40 years of helping abuse victims
Women and Children's Horizons marks anniversary
by Janine Anderson
In 1976, victims of domestic violence in Kenosha didn't have anywhere to go.
There was no shelter, no service organization. And the problem — if it was considered a problem — was seen as something private, only affecting the couple.
Through her job as a clinical social worker, Joanne Rattan began to meet women living in violent homes and hear their stories.
“It began to annoy me,” she said.
The timing was right to do something about it, she said. She joined together with a small group of women — including Lou Retka and Ann Bergle — who had also seen the impact domestic violence could have on people and families.
The first five years, only women served on the board, Rattan said.
“We decided we ladies would do it,” she said. “We wanted to prove things. This was a women's kind of problem.”
Their first task was to “raise the consciousness of the problem,” Rattan said.
“It was not only the community, but we had to get social services, police, fire, the Sheriff's Department, the courts, the United Fund, the Department of Social Security,” she said.
They established a phone line, and posted fliers with tear-off tags around town. The fliers said “LOVE SHOULDN'T HURT” and had a wheel showing abusive behaviors and telling people help was available. Below were the tags with the number for Women's Horizons Inc., the first name for the organization now known as Women and Children's Horizons.
The 24-hour crisis hotline went live on Sept. 13, 1976, and within the first 24 hours, volunteers had answered five calls. The first shelter opened in March 1978, and by August, had housed 115 women and children.
Marking 40 years
For 40 years, WCH has helped the victims of domestic abuse, and over the years, has expanded its service areas. It offers support groups, programs for perpetrators, a center that works with child witnesses and victims and services for victims of sexual assault.
“It's a starting-over process,” said Beverly Sorensen, WCH's underserved population coordinator. “They come traumatized.”
Executive Director Beth Ballo said they look at what life is like for the women who come seeking help.
“We're going to where they are at, looking at what brought you here, rather than us determining their need,” she said. “Until we get to the root of the problem, they'll return to that situation or one similar to it.”
Unlike when WCH first started, there's an understanding now that this is a community problem, and that it's one that comes with costs to the whole community.
“Domestic violence impacts the community in so many different ways,” Ballo said. “It inhibits someone from being a productive citizen if they're abused. They need a place to heal.”
No matter what that healing looks like, that's the kind of space WCH tries to provide.
If someone comes for help and wants to leave, WCH will help them do that, said Erin Davis, program development manager for WCH. If someone wants to stay in a relationship, the organization helps them make a safety plan.
“There's a lot of misconceptions about what domestic violence and sexual assault look like and who it happens to,” Davis said. “(Victims and survivors) can struggle in schools or the workforce.”
Working with police
Kenosha Police Chief John Morrissey said WCH is an important part of the community's efforts to serve the population affected by domestic violence.
“They're one of the worst calls we can go on,” Morrissey said. “We're potentially taking the breadwinner out of the house. Some victims are very reluctant to go and follow through with restraining orders or charges, and we frequently will see a repeat offender.”
Staff from WCH offer training for officers, and he said the two organizations regularly communicate.
“It's certainly my opinion and all the cops that it's a significant issue,” he said. “The number of calls are significant.
“The city just wouldn't be at the level we are without Women and Children's Horizons. That's just a fact, that the organization provides so much support and help to the victims.”
Women and Children's Horizons provides many services for people affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse. These are some of the programs they offer:
People who need help or simply someone to talk with about domestic violence or sexual abuse can call 262-652-9900 anytime, any day, and reach an advocate.
Women and children who need somewhere to go after leaving an abusive relationship can find a safe place to heal and regroup at the shelter. Hundreds of people take advantage of the program every year while they plan for their next step.
Transitional Living Program:
This program guides households toward self-sufficiency by helping them transition into independent living. The program serves homeless singles and families, as well as victims of domestic abuse. Participants are in the program between six months and two years.
Children who have witnessed or experienced violence can participate in a number of groups to learn about safety plans, self-esteem and healthy behaviors.
Legal advocates help victims through the court process. They are not attorneys, but can offer support, accompany people to court, and help fill out and file important documents.
Sexual assault services:
Support groups for victims and survivors, for non-offending caregivers, and adult victims of childhood abuse. Also a 24-hour crisis line, and 24-hour advocate response to hospitals and law enforcement agencies.
Services for underserved populations:
WCH offers specialized services for older people, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community, recognizing that the services they need if they have or are experiencing sexual or domestic abuse may be different.
Batterer's intervention programs:
This 26-week program helps men and women learn the skills needed to have healthy relationships with their partners. They offer one group for women and three for men, including one in Spanish. Some volunteer to participate while others take part because they are required by the court or Department of Corrections.
Some highlights from Women and Children's Horizons' first 40 years:
Sept. 13, 1976
— A 24-hour crisis hotline opens to gauge the need for domestic violence services in the Kenosha area. The phone center received five calls in the first day.
March 1, 1978
— The Women's Horizons shelter for battered women opens. By August, it had housed 115 women and children.
— Women's Horizons, Kenoshans Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Project begin working together. Women's Horizons handles the sex assault and domestic violence hotline.
— A new shelter opens in June of that year, on 18th Avenue.
— Transitional Living Program begins, case managed through WCH and the Shalom Center.
— Women's Horizons changes its name to WoMen and Children's Horizon. The uppercase M is later dropped.
— First batterer's treatment program begins, called Circle of Change.
— Pathways of Courage, formed after a merger with KASA and DVP, integrates with WCH, giving the community one place to go for domestic and sexual abuse services.
— WCH opens a new, larger shelter.
— WCH opens the Nifty Thrifty Resale Shop. The shop is currently at 4200 39th Ave.
— WCH and UW-Parkside receive a three-year Aurora Better Together grant to provide sexual assault education and services for students attending Parkside, Carthage College and Gateway Technical College.
West Plains-based program seeks volunteer child advocates; training starts Monday
by KY3 News
WEST PLAINS, Mo. - - The 37th Judicial CASA Program has been given the green light to train up to 65 additional advocates for abused and neglected children in foster care. A free training session is Monday at their West Plains home base.
Each Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, acts as a trusted adult showing unwavering kindness to a foster child who has survived abuse and neglect. In a system where foster children can be moved many times a year, children become reluctant to get close to adult family figures.
Studies spearheaded by the National CASA Association have shown that a CASA's monthly visit, paired with other simple volunteer services, can change a child's willingness to accept an adoption or reunification with family members.
Last December, officials from the 37th Judicial Circuit and Missouri Department of Social Services asked for more CASAs to serve in more than 100 abuse and neglect juvenile cases. The board, staff and volunteers of 37th Judicial CASA spent the rest of the month soliciting community support.
Their efforts resulted in more than $8,000 of public backing, providing labor and supplies for an updated curriculum. The board hired Kathleen Wolf, LCSW, to train and support the 37th Judicial CASA volunteer advocacy team. Wolf has treated trauma survivors as a therapist in the Ozarks for over 30 years.
Now 37th Judicial CASA needs volunteers over age 21 to take the free 6-week training. New CASAs will be sworn in as officers of the 37th Judicial Circuit Court in mid-April, and will take on only one case for their first year of service. CASAs will be assigned a child from Howell, Shannon, Oregon or Carter county.
