for a criminal action you fail to report? Under Texas law the answer is yes when it comes to reporting child abuse and neglect.
Child abuse is an unfortunate reality in our nation and also in our local communities. It is defined federally in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1974 and updated in 2010 by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act to include:
“Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk or serious harm.”
The definition is intentionally broad. It attempts to cover every action in which a child's safety, health, or welfare has been or may be adversely affected, excluding accidents or reasonable discipline by a parent or caretaker that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm. Traditionally, child abuse, or child maltreatment, falls into one of four categories: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Data Book 2014, the most frequent type of abuse was neglect (77.5%), followed by physical (15.1%) and sexual (7.3%) abuse.
In light of recent local events, the Executive Director for the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties (CCACC), Donald Hammock, reiterates the importance of reporting all suspected child abuse and/or neglect. The Texas mandatory reporting law (Section 261.101 Texas Family Code) requires any person with knowledge or suspicion of child abuse or neglect to report it to the appropriate authorities: Department of Family Protective Services or any local or state law enforcement agency. Informing your supervisor, employer, pastor, school counselor or coworker does not meet the reporting requirement. The mandatory reporting law applies to all persons, regardless of profession, including those individuals whose communications might otherwise be privileged, such as counselors, attorneys, or clergy members. Texas is one of only 18 states requiring any individual to report.
Additionally, reports must be made immediately and individuals who are licensed, certified, or employed by the state and have contact with children as part of their normal duties, have forty eight (48) hours to report the abuse or maltreatment. This group would include teachers, daycare workers, doctors, and nurses. The law protects mandated reporters. When a report is made in good faith, meaning reasonable steps are taken to learn the facts, and without malice, meaning there is no intent to harm or violate the rights of another person, then the reporting person would be immune from civil or criminal liability.
Texas State law outlines penalties for not reporting. Texas Family Code 261.109 states that “a person commits an offense if the person…knowingly fails to make a report” of suspected child abuse or neglect. The offense is considered a Class A Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $4000. Hammock stresses no one is above the law. All reports of child abuse and neglect are taken seriously, as are failures to report.
Rachel Patton, Cherokee County District Attorney, points out that “Child abuse is the type of insidious disease that flourishes in the dark. The only way to fight it is to shine a light on the issue. Mandatory Reporting helps do just that.”
Protect yourself and the children by making the call. Anderson County Criminal District Attorney Allyson Mitchell echoes Hammock's sentiments and will vigorously prosecute those who fail to report. Mitchell states, “Children are our greatest asset as a society for they are our future. As a community, we have to work together to be their voice when wrong has occurred.”
If you suspect child abuse or neglect has occurred, please contact DFPS at 1-800-252-5400 or file a non-emergency report online at https://www.txabusehotline.org. You may also contact the local police department, and if there is an immediate threat, call 911.
Additional information on child abuse/neglect and reporting requirements can be found on the Texas DFPS website at https://www.dfps.state.tx.us
To schedule a presentation on this topic for your church, school or civic organization, please contact Stephanie Fleharty, Community Educator for the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties, at 903-723-5858 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Upstate university opens training center to stop child abuse
Child protection training center is first of its kind in southeast
by Mike McCormick
SPARTANBURG, S.C. —USC Upstate is inviting agencies from all over to its new Child Protection Training Center.
The training center held its first hands-on session Thursday at the George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics.
Officers, workers from the Department of Social Services, attorneys and child safety advocates went through a mock home in teams.
Crime-scene tape blocked the entrance.
Trash was piled up outside and inside.
Tables were littered with cigarette butts, alcohol bottles and overdue bills.
A bloody phone was on the floor.
Bugs were on the floors and countertops.
A kitchen chair was knocked over the floor, and a broken picture frame was on the living room floor.
The investigative team was called by a neighbor who heard yelling and screaming.
The man and woman who live in the home had to be questioned separately because of their emotions and tempers.
"He comes in, grabs me by hair, pulls me out of the bed," the wife told investigators. "Finally, he just gets this knife and (put it to my neck). See that (mark) on my neck?"
"All I'm asking from her is to follow a few simple rules," the husband said.
The investigative team was there to figure out who was at fault and sort through evidence that pointed toward the possibility of child abuse.
Everything in the home was part of a mock set-up meant to mimic a real case of domestic violence.
The executive director of the Julie Valentine Center, which helps survivors of sexual assault and child abuse, played the wife.
The executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center played the husband.
But the investigative team was made up of professionals who routinely handle cases like the one depicted.
"It's pretty close to real without being in the real situation," said Detective Steven Neely with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. "We can use this training we've had here and know how to make a better judgement at the scene and build a better case when it goes to court."
Suzy Cole, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties, also went through the training.
"We're seeing more children than ever before at my agency," Cole said. "To protect these kids, what we've got to do is we've got to do a good job on the investigation and make sure we put these offenders behind bars."
USC Upstate and Dr. Jennifer Parker, a professor of psychology, started working on making the training center a reality five years ago.
"Our officers, first responders see this on a daily basis, and many children are living in an environment like this," Parker said. "We're very proud to have it here."
The center aims to offer affordable training to agencies from all over. It's the first of its kind in the southeast, according to Parker.
The center will also be open to students at USC Upstate.
The mock house isn't the only feature of the training center. It also offers a courtroom setting to help those working in the child protection field prepare for the process of taking cases to trial.
"The ultimate goal is just to have justice for the victim and make them feel safe," Neely said.
Child deaths, abuse show need for better protocols
by Patty Machelor
Children have died or nearly died of abuse or neglect five times in Pima County since March, illustrating what a recent state audit determined: Arizona's child-welfare agency needs better assessment protocols to see when a removal is necessary.
A recent Arizona Auditor General's report found deficiencies in the Department of Child Safety's risk assessment processes, with too many caseworkers not adequately documenting cases and therefore leaving children at risk.
“We found that department staff did not consistently document information in the (risk assessment) and did not always meet the department's documentation requirements,” the report says.
In three of the five cases here, the perpetrators were known to the state's Department of Child Safety. All of the victims were ages 2 and younger.
DCS is prioritizing how to help caseworkers better determine when a child needs to be removed from a home, said Doug Nick , a spokesman for DCS.
“A lot of these things are part of our strategic plan,” he said. “We are looking at barriers that might have impacted the outcome of the case.”
In some instances, little can be done because of factors that are out of caseworker control, such as a mother bringing in a boyfriend who is abusive without the caseworker knowing about it, or after an investigation has closed.
The cases here :
• On March 26, DCS received a report that an 8-month-old boy was hospitalized in serious condition. He had several severe injuries including a spinal fracture, bleeding around his brain, head trauma and failure to thrive.
His mother, Abigail Silva , admitted to injuring her child and was charged with child abuse. The baby's father, Raul Mejia II , was charged with failing to protect the baby.
• In late June, DCS received a report of a 2-year-old boy who had been taken to the hospital with a severe head injury. His mother, Ashley Fry , and her mother's boyfriend, Kyle McConnell, were charged with child abuse.
In March, someone had reported that the toddler's mother was seen “slapping the child across the face at least three times within 15 minutes.” The child was crying, the report says, but there were no signs of swelling or bruising.
A month later, in April, a report of child neglect was filed because McConnell was living at the home and had a history of domestic violence with the family. He was also said to be using heroin and leaving paraphernalia around the house.
Both of these reports were under investigation when the near-fatality occurred.
• In late June, 2-year-old Victoria Rivas drowned in the swimming pool where she lived. Detectives with the Pima County Sheriff's Department found heroin and other drugs inside the house.
The child's father, Sean Hughes , was responsible for watching his daughter. He was charged with second-degree murder and child abuse after the gate to the pool was found propped open. The child's mother, Heather Rivas, who was also home at the time Victoria drowned, was also charged with child abuse.
In mid-July, DCS received a report of a 1-year-old boy who had been brought to the hospital after being found unconscious at home. Tests showed he had bleeding around his brain and retinal hemorrhaging.
The baby's stepfather, Paul Mendoza , and mother, Brittany Pfister, were both charged with child abuse. Pfister also was charged with failing to protect her child.
There were two previous reports, including one in December 2014 alleging physical abuse to the child, who was found to have a healing rib fracture during a hospitalization for whooping cough. Physicians tending to the child “found the injury suspicious,” records show, but since there was a possibility his rib fractured from coughing, the allegations were unsubstantiated.
In May 2012, DCS received a report that a child had been physically abused by an unknown perpetrator, who was later identified as Paul Mendoza. That allegation was not substantiated.
• On Aug. 28, DCS received a report about a 7-month-old boy whom paramedics found to be unresponsive and without a pulse. It is unknown who called the ambulance. He showed signs of trauma unequal pupils.
The baby's mother, Elisa Garcia , and her boyfriend, Charlie Stoy , were arrested on child-abuse charges.
Earlier, on Feb. 7, DCS had received a report that the child was a substance-exposed newborn. The family was assessed, the report shows, and was not found to be in need of other services.
In June 2012, Stoy was investigated for allegedly pointing a gun at the head of his then-girlfriend and their child. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. The DCS investigation included substantiated allegations of child abuse, and his rights to this child were terminated.
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: "Do's" and "Don'ts" for Busy Parents
by Laura Landgraf
Author, Activist, Survivor - If I can do it, so can you! Overcoming child abuse.
Nothing compares with the moments my children were born. My son offered his opinion of the process instantly with an indignant wail. I laughed in delight. My daughter, after being placed on my tummy, quietly contemplated me with her great big eyes. I melted in that gaze. I vowed to honor the individuality of each of them, to foster their uniqueness. I would guide them, teach them, keep them safe from harm, and lay down my life for them, if necessary, such was the magnitude of love, especially in those precious first moments.
I had no idea the depth, the breadth, the enormity of what would be required of me in protection of my children. Perhaps none of us does. I have loved them fiercely their entire lives. I thought, like all of us whose instant bond as a parent includes protection, that my children were safe with me. A harbor in the sea of life. But life isn't insular. We share community, whether it's school, or church, or sports. We live in families. Those around us aren't always paragons of virtue, which is the most frightening part. 85 to 90% of molesters are family, or known and trusted by the victim. How do you protect your child from inherently trusted people? Extended family, coaches, children's program leaders, pastors, priests, best friend's sibling? We must face these statistics: 1 in 3 girls molested by the time they're 18 and 1 in 5 boys. In my case, my children's threat was my own father.
When we loosen parental arms around our children and entrust them to family, schools, organizations, sports programs, church, the best protection against sexual abuse - or any abuse - is prevention. Here are some parenting Do's and Don'ts to minimize the risk to your sons and daughters:
Be age appropriate. Your child's curiosity will give you "teachable moment" opportunities.
Babies play the body parts game, right? Head, shoulders, knees and toes - so,
When your child notices differences in a sibling or parent's body parts,
Name them anatomically correctly.
You want your child to know their private parts are special and privately theirs.
Teach your child to think, feel, then act . In different situations, encourage them to:
Think about what someone said or did.
Identify their feelings about it. Were they happy? Sad? Icky? Scared? Confused?
Tell a trusted adult if they feel scared or icky.
Help your child identify trusted buddies - adults they can talk to beyond just you.
A trusted adult could be a grandparent, a baby sitter, a caregiver, a teacher.
Minimize opportunity for sexual abuse . Have a trusted adult with child at all times.
This includes sports fields, parks, public restrooms.
Decide how you're going to talk about sex.
Be prepared in advance with age appropriate responses.
Teach about good touch and bad touch.
Good touch is a welcome hug, or kiss, or tickle.
Bad touch is when it makes a child feels scared or icky.
Teach your child to respect others' boundaries.
It is never okay to touch someone (hug, tickle, kiss) if the other person doesn't want touched.
Once your child is capable of their own hygiene , teach them the only time their private parts can be touched, except by them, is if those parts hurt.
Then it's okay for a trusted adult, or a doctor with a trusted adult present to help.
There are safe secrets, and unsafe ones.
Safe secrets are fun and make a child feel happy - and they don't have to hold onto them very long - for instance the secret of a surprise birthday party.
Unsafe secrets are those which make a child feel scared, or icky, and they're told to never ever tell
Know where your child is, with whom, and check in.
I talked recently with Jane, who had taken her daughter on a play date. Five first grade girls raced away down the hall while the moms chatted in the living room. They heard giggles, moments of silence, then laughter. After a few minutes, she followed that cheerful sound to the family room and stepped in. A man (an brother of their host) was playing a game with the girls. They were to dance while he flipped a coin in the air. The first one who picked it up off the floor was to stand in front of him, turn around and wiggle her bottom at him. Appalled, Jane stopped the game, talked to her host, and took her daughter home.
Don't require children to hug or kiss you or anyone else if they don't want to.
It teaches them their body isn't their own/they have no say about what happens.
Don't deflect your children's questions...
About body parts,
About where babies come from,
About anything in which they express curiosity physically or sexually.
Don't teach your children phrases like:
"What happens in this family stays in this family."
"We do not talk about what happens in this family to anyone."
"If anyone asks what happened, or what's wrong, you tell them 'I don't know.'"
The subtle messages are that there is something wrong with our family or what we, as a family, do; and, that if you talk, you could get us all in trouble; further, you are teaching your child to lie.
Let's face it, parents can't keep "eyes on" 24/7 even in an intact family whose devotion to their children is above reproach. Add divorce, blended families, childcare, or live in caregivers and it becomes even more critical to teach - yes teach - our children comfortable boundaries. We want to empower our children to respect their bodies, voice their feelings, and be able to act on their internal messages. We want them comfortable inside their own skin, knowing how special they are, clear on boundaries, and have safe trusted adults they can talk to. It is their best protection when they are out of our sight.
Child sex abuse often unreported
by Matt Ledesma
Statistics show the sexual abuse of children in this country occurs frequently and often goes unreported.
An estimated one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before age 18. Fewer than 10 percent of those victims will tell anyone what happened to them.
Recently sexual abuse allegations levied against a former Penn State University football coach have caused a firestorm of media coverage. Those claims also have sparked a national debate about what a person's ethical, moral and legal responsibility is to report instances of abuse.
"It's brought to light something that is always there, but many people don't like to talk about," said Keri Goins, executive director at Patsy's House Children's Advocacy Center in Wichita Falls. "This affects hundreds of children in our community and it's so important that people not be afraid to report it when it does happen."
Patsy's House helps law enforcement agencies both investigate and prosecute child sex abuse claims in Wichita County and the surrounding area. Goins thinks awareness of the obligation to report such incidents as soon as they are discovered needs to be raised as the national spotlight shines on the Penn State scandal.
In early November Jerry Sandusky ? a retired Penn State assistant football coach ? was indicted on 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys. It is alleged Sandusky used his position at the school, and with an organization he founded to help at-risk youths, to target and sexually abuse several victims for many years.
One of the alleged abuses reportedly was witnessed by a graduate assistant coach at Penn State, but the act never was reported to police. It also is alleged that both school officials and other coaches turned a blind eye to the reports and perhaps even tried to cover them up.
Some of those school officials face legal action or job termination for their alleged roles in the scandal. Longtime head coach Joe Paterno was fired Wednesday night, though Pennsylvania authorities have indicated Paterno met all legal requirements in reporting the alleged abuses to school officials ? if not law enforcement.
Those same requirements differ somewhat in Texas, according to Goins.
"People don't want to believe something like that could be true of their friends and neighbors and that's why they are leery to report sexual abuse," Goins said. "But the fact is, in Texas, it's not just your ethical and moral obligation, it's also your legal obligation to protect these children."
Goins explained Texas law requires those in professional settings with children ? such as teachers, coaches or physicians ? to report claims of sexual abuse to law enforcement within 48 hours. Those same laws go further to legally obligate anyone who either witnesses or hears child sex abuse claims to report them to authorities as soon as possible.
"If you believe that child is in imminent danger, it's your responsibility to call the police," Goins said. "There has got to be a call to action. If we don't talk about child sex abuse and discuss it with our children, it's going to keep happening in our communities."
Goins advised those who wish to report child abuse claims to call the Texas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400. She also encouraged parents to look diligently for signs of sexual abuse in their children ? many of which can be found at child advocacy websites like onewithcourage.org.
Goins also touted Patsy's House's willingness to offer sexual abuse prevention training to groups seeking it. The organization can be reached at 940-322-8890.
