Justice for abuse survivors: Giving victims their voice
by Boz Tchividjian
At the beginning of each new year, I like to take time to think about what we can be doing to bring about more justice to those who have suffered from the ravages of sexual abuse. However, thinking alone is not enough. If our our thoughts don't move us to action, we really haven't helped and justice remains elusive for so many. Attorney and victim advocate, Neil Jaffee, is someone who has spent his life moving thoughts into actions. Actions that have made a real difference in the life of so many abuse survivors. In this fantastic guest post, Neil describes and advocates for a a set of specialized practices that will revolutionize our approach to the handling of child sexual abuse cases in the criminal justice system. As a former child sexual abuse prosecutor, I can tell you that these proposed practices have a real possibility of delivering genuine justice and real hope to those who deserve it most. My prayer is this post will challenge each of us to help Neil in move these thoughts into action across the country. – Boz
Cases involving adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are unique at their core because they involve survivors who were victimized as children but enter the legal system as adults. This fundamental aspect of adult survivor cases drives the need for specialized protocols and policies to address the particular dynamics of these cases.
The legal system must apply a specialized, trauma-informed approach to the investigation, prosecution, and disposition of adult survivor cases.
1. Trauma-informed systemic practices are essential
Childhood sexual abuse is recognized as a form of complex psychological trauma in that it typically involves repetitive, ongoing abuse, a fundamental betrayal of trust in a primary relationship, perpetrated by someone known by or related to the victim. The timing of the abuse events during a critical period of development during childhood has adverse long-term psychological and behavioral effects on the victims. Due to developmental impairments in cognitive functioning and language production related to the occurrence of the abuse events during childhood, some adult survivors may not be able initially to remember clearly and recount to investigators the details of the abuse events and recovered memories are often fragmented, incomplete, and nonspecific. The legal process itself can be re-traumatizing for survivors. Accordingly, the development of a trauma-informed approach is essential to support survivors in filing their legal claims, preparing them for the challenges posed by the justice system, and presenting their cases effectively in court.
Specialized Practice: Forensic interviewers of adult survivors need to be trained in the neurobiology of traumatic memory. First responders and all subsequent interviewers of adult survivors should understand that suffering sexual abuse at an early developmental stage affects a survivor's memory and ability to translate childhood memories into adult language that is coherent, complete, and chronological. Prosecutors should develop the skills to place recovered abuse memories in their proper context so as to explain delays, omissions, and/or inconsistencies in a survivor's statements. Experts are often necessary to educate jurors (and judges) as to the correlation between childhood sexual abuse and traumatic amnesia. There must be a victim-centered approach at all stages that proceeds from the presumption that the survivor is credible unless the evidence proves otherwise.
2. Adult survivor “cold cases” require particularized investigations
In contrast to acute child sex abuse cases and adult sexual assault cases, adult survivor cases involve events that occurred years or even decades before the crimes were reported to authorities. Therefore, the investigation of these “cold cases” often depends on the ability to reconstruct past events accurately.
Specialized Practice: A thorough investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the abuse events should be conducted by police investigators and prosecutors who have received special training on the legal, psychosocial, and scientific aspects of investigating and litigating adult survivor cases. Contrary to the oft-heard defense contention that adult survivor prosecutions are typically “s/he said, s/he said” cases, there is always some evidence to corroborate a survivor's report of abuse. That evidence may consist of documents or other tangible evidence that establish a connection between the survivor and the perpetrator, evidence of the perpetrator's grooming behavior, witness accounts of interactions between the survivor and the abuser, or evidence that the perpetrator also abused other children.
3. Discretion must be exercised properly when reviewing a case
The exercise of broad discretion by police and prosecutors plays a significant role in determining whether an adult survivor's case moves through the various stages of the justice system or is derailed during the case screening process. The law enforcement decision to make an arrest and refer a survivor case for prosecution is almost entirely subject to the discretion of the assigned officers and detectives. Among the factors prosecutors consider in their screening decisions, the probability of conviction is typically the determinative factor.
Specialized Practice: All cases in which probable cause exists for arrest should be referred for prosecution and prosecutors should file charges where the evidence is legally sufficient to support a conviction. In other words, all cases that are legally supportable should be referred for prosecution and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. While survivor cases typically present investigative and evidentiary challenges that do not exist in other sexual assault cases, properly trained investigators and prosecutors will recognize that the particular types of evidence in survivor cases can constitute strong corroboration of the survivor's testimony. Police and prosecution supervisors should routinely evaluate investigations, referral/no-referral decisions, and charging/no charging decisions to ensure that they are being conducted fairly, professionally, and with an eye toward achieving justice for adult survivors who seek to hold their perpetrators accountable under the law.
4. The accessibility of reliable data and comprehensive assessments of police and prosecution performance
By all accounts, ineffective and unresponsive police and prosecution practices contribute to an unacceptable level of survivor case attrition. Official data on rates of arrest, prosecution, and conviction in survivor cases does not appear to exist or, if such information is in the possession of law enforcement agencies or prosecutor offices, it is not accessible to the public. Nor is information available to establish that police are conducting thorough investigations and prosecutors are striving to build strong cases against perpetrators.
Specialized Practice: Police departments and prosecutors' officers should be required to compile and maintain public-accessible data on rates of arrests, referrals, prosecutions, and convictions in adult survivor cases. In addition, law enforcement and prosecution agencies should issue periodic public reports identifying specific performance measures in survivor cases and the internal practices and procedures employed consistent with such measures.
Implementing the specialized practices discussed here will reflect an enlightened systemic understanding of the important ways in which adult survivors differ from other sexual assault victims and will incentivize survivors to break their silence and hold their perpetrators accountable under the law. In turn, transforming the legal process into one that gives victims the voice to which they are entitled and that no longer favors abusers over those abused will result in better case outcomes, thereby protecting children by taking more child predators off the street and by deterring other potential perpetrators from committing such crimes. Then, and only then, will justice for adult survivors be achieved, finally.
Neil Jaffee is legal counsel for a foundation that advocates on behalf of the legal rights of adult survivors of child sex abuse and lobbies for legal reforms that support survivors who seek to hold their perpetrators accountable in the justice system. He is a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association and the National Alliance of Victims' Rights Attorneys.
Mental health in Rhode Island: Lifelong damage from childhood trauma
by G. Wayne Miller
PAWTUCKET — Robin Riley, 39, was 7 when an adult male relative began to sexually abuse her. It continued, regularly, for five years. Like many child victims, she told no one; chances are, no one in the small Appalachian community where she grew up would have believed her anyway.
"It never crossed my mind to be scared," she says. "It never crossed my mind that it was wrong. It never crossed my mind that it was right."
She was a child. She obeyed her abuser when he said: "Don't tell."
At 12, Robin finally confided in a family member. The response was anger — at her, the victim. She went to live with an older sister.
Too young to comprehend how the trauma had damaged her mental health and would continue to damage it for years to come, she became involved with a man who provided her a home — and who, she would discover, could be violent, especially when drinking.
Among other dictates, he demanded an impeccably kept house.
"He would hide toothpicks in corners. And if those toothpicks were still there when he came home from work, I got beat. He told me when to cook. He told me when to clean. He was my mind."
Robin's chronicle of his attacks includes a stabbing, broken toes, broken ribs and a broken jaw, repeatedly.
When he died of cancer, leaving her with three young sons, Robin found work as a bartender. She also became addicted to drugs.
"I was still numb," she says.
Two years into her addiction, when she was 23, she experienced an epiphany.
"I woke up one morning with my oldest son — he was 5 — with a washrag in his little hands saying 'Mommy, you've got boo-boos.' My pillow was all covered with blood. I had snorted so many pills that I had busted the blood vessels in my nose. That's when I realized I needed to go to rehab."
She did, successfully, and would never return to substances. But it would take more years and another trauma before she would truly start to heal.
If he had but one wish, Dr. Gregory R. Fritz, president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, would end child abuse of every kind.
"That would have the greatest ripple effect for the mental health of the country — of any country, not just the U.S.," Fritz says.
Director of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center, Fritz also holds leadership positions at Rhode Island Hospital, Bradley Hospital, Hasbro Children's Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. During his long career, he has seen and studied the psychological damage resulting from childhood neglect and abuse.
Research demonstrates that such trauma can permanently change the biochemistry and structure of the developing brain, and may even alter DNA. Whatever the mechanisms, the effects can be lifelong, with continuing — or later-emerging — depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and other behavioral disorders. Such a history can also be a factor in many social problems, including homelessness and incarceration, with their associated costs to taxpayers.
And trauma can be passed to the next generation.
"So often, the adults who are abusive or neglectful or sexually molesting have exactly that history themselves," Fritz says.
Not every traumatized child suffers. "The resilient kids," as Fritz calls them, do well without professional intervention. Genetics and family support may play roles.
But resilient kids are the minority. For the majority, therapy and other treatments can heal. Ideally, it should start immediately.
"The sooner the trauma is recognized, the better," Fritz says. "Development and growth and coping are on our side. But we need to respond promptly and supportively." The family, not the child alone, must be involved.
This contemporary approach recognizes the brain's normal reaction to "abnormal" events.
"If they're having trouble sleeping, if they're easily startled, if they're always looking out for danger — those are normal reactions that kids and adults have if they've experienced trauma," says Sarah Kelly-Palmer, senior clinical administrator with Family Service of Rhode Island's Trauma, Loss and Children's Services division, a state leader in the field. Among other initiatives, the division works closely with Providence police to intervene immediately when children may be at risk.
"Even just that information and showing them that other kids have gone through this and have healed makes them feel a little better. And we can start the process of treatment."
Jai Santiago, 44, was also sexually abused before reaching adulthood. She was 16 and living in New York City when a prospective employer violated her, she says, and 17 when she was raped after being drugged on a date.
"Before that, I had a lot of friends," she says. "Very social person. I'd had a very happy childhood."
The trauma left her with nightmares. She stopped seeing all but two close friends.
"I withdrew. I felt dirty. I felt really shameful of my body. I felt sad, like it was my fault, 'What did I do wrong?' "
She did not seek professional help until several years later, when she was living in a Great Plains state and discovered that a person with whom she was involved was cheating on her. She reacted with suicidal thoughts, but instead agreed to be admitted to the psychiatric unit of a local hospital.
"I began to talk. And that's when I began to let my feelings out," she says. Individual and group therapy helped, as did medication.
Jai was recovering and living back east when she was accused of a crime she says she did not commit. The resulting publicity proved devastating, and it compounded her earlier traumas. She was diagnosed with PTSD, but with the help of continuing counseling and medication, she has built a life for herself. Today, she is a fashion designer and heads her own company, N.Y. CHULA Ladies Wear.
She also is a certified peer recovery specialist, assisting others with behavioral-health needs at Oasis Wellness and Recovery Center in Providence. She is also a producer of "Breaking the Stigma," a local cable-TV show.
As a mother, she urges parents to be attentive to changes in their children's behaviors. "Eating habits. How they feel about themselves. See those signs, talk to them. Seek professional help as soon as you hear about it, any kind of indication."
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau, 679,000 American children were "maltreated" — abused or neglected — in 2013, the last year for which data has been compiled. That is the number of confirmed cases reported by state agencies, which received more than 3.1 million reports of possible abuse or neglect that year.
In a December report, Rhode Island Kids Count focused on maltreatment of Rhode Island children under age 6. The organization found that 1,305 of the 3,367 reported cases of maltreatment of the state's youngest children during the 2015 fiscal year were substantiated. "Exposure to domestic violence" was cited as a particular threat.
Noting that brain development is rapid from birth to age 6, the report stated that maltreatment "by parents or other caregivers during early childhood causes toxic stress, which disrupts development of the brain and biological systems, resulting in short-term harm and long-term negative outcomes."
And citing a DHHS Administration for Children and Families study, Kids Count also noted the strong association between poverty and child trauma: "Nationally, children from low-socioeconomic status households are seven times more likely to experience neglect than their peers from households with higher socioeconomic status."
As disturbing as these numbers are, the true local and national statistics are surely higher. Much trauma remains hidden; children suffer without recourse or defense.
"While the numbers reflect reported and investigated cases, our experience tells us that many more children are victims of maltreatment and abuse," says Susan S. Erstling, senior vice president with Family Service of Rhode Island's Trauma, Loss and Children's Services division.
"We know from adult survivors that many cases are not disclosed until later in life. There is also research showing that our children have multiple exposures to different types of victimization, leading to what we call complex trauma."
No report was ever made about Robin Riley. No help was ever offered. She survived by burying the worst memories.
"I just kept a lid on it pretty good," she says.
A visit with a sister who lived in Rhode Island prompted her to relocate to the state with her sons a decade ago. She married a good man she calls her "rock" and found work. And then, in 2010, a hometown relative telephoned. She told Robin that she knew about the abuse while it was happening, but had not said or done anything. She could have protected the girl, but did not.
"My past came back," Robin says. It sent her into depression.
"I quit my job. I sat around and cried. I gained 60 some pounds. I hated everyone. I closed myself off. I was home all the time. I hibernated as much as possible."
A conversation with a trusted Native American friend, an elder, proved therapeutic. "When I started telling him what was going on in my head, he said 'give it away.'" He advised reflection and prayer. She believed "I'm too good of a person to allow these people to be in my life and to keep renting space in my head," and she heeded his advice.
"I needed to not take all this and own it," she said. "It wasn't mine to own."
And thus a door opened to what has become her life's work.
Today, Robin is a recovery support specialist at Anchor Recovery Community Center, in Pawtucket, a program of The Providence Center. She shares her wisdom twice a week in sessions with female inmates at the Adult Correctional Institutions.
Charlene Liberty, 32, who was recently released after serving a four-month sentence for a probation violation, is one of the beneficiaries. A victim of childhood trauma and a member of the Anchor community, Charlene finds that Robin offers something that a professional with only "book knowledge" cannot.
"I've come a long way since meeting Robin," she says. "She just has genuine heart and cares about people who are suffering. I feel that connection. I'm blessed. I've been through some stuff, and she's always been there, no matter."
Robin does not favor any single approach to healing. Professional intervention works for some; others, like her, may find what they need elsewhere.
"It works differently for everyone. What works for one person might not work for another. It's just how each person is wired, what they think they need to go to. Everybody's path is different. Whatever kind of guidance and healing process — you'll know. It will guide you the right way as long as you believe you're not a bad person because of this."
Where to find help for trauma
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call Rhode Island's 24-hour child abuse hotline: 1-800-RI CHILD (1-800-742-4453).
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides 24-hour hotline support at 800-494-8100. The coalition advises "if you hear or see someone being hurt, call 911 immediately."
Someone experiencing a psychiatric crisis should call 911 or visit a local emergency room; Warwick's Kent Center also has a 24-hour hotline, 401-738-4300. For non-emergency mental-health help, contact your primary-care physician or one of the centers listed by the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals: http://1.usa.gov/1OvDTIt
The damage done by childhood abuse — and new insights into recover
by G. Wayne Miller
A landmark study of the lasting and destructive effects of childhood trauma provides guidance with the potential to significantly improve the well-being of untold millions of people who have been, or will be, abused, neglected or similarly harmed. And the financial savings could be dramatic.
"The implications are revolutionary," says David S. Lauterbach, a trauma expert who is president and CEO of the Kent Center, in Warwick. "When you think about the long-term permutations, it boggles the mind. So many of the issues that we're facing as a world have to do with the damage that we've done to human beings and to developing brains."
The study, by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente, the giant California-based health-care consortium, explored the backgrounds and present status of more than 17,000 mostly middle-class San Diego-area adults who are Kaiser members.
Describing it as "one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being," the CDC has issued a call to action.
"It is critical to understand how some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences," the agency writes on its web site. "Realizing these connections is likely to improve efforts towards prevention and recovery."
The heart of the study is a set of 10 types of childhood trauma that, if left unaddressed, increase the risk of mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse and other behavioral disorders. The risks also rise for social problems such as homelessness, prostitution and unemployment — and even physical illnesses including cancer and diseases of the heart, lungs and liver.
These 10 so-called Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are:
— Physical abuse
— Sexual abuse
— Emotional abuse
— Physical neglect
— Emotional neglect
— Mother treated violently
— Substance abuse in the home
— Mental illness in the home
— Parental divorce or separation
— Incarcerated household member
Each experience counts for an ACE score of one. Multiple experiences by the same child raise the ACE score incrementally — and as the score rises, the chance of mental, physical and social disorders later in life increases exponentially, the researchers found. The ACE researchers studied mostly well-educated middle-class people, but they and others believe that poverty compounds the effects of childhood trauma.
Citing the CDC/Kaiser study and other research, the American Academy of Pediatrics describes the physiology of childhood trauma, which affects the still-maturing brain and other body systems:
"While some stress in life is normal — and even necessary for development — the type of stress that results when a child experiences ACEs may become toxic when there is 'strong, frequent, or prolonged activation of the body's stress response systems in the absence of the buffering protection of a supportive, adult relationship.'