Because of the shortage of foster homes in the south-central Missouri Ozarks, many CASAs have wanted to become foster parents but can't for personal reasons. CASA service gives them a way to still make a significant difference for a foster child.
"When you've already got a full house, but you want to help foster kids rise above, the few hours a week aren't too much to give," said Maggie Fielder of West Plains, who has been a CASA for several years.
National CASA Association requires at least 30 hours of classroom training and independent study before active volunteer service.
"We used to offer 10 weeks totaling 30 hours, but thanks to the new training arrangements, National CASA is letting us offer just 6 weekly classes and home study time," said Wolf.
Training starts at the West Plains Court Square on Monday, February 29, at 5:30 p.m. For more information, go to www.37thCASA.net or call (417) 255-2100.
5 signs your child is being sexually abused
by Lisa Kamau
When you're 4-years old and your father tells you he will kill you, you believe him.
When a parent who is supposed to be the protector turns into a perpetrator, children feel they have no one else to turn to, and take the abuse and terror without telling anyone, including close family members.
That is what happened to seven children in a sleepy village in Kiambu in August last year.
The father had been defiling his sons and daughters, all seven of them, when the mother was away at work.
He threatened that should they breathe a word to anyone, including their teachers, he would kill them, their siblings and their mother.
They believed him and kept mum. For three years, their father violated them, stole their innocence and terrified them, right under their mother's nose, and she had no idea!
When the mother found out, she was beside herself with grief. Her children's lives were ruined, she said.
She recounted that her husband never allowed her to bathe the children; he always did it himself.
Experts will tell you that abuse is all about control. The abuser will target the victim that is easiest to control. It also takes time; an abuser will first groom the victim before the real act of abuse begins.
A recent case in the UK has brought to the fore a series of child abuse incidents that took place over a period of 10 years in Rotherham between 1987 and 2003.
In the case, a woman groomed underage girls who at the time lived in an orphanage by acting like a mother to them. After she had gained their trust, she handed them to men who molested them and sometimes used them as sex slaves.
The question remains: how can a parent tell that their child is being molested at home or outside? Below are five telltale signs that a child is being abused.
1 - S/he has difficulty in walking and sitting
Watch out for any changes in walking style or any difficulty sitting. This means the child's privates have been hurt and he/she may have been defiled.
2 - The child runs away from home
If a child does not like going home, a teacher should find out why.
For instance, towards the end of the day the child may get anxious or afraid, sometimes to the point of refusing to go home.
In such a case, it would be prudent for authorities to investigate or take the child to a medical facility to be tested.
3 - The child avoids a specific person for no clear reason
Sudden changes in behavior when it comes to interactions are telling.
If a child avoids a certain uncle or visitor, be on the look out.
Speaking to the child and asking questions could also help unearth the truth behind the change.
4 - The child contracts an STD or gets pregnant
This is an obvious sign. Questioning the child on who is responsible and explaining to them what is happening is very important. Reporting the matter to police and taking the child to hospital should be the next course of action.
5 - The child shows signs of knowledge of sex and sexual content which is inappropriate to his/her age
Sexual education is the responsibility of parents, that way a child will have basic knowledge of sex that is appropriate in his/her age. When you notice a child has almost adult understanding of sex that was not taught to him/her by the parent or teachers in school, it's a sure sign that the child is being abused or exposed to abuse.
Most importantly, parents should create a relationship of trust and openness with their children to make sure they feel comfortable telling them anything, including talking about instances of abuse.
For young children, it is important for parents to take time every once in a while to give them a bath so that they can get an opportunity to notice if anything is unusual.
As a parent you are the first line of protection when it comes to your children, don't fail them.
Louisiana judge strikes down reporting requirement for child abuse from clergy members
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Louisiana judge has struck down a state requirement that clergy members report suspected child abuse even if they learn about it during a private confessional.
State District Judge Mike Caldwell ruled Friday that a Louisiana Children's Code provision violates the religious freedom rights of a Roman Catholic priest accused of neglecting his duty to report a teenager's abuse allegations to authorities.
The Advocate reports that Caldwell ruled in the Rev. Jeff Bayhi's favor in a lawsuit involving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge.
Rebecca Mayeaux, the 22-year-old plaintiff, says she was 14 in 2008 when she told Bayhi during confession that a 64-year-old parishioner was sexually abusing her. Mayeaux claims Bayhi told her to "sweep it under the floor and get rid of it."
State sues over nonreport of child abuse
by Harry Themal
Elders of Jehovah's Witnesses do not have the same privileged communications exemption as religious advisers in a sacramental confession if the confession does not involve a penitent.
The potential landmark “first impression” ruling, reported by Delaware Law Weekly, was made recently by Superior Court Judge Mary Miller Johnston in refusing to throw out a case filed by the state against the Laurel Congregation of the Witnesses.
The state said the elders should have reported a case child abuse between a juvenile and an adult member of the congregation.
The elders met with the juvenile, her mother and an adult member who confirmed the relationship after the boy reported the matter to his mother. They then excommunicated the juvenile and the adult involved. The state sought civil penalties but the Jehovah's Witnesses said they were exempt from reporting under the Delaware law of “clergy/penitent privilege.”
That law is similar to the attorney/client privilege but the judge ruled that the conversations were not a “sacramental confession.” The defendants said the congregation members were “seeking spiritual advice and counsel from us as elders in a private setting.”
Judge Johnston also held that the privilege exemption itself is, if narrowly interpreted, unconstitutional because the terms “priest, penitent” [and] sacramental confession” give preference to one religion. She also said it could be read to apply to all religions.
The case will now go through further legal hearings but the General Assembly should consider clarifying the language of the existing law.
Victims put Cardinal George Pell on notice before royal commission into child abuse in Rome
by Charles Miranda
STANDING outside the Vatican as storms clouds overhead were moments from erupting, Chrissie Foster has just six words for Cardinal George Pell as he today faces his accusers — “be a man, tell the truth”.
After a year of debate, weeks of planning and a lifetime of heartache for some, Cardinal Pell will take the stand at the royal commission into institutionalised sexual child abuse in a specially convened sitting in a hotel room in Rome.
Here he will be grilled, at the ungodly hours set at his request of 10pm to 2am local time, each night for an expected four nights on what he knew of the abuse by several priests under his watch as head of the church firstly in Melbourne then Australia.
His much-anticipated appearance before the commission today has become an international sensation with more than 60 media from across the globe registering to attend, notably from media outlets that have exposed their own sordid abuse scandals in their Catholic churches notably in Boston, Dublin, London and New York.
It could have been a nonplussed affair held in Ballarat but instead the cardinal's inability to travel abroad due to poor health forced today's inquiry to the Italian capital and a scene tantamount to a Roman Circus with police deployed to throw the venue into lockdown and protect attending senior church figures, security guards tasked with body and bag searches and room sweeps, and doors sealed.
But for people like Chrissie and her husband Anthony — whose daughters were abused by paedophile priest Kevin O'Donnell — and the 20 other survivors of abuse and or their supporters, the scene matters less than the result.