Jerry Sandusky could face new criminal charges of sexual abuse
by M. Delatorre and CNN Wire
PENNSYLVANIA — Jerry Sandusky might be going back to trial on new accusations of child sexual abuse.
A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that prosecutors must consider a new criminal complaint filed by a 43-year-old Boston man who says Sandusky sexually assaulted him when he was a high school football recruit in the late 1980s.
Centre County Judge Thomas King Kistler ruled Wednesday that the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania has an exception for state employees and that Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Penn State, falls into that category.
The ruling means that Anthony Spinelli, who was once a star high school athlete sought after by football and baseball teams, may get his day in court.
The ruling also “blew the doors wide open” for other victims who previously believed they were outside the statute, said Daniel Kiss, the Altoona attorney who filed the petition on behalf of Spinelli.
Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys, all from the 1990s and 2000s. But at least 30 men were involved in a civil settlement with Penn State, and the number of victims could be even higher.
Prosecutors have said that Sandusky used his former children's charity, The Second Mile, as a victim factory, and his notoriety and access to Penn State as a perfect mask for his crimes.
“Anyone who is under 50 now has a legitimate argument to get back into court,” Kiss said.
An attorney for Sandusky, Al Lindsay, said he hasn't had time to review the latest case, but he said he doesn't believe Sandusky has ever met Spinelli.
Allegations of a promising life derailed
Spinelli alleges he was assaulted twice, once in the showers in the assistant coach's locker room at Penn State, and once in Sandusky's office. He said his promising life was derailed by the abuse. He turned to alcohol and drugs, “one episode triggers another one and it becomes an everlasting nightmare,” he told CNN last year.
In his 20s, he racked up a rap sheet that included drug and theft charges and later a killing that he pleaded down to manslaughter. After watching Sandusky's arrest from a prison television in 2011, he called a lawyer and was interviewed by police who found him to be credible. But they believed his case was too old to pursue under the statute of limitations.
He filed his own criminal complaint last year, contesting that. This ruling brings him “peace of mind,” he said.
“It's never going to fix anything,” he said. “The ability to look the person who has harmed you in the eye and being able to (ask) ‘Why? Why did you do that?' And in a sense getting an answer to that by having my day will mean the world to me and my family,” Spinelli said.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office still has the discretion to pursue charges based on the evidence, but Kiss pointed to a letter written by the lead prosecutor calling Spinelli's story “compelling.”
“There's a legitimate chance he's going to have to stare Jerry Sandusky in the eye from about 10 feet away and tell what happened,” Kiss said. “That's what he told us he wanted, and that's why we did what we did. Every victim deserves the right to face their accuser and have that closure, that justice, to speak what occurred to them. That's what Anthony wanted.”
Sandusky has always maintained his innocence and is appealing his conviction. He is due in court in Pennsylvania on Thursday.
Older survivors of child sex abuse tread long hard road in search of redress
The royal commission into child sex abuse is providing a circuit breaker for many survivors who have carried the burden of their abuse in silence for decades
by Shalailah Medhora
Simon Cole was nearly 40 years old when he read a newspaper article noting the conviction of the man who he alleges abused him as a child. For a decade prior, he had been slowly piecing together the effect that the childhood abuse had had on his mental health.
“I was around 30 when I really started to make the connection,” Cole, who at 52 still suffers from anxiety and insomnia, said.
For three decades, he had been carrying the burden of the abuse on his own. Reading that scoutmaster Rod Corrie, the man who he said inappropriately touched him, had been jailed for abusing other children over a 30-year period, was the circuit breaker he needed to speak out and seek help.
“Seeing that made me want to act even more,” he said.
The article prompted Cole to launch a civil case against Corrie and the scouts, which was settled out of court.
For many middle-aged and elderly survivors of childhood abuse and trauma, the road to seeking redress is a long and rocky one, littered with self-doubt and shame.
New research by Adults Surviving Child Abuse (Asca) shows an increase in the number of older Australians ringing its helpline to seek support for childhood abuse.
More than one quarter (27%) of calls in the 2014-15 financial year were from people aged 50-59. People aged 40-69 make up 70% of all calls.
The total number of calls to the helpline rose from around 4,000 in 2013-14, to 5,000 the following financial year.
The president of Asca, Cathy Kezelman, said the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse was the main catalyst for older people seeking help for the first time in their lives.
“They [people who gave evidence to the royal commission] are being heard and they are being validated and that's encouraging others to do so,” Kezelman said. “There's less stigma and less taboo now and that's starting to lift the lid [on the extent of abuse].”
Cole, a director of Asca, said the royal commission was a historic opportunity to investigate past abuse.
“It's shining a light on dark corners that would otherwise be ignored,” he said.
Cole now works as a lawyer representing survivors of abuse in civil cases. He said his clients are predominantly his age, people who were abused in the 1960s and 1970s.
“It was a period of recklessness with no child protection policies,” he said. “Paedophiles operated with impunity.”
He sought counselling for the first time at the age of 20, from a clinical psychiatrist. Subpoenaed notes from their first and only session, revealed during the civil case, show that the counsellor was dismissive of his claims of abuse, calling them “cliched”.
The assessment from that psychiatrist in 1983 was “completely negligent”, Cole argued, but was in line with the standards of the time when little was known about childhood abuse and trauma.
Kezelman said it was common for older survivors of childhood abuse to have their claims dismissed by family and friends.
“We know that it's very, very hard to speak out,” she said. “They're often not believed.”
She argued that different counselling principles apply in the treatment of older survivors of childhood trauma. “If you've held this secret for so long, for many, many years, that inability to trust would have affected your relationships through your whole life,” she said.
She wanted the government to create a federal redress scheme, as recommended by the royal commission in its final report on redress and civil litigation, released in September.
The scheme would see the formation of a centralised body that would provide every survivor of institutionalised abuse with a personalised response from their abusers if they wanted one, with monetary compensation of up to $200,000, and with ongoing counselling and psychological support for the rest of their lives.
The attorney general, George Brandis, has not ruled out a redress scheme.
“The government is carefully considering the royal commission's recommendations and will consult with states and territories before committing to a response,” a spokesman for Brandis said.
The chief executive of Mental Health Australia, Frank Quinlan, noted that the effects of childhood abuse, particularly on older Australians, is “not widely understood by the mental health sector”.
“There is clearly a different type of support needed,” he said. “Our understanding of providing services to people needs to be broader, not narrower.”
Quinlan thinks that all frontline workers – such as welfare agencies, rehabilitation centres, housing providers and employment services – need basic training in trauma, as childhood abuse often manifests itself in a range of ways.
“That would be a great first step,” he said.
The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse was established in January 2013. As of 1 October, it has handled nearly 26,000 phone inquiries and has referred more than 760 cases to law enforcement authorities.
Its term has been extended and it will have until December 2017 to deliver its final report.
• Anyone in Australia who needs help relating to past abuse can call the Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse hotline on 1300 657 380. The hotline operates between 9am and 5pm seven days a week
MPPD supports crime victims
by Marcia Davis
Domestic violence awareness month is one of the many hats October wears.
But when the month is gone, Mount Pleasant Police Department crime victim coordinator Melissa Horton knows that the family violence and other crimes continue.
Domestic violence traditionally escalates at the holidays, but she says she knows family violence and crime are, sadly, for all seasons.
When the MPPD is called to a crime scene, and children or crime victims are on-scene, Mellissa is one of the first calls officers make.
“I am on call 24/7, 365 days a week,” she said.
“The MPPD crime victims program assists victims of violent crimes with the resources available in our area and state. There are resources available in our city and state to assist victims financially and also help with counseling services and medical costs,” she said.
In the last fiscal year, ending Sept. 30, Horton said her office and the MPPD assisted over 800 victims: women, children, elderly, teens.
The main crimes Horton is called to are assaults, family violence and sexual assaults; but she is also called to help victims whose lives have been rocked by homicides, kidnappings, home invasions.
“Once officers secure the crime scene, they call me out to the scene and stay with me until I am done. I am there to see what immediate needs of the victim we need to take care of,” she said. “Victims are usually very upset and they can't think clearly. I visit with them, assess the situation, see what's going on, try to get them relocated somewhere where they are safe. While we are in that process, (in cases of domestic violence) we can start the process of getting protective orders to keep their abusers away.”
“If it's family violence and they need shelter, we get them out of the home and into a women's shelter, or to a family member - whatever we can do to get them out of that home and to safety,” she said.
“We usually get them through the night. I follow up with them the next morning, then I start with them a safety plan: planning what exactly we are going to do from this point forward; and we discuss how to move forward from this incident. Sometimes they can go back home and the abuser leaves the home; we apply for protective orders. We also apply for crime victims' compensations,” she said.
The Texas Crime Victims Division assists victims with any expenses occurred due to the crime, Horton said. Anyone in the state of Texas who is a victim of a violent crime can be reimbursed with expenses that occur from the crime.
The state crime victims' funds through the attorney general's office reimburses crime victims and are paid directly to hospitals or doctors for medical expenses, etc.
“To qualify for the Texas Crime Victims funds through the Texas Attorney General's Office, they just have to be a victim of a violent crime. We also contact the schools if there are children involved,” Horton said. “I work closely with the schools, so the school can be aware there has been an altercation in the family so they can make arrangements, as far as counseling for the children involved; and that the school district makes sure only certain people can pick up the child from school.”
Horton says she routinely calls on the local First Responders Respond Foundation to assist crime victims. The foundation is funded through community donations and provides victims' bus tickets to a safe place, pays for safe shelter for victims, food, immediate needs; and whatever is required to provide a safe environment for the victim, and to help them regroup and begin to rebuild a broken life.
For victims and for Horton, her job isn't over when she leaves the crime scene. She follows up with every victim.
“In the follow up, we start the healing process and putting a life back together. Sometimes we have to relocate them,” she said. “That's huge, when you are moving an entire family.”
At any one time, Horton can be working with anywhere from two families to eight or nine families at a time.
“It kind of goes in cycles. The closer to the holidays it gets, the worse domestic violence gets,” she said.
It usually takes the average woman seven or eight times of being abused before she leaves, according to Horton.
“There are several stages of domestic violence: control, isolation, physical abuse. By the time the physical abuse starts, they are so beat down mentally and emotionally they feel like this is what they deserve,” Horton said. “And all I can do at that point is advise them of the things that are available to them, because when it happens again, they need to know there is someone to help them.”
“I do want these families to know there is somebody here, if and when they go or are ready to go,” Horton said. “You have to think if their family knows about the domestic violence, they are being told by some of those people how stupid they are for being in that situation.”
“You always have to be positive and create that bridge for them so when they are ready, they know who to ask for help,” Horton said.
Horton has seen that domestic violence is no respecter of persons.
“It doesn't care how much money you have in the bank or the color of your skin,” she said. “If they are wealthy or poor, if the abuser is their financial support, then it doesn't matter.”
For the police officers, Horton said, domestic violence and family violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls they get called out on. Sometimes if police arrest the abuser, the victim will turn on the officer.
MPPD Chief Wayne Isbell said if officers get called to a legitimate domestic violence call, police automatically arrest the assailant.
“No one has to press charges. It's automatically an arrest,” Isbell said. “To have an arrest policy for family violence is an industry standard. It's a tough one for officers. You see the kids there. Mom may have a black eye. She says she fell. Dad says he didn't do anything, but the kid says they saw it. If all the indicators point to assault/family violence, the officer is duty-bound to make an arrest.
Horton said, if she's called to the scene of a drug bust with children at the crime scene, she visits with the children, takes them to the police department, and waits for a family member to pick them up or Child Protective Services.
“The children are already traumatized, especially when law enforcement does a raid,” Horton said. “Our narcotics division and S.W.A.T. are good about calling me for the children,” Horton said.
A hug, a word of reassurance and a teddy bear, Horton offers the children.
Through a Teddy Bears for Tears program, the MPPD provides a stuffed animal to children at crime scenes to provide them some comfort. The stuffed animals are kept in patrol cars for officers and for the crime victim liaison to distribute to children who are the victims of crimes or who witness traumatic situations.
“It gives them a sense of comfort,” Horton said.
“Each situation is different and every victim is different. I keep in touch with them for about a month or so, make sure everything is okay, make sure protective orders go through, make sure families are adjusting and they are keeping up with their counseling appointments,” she said.
She coordinates with other community agencies and resources like SAFE-T, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Titus, Camp and Morris Counties and Child Protective Services.
“With female or male adult victims, I stay with them through the court process until protective orders are issued,” she said. “With children, CASA or CPS take over.”
“You can never know what you are walking into. One of the greatest things about my position is if someone is intimidated talking to an officer, then they have me. I am a civilian. I don't wear a badge or a uniform. I am in street clothes,” she said.
For a rape victim, Horton said she is present when the victim tells an officer about the crime. Horton will also go to the hospital with the victim for their exam. The crisis center will come up and visit with the victim and stay with them through the sexual assault exam.
“Sometimes I stay with them, if they have built a rapport with me. Or other times the crises center follows it, and I will follow up with the victim as far as counseling,” Horton said.
Horton says she makes sure the Texas statewide automated victim notification system is in place for the victim.
“When someone goes to jail for a crime against a victim, we can set up through Texas VINE for the victim to be notified when their assailant is released from jail,” Horton said. “We make sure that is set up for them.”
Horton stood out in the rain downtown Friday with law enforcement and firefighters helping collect donations for the First Responders Respond Foundation to help the victims of crime she works with.
Donations to the First Responders Respond Foundation can be taken to the Mount Pleasant Police Station, the Titus County Sheriff's Office or the Mount Pleasant Fire Department main station at Dellwood Park. Checks may be written to the foundation.
Horton started the crime victim services program with the MPPD two and one-half years ago.
Before she began working with the MPPD, Horton served as the assistant executive director for the Shelter Agencies for Families of East Texas (SAFE-T) Crisis Center.
Horton said she feels it is her calling to help these crime victims. “I feel like God has led me to do this, to make a difference.”
She's thankful for a supportive husband and family and a faith that keeps her grounded.
“I was a victim of sexual assault as a child,“ she said. “I understand the feeling of fear and helplessness and the need to have someone to trust, to talk to and to help. I want to be that for these victims. I was a victim and now I am a survivor. I want to help these victims become survivors, too.”
Experiencing domestic violence as students
by Natalie Pate
One in 15 children are exposed to domestic violence annually in the United States, and 90 percent of those children are eyewitnesses to the violence.
Those statistics come from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), which concludes that the impact of such exposure can range from economic turmoil to physical and mental trauma.
But what do children and students do when they are survivors, victims or witnesses to domestic violence?
Salem-Keizer organizers, workers and volunteers are working to provide the resources and safe space children and their families need when dealing with domestic violence.
Domestic violence is defined by the Department of Justice as "a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person."
Physical, mental, and sexual and reproductive health effects have been linked with intimate partner violence, according to the NCADV, including adolescent pregnancy, unintended pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, intrauterine hemorrhage, nutritional deficiency, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems, neurological disorders, chronic pain, disability, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Additionally, victims of domestic violence are at higher risk for developing addictions to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
The Center for Hope and Safety, previously known as Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service, is an organization that has worked to serve victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking since 1973, according to their website. The center is one of the main resources available to Salem-Keizer students.
"Our work always centers around safety," said Jayne Downing, executive director of the Center for Hope and Safety in Salem.
To date, the Center for Hope and Safety has received more than 277,000 calls to their crisis line alone.
The 24-hour crisis line offers emergency help. The line is available in English and Spanish, in addition to 140 other languages.
"We want to reduce as many barriers as possible," Downing said.
Each crisis hotline operator has gone through a minimum of 50 hours of training to be able to address the needs of the caller.
Crisis lines such as these are crucial to the safety of survivors. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide, according to the NCADV.
In addition to the hotline, the center offers many other services.
Their safe shelter hosts 300 to 400 people each year, approximately 50 percent of whom are children. The center provides extensive case management services for each person, school supplies, clothes and anything else they need, Downing said.
The center also holds support groups in Salem and Woodburn, in both English and Spanish, for youth and adults. They will begin offering support groups in schools soon.
They also provide free child care for kids 10 years old and younger. This child care is much more therapeutic than traditional child care, Downing said, which helps the children to process and heal.