"The biological response to this toxic stress can be incredibly destructive and last a lifetime .... A child who has experienced ACEs is more likely to have learning and behavioral issues and is at higher risk for early initiation of sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. These effects can be magnified through generations if the traumatic experiences are not addressed. The financial cost to individuals and society is enormous."
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates the collective costs of "unaddressed" childhood trauma at $103.7 billion annually — roughly the equivalent of $425 a year for every U.S. resident 18 or older.
Lauterbach is campaigning to have the state Department of Health make reducing childhood trauma a public-health priority.
"If we started having some thoughtful public education on this, we would touch the pediatricians, we would touch the primary-care providers, we would touch the school teachers, we would touch the administrators," Lauterbach says.
"Think of the problems we would impact if we had a consistent birth-through-21 health curriculum that made all our practitioners aware of this so we could identify the factors and begin to remediate them early on."
Read about the ACE study at: www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html
The American Academy of Pediatrics' report "Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Lifelong Consequences of Trauma": www.aap.org/en-us/Documents/ttb_aces_consequences.pdf
Revealing I Was Sexually Abused Lost Me The Mother I Never Had
by Jean-Paul Bedard
Like far too many children in my community, across this country and around the world, I grew up in a violent household. I know that real life doesn't resemble a Norman Rockwell portrait, but I don't believe that precludes a child from feeling safe and loved in his or her home.
For most of my life, I tried to rationalize the scars and the shame inflicted at the hands of my mother, behind closed doors, in our "perfect" middle-class Catholic home.
For as long as I can remember, I was terrified to be left alone with my mother. The youngest of five children born to a marriage that was all but over, I bore the brunt of my mother's isolation, frustration and desperation. You see, to this day, I'm still desperate to rationalize, or at least make sense of, my mother's violence.
From my infancy right up until my mother finally leaving when I was nine, my skin was covered with chronic eczema -- trips to the family doctor and dermatologist were carefully planned not to coincide with any traces of bruises left on my body. My cracked and bleeding skin had quite literally become the canvas on which all of my fears and stresses came to life. Magically, my eczema disappeared within a month of my mother's leaving.
Throughout my teens and right up until my mid-40s, I desperately tried to earn my mother's love. All I wanted was to hear that she was proud of me, and all that had happened in my childhood was something I would rather leave unsaid.
Despite the superficial relationship we both fostered over the years, I never felt as though I had found a place in her heart. My other brothers and sisters were raised by a very different mother, one who was most certainly less in crisis during their childhood. And thus, I've always felt like an outsider -- the black sheep in the family.
"If you really want to know how to destroy an already fragile soul, take away the one thing that a survivor of sexual violence needs most -- connection."
After what feels like a lifetime of battling drug and alcohol addiction, and my own tenuous mental health issues, three years ago -- at the age of 47 -- I finally found the strength to tell my wife and adult son that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Just so there is no confusion, here: the sexual abuse was perpetrated by a hockey coach when I was nine years old, and later by two young men who raped me when I was 12 years old.
Unfortunately, like too many other survivors of childhood sexual violence who decide to go public with their disclosure, I have lost contact with my mother and my siblings as a result.
It was as if the words that finally crawled out of me were too toxic for them to sit with. If you really want to know how to destroy an already fragile soul, take away the one thing that a survivor of sexual violence needs most -- connection, which equates as validation and worthiness.
With everything else I've had to take on in attempts to unpack the trauma -- hours sitting with therapists and psychiatrists, along with continual peer counseling sessions -- the part that has been the hardest for me to bear is the shame and bitterness that comes with being tossed aside by the person who brought you into this world.
Today, under the careful direction of my psychiatrist, I wrote a "goodbye letter" to my mother -- one in which I openly shared what my childhood felt like and the circuitous and troubled path I've traveled to arrive at a place of peace and healing. In the letter, I clearly state that I do not wish to cause my mother pain, nor do I wish to regain contact with her. I am simply closing a door on a chapter of my life that has felt raw and unfinished for so very long.
In writing this letter, I have come to the realization that the thing that shapes us most in our lives may be the randomness of the family we are born to -- but the thing that is most defining of our lives are the people we choose to call our family.
Today, I am surrounded by the most loving and supportive family I could imagine: my wife, son and daughter-in-law, along with countless others who make me feel whole and worthy.
Neglected Children: Child abuse troubling in Lincoln County
by Rick Mark
If a child is brought into a world of poverty, homelessness, drugs and alcohol, then that child is in a very risky place.
The rate of child abuse in Lincoln County is more than twice that of the rest of Oregon, says child advocate Ron Davidson, and the problem is made even more severe because of a profound lack of services for children in this county.
Davidson, the executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Lincoln County, told a recent meeting of the Lincoln City Rotary Club about the agency's efforts to address child abuse.
In 2012, a Portland State University study called the Status of Oregon's Children found the rate of child abuse and neglect in Lincoln County to be “among the highest in the state,” with the incidence of child abuse 64 percent worse than the statewide average.
A similar report in 2014 identified 24.1 victims of child abuse or neglect for every 1,000 children, a rate that was more than twice the average in all other counties.
“Lincoln County suffers from a toxic combination of high-risk factors: poverty, unemployment, homelessness, drugs and teenage mothers.” Davidson said.
Davidson came to Lincoln County about 14 months ago after 35 years as a clinical psychologist in Chicago, where he worked to reform the child welfare system in Illinois. When he arrived in Oregon, he was shocked to learn that services for abused children were harder to come by here than in Chicago – “where it's not unusual to hear gunfire,” he said, when visiting a troubled child's neighborhood.
The CAC works to improve this situation in three ways.
One, the agency's core mission, Davidson said, is to train interviewers to understand how best to talk to child abuse victims so they can provide reliable evidence to prosecute abusers.
The second is to provide more therapeutic services for abused children.
The third – and most important, he said – is prevention. The only way to reduce the rate of child abuse is for people to recognize the potential for abuse before it occurs.
Through the “Darkness 2 Light” program, supported by a $92,000 grant from The Ford Family Foundation of Roseburg, Ore., the CAC provides training to teachers, childcare providers, and law enforcement personnel.
He said the CAC goal is to have 5 percent of the county's adult population trained to be able to recognize the warning signs of abuse in a child's home.
Davidson cited a litany of statistics that show that the pain from child abuse persists long into adulthood.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control asked over 17,000 adults if their childhood included traumas such as physical or sexual abuse; neglect, poverty or homelessness; domestic violence; the divorce or death of a parent; or substance abuse.
The CDC, Davidson said, found that adults who suffered a significant level of childhood trauma were:
• Three times more likely to suffer from heart disease or cancer.
• Four times more likely to suffer depression.
• 12 times more likely to commit suicide or harm themselves.
• 17 times more likely to engage in substance abuse themselves.
Perhaps most striking, Davidson said, “the life expectancy for a person who suffers childhood trauma is 20 years less than normal.”
Davidson explained the history of the CAC and agencies like it around the country by recalling stories told about horrible abuse that was alleged to have occurred at the McMartin preschool in California in the 1980s. Investigators who interviewed children at the school came back with reports of severe sexual abuse and bizarre animal rituals. Those who ran the school were arrested and dragged through years of trials and even imprisonment.
Except, Davidson recalled, the children's stories proved to be false. No one was ever convicted. The arrests were found to be flawed because the investigators' leading and suggestive questioning had induced the young children to make up stories, thinking they were pleasing the interviewers. One judge who reviewed the McMartin case called it a “monumental miscarriage of justice,” Davidson said.
Out of that experience, national protocols were developed to ensure that stories told by abused children are reliable and will hold up in court.
Today, Davidson said, the CAC trains “forensic interviewers” to make sure children know the difference between a truth and a lie, and that the child's story makes sense. The interviews are held at a neutral place, and they are videotaped. Observers can watch the interviews through one-way mirrors.
It's hard to make a case stand up in court if the child's story is “contaminated,” Davidson said. But with reliable evidence backed by proper interviews, the accused is more likely to admit his guilt without a trial. An abused child might then avoid a traumatic courtroom experience.
The CAC of Lincoln County has a trained forensic interviewer, Davidson said, and interview training can be provided to all law enforcement agencies and to anyone who might be talking to children in abuse situations.
The CAC is also developing counselors to provide abused children with therapeutic services, which are sorely lacking in Lincoln County, Davidson said.
He said he was surprised when he moved to Oregon to learn how high the turnover rate is for caseworkers at the state Department of Human Services. “The turnover rate is 80 percent in the first year,” Davidson said. “They hire young graduates out of college, give them minimal pay and a huge caseload, and they burn out in the first year.”
With a grant from Samaritan Health Care, the CAC provides intervention services for abused children. The CAC has counselors on its staff at its Newport office and is hoping to hire more.
The Children's Advocacy Center of Lincoln County, operating out of Newport, has a seven-person staff. It is funded largely by the federal Department of Justice with money collected from criminal fines. Funds are also provided by Lincoln County and by area municipalities, including Lincoln City and Newport. The CAC depends on grant-funding as well.
The CAC is always seeking volunteers, Davidson said, to help with its services.
For information on the Children's Advocacy Center of Lincoln County, call 541-574-0841 or go to: www.childrensadvocacycenter.net
For more information on the Darkness 2 Light program, go to" www.d2l.org
The National Children's Alliance website is: www.nationalchildrensalliance.org
Child abuse to lose its status
by Amos Aikman
The head of the Northern Territory's overburdened child protection system plans to narrow the definition of harm and restrict the way allegations of abuse are investigated in response to soaring rates of maltreatment of children in her care.
The proposed changes come amid claims the troubled Department of Children and Families is stretched to breaking point, with official figures recording a 32 per cent rise in child protection notifications, a 45 per cent rise in investigations and a steady climb in the number of children in out-of-home care last financial year.
The changes, if implemented, could potentially exclude up to 70 per cent of the substantiated cases of sexual exploitation, physical and emotional abuse, and neglect of mainly Aboriginal children in care detected last year, if those incidents were to occur again.
They are being drafted on the basis the system has taken caution, “to the furthest point”, and is now detecting and recording as harm too many instances of what department chief Anne Bradford said should in fact be treated as, “risky adolescent behaviour''.
“At the moment it is my belief that potentially up to 70 per cent of what we've got here as substantiations are not actually what the act was trying to ask us to review,” Ms Bradford said.
“I think we've gone too far to say that a child who's read a magazine, a 15-year-old boy that's bought a Penthouse, to actually say that that is a substantiation of harm. I think it's in fact normal adolescent behaviour.
“Where do the boundaries of left and right go? At the moment there aren't any: everything is in.”
Her view appears to challenge expert testimony given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which, in late 2014, heard there was “no doubt” child sexual exploitation in the NT was under chronically recorded.
The department acknowledged mistakes in early 2014 had led to allegations of sexual exploitation being erroneously classified as neglect, contributing to an 181 per cent rise last financial year. The royal commission heard many cases involved evidence or suspicion children had been sexually exploited, but that few were substantiated and fewer still led to prosecutions.
In late 2015 NT Children's Commissioner, Colleen Gwynne, released findings from her office's first systematic examination of cases of abuse in care. The study, part of her annual report, analysed 110 cases of substantiated abuse involving 95 children, equivalent to about 10 per cent of the kids in out-of-home placements at the end of 2014-15. In the preceding financial year the department detected 19 cases and 12 the year before that. Some of the dramatic rise in recorded abuse in care was likely due to changes in monitoring and documentation.
“We're placing children in placements that we know aren't completely safe, and we just hope it works out, we just run away and hope it works, and there's very little follow up,” Ms Gwynne told The Australian.
Minister for Children and Families John Elferink said much of the harm being logged was “the result of the normal things that happen to kids in any family”.
The Australian requested evidence and can reveal the department does not in fact maintain systematic records of how many cases of children abused while in its care are referred to police or result in prosecutions, nor of how often or in what circumstances abused children require medical treatment.
The department reviewed 11 of the 110 cases — those involving sexual exploitation — in response to The Australian's questions. Of those 11, three were referred to police and charges laid in two.
The 110 substantiations — those in which there is reason to believe a child has been or is likely to be harmed — derived from 597 child protection notifications or warnings about possible abuse. Ms Bradford said she believed that figure was artificially inflated.
“We're capturing a number of events that aren't to do with the child; they're to do with the grown ups in the room,” she said. “I'm certainly not saying it's OK. I'm saying it's captured, but we're not the agency of domestic violence; we're the agency of child protection.”
Ms Bradford, who moved to head up the department after leaving a job at the NT Department of Housing 10 months ago, said a “very broad” interpretation in policy of the technical definition of harm was causing too many cases of alleged harm to be substantiated.
Ms Gwynne, who has the power to review certain department files, clearly views the evidence differently.
“We examine cases where someone will complain that they don't think the response by the department was sufficient, and 99 per cent of the time we go in and find that the department has failed to do what's the statutory requirement under the act,” Ms Gwynne said.
The department is considering changing policy guidelines mandating an investigation whenever concerns suggest a child in the chief executive's care “has suffered, is suffering or (is) likely to suffer harm or exploitation,” to make the child's case manager responsible in the first instance.
“This would mean we would only commence a formal investigation when the information obtained by the case manager suggests that the child has been harmed,” a spokeswoman said.
The department is also considering revising the way it interprets the legal definition of harm to reduce the “at risk of” component and implement something closer to plain English. “Harm occurs when someone is hurt physically or psychologically,” a spokeswoman said. Asked for a precise revised interpretation of harm, Ms Bradford said: “You're asking at the moment at a layer of granularity that we are working through as we speak.”
David Bowie and Rock ‘n' Roll's Statutory Rape Problem
The late music legend famously deflowered a 14-year-old groupie—before she was stolen away by Jimmy Page. Why it's important for us to take our heroes to task for their predatory behavior.
by Stereo Williams
Since the death of David Bowie on January 10th, fans and media have dissected much of his musical and cultural legacy. Bowie stands as a towering figure over the last 45 years of music, and as a celebrity famous for an ever-changing, enigmatic approach to his life and art, there is much to be analyzed in the wake of his passing. But not all of it is pleasant or even musical. One uncomfortable facet of the iconic rocker's past has suddenly been thrust into the center of the dialogue, and it's raised questions about both Bowie and the world that has enabled him and so many others.
The high-profile controversies surrounding contemporary stars like R. Kelly (who was famously accused of statutory rape and taken to court on child pornography charges in the early 2000s) and the backlash against rapper Tyga (following his relationship with a then-underage Kylie Jenner) have led to a broader discussion surrounding legal consent and adult male stars who engage in predatory behavior. And since his death, more fans and commentators have had to question Bowie's own past with teen girls as well. In a Thrillist piece entitled, I Lost My Virginity To David Bowie: Confessions of a ‘70s Groupie, Lori Mattix recalls a sexual encounter with Bowie when she was only 14 years old.
“He focused his famously two-colored eyes on me and said, ‘Lori, darling, can you come with me?'” Mattix recalled. “He walked me through his bedroom and into the bathroom, where he dropped his kimono. He got into the tub, already filled with water, and asked me to wash him. Of course I did. Then he escorted me into the bedroom, gently took off my clothes, and de-virginized me.”
Rock star escapades from that period have been glamorized for decades with no regard for how disturbing or illegal the behavior was. It became a part of the mythos—a disgusting testament to how little the writers documenting the happenings of the day cared about taking their heroes to task. And it was right there in the music itself: The Rolling Stones sang about underage girls in “Stray Cat Blues” and Chuck Berry glorified the teenage “groupie” in “Sweet Little Sixteen” a decade earlier. But we can't look at it with those same eyes today—not if we are sincere about protecting victims and holding celebrities accountable.
It's convenient to go after Tyga and R. Kelly when we see hashtags or trending stories, and their behavior warrants every bit of scrutiny and criticism it's gotten. But we cannot write off the alarming behavior of superstars past just because they're now older, greyer or in the case of Bowie, newly-departed. Because this behavior didn't start with contemporary hip-hop and R&B acts.
In addition to her time with Bowie, Mattix was also statutory raped by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. In the book Hammer Of the Gods, former Zeppelin road manager Richard Cole claimed that the rocker tasked him with kidnapping the teen girl. He allegedly escorted her from a nightclub and thrust her into the back of Page's limo with the warning of stay put or “I'll have your head.” Page kept Mattix hidden for three years to avoid legal trouble.
Mattix still romanticizes her experiences with these very adult men (“It was magnificent. Can you believe it? It was just like right out of a story! Kidnapped, man, at 14!” she stated in Hammer Of the Gods) but there is no doubt that what both Page and Bowie did was unacceptable. That it was glamorized in magazines like Creem and glossed over in films like Almost Famous speaks to cultural irresponsibility.
“Sweet Little Sixteen / She's got the grown-up blues / Tight dresses and lipstick / She's sportin' high-heel shoes / Oh but tomorrow morning / She'll have to change her trend / And be sweet sixteen / And back in class again.” – Chuck Berry (“Sweet Little Sixteen”)
So much of our culture turns a blind eye or gleefully endorses the hypersexualizing of teen girls. And when the stories are anecdotal as opposed to ripped from the headlines, it can be easy to dismiss and minimize the acts of artists like Bowie and Page as something “of the time.” But statutory rape laws existed even in the coke-fueled hedonism of the 1970s—because someone had to be protective of young girls who were susceptible to predators with big hair and loud guitars. But as it turns out, no one cared about protecting these girls; they were too busy mythologizing the rockers who were abusing them.