“I think this is wonderful because it's completely turned around from what it was going to be — George Pell in a room in the Vatican on his own to a public room with witnesses and the world media,” she said yesterday.
“This is helping the work of the royal commission on a world stage, it's been such a Godsend for the victims of Australia.
“We've been working toward this for 20 years and we are so grateful and happy to expose what went on in the Catholic Church to children which shouldn't have happened in the first place and we want to stop it happening in the future.”
Clutching an Italian copy of her book ‘Cosi in Terra' she wrote documenting the damage on her family from a priest preying and abusing two of her daughters, one of whom had since committed suicide, she said now knowing what was happening behind her back was greatly upsetting.
With her voice trembling and eyes welling she said her one message to Cardinal Pell on the eve of his evidence was: “Tell the truth, tell the truth, be honest, be a man and do what you should have done a long time ago.”
Fifteen survivors of clergy abuse and half a dozen supporters have arrived in Rome.
Leading the group off the plane was David Ridsdale, abused by his uncle priest and family friend of Cardinal Pell, Father Gerald Ridsdale.
He said the long flight over from Australia, the first to Europe for many, was emotional but now gratifying.
“We all came to make sure the royal commission process was as open and transparent as it has been in Australia,” the de facto spokesman for those abused by the clergy in Ballarat said.
He said it was not a big issue to face-off now with Cardinal Pell given all the other evidence heard by the commission over the past nine months.
He described the arrival in the home of the Catholic Church as “excited anticipation”.
“It's not going to be a holiday but we'll make sure there are good times as well because one thing we've learnt as a group is you have to laugh ... It's been an extraordinary past nine months (of commission hearings).”
Andrew Collins, abused as a boy by four men in schools and churches, said he was feeling good and a lot of the tension and stress on leaving had dissipated.
“It's going to be hard, growing up Catholic and walking about here and seeing these sites and we'll be in awe then we'll see all the collars and crucifixes and we'll be triggered,” he said.
“We'll see the highs and lows and that's before we even see Cardinal Pell, so it's going to be emotionally draining as well.”
In the Verdi Room of the Quirinale Hotel, 168 chairs were laid out for those who have registered to attend.
Cardinal George Pell missed delivering his usual Sunday mass at the magnificent Domus Australia in Rome last night, but he was very much in the thoughts of the small congregation and clearly front of mind among senior clergy.
Cardinal Pell's sister Margaret said he was resting for the day ahead of the late night inquiry.
“He is resting today, preparing, he is very aware, he's praying,” she said, as she left her brother's home near the Vatican to attend Mass.
She blamed the media for his troubles of recent times.
“It's not the (royal) commission, it's the press,” she said of her brother's woes.
The Very Reverend Terence Bell twice mentioned Pell by name during his delivery of Sunday mass at the Domus.
Reverend Bell said in his opening address that he prayed for Cardinal Pell before alluding to the battering the church has received in light of the clergy sexual abuse: “We pray especially for Cardinal Pell, and in particular the future of the Church. The truth will set us free, we must look forward not back.”
But only five people were at the Domus Mass to hear and give the prayers for Cardinal Pell.
Outside the church, several coloured ribbons had been tied to the window grates, but it was unknown if this was in support of Loud Fence, the support group that has encouraged ribbons on church property to acknowledge the victims of child sexual abuse.
Cardinal Pell's sister returned to her brothers residence just outside of the Vatican and said Cardinal Pell was resting. Pell remained inside the house for the afternoon as heavy rain blanketed the Italian city.
Reforming child welfare
Child welfare agencies can, and often do, make things worse for families and their children. Turning that around isn't easy, but it is possible, and it should be a priority in the state of Michigan.
Models of reform, some of them close to home, offer a better way forward.
In his investigative report last week, journalist Justin Hinkley tells readers about one of those of models, the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. The center's working premise is to provide free legal and social work to keep kids safely in their homes and out of foster care. And it works.
Since the center opened in 2009, it has avoided placing children in foster care in nearly 90 percent of its cases. Although foster care remains a vital tool in the state's efforts to protect children, the fact is that foster care is an imperfect solution, often exposing children to even greater emotional harm.
Vivek Sankaran, director of the Child Advocacy Law Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, likens foster care to chemotherapy for cancer patients — a treatment that is necessary for grave cases, but one that carries with is serious side effects.
Similarly, separating kids from birth families causes long-term emotional side effects, putting many on a track to failure that has astronomical costs for them and society.
And yet in Michigan and across the nation, far more money is spent on what's called the “back end” — after the family has been broken apart — than on the front end, when agencies can offer services to prevent or treat problems. Federal funding for back-end services after children have been removed from their homes is more than 10 times the funding for front-end services — about $6.9 billion vs. $650 million in 2014.
Many experts and scholars argue that so severe a funding disparity actually gives states an incentive to remove children from their homes. Michigan Department of Health & Human Services say only about 5 percent of nearly 84,000 cases that Child Protective Services investigated in fiscal 2014 ended up in court, and but a fraction of those cases included petitions to terminate parental rights.
Yet ample evidence of systemic bias exist.
Among the findings in Hinkley's investigation:
CPS workers assigned to help parents in their attempts to keep their children also can testify against the parents in court. This creates a disadvantage for parents and affects the ways in which they interact with their caseworkers.
Publicly appointed attorneys typically spend very little time with their clients (parents) before their court hearings. In fact, some meet their clients for the first time at the first court appearance.
Judges can issue life-altering decisions based on far less evidence than is required in criminal court.
Some parents have deep-seated issues such as addiction that can't be addressed in short-term improvement plans used to determine long-term custody outcomes.
In some ways, the bias is understandable. Child welfare systems are extremely sensitive to media coverage, as evidenced by the public outcry after every high-profile child-abuse fatality. Nobody wants to be the one to have missed the warning signs that should have prompted intervention that might have saved a child's life.
Yet for each of those high-profile cases of horrific abuse untold numbers of families and children are chewed up by a system that is ill-equipped to provide the services and intervention that could keep families whole and, in the process, give children hope for a better future.
Providing public dollars for those services would be far more cost-effective for Michigan and other states than current standard practices, and it would save lives. Both should be reason enough to reform a system that clearly is failing our state's children.
Brooklyn rabbi charged with teen sex assault gets 60 days in jail; DA ripped for offering light plea deal
by Reuven Blau - NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
A Brooklyn rabbi charged with sexually abusing four teenage boys in a hotel was sentenced to just 60 days in jail and six years of probation.
Yoel Malik, 33, a member of the Satmar Hasidic sect, was given the generous plea deal after the victims were extremely reluctant to testify publicly, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the case.
In 2013, Malik was charged with 28 criminal counts and shamelessly blamed his underage victims for trying to seduce him, police sources said.
The boys were all students at Ohr Hameir, a now-shuttered Satmar yeshiva in Borough Park. The alleged victims were between 13 and 16 when the incidents occurred.
The rabbi was accused of groping all four boys in motels, prosecutors said after his arrest.
The twisted teacher also allegedly forced two of the boys to perform oral sex on him.