Other services available from the center include one-on-one services for any one who walks in Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 p.m., a children's room, a youth and teen room, and more.
The Center for Hope and Safety also has a youth service coordinator who visits with nearly 3,000 to 4,000 students every year by teaching classes and training sessions on domestic violence awareness and prevention.
There has been a 1000 percent increase in the number of students who utilize the center's services since this position began making visits to local schools.
Downing said this is because students are exposed to the services and may think, "This is a resource I could really use."
The number of people who are exposed to and survive domestic violence every year can be astounding.
The NCADV reports that every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten, and that in one year more than 10 million men and women are physically abused by an intimate partner. Whether as children, teens or adults, one in three women and one in four men have been victims of some kind of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
The effects of such abuse can be substantial, especially on children and young students.
"It presents some incredible challenges," Downing said.
Downing said that such trauma can make it very difficult for students to focus on their school work and they can react in different ways.
"They might start acting out — they are scared and they don't know where to turn," she said. "They might focus in on their studies more since it is the only place they feel they can focus, or maybe they think (the violence) is their fault. They might think, 'If I am good at something, it will make things better.'"
Downing stressed that domestic violence is never the fault of the victim. She said that many of these children are incredibly resilient in their lives.
Research shows that children who have one safe parent still taking care of them and supporting them allows them to be more resilient, she added.
Downing said the safe parents call the center many times trying to find ways to help their child heal.
If a child does not have a safe parent, the center helps the child come up with a safety plan. Many times the only person the child feels safe with is a teacher or school counselor.
Counselors also help with stalking and relationship abuse that may be caused by another youth. However, since students are more likely to report these abuses to another youth than to an adult, organizers are training students to be helpful and resourceful peers so they know where to go if a friend comes to them looking for help.
Some parents and children call into the center while still in a dangerous situation, some call in after they have gotten to safety. Downing said it varies because it isn't an over-night change.
"The act of leaving is not an event," she said. "It's a process."
There are many factors, such as economic dependency, that may cause a survivor to stay in a dangerous environment.
The Center for Hope and Safety works to provide any and all people who call in with the best resources and help they can that the person needs and wants at their point in the process.
Downing said even when the survivors are able to get away, the abusers may possibly still be in their lives, especially as young children.
She said that many of the students are worried they will grow up and be the same way.
To ensure victims and survivors have a safe space to report to and go, whether they are still in dangerous situations or not, the center is not a mandatory reporter. This means they are not required to report to state authorities of a known issue.
However, the center does partner with many offices, such as child welfare and the school district, to make sure each survivor is provided the resources she or he needs or wants to pursue further action. All Salem-Keizer School District employees are mandatory reporters and must report to the police or the Department of Human Services.
The district is also required by state law to provide a certain level of education on the subject.
Senate Bill 856, for instance, establishes child sexual abuse prevention, instructional programs for public schools. The bill went into effect June 11, 2015. By the end of the 2015-16 academic year, the entire district will be in compliance with the bill.
Trisha Ebbs, a teacher at McNary High School and health program assistant for the district, said these laws make sure the schools have age-appropriate materials for all grades.
"The curriculum helps students recognize dangerous situations, teaches them how to speak up and advocate for themselves, and where they can go for help," Ebbs said.
In addition to the aforementioned services, Salem has a handful of other resources to help survivors of domestic violence, including but not limited to the Liberty house, for abused children; Bridgeway Recovery Services, for drug addiction; and NW Human Service's HOST, a shelter for teens who have run away from home.
Help and Additional Information
For domestic violence emergencies, call the center's 24-hour hotline at (503)399-7722. The center's office is public and located at 605 Center St NE. For more information, visit http://hopeandsafety.org/.
For more facts and information about domestic violence, go to http://www.ncadv.org/.
'Got a Pass'? Dennis Hastert Case Renews Debate Over Sex Crime Statute of Limitations
by Zoe Lake, Annie Shi, Rhonda Schwartz, Randy Kreider and Lee Ferran
The nationwide debate over statutes of limitations on child sex crimes has been reignited in the wake of a plea deal that could give former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert little to no jail time for a fraud charge linked to alleged decades-old sexual abuse of minors.
Hastert, 73, allegedly abused more than one student while he was a coach at Illinois' Yorkville High School in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but was only brought to trial for a financial crime after attempting to hide recent hush money payments to one of his alleged victims. The maximum penalty for the financial crime for which Hastert was convicted is five years, but the plea deal includes a recommendation that he receive at most six months in prison. Hastert has declined to comment on the abuse allegations.
Jolene Burdge, the sister of one of Hastert's alleged victims not involved in the hush money payments, told ABC News after the deal was filed Wednesday that she felt Hastert “got a pass.”
“I think he got a pass because of his power and status. I think he got a back room deal. His victims didn't get a pass when he put them through the abuse,” she said.
Sex crime victims advocate Marci Hamilton told ABC News that Hastert was a “beneficiary of the short statute of limitations” on child sex crimes and those allowed him to “dodge a bullet.”
“Because the combination of a plea deal, [and] the fact that he evaded the sex abuse statutes of limitations. Those two together created this opportunity for him to be able to, essentially, get off,” said Hamilton, a professor at Cardozo School of Law.
Currently there is no statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors in Illinois, meaning prosecutors can take legal action against the alleged perpetrator at any time when physical evidence is available or if someone who should have reported the suspected abuse failed to -- but that wasn't the case until the law was updated on Jan. 1, 2014, and it's not retroactive.
If the crime occurred prior to that date, a previous statute of limitations comes into effect that said there was a 20-year window for prosecution beginning after the victim turns 18. The 20-year rule, which is on the longer side compared to most states' statutes, wasn't taken up in Illinois until 2003, the latest in a series of extensions beginning in the mid-1980s -- all still long after Hastert's alleged crimes supposedly took place. Hastert's alleged victims were believed to be teenage boys more than four decades ago, meaning their window is almost certainly long closed. (A summary of the evolution in Illinois legal code written in part by a local state attorney doesn't discuss crimes prior to 1984 because of the “unlikelihood” that they would still be prosecuted.)
Spencer Kuvin, a Florida attorney who has represented victims of sexual assault, said, “Unfortunately, it's too often the case that by the time the victim gains the courage necessary to come forward, too much time has passed, and prosecution becomes impossible.”
Last November, as several women came forward to accuse comedian Bill Cosby of a string of decades-old sexual assaults, Eileen McNamara, a journalism professor at Brandeis University, argued that statutes of limitations on sex crimes should be abolished nationwide -- especially with the advances in DNA evidence.
“Why should a rape victim's access to the courthouse depend on when the crime was committed?” McNamara wrote then. “There is no statute of limitations on murder because no one thinks the passage of time should shield a killer from answering for his crime. Why should perpetrators of the soul-killing act of rape have such a legal escape hatch?”
Gloria Allred, who represents more than two dozen of the Cosby accusers, told ABC News Wednesday that she has seen a “trend” in the U.S. in which state lawmakers are extending the statute of limitations for adult survivors of child sexual abuse – meaning victims have more time to make their accusations before the clock runs out.
“It often takes a long time, many years, even decades before an adult survivor even recognizes the injuries that they may have suffered are as a result of the child sexual abuse,” Allred said. Cosby has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.
But even if the statute of limitations could reach back far enough in Hastert's case, critics, including veteran Chicago-area defense attorney Michael Ettinger, said the statutes would be unconstitutional, if they aren't already.
“I personally find the long statute of limitations unconstitutional in that it violates equal protection of the law and due process law both found in the 14th Amendment,” Ettinger told ABC News, speaking of the 20-year rule. “No other crimes have that long of a statute except murder and there is absolutely no rational basis for 20 years after the victim turns 18.
“How does anyone defend themselves against an allegation of misconduct 20-plus years ago? Put an alibi defense together 20 years later? Statutes of limitations are enacted for that very reason,” he said.
An Illinois lawmaker expressed similar concerns just before the Illinois House voted in May 2013 to abolish the 20-year statute of limitations.
“All of us here, regardless of where we live or what party affiliation we are, think this is a deplorable thing that could happen and affect the minds of young children for years to come,” Republican state house Rep. David Reis said then. “But, having previously served on a judiciary committee, if was always that, what are we opening up here? If a criminal suit couldn't be brought against someone before the statute of limitations expired, if the case is so cold... People grow up, emotions change, people move from different parts of the country. It was just that, would you be able to have a fair hearing?”
During a 2003 case, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer lamented, “Memories fade, and witnesses can die or disappear. Such problems can plague child abuse cases, where recollection after so many years may be uncertain and 'recovered' memories faulty, but may nonetheless lead to prosecutions that destroy families.”
Ettinger and some other prominent legal ethics experts told ABC News Wednesday they felt the plea deal Hastert received was appropriate, given his age and the crime for which he was formally accused.
“If he was being charged for sexual misconduct, that'd be another thing,” Ettinger said.
Ettinger said he didn't see any additional recourse for Hastert's alleged victims, but a few legal wrinkles could mean Hastert is still technically vulnerable to legal action. For instance, the 20-year clock on the previous Illinois statute of limitations doesn't begin to count down if the victim of the abuse is further “subject to threats, intimidation, manipulation, or fraud” by the perpetrator or someone else working on behalf of the perpetrator in the years following the abuse. Also, the 20-year legal code indicated action can be an option if new injuries from the abuse are “discovered” later -- perhaps as a repressed memory unearthed in the course of therapy.
For Burdge, however, seeing Hastert have to admit to wrongdoing in court this week was at least a bit of solace and closure, even if the world never knows the true extent of that wrongdoing.
“Now that your illegal and immoral actions have finally come to light, please let me ask you, Mr. Hastert, how does it feel to be at the mercy of someone else's power?” she said. “Finally, after all this, I have to say that I forgive you. I have to do that for myself, more for myself than for you. You have taken enough time and enough heartache and enough away from myself and from my family. Breaking this connection with you, putting this to rest is the best gift and legacy that I can give Steve.”
Where Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Intersect
by GoodTherapy.org Staff
Researchers have studied the impact of early childhood trauma and the long-term effects of abuse and neglect for decades. Evidence suggests that early experiences of maltreatment often put children at a higher risk for developing physical and mental health issues that sometimes extend into or manifest later in life. Studying the relationship between child abuse and domestic violence, however, has led to more questions than answers in some cases. Are perpetrators of domestic violence more likely to abuse their children, and are kids who have been exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) more likely to grow up and repeat the cycle? Where is the overlap and how can identifying it help with future interventions to prevent childhood trauma?
A Study of IPV and Adverse Childhood Experiences
According to a report published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (2013), there were an estimated 679,000 victims of child abuse and neglect in 2013. That means roughly 9 out of every 1,000 children experience some form of abuse or neglect each year. Child abuse comes in many forms and is often defined as the nonaccidental injury or pattern of injuries to a child, including those of an emotional, physical, or sexual nature.
Intimate partner violence can be expressed in different forms as well. According to an article published by the National Council for Family Relations, sociologist Michael P. Johnson, PhD identifies three distinct types of IPV:
Intimate terrorism : violence used for control
Violent resistance : a violent response to a partner's attempt to control
Situational couple violence : violence not intended for control, but arises as a result of escalated conflict
Because of the varying forms of both child abuse and IPV, researching a link between the two is tough and often inconclusive in terms of identifying an exact link or correlation. However, there are some aspects of existing research that may shed light on a relationship. After analyzing several studies on different types of IPV, Johnson discovered:
The risk of child abuse in families that don't experience IPV is about 15%.
In households where situational couple violence occurs, there is a 31% risk for child abuse.
Families experiencing intimate terrorism have a 67% increased risk for co-occurring child abuse.
Based on the available research and literature, there does appear to be enough information to support the idea that where there is domestic violence, there may be an increased risk for child abuse. Regardless of the exact connection between the two, it is evident that whether children experience child abuse, intimate partner violence, or both, the short-term and long-term effects of abuse and violence can be devastating. Victims of abuse may be at risk for physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems, including impaired brain development, emotional health issues, social difficulties, substance abuse, and abusive/violent behavior.
An ongoing study, conducted by the Division of Violence Prevention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was designed to investigate the consequences of childhood exposure to certain traumatic stressors. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, a survey with more than 17,000 participants, found that the more adverse childhood experiences people were exposed to, the more likely they were to develop health issues later in life. More specifically, experiences such as abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction (e.g. witnessing domestic violence) were risk factors that increased the likelihood of issues such as alcohol abuse, intimate partner violence, or depression as an adult. The ACE Study, and others like it, seek to uncover similar relationships so violence prevention efforts can more effectively target risk factors for abuse and domestic violence.
Interrupting Cycles of Violence
It should be noted that many children who are abused or witnesses domestic violence will grow up without ever repeating the same violent behavior, but when taking the harmful effects of abuse and domestic violence into consideration, it can be hard to ignore the way they can contribute to a cycle of abuse. From a purely sociological perspective, the effects of abuse, neglect, and domestic violence are also some of the same factors that contribute to the perpetuation of abuse. For example, if a child was physically abused by an alcoholic parent, that child is statistically more likely to use drugs or alcohol as an adult. Research shows that substance abuse is often a precipitating factor in cases of domestic violence and child abuse. The reality is usually more complex, but without intervention there is a heightened risk that a cycle of violence may continue.
For some children, protective factors such as a supportive relationship with an adult, high self-esteem, or high intelligence add to the child's ability to survive and thrive after abuse, which is sometimes referred to as resiliency. Promoting resiliency can help interrupt a cycle of abuse that can occur in family systems for generations.
This is one of many reasons why understanding the relationship between domestic violence and child abuse is so important. Treatment and prevention initiatives depend on it. Social services, educational and mental health professionals, researchers, and other child welfare advocates are all striving to impact positive change when it comes to children and their safety. The current solutions being implemented tend to focus on reporting, supporting, and prevention. In addition to reporting procedures and agency enforcement of the law, support for those who have experienced abuse can promote healing and prevention. Many types of trauma-informed care—including individual, couples, and family therapy —can effectively address issues associated with abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.
Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, a licensed certified social worker who works with abuse survivors in Annapolis, Maryland, uses several trauma-informed techniques in her therapy practice. “When working with individual clients who are survivors of domestic violence … I use therapeutic techniques focused on addressing trauma. These may include strengths-based, client-centered talk therapy techniques, crisis intervention strategies, psychoeducation about trauma and the dynamics of healthy and unhealthy relationships, expressive arts modalities, and somatic resourcing.” Reagan has also found non-directive play therapy and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy helpful in her work with children who have experienced abuse.
When it comes to intimate partner violence, interventions should be chosen carefully. In many intimate terrorism cases, for example, couples therapy may not be an option. In less severe situations, couples are sometimes able to work with a qualified therapist. Additionally, there may be an opportunity to include children in family therapy, provided the safety risks are thoroughly weighed and the parents are genuinely invested in change.
Seeking Help or Resources for Domestic Violence or Abuse?
Those interested in accessing therapy should make sure to utilize the help of qualified, trained professionals. When it comes to abuse and domestic violence, safety is paramount. People are most at risk when they seek help or try to leave an unsafe situation. Seeking good resources and support to help with the process can make a big difference. For those looking for help, here are some places to start:
For more information on child abuse, mandated reporting, and local resources for families experiencing abuse and neglect, visit childwelfare.gov.
For information on how to ensure the physical, mental, and social health of your child, visit healthychildren.org. Here you can find parenting resources, general health information, and more.
Dedicated to the prevention of child abuse, childhelp.org/hotline/ manages the National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD . The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential and interpreters are available to assist in more than 200 languages.
For adults and families experiencing intimate partner violence, thehotline.org/ hosts the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TDD) . Trained advocates provide support and assistance and can help connect people to local shelters and agencies who specialize in domestic violence.
If you are seeking help or resources for domestic violence or abuse online, please be mindful that many perpetrators of abuse monitor their victims' online activities. Clear your browser history or use a secure search function that doesn't record your history to ensure your safety.
Child abuse and neglect cases rise with drug addiction
by Sarah Plummer
FAYETTEVILLE — Alongside the increase in drug addiction, Fayette County Prosecutor Larry Harrah said his office has seen record breaking numbers of abuse and neglect cases associated with addicted parents.