Early rock ‘n' rollers Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis both saw their careers sullied by headlines involving underage girls: Lewis revealed that he was married to his 13-year-old cousin in 1958 and was subsequently blacklisted from radio, while Berry was arrested and found guilty of transporting an underage girl across state lines for immoral purposes, spending two years in jail in 1960.
Eagles drummer and vocalist Don Henley was arrested in 1980 in Los Angeles and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after paramedics were called to his home to save a naked 16-year-old girl who was overdosing on cocaine and Quaaludes. He was fined $2,000, given two years' probation, and ordered into a drug counseling program. Rocker turned right-wing caricature Ted Nugent sought out underage girls, going so far as to become the legal guardian of Pele Massa when she was 17 just to be able to duck kidnapping charges.
Prince kept Anna Garcia, aka “Anna Fantastic,” with him at his Paisley Park compound when she was a teenager. She would ultimately become the subject of several of his late ‘80s/early ‘90s works, like “Vicki Waiting” and “Pink Cashmere,” which he wrote for Anna on her 18th birthday.
“I met him when I was 15, that was the first time I met him. And we just spoke and had a nice conversation and nothing else,” she told a Dutch interviewer in the ‘90s. “And then when I was 17, I bumped into him and that's when we started a relationship, which was almost two years. I guess it's kind of a dream to a young girl of 17. You can be influenced very easily and stuff like that because he's 12-13 years older than me.”
Prince dated Mayte Garcia shortly thereafter, a dancer he met when she was 16. “When we met I was a virgin and had never been with anybody,” she told The Mirror last year. The two would marry in 1996, when Mayte was 22. Unlike Anna, Mayte insists Prince didn't pursue her seriously until she was 18.
“I'd always been a very focused dancer and very protected,” she said. “Prince was my first crush, and my first love, but we didn't start to get serious until I turned 18. He was very respectful.”
There have been varying stories surrounding the relationship between a young Aretha Franklin and the late Sam Cooke. She has indicated in interviews that things between them became romantic, but in his unauthorized biography, David Ritz indicated that their first encounter occurred when she was only 12 years old and visited Cooke in his motel room in Atlanta. In the Sam Cooke Legends television documentary, Aretha recalled an incident involving her being in Cooke's room, but indicated that her father interrupted what was likely going to be a sexual encounter.
“We did run into Sam on the road. And one time in particular, we were all there in the hotel. And his room was only two doors away from my room. And the Staple Singers were right across the hall from him,” she said in the late ‘90s. “So I got dressed and went down and knocked on his door and sat there—he was not married at this time—I sat there on the side of the bed very innocuously. And we were just talking about the music industry and other artists and whatever else we were talking about and the door was closed. While we were talking, the conversation took another turn. [smirks] Read between the lines. And my dad was looking for me…at the same time, just as it took this ‘other turn.' And we hear [him] ‘Aretha, I know you're in there!'”
Marvin Gaye met Janis Hunter around the time of her 17th birthday, and the still-married Motown star pursued the teenager immediately. According to Hunter's 2015 memoir After The Dance, Gaye took her to an Italian restaurant in Hollywood and bribed the waiter $20 to bring the underage girl apricot sours. He had sex with her shortly thereafter, and the two began a relationship, despite a 17-year age difference and the fact that Marvin was still legally married to his first wife, Anna Gordy. Gaye would famously write “Let's Get It On” in tribute to his lust for Jan. Shortly after giving birth to a daughter, Nona, Jan and Marvin were featured in a November 1974 issue of Ebony when she was 18. They would marry in 1977, after Marvin's divorce from Anna was finalized; but Janis would leave the singer in 1981.
We can dismiss all of this as just the “way things were back then.” We can pretend that we haven't heard countless songs about young “Lolitas” who were “just seventeen—you know what I mean.” We can ignore the racial implications in the mainstream media's relative silence on rockers' histories of statutory rape and its glorification. But the next time you watch Almost Famous, take note of how much younger most of the Band Aids seem compared to the world-weary rockers that are repeatedly shown taking them to bed (Kate Hudson's Penny Lane says she's 16 in the film). Note how the movie casually nods to Page and Mattix in a scene at the infamous Hyatt “Riot House” on Sunset Strip. And think about how many girls would've been better off had someone given a damn way back when, as opposed to just fawning over a guitarist with some hit songs.
Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman infamously began seeing 13-year-old Mandy Smith in 1983. According to Smith, Wyman had sex with her when she was 14. They married when she turned 18 in 1989; they divorced in 1991. She spoke about her time with the ex-Stone in an interview with The Daily Mail in 2010.
“It's not about being physically mature. It's emotional maturity that matters,” she stated, after making it clear that she regrets what happened to her. “I don't think most 16-year-olds are ready. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren't even ready then.”
“I know, I know. People will find that odd, coming from me,” she added. “But I think I do know what I'm talking about here. You are still a child, even at 16.”
“You can never get that part of your life, your childhood, back. I never could.”
CNN Exclusive: Email may derail case against Bill Cosby
Michael Smerconish and Steve Almasy
A former district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, claims he agreed more than a decade ago that his office wouldn't use a civil deposition given by Bill Cosby in any criminal matters, an email obtained by CNN shows -- a revelation that could call into question the viability of the criminal case against the comedian.
The 2015 email -- sent by former District Attorney Bruce Castor to successor Risa Vetri Ferman -- details an apparent verbal agreement the prosecutor had a decade earlier with Cosby's attorneys for Cosby to testify in a civil sexual assault case brought against him in 2005. In the email, Castor writes that his intent in making the deal was to create an atmosphere in which Cosby accuser Andrea Constand would have the best chance of prevailing in her civil suit against the 78-year-old comedian by removing the prospect of Cosby invoking his 5th Amendment right.
The email was sent three months before criminal charges were filed against Cosby in Montgomery County in December, and could call into question the viability of the case, CNN has learned.
In it, Castor writes to Ferman: "I can see no possibility that Cosby's deposition could be used in a state criminal case, because I would have to testify as to what happened, and the deposition would be subject to suppression.
Bill Cosby: Evolution of an icon 16 photos: Bill Cosby: Evolution of an icon "I cannot believe any state court judge would allow that deposition into evidence. .... Knowing this, unless you can make out a case without that deposition and without anything the deposition led you to, I think Cosby would have an action against the County and maybe even against you personally."
The deposition is a key piece of evidence, cited by prosecutors as the impetus for reopening the case.
At the center of the case are allegations made by Constand, a former Temple University basketball employee, who says Cosby sexually assaulted her in his home in 2004.
Dolores Troiani, an attorney for Constand in 2005, told CNN's Jean Casarez on Friday that she never knew about any such agreement between Cosby's attorneys and prosecutors.
Castor, when asked by CNN about the email, declined to comment.
The current district attorney, Kevin Steele, who was elected in November after serving as Ferman's longtime top deputy, told CNN on Friday: "There is a specific legal method to grant immunity. That was not done in 2005."
Steele also noted that in Castor's 2005 press release declaring there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Cosby that Castor himself said he would "reconsider this decision should the need arise."
Felony charges against Cosby Cosby faces three felony charges of sexual assault in Montgomery County, in connection with Constand's allegations.
Cosby appeared in court in late December and didn't enter a plea. But through his lawyers, Cosby has steadfastly denied wrongdoing in this case and dozens of allegations made by at least 50 other women.
Earlier this week, Cosby's lawyers filed a motion asking for the charges against the comedian to be dismissed.
In a statement, Cosby's attorneys asserted that the charges were "illegally, improperly and unethically brought by District Attorney Kevin Steele and his office."
According to the statement, the charges "violate an express agreement made by the Montgomery County District Attorney in 2005, in which the Commonwealth agreed that Mr. Cosby would never be prosecuted with respect to the allegations of sexual assault made by complainant Andrea Constand.
"This agreement, made for the express purpose of inducing Mr. Cosby to testify fully in Ms. Constand's civil litigation against him, led Mr. Cosby to give deposition testimony in 2005 and 2006 without invocation of his Constitutional rights against self-incrimination. Now, to fulfill campaign promises, the newly-elected District Attorney has repudiated the agreement and has based these criminal charges on the very testimony Mr. Cosby gave in reliance on the Commonwealth's non-prosecution agreement," the attorneys said.
Steele said Friday that his office would file a response to the motion to dismiss, which his office has said has no merit.
First public allegation Constand was the first person to publicly allege sexual assault by Cosby.
In 2005, prosecutors declined to charge Cosby in the Constand case, citing insufficient evidence. But late last year, the new district attorney -- Steele -- was elected, and he made good on a campaign promise to swiftly reopen the case. Pennsylvania law has a 12-year statute of limitations for sexual assault cases.
"The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county's DA during which this case was made the focal point," Cosby's attorneys said in a statement after his arraignment. "Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law."
The criminal charges are the first to be levied against Cosby since the allegations arose, and the deposition is a vital piece of evidence.
This past July, nine years after the civil case was settled, a judge unsealed Cosby's deposition in the Constand case in response to a motion by the media.
In it, Cosby admits he had sexual relationships with at least five women outside his marriage, gave prescription sedatives to women he wanted to have sex with and tried to hide affairs from his wife.
Cosby says he gave Constand one and a half tablets of Benadryl -- an over-the-counter antihistamine that can cause drowsiness -- to relieve stress.
In the deposition, he says the sex and drug-taking were always consensual.
In late December, the DA's office filed a probable cause affidavit that alleges that Cosby "sought to incapacitate" Constand by giving her a mix of pills and wine that sent her slipping in and out of consciousness and left her unable to consent to sexual activity.
Temple ties Constand was director of basketball operations at Temple University in Philadelphia when she met the comedian. Cosby is an alumnus -- and was a very active one until the school distanced itself in the hail of accusations against the comedian.
In 2004, she visited him at his home in a Philadelphia suburb where she alleges a sexual assault took place.
Constand quickly spoke up. When prosecutors passed on a criminal case, she filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby. A lawyer deposed him, but Cosby settled with Constand in 2006; the case's details were filed away, and years of relative quiet ensued.
Election issue Nine years later, Montgomery County headed to the polls in November to vote for a new district attorney, and Kevin Steele turned the accusations against Cosby into part of his campaign platform. In the race to succeed Risa Vetri Ferman, Steele defeated Castor, and weeks later reconsidered criminally prosecuting Cosby.
Prosecutors re-examined the original investigation in light of the new documents, re-interviewed some witnesses and decided to pursue criminal charges.
"(When) we learned about allegations from other victims under similar circumstances, reopening this case was not a question," Steele said.
As Cosby case shows, sexual assault victims need time to seek justice
by KRISTEN HOUSER
It is time for Pennsylvania lawmakers to take the statute of limitations restraints off and allow victims of sexual abuse to file charges against their abuser at any time.
The acts allegedly conducted by actor and comedian Bill Cosby —and countless others who have abused their power, their celebrity status or their influence in society to sexually abuse others — are perfect examples of why we must eliminate the civil and criminal statute of limitations in sexual assault-related cases.
Rape is the most underreported crime: an estimated 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. People do not report sexual assault for a variety of complicated reasons. Those who do come forward often face scrutiny and are met with disbelief — even more so when the person who committed sexual violence is a person of influence — despite the rate of false reporting being consistently estimated between 2 and 8 percent.
The uncomfortable fact is that some people who are publicly admired can and do commit sexual violence. People often attribute tremendous character and credibility to celebrities, and in turn, trust them. The majority of sexual violence is committed by people whom survivors know and trust. This means not just celebrities, but people who do good work for their communities, who are active in their churches, and who are respected business leaders.
Denial, shame and self-doubt are all typical victim reactions to being assaulted by a person who was trusted. Sexual assault can cause intense feelings of humiliation. Victims often feel terrified of other people learning what has been done to them; they fear they will not be believed and that they will be subjected to harassment. Victims sometimes need decades to even admit the assault occurred, let alone come forward about what is perhaps the most traumatic physical and psychological betrayal a person can experience.
By the time survivors find the strength to come forward, it often is too late to find justice.
The 12-year criminal statute of limitations in Pennsylvania bars many survivors from having the state bring charges against their rapists. As such, it protects offenders and allows them to operate without detection.
Prosecutors will always retain discretion regarding whether or not to press charges based on the findings of an investigation. But today as the public becomes more informed about sexual assault, and as actions and interactions are preserved through technology, the ability to build a strong case with evidence many years old can occur more often than in the past.
Prosecutors re-examined statements given by Cosby when he was deposed for a civil lawsuit brought by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. She is one of more than 50 women who have come forward to make allegations against Bill Cosby.
Civil courts rely on the preponderance of evidence — it only has to be plausible for a conviction —and defendants can be compelled to take the stand, where they must testify under oath. This oath becomes a record, something that may be admitted to a criminal court. That's what happened in the Constand case, which was brought just weeks before the statute of limitations was set to expire.
But with a two-year civil statute of limitations for adult victims of sexual assault, survivors in Pennsylvania are often denied this avenue to justice as well. Child victims are afforded time to bring civil action until their 30th birthdays, but all too frequently this, too, cuts off access to justice, as it can take decades for a child to be ready to confront what happened to him or her.
Civil courts provide a strong value to society by exposing perpetrators who fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system due to the lack of overwhelming physical evidence. Thousands of perpetrators live and work among the general population, their records spotless and background checks clear because there simply isn't enough evidence to warrant an arrest, let alone go to trial in a criminal court.
Statutes of limitations do not serve the best interests of survivors, and they do not serve the best interests of public safety. These roadblocks to justice serve no one but perpetrators, allowing them to continue their behavior virtually unchecked. If ever there was a case to eliminate the statutes of limitations in sexual assault cases — both criminal and civil — it is staring us in the face.
Even if statutes of limitations have expired, it is never too late to get help. Help is available through rape crisis centers throughout Pennsylvania and across the country, providing hope for victims of sexual assault, as well as to impacted family members, regardless of how long ago the sexual violence occurred.
There is healing for survivors of sexual assault, and breaking the silence is the first step. Find your local rape crisis center (1-888-772-7227) for counseling and advocacy. In Lancaster County, please call the YWCA Lancaster Sexual Assault Prevention & Counseling Center's 24-hour hotline: 392-7273.
Kristen Houser is the chief public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Dad Killed Son, 3, In Fear of Losing His Girlfriend Who Disliked Children: Prosecutors
by Inside Edition
A New Jersey man was charged with murdering his three-year-old son, allegedly killing the child because he feared the boy was getting in the way of his relationship with his teenage girlfriend, prosecutors said.
Little Brendan Creato was found dead on October 13, less than a mile from his dad's apartment, where he had been dropped off a day earlier.
His father, David “D.J.” Creato, Jr., reported the toddler missing around 6 a.m., telling a 911 operator that he had woken up to find his son was missing.
“I just woke up and he wasn't in my apartment,” Creato, 22, said. “I don't know if he wandered out or what happened. I don't know where he is.
“The door was locked. I guess he unlocked it and left,” he continued.
Brendan's body was found by a K-9 unit partially submerged in water in a wooded area off South Park Drive about 9 a.m., officials said. He was still wearing his pajamas.
The child's cause of death is still undetermined, but medical examiners reportedly found he died of “homicidal violence,” prosecutors said.
Brendan's brain showed a lack of oxygen before his death, indicating causes such as drowning, smothering or asphyxiation, WPVI reported.
He also had a fresh bruise near his collarbone, investigators said.
Investigators reportedly did not believe that Brenden went to that area on his own, as the boy's socks were clean despite the muddy surroundings.
The area is very steep at one point and difficult to navigate, authorities said.
He was also known to be afraid of the dark, so it was unlikely he would have gone into the wooded area before it was daylight, prosecutors said.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, where Brendan slept on a love seat nine feet from his dad's bedroom, she continued.
“Never once had he left the apartment or his mother's house or his grandparents' by himself,” Shah said.
The boy's father was arrested on Monday and charged with first-degree murder and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, officials said.
Prosecutors allege that Creato killed his own son after his 17-year-old girlfriend had told him she disliked children and “issued an ultimatum to him,” saying it was either her or him.
She told Creato that he would have to give up taking custody of Brendan every other weekend to be with her, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The pair had begun dating in June 2015 after meeting on the app Tinder, remaining together despite the girl's open “dislike” of children, prosecutors said.
She had written a series of “unbelievable” blogs in which she described her “strong dislike of children,” Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah said at Creato's arraignment on Tuesday.
After the girl went away to college, she repeatedly threatened to break up with Creato, who had allegedly become jealous of a boy that she was talking to at school.
Creato reportedly logged into her social media accounts and at one point posed as the girl and told the boy to leave her alone.