One of the victims was also forced to perform oral sex on Malik inside his car parked near a cemetery on a separate occasion, according to prosecutors.
In 2014, he pleaded guilty to a felony, luring a child, and a misdemeanor count of sexual misconduct, records show.
Over the past two years, he completed a series of probation requirements, including a sex offender class and staying away from children, court records show.
As part of the deal, the felony was dismissed upon completion of probation supervision. On Tuesday, he was sent to Rikers Island for 60 days for the misdemeanor offense.
Advocates for child sex-abuse victims questioned the deal. “What DA (Kenneth) Thompson has done is inexplicable,” said Ben Hirsch, a spokesman for Survivors for Justice. “Through unexplained plea deals such as this, he has effectively quashed any willingness on the part of victims to come forward.”
Malik’s lawyer, Roger Adler, said sarcastically: “I will concede he wasn’t burnt at the stake. He wasn’t stoned running through the village.”
It’s a “significant” punishment when any first-time offender gets sentenced to jail, he added.
A Word About Language
by Peter Pollard
We've thought a lot about language at 1in6. I used to be a newspaper reporter, so I'm always conscious that what words I choose, how I speak, and how the words are interpreted or understood can all determine how the reader or listener takes in the meaning of the information.
When we're talking about violence, language can have a huge effect on whether a person hearing about a given situation feels safe or threatened by the description.
Sometimes, we are asked why many words, which are commonly used by others in discussions about sexual abuse, are rarely, if ever found on the 1in6 website or in our materials—words like “predator,” “perp,” “perpetrator,” “pervert,” “abuser,” “molester,” “sex offender,” “rapist,” and “victim” among them. (We even use “survivor” sparingly.)
Getting in touch with anger and loss can be a valuable part of healing. And using any of these words (and others) about those involved, and experiencing the emotions and the images they evoke, are valid, useful, perhaps sometimes even necessary steps, for a man in the process of understanding his feelings and the dynamics of his abuse.
Anger is the one emotion that social norms for males encourage men to express. But I know that men actually have a much richer emotional life. Men—including men who've experienced abuse—can also feel sadness, and fear, and betrayal, and shame and hope and tenderness, and love and lots of other emotions.
I've found that once men in their healing process move beyond coming to terms with anger, holding onto defining words like “abuser,” “sex offender,” “perpetrator,” and “victim,” runs the risk of forever locking the people who were involved in the abusive interaction into set roles. Always thinking of the person who abused you in that role can also keep them seeming larger than life—and you smaller. With healing comes the realization that in the present, you needn't continue to relate to them as an all-powerful adult (or older child); or yourself, forever as a powerless child.
For me, one of the most liberating aspects of healing from childhood sexual abuse was learning that the traumatic experience was something that happened to me, not an identity, not who I am. And so, with that in mind, we've chosen to focus on experiences, behaviors, and actions and to avoid using words that suggest an unchangeable identity for anyone involved.
The underlying goal for all of 1in6's work is to help create an environment where men can safely speak about their unwanted or abusive childhood sexual experiences – in an effort to heal. One of the great benefits of the 1in6 website is that people can explore their childhood experiences at their own pace, alone, and anonymously. The 1in6 Online SupportLine provides a resource for immediate support if a visitor becomes swamped or overwhelmed by their feelings or memories.
You'll notice that in our literature and on our website, we use the term “unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood” rather than just “sexual abuse.” We think it's especially important when working with men to create a space where a man doesn't have to define what happened to him as “abuse” or see himself as a “victim” in order to start exploring what impact a confusing experience had on his life. Each of us has the right to define our own understanding of what occurred.
And, we know that a man might still have a complex and sometimes close family or community relationship with the person who harmed him. That's another reason we consciously strive to avoid the demonizing (and therefore possibly confusing) imagery that using terms like “predator,” “perpetrator,” “molester,” “sex offender,” and “abuser” about those who sexually abuse children may stir—especially when reaching out to men who may not have that view. Talking about someone's abusive or harmful behavior toward you may feel even more possible if it doesn't have to involve automatically placing them in one of those categories.
And we also know that as much as 40 percent of sexual abuse of children is committed by older or more powerful children—often in reaction to, or as a coerced part, of the older child's abuse experience. Imposing a demonizing identity on a man for behaviors that he, as a child, may have felt were not within his control just adds further damage to the man's ability to heal.
“Person first” language can be a good way of honoring the range of those feelings (i.e. “…the friend of my family/my cousin, who sexually abused me; “……the babysitter who assaulted me,“ or just “….the man/woman who abused me.”) Using real descriptions of who they were in relation to you and what they did actually highlights the betrayal of that relationship which the abuse caused. It also may become more possible to discuss actions that hurt you with someone who you may still care about.
Peter Pollard is the Professional Relations & Communications Director for 1in6, Inc. Peter previously worked for 15 years as a state, child-protection social worker and was the Public Education director at Stop It Now! Since 2003, he has served as the Western Massachusetts coordinator for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and also does work for a Certified Batterers Intervention Program. See Peter's portrait in The Bristlecone Project exhibit.
Stopping Child Abuse: Paid Family Leave Reduced The Number Of Child Abuse Cases In California
by Justin Caba
In 2004, California introduced its Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, which allows for up to six weeks of paid leave for the birth of a newborn or to take care of a sick family member in a 12-month period. Despite there being proven benefits to having paid family leave, a number of other states have not followed suit. A recent study published in the journal Injury Prevention aimed to compare to the impact of the PFL program in California to states that have not enacted any parental leave laws.
Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gathered data on the number of children hospitalized from deliberately inflicted head injuries between 1995 and 2011 in California. They compared this data to that from seven other states without any paid leave policies: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.
Admission rates for abusive head injuries dropped significantly among children under the age of 2 following the PFL enactment. When researchers incorporated influential factors, like unemployment rates and low education levels, the PFL program led to a drop of 5.1 admissions per 100,000 children under the age of 1. The policy also led to a 2.8 per 100,000 drop in admissions among children under 2.
States without a similar policy saw no significant drops in hospital admissions among children due to abusive head injuries, although these rates did increase at times. Between 2007 and 2009, the height of the “Great Recession,” admission rates remained stable in California while rates in the other seven states increased. The research team is confident results would be more pronounced if “at risk” parents were more aware of such policies, were able to afford it, or took advantage of the full 12 weeks (six weeks per parent).
According to the CDC research team, abusive head trauma is a leading cause of fatal child abuse in the United States and most prevalent among infants between 9 and 20 weeks old. The CDC estimated that over one in 10 children have experienced some form childhood maltreatment in the past year and over 1,400 American children died as a result of abuse and neglect in 2013. Strengthening the bond of the parent-child relationship by spending time together is the best way to prevent child abuse.
While presidential candidates debate paid family leave during this spirited election season, some magnanimous CEOs have already independently launched programs within their companies. Richard Branson and his team at Virgin Management, for example, implemented a year-long parental leave policy for both female and male employees in April 2015. Netflix enacted a similar policy shortly after, and even Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would be taking two months of paternity leave following the birth of his daughter — even though his employees get a full four months that they can choose to take at any time throughout the year.