The prosecutor's office has removed a record-breaking 135 children from homes in Fayette County this year, five more than last year. With two months left in 2015, Harrah expects that number to near 150.
"As drug addiction increases, we see more parents getting high and their children are left to raise themselves in conditions and environments that are unspeakable," he said. "There are a lot of animals who live a much better life than a lot of our children."
Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Mauzy works most of the abuse and neglect petitions in Fayette, and said he has seen the number of children removed from homes steadily increase since he joined the office in 2011.
Drugs are one of the biggest factors in his cases, but often not the only factor. Most are "companion cases" where domestic violence or student truancy reveal underlying drug problems and neglect.
"We do get a number of babies born addicted to drugs, but a lot of times these are people who have had a drug problem for a long time and there kids are skipping school, showing up dirty or with bruises, or are seen running the streets at all hours of the night and neighbors have gotten concerned," he said. "It seems the cases get worse and worse (and) have a worse affect on the kids. They are not clean, they don't have food, they are suffering from abuse, or there is domestic violence in the home."
Homes with domestic violence are ones Mauzy said he pays special attention to. There are tests for drugs and home checks for cleanliness, but it's hard to know if a person is going to snap and become violent again. And it's a hard problem to fix, he said, noting that children exposed to domestic violence experience changes in brain function.
While the numbers of children removed from homes increased, those are just the number of kids his office and law enforcement know about, said Harrah.
"How many are out there right now and we don't know their situation?" he asked.
Mauzy stressed that there are many success stories where parents, with proper treatment, have gotten clean, gotten jobs and had their children returned. That's the ultimate goal, but the largest impediment to treatment is the lack of accessibility to residential treatment facilities.
"People can get clean and become good parents, but we need a place to get them help. Right now there are long, long waits — weeks and months," he said.
Likewise, Fayette, like many other counties, is in need of more foster homes. Fayette has several fantastic foster parents, Mauzy said, but many of those have several children placed with them at one time. They have continued to make room for more children to address the need, he continued.
"We need a lot more people to explore whether or not they can foster. Many people don't realize that DHHR (Department of Health and Human Resources) provides the training, and it's all about being a parent. Many people already have that knowledge," he said.
ICE arrests 29 people in 8 states on human trafficking charges
Identifies 15 potential victims, following multistate undercover investigation
MACON, Ga. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 29 people in 13 cities and eight states Thursday on sex trafficking and related charges in a sweeping operation dubbed “Operation Safe Haven” targeting a network of illegal brothels trafficking Hispanic females. In addition to these arrests, HSI identified 15 potential human trafficking victims from brothels across the southeastern United States with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Joint Task Force – Investigations (JTF-I), ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Emergency Management Administration and multiple state/local law enforcement agencies.
Thursday's arrests are the result of a 15-month investigation that began in July 2014 by HSI Savannah special agents in Moultrie, Georgia, who identified a loosely affiliated organization that coordinated the illegal movement of Hispanic females from Mexico and Central America across the southern border and then throughout the southeastern United States to brothels in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. The traffickers within this organization worked as independent operators to coordinate the movement and delivery of women for illegal sexual purposes.
“As previous investigations have shown, and Operation Safe Haven again confirms, the sex trafficking of foreign women in the United States is done by loosely organized criminal networks who have little, if any regard for the women they victimize,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI Atlanta Nick S. Annan. “This investigation identified women victimized through fraud, force and coercion, including underage teens. To the criminals behind these illegal enterprises, these women are just pieces of meat used to pull a quick profit and then discarded or passed on to the next trafficker down the line.”
According to a five-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, at least one victim identified during the investigation was a juvenile when she was trafficked. Six suspects are charged with conspiracy to participate in the sex trafficking of a minor and 38 suspects are charged with conspiracy to transport a person in interstate commerce for prostitution – nine suspects remain at large after 29 were arrested Thursday. Three of the network's customers are also charged with promoting the prostitution.
Individuals charged with conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor face up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Individuals charged with conspiracy to transport a person in interstate commerce for purposes of prostitution and individuals charged with promoting prostitution face imprisonment up to five years and a $250,000 fine. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The potential victims' identities are being protected while HSI ensures they receive emergency medical assistance, food and shelter. HSI is fully committed to victim-centered investigations in which the identification, rescue and needs of victims are treated with equal weight as the prosecution of traffickers.
HSI provides relief to victims of human trafficking by allowing for their continued presence in the United States during criminal proceedings and victims may also qualify for a T-visa, which is issued to victims of human trafficking who have complied with reasonable requests for assistance in investigations and prosecutions.
U.S. Attorney Michael Moore's office for the Middle District of Georgia is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.
“Human sex trafficking is a cancer that we must cut out, and then aggressively fight with all of our resources. Sometimes the trafficking victims are kidnapped and forced into sexual servitude through violence. Other times the victims are lured with the promise of a better life, and then held hostage by predators who literally financially imprison them or intimidate them with threats of harm or shame to them or their families. No matter the circumstances that brought these women into sexual servitude, they are victims. And whether the weapons used by the traffickers cause physical, mental or emotional harm, they are predators, and we will track them down no matter the cost. This investigation has been an example of the outstanding cooperation between federal and state agencies. I applaud their efforts. I also want to thank my colleagues, U.S Attorneys George Beck, Joyce Vance and Chris Canova for their partnership and assistance,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.
Operation Safe Haven is the first major investigation supported by the JTF-I since it became fully operational in July 2015. The task force directed significant funding, intelligence, and analytical support from multiple DHS agencies to bolster the special agents investigating this criminal network.
"This operation highlights exactly what the Secretary charted us to do through these task forces,” said Dave Marwell, Director of JTF-I. “By strategically applying the broad resources of DHS against a priority investigation, criminal organizations don't stand a chance. We will continue to focus our efforts to ensure we are dismantling criminal organizations that traffic women into the U.S. for the purposes of sexual slavery."
CBP's Air and Marine Operations (AMO) crews from Miami, New Orleans and Houston flew more than 115 flight hours and launched 38 separate missions in support of the investigation using covert aerial surveillance to track suspects and identify multiple target locations. AMO's presence greatly increased the situational awareness of agents on the ground.
“Collaboration is crucial in a mission of this caliber,” said Daniel Meagher, Director Air Operations at the Jacksonville, Florida, Air and Marine Branch. “I am proud to say that our unique capabilities contributed to both the success of this mission and to the safety of all those involved.”
Anyone who suspects instances of human trafficking is encouraged to call the HSI tip line at 1- 866-DHS-2-ICE (866-347-2423) or the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Online tips can be submitted at www.ice.gov/tipline. Anonymous calls and tips are welcome.
Note: Video of Operation Safe Haven is available for download: https://www.dvidshub.net/unit/ICE
Man who hired teen girl for sex is sentenced in human trafficking case
Federal prosecution is first in LA-area of client who sought underage commercial sex
LOS ANGELES – A South Bay man who admitted lying to federal investigators about his conduct with a 16-year-old girl he met online and hired for commercial sex has been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for obstructing a sex-trafficking probe being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Long Beach Police Department.
Charles Goswitz, 59, of Torrance, appeared Tuesday morning before U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell. Goswitz, a court videographer who used the online moniker “Baldy Cruiser,” pleaded guilty to the obstruction charge June 22. The case marks the first federal prosecution in the Los Angeles area of a so-called “John” in a teen sex-trafficking investigation and only the second such federal prosecution nationwide.
“Human trafficking inflicts tremendous harm on its victims, especially when those victims are children,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “We have a duty to protect children from these predators, which includes prosecuting those who purchase children for sex. The significant sentence the defendant received in this case should serve as a warning to adults who engage in this type of criminal conduct. Although this is the first case of its kind in this district, it will not be the last.”
The probe into Goswitz's activities began in February 2013 after HSI special agents received a lead from the Long Beach Police Department about a missing teen whose father suspected she was involved in commercial sex. During the ensuing investigation, authorities located sexually explicit images of the victim in an advertisement Goswitz posted on Backpage.com soliciting sex.
According to the case affidavit, in April 2013 HSI special agents met with Goswitz to advise the teen was missing and that she was a potential human trafficking victim. The affidavit states Goswitz denied ever meeting the minor victim, claiming he obtained the photographs of her online. Two months later, HSI special agents again questioned Goswitz, at which time he admitted engaging in commercial sex acts with the victim. Additionally, Goswitz acknowledged he had contacted the victim after his initial meeting with investigators. He further confirmed he had the minor victim and other females with whom he engaged in commercial sex acts pose for explicit photos wearing t-shirts saying “I love Baldy Cruiser.” He then posted those images on Internet sex forums as proof of his sexual exploits.
“This case should put commercial sex patrons on notice,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “Those who pay for sex with minors are contributing in no small way to the current epidemic of teen and child sex-trafficking. The clients in these cases are, for all intents and purposes, as culpable as the actual traffickers and we intend to hold them accountable for their actions.”
Judge O'Connell ordered Goswitz to surrender in 60 days to begin serving his sentence. Upon completion of his prison term, Goswitz will be subject to five years' supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.
ICE is a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities. For more information, visit www.ICE.gov. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-347-2423 or complete our tip form.
Labor set to offer $33M compensation for sexually abused children
by Demilyn Noble
The Labor party on Monday promised $33 million for the rehabilitation of child sexual abuse victims should they win the next federal election.
According to a report on redress and civil litigation, an estimated 60,000 adult survivors of child sex abuse would be eligible for compensation amounting between $10,000 and $200,000 with this amount. On average, the compensation payment would be around $65,000.
Apart from compensating victims, the plan will also see the money used to create schemes aimed at offering counselling services and psychological support. A total of $20 million will be used for the formation of a national body and advisory council that will be instrumental to help implement the scheme. The body will report to the federal attorney-general.
The Guardian also noted that the national scheme would give survivors a chance to receive a direct personal response from their abuser, or the institution that housed their abuser, on top of monetary compensation.
The $33 million allotment can be funded through saving measures which include a crackdown on multinational tax dodgers, reduction of superannuation tax concessions and removal of the emissions reduction fund. The plan was released by opposition leader Bill Shorten and a number of shadow ministers.
Established in January 2013, the royal commission has received nearly 26,000 calls from survivors, while more than 760 cases were referred to law enforcement authorities.
Cathy Kezelman, the president of Adults Surviving Childhood Abuse, noted that the rise in the number of older Australians meant that a redress scheme must be implemented immediately. Kezelman further noted that the costs involved are significant but are far less than those of inaction.
Should it be extended, the royal commission will cost $125.8 million on top of its $377 million current budget.
NHS and social services fail child sexual abuse survivors, study reveals
Survey asked 400 survivors to rate support services and fewer than half said they feel listened to, believed or respected
by Josh Halliday
One of the biggest surveys of child sexual abuse survivors in the UK has revealed a shocking failure in the NHS and local authorities, with fewer than half of those who used hospitals or social services feeling they were listened to, believed or respected.
The independent survey of nearly 400 child sexual abuse survivors found social services and A&E lacked really basic, essential criteria to support vulnerable children and had not improved in 40 years.
Prof Noel Smith from the University Campus Suffolk, who led the research, described the findings as important and disturbing. He said: “It's shocking because survivors are basing their views about poor service on these really basic, essential criteria about being listened to, believed and respected.
“You can imagine how if someone is finding it hard to disclose – they've been told all their life they're not going to be listened to – and when they do get help they feel they're not being believed, that clearly compounds the issues they're going to have.”
The study, carried out with the charity Survivors in Transition, is believed to be among the most comprehensive surveys of victims' experiences of support services in the UK.
Were they believed?
Survivors were asked to rate support services – including voluntary groups, GPs, A&E and social services – on the basis of three criteria: whether they felt listened to, believed and respected.
The police, A&E and social services were ranked the worst. Two-thirds of those who used social services described it as either “poor” or “very poor”, with half of those who had attended A&E describing the service as “poor” or “very poor”. Overall, less than half of those who used social services or A&E and hospital services felt they had been listened to, believed or respected.
One child sexual abuse victim quoted in the study said: “In the NHS services I have experienced – four or five different psychotherapists – I have not felt supported or believed and it was suggested I was lying. Almost as demoralising as the abuse and rape.”
The best-rated support service was independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs), who are usually based in sexual assault referral centres or in voluntary projects. Of those surveyed, 67% rated ISVAs as “very good” and 46% rated sexual assault referral centres as “very good”.
The study found a sharp contrast between survivors' rating of statutory services compared to voluntary bodies. Among survivors who had used both sectors, more than 70% were more satisfied with voluntary sector services.
It also found that satisfaction with services had not improved over the past 40 years – despite growing societal awareness about child grooming.
Of those surveyed, 70% said they were abused as children by family members, with the abuse lasting on average for seven years. More than 30% said they continued to be abused after reporting it to a statutory service, such as a GP, social worker, doctor or teacher.
The academics behind the report urged GPs, social services and doctors to ask vulnerable children directly whether they had been sexually abused. According to the survey, more than 80% of survivors had to proactively disclose what had happened to them – an experience many found as traumatic as the abuse itself.
The survey results mirror the conclusions of an inquiry by MPs into the Rotherham and Rochdale child exploitation scandals, which found that local authorities had a woeful lack of professional curiosity when dealing with vulnerable children.
“It may have happened to me 17 years before, but the day I came out with it I felt like I'd been raped,” said Doug, 33, who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity. “It felt like I'd gone back to that day and all the pain, all the trauma, all the agony and all the things I'd buried.”
The study found 42% of survivors did not use support services until long after they first disclosed their abuse, with many not receiving help until an average of 12 years later. More than half of respondents waited at least nine years.
Smith said doctors, GPs and other professionals were still far behind when it came to acknowledging the current prevalence of child sexual abuse. “As a society we find it really difficult to accept that most abuse happens within the family, and although there's some latent knowledge about abuse happening within families, most professionals don't really appreciate the prevalence of it,” he said.
“We're still far behind. We're still not engaging with the fact that everyday, typical abuse is right under professionals' noses.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman highlighted that the Ministry of Justice was providing £7m this year to support services helping child sexual abuse victims. A separate Home Office fund of £4.8m was distributed to victim support organisations earlier this year, in part due to a huge increase in demand from Justice Lowell Goddard's independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.
The findings are due to be published on Wednesday at a University Campus Suffolk conference attended by police chiefs, child protection bosses and Kate Davies, the head of Public Health England.
‘It was a horrific experience – I just wanted it to be over'
Last year, Jane, 45, summoned the courage to revisit the darkest chapter of her life. It wasn't the first time she had reported that she was sexually abused by her grandfather. The first time was 30 years ago, when she was a teenager. But it didn't go well.
In 1985 Jane went to her local hospital's sexual health department, concerned that she might have a sexually transmitted infection. To her horror, the consultant that day happened to be elderly and male – triggering terrifying flashbacks of her abusive grandfather.
Jane says: “I was very tense and reticent to be examined. Because of my history that was a massive ordeal for me. The consultant got really bad-tempered and said, ‘What are you messing about for?' I disclosed that my grandad had sexually abused me. He basically carried on the examination. It felt like it was happening again. It was a horrific experience – I just wanted it over.”
After the hospital visit, Jane went home without any offer of follow-up support: “Social workers should have been called. I should have been brought home. My parents should have been involved. I should have been offered specialist support.”
‘I was just left alone with this in my head'
Doug, 33, was sexually abused by a man he met at a church festival when he was 13. He waited until he was 29 to seek help after battling alcohol and drug addictions for years.
“About three or four weeks after I came out with it I tried to jump in front of a train,” he says. “Two days later my mum took me to A&E and they basically said, ‘You're not mental. You've had a trauma. We'll put you on to the right people.' That was it. I was just left alone with this in my head.”
Doug says he was passed from pillar to post by the NHS. He was treated for addiction problems and for a mental breakdown, but not the sexual abuse he suffered as a child: “If I was a child and I came out with it as a child then the whole world would be on their backs, but as soon as you become an adult, it's like you've missed your chance.”
Bradenton community talks child abuse, stopping the cycle
by Saundra Weathers
BRADENTON -- The feeling in the Straight Talk community meeting Tuesday night was of hope and people desperate for change.
Some people inside of that meeting shared stories about Keishanna Thomas, including claims of her abuse. Some of the claims read a lot like what DCF reports say the mother of five did to her own kids.