Creato did not confess to killing his son, but allegedly told investigators that he felt “jealous and anxious” in the hours before he noticed his son was missing, and that he had been worried that the woman he loved had found someone else, the Inquirer wrote.
Shah said that on the night that Brendan was killed, Creato allegedly called his girlfriend eight times and that he noticed from her Snapchat account—a picture and video-sharing app—that she was with the “guy he was jealous of,” the paper reported.
Creato and the girl had visited the spot where Brendan's body was found about 30 times, and he told investigators that it was his “favorite place… and he referred to it as spiritual to him,” Shah said.
The pair is still reportedly communicating.
If convicted of murder, Creato faces a minimum of 30 years in prison without parole and a maximum term of life in prison with at least 67 years without parole. His bail was set at $750,000.
If he posts bail, Creato is not allowed to leave the state or make any contact with Brendan's mother, Samantha Denoto, or her family.
Creato's attorney, Richard Fuschino Jr., said his client had cooperated fully and truthfully with investigators.
“He spent an entire day answering questions of investigators,” Fuschino said, saying that the prosecutor's version of what happened was improbable, the Inquirer wrote.
Vulnerable victims protection bill passes Senate committee
by Don Weber
FRANKFORT – A bill allowing vulnerable victims of abuse to testify about continuing patterns of abuse instead of having to remember specific dates and places where the abuse occurred was unanimously passed by the Senate Committee on Judiciary on Thursday.
Senate Bill 60, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, creates a mechanism for charging a person with the commission of an offense against a vulnerable child or adult victim in a continuous course of conduct.
Westerfield, admits that his previous experience as a prosecutor in Christian County was a big reason for filing the bill to protect vulnerable victims.
“Children who are traumatized by horrific behavior like this need some latitude,” Westerfield said. “They need some have some room to be able to explain when something happened.”
Westerfield pointed out that many victims are targeted by individuals because they are vulnerable, making it harder to obtain a conviction.
“You're talking about victims of sex offenses, minors, those that have intellectual disabilities, human trafficking victims, and all of those groups of people that need this help,” Westerfield said.
Specifically, the bill allows victims to give more generalized testimony rather than specific times or dates when testifying about offenses against them.
“The jury must simply believe and agree that two or more instances of this conduct happened within a specified range of time,” Westerfield said. “They don't have to agree on this date or that date, they just have to agree that two or more took place in a range of time. If they do that, that's enough for a conviction.”
A companion bill, Senate Bill 109, sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, passed out of committee on Wednesday and has the support of Attorney General Andy Beshear.
“I don't care which bill passes, I just want to see it become the law,” Westerfield said.
Fmr. Va. daycare worker found guilty of child abuse
MANASSAS, Va. (WUSA9) -- A former Virginia day care worker was found guilty Wednesday of multiple charges of child abuse after she mistreated toddlers in ways including spraying water at scared children and encouraging them to fight.
Sarah Jordan was convicted of seven felony charges and six misdemeanour charges after prosecutors say she abused and neglected toddlers in her care at the Minnieland Academy Day Care Center in Woodbridge, Va.
The series of abuses, which happened over an eight-month period in 2013, traumatized what were mostly one and two-year-old children.
Parents WUSA9 spoke to after the verdict were overcome with tears of joy. Blake Buckner had a son that was placed under Jordan's car and said he was forced to fight in what prosecutors described as a "baby fight club."
"The teacher was making him the class bully made to fight. It was hard to hold back tears, emotional, it was very deep," Buckner said.
Social Services reported Jordan, along with then-fellow employee Kierra Spriggs, tortured kids who were afraid of water by spraying a hose in their faces on full blast, fed the children flaming hot Cheetos and called one girl ugly, among other incidents.
According to state documents, Jordan and Spriggs physically and emotionally abused the children for entertainment.
"It pissed me off. She knows what she did. Justice has prevailed," Buckner said.
Jordan faced a total of 39 charges of abuse, including felony charges. She was denied bond after the verdict.
Jordan faces a maximum of 41 years in prison when she is sentenced in May.
Spriggs is accused of similar mistreatment. She is a scheduled 3-week jury trial in February.
At least 8 parents have hired attorney James McCoart III and are considering a civil lawsuit against Minnieland. After Wednesday's verdict, McCoart issued the following statement:
"Not only were the actions and behavior of this Minnieland employee cruel and traumatizing it was outrageous criminal behavior on our communities most vulnerable and innocent. To hear sworn testimony by three employees of Minnieland that each on separate occasions reported this abuse to the Minnieland supervisor or director and then, and only then it was an anonymous phone call to child protective services that started this criminal investigation is incomprehensible. we will never know how much abuse and trauma could have been spared these children had Minnieland reacted to employees concern."
Forensic research on modern child abuse can shed light on past cultures
by Matt Shipman
Biological anthropologists look at skeletal remains of past cultures to gain insight into how earlier peoples lived, and forensic anthropologists work with modern-day law enforcement to decipher skeletal evidence and solve crimes. Forensic experts at North Carolina State University have now published guidance on how research into modern-day forensic analysis of child-abuse victims can be used to shed light on how children of earlier cultures were treated.
"Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience in studying the skeletal remains of children in criminal investigations to determine how they were treated and how they died," says Ann Ross, a professor of anthropology at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. "We can use what we've learned in modern populations to provide insight into the behavior of historic and prehistoric populations - particularly in regard to child labor, child abuse and child murder."
The skeletons of children are vastly different from those of adults; they're not just smaller. In their paper, the researchers draw on decades of research to explain how the biomechanics and healing of child skeletons change, depending on the child's age.
The researchers pay particular attention to how anthropologists can differentiate between accidental and intentional injuries in children.
"For example, some combinations of injuries are highly indicative of abuse, such as multiple rib fractures at different stages of healing," Ross says. "That's a red flag."
The researchers also include a modern-day case study as an example of how difficult it can be to interpret the skeletal evidence. In this case, what first looked like a case of physical abuse turned out to be a case of child neglect - with some of the skeletal abnormalities being caused by rickets and scurvy.
"This sort of neglect, or absence of care, is still abuse," Ross says. "But it's important, in a criminal context, for us to understand what happened. It's also important for us to understand these differences if we want to learn more about the behavior of earlier societies and cultures.
"Our goal here is to give biological anthropologists clinical methods to help them interpret skeletal remains based on the best scientific data."
The paper, "Skeletal and Radiological Manifestations of Child Abuse: Implications for Study in past Populations," is published in the journal Clinical Anatomy.
CNBC Covers Predictive Analytics in Child Abuse Prevention
by Daniel Heimpel
(Article and video on site)
Over the past 18 months, The Chronicle of Social Change has published at least 20 stories on the merger of big data and child protection.
Other outlets, including Forbes and Bloomberg, have also covered the trend. The latest national outlet to do so is CNBC, whose Dina Gusovsky published a thoroughly reported piece today.
The CNBC piece centers on Los Angeles County's exploration of a predictive analytics tool, which would help the county's Department of Children and Family Services better determine which children were at heightened risk of subsequent abuse.
That tool, dubbed AURA, was developed by SAS, the world's largest private software firm. Using a mix of data including, but not limited to, prior child abuse referrals, involvement with law enforcement, as well as mental health records and alcohol and substance abuse history, SAS statisticians created a risk score from one to 1,000, wherein high numbers demark high risk.
While the idea of using big data to ascribe risk is alluring to child welfare administrations struggling to assess risk through more imprecise methods, the specter of “prediction” does not sit well with everyone.
The central tension explored in the CNBC piece, and in many that we published in The Chronicle, is the fear that data analytics could spawn – in the worst case – racial profiling.
In July of last year, I moderated a panel put on by Los Angeles County's Office of Child Protection. Among the guests was Emily Putnam-Hornstein, a researcher at the University of Southern California's School of Social Work.
Putnam-Hornstein, who is part of a team that is developing a data analytics tool for the child welfare administration in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, pointed out that such tools could also cut the other way.
While they can flag certain families for intensified scrutiny, they can also show families that are at a lowered risk.
So, if a child abuse investigator walks into a house and assumes a child is in a very risky situation, the tool could spit out a lower risk score, which could prompt the investigator to re-evaluate his or her hunch.
While there is a fear that predictive analytics could bring more children into the foster care system, this scenario paints a picture of how it could actually keep them out.
The field of child welfare is still in the very early stages of experimenting with predictive analytics, so we will have to wait to see how good or bad this application of technology will be.
UN peacekeepers are being accused of child sex abuse — again
by Erin Conway-Smith
OHANNESBURG, South Africa — The United Nations vowed to act quickly after a December inquiry found it had failed to respond to allegations of child abuse against peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.
Less than a month later, new accusations of sexual abuse are threatening to undermine the UN's work as it keeps peace in CAR during crucial elections, the first after several years of civil war.
The latest allegations, according to The Washington Post, are that at least four UN peacekeepers paid girls as young as 13 for sex in M'poko, a camp for internally displaced people in the capital Bangui. The girls, part of a prostitution ring, were reportedly paid between 50 cents and three dollars.
According to the Post, workers with the UN mission in CAR have been accused of 22 incidents of alleged sexual abuse or sexual exploitation during a little more than a year, not including incidents exposed in the latest report.
Last month an independent panel concluded that UN officials had failed to protect the very people they are sent to safeguard.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, appointed the panel following allegations that French soldiers in CAR had sexually abused children in exchange for food or money.
The panel's report found that officials had “turned a blind eye to the criminal actions of individual troops,” and failed to protect the children. The welfare of victims, and the accountability of the perpetrators, “appeared to be an afterthought, if considered at all.”
“Information about the allegations was passed from desk to desk, inbox to inbox, across multiple UN offices, with no one willing to take responsibility to address the serious human-rights violations,” the report said.
“In the absence of concrete action to address wrongdoing by the very persons sent to protect vulnerable populations, the credibility of the UN and the future of peacekeeping operations are in jeopardy.”
Ban, who has previously referred to sexual abuse and exploitation as a “cancer” in the UN system, pledged to urgently review the recommendations. “I express my profound regret that these children were betrayed by the very people sent to protect them,” he said in a statement.
CAR has been in turmoil since violence between mainly Muslim rebels and Christian-backed militias exploded following a 2013 coup. The nearly 11,000-strong UN mission, known by the acronym MINUSCA, began in 2014.
Voters are due to return to the polls Jan. 31 in a runoff election to determine the presidency.
According to Human Rights Watch, abuse by UN peacekeepers and staff is “neither unusual nor new,” with incidents found since the 1990s, and possibly earlier, in missions around the world.
Last year the advocacy group AIDS-Free World launched a campaign called Code Blue with the aim of ending immunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers.
“With each new exposé, the UN re-asserts its policy of ‘zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse.' In practice, the UN's zero tolerance policy amounts to zero justice for victims,” a campaign statement said.
According to Code Blue, “the crisis begins and always circles back to UN immunity, an important mechanism that has been misapplied in a way that was never intended.”
Sherif Ahmed Elgebeily, a lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, writes in The Conversation that countries contributing soldiers to UN missions are responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal conduct by their own soldiers.
“This means that, technically, the UN is powerless to bring about criminal charges against them,” Elgebeily writes. “It is not difficult, then, to imagine how and why states may be able to avoid potential embarrassment by simply ignoring the allegations.”
“Unfortunately, without serious overhaul of the peacekeeper system, the door remains open to sexual abuse by peacekeepers with a propensity for it: the risk of being punished by the UN or back home is simply too low,” he writes.
Paedophiles buying lifelike child sex dolls to 'save children from sexual abuse'
A SELF-CONFESSED paedophile is manufacturing lifelike child sex dolls as young as five claiming he is helping those attracted to children control their sexual impulses.
by SELINA SYKES
Founder Shin Takagi, who struggles with paedophilic impulses but has never acted on them, has said the dolls could be a valuable weapon in the battle against the sexual abuse of children.
But many medical experts have warned the products are more likely to have a "reinforcing effect" for paedophiles and cause paedophilic desires "to be acted upon with greater urgency".
His company Trottla has been shipping anatomically-correct imitations of girls to clients around the world for 10 years.
Mr Takagi said: “We should accept that there is no way to change someone's fetishes.
“I am helping people express their desires, legally and ethically. It's not worth living if you have to live with repressed desire.”
Recognised treatment for paedophilia intended to suppress urges includes cognitive therapy and chemical castration.
A meta-analysis by medical practice the Mayo Clinic found the treatments "do not change the paedophile's basic sexual orientation towards children".
Takagi believes the dolls he creates - sent mostly to "men living alone" - save children from sexual abuse.
He said: “I often receive letters from buyers. The letters say, ‘Thanks to your dolls, I can keep from committing a crime.'
"I hear statements like that from doctors, prep school teachers—even celebrities.
“Being a pedophile is like living with a mask on."
Mr Takagi said many of his clients develop a deep bond with their sex dolls.
He said: “While most people buy dolls for sexual reasons, that soon changes for many of them.
"They start to brush the doll's hair or change her clothing."
Michael Seto, a psychologist and sexologist at the University of Toronto, said: "For some paedophiles, access to artificial child pornography or to child sex dolls could be a safer outlet for their sexual urges, reducing the likelihood that they would seek out child pornography or sex with real children.
“For others, having these substitutes might only aggravate their sense of frustration.”
High School Basketball Players Charged With Aggravated Assault, Rape In Hazing Incident
by Samer Kalaf
Tennessee police have charged three high school basketball players with aggravated rape and assault after they hazed a 15-year-old freshman teammate while the team was at a tournament in Gatlinburg. The three unnamed boys, from Ooltewah High School, are currently at a juvenile facility, according to a statement from Gatlinburg police.
A family member of the victim told Chattanoogan.com that the boy needed surgery for his injuries:
The family member said, “He was not given a proper exam and collapsed the following day. Once he collapsed, he was taken by ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. He had to undergo emergency surgery, as his colon and bladder were ruptured. He is still in the hospital recovering at this time.”
The family member said it was initially unclear as to how he sustained such injuries. However, she said “it was later found that he was beaten and sodomized by fellow teammates.” She said they used a wooden pool stick to sodomize him.
She said he “is expected to recover within 2-3 months. However, he is having nightmares. He has stated that he thought that he was going to die as a result of the assault. In addition, once he is finally discharged he has to wear a catheter and colostomy bag for at least two weeks or longer.”
The high school removed the players from the team while police investigate.
Coaches, A.D. At Tennessee HS Charged For Not Reporting Sexual Assault In Hazing Incident
by Diane Moskovitz
Criminal charges have been brought against the basketball coach, assistant coach, and athletic director at the Tennessee high school where three boys basketball players are accused of attacking and sodomizing a teammate with a pool cue.
Criminal summonses were issued today for Ooltewah High School assistant principal/athletic director Allard J. Nayadley, boys basketball coach Andre Montgomery, and assistant coach Karl Williams. All three are charged with failure to report child sexual abuse, which District Attorney General Neal Pinkston said state law required them to do.
As part of the charges, two investigators submitted signed affidavits about what happened. They don't provide many new details but do reaffirm much of what's been reported so far about what happened inside a Gatlinburg cabin, which the boys were staying in for a December basketball tournament.
During the team's stay in Gatlinburg, four freshmen basketball players were subjected to assaultive behavior including but not limited to being struck with pool cues and also these four freshmen basketball players were subjected to apparent sexual assault. One player required emergency surgery due to the injuries he received while staying at the cabin.
Nayadley, Montgomery, and Williams were “made aware of these allegations,” the affidavits say, but “did not notify the Department of Children's Services or Sheriff of the County where the children reside or the Chief of Police of the municipality where the children reside or the Juvenile Court Judge having jurisdiction over the children.”
Three basketball players from the team are awaiting trial on charges of aggravated rape and assault.
Fewer options for juvenile mental health
by Jessica Cejnar
At first glance the room adjacent to Cheryl Simons' office looks like a grade-school classroom, but it isn't.
Blue plastic chairs are pushed into two pint-sized tables. A basket of new pencils sits atop the tables next to two clipboards. There are stickers, Legos, stuffed animals, a punching block and an indoor Nerf basketball — tools Simons, a local marriage and family therapist, uses to teach groups of boys ages 6–12 how to regulate their emotions.
But since a California Office of Emergency Services grant that pays for mental health treatment for child abuse victims was discontinued in Del Norte County last fall, Simons has had to put her work on hold.
“These are underserved kids. A lot of them have trauma. A lot come from single-parent families,” she said of the boys she works with. “What they hear is their emotions are bad and they should just try to clamp down on them more, and that doesn't work. They really need the skills.”
Through dialectical behavioral therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, Simons would teach two groups of youngsters how to recognize emotions in themselves and others, how to manage their behaviors and communicate effectively how they were feeling. The group setting also allowed Simons' patients, many of whom had trouble connecting with other youngsters at school, to bond with each other.
Simons was one of six local therapists who treated Del Norte County children using funding from the state's Child Abuse Treatment Program, or CHAT. Youngsters who were already receiving individual therapy were referred to Simons through the CHAT grant.
The grant provided transportation for her young charges and allowed her to create a space the boys would see as theirs, she said.