DCYF: Speak up if you suspect child abuse
by Shaun Towne
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A Pawtucket man is facing disturbing charges that he physically abused his infant son, causing serious injuries.
In court Wednesday, prosecutors said Richard Lord admitted to throwing his baby nine feet into a table and “indicated he may have squeezed the child's stomach area while he was frustrated.”
The 6-week-old boy is permanently disfigured and disabled, according to court documents.
After hearing about the incident, Lord's downstairs neighbor said he wished he knew something was wrong so he could've helped.
Erin Marsella, an investigator with the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), couldn't speak to Lord's case specifically, but said there are signs to look for outside of injuries.
“Either they become more withdrawn, isolated,” she explained. “Or just the opposite – start acting out, seeking negative attention.”
Marsella said her team investigates tips on a daily basis.
“Sometimes it's a friend of a child who is so concerned about their friend,” she said. “They tell their teacher or tell their parents about their friend.”
Marsella said she believes there are a lot of people out there who have suspicions but don't act on them, adding that it's those types of tips that can save a child's life.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, the DCYF encourages you to contact them through their 24/7 hotline at 1 (800) 742-4453.
Lord's bail was set at $50,000 with surety and he was ordered to stay away from the child.
Shippensburg police seek man wanted for child abuse
SHIPPENSBURG - Police are seeking the public's help to find a man wanted for the alleged child abuse of a toddler in August.
Christopher Clinton Skaggs, 27, is wanted on a warrant issued by Magisterial District Judge Anthony H. Adams on Dec. 28 for a charge of aggravated assault. Shippensburg Police Detective Eric Varner said in an email that police publicized the case at that time but are taking it to the public again because a previous attempt was unsuccessful.
Shippensburg Police said the department began investigating on Aug. 10, and learned that a 16-month-old child was allegedly abused by Skaggs and had physical marks as a result of the abuse.
Skaggs is described as a white male, 6 feet tall and weighing 145 pounds. He has blue eyes and brown hair.
Anyone with information should contact Shippensburg Police at 717-532-7361. Tips can also be submitted on the department's website, cumberland.crimewatchpa.com/shippensburgpd.
Extraordinary Ordinaries: Bikers Against Child Abuse
by Walter Allen
TARPON SPRINGS (FOX 13) - It's not hard to mistake a biker. They usually are dressed in leather from head to toe.
With the fighting, brawling and law-breaking by some, a lot of bikers are believed to be bad.
"You can tell there is an intimidation factor because they look at bikers in a different way. They've been raised to believe that bikers are all bad. We get comments; we get dirty looks; we've watched people walk out when we walk in." Loony told FOX 13 News.
Loony is the Bay Bridges chapter president of B.A.C.A., Bikers Against Child Abuse. Their mission is to empower children to not live in fear.
"They should be able to grow up like every other normal child and enjoy life and do the things that kids do,” said Loony. “[They should] not have to worry about having to testify, not worry about going to court, worrying about ‘is this person going to hurt me again'. It's sad that we have to exist, but that's why we exist."
Typically, FOX 13 News doesn't just refer to a person by one name, but a nickname is all we have to go on in this case. That's because in the B.A.C.A. family, all they have are nicknames, so as to avoid being subpoenaed.
Typically in a case against an abuser, the defense attorney subpoenas everyone in the child's life, and then when the child has to testify in court, they're are all alone.
But when they're in the B.A.C.A. family, things are different. They cannot subpoena a name like "Loony" or "Heels" or any other nickname, and therefore they can be there with the child during court proceedings, rather than having to testify. 1
That is only a fraction of what B.A.C.A. does, empowering and allowing the child to trust adults again and to feel safe.
Child abuse, deaths in Manatee County alarming
Four. Not a big number, but big when it comes to children. Four deaths last year from child abuse. Four. The dreadful year set a record as the worst in 15 years.
The horrific story of Janiya Thomas illustrates all too graphically how adults lose control of their emotions. There's no other explanation for placing an 11-year-old with a medical condition into a freezer dead allegedly by a mother now accused of this crime.
Across the country child abuse and neglect accounted for 1,520 deaths in fiscal 2013, according to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, a federal agency that collects data on this issue. That's actually a decrease by 12.7 percent from 2009 to 2013. But the agency admits some maltreatment deaths do not get reported to state child protection services. Most disturbing is the fact that the youngest children -- younger than 3 years -- account for almost three quarters of all child fatalities nationwide.
Manatee County Sheriff's Office Major Connie Shingledecker addressed this issue at this month's Manatee County League of Women Voters panel discussion on "Helping Children at Risk." While last year was a particularly violent year, there have been eight confirmed child abuse deaths in the past 15 years. In six of those cases, men killed the children of the mothers they were dating.
And five were males who suffered head injuries, an important factor for social service workers and law enforcement, Shingledecker told the record crowd at the league event.
Nationally, the Child Abuse and Neglect Data System links child maltreatment to financial instability and other poverty issues, namely parental participation in public assistance programs. Almost a quarter of states reported that 25.8 percent of child fatalities were tied to caregivers on public assistance.
The disturbing fate of Janiya Thomas put the issue of child abuse front and center into the public consciousness here.
The disappearance and death of the 11-year-old gripped this community since her body was found in October locked in a freezer placed by her mother, Keishanna Thomas, at a relative's home on the pretext she was being evicted.
The state of Florida should be a case study in deficiencies, which came to glaring light here in Manatee County in Janiya's case. Janiya vanished more than a year ago after the Department of Children and Families quit supervising her chronically troubled mother, who had been the subject of 10 child abuse hotline calls and a dozen Child Protection Services investigations since 2003.
As we opined days after Janiya's body was discovered, the years-long involvement of caseworkers and investigators indicated systemic failures in the child protection system. A DCF report confirms that point by detailing the mistakes.
In Janiya's case, the blame is widespread -- from DCF child abuse hotline operators to agency lawyers who insisted the agency quit supervising Thomas to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office's child protection investigators and Sarasota Family YMCA case managers who concurred with DCF.
Even after Florida adopted a broad child-welfare reform law in early 2014 -- including the requirement that child-protective investigators focus on risks to children instead of relying on promises from parents -- the system needs more work, as Janiya's case clearly points out, as we opined in November.
State statistics show the imperative need for more child protection. Florida tied with California with the second most reported child fatalities in 2013 -- at 121, the latest figures from the federal agency show. Texas led the nation with 150. More than 3 million children are abused across the nation annually, government statistics show.
Vulnerable children need community support. Law enforcement, the courts, the state and various social service agencies -- and Manatee County taxpayers via the Children's Services Tax -- serve this purpose. Family, friends, teachers and everyone else should be alert to signs of child abuse -- and report their suspicions.
Everyday citizens can help, too, and they did in droves when the call went out for volunteers to serve as Guardians ad Litem -- being the voice for children in crisis removed from their homes for safety's sake.
A record 821 children suffered that fate last year, almost twice the 412 in 2014, mostly because of our heroin epidemic. Dozens and dozens of applied to be GALS, as the guardians are known. Kudos to one and all.