In the packed room full of people from the Bradenton community, the emotions were high.
“We've got to get together. We've got to come together and know one another,” yelled out one man.
All of the people there said they're concerned about this case and the future of children who might be in similar situations.
“Yes, she needed help. Yes Janiya's in a better place. But what we gonna do to help everybody else's kids?” said one woman in the crowd.
Some of the people at the meeting were strangers. Some were directly connected to Janiya Thomas' family.
Beverly Bell said the abuse in this family goes back generations. She says she watched Janiya's mother, Keishanna grow up and claims Keishanna was also abused as a child.
“It kills me and it hurts me to my heart because I knew the little girl. I knew what she went through. I knew what was done to her,” she said about Keishanna.
From beatings, to living in filth and withholding food, DCF documented it all with Keishanna's children.
“I'm not defending or condoning what she did,” Bell said. “But I don't think she understood what she did was wrong. I don't think she knew what she was doing was wrong until it happened.”
Now the task with this community is to make sure this cycle stops.
“This is solution time,” said Straight Talk organizer Wayne Washington. “What are we gonna do different now?”
A lot of the people who attended the community meeting know Keishanna. Some of them say they feared something like this could be going on but never imagined it was as bad as these documents say it was.
Defense Department Investigating Reports of Child Abuse in Afghanistan
by Paul McLeary
The Defense Department's Inspector General is launching an investigation into how U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have handled accusations of child rape by Afghan military commanders. The decision will place the office in the center of the controversy surrounding the U.S. Army's planned expulsion of a decorated Green Beret for beating an Afghan police commander accused of systematically raping a young boy.
Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, along with then-Capt. Daniel Quinn, admitted to beating an Afghan Local Police (ALP) commander in Kunduz in 2011 after their superiors refused to act on their reports of child rape and imprisonment. Martland's planned expulsion from the Army, and his leadership's response to his allegation, called into question the U.S. policy for dealing with the issue of child rape in Afghanistan.
In a notice posted Tuesday, the inspector general's office said it would investigate “how many cases of child sexual abuse alleged against Afghan government officials have been reported to U.S./Coalition Forces Commands,” and “what actions were taken and by whom?”
Quinn has since left the Army and Martland was slated to be kicked out on Nov. 1 until Army Secretary John McHugh – who is set to retire by Nov. 1 – stepped in and agreed to postpone the discharge until the soldier could file an appeal. McHugh's change of heart came after he spoke with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tx.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who asked for a stay in discharging Martland. “Out of respect for Chairman Thornberry's continued strong support for our military, and his personal appeal,” McHugh said, Martland's team would have 60 additional days to appeal his discharge.
Martland has retained the services of an Army lawyer at Fort Bragg, N.C., and is in the process of filing his appeal.
Though under a gag order, the Army did allow Martland to write a public letter explaining his side of the story. “Our ALP (Afghan Local Police) were committing atrocities and we were quickly losing the support of the local populace,” Martland wrote. “The severity of the rapes and the lack of action by the Afghan Government caused many of the locals to view our ALP as worse than the Taliban.”
The case brought out a number of soldiers who charged that they had been told to keep quiet about the child abuse they had witnessed in Afghanistan, a policy – even if unwritten – that was vehemently denied by U.S. commanders.
The practice of Afghan warlords and military commanders forcing young boys into sexual slavery — known as bacha bazi, or “boy play” — has hardly been a secret. But this episode represented the first time that American military officials had been accused of covering it up, or ignoring it.
In an announcement posted Tuesday, the inspector general announced it would look into what guidance or policies the U.S. military has issued to deployed troops on how to handle accusations of child rape and abuse in Afghanistan, and how many cases of abuse had been reported up through the chain of command over the 14 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
Child Abuse on the Rise in W.Va.
by Natalie Price
The West Virginia Child Advocacy Network recently released its annual statewide report.
According to the report, child abuse cases in the Mountain State have increased by 15%.
The statistics cover sexual abuse, physical abuse, drug endangerment, neglect, witness to violence, and an "other" category.
Officials with the Children's Listening Place say they have seen an increase in Wood County, handling over 200 cases this year alone. Of the cases reported in the 2014-2015 period, 32% of offenses were committed by a parent.
Officials say that the community plays a huge role in preventing child abuse in their area.
"The community needs to recognize signs of abuse. That can be found on our website. If a child discloses or says anything you need to report it. Don't just take it as the child not telling the truth. It needs to be reported to child protective services or to your local law enforcement," said Lisa Sutton, Executive Director of the Children's Listening Place.
The Children's Listening Place is Wood County's Child Advocacy Center. They are mainly grant-funded and one of their main goals is to make sure that a child in a suspected abuse case only needs to be interviewed once. They are also able to perform medical exams on-site.
Experts: Child abuse is happening here
by Felicia A. Petro
About 25 adults attended a forum in Grove City to raise awareness about child abuse -- despite a widely held belief that it doesn't happen here.
The county's AWARE program, with help from the Grove City Area United Way, hosted the event at Grove City Middle School.
“The reality is children are abused and they need adults to stand up for them,” said Lizette Olsen, director of AWARE. “This is to raise awareness among adults in Grove City.”
Representatives from law enforcement, the school district and county agencies also spoke.
Grove City police chief Dean Osborne talked about how officers investigate child abuse cases. School officials explained the steps they take to help at-risk students.
Children in kindergarten and first grade are the most uncensored, said Highland Primary Center Principal Jennifer Connelly. “They can talk. They say it all.”
Connelly and middle school guidance counselor Dow Misenhelter have about five cases of child abuse to deal with annually among their student populations, they said.
“What's difficult is when a friend goes to the school counselor that they are aware of a friend being abused,” Misenheler said. “It helps that we have a female counselor now for girls.”
Contrary to popular belief, statistically less than 96 percent of kids and adults do not lie in cases of child sexual abuse, said Angel McLaughlin, a former youth counselor and now supervisor with AWARE. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they are 18 years old, she added.
Giving an example of a 14-year-old girl being assaulted by her mother's partner, a teen normally tells her friend about the abuse – not her mother, McLaughlin stated.
The amount of pressure from friends and adults in that scenario can cause a girl to renege on her account – solidifying the false belief that kids usually lie about sexual abuse, McLaughlin said.
Robert Kochems, Mercer County district attorney, has worked with adult rape victims “to build them up to testify,” he said – only for perpetrators to be found not guilty because the jury may have judged the victims for not crying or for having blank looks on their faces during testimony.
“They're doing all they can in getting their guts together and holding on,” Kochems said.
It's an experience that's hard to undo for the remainder of their lives. “All they can think is, ‘They didn't believe me,'” he said. “Imagine if it's a 6 year old.”
Kochems also faces realities like a 17-year-old boy not knowing “no meant no” in having sex with a 16-year-old girl, he said. The DA said he's mindful that unjustly labeling him a sexual predator – in addition to giving him time – will follow that boy for the rest of his life.
“I have to make these decisions and sometimes it's not pleasant,” he said, because they are not always going to be popular with public opinion. In Mercer County, the D.A.'s office practices “vertical prosecution,” which means that the same officers, attorneys and case workers will be involved in a child abuse case until it is closed.
McLaughlin said corporal punishment is not child abuse; spanking is legal, particularly with an open hand or maybe something like a wooden spoon on the buttocks.
“This is not what we're talking about here,” she said. A beating is abuse with a specific definition by law. Abuse is also mental, sexual, neglect, exploitation, torture and death.
“Failing to act – like leaving a child with someone you know is a sex offender – is abuse,” McLaughlin added. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is when a parent, usually a mother, convinces her child that he/she is sick “for attention,” she noted. The mother of rapper Eminem reportedly abused her son this way, she said.
Members of the forum said they are bound to anonymity for children in abuse cases, which often makes it seem like no one's doing anything.
Kochems' standard answer to the press is “I can't confirm or deny” a child has been abused, he said – which doesn't go over too well.
In addition to preparing for the forum, AWARE has offered training for mandatory reporters – or individuals obligated to report child abuse or neglect. They would include anyone who works or comes in contact with children, such as school officials, bus drivers, health care workers, clergy, police officers and foster parents.
The county's Children and Youth Services intervenes in abuse cases to put an at-risk child with another family member, an institution or a foster home. The goal is to reunite them with their families if possible, McLaughlin said.
Marsha Cummings spoke of needing court-appointed special advocate volunteers to step forward for training, which she oversees through the Mercer County Juvenile Advisory Council.
The advocate works with the system; however, the person is an unbiased representative for the abused child, she said. The advocate interviews the child at least once a month about his/her life to observe how the person is functioning while the case is still open – which is reported back to the judge through the child's case worker.
CYS helps children indirectly by supporting needy families with resources – like beds, for example – as well as training teens how to live independently, McLaughlin noted. Cummings said a teen can elect to stay in CYS care until he/she is 21 to continue receiving healthcare – and extra help in transitioning to the next phase of his or her life.
“It's a difficult time for kids without (family) support,” Cummings said, in deciding whether they will continue their education or look for employment.
Olsen said that AWARE – with the United Way's help – will be offering more training for mandatory reporters in the Grove City area.
They will also be sending fliers to residents about ChildLine, a 24-hour hotline through the state Department of Human Resources to report child abuse. It's what school officials use when making reports, Misenhelter said.
Grove City folks think that child abuse does not exist here – which is not true, according to attendee Sue Burke, a private counselor in Grove City and a county social worker. “I'm thrilled, even with the small amount of people here, that we're talking about it,” she said. “There's always someone to talk to. Don't give up.”
AWARE presented a similar talk about elder abuse in Greenville – and one person showed up, Kochems noted.
Adults “have to talk about this,” he added. “This is embarrassing and upsetting to people but if you don't discuss it, you won't know if it's going on. Kids have to know it's okay to talk about it.”
“It's not a small thing for a child to say to an adult, ‘Help me - not hurt,'” Olsen said, adding that more incidents of child abuse are being reported now that laws have tightened in the state.
Report child abuse to the ChildLine hotline at 800-932-0313.
Dental surgeon reveals his methods of how to identify victims of child abuse
by Vivienne Aitken
Professor Richard Welbury's methods are now used across the world to help protect kids
A top dental surgeon has revealed his methods behind identifying victims of child abuse through dentistry.
Professor Richard Welbury has worked as a dental surgeon for decades, but it is his work in making dentists aware of their wider responsibilities to keep kids in their care safe that sets his apart from the rest.
He told the Daily Record: "A dentist is trained to look at the whole face and head and neck as part of their examination.
“I became involved in this in the early 1980s when I was working in Newcastle. I studied medicine and dentistry.”
There was one case which prompted his lifelong mission to help abused children.
He said: “It was a case I admitted one night when I was a member of junior staff in plastic surgery.
“The child had his hand held against the grill of a gas fire. He had a right-angle burn corresponding to the grill.
“That was the case that got me thinking more about these types of injuries. In plastic surgery, up to 10 per cent of burns in young children could be non-accidental.
“When I came back into dentistry full-time, I thought this was an area we were really not involved in and I couldn't see why we couldn't get involved in it.
“We know more about children's mouths than anyone else. No one else has the expertise.”
First, Richard looked at the published data on child physical abuse, which showed 50% of victims will have signs on their head and neck.
He said: “There will be bruises or abrasions that could be seen by a dental team. There is a fair amount of evidence of that.
“Research myself and colleagues did in the early 2000s in Scotland agreed with data from the US.”
The second sign of abuse is dental neglect or decay.
Richard said: “Dentists inform the parents what causes dental decay where a child might have it.
“After receiving information about diet and lifestyle, offering them treatment and arranging a time to come back in, if parents don't come back that's dental neglect.
“The next step for us in our guidelines would be to interface with other health bodies.
“In each part of the UK, we have child protection teams where there are nurses you can ring for advice. A child protection nurse can help a dentist decide if this family needs to be referred to social services.
“In the last five years, more dental teams are liasing with protection teams than ever.”
Richard and his team wrote the first national guidelines on child protection, published in 2006 and the basis for dental teams throughout the UK.
It has since been translated into Greek, Croatian and Italian.
Richard, who is based at Glasgow Dental Hospital, has now been nominated for a Scottish Health Award as a result of his work in helping children.
He said his nomination came as “a huge surprise”.
He said: “I didn't even know I had been nominated until I got the call saying I was a finalist. I am very humbled to be in the final.”
Richard and the finalists in the 16 categories at this year's health awards will be honoured at a ceremony in the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, on November 4, hosted by comedian Fred MacAuley.
Why castration is not a solution to address child sexual abuse
Castrate the rapist, solve the problem of child sex assault — the Madras high court's recent recommendation to the central government is not just naïve and simplistic but also blinkered and dangerous in its assumptions, ignoring the fact that rapes are not so much about physical sexual urge but about exerting power. If that were not so, there would be no digital rape or children — and indeed women — being subjected to other forms of sexual violence like penetration by foreign objects.
Moreover, Justice N Kirubakaran's assertion that castration for child rapists would produce “magical results” takes a narrow view of the extreme form of sexual violence that is rape and ignores the horrifying spectrum of crimes related to sexual assault and abuse. It is in keeping with the view that death penalty for rape is necessary and acts as a deterrent. As experience has shown repeatedly, putting extreme punishment on the statute books without addressing societal and foundational reasons for the crime can not only be ineffective but counterproductive too.
Dismissing the petition by a British national who had set up a childcare institute in Tamil Nadu and is accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old, Justice Kirubakaran admitted that “though the suggestion of castration looks barbaric, barbaric crimes should definitely attract barbaric modes of punishment”. With this, the very thought of the punishment should deter the culprit. Interestingly, he also confessed to the helplessness of the judiciary.
“When law is ineffective and incapable of addressing the menace, this court cannot keep its hands folded and remain a silent spectator, unmoved and oblivious of the recent happenings of horrible blood-curdling gang rapes of children in various parts of India,” he said.
In delivering his strongly-worded ruling, the judge should perhaps have kept in mind John Wayne Bobbitt, whose name entered the dictionary as a synonym for castration and emasculation when his wife, who said she had been subjected to years of abuse, severed his penis in the 1990s. More than 20 years later, a clearly unrepentant — and undeterred — Bobbitt proudly claims to have slept with 70 women since and has even appeared in an eponymous porn film.
The judge should also perhaps have remembered the victims and survivors of rape subjected to torture with foreign objects. If the 23-year-old physiotherapy whose insides were torn out with iron rods on the night of December 16, 2012 in Delhi did not fit the parameter, then perhaps he should have recalled the case of the five-year-old who was held for two days the following year and was found with “foreign objects”, including a candle and a bottle, inside her. Was it just about libido for the men behind these crimes that horrified the entire nation? Would the child have been spared had they been castrated?
These are sobering questions that stress the point that women's groups have long been making — for rapists, it's not just about the body but the mind, it is not about libido but power, not about satisfying a sexual urge but about controlling your victim.
The legal template is already there. The Justice Verma panel, formed after December 16, had ruled out chemical castration saying that it failed to “treat the social foundations of rape which is about power and sexually deviant behavior”. In its view, mutilation of the body is not permitted by the Constitution.
In making the absolutist assumption that castration would be the “magical” wand that would at one swish erase the child rapist from the man, the Madras High Court does a disservice to those — lawmakers, activists, parents and ‘victims' — grappling with issues of aggravated sexual abuse and their ramifications.
Medieval, barbaric forms of retribution can never be an answer. If that were so, Saudi Arabia would be a country free of any crime. It will also make courts across the country chary about pronouncing judgments, thereby delaying justice in an already creaking system. What is needed is sober analysis and an empathetic, efficient judicial framework in which justice is swiftly delivered.
Sex trafficking is a local concern, officials say
by Frank Schultz
JANESVILLE—A local shelter for girls is one idea being discussed by officials concerned about the commercial sex business.
Social service workers, agency representatives and government officials met at the Rock County Job Center on Tuesday to learn about the problem of juveniles recruited into that disturbing world.
The girls typically are about 13 years old, they were told.
And despite the belief these unfortunate girls and boys are scooped up in big cities and third-world countries, they're also recruited right here in Rock County, said a Janesville police officer who is his department's point man on the topic.
Officer Ben Biddick said he began his department's program on human trafficking last year. He has trained officers and hospital workers on what to look for.
One thing they should be looking for is runaways.