“CHAT serves underserved kids who don't have other resources,” Simons said, adding that over four years she has worked with roughly 30 children. “CHAT was the only alternative besides Remi Vista, and it covered kids who might have some insurance that wasn't MediCal but was not enough.”
Remi Vista provides mental health treatment, including school-based mental health treatment and individual therapy, for children eligible for MediCal. It's the only other option for low-income families seeking mental health treatment for their kids, according to Rhonda Steel, who works through the Del Norte County District Attorney's office, which administered the grant locally.
The CHAT grant allows a child who was the victim of a crime to receive counseling immediately, Steel said. The funding could be used if a family's out-of-pocket expenses for counseling are cost-prohibitive if they were insured, if they didn't have insurance for therapy or weren't eligible for MediCal, she said.
Del Norte County has received CHAT grant funding since 2001.
Last year the county received $159,000 in CHAT grant funds, which paid for counseling and therapy for 68 children, Steel said. This year she expected $125,000 in grant funds starting Oct. 1, but was notified in mid-November that Del Norte wouldn't receive the grant.
“The CHAT grant ended Sept. 30 and we didn't want to start any other programs that wouldn't be covered and wouldn't be paid for until we knew,” she said. “We didn't hear (about the grant) until three days before Thanksgiving.”
This year, the California Office of Emergency Services changed the way it distributed CHAT grant funds, basing it on a county's population, Steel said. She said it depended on how rural the county is and if there were other options.
Del Norte has appealed CalOES's decision to discontinue its CHAT grant funding and expects an answer Jan. 29, Steel said. The county is also in the process of applying for another state child abuse treatment grant that would allow Simons and the other therapists to continue their work.
For some families, the only hardship is getting their child to counseling. Steel said she's encouraged parents to look for alternative transportation options and is still following up with families.
“Legally the grant's done, but there's still these kids that need help and they need resources,” she said.
Like Simons, Lora Schultz has had to put the group therapy work she does with girls on hold. Schultz is a licensed social worker who works primarily as a school counselor but does some private practice work and has seen CHAT grant patients off and on since the program started 15 years ago.
“The girls groups are about empowering girls, improving their self esteem, helping them with peer and family relationship stuff, problem-solving and self-regulation,” Schultz said. “I used some art therapy and journaling and also some drama therapy with the kids.”
Schultz said she worked with girls from 10 to 14 years old who had been referred to her through the CHAT grant. Most of them were already going through individual therapy.
“The one thing with groups is kids, a lot of times, can be super helpful to themselves,” she said. “When they get support from their peers it can be super powerful and they really help each other. I ended my last group last year and haven't done anything this year.”
As a school counselor, though, Schultz, who works at Joe Hamilton Elementary School, said the work Simons does with young boys is really important. She added that she would often refer youngsters to Simons for therapy.
“I thought Cheryl was providing a service to a lot of kids that otherwise I don't think they were getting,” she said. “It was definitely a benefit, the skills she was teaching the kids.”
Simons, who has done emotional education work with adults for about 20 years, pointed out that companies like Google want to hire workers who have good analytical skills and high emotional intelligence. She also mentioned a 2015 Duke University study that showed that teaching children how to self regulate their emotions led to reduced delinquency and juvenile crime rates.
“I would have adults tell me ‘I wish I had these skills when I was a kid, I could have used these,'” she said. “And it's true. Emotions are a huge part of our lives. They're an enormous piece of what our experience in life is and people don't teach about it.”
Sexual violence costs Utah nearly $5 billion every year
by Wendy Leonard
SALT LAKE CITY — DeAnn Tilton was sexually abused at a young age by a family member.
She recalled Wednesday that whenever she mentioned it to others, she felt like the burden was hers to maintain their "forever family," to keep the family together and "to put up with it."
"My body is my most sacred place of home and it had been violated. My home was no longer my home, no longer my refuge," she said. "When you spend your life not being able to trust going home in your own body, that sets up an entire lifetime of terror, of captivity, of deep shame and of isolation."
And though the abuse ended in her home before the now 47-year-old Tilton was a teen, she said she felt "used" during those formative years and likely set aside her own needs and desires for decades. She was raped twice in college and survived a bout with bulimia as another consequence of feeling shame.
It wasn't until she was able to develop a strong support system that she began speaking out against the abuse.
The emotional costs and societal impacts of sexual violence, similar to what Tilton experienced, are "staggering," Ron Gordon, executive director of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, said Wednesday.
A new report on the costs of sexual violence in Utah reveals that Utah government spent nearly $5 billion in 2011, including a $4 billion estimated loss on psychological, emotional and physical suffering and a loss of quality of life for victims, as well as more than $1 billion in real costs. Gordon said Utah spent $9.7 million on investigation and adjudication of sexual violence in that year, with $82 million for confinement and treatment of perpetrators.
One-third of prison inmates, he said, "are there for sexual offenses."
And while state spending leans heavily toward the perpetrators, thousands of Utahns are victimized by sexual violence and domestic abuse each year, and 1 in 8 women and 1 in 50 men, a 2008 study found, will be raped in their lifetime.
In 2011, an estimated 3,609 children were victims of sexual assault, according to the report. There were 20,666 victims of adult rape in Utah and 54,742 victims of other adult sexual assaults, with females victimized 4 out of 5 times in cases of rape, leading to suicide attempts, pregnancies, alcohol and drug abuse, and the spread of a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, the report states.
The report, compiled by the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, can be found online at www.health.utah.gov/vipp .
"The numbers alone can't begin to quantify the impact that sexual violence has on victims, families and communities in the entire state," Gordon said, adding that having the costs totaled gives the state "a starting place" to look at what needs to change.
Dr. Robert Rolfs, deputy director of the health department, said it is astounding how much money is lost on the problem, but work is being done and can still be done in the home, at schools, and through other interactions within the community.
"We get this now. We know it is happening," he said. "It's a lot of money and most of it is people suffering."
When compared with nonvictims, victims of sexual violence reported a lower satisfaction in life, poor overall health and felt limited because of physical, emotional or mental problems, according to the data used to compile the report.
"I have worked with victims who are afraid to be alone, afraid to sleep in their own beds," said Donna Kelly, a sexual assault and domestic violence resource prosecutor with the state's attorney general. "I could talk for hours of the devastation I've seen."
She said actions of sexual assault and rape, among other violations, have lifelong consequences for victims.
With the release of the report and its disappointing information on Wednesday, Kelly said, "it's time" to enact change. And while cultural change isn't easy, she said, "our goal is worthy and our cause is just."
Kelly suggests that curbing sexual violence in the state will take help from everyone, including people in law enforcement and medical positions, teachers and church officials, members of the media and in business.
"One rape survivor once described to me that being a survivor was a terrifying and lonely journey," she said. "But we have the power to take away that loneliness, by taking away some of that terror by walking with survivors.
"We need all hands on deck to cure sexual violence in Utah," she said. "This is the place where we stand up and speak out against sexual violence."
Tilton founded Talk to a Survivor, a group that works to prevent abuse, but also helps survivors heal from sexual violence. Educating children to say no is essential but is also unrealistic, she said, so her work is focused on educating families and neighborhoods and communities as 90 percent of cases occur between people within the same circle of trust.
A more educated and informed society, Tilton said, should be able to cope better when sexual violence occurs, but also be able to prevent it better.
"Preventing sexual violence perpetration not only improves individual and population health, but can result in cost savings for both government and society," the report states. And, it goes on, "understanding the cost … is an important first step toward making policy recommendations … that need to be vigorously pursued, adopted and sustained."
Gordon said individuals can speak out when they witness "sexually aggressive and disrespectful behavior," such as age-appropriate comments, harassment, unwanted flirtations and disrespectful comments. Families can help, he said, by "modeling and sustaining nurturing and caring relationships." Businesses can invest in policies and programs that promote healthy relationships and organizations can adopt "zero tolerance" policies for sexual misconduct.
Tilton, who wears a photo of her 6-year-old self to indicate that "I am that girl who was abused," is estranged from her accused abuser. Her abuser was never charged with any crime, but she said she has been able to effectively discuss her concerns with other members of the family.
"It still affects me in every day life, but it's hard because he is still free to abuse," Tilton said, lamenting lost time. "I had aspirations I wanted to achieve. I wanted to feel like I had something meaningful to offer the world. I was not able to do that for years."
Resources for victims of domestic violence
The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition has a statewide, 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence at 1-800-897-LINK (5465).
The Division of Child and Family Services offers counseling, teaches parenting skills and conflict resolution and can connect the family with community resources. Their goal is to keep children with their family when it is "possible and safe," according to their website. Visitdcfs.utah.gov/questions/or call 1-800-323-DCFS (3237) for resources or to report child abuse or neglect.
The Christmas Box House acts as a temporary shelter for children and can provide them with new clothing and shoes, among other services. Call the Salt Lake office at 801-747-2201 or the Ogden office at 801-866-0350.
‘I Was 13 When Marc Gafni's Abuse Began'
by Sara Kabakov
With all the accounts that have come out about Marc Gafni, the former rabbi and spiritual guru, you may wonder what more I have to offer. But this story is not over, even if Gafni never teaches or abuses again
Right now there are children in the Jewish world, and in other communities, who are being abused and forced into silence. Their parents and teachers don't know what is happening.
I know, because it happened to me. I am the woman Gafni molested when she was 13 years old. This is the first time I am telling my story in my own name.
If these children are lucky, someone will notice there is something wrong. But too often, the police are not involved, and these children are unlikely to be protected.
These children will grow up, and it may take years before they figure out how to speak the unspeakable, until they have the strength and courage to overcome the pressure to be silent. And by then, their ability to seek legal recourse may have expired.
I was silenced before the abuse even began.
I was 13 years old when Marc Gafni appeared at my parents' Shabbat table.
This was early September 1980, and Gafni, who went by the name Mordechai Winiarz at the time, was a rabbinical student at Yeshiva University. He was 19 or 20 years old, and a friend of my sister's had invited him over. He offered to tutor me in Talmud, a new subject for girls entering ninth grade in yeshiva high school, as I was. It seemed like a friendly gesture, and so I agreed to meet him a week later.
After our first lesson, he proceeded to tell me how “special” I was, and that he really liked me. I got a weird feeling about this, but, being inexperienced with adult men, I didn't have a clue how to respond. Soon he was not only showering me with attention, but also earnestly insisting that I keep our friendship a secret. He said that if my parents knew about it, they would blame me for associating with him, and that I would be shamed in my community. I didn't understand why. He hadn't touched me yet, but I now see that he was grooming me into being silent and fearful. He convinced me that I had to be loyal to him and “not tell” about how he felt about me. In retrospect, I see that he was manipulating me, had hooked me into an emotional trap, ensuring that I would not tell my parents or teachers.
Then he asked my parents if he could regularly stay at our house over Shabbat, because he wanted to be able to walk to a synagogue in our part of the city. He was a religious man from Y.U., and my parents had no idea they should be suspicious, so they agreed.
Gafni slept in my brothers' room, which was near mine. My parents' bedroom was on the far side of our apartment. It was then that he started coming into my room after I had fallen asleep, and waking me up. I remember clearly that when he tried to touch me, I pushed him away, repeatedly. I remember saying “No!” over and over again. No one had talked to me about sexual abuse, but I remember knowing intuitively, with every cell of my body, that this was wrong.
This pattern repeated itself, from the fall of 1980 through the spring of 1981. I became a girl disconnected from the world around her, inhabiting instead one full of contradiction and betrayal. I was trapped in a horrible situation with no way out that I could see. If I told, I would be blamed and shamed for what had happened.
Each morning after being molested, I would wake up and walk into the living room, and see him wildly shuckling, rocking back and forth while beating his chest. He said he was doing teshuvah, repenting for what he had done the night before, and he told me that I should join him in doing teshuvah, too. I didn't pray or do teshuvah, but just stared at him in disbelief. He really believed that I was a partner in sin. And then it would happen again: After every fervent bout of repentance, he would wake me up in the middle of the night the following week.
My parents were not aware that this abuse was happening, and did not understand the intricate and terrifying hold this man had on my mind. It was also a time of upheaval in my family. My mother had recently recovered from breast cancer, bravely surviving a year of chemotherapy. My family was in the wake of terror, knowing we could have lost her. I understand now that child predators target families in crisis, because a family's guard is down.
The abuse finally ended in the late spring of that year. I was 14. He called me on the phone one day to tell me that he would no longer be coming over. He realized that what he really needed was to get married soon, and that this would give him a proper outlet for his sexuality.
It's hard to describe the complex emotions I felt in that moment. My molester had finally decided to stop abusing me, to leave me alone, to move on. You might imagine that I would feel great relief; in fact, the full weight of the abuse I had endured in silence came crashing down on me. I was left with this horrible experience, yet with no one to talk to about it, with no language to express it. And he was retreating not because I had somehow managed to make him stop, but because he decided it just wasn't worth the risk anymore. He was terrified that he would do more to me and get me pregnant; then there would be no way to keep his secret.
Yet I also felt elated that I had survived and that the psychological reign of my abuser was over. I would no longer be badgered by Gafni's teshuvah rhetoric, would no longer be forced to hear about his tormented struggle with his perverse sexuality and his Judaism. I would no longer be woken up from sleep, no longer have to fight, and fail, to keep him away from my body.
But I was no longer part of the normal, oblivious world of my friends and classmates. I was now set apart from them in a way that none of them knew or, as far as I could imagine, would ever know. I could not feel connected to anyone, or to my school or synagogue.
The spiritual world of my earlier childhood had been taken from me. Shabbat was now connected to a nightmare. The concept of teshuvah was forever corrupted for me. I began to see hypocrisy and absurdity in a world that I once innocently felt was home. I was no longer anchored.
In 1980, post-traumatic stress disorder had just been recognized. It was far from being a household word. Yet it was happening in my brain and body.
A few weeks after Gafni's phone call, my ninth-grade year was close to ending. I knew I had to talk about what had happened. I knew I needed help. My wonderful English teacher, who had a life beyond the high-pressured and judgmental world of my yeshiva high school, was the only person it seemed safe to approach.
One day, I got up the courage to tell her. We were riding in the elevator and suddenly the other kids got off, leaving me alone with her.
“Something bad happened to me. With a man,” I said, and started to cry, feeling my face heat up.
Maybe I said it too quietly. The elevator door opened and she stepped out, then turned back to look at me. She said, “Are you okay?”
There were people walking behind her, and then around us.
“Yeah, I'm okay,” I said.
The elevator door closed with me in it, and her outside. I never gained the courage to approach her again.
A few weeks later, at a Shabbat retreat with my youth group, NCSY, I was talking to one of the counselors, a man in his 20s. The topic of Gafni came up.
I somehow found the courage to say to him, “You know, Mordechai came into my room at night when he stayed at my house for Shabbat.”
The counselor looked completely embarrassed and uncomfortable.
He said — nothing. But his expression communicated a clear message: Don't speak about this.
I was 18 when I finally tried again. This time, I told my parents.
They were shocked, enraged and unprepared for how to respond. They were angry with themselves for being “duped” by Gafni, angry that this had happened in their home without them knowing. I remember seeing the guilt and immense pain on their faces. Their initial words — “How could you let him do that to you?” — echoed in my head for years to come. They had grown up in the 1930s and '40s, when sexual assault was not only not spoken about, but also often considered the fault of promiscuous women. While they were the most loving and compassionate parents, they did not know how to say what every parent in that situation should say: “This was not your fault. A crime was done to you. We are so sorry.” They did not know how to help me take action to put Gafni out of circulation then and there.
But it was okay, because I had made a discovery. I had found a steel box in my heart. I took the nightmare and locked it in there. I was determined to move on. More than anything, I wanted to feel free, happy and normal. I wanted to leave this dark world that I could not even explain, and get away.
When I was 23 — the age past which, according to New York state law , a person who suffers abuse as a minor loses the ability to press charges — I was still trying to get away. I had graduated from college and was bicycling across Canada with a friend from high school. This was a time of adventure and escape. I was unable to think about what had happened to me, the damage it had done to my spirit and my ability to connect closely to people.
Little did I know that if a survivor of abuse is not able to break the silence at the transitional, vulnerable age of 23, she will never have the chance for justice.
The statute of limitations ensures that the abusers will be able to terrorize more children.
Attempts to revoke the New York‘s statute of limitations have been resisted by the strategic alliance between the Catholic Church and Agudath Israel of America, a group representing ultra-Orthodox Jews. Both have an eye on the cost of an outpouring of old allegations once that statute is lifted. But sadly, they are not concerned with how the law as it stands today keeps abusers in place, and keeps children unprotected. When the chief concern within religious communities is to maintain the status quo and not make waves in the media, we cannot depend on those communities to be looking out for children's best interest.
Over the years, when I told people about the abuse I endured at Gafni's hands, many asked, “Why didn't you tell anyone?” That's a good question. But a better question is what happened when I did tell. It was almost as if I had told no one. People in the Jewish community who had the power and stature to make the abuse stop did not step up.