Child abuse and neglect is an insidious defect that deserves our utmost attention. Education, parenting and anger management classes are available, if only those who need them would join.
They need community pressure to be better, caring people.
Five Myths About Fighting Child Sexual Abuse Material
by Christian Berg
The 2015 NetClean report revealed that the numbers of crimes involving child sexual abuse material (CSA) are increasing, the violence is becoming more severe and the victims are getting younger. Despite these alarming numbers, the public, and in many cases also business owners and decision-makers, remain unaware of the full extent of the problem within the workplace or their communities.
It was to fight this evil that NetClean was formed in 2003 with the aim of making use of the latest technical inventions to stop the spread of CSA. However, despite being in operation for more than a decade there still exists misunderstandings about the technologies available to do so.
We debunk 5 myths about fighting CSA material:
Myth: There are no available technologies to block CSA material
It is a common misconception that technologies that can track and block CSA material does not exist, for example in this recent campaign https://www.stopchildporno-filter.be. It is immensely important that the public report any material that they come across, but it is not the sole solution.
Fact: There are advanced technologies available, designed to selectively identify and block CSA content to secure the corporate network. At NetClean, we have been cooperating with law enforcement and business leaders to develop the ProActive solution that tracks and blocks images that law enforcement has identified as CSA material.
Myth: Regular web filters are enough to block CSA content
Fact: You cannot rely on a web filter alone which only blocks URLs. CSA offenders are fully aware of the need to keep moving content around different websites in order to evade being blocked by filters and found by law enforcement. Most of the material is also shared through other methods, such as the Darknet, anonymisation techniques, peer to peer, etcetera. Therefore, the only effective way to stop the spread of CSA content is to track and block the image itself as soon as it is downloaded onto a network or opened on a computer.
Myth: Our networks are secure and will block and detect CSA content
Fact: CSA content does not typically infiltrate the workplace directly through the network. Instead, portable USB devices and mobile storage means that offenders typically bring illegal images or videos into the workplace on external devices. Therefore the actual work devices need to be secured, not just the networks.
Myth: 'Child pornography' is correct terminology
Fact: Child sexual abuse images and videos are not pornography, they are documentation of actual sexual abuse crime against children, and should be referred to as such. The term 'child pornography' only serves to 'normalise' the material's existence and create confusion. As an example, some people even mistake the term 'child pornography' for children that watch pornography.
Myth: Installing technology to block CSA runs the risk of also blocking legal content
Fact: NetClean technologies only track and block CSA material. It is for this reason that our solutions are employed by millions of users including multinational organisations, government agencies, police authorities and Internet providers looking to protect their network and digital content. The technology is designed in collaboration with law enforcement agencies around the world, and uses digital fingerprints to classify and track each and every image or video file containing CSA evidence.
It is only through education and awareness that we will be able to highlight the sheer scale of the problem that is child sexual abuse. We need to work together, if we are to make a difference.
Monterey Co. CPS improves policies after child murder case
by Madison Wade
REDDING, Calif. -- A state investigation probe into the Monterey County Child Protective Services agency has concluded after two children, known to CPS, were found dead in a Redding storage unit in December.
A report released by the agency details their history with accused child murderer Tami Huntsman, who has been contacted by CPS in the past, a total of 53 times in places all across southern and central California.
The report details multiple allegations of emotional and physical abuse and neglect, not just of the two children who were murdered, but of other children as well.
Several times during the report, the abuse was ruled substantiated by CPS agents, which also included allegations of neglect on one of the children found dead, 6-year-old Shaun Tara. The abuse was dated in 2010 and 2011.
CPS agents visited Huntsman's apartment in Salinas multiple times in 2015, the same year the children were killed.
The last known time CPS agents saw Shaun Tara and his 3-year-old sister Delylah Tara was August 14, 2015.
Someone called CPS to report Huntsman's apartment was infested with cockroaches and Delylah was zip-tied to the bed.
CPS noted in their report, they saw cockroaches on the walls and both children were covered with flea bites. According to the agent, Shaun had multiple black and blue bruises and scratches on his head. Shaun told the agent he had fallen asleep on his toy and believed that is where the bruises came from.
Agents also noted Shaun looked like he had lost weight, but he told agents he was happy and safe with Aunt Tami [Huntsman].
At the time of the report, agents learned the children were being home-schooled by Huntsman so they told her she needed to get them back into school.
After agents left the apartment, they tried 12 times to reconnect with Huntsman and check on the children, but they were unsuccessful in their attempts.
The case was then closed with this message from the agent that states, "Final recommendation is to close this referral with no further action at this time. Should this family come to the attention of the department again, it is highly recommended the children be interview privately."
The next referral came December 13, 2015, when someone reported the children missing. By that time, the children had already been discovered dead in Redding and Huntsman along with her boyfriend 18-year-old Gonzalo Curiel were in jail on murder charges.
The state reviewed the CPS practices after the children were found dead. One major flaw they found was it took too long to respond several times in other similar cases.
The Director of Monterey County Department of Social Services, Elliot Robinson, said he asked the state to come down and work with their department on their findings. Robinson said their department has already started to implement the state's recommendations.
"I was pleased that the state recognized the department's history of successfully serving children and assuring the well being of youth when they enter foster care. I was also comforted that their observations confirmed our own and that helped us to know we are making the right changes to strengthen our system," Robinson shared Thursday.
When asked whether his agency failed the children in this case, as family members on both sides have suggested, Robinson bristled and called the question hyperbole.
Robinson stated, "Ms. Huntsman failed these children."
Robinson explained their department is working on three main goals to strengthen their system.
Their focus is to strengthen their screening system for calls that come into their hotline, change their practice to not rely solely on law enforcement assessments of referrals and to use a warrant system to interview children when caretakers refuse to give agents access.
Parents outgunned in child welfare cases
Programs in Fetroit and Flint Keep More Families Together for a Fraction of What the Statae Spends on Foster Care
by Justin A. Hinkley
LANSING – When he was 15, Lamar McGaughy lost his mother to drugs. He lost his siblings to Michigan's foster care system.
Split up after their mother's death, McGaughy and his siblings barely know each other today.
The 38-year-old Detroit barber was afraid the same would happen to his son and daughter after their mother got into trouble with Michigan's Children's Protective Services. The court wouldn't place his kids with him because he lacked legal custody over them, though he'd always been a part of their lives.
He had reason to be afraid. For most parents fighting CPS in court, "the system is really designed for them to lose,” said Liisa Speaker, a Lansing attorney who represents parents at the Michigan Court of Appeals. Michigan is caring for the nation's 12th-highest rate of kids awaiting adoption because judges terminated their parents' rights to them.
McGaughy got no help from the state agency legally required to do all it can to keep families together, because the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services doesn't deal with custody paperwork. He got no help from the publicly funded defense that state law guarantees him. His court-appointed lawyer showed up the first day of his case and never showed up again.
Parent advocates say Michigan erects a wall between kids and their families because DHHS is the only agency helping parents overcome their struggles and at the same time is their courtroom opponent, logging those struggles as possible evidence against them. In child welfare cases, judges can issue lifelong penalties based on far less evidence than is required in criminal court. Most parents' only defense is an overworked, underpaid court-appointed attorney.