“We are looking heavily at that population because they often are the most victimized and most vulnerable,” Biddick said.
The most frequent people to come into contact with the victims are patrol officers, child protective services workers and emergency-room workers, Biddick said.
A juvenile runaway from Walworth County was found to be working as a prostitute in Janesville last year, and Biddick said his department has other ongoing investigations into suspected occurrences.
Runaways often are lured into the commercial sex business because they want money for food, shelter and sometimes drugs or alcohol, Biddick said. It's called survival sex.
Biddick said he's heard an estimate that one in three runaways is solicited for commercial sexual activity within 48 hours of leaving home.
Janesville patrol officers now know to probe runaways with questions such as how they got their money, where they stayed and who allowed them to stay, Biddick said.
“That has opened up some information,” Biddick said.
Often, someone drives the runaways to cities such as Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison, he said.
“A few” such cases have turned up over the past year in Janesville, he said.
Biddick said he has developed connections with law enforcement elsewhere and shares information with them.
No one knows the extent of the problem—either here or in other states, said Christine Lidbury of the Wisconsin Women's Council, who spoke at the meeting.
“We hear it's a growing problem. We hear from law enforcement that it's a growing problem. We see the ads that are out there,” Lidbury said, referring to advertisements for sexual services on Internet sites.
Lidbury said she has heard that some who have trafficked in drugs are turning to prostitution “because it's not illegal to drive in a car with a young woman. It is illegal to drive with drugs in your car.”
Lidbury and Julie Braun of the state Office of Crime Victim Services encouraged the 75 or so attendees to register their services with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which runs a hot line and matches survivors' needs to resources on a state-by-state basis.
A documentary film about the problem in New York City took up most of the meeting. Girls in the film spoke frankly of being romanced and then enslaved by their pimps. Survivors in the film spoke of being in love with their pimps. Others were forced into “the life” with violence and threats.
“The most powerful weapon that victimizers have against kids is not a gun. It's affection, and it's manipulation,” Braun said.
Locally, the Women's Fund of the Stateline Community Foundation held a meeting last month that included social service agencies, the district attorney's office and law enforcement working to establish procedures so human trafficking survivors can be identified and helped, said Sandy Kincaid of the Women's Fund.
“We've accepted the fact that this is happening in our community and also accepted the fact that the majority of people being recruited into this are juveniles,” Kincaid said.
One suggestion is to have a drop-in center where juveniles and young women can begin to get help, Kincaid said.
Officials at Tuesday's meeting discussed that idea, some suggesting having a place that is safe from pimps and where the specific needs of sex-trafficking survivors can be met, Biddick said.
Those needs can include psychological stress from multiple sex assaults and beatings, Biddick said.
San Diego Sex Trafficking an $810M Underground Industry: Study
The average victim is 15 years old when entering the sex industry in San Diego
by Wendy Fry
In an underground industry largely run by gangs, more than 8,000 underage victims a year fall prey to sex traffickers in San Diego County, drawing in an estimated $810 million in annual revenue for pimps and what researchers call sex trafficking facilitators.
These are the findings of preliminary research released Monday by the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University.
Researchers found that 85 percent of pimps and sex trafficking facilitators were involved with a gang, some of those gangs with close ties to Mexican cartels, said Dr. Ami Carpenter, the lead researcher on the ““Measuring the Nature and Extent of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in San Diego.”
“Facilitators make about $536,000 per year. That's about $45,000 per month,” said Carpenter. “And I want to stress that this is a conservative estimate.”
The data collected by the researchers showed significant recruiting of minors happening on school campuses across San Diego County.
“This is a countywide phenomenon not restricted to the underserved parts of the county,” said Dr. Jamie Gates, another researcher. “The schools where we found evidence of sex trafficking were in the North County, Central and in the South Bay.”
County leaders like Supervisor Dianne Jacob, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Sheriff Bill Gore gathered to applaud the research efforts on sex trafficking. Supervisor Jacob described learning about the problem five years ago after a warrant sweep in Spring Valley.
“I was horrified. Absolutely horrified,” Jacob said, “and just sick to my stomach seeing what was going on in our community, but yet little known. People didn't know about it.”
Jacob said it is “time for Sacramento to step up,” describing two proposed bills that failed to become law. One would establish a 1,000-foot “pimp-free” zone around schools and parks, and the other would add pimping, pandering and human trafficking to a list of crimes associated with street gangs.
“It's an eye opener. Very disturbing,” Jacob said. “The ugly truth is that San Diego has a thriving, underground sex economy.”
Dumanis echoed Jacob's call for tougher laws and penalties for sex traffickers.
“We need the public's support to send a message to Sacramento that these are exactly the type of people we do want locked up and locked up for a long time, and it's the nonviolent ones we can let out of prison to make room for them,” Dumanis said.
The DA also floated the idea of more consequences for clients of commercial sex, asking the audience what they thought about publishing the names of those caught buying sex.
Key findings from the study included:
Between 8,830 – 11,773 sex trafficking victims and survivors are estimated per year in San Diego County.
15 years old is the average age of entry into child commercial sexual exploitation
At least 110 gangs are involved in commercial exploitation of people in San Diego County.
85 percent of pimps/sex trafficking facilitators interviewed were gang involved.
Traffickers in prison contained roughly an equal number of white, black and Hispanic facilitators.
Transborder criminal networks are involved in trafficking minors and adults between Mexico and the United States.
The study was funded by the Department of Justice.
Carpenter said her group plans to publish even more findings about the extent of interactions between Mexican cartels and San Diego gangs as it relates to the sex trade industry.
“I don't think this is an issue San Diego can tackle alone,” Carpenter said.
Sex Trafficking Task Force will Ask for Public's Help
by JoAnn Merrigan
“Flaco who will now die in prison for being a sex trafficker,” says Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Gilluly tells a crowd Monday. There is a quiet round of applause, maybe because the topic being discussed is not one for the kind of raucous response one might normally get in recounting victory.
The topic here is the worst, human trafficking and specifically sex trafficking.
Gilluly was one of a number of speakers at a Child Sex Trafficking Conference sponsored by the city of Savannah. Gillully talked about one of the worst cases locally, i.e. one several years ago in which a man from Mexico was arrested at a Savannah apartment for running an international sex trafficking ring. Twelve victims were rescued, all of them girls brought to America on the promise they would have a better life.
The case is an example of national, state and local law enforcement working together. It's also about big headlines. Monday's conference however was about the cases that frankly never become cases in terms of arrests, about lost children, and most of them from here, not somewhere else. “Clearly there's a perception that it involves poor kids more than rich kids and that a lot of these kids come from abroad,” said Georgia's Attorney General Sam Olens. “Absolutely not true. We see some form Latin America and Central America, but it's our kids that we are generally seeing.
Olens says many children at risk have been abused and run away from home. But he also said “There's the idea all of these kids in trouble are poor and that's not always the case at all.”
The conference, sponsored by the city of Savannah, brought together a list of people who want to help children, some representing social service agencies. There was also the department of Homeland Security, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Chatham County District Attorney's office.
“For too long people didn't talk about it, they're disgusted at the thought of it,” said Olens.
The attorney general says he understands it's a difficult topic, but the point needs to be helping more of the children and arresting those that profit from the sex trafficking. “These folks deserve to rot in jail, but we need to train, we need to train law enforcement, we need to train school systems,” said Olens.
To that end, the U.S. Attorney's office is forming a new task force asking for all of us to get involved. “So if you're a citizen or member of public service agency and you want to help with this problem, you can join the task force where you can come up with techniques and policies so we can address this problem,” said U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver.
Authorities say teachers and neighbors can help by paying attention to children and noticing who they may be hanging out with for example. They say teachers can notice if a child has a lot of absences at school and then shows up with expensive things and with an adult that school officials may wonder about.
You can also help by calling authorities. Gilluly says “an average person can be aware and something a simple as simple as a phone call makes a difference. He says in the “El Flaco” case, a citizen called police after that person noticed a line of men standing outside the apartment door.
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is often confused with human smuggling, but people can become victims of trafficking without ever setting foot over a border.
by Mark Trumbull
Human trafficking, as defined by a US federal law in 2000, is “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” That's the definition for labor trafficking; a parallel definition applies to sex trafficking and coerced prostitution.
Note that in this definition, a trafficking victim is not necessarily moved from one location to another. Human trafficking is not a form of smuggling. A person could be smuggled across a border without being trafficked – for example, a migrant paying a coyote to escort them over the US-Mexican border – and a person could be trafficked without ever leaving her home city.
But the coercion at the heart of human trafficking often is connected to migration. Job seekers arrive in a new country on promises of a rewarding work, but their supposed helpers confiscate their paperwork and force them into service. Then there's coercion in the form of “debt bondage,” such as when victims incur an initial debt as a term of employment – and traffickers use that debt as a means of control.
The United Nations has called on nations to adopt strong laws criminalizing human trafficking in its many forms – whether victims are children, women, or men. So far, some 168 countries have signed on to the UN protocol, launched in 2000. Laws on human trafficking vary in strength from country to country (and state to state within the US), and enforcement can be weak. Advocacy groups say there have been relatively few human trafficking convictions worldwide.
The UN definition of human trafficking is similar in key respects to the one adopted by the US. It boils down to three parts – a “what,” a “how,” and a “why.” What happens. Human trafficking involves one or more of these actions: “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons.” The means. Criminals act by coercion (including threat or use of force), by abduction, by fraud or deception, by “the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability,” or by paying money “to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person.” The motives. The criminal intent is exploitation, meaning “prostitution … or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
One question that arises is whether or not someone can be considered a trafficking victim if he or she is an adult who gave initial consent to an exploitative labor arrangement. The answer under US law, and the UN protocol, is yes because it is the behavior of the traffickers that determines the crime, not the consent of the victim. As a US State Department document puts it: “Once a person's labor is exploited [by coercion], the person's prior consent to work for an employer is legally irrelevant.”
Survivor helps victims with drama
by Nancy De Gennaro
SMYRNA — Healing after domestic violence and sexual abuse is a long, hard road for anyone.
But two local survivors have found a way to reach out to victims in a rather playful way through the nonprofit Troupe: Survivor.
“We use drama therapy to help victims of violence to help them grow and hopefully transform into survivors through different theatrical techniques. So we use puppet therapy and play therapy and mask-making … that help them grow,” said Norman Hanks, co-founder of Troupe Survivor who is pursuing a master's in drama therapy.
Jennifer Hamilton, who also co-founded Troupe: Survivor with Hanks, stumbled onto the idea while pursuing a degree in criminal justice. During an internship with a counseling center, she began working as a group facilitator, victim advocate and domestic violence court liaison.
Part of the outreach in Smyrna came about because they were seeing victims who were unable to travel to Murfreesboro to get the help they needed. So they created Troupe: Survivor in their hometown of Smyrna two years ago. Since then they've run several play therapy groups for victims of all ages.
They use a variety of techniques, too. One session might involve making masks or puppets, while another could revolve around writing and acting out a skit.
“Depression is a big issue. People are constantly locked down inside themselves and they are not willing to release,” Hanks said.
Play therapy helps with the release, he said. And by listening to what the group members act out or talk about helps Hanks to discern what underlying issues may be. Once you know the problem, you're on the road to healing and creating a fix.
Getting to the heart of the matter isn't easy, so one of the exercises Hanks often uses to loosen up the group is to toss around a ball. Before long, everyone is giggling.
“When you relax yourself and release yourself to allow happiness to flow in, that's what we do when we play,” Hanks said. “Once you feel a smile and remember what it's like to have a happy feeling, it breaks down walls.”
That happiness is infectious, too, which helps in the group setting and “gets everyone working together.”
The physical activity is also a way to engage the brain in preparation for dealing with what is often “heavy, emotional” issues.
“It lowers inhibitions and it allows us to open up and not worry about what we look like. We're all acting goofy, so nobody is judging,” Hamilton said.
While play is often associated with children, it's the adults that probably need it most.
But the groups are kept separate because adult issues are often too complicated and burdensome for little ones, and “they have their own issues,” Hanks said.
The adult and the children's groups may do separate work, but they work on similar issues.
“By having (both groups) on the same thing at the same time, it gives them something to talk about when they get home,” Hanks said.
Groups are typically held quarterly for approximately eight to 10 weeks, depending on demand and ability to find space to meet. The nonprofit is seeking a “budget-friendly” spot for groups and events. There is no charge to participate.
“We want victims to be the main character in their story … and tell their story. Because every time a victim tells their story, it gets easier. Through telling their stories, they help educate others … and they begin to move the anger and hurt away from them and start rebuilding their lives,” Hanks said.
To learn more about Troupe: Survivor, visit troupesurvivor.org. If you're interested in enrolling in a play therapy group, email Jennifer.Hamilton@troupesurvivor.org or Norman.Hanks@troupesurvivor.org
If you go
What : Wine tasting to benefit Troupe Survivor
When : 5-8 p.m. Nov. 14
Where : Through the Grapevine, 630 Broadmore St., Murfreesboro
Details : Live music, art exhibit, guest speaker, silent auction
Cost : $25 in advance, $30 at the door
Tickets : Purchase at troupesurvivor.org
Contact : email@example.com
Petition calls for firing of LAUSD attorney in teen sex case
by Mike Szymanski
A petition is calling for the firing (again) of W. Keith Wyatt, An LA Unified lawyer who argued in court that a 14-year-old girl was partly responsible for her own sexual abuse at the hands of her teacher at Edison Middle School.
After being told he would no longer be representing the district, he was quietly rehired, much to the consternation of school board member Mónica Ratliff.
The petition says: “Tell LAUSD: Fire the victim-blaming lawyer and support survivors.”
The petition is on UltraViolet.org but it does not indicate the name of the originator, the number of people who have signed, what happens with the petition when somebody decides the campaign has run its course or who that somebody is. Efforts to reach UltraViolet were unsuccessful.
The school board is scheduled to discuss the case, S.M. v. Los Angeles Unified School District, in closed session tomorrow morning. A decision to dismiss Wyatt would, presumably, be announced publicly at the end of the meeting.
Today, a victim's rights attorney, Vince Finaldi, criticized LAUSD's chief counsel, David Holmquist, saying, “ Parents should demand that the School Board replace Mr. Holmquist with someone who will aggressively remove predators from our schools rather than blaming the children they victimize.”
Meanwhile, over the weekend, attorneys for the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese dropped its support for LAUSD in the case. The church's support drew criticism from attorneys representing sexual abuse victims.
Attorney John Manly, a leading advocate for child sex abuse victims, said: “I find it disturbing that the Los Angeles Archdiocese objects to the higher standard of protection for child sex abuse victims established by the court of appeals … the Archbishop will make children throughout California more vulnerable to sexual abuse by priests, teachers, scoutmasters and other adults who are in a position to prey upon them.”
The online petition reads: “A 14-year-old girl in Los Angeles was raped by her teacher. Then the L.A. School District blamed her for it.
The teacher abused his authority, pressured an 8th grader, and raped her. But Keith Wyatt, the lawyer for the school district, argued in court that the rape was her fault. Then, he went on the radio to blame her in the media, too.”
A similar petition on Change.org last year got 67 signatures and fell short of the 100 they were looking for when it launched.
Men, Standing up for Women
by S Stoddard
I was reading an article in the New York Times this past Sunday, an NFL player taking the lead in advocating for women against any type of abuse. The article immediately caught my eye because women still face so much oppression not just in their homes but in our society overall. Here is an excerpt from his interview
Growing up in locker rooms is a very unusual work environment- a small space and 100% male. Locker to locker, the setting is marinated in machismo, with a lineup of employees celebrated for their toughness. ” We play a rough game on TV and people see us and say, Man, look at that dude. That's a guy right there!”
He went on to say “There would be jokes or something denigrating to women.” It would be the kind of thing that would never be said to a woman, but since it was all men, it was O.K.”
It was not O.K. with this man anymore and he had a specific reason. His then girlfriend ( now wife) sat him down and revealed something she had kept hidden. She explained to him that she had been physically and emotionally abused by her father from the age of 9 until she was 15. “It was very serious abuse, she says.” Her revelation was a thunderbolt to her soon to be husband. He now raises awareness of domestic abuse and has become an advocate for women as a whole. He said his wife's story changed his entire outlook. He said men overall need to stand up to other men and hold other's accountable who demean and hurt women in any form.