It was not until my later 20s that I was finally able to talk about the sexual and spiritual abuse. I began to understand that I had an obligation to keep trying to speak out, to protect other women. But what I had to say was not what the Jewish world wanted to hear.
In 1994, I wrote a letter to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who had ordained Gafni, and told him my story. I never received a response. (Riskin since rescinded Gafni's ordination.)
During those years, I was able to make connections with other abuse survivors and learn more about the mechanism of sexual abuse of minors. I also knew that Gafni was circulating in the Jewish world, and I worried that he was continuing to abuse women who had nowhere to turn.
Then in 2004, Gary Rosenblatt. editor and publisher of The Jewish Week of New York, interviewed me for an article in his newspaper. The subhead above the section where I was quoted anonymously was, “In Love or Abusive?” To him, it was a question to ponder. The cost of telling my story was to have it subtly discredited.
He wrote of Rabbi Arthur Waskow, founder of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, who said he “found no evidence of wrongdoing.” He quoted Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, leader of the Jewish Renewal movement, who described Gafni's alleged abuses as “fly specks in pepper,” which you can always find if you look closely enough.
Similarly, Rabbi Saul Berman and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin defended Gafni, saying, in Rosenblatt's words, that they had “heard no credible reports against him of improper behavior in the past 15 years or so.” (All these rabbis have since renounced Gafni.)
While I had mustered up the courage to recount my horrific experiences in interviews with Rosenblatt, some of the most respected leaders of the day simply dismissed my claims.
At this point, I was 38, and finally ready to move forward on legal grounds. And this is when I discovered that I had no recourse. It was 15 years too late.
At 13, at 14, at 18, at 23, I was not able to stand against my entire world and pursue justice. It took learning how to stand up for myself, and learning how people should be treated in caring relationships, to enable me to speak up about Gafni's abuse. I also had to work to reclaim my spiritual home in Judaism. Every survivor has to fight her way back to health. It took me a long time.
There is no way to know when and how that will happen for any individual. So who is to say when the deadline should be for a survivor to speak out?
I hope the Gafni story is over, but I have no doubt there are other Gafnis out there — spiritual leaders and teachers who should not have access to children and teens. Gafni, like many others, has escaped punishment because of a law that needs to be changed. How many young, abused people are right now wondering how to formulate the language for what is happening to them? No one knows when they will be ready to speak — or when New York state, and the Jewish world, will give them a chance.
Officials see terrible trend of child abuse cases in Tampa Bay area
There are resources to help curb this threat
by John Rogers
SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – In the past few months, the Tampa Bay area has seen a terrifying spike in child abuse cases. In many of these awful stories, it's the parents who are charged with hurting or killing their own children.
Back in October, Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury were accused of killing their baby and burying him in a field. In December, Keishanna Thomas was charged with stuffing her dead daughter in a freezer. And officials said James Dearman smothered and killed his son on Christmas Eve.
“In all the years that I've been prosecuting, which is over 20 years now, the trend that we're seeing right now is alarming,” State Attorney Ed Brodsky said.
Brodsky said some of these crimes are preventable. “Parents need to understand, when you're angry, when you're frustrated, when you're upset with your children, the most important thing you need to do is not take out your anger on your children,” he said.
If parents are overwhelmed, or if a child is removed from a home, there are resources available at places like Manatee Children's Services. Employees can provide help for distressed parents and treatment for abused children.
“If they get the clinical services, the treatment that they need, they do heal. They get better, and they turn into functioning adults,” social worker Cheryl Andrews said.
The community can also play a strong role in stopping this threat. We are all required by law to notify officials if we spot possible child abuse. “We need to motivate and become a movement of child abuse prevention,” Gigi Kelly with Manatee Children's Services said. “What we need to do is recognize that these parents are grown up child victims, and until we can really get in and break that cycle, this will continue to perpetuate.”
Officials said there are a lot of reasons why this trend could be happening. Child abuse prevention programs have been cut. Parents are still struggling in this economy. Some adults were just never taught good parenting techniques.
If you spot a possible child abuse victim, you can call local law enforcement or the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1800-96-ABUSE.
Cuomo proposes new felony charge for child abuse
by The Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed making criminal child abuse a felony, saying abusers too often don't go to prison even after disturbing violent crimes.
The governor, among many initiatives proposed for the coming year, says national data show 679,000 children were subject to substantiated maltreatment in 2013.
Each year, he says New York gets about 8,500 cases of alleged abuse by parents or caregivers and the problem is "more alarming than we know."
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, many cases are not reported to police or social services.
Cuomo plans to propose a new felony with a penalty up to seven years in prison for endangering the welfare of a child, currently a misdemeanor.
That would apply to a serious offense by a repeat offender.
Childcare providers receive child abuse awareness training
by Clare Kaley
More than 70% of children under the age of five in Northeast Wisconsin are cared for outside of the home. Wednesday night, childcare providers got special training about how to recognize and help children who may be victims of sexual abuse.
In a full room at the Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W., childcare providers are having a tough conversation.
“If we don't have the conversations about child sexual abuse and how to recognize it and what to do about it, who's keeping our kids safe,” said Jamie Tramte Brassfield, early childhood manager, “and that's really why we want to do this.”
They watch videos from survivors to understand the impact they can have on a child who needs help.
“One in 10 children are sexually abused,” said Tramte Brassfield, “I think of myself, I have four kids, I have a friend who has six kids, so between the two of us, we have ten kids. That means, it's one of our kids.”
“It's extremely important for us to know warning signs and ways to report and make sure the children are safe,” said Katrina Puyleart, center director for Bright Beginnings in West De Pere.
Puyleart made that meeting mandatory for the teachers at Bright Beginnings to help them become more comfortable with the conversation.
“We see the children almost as much as their parents do most of the times,” said Puyleart, “so it's really important for us to build that rapport with the kids and make them feel comfortable coming to us if something is going on.”
More classes will be available, and can be made available for groups that want to attend.
Visit their website for more information: http://www.fcrnew.org
FBI's new game-plan to fight Super Bowl sex trafficking
by The Crimesider Staff
SAN FRANCISCO -- The FBI will take a new approach in its efforts to crack down on sex trafficking during the Super Bowl, reaching out to women and girls selling sex in the run-up to the game to give them a way out and get them to turn against their traffickers.
This year's event at Levi's Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area, like other large sporting events, is expected to be a magnet for trafficking in part because many thousands of men will pour into the region, according to experts.
Victims' advocates and local law enforcement officials say the FBI's efforts are laudable, but they warn that victims are often too fearful to help prosecute their traffickers.
The new approach will rely on local nonprofit groups to make initial contact with the women and girls before the FBI steps in to provide them with access to its victims' advocates and other services.
"The goal is to reach anyone who is being trafficked," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Doug Hunt, who manages the San Francisco office's anti-trafficking efforts, which will also include sting operations the agency has used before previous Super Bowls.
Anti-trafficking advocates say there is no evidence that additional women or girls are forced into prostitution to serve the Super Bowl market. But those already trafficked may be moved to such events as their traffickers see opportunities to make money.
"This is hidden," said Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research at Arizona State University. "The victims, buyers and sellers are all doing this behind a curtain, so it's difficult to capture what's happening."
The FBI and local law enforcement agencies announced the arrests last February of 360 sex buyers and 68 traffickers and the recovery of 30 juvenile victims in a six-month operation in anticipation of the 2015 Super Bowl.
In 2014, the FBI said authorities recovered 16 children between the ages of 13 and 17 and arrested more than 45 pimps and their associates in Super Bowl-related operations.
Additionally, a coalition of law enforcement agencies and victims' groups under the umbrella "No Traffic Ahead" has been meeting about the Super Bowl since 2014 and, among other efforts, training hospitality workers about how to spot trafficking victims.
Human Sex-Trafficking, A Collective Negligence
by Lisa Marie Jenkins
In 1998 upon returning home after work one evening, by daughter passionately greeted me at the door with, "Mom, Mom we have a show for you! Come sit down on your bed and watch!" My daughter, age 8 at the time and my son, age 5 came dancing out of my walk-in closet with music blaring, wearing nothing but high heels and a bow tied around their waists. To say I was mortified while telling myself I must be a really bad mom, is an understatement. When I asked my daughter where she got the idea, she reminded me of the giant billboard that we passed frequently, which read, "Tanga Lounge - Exotic Nude Dancers". The image, silhouettes of nude women dancing.
The point here is that our society is continuously making impressions on all of us about what sexuality means and this billboard experience was before the internet had even fully exploded. Today we are all inundated, including our children with no filters, with messaging regarding sexuality norms.
"According to a 2014 poll conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy a depressing 74% of teen girls say they often get the message that attracting boys and looking sexy is one of the most important things they can do." - My Diary Unlocked, by Janet Larson.
Child sex-trafficking is a deeply rooted and growing commerce and it is a happening right here in the USA. Here are a few facts that will hopefully wake up the average middle class American:
300,000 - children in the U.S. are prostituted annually (ndaa.org)
12 - the average age that a trafficked victim is first used for commercial sex (DHS)
2,700 - child sex-trafficking victims have been rescued by the FBI in the U.S. over the past 10 years (FBI Innocence Lost Initiative)
83% - sex trafficking victims identified in the United States that were U.S. citizens according to a study of U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases. (Office of the Attorney General of Florida)
Having spent many years working in hi-tech corporate America in sales (a male dominated industry), I saw business dinners and conference attendees close their day with a visit to the local strip club, all in good sport and accepted as normal. I was once told by a boyfriend, an IT professional, that it would be a great compliment to him, if I accompanied him to a strip club. I participated in two of these invites early in my career and have declined ever since. I chose not to participate further because the energy felt dark and it made me uncomfortable to be there. However, knowing what I know now, I would have spoke up and done my best to enlighten my male and female counterparts on why patronizing these places was not innocent fun or normal, but that it was contributing to the sex-trafficking industry and that their daughter, their niece, or their little sister could have been seduced into this dark world.
No little girl grows up saying I want to be a porn star, a stripper, or a prostitute. They were either sexually abused or neglected as a child or they were an average American teen who fell prey to a sophisticated and manipulative seduction. It is happening to your average middle class teen at malls today. I personally know of two accounts. It is a slow seduction that preys on a girls needing male attention to feel loved or good enough. This doesn't happen like in the movie "Taken", these girls are showered with attention, courted, and then slowly over time put to work in these elaborate sex trafficking rings. These children will often develop Stockholm syndrome, identifying with their abuser and don't know how to get out or even want to get out, as they are full of shame and are trapped by the belief that this is love.
I happen to be lucky in that I have heard this story first hand from my housekeeper, who escaped from this life 6 years ago. I say "lucky" because now I know the importance of raising awareness of sex-trafficking in the US.
Sex is a normal human function, but western culture is fostering and feeding sexuality in a way that is not healthy, and it is doing so much harm in the collective spiritual mind and damaging our true relationships. The statistics above demonstrate the high demand for prostitution and pornography or this huge supply chain would not exist. It is simple economics.
There is a societal acceptance that goes unchecked, as we are asleep to the problem and the damage it does to our power and spirits. This is not a male "sin" against women, but it is a collective negligence that has been fostered as normal. We have all co-created this at some level, men and women. We are all equals, therefore we all have to search inside ourselves to see where we have participated. Separating men and women further, is not the answer. Uniting, finding your voice, and joining together in purpose and in our hearts of consciousness is how we liberate these people from misery...and the people that truly get this, will heal and change the world!
To learn how you can help commercially sexually exploited children in the U.S. visit: Bridging Freedom
Shutdown of sex-trafficking websites long overdue
by Alisa Bernard
I CRIED with joy when I learned the King County Sheriff's Office, the Bellevue Police Department, the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and the FBI shut down one of the longest-running sites promoting prostitution in the Northwest.
I know it's one of the oldest online sites because more than a decade ago my body was being sold on it.
This website allows sex buyers to review women they have bought, encourages other men to do the same, and it does nothing to reduce the harm to these women. Reviews include such details as whether the women matched their pictures, to prices for each sex act or hour, thinly veiled in board lingo as “donations.”
The aftermath of this site's justified takedown spurred a frenzy within the community of Seattle “sex workers” and buyers. Meetings were held, prostituted women with plastered-on smiles were deployed to talk to the media, while buyers canceled their appointments left and right.
I could not have been happier on that last point. I actually cried when I heard the news The Review Board site was taken down. It was like hearing that my pimp and all the men who had ever bought me had been felled in a single swoop.
That's what it feels like to be an online sex worker: Years later, you start realizing that slavery does not have to include chains. Rather, you can be caged just as strongly by digital 1s and 0s.
I watched as a Twitter storm ensued. A few sex workers, upset by the site's closure, pitted themselves against survivors applauding its takedown, and the Internet was suddenly a battlefield of insults and crazed yelling. I realized that when the dust settled, the general public (yes, you) might not have a clue what happened or even whose side to stand on.
So I'm going to clarify this fight for you. Survivors are those who have escaped prostitution and have had time and distance from it. They are the ones looking back at their pasts and wondering how to move forward into the future. Sex workers believe they are empowered within prostitution, as if laying on our backs is the highest level any woman could hope to achieve.
Sex workers would have the public believe the website was a tool to screen out potentially dangerous buyers. I can say from personal experience that these women are losing nothing. The online sites do not help women screen buyers. Rather, they turn women into objectified commodities to review as one would review a washing machine.
The online boards do not keep women safe. If a buyer had a bad day, there is nothing stopping him from taking it out on the women they buy since they see them as an object. No board ever kept me safe from violence. Whether you are on the street or online, violence is always present.
The key difference between the sex workers and us, the survivors, is a very simple one: Sex workers see survivors as the enemy; survivors, on the other hand see sex workers as our sisters. We see them going through the same pain we went through. We see them fast-forwarded by years every time we look in the mirror, and we understand that sometimes you must convince even yourself that the only option is to remain a sex worker.
We, the survivors, are not interested in debating or slinging insults. We are only interested in making sure we will be available when they need us. The difference between us is that in 10 years I will still be here waiting for them. I will gladly embrace them as my sisters and perhaps we will both look back on this and laugh someday. But until then, they may throw whatever insult they may have at me, but I will not go away. I will not condemn them to the fate I had of trying to leave the life on my own.
If you, the public, have seen this sex worker versus survivor debate, know that it is just a cover that allows perpetrators — traffickers, pimps and the sex buyers — to continue that violence against us.
If you are new to this debate, I implore you to look past that fight. See that the true perpetrators who are benefiting from our squabbling are the sex buyers who remain in the shadows.
Police: Man Follows Nanny, Tries To Take 20-Month-Old Child In Woodmere
by CBS News
WOODMERE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police in Nassau County are looking for a man who they said tried to take a toddler from a nanny and followed her back to a home in Woodmere before leaving with an empty stroller.
It happened around 12:15 p.m. on Monday.
Police said the nanny was pushing a 20-month-old baby in a stroller on West Broadway when a man walked up and said she was “pushing a dead baby.”
The woman tried to get away, but the man followed her, saying he needed to take the baby, police said.
The nanny was able to make it back home and locked the doors, but police said the suspect got in through an unlocked mudroom and tried to open the locked kitchen door.
Investigators said he yelled “Give me the dead baby” before he left, taking the empty stroller with him. The stroller was later found on the side of The Pizza Place on Broadway in Hewlett, police said.
The nanny and the child were uninjured.
Police have released surveillance images of the suspect from the pizza shop.
The nanny described him as a white or Hispanic man who was wearing a blue winter jacket with a lanyard around his neck, a gray hooded sweatshirt and blue sweatpants with a white stripe along the leg, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.
Mom, Dad Arrested For Beating, Starving 3 Children
by WFLA News
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – A mother and a father are in jail on five felony counts after Sarasota detectives found out that their three children were severely malnourished, dehydrated and beaten. One victim, a 4-year-old boy, was so badly malnourished, he had no hair and couldn't talk.
The Department of Children and Families notified the Sarasota County Sheriff's detectives about the severe case of child abuse a DCF officer was working at the All Children's Hospital. The case involved a 6-year-old boy and 4-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. The children were extremely malnourished, one of the twins, the boy, weighing only 22 pounds. Doctors said it is a normal weight for an 11-month-old baby.
SCSO Detective Megan Buck visited the boy at the hospital. What she saw shocked her.
“The sight of the 4-year-old boy took my breath away,” Detective Buck said. “My description of him when I saw him was that he looked like a skeleton. His body was skin and bones. He has no hair because of lack of nutrients. He has a skin rash and marks from the lack of nutrients. He is non-verbal and cannot talk.”
The girl weighed 26 pounds and was at the hospital as well. The older brother was still at the house with the parents, Kimberly Haygood, 27, and Anthony Jones, 30. Haygood weighed 195 pounds at the time of arrest. She is 5 feet 5 inches tall. Jones is the same height and weight, according to the probable cause affidavit.
According to the Child Protection Center in Sarasota, the older boy told them that the children live with their mother, but their dad is at the house all the time. The boy said that it's their dad who beats them with a belt. The boy said Jones beat the twins if they “boo-boo” in their pants.