Yet there are signs of a better way.
McGaughy's family was saved by the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, a small agency that prevents foster care in nearly 90% of its cases by offering parents targeted legal help and social work that costs a fraction of what taxpayers spend on foster care.
DHHS officials welcome such work, but said the state already keeps most families together. Only about 5% of the nearly 84,000 cases CPS investigated in fiscal 2014 ended up in court. Petitions to permanently terminate parental rights were filed in only a fraction of those cases.
“Our job is not to go after parents and hold them accountable and make them pay for what they did,” said Colin Parks, the state's CPS manager and a former investigator. “Our job is to keep children safe.”
‘A frightening amount of power'
Parents can lose their kids forever based on far less than the proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” it takes to send someone to prison. Parents often lose their kids without criminal charges. CPS cases happen in civil court.
Take the case of Cary Flagg, a Mecosta County father who lost his four girls over allegations of sexual abuse. He was never charged with a crime.
“I viewed it as a death sentence,” he said of losing his daughters.
Flagg says prosecutors didn't have the proof needed to file charges. The Mecosta County prosecutor's office refused to comment.
Proving a criminal case can take time, said John Murray, the chief Ingham County prosecutor in charge of CPS cases, and kids shouldn't be stuck with their abusers while the state gathers evidence.
Judges initially give CPS permission to remove kids from their homes if the agency has “probable cause,” the same amount of evidence a police officer needs to search someone's car during a traffic stop.
After that is a hearing to determine if the state has proven the family's problems meet the standards for the court to take control over the children and order DHHS to provide services to the family. At this hearing, the state must prove its case by a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning most of the evidence suggests the allegations against parents are true.
That hearing is the only time parents are entitled to a jury. Most parents waive that right and plead guilty, often advised by their attorneys to do so because court jurisdiction makes them eligible for services.
But the fight is often over then, because “once the court has jurisdiction, it has a frightening amount of power over these families,” said Tracy Green, DCFA legal director and a former DHHS foster care worker.
The majority of petitions to terminate parental rights — granted by judges alone if the prosecution gives them “a firm belief or conviction” that the allegations are true — are filed because parents fail to comply or benefit from the services DHHS provides. It's like getting probation after a trial and then having a judge sentence you to death for a probation violation, Green said.
And parents are asked to quickly turnaround their problems, even generational issues.
“I think it's most egregious in cases that involve substance abuse,” said Shannon Urbon, managing director of the DCFA. “You're expecting someone with a substance abuse problem to be able to get clean, stay clean, find housing and employment in 15 months or less, and also relapse and get back on track within 15 months. That's impossible. Substance abuse is a lifelong challenge.”
Green said the real problem is that DHHS and the courts are too afraid of litigation. Since 2008, a federal court has monitored DHHS in a lawsuit filed over the deaths of three foster children.
“Nobody wants to have their name on the front page of the paper,” Green said, “which is really an unconstitutional approach to these cases.”
‘Makes lawyers nervous'
CPS has its horror stories. In Ingham County in 2010, for example, was the man who became legal guardian of a 14-year-old girl and impregnated her when she was 15.
Parents tell horror stories, too: Antonia Hernandez' six kids, for example, were put in foster care for three weeks last year because CPS determined their campground in Otsego County was unsafe. Thing is, the family had a home in Ecorse and could've just returned there on day one. Nobody gave them the chance.
About 30% of CPS cases involve physical or sexual abuse. The remainder only allege neglect, such as dirty houses, improper supervision or failure to properly care for kids' physical or emotional well-being. Poverty, mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence are common themes.
Parent advocates said those cases fall into shades of gray, ripe for a zealous defense attorney to sway a judge or jury. Lawyers could bring in experts to question CPS' judgment or push hard for more robust services.
Michigan does little to incentivize such advocacy. It's certainly not the pay.
In Eaton County, for example, lawyers are paid $40 an hour to represent parents at the Court of Appeals, a fraction of what they can make on the divorce and custody cases they handle in private practice, and their pay is capped at $800 per case.
At the trial court, lawyers often argue in front of the very judge who hired them, and that “makes lawyers nervous about how they present their case,” said Jim Fisher, a retired Barry County judge who chairs the new Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. “Will the judge continue to appoint them if they are too aggressive?”
Seven Michigan counties have a public defender office independent of the courts. Few of them represent parents in CPS cases.
Because there are no statewide standards for these attorneys, “most places find it difficult to evaluate the adequacy of the services that are being provided,” Fisher said.
The Legislature has promised to help counties meet new standards developed by Fisher's commission, but that work is statutorily limited to criminal cases.
The result: A 2009 report from the American Bar Association, the only statewide assessment, described parents' attorneys who rarely meet clients before their first court appearance, rarely perform research or advocacy outside of the courtroom, and are so overburdened with cases they invest little time in any of them.
Invoices from court-appointed lawyers working in Greater Lansing show they billed for little time outside of court and almost never sought expenses for independent assessments such as psychological evaluations. Judges hear only from experts paid by DHHS.
Flagg, the Mecosta County dad, was hurt in court when he failed a CPS polygraph and by damaging testimony from a CPS-paid psychologist. His court-appointed attorney, Kim Booher, never asked for independent experts. Now a judge, Booher declined to comment for this story.
Later in his trial, Flagg's family mortgaged his grandmother's house and hired an attorney. The first thing the new lawyer did was commission another polygraph, which Flagg passed, and get the opinion of an independent psychologist who questioned the DHHS professionals' work.
Ultimately, the judge believed DHHS's experts, but Flagg wonders what might have happened if he'd had those reports earlier, in front of a jury.
‘That sense of responsibility'
Attorneys, for their part, said they're often stymied by the parents themselves: Letters to clients are returned to sender, phone calls go unanswered, and mom or dad are absent from court.
“That's what really bothers me, is when you have a child that has already been taken away from you, and you don't have that sense of responsibility,” said William Metros, a Bath lawyer who's represented both parents and kids for 20 years.
Judges said they can — and have — removed attorneys for failing to adequately represent their clients. Ingham County Judge George Economy said he appoints only the most experienced lawyers on CPS cases, so “there aren't any newbies coming in.”
Neil O'Brien, the prosecutor in charge of CPS cases in Eaton County, said parents' trials have more checks and balances than criminal cases because everyone argues for the best outcomes for kids. The defense, prosecution, kids' attorneys and the judge are all pushing for the same goal, so "nothing gets lost in the process."
Yet he does more homework than his opposing counsel. O'Brien sometimes makes attorneys available at the DHHS office just to answer general questions from caseworkers, for example, while records show defense attorneys rarely speak to clients one-on-one outside of court, and then typically on the phone.
Judges granted terminations on nearly two-thirds of the parent-child relationships the agency wanted severed in 2014. Only six of the 109 appeals from Ingham, Eaton and
Clinton counties between 2010 and 2014 were sent back to the circuit court for reconsideration. None of those parents had their parental rights restored by the appellate court.