They, like I and many others are trying to shed light and bring awareness to abuse. Most often, people who have been abused or are abusing others, feel deep shame and then no one wants to talk about it. It's a shameful secret that they carry with them all the time. I have witnessed firsthand women being blamed by other women for the abuse. We have to figure out a way to start creating a safe environment for both men and women so we can start beating the odds. Sometimes something so hard to reveal can end of having the most positive impact because it doesn't just start with you. It encourages others to come forward and have a voice. It takes deep courage to speak out.
Here are some updated statistics that I pray you will read and let resonate within you….
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.
Other terms for domestic violence include intimate partner violence, battering, relationship abuse, spousal abuse, or family violence.
Who is Most Likely to Suffer from Domestic Abuse or Become a Victim of Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors.
Women and men can be victims of domestic violence.
How Many Men are Domestic Violence Victims?
Men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults in the USA.
How Often Does Domestic Violence Occur?
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
Why Does Domestic Abuse Happen?
No victim is to blame for any occurrence of domestic abuse or violence.
While there is no direct cause or explanation why domestic violence happens, it is caused by the abuser or perpetrator.
When and Where Does Domestic Violence Occur?
Domestic violence is most likely to take place between 6 pm and 6 am.
More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home.
What Happens to Victims of Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
At least 1/3 of the families using New York City's family shelter system are homeless due to domestic violence.
Domestic Violence in America: General Statistics and Facts
Women ages 18 to 34 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.
In 2 out of 3 female homicide cases, females are killed by a family member or intimate partner.
What are the Effects of Domestic Violence on Children?
More than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.
Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).
Children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic.
Children are more likely to intervene when they witness severe violence against a parent – which can place a child at great risk for injury or even death.
What are the Effects of Domestic Violence on Mental Health?
Domestic violence victims face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress.
Domestic violence contributes to poor health for many survivors including chronic conditions such as heart disease or gastrointestinal disorders.
Most women brought to emergency rooms due to domestic violence were socially isolated and had few social and financial resources.
What is the Economic Cost of Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical and mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies.
What Happens if Domestic Violence Victims Do Not Receive Help?
Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults.
Without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation.
#1 FACT: Most domestic violence incidents are never reported.
Help change the facts. Speak up, speak out, and make a difference for victims of domestic violence.
1 Peter 3:7
In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. (NLT)
We should be striving to treat all of our relationships with the utmost care. We are called to love.
'Finding voices:' Woman advocates for sex abuse victims through photos
Woman advocates for sex abuse victims through photos
by Mary Kate McGowan
Nearing the end of her first year as a Pickens County School guidance counselor in 1973, a 14-year-old honor roll student walked into Wanda Meades' office and asked if she could shut the door.
Meades said the student told her: "I cannot go home and live in this all summer. You have to help me."
The student began to pour out one of the worse sexual abuse cases Meades would hear in her career as a counselor and forensic interviewer.
"He nailed the windows shut so we couldn't get out," the girl said.
That line has stayed with Meades, and in February 2013, she found herself driving by the old country crossroads where that former student's house once stood. Although it had burned down, the father had died and the student would have been about 54 years old at that time, the story haunted Meades.
The next day she decided to combine her experience of about 40 years threaded with sexual abuse advocacy, love of photography and survivor stories to raise sexual abuse awareness and prevention through photography panels in a series called "Finding Voice."
Meades' second series of 11 24-by-36-inch canvases -- including five men's stories -- made its first stop at Piedmont Technical College's Greenwood campus library as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
About 3,000 people saw her first series of 13 story panels. The photographs are Meades' work, and the stories are the survivors' experiences.
As one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18, Meades said the series allow victims to share their stories without revealing their identity.
Meades said child abuse of any kind is a public health issue and emergency.
"If we had a disease that impacted one in four girls and one in six boys, we would be pouring money into prevention, wouldn't we?" she said.
She said positive movements are happening across the state through schools, advocacy centers -- like Beyond Abuse and Meg's House -- and tougher legislation, but the biggest mitigating factor is having one caring adult in a child's life.
Meades said the state is a long way from 1973 where there was little she could do to help that honor roll student, but people still need to educate themselves and others, and pay attention to children to make sure they are safe.
"We have to speak up and bring this issue to the community," she said.
She said most abusers are acquaintances, and sexual abuse usually happens in one-on-one situations. She said child-on-child abuse and familial abuse are also factors.
With about 20 people gathered in the Piedmont Tech library, Meades educated people and urged people to spread information throughout the community in order to stop potential sexual abuse.
Lynn Lanouette, Piedmont Tech executive assistant and vice president for academic affairs, said she did not know much about child sexual abuse before attending the presentation. A mother of five children, she said she wants to protect them and make the community more aware.
"It's kind of unbelievable," she said.
But Meades also reinforced other people's work.
Cathy Miller, Beyond Abuse executive director, said the agency serves more than 250 children and about 100 adults each year.
Miller urged people to write their legislators in support of funding as Beyond Abuse operates on grants and does not charge for services.
"Officially, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month," Meades said. "But ethically, morally and spiritually, every day is Child Abuse Prevention Day."
Stewards of Children movement aims to end child sexual abuse
by Allison Alexander and Anthony Victor Reyes
TUCSON - - One in ten children fall victim to sexual abuse. To combat this, the YMCA is encouraging Tucsonans to join their movement to end child sexual abuse.
The YMCA is using grant money to stop child sexual abuse in Southern Arizona. The Stewards of Children program aims to help parents and adults who work with children address sexual abuse through a free online class.
The two-hour class will offer participants the opportunity to learn about the steps necessary to take if there has been a case of child sex abuse. The program also addresses the importance of prevention.
“The evidence tells us that if 5 percent of a community can take the training, that's the tipping point,” said YMCA President Dane Woll. “You'll start to see it lessen.”
The program's community partners understand the importance of programs like this.
“It's important that we have as many adults out there trained so that they can identify these children so it can be stopped right away,” said Girl Scout volunteer Jackie Zamora.
The grant will end at the end of the year. YMCA aims to reach a goal of 50,000 adults participants.
Anyone interested is advised to visit tucsonymca.org.
Rape: The facts and figures
by Susan Shultz
Melanie's story, if it happened as she alleges, is not isolated.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 44% of victims are under the age of 18, and 80% are under the age of 30. Nearly 70% of sexual assaults are not reported and 98% of rapists will not spend a day in jail. According to the site, someone known to the victim commits 4 out of 5 assaults, and nearly 50% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
Findings released last week by the Association of American Universities showed an average of 23% of female college students had experienced sexual assault and sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation. Only 5% to 28% of those alleged victims reported the incidents to campus officials or law enforcement.
The most common reason cited for not reporting the incident was “embarrassment, ashamed or that it would be too emotionally difficult,” as well as because they “did not think anything could be done about it.”
Setta Mushegian from the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis in Stamford said the center has an anonymous hotline to assist those who need to talk or assistance.
Underage victims who wish to just talk and not press charges can lose that option if they identify their name and age to the operator.
Under Connecticut law, those at the center are considered mandatory reporters. Mandatory reporters are those designated by the law as required to report suspected abuse or neglect. A child is defined as under 18, and the definition of abuse includes sexual molestation or exploitation, malnutrition, emotional malnutrition or cruel punishment.
Other mandatory reporters include members of the clergy, battered women's counselors, most medical professionals and most school personnel among others.
For help: call the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education Center at 203-329-2929.
More child abuse survivors aged over 60 seeking help, support group says on Blue Knot Day
by Ursula Malone
More than a quarter of people calling a helpline for adult survivors of child abuse are now over the age of 60, a leading support group says.
The figures have been released to mark Blue Knot Day, which aims to raise awareness of the estimated five million Australians who have suffered childhood trauma and abuse.
"We're seeing more people in older age groups coming forward, and what we believe that relates to is the Royal Commission (into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse)," said Dr Cathy Kezelman, President of Adults Surviving Child Abuse.
"Older people who may have kept this secret their entire life are now ringing up and reaching and seeking help.
"We have people in their 80s ringing our line and saying they have never told a soul, but then hearing how it has profoundly affected their life."
Support group says findings lend new urgency for redress scheme
Dr Kezelman said the findings on the age of those seeking help lent new urgency to calls for the government to support a national redress scheme, as recommended by the royal commission.
"People aren't getting any younger; people have waited for decades to be heard and find some justice and some support," she said.
"It's time for the Federal Government to show leadership, to commit, to talk to the states and then the institutions so we have a scheme that is equitable and fair."
Lawyer Simon Cole, who specialises in compensation cases for survivors of child abuse, said he was abused by a scoutmaster at the age of 10.
"It's a moment in time the abuse itself. I have a very clear memory of the sheer panic and feelings of powerlessness," he said.
He is now 52 but the abuse continues to haunt him.
"It's certainly affected my schooling and my self-esteem," he said.
"Those issues have followed me in various ways throughout my adult life."
He said financial redress delivered through a national scheme would go some way toward making amends.
"The royal commission has seen tens of thousands of victims come forward," he said.
"I think they have bravely told their stories and certainly regard it as important that they receive restorative justice including compensation for the pain and suffering that they've experienced in their life, and also for the economic loss."
Care Leavers Australia Network spokeswoman Leonie Sheedy said recognition of the harm done was long overdue.
"How many more horror stories do we have to hear before our country will say yes, these people are worthy of justice and redress?" she said.
"People are dying, they don't have good health, they are not long-livers, and there's a lot of anxiety in care leaver land about how they will pay for their funerals."
The Federal Government said it was considering the royal commission's report on redress and will respond by the end of the year.
Newcastle community urged to work together in fallout from child sexual abuse revelations
by Robert Virtue
An advocate for victims of child sexual abuse says a community-wide approach is needed to deal with the ramifications of the abuse revelations.
Dr Cathy Kezelman, president of the Adults Surviving Child Abuse organisation, said the community needed to gain an understanding of the lasting impacts trauma could have on child abuse victims.
Today, Newcastle Anglican bishop Greg Thompson revealed he also was a victim of child sexual abuse.
Bishop Thompson told 1233 ABC Newcastle that as an Anglican bishop and a survivor, he was on his own personal healing journey.
Over the weekend, the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle in New South Wales moved to issue a formal apology to local people abused by members of the clergy.
"It sends a strong message that we are recognising, we have recognised the great harm. We are working on it, but [it] also enables survivors to come forward themselves," Bishop Thompson said.
"There is no handbook, but we know that critical incidents that have impacted organisations require significant care, in order that we address the harm, and support the people in them."
Tackling a taboo
Dr Cathy Kezelman said further support was needed to help victims of abuse.
"We need to see far more investment in services and the right sort of people, so that they can get a chance to live healthy and constructive lives," Dr Kezelman said.
"We need practitioners and counsellors who have the right training to support people who've experienced child sexual abuse."
Dr Kezelman said Bishop Thompson's revelation that he was a victim of abuse may encourage others to share their story.
"If people in those sorts of positions of power can speak out and find the courage to do so, what we've seen with our data, is that it gives people permission to speak out and come forward and seek the help that they need," she said.
"When you have a society that treats this issue with stigma and taboo, it takes enormous courage to reach out and seek help."
While the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continues, Dr Kezelman said a whole-of-society approach was needed in the Hunter region to help in the reconciliation process.
"This is about communities working together ... [and] starting to look at what needs to change so that survivors from past abuse are supported and get the help they need; so that [the] crime of sexual abuse is reported, that perpetrators are brought to account, so that we have changes within our systems and institutions [so] that this never happens again," she said.
"I think this is a whole societal, attitudinal issue.
"We need to understand what trauma does. We need to understand its impacts."
Bishop Greg Thompson and Dr Cathy Kezelman spoke to 1233 ABC Newcastle's Aaron Kearney and Jill Emberson.
Montgomery County Women's Center aims to prevent family violence
by Meagan Ellsworth
Each month on average, the Montgomery County Women's Center said it receives 2,000 calls to its 24-hour emergency hotline from individuals seeking refuge.
“Statistics show that one in four women and one in seven men aged 18 and older in the United States have been at some time in their life the victim of intimate partner violence,” said Sarah Raleigh, MCWC president and CEO.
“Intimate partner violence affects more than 12 million people each year. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime,” she said. “Hotlines are a lifeline for victims and survivors.”
Statewide, there were 23,311 adults and children sheltered, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence website.
Locally, the MCWC said it has seen an increase in those seeking shelter.
“The number of men, women and children who seek safe refuge at our shelter continues to increase each year,” Dana Garcia, MCWC community relations manager, said.
The 2014-2015 Montgomery County Community Justice Plan said there is a scarcity of shelter programs available to victims in Montgomery County.
“The Montgomery County's Women's Shelter can only house a small sector of the abuse population (75 available beds) while offering free services to clients and their families for up to 45 days,” the plan said.
There were more than 21,000 calls placed to the MCWC crisis hotline during 2013, the plan said.
“Although the MCWC sheltered more than 600 women and children in 2013, this failed to meet the need within the county,” the plan said.
Nationally, the rate of domestic violence was unchanged from 2013 to 2014 (4.2 per 1,000), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced in August 2015.
However, there were 185,817 family violence incidents with 201,051 victims and 195,511 offenders in Texas in 2014, according to a state crime report by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Montgomery County Court at Law 4 Judge Mary Ann Turner handles cases in the county's domestic violence misdemeanor docket dedicated to family violence cases.
“We probably see 250 pending at any given time and probably 100 new cases filed each month,” Turner said.
By having one court handle the caseload, the docket accelerates the resolution. It is funded by a grant through the Violence Against Women Act, which is disbursed through the Office of the Governor.
“A swift resolution is appropriate for these types of cases,” Turner said. “For the victim and for the defendant charged.”
The conditions placed on the defendant once they are arrested help protect the victim, she said.
“Every time they are arrested there are generally placed on conditions of the bond pending resolution,” Turner said. “It protects the person involved and ensures that the person charged knows what they can and can't do while pending a report by the bond supervision officer.”
Turner thinks that the ending of a relationship is one of the most frequent reasons for cases that are filed.
“I speculate that in these family law case that a breakup is occurring and it is not always very pleasant,” she said. “One resolution for many of these cases is awareness about abusive conduct.”
The defendant can get help with anger management or a Batterer's Intervention and Prevention Program, Turner said.
“A lot of times I know they know their conduct is not nice,” she added. “It's just becoming aware that it is not socially appropriate and that what the batterer's prevention program is all about. A little education and awareness can be used to resolve this form of behavior.”
The docket premiered in Montgomery County once the grant was approved in 2011.
“It has certainly helped resolve cases pending,” Turner said.
As far as repeat offenses, Turner said, “I can say that I don't see them come back if they are convicted of any misdemeanor. If it happens again it is filed as a felony.”
She said it is very common for the witness to be reluctant or to retract their testimony.
“Many cases involved long term relationships and the victim changed their mind,” Turner said. “ The jurors don't think the state should get involved and other jurors think it is protecting the public.”
“Many times the state is still able to prove and hold the defendant accountable that the juror found guilty,” she said.
The community plan said that victims of domestic abuse often face financial, psychological and other long-term challenges, including homelessness.
“Roughly 80 percent of all clients in shelter lack an annual income,” the plan said. “Too often if they can find work, their employment is in a minimum wage industry…50 percent of the homeless women and children in this country are fleeing abusive homes.”
Some are left with broken leases, which affects their ability to find housing, the plan continued. While housing programs exist, the community plan said these are limited by the types of victims that can be served or restricted by time limitations.
The community plan suggests more transitional housing options.
“According to the Montgomery County community development housing consolidated five-year plan October 2013 to September 2018, there is almost no transitional housing in Montgomery County,” the plan said. “The development of more transitional housing and permanent housing could reduce the number of families which experienced multiple episodes of homelessness.”
MCWC offers transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault with “affordable rent on a sliding scale.”
The MCWC uses its funds for crisis intervention such as through the 24-hour emergency line, and also for assistance, empowerment, accompaniment and advocacy; legal services; counseling; safe emergency shelter; scholarships; and community outreach, all free of cost to the clients and their children.
Last week, the MCWC also presented a Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Program at CHI St. Luke's Health at The Woodlands Hospital and has been wearing purple all month to educate the community.