Both boys had markings on their body presumably from the belt, the girl didn't.
When officials talked to Haygood, she told them the 4-year-old boy had an aversion for food, but would eat Cheetos and milk. She had a prescription for him for Pediasure but let it lapse when she had a still-born baby and couldn't function, according to the case documents. Since then she'd feed him milk but the doctors at the hospital didn't believe her statement. The boy's intestines were completely empty, the doctors told SCSO.
Haygood and Jones were taken to the Sarasota County jail.
Haygood has been charged with five felony counts: two counts of Aggravated Child Abuse, two counts of Child Neglect – Greatly Bodily Harm, and Child Neglect. Jones has been charged with five felony counts: two counts of Aggravated Child Abuse, two counts of Child Neglect – Greatly Bodily Harm, and Child Abuse.
Haygood is held on a $50,000 bond with no contact with the victims and no contact with Jones. Jones' bond is $60,000, he is also ordered no contact with victims or minors. Additional charges for both Haygood and Jones are pending, according to SCSO.
Repeated acts of child abuse a felony under new bill
Penalties would range from 15 years to life in prison
by WISC-TV News
MADISON, Wis. - - The state Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would make repeated acts of child abuse a felony.
Under the bipartisan bill, a jury would have to unanimously agree that a person physically abused the same child at least three times in a specified period to be found guilty of repeated child abuse. The period of time would be determined by the facts of each case.
Penalties would range from 15 years in prison and $50,000 in fines to life in prison if the child is killed.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill during a Tuesday morning floor session. Approval would send the measure to the Assembly.
Beyond 'brutality': Discourse on child sexual abuse should address victims' needs
by Swagata Raha
The last fortnight has been eventful for child protection. While adolescents between 16 and 18 years accused of heinous offences stand deprived of their rights in the juvenile justice system by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015, a judge of the Supreme Court urged Parliament to bring in more ‘rigorous punishment for child rape'. Protection and justice have never been more misunderstood. We cannot seem to look beyond enhancement of punishment even though its deterrent effect is negligible. The demand for new laws and barbaric punishments take the attention away from the systemic flaws of the criminal justice system and the traumatic experience of victims.
Before mooting any change in law, the nature of child sexual abuse and the profile of victims and perpetrators must be studied. An analysis of 667 judgments of special courts in Delhi by the Centre for Child and the Law, NLSIU Bangalore revealed that the accused was known to the victim in 80% cases and was a stranger in 17%. Neighbours constituted the largest group (29%) followed by those related to the child by blood or through the mother (20%). Amongst the total number of victims, the 12 to 15 age group formed the largest group consisting of 30% of the cases (197 cases), while the 16 to 18 age group formed the second largest group consisting of 28% of the cases (186 cases). Children below 5 years constituted only 7% of the total victims. The highest percentage of cases in which the victim turned hostile were those in which she was married to the accused (99%), in a romantic relationship with the accused (96.07%), step-daughter (76.47%), daughter of the accused (76.34%) and related to the accused (73.58%). Considering the above, dehumanizing perpetrators of child sexual abuse and demanding that penalties be enhanced is more likely to deter the victim from participating in the criminal process.
The remark of the Supreme Court Judge must also be examined in light of the existing legal framework. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) was enacted to exclusively cover the ambit of child sexual abuse. The Statement of Objects and Reasons to the POCSO Act recognized that “offences against children need to be defined and countered through commensurate penalties as an effective deterrence.” The term ‘child' is defined to mean a person below the age of 18 years under Section 2(1)(d), POCSO Act). Penetrative sexual assault of a child below 12 years constitutes aggravated penetrative sexual assault under Section 5(m) of the POCSO Act. This offence is punishable with fine and rigorous imprisonment for a minimum term of 10 years that can extend to life imprisonment. The Criminal Law (Amendment)) Act, 2013 introduced several substantive sexual offences in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Rape of a minor below the age of 16 years constitutes aggravated rape under Section 376(2)(i) of the IPC and is punishable with fine and rigorous imprisonment for a minimum term of 10 years, but which may extend to life imprisonment. Life imprisonment in this context implies “imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life.”
The penalties prescribed under the POCSO Act and the IPC are adequate and leave enough room for judges to impose a term of imprisonment higher than the minimum sentence if the chid is very young. In Alister Anthony Pareira v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2012 SC 3802, the Supreme Court held: “One of the prime objectives of the criminal law is imposition of appropriate, adequate, just and proportionate sentence commensurate with the nature and gravity of crime and the manner in which the crime is done.” To rob judges of this discretion by making penalties more rigorous would undermine the principle of proportionality that is central to criminal justice.
Over-criminalization will also result in giving primacy to vengeance over rehabilitation of the offender and healing of the victim. Research on victims of criminal justice conducted in several jurisdictions outside India have revealed that victims of crimes want five basic things: information, participation, emotional restoration and apology, material reparation, and fairness and respect. These elements are barely respected during the criminal trial. Studies have also shown that the restorative justice process addresses these five needs much better than the criminal justice system and also helps in healing and closure.
The higher judiciary needs to vigorously introspect about the functioning of criminal courts. It should also examine the extent to which the funds made available under the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms for improvement of courtroom infrastructure have been utilized to make court complexes child-friendly. State departments of public prosecution and police need to collectively scrutinize the lapses in investigation that led to acquittals. There is a need for greater investment in scientific and evidence-based research on treatment models for sex offenders. State Governments need to put in place a support structure and service providers who can assist a child victim and her/his family cope with the trauma of sexual abuse and navigate the courtroom. The emphasis needs to shift from the brutality of the offence to the needs of the victims.
Conn. Court Says Child Can't Challenge Decision to Remove Alleged Abuser From Registry
by Christian Nolan
A minor lacks standing to challenge a state Department of Children and Families administrative decision removing the child's alleged abuser from the child abuse and neglect registry, the state's highest court has ruled. In a unanimous ruling released Jan. 8, the Connecticut Supreme Court justices said the minor who claims she was sexually abused by her father lacked the standing to appeal DCF's decision.
"[W]e conclude that the plaintiff has not established a specific, personal and legally protected interest in the department's decision greater than any other member of the community," wrote Justice Dennis Eveleigh. "Although the alleged victim is entitled to be notified of the outcome of the department's initial investigation into the alleged victim's allegations of abuse or neglect, the department's substantiation appeal process does not afford the alleged victim an opportunity to challenge the department's determination that such allegations are unfounded."
The full identities of the parties involved were kept confidential in court documents. The plaintiff minor was referred to as Isabella D. in court records.
Following an investigation, DCF found the father responsible for sexual abuse and emotional neglect of the child and placed his name on the child abuse and neglect registry, commonly referred to in the system as the central registry. The central registry is DCF's database of persons who have been "substantiated as individuals responsible for an act or acts of child abuse or neglect and for whom the commissioner has made a determination, based upon a standard of reasonable cause, that the individual poses a risk to the health, safety or well-being of children."
According to the girl's lawyer in this administrative appeal, Alan Giacomi, of Waterbury, the father was criminally charged but later acquitted. The alleged abuse took place over a period of about six years.
The father then sought an administrative hearing to remove his name from the registry. A hearing officer found that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of substantiation of sexual abuse and emotional neglect by the father. The officer then decided to have the father's name removed from the registry.
After the girl's family found out, her mother, on her behalf, asked DCF to reconsider its decision. The agency then determined that the child lacked standing to appeal since the child was not a party to the hearing.
The mother next took the challenge to the Superior Court but it was dismissed. They then appealed and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. The justices ultimately upheld the DCF and trial court decisions.
DCF was represented by Assistant Attorney General John Tucker. A representative for the state Attorney General's Office declined to comment for this article.
Giacomi said the entire situation is "a tragic miscarriage of justice."
"The system seems to be broken," Giacomi said. "If a parent is alleged to have done the things to a child that the father in this case was alleged to have done and then that father is allowed to go back to the agency years later and request that decision be reviewed administratively, the statutory scheme doesn't require that parent to notify that child or the child's legal guardian that the parent is trying to do that. That's just fundamentally wrong."
4 Reasons To Cut Family Ties, 4 Ways To Do It
They may be a big part of who you are, but what will be left of you if your spirit is broken?
by Rachel Cruz
Every breakup is hard, including the ones you have to make with a family member. It's not easy to cut off someone from your life when your ties with them are rooted in childhood. You share a lot of memories that make up who you are. However, breaking up with a relative can be the best thing you can do for yourself and here are why it's a good decision.
1. There's abuse.
Verbal and emotional abuse must never be tolerated in any relationship, including the ones where you're related by blood. Don't let the guilt affect your decision of cutting them off when your safety and well-being is more crucial.
"Of course, relationships are rarely all good or bad; even the most abusive parents can sometimes be loving, which is why severing a bond should be a tough, and rare, decision," wrote psychologist Richard Friedman in The New York Times, whose depressed patient dealt with an abusive parent and experienced prolonged trauma.
2. The interaction is mostly ugly.
If your only contact with a relative only brings you down with the constant criticisms and nitpicking, or when your weekend coffee meet-ups end up in an argument about the most mundane things, it might be time to distance yourself.
3. The toxic relationship is so stressful, it's affecting how you function in work or life.
If you find yourself being on the defensive side all the time and the constant negativity is affecting other aspects of your life, stop and examine your relationship with your relatives. You don't owe them any explanation for your choices - the way you live, your priorities or your appearance is all up to you, according to The Bounded Spirit.
4. Your only relationship is about money.
It is one thing to help out. Maybe a cousin is hard-up and won't be able to pay for her child's school needs this semester. But if she's constantly borrowing money to bring her child to Disneyland, or to buy the latest toy for Junior, then it's a different matter altogether. If this is the only type of relationship you have with your cousin and her kids, it's time to cut ties.
Now that you know when it is time to cut a family member out of your life justifiably, you should know the best way to actually do it, without causing even more damage or creating more problems.
What you can do:
1. Address your relatives personally.
Maybe the talk will change things, but maybe it will be the last time you'll speak to each other. "Even if you never want to see her again in that moment, you need to talk it out," said family therapist Karen Gail Lewis via Woman's Day. "Make sure you have tried everything before you let go, even counseling."
2. Write a letter.
If you think that a talk can lead to an ugly confrontation, then it's better to say it in writing. "Letters or emails are powerful because you can't be interrupted or disagreed with," said family expert Susan Forward, also on Woman's Day. Don't expect any replies, though. The point of sending the letter is to say your piece.
3. Deal with other relatives or the collateral damage.
Don't be swayed by the guilt trip, which can happen with other family members.
4. Set boundaries.
If necessary, set boundaries and limits with the rest of the family and keep it cordial.
"To avoid sticky situations, let your family members know it's okay to invite both of you to events. It's not fair to make them choose. If you don't think you can handle being in the other person's presence, it should be you who doesn't attend since you were the one to do the breaking up," according to author and family therapist Jayme Waxman, via Yahoo.
How hotel staff can spot warning signs of sex trafficking
by Anastasiya Bolton
DENVER - Sex and human trafficking often goes unnoticed by hotel staffs across the nation, including cities like Denver.
“It's not just in the lower end motels, it's not just on Colfax or places that we think, it is everywhere,” said Kristen, investigator with Homeland Security Investigations. 9NEWS is only identifying her by the first name, because she often works undercover.
One way to make sure it doesn't go unnoticed is to educate people in the hotel industry about the signs that someone is being sold for sex.
Homeland Security Investigations is rolling out its “Safe Action Project,” a campaign to train hotel and hospitality staff on what to look for when it comes to sex trafficking.
“That is kind of our message, we would rather have you call anybody and report it to somebody,” Kristen said, “even if it turns out to be nothing, than miss one of those victims that's suffering.”
Nonprofit Mile High Women's Outreach organized a sex trafficking education session in Denver Monday.
A sex trafficking survivor 9NEWS will call “Amber,” to protect her identity, answered questions from the group.
Amber is almost 20. When she was 18-years-old, she was trafficked in Las Vegas, at some of the nicest casinos on the strip.
“I'm sure people are surprised that it happens right in front of them,” Amber said. “It happens in our everyday life, more than most people are aware of.”
Amber says hotel workers can help victims who are being trafficked against their will. “Keeping an eye open for trafficking and knowing the signs. Half the battle is knowing what to look for,” she said.
Mile High Women's Outreach hoped for a full house of people to hear their message, but they didn't get it.
Amie Mayhew, President and CEO of the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association said hotels are taking this problem seriously. A lot of them do their own education on the subject.
“It's something they are getting at their own property,” she said.
See the document on site for general hotel warning signs. To see it on mobile, visit: http://bit.ly/22W9RqU
4 teens arrested in gang rape of 18-year-old in Brooklyn playground
by Holly Yan and Lorenzo Ferrigno
New York (CNN)Four teens who forced a father to leave his daughter so they could take turns raping her at a park have been arrested, New York police say -- but a fifth suspect is still at large.
The 18-year-old daughter was with her father at the Osborn Playground in Brooklyn around 9 p.m. Thursday when they were approached by five males, the New York Police Department said.
One of the men pulled a gun on the father and daughter and demanded the father leave the area, police said.
Each of the five assailants then raped the teenager, authorities said.
The father told CNN affiliate WABC he was near the handball court with his daughter having a drink when the men came.
"One of them put a gun in my face, telling me to run, and all of them had their way with her," the father told WABC.
He said he didn't have a cell phone with him and went to a store, begging for help -- but said the store wouldn't call police.
By the time the father returned to the park with two police officers, the attackers were gone, police said.
The teen victim told WABC she screamed for help, but no one stopped.
"I didn't know what to do," she said. "I was in a panic mode."
The victim suffered cuts to her arms, neck and knees during the assault, police spokeswoman Arlene Muniz said. The teen was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was treated and released.
On Sunday night, authorities said four suspects -- ages 14, 15, 15 and 17 -- were in custody, and charges were pending. Two of the teens turned themselves in, and the other two were apprehended, New York police said.
Authorities released surveillance video that they say shows the five attackers at a local store before the incident.
"I am disgusted and deeply saddened by the horrific attack that took place in Brownsville yesterday evening," New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said.
"Every New Yorker in every neighborhood deserves to feel safe and protected, and we will not stop until the perpetrators of this disturbing attack are held accountable for their actions. This administration has zero tolerance for sexual attacks, and we will work to ensure a crime of this nature never happens again."
Grandpa guilty of child abuse over hikes found shot to death
by CBS News
INDIANAPOLIS - Police in Indianapolis say a man convicted of child abuse in 2012 for forcing three grandsons to hike the Grand Canyon has been shot to death.
They say 50-year-old Christopher Carlson of Indianapolis was found shot multiple times Friday in an alley on the city's north side. Police say they have no suspects.
Two small children who investigators believe to be Carlson's children were unharmed and being cared for by a police Victim Assistance Unit.
Sgt. Christopher Wilburn said Sunday that Carlson's relatives stated he was the same man convicted of child abuse for forcing his grandsons - then ages 8, 9 and 12 - to hike 19 miles in the Grand Canyon in August 2011. A federal judge ordered him to serve 27 months in prison.
The oldest described during the trial secretly asking a hiker to call 911 toward the end of a 19-mile hike on Aug. 28 after he started throwing up, falling down because of cramping and experiencing changes to his vision.
Prosecutors told jurors that he deprived the boys of food and water during the hikes. The boys reported that they did get some water, but not always enough, and ate celery and other snacks during the hike.
Investigators have said that Carlson told them that the boys were overweight and that he thought hiking the Grand Canyon would help get them into shape.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Williams has portrayed the 45-year-old Carlson as an active health nut who had a firm hand and wanted to show the boys the world. Like anyone after a long hike, the boys were tired, hungry and thirsty, but Carlson only allowed the boys to eat healthy food like tofu, hummus and veggie burgers, Williams said in his opening statement.
"I suppose to an 8, 9 or 10-year-old that might seem like child abuse if you like cheeseburgers, French fries and pizza," he said. "He wanted to get them from behind the TV, the games and fast food."
The middle grandson, who is now 10 years old, said that Carlson discovered that the kids had hidden unwanted cauliflower, asparagus and fish in their van. Carlson made them eat it even though the food had hair and other debris on it. Another time, the boy said Carlson made him eat broccoli that he had tried to flush down the toilet.
The oldest child told jurors that he threw up several times and said Carlson denied him water at various instances while sipping from a jug himself. He said his grandfather got mad whenever he started walking too slow, and at one point hit him in the face with a rock, causing his lips to bleed.
"I started crying and walking faster and he kicked me in the butt and said, `Run,"' the boy said.
The boy said Carlson was in a hurry to get to the top of the Grand Canyon so he could see the sunset.
A ranger with binoculars spotted the group during their Aug. 28 hike, the same day a man died on another trail from heat exposure. The ranger reported seeing Carlson shoving the oldest boy and whipping him with a rolled-up T-shirt.
Rangers fed the boys and gave them water after one showed symptoms of heat stroke and the other two had signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Investigators said the boys were covered in cuts, bruises and scars that backed up their stories.