“We strive for prevention and awareness via educational outreach in the community & schools, such as talks to networking groups such as Women of The Woodlands and presentations to schools about teen dating violence,” Garcia said.
A 2011 CDC nationwide survey found that 23 percent of females and 14 percent of males, who ever experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.
A 2013 CDC survey found approximately 10 percent of high school students reported physical victimization and 10 percent reported sexual victimization from a dating partner in the 12 months before they were surveyed.
Along with providing educational presentations, the MCWC also provides other services to prevent domestic violence.
“We also counsel and guide for a safety plan, hopefully before violence can escalate to a homicide situation,” Garcia said.
There were 2,889 family violence offenses reported in 2013 to law enforcement agencies in Montgomery County by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“Four out of six homicides investigated in 2013 by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office involved family violence,” the community plan said.
In a four-day span in August 2015, the community experienced multiple family violence homicides.
“Together, these resources help battered women leave an abusive situation with the goal to re-build for a better life for themselves and their children, free of violence,” Garcia said.
43 Wisconsin Domestic Violence Deaths in 2014
Chippewa Falls—Domestic Violence Advocates in of the Chippewa Valley are reacting to the Sept 30 release of the 2014 Wisconsin Violence Homicide Report. The report published by End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, documents all domestic violence deaths in Wisconsin from last year.
“This report drives home what many survivors already know—that domestic violence can be a matter of life and death,” said Jeni, Domestic Violence Program Director of Family Support Center. “We want every person dealing with controlling and violent relationships in our area to know that help is available.”
National research shows that victims who are isolated from support and resources have higher chances of losing their lives in domestic violence incidents. On the other hand, when victims receive help from an advocate or a shelter, their chances of survival significantly increase. Communities with law enforcement and with social service agencies that have a rigorous and coordinated response to domestic violence provide victims with even greater protection.
“We serve many roles for the community and for our clients, but as much as anything else, we are in the business of homicide prevention and of assisting in keeping people safe,” said Jeni.
A Call for Action
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, the statewide group that published the report, says it hopes the report helps spur greater investment in the lifesaving services of FSC and other similar agencies around the state.
“The stories included in the report demonstrate that we can do more to prevent domestic violence homicides,” explained Seger. “In many cases, we have solutions, but local advocates don't always have the resources to connect victims in need with the support and services that keep victims safe.”
A recent long range plan by End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin and the Governor's Council on Domestic Abuse reported that every day in Wisconsin about 250 requests for help from victims and their children go unmet because of a lack of resources.
Supporting survivors in our community takes many forms. One event in the Chippewa Valley in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is Walk A Mile-Chippewa Valley. Walk A Mile-Chippewa Valley is a collaboration between Family Support Center, Bolton Refuge House, Bridge to Hope and UWEC's Women's & LGBTQ Resource Center and is a march to end violence in the Chippewa Valley. All proceeds go to Family Support Center, Bolton Refuge House and Bridge to Hope. The event is Sunday, October 25, 2015 at Carson Park Pine Pavilion. Registration and check-in starts at 11:00 and the walk begin at noon. Pre-register at eventbrite.com and search Walk A Mile-Chippewa Valley. Registration fees are Adults $20, students $10 and kids 14 and under are free when walking with a registered adult. Registration fees the day of the walk increase by $5. The walk is followed by a fundraiser cookout, raffles and prizes.
A Collection of Voices
This edition of the Report is unlike versions from previous years. End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin decided to build the report from the personal statements of a diverse group of advocates, surviving family members and other leaders. Seger says the format reflects her group's belief that preventing domestic violence homicides requires commitment from a range community leaders and stakeholders.
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin has been producing the annual report since 2000. The 2014 homicide count was close to the annual average for that 15-year period. The majority of victims of homicides involving intimate partners were killed after the relationship ended or when one person in the relationship was taking steps to leave the relationship.
Other data from the report include:
*43 fatalities are included in the report: 36 deaths of homicide victims, 6 suicides committed by homicide perpetrators, and 1 domestic violence perpetrators who were killed by responding law enforcement officers.
Consistent with previous findings, firearms are still the most common means of perpetration in domestic violence homicides. In 2014, firearms were the weapon used in 59% of the domestic violence homicides, excluding homicides by legal intervention.
The homicides in the report demonstrate that several factors in domestic violence cases are indicators of high risk for victims. These factors include the use of a weapon or threats to use a weapon, threats to kill, stalking behavior, strangulation, obsessive jealousy and forced sex.
• Homicides were committed in 19 separate counties in Wisconsin. About 55 percent of the homicide incidents occurred in urban areas, and roughly 45 percent happened in rural communities.
• In 2014, there was a known prior history of domestic violence by the perpetrator against either the homicide victim or another person in about half of the homicide cases.
• Perpetrators of domestic violence homicide incidents were overwhelmingly male. In 2014, 91% of perpetrators were male.
• Victims reflected the span of life, from one year old to 78 years old. The average age of victims was 40 years old. Perpetrators ranged in age from 17 to 80. The average age for perpetrators was 41 years old.
The Duggars' Beloved Homeschool Ministry Sued for Child Sexual Abuse
The Duggars of "19 Kids and Counting" is facing another sex scandal. Five women sued the family's go-to conservative homeschooling program The Institute in Basic Life Principles, which was founded by Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar's close friend Bill Gothard, for an alleged sexual abuse cover-up.
Gretchen Wilkinson, Charis Barker, Rachel Frost, Rachel Lees and a Jane Doe filed a lawsuit in Illinois' DuPage County Circuit Court on Tuesday, October 20, claiming they were victims of "sexual abuse, sexual harassment and inappropriate/unauthorized touching." Most of them were minors when joining the organization as program or seminar participants and were later hired.
According to the suit, IBLP allowed "unlawful conduct" by "failing to train and/or supervise their staff and management or have appropriate policies and procedures in place to detect and deter sexual abuse...of young female interns, employees, pr participants in IBLP programs" and "failing to report known allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment...to the appropriate law enforcement agencies."
According to Radar Online, a hearing has been set for January 19, 2016. The five women are seeking $50,000 in damages.
Jim Bob, Michelle and their 19 children have long been associated with IBLP and Bill, who resigned from the Christian organization in 2014 following claims he sexually abused 35 women and teens. The Duggar children were all students in the IBLP. Josh once checked into a training program at the organization after he was accused of sexual molestation as a teen.
The Number of Male Domestic Abuse Victims Is Shockingly High — So Why Don't We Hear About Them?
by Jenna Birch
When you think of a victim of domestic abuse, who comes to mind?
If you're being honest, it's probably a woman. After all, domestic violence against men isn't a theme of many Hollywood movies.
Yet in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data from its National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey — and one of the most shocking statistics wasn't just the sheer total of victims of physical violence, but how those numbers broke down by gender.
According to the CDC's statistics — estimates based on more than 18,000 telephone survey responses in the United States — roughly 5,365,000 men had been victims of intimate partner physical violence in the previous 12 months, compared with 4,741,000 women. By the study's definition, physical violence includes slapping, pushing, and shoving.
More severe threats like being beaten, burned, choked, kicked, slammed with a heavy object, or hit with a fist were also tracked. Roughly 40 percent of the victims of severe physical violence were men. Published in 2014, the CDC repeated the survey in 2011 and found almost identical numbers — with the percentage of male severe physical violence victims slightly rising.
“Reports are also showing a decline of the number of women and an increase in the number of men reporting” abuse, says counselor and psychologist Karla Ivankovich, PhD, an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Springfield.
Ivankovich says there isn't much buzz about these numbers or their implications, because we don't know how to handle intimate partner violence against men. “Society supports that men should not hit women, by virtue — but the same is not true for the reverse,” she explains. “The fact is, it's simply not acceptable to hit anyone.”
Yet, woman-on-man violence is often turned into onscreen amusement, like on a slew of reality shows — or the punchline of a larger, depressing narrative, says Anne P. Mitchell, a retired professor of family law at Lincoln Law School of San Jose and one of the first fathers' rights attorneys in the country.
She points to the case of John and Lorena Bobbitt, which made national news more than 20 years ago when Lorena cut off her husband's member. The aftermath turned into a circus and details would go on to reveal a volatile marriage, but Mitchell says the initial response of many radio and talk shows was just to laugh at the incident. “If something remotely similar had happened to a woman, there would have been a very different response,” Mitchell tells Yahoo Health.
Mitchell, who has legally represented numerous male victims of domestic violence, says abuse is typically difficult for men to process, let alone seek help for. “Men are brought up to believe it's not OK to hit a woman, or even hit back in self-defense,” she explains. “It is their job to protect her. Add in that you'd be a laughingstock if you said your woman hit you. So in the situation of the battered husband, they don't know how to feel. They know it's shameful. They do not want her to get in trouble. So they do not say anything.”
What Abuse of Men Looks Like
Physical violence carried out against men is often similar to physical violence against women, Ivankovich says, though it can differ. “Abusive women have been known to abuse in ways similar to men, including punching, kicking, biting, [and] spitting,” she says. “In some instances, to make up for the differences in physical strength, women might use weapons including bats, guns, or knives.”
Carrie Lynn Gaines' remains found 20 years ago in Rockford, killer set for 2018 release
by Georgette Braun
It was 20 years ago Saturday when authorities uncovered the skeleton of 22-month-old Carrie Lynn Gaines wrapped in a blanket in a cardboard box where it had laid for five years.
Police received an anonymous tip that her body was buried behind a garage in the 1300 block of Arthur Avenue.
Richard Lee Howard — Sherri Gaines, Carrie Lynn's mother, had been involved with the 250-pound drug-addicted church janitor since 1989 — had come home in a drunken rage in March 1990. He threw Carrie Lynn against a wall when she wouldn't stop crying. He kicked her repeatedly with the hiking books he was wearing, sending the child flying four feet before she crashed, bleeding from the mouth and whimpering.
Gaines, who'd been beaten by Howard an average of three times a week, stood motionless. Carrie Lynn died at their home two days later. No one called for help. For five years, Gaines told those who asked that Carrie Lynn was staying with relatives.
"I remember this case vividly, from beginning to end," Mark Karner told me via email last week when I asked him and others involved with the case what they remembered most. The chief deputy of Winnebago County Sheriff's Police was the assistant Winnebago County state's attorney who prosecuted the case against Howard. "I remember standing at the burial site and feeling sick to my stomach. Lastly, I remember the announcement of the jury's verdict and looking over at Richard Howard with a blank look on his face."
Howard's conviction was overturned in 1999; an appellate court said Judge Rosemary Collins erred in allowing testimony about Gaines being battered. A new trial was ordered, but none was held. Howard pleaded guilty to the killing and was sentenced to 45 years in jail.
He was admitted to the Illinois Department of Corrections in 2000, an inmate at Dixon Correctional Center. Unless he does something wrong in prison, he will be released on parole April 1, 2018. Howard is eligible for one day credit for every day served because he was originally charged in 1995, before new laws were put in place. Now, truth-in-sentencing laws dictate that a murderer serve 100 percent of his or her sentence.
"As a citizen and human being, it does make me uncomfortable," Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato said about Howard's pending parole date. "He brutally abused a child," but you have to follow the law.
One law was changed as a direct result of this case, and Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, was a co-sponsor of legislation that did so. Gaines couldn't be charged for concealing a homicide because the three-year statute of limitations had expired. Now there's no limitation. "Legislatively, we worked to close one of the legal loopholes that existed," he said in an email.
Other firsthand accounts
Paul Logli, who is president/CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley, was Winnebago County state's attorney when Carrie Lynn's remains were uncovered. "It had turned into almost an archaeological dig, with a little at a time being recovered for evidence," he said.
"I remember going to (coroner) Sue Fiduccia's office, and seeing a number of separated bones that would have formed a skeleton, and with the bones was a child's blanket. It was a very unnerving scene. Another thing that stuck with me was the account by the child's mother about how the child died."
Fiduccia said in an email that when Carrie Lynn's remains were unearthed, it was "a matter of everyone regrouping, catching our breaths and then the terrible, sad process of recovering a tiny girl who never hurt anyone." Fiduccia still stops by her grave at Sunset Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens in Machesney Park when she's in the area. Sometimes she brings flowers.
Judy Emerson, director of communications for Rosecrance Health Network, was a columnist for the Register Star. Here's what she said in an email about her interview with Howard in the Winnebago County Jail: "Rick Howard was awaiting trial for Carrie Lynn's murder when he asked me to come see him in jail. I remember being in a small room with windows all around as his public defender, Dave Doll, advised him several times not to talk to me.
"It didn't really matter, as everything Howard said was self-serving rationalization. He talked about how he and Carrie Lynn's mother had abused drugs for years. He said he and the little girl had never 'got along,' as if what happened was partly her fault. He showed me crosses he wove from twine and pointed out one he wore around his neck.
"At one point, a jail guard brought another inmate into the adjacent room to meet with his attorney. It was Johnnie Gaines, Carrie Lynn's biological father, who was awaiting trial for sexually molesting a young girl with severe disabilities. Howard spit out the other man's name with disgust, saying that if there was one kind of person he couldn't tolerate, it was a child molester.
"Think of it: Here was a guy who kicked and beat a toddler to death and he thought he was better than a child molester. I looked at those two men, about a foot apart and separated only by a pane of glass, and thought to myself, "That poor baby — Carrie Lynn — never had a chance."
Register Star reporter Corina Curry covered aspects of Carrie Lynn's case. Here's what she told me: "The Carrie Lynn Gaines case was compelling for a number of reasons. Just the idea of someone killing a child and then concealing the death raises so many questions and fears. The reaction is similar to what we saw last month when Chicago police found the body parts of a toddler in a lagoon in Garfield Park. The reaction is horror.
"Police think the toddler's body parts in Chicago were in the lagoon for a week or two before they were found. It's been nearly two months and he's still Baby Doe. DNA has ruled out a Gary boy who has been missing since July. Police are waiting for DNA results that could link the body parts to another boy who was last seen in Rockford and has been missing since mid-August. While the Gary boy's disappearance was reported immediately to police by family members, police weren't alerted about the missing Rockford boy until no one had seen him for more than a month.
"Those cases have nothing on Carrie Lynn. The 22-month-old girl was gone for more than five years, and everybody believed her mother who, in covering up the murder of her own child to protect her boyfriend, simply told people that Carrie Lynn was visiting relatives.
"The fact that no one questioned Carrie Lynn's mother or that the Department of Children and Family Services never showed up on the killer's doorstep troubled the killer himself. 'I have to condemn the city because for 5½ years, nobody noticed this child was gone,' Howard said in that 1997 jailhouse interview with Emerson. 'How do you hide a child's death for 5½ years without anyone noticing?'
"Howard knew the answer to his own question. It's frighteningly easy."
Carrie Lynn Children's Center
Mark Bonne, chief of staff for Sen. Steve Stadelman, covered the appellate court decision when he was writing for the Register Star. He said the decision was "gut-wrenching for the community. But what I remember most was the dedication of the Carrie Lynn Children's Center.
"I've been to countless ribbon-cuttings as a journalist and during my post-newspaper career, but seldom — if ever — are they as emotional. I remember thinking how deeply the case had affected everyone from the judge and state's attorney on down, no doubt as a result of the horrifics of the crime."
Carrie Lynn was "forgotten in death," Logli said, but "her name will live on for a long time" through the Carrie Lynn Children's Center. "And in her name, very, very good things have happened."
The Children's Advocacy Project was renamed in 1997. It receives about 600 referrals a year, mainly from law enforcement and DCFS, regarding severely physically abused and/or sexually assaulted children.
The center "surrounds the child with therapists who work with families," Executive Director Kathy Pomahac said, and helps ensure that investigations move forward with the best interest of the child foremost.
The agency's $500,000 annual budget comes mostly from state and federal grants; nine people, including two part-timers, are on the payroll.
The number of abused children in Winnebago County is daunting: DCFS said there were 3,954 "alleged victims" of abuse or neglect in 2014, or 54 per 1,000 residents. The number that was determined to be cases of abuse and neglect was 1,209, or 17 per 1,000 residents.
Whenever Pomahac talks with groups about child abuse and what her agency does, she asks whether her audience knows of Carrie Lynn Gaines.
"For the most part, people remember the story," she said.
To report child abuse, call the Illinois Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 800-252-2873.