Prosecutor Camille Bibles told jurors that the middle child got severe blisters on the first hike and that they hadn't fully healed by the second hike.
Mother's 13th conviction for child abuse or neglect lands her behind bars
by Barry Amundson
ABERDEEN, S.D. - A Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation mother who has had 12 previous convictions for child abuse or neglect will spend more than three years in custody for her most recent case after her seven children, including an injured baby in a car seat, were found in her home unsupervised.
Velnita Jolette Hairy Chin, 43, of Bullhead was sentenced earlier last week by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kornmann to 37 months behind bars followed by three years of supervised release.
South Dakota U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler said the latest incident was in late June when BIA officers were called to her home in Bullhead which is in far north-central South Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation.
When officers arrived they found Hairy Chin passed out in a bed a basement room with an adult male, according to Seiler.
The children, including the baby in the car seat, were found in the living room and outside playing. The oldest of the seven children was 11.
The officer asked Hairy Chin repeatedly in the basement how long the baby had been in the car seat. She did not answer the question, at which point the officer placed her under arrest for child neglect and she was taken to the patrol car.
The officer then went back to check on the children. A neighbor came over and helped him change some of the children's diapers and made a bottle for the baby.
The baby kept screaming when they would try to touch him, the officer said in court documents.
The officer then went outside and asked Hairy Chin if there was something wrong with the baby.
She replied that the baby was “fine, fat and OK.”
One of the other children, a little girl, told the officer that the baby had fallen after being dropped. He then called an ambulance.
Once again, the officer asked Hairy Chin what happened to the baby. This time, she admitted that he was dropped the previous day but claimed he was fine.
The child was taken to the nearby Mobridge hospital.
A Child Protection Services worker then arrived and the neighbor said the seven children had been running around all day unsupervised. The oldest of the children, about 11 years old, told the CPS worker that he was in charge and could take care of all of the kids.
Safe homes were found for all of the children, said the U.S. attorney in court documents.
The CPS worker also went to the Mobridge hospital to check on the baby and found that he had abrasions on his legs from sitting in the car seat for so long, bruising on his right leg and buttocks, diaper rash, air in his stomach form constant crying and a right ear infection.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Standing Rock Agency.
Hairy Chin was taken into custody at her sentencing.
Supreme Court asks for ‘harsher' punishment in child sexual abuse
by Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan
The Supreme Court asked Parliament on Monday to consider “harsher” punishment for child sexual abuse, molestation and rape but refused to direct the Centre to include chemical castration as an additional penalty for such convicts.
A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra also told attorney general Mukul Rohatgi that the government should define the term “child” in the context of rape under the criminal law.
“At present, the language in law specifies women below the age of 16. But these days children between the ages of two and 10 are increasingly becoming victims of sexual abuse. Parliament may think of re-defining the term child and impose further rigorous punishment to those involved in sexual abuse of children,” the bench ordered.
India has seen an explosive rise in cases of rape of children in the past five years, with data from the National Crime Record Bureau saying a minor is sexually abused every 30 minutes.
Several countries have enacted tough laws to check sexual abuse of children and regularly use chemical castration – the process of using drugs to lower the libido of a person without physically removing one's sexual organs – as a mode to punish repeat offenders.
The court said the Centre could create a special category for child abuse cases. Under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, the maximum punishment for rape is life sentence and minimum is seven years.
The country saw a 151% rise in child rapes between 2009 and 2014, forcing the Madras high court to ask the Centre in October last year to think about castration for those who rape children to deter such sexual assaults.
But the top court said it couldn't prescribe a particular punishment for an offence as it was the realm of Parliament. We leave these matters to the wisdom of Parliament,” the bench said.
“Laws should never be made on emotions or sentiments or in a knee jerk reaction. So it's not easy to order castration,” Misra told senior advocate Mahalakshmi Pavani, who was representing the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) that had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) demanding castration for such offenders.
“The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act brought in specially to combat such offences in 2012 has failed to prevent sexual assault on minors as the punishments provided therein is nothing different than general punishment provided in Indian Penal Code” the SCWLA had said in its plea.
It also wanted a direction to the ministry of women and child development to frame guidelines in regard to the protection of children from sexual abuse.
SCWLA's PIL was triggered by the shocking incident in Bulandshahar district of Uttar Pradesh where a 28-day-old girl was raped on December 6, 2015. The petition also recalled the gang rape of two minors in Delhi in October last year.
In October, the Madras HC judge had noted how other countries such as US, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia, New Zealand and Argentina had introduced castration to deal with child sex offenders.
However, the Justice Verma committee – constituted after the December 16 Delhi gang rape case – had rejected the demand for castration noting the “punishment fails to treat the social foundations of rape.”
Report: State must do more to help traumatized kids
Children Now group gives California a grade of D-
by Rene Ray De La Cruz
APPLE VALLEY — Community leaders in the High Desert weighed in on a recent report that indicates the state is not doing enough to promote healing for over 1 million kids in California who are experiencing trauma in their lives.
The group Children Now unveiled its 2016 California Children's Report Card, which revealed that in the area of childhood trauma, the state received a grade of D-. The report said the grade is a strong indication that much more should be done to protect kids from trauma's effects and to build their resilience.
The report card said some 1.5 million traumatized children in the state can suffer from physical ailments such as diabetes, and mental health challenges such as depression. It also showed that issues like abuse, neglect and witnessing violence at home can have serious long-term consequences for children.
“Children experiencing traumatic events can have difficulty functioning in all areas of their lives,” said Children Now President Ted Lempert. “Trauma can impede emotional well-being, impact school performance and set kids up for a lifetime of health problems. California must do more to assess children for trauma and find them the help they need to heal.”
Carole Voll, a licensed marriage and family therapist and coordinator for the Our Children Project in Apple Valley, said she can't speak for the entire state, but she did say that local and county service agencies that assist children are doing a good job.
“We work close with the San Bernardino County Children and Family Services, and the county's probation department,” said Voll, whose program serves children who have been sexually abused. “These agencies have been pretty responsive when we've worked together. The county also does a wonderful job offering counseling services.”
Voll, who has 30 years of experience in her profession, said the Our Children Project serves approximately 55 children and their families every year. She added that the project is sponsored by Lutheran Social Services.
Lempert said kids with traumatic childhoods are more likely to become adults who need extra resources in everything from mental health, to employment, to criminal justice involvement. He added that providing kids with trauma assessment and support isn't just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do economically.
Voll, who agreed with Lempert's statement, said the key component in bringing healing and wholeness to children is awareness and prevention by adults.
“Parents, extended family, teachers and friends need to speak up when they see that a child is being abused,” Voll said. “Silence only fuels the problem so everyone needs to stay vigilant and ready to report abuse to the authorities immediately.”
The report also revealed that every year California spends about 12 times as much on prisoners as it does on preschoolers, with $4,981 spent on each child and $62,300 on each incarcerated individual.
“How can we only spend less than $5,000 per child? That just shows you where our priorities are,” said Sheila, a local private counselor who wished to remain anonymous. “If we took care of our kids at the start of life, they wouldn't end up in jail as adults.”
Sheila said her experience taught her that the majority of negative issues that are manifested in children comes from a direct result of what the child is exposed to at home.
“From mental and physical abuse to poor eating habits, many of our children have told us horror stories about life at home,” Sheila said. “Some go to school without eating breakfast and others are berated by family members for a variety of issues. After a while, the child goes into survival mode and shuts everyone else out.”
Sheila said for many children, the abuse and neglect has been passed down from generation to generation. She added that the solution of helping traumatized kids begins at home.
“We need to put away our fear and starting being vigilant in protecting our children,” Voll said. “We need to stand up and protect the ones who can't protect themselves.”
For support services, call 211 or visit www.211sb.org. To report child abuse in San Bernardino County, call 909-384-9233 or 800-827-8724.
Signs that your child is being bullied at school
There used to be an old saying, sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me. This is not true.
by The South Coast Herald
BULLYING at school comes in many forms, physical, sexual, verbal or emotional.
There are many ways parents can pinpoint the often subtle changes in behaviour. In fact, verbal abuse is one of the worst kinds of bullying as it impacts on a child's emotional state which sometimes is not clearly evident to a parent.
The child may not ask for your help, but as a parent, your intuition should tell you something is wrong. Question it. Often a child will not volunteer this information because they are afraid of appearing weak.
Here are some of the tell-tale signs:
Unexplained loss of school stationery, money or lunch;
Suddenly doesn't want to go to school;
Is sullen, evasive or withdrawn;
Marked change in typical behaviour or personality;
Begins to bully siblings at home; or a
Sudden drop in school marks.
Bullying can have serious and long-term emotional or psychological effects. It can have a negative impact on a child's academic performance, self-esteem, coping skills, and can increase anxiety and unhappiness.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, then first talk to the teacher or even to his/her friends who might reveal that bullying is indeed happening before taking action.
Talk to your child and listen to what he/she has to say. Reassure them that they are not to blame.
Ask your child what they want to do and what they want you to do. Discuss some strategies for them to handle the bullying.
So if your gut is telling you something is wrong, it is up to you as a parent to step up and take charge of the situation before it gets out of hand and leaves your child with emotional scars.
Local youth center aims to help young victims of sex trafficking
by Anita Roman
PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Startling new data indicates that more homeless youth are reporting sexual coercion.
In fact the number is up from 25 percent last year to 35 percent this year.
Anita Roman has more on a center working to help those young victims.
Her eyes are filled with pain...a life time of hurt and abuse.
“I was told that if I ever tried to leave, he would kill me.” “If he couldn't find me, he would kill my family and I believed that.”
Leah Rodgers was trapped in a lifestyle she never imagined would be hers...
“I was already in the sex industry,” Rodgers said. “I was a stripper here in Arizona and he trafficked me from the strip club.”
Rodgers described years of sexual coercion...a struggle to find self-worth...and a voice to seek help.
“What really woke me up was when I was raped at gun point and I just prayed to God that he would get me out of this lifestyle,” said Rodgers. “I didn't want to do it no more.”
Unfortunately, Rodgers is not alone. A survey conducted by the Tumbleweed Youth Center for the second year in a row found that more and more people fall victim to sex trafficking...especially homeless youth.
Currently, 35 percent of homeless young people are currently citing a history of sexual coercion compared to 25 percent last year.
Moreover, the average age of first sex trafficking experience is 15 and more than a third of those surveyed have attempted suicide.
“Sex trafficking by the federal definition is forced fraud or coercion,” says Melissa Brockie of the Tumbleweed Youth Center. “So someone is forced, frauded or coerced by another individual to exchange sex for money, clothing, sometimes a place to stay, sometimes just transportation.”
Brockie says the youth center just received a grant from the Department of Justice and the Office of Victims of Crime that will allow the non-profit to offer additional services and supportive housing to victims.
“It is really much more prevalent I think than we initially thought,” Brockie said. “Initially I think when we talked about human trafficking and sex trafficking it was an international issue, it wasn't something that locally we really thought was happening, but what we have done at Tumbleweed is partner with ASU and Our Family Services down in Tucson.”
“Going to jail…when I was in jail I stayed there for quite some time,” said Rodgers. ‘I said if I ever get out I don't want to do this anymore.”
As for Rodgers, facing charges that stemmed from her pimp's arrest opened her eyes, forcing her to get help. She now uses her voice to let others know they don't have to walk in her shoes.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2016: Three In Every Thousand People Affected
With more than 17,000 human trafficking victims entering the U.S. each year, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day remains as relevant as ever.
by Lucy Uprichard
Jan. 11 marks the ninth annual National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and the fifth annual National Slavery And Human Trafficking Prevention month. More than 20 million people are affected by trafficking each year, with the studies from the International Labour Organization report showing that three out of every 1,000 people are "trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived."
Congress places human trafficking into two broad categories: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The nature of human trafficking means that it is difficult to collect accurate statistics on how many people are affected, but an organization formed by medical practitioners in conjunction with the Polaris Project, one of the most well-known non-governmental anti-trafficking organizations, claims that around 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year. Globally, the U.S. Department of State estimates that there are 20 million people enslaved around the world but that only a tiny fraction of them are ever identified as victims of human trafficking.
Crimes of human trafficking are difficult to research, as incidents go under reported and are difficult to identify. The National Trafficking Resource Center dispels many common misconceptions about sex and labor trafficking, including the fact that many visible and legal businesses, such as restaurants, hotels and manufacturing plants, may be exploiting the labor of human trafficking victims.
The majority of trafficking cases that are reported are for sex work, but many activists criticize the methods used as part of anti-trafficking schemes for being counter-productive and actually harmful to victims, according to a report by the Sex Workers Project. A senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, Nisha Varia, stated in a blog post that "sadly, victims of forced labor are too often treated like criminals instead of people who are entitled to assistance." Denise Brennan, author of the book "Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States," identified immigration law as another barrier for trafficking victims, telling Rolling Stone that "our current immigration regime - deportation regime - makes it impossible to fight trafficking."
The Presidential Proclamation for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month promises to continue to fight trafficking domestically and around the world and to "continue promoting development and economic growth across the globe to address the underlying conditions that enable human trafficking in the first place."
The month culminates on the National Freedom Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 1.
The reality of human trafficking is complicated
by Mike Thompson
Professor Bridgette Carr has a problem with what she calls the “Lifetime movie” version of human trafficking. That is, the misconception that human trafficking means suburban teenagers who are abducted from shopping malls, suffer terrible ordeals, but are eventually reunited with their grateful and loving families.
The reality of human trafficking is a whole lot more complicated, said Carr, director of the University of Michigan's Human Trafficking Clinic. It involves forced labor as well as forced prostitution. Carr notes that one overarching misconception is that it only happens overseas or impacts foreign nationals brought into this country. It could be happening in your own community to people you know.
Monday is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a day intended to raise awareness about human trafficking, a crime that ensnares victims through force, fraud or coercion into a life of forced labor or forced commercial sex. It's an issue complicated by misguided social attitudes and a general lack of understanding, which go a long way toward explaining why society has been slow to come to grips with the true nature of this form of modern-day slavery.
If nothing else, Carr said she hopes the focus on the issue on Monday can convey the message "that human trafficking and sex trafficking are not synonyms.” Human trafficking also includes people coerced into forced labor. And, according to Carr, the sex trafficking component of human trafficking too often focuses on children and specifically girls. “We leave out boys, we leave out often adult women … we can't ignore these other victims.”
In 2014, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that begins to address the problem of human trafficking by stiffening the penalties for traffickers and those who solicit minors for sex, creating a path for some trafficking victims to expunge their criminal records, extending the statute of limitations for trafficking-related crimes and establishing a permanent Human Trafficking Commission in the state.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says these new laws represent a cultural change. “We put into place a very victim-centered approach in the state of Michigan.”
“We've had 11 people who've been charged by our human trafficking unit. We've made it tougher on the creeps by having this be a felony instead of a misdemeanor for the johns, and then the traffickers, we've increased the forfeiture laws on these folks.”
But legislation alone isn't enough, said Carr, who asks an important question: When someone is trafficked and comes in contact with law enforcement, who determines whether that person is a victim?
Victims of trafficking, Carr said, are “usually viewed as prostitutes or people who should be deported.” That's what needs to change, advocates of survivors say.
“If we're just going to keep treating people who are sold for sex as prostitutes," Carr said, "it really doesn't matter what the law says.”
Labor trafficking is often underemphasized in discussions of human trafficking. "We all live a life that benefits from their exploitative labor,” Carr explained. There's a high cost to the low prices we pay for consumer goods.
“The pain and the suffering of labor trafficking is also something that is severe and significant,” Schuette adds, noting that his office has handled some labor trafficking cases. “We try to work with law enforcement groups to help them discern and spot and recognize … labor trafficking as well.”
State Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, stresses that understanding the true nature and scope of human trafficking is key. “It's just building that awareness … it's a very slow process,” Emmons said. "Any time you're talking about a very uncomfortable subject, it just takes time to help people understand the significance and where it may be found in this state.”
Take the time to inform yourself about this problem and get involved.
Follow Mike Thompson on Twitter and Facebook.
To report a potential case of trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Center at 1-888-3737-888.
• The FBI's Parent's Guide to Keeping Children Safe Online
• Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, a 90-member agencies committed to identifying and rescuing victims of trafficking and prosecuting offenders.
• Protected Innocence Challenge, which grades each state's anti-sex trafficking laws. See Michigan's grade for 2015, and compare Michigan's laws to combat sex trafficking to those in other states.
• University of Michigan Human Trafficking Clinic, a clinical law program solely dedicated to the issue of human trafficking.
• Alternatives for Girls, which focuses on helping homeless and high-risk girls and young women avoid violence and exploitation.
• The Polaris Project, which focuses on helping trafficking survivors rebuild their lives.
• The Michigan Abolitionist Project,a grassroots organization that increases awareness through training, projects and community engagement. Check the organization's calendar for community group meetings in your area.
• Women at Risk, International, which "unites and educates women to create circles of protection and hope around at-risk women and children" in Michigan and around the globe.