“I've just seen so many cases where (termination) could have been avoided if they had bothered to try,” said Speaker, the appellate attorney.
‘This is an answer'
Tiffany Stachiw is trying.
Like the DCFA in Detroit, Stachiw is providing Genesee County parents targeted social work beyond what the state can or will offer. She's part of a pilot program that has essentially doubled the reunification rate there.
Stachiw recalled a young mother who was skipping supervised visits with her child, hurting her case in court. The mom told Stachiw she didn't know how to properly make a bottle or put a diaper on her baby, and she knew DHHS was logging every failure.
Stachiw went to the mother's home and taught her how to do it.
The mom started going to her visits.
“The way the system is set up, it makes it hard for the (state) worker or the parent to succeed,” said Judge Kay Behm, the Genesee County judge overseeing the pilot program. “This is an answer to the systemic problem.”
Behm said Stachiw “frees up my attorneys to be attorneys.” At DCFA, staff attorneys help parents with “collateral legal issues” that make judges hesitant to place kids with their relatives. They may file personal protection orders against abusive spouses, take legal action against slumlords, or deal with outstanding arrest warrants.
The programs in Detroit and Flint work. And they're cheap.
Nearly seven in 10 of Stachiw's cases ended in reunification, for example, compared to 32% of cases without her help. Her cases closed faster. And, based on the number of kids in foster care and what the Legislature set aside just for foster care payments, keeping 18 kids with their parents could cover Stachiw's $260,000 five-year budget.
Michigan isn't investing in this kind of work. The Detroit operation is funded through a mix of private foundation dollars and a unique match from Wayne County Child Care Fund dollars. The Flint pilot was funded in its first year by the federally backed Court Improvement Program and in subsequent years by the Casey Family Foundation.
Behm's grant is about to expire. She wants to ask her county board for the money to keep Stachiw on. The board is wrapped up in the Flint water crisis, so the judge is pessimistic.
Which is sad, the judge said, because of the difference Stachiw can make for families.
McGaughy, the Detroit barber, got to keep his kids. His daughter, 12, is “a cool little character,” he said. His 11-year-old son is struggling in school, but coming along. They even visit their mother.
Because of DCFA's help, he'll get to raise them how he was brought up: in the church, food on the table every night, knowing the importance of family.
“I ain't gonna let them just grow up,” McGaughy said. “I'm gonna teach them everything I know.”
For more information
Michigan Department of Health & Human Services: michigan.gov/mdhhs
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children & Families: acf.hhs.gov
Suspect abuse or neglect? Call 855-444-3911
Complaint about an attorney? Contact the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission at agcmi.org or 313-961-6585
Complaint about Children's Protective Services? Contact the Michigan Children's Ombudsman at michigan.gov/oco
Doctors claim legalising some genital mutilation may help girls
Should any kind of female genital mutilation be legal?
Two US-based gynaecologists are arguing that legalising less severe forms of the surgery could protect girls from more extreme operations, but most ethicists and medics are against the proposal.
Worldwide, around 3 million girls every year are subjected to genital mutilation, mostly in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The practice can range in severity from nicking genitals to removing the clitoris and labia then stitching up most of the vagina.
Such operations are now illegal in the UK and US, but Kavita Shah Arora and Allan Jacobs, gynaecologists based in Ohio and New York, say such laws might leave girls more vulnerable to harm by pushing the practice underground. They argue that so far, attempts to clamp down on FGM have not succeeded in wiping it out, and can be viewed as racist or culturally insensitive.
Instead, Arora and Jacobs suggest doctors should promote and perform only operations that they think will not affect women's ability to have children or long-term sexual satisfaction, such as small cuts or removing parts of the clitoral hood or labia. This, they say, is “a compromise that respects culture and religion but provides necessary protections against child abuse”.
Their proposal is controversial. “From a human rights and health care perspective, it's a hard pill to swallow,” says Nawal Nour, director of the African Women's Health Center at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. “No data has ever come out to suggest that this approach would work – you can't say that if a girl has a nick now, she won't undergo more severe surgery five or six years down the line.”
It is also possible that more minimal procedures might not be accepted by the communities that preserve the practice, while it is difficult to predict their long-term effects. Arora and Jacobs are assuming that smaller nicks will heal completely.
But less severe surgeries can still have a strong psychological impact. “In my experience, the amount of tissue removed does not necessarily correlate with the amount of psychological damage,” says Nour. “You can't say that nicking a girl won't cause her any harm.”
There are dangers to changing existing laws, says Brian Earp, a visiting scholar at the Hastings Center in Garrison, New York. “It would require that the laws regarding physical assault on a minor be rewritten,” writes Earp in a commentary article. He adds that women can currently use the law as a reason to object to surgery, and that laws act as important symbols for what is acceptable in society, regardless of issues of cultural sensitivity.
Some cultural practices don't deserve respect, says Ruth Macklin, a biomedical ethicist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “Female genital alteration has its origin and purpose in controlling women,” Macklin writes in another comment article. “A cultural tradition designed to control women – even in its least harmful form – is best abandoned.”
Earlier this month, the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics reaffirmed its zero-tolerance stance towards female genital mutilation, calling it a violation of human rights that should be completely eliminated.
Journal of Medical Ethics , DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2014-102375
The Statue of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Victims in Civil Court Could Extend
A change in the statue of limitations for child sexual abuse victims to file a civil suit against a suspect in a Tennessee courtroom is on the horizon. State Representative Dr. Bryan Terry of Murfreesboro commented....
The bill as proposed by Representative Daren Jernigan, extends the statue of limitations for civil actions against the accused child rapist or person who committed sexual crimes against a child.
In civil litigation, the victim of a child sexual attack can file suit against the suspect for illnesses or injuries related to the abuse, even though the abuse occurred when the victim was a child and did not come forward with the allegations until adulthood. The bill will extend the statute of limitations by three years from the date of discovery.
Currently, victims of child sexual abuse only have one year to file a civil claim after the discovery of the reported crime. One in ten children are victims of sexual abuse by the time they turn 18 in Tennessee, according to the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford and Cannon Counties.
The Civil Justice Committee will review the proposed bill on Tuesday (2/23/2016).
HB 2593 / SB2484 states:
Statutes of Limitations and Repose - As introduced, extends the statute of limitations for civil actions based on injury or illness resulting from child sexual abuse that occurred when the person was a minor but was not discovered until after the person became an adult to three years from the discovery of the abuse. - Amends TCA Title 28, Chapter 3, Part 1.
TN voters, contact your elected state reps and ask them to support HB 2593 / SB2484
Irish Court ‘clears way' for out of time abuse claims
Court finds for middle aged abuse survivor who was too dissolute to apply by the deadline
by Bernard Purcell
Ireland's Court of Appeal last week potentially cleared the way for thousands of people in this country who attended the country's notorious industrial schools but missed the deadline for compensation from the Residential Institutions Redress Board.
Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, on behalf of the three-judge Appeal Court, quashed a High Court decision agreeing with the Redress Board that a 58-year old man had applied too late under the compensation scheme. His claim can now be reconsidered.
Tony Kelly, who started life in St Teresa's mother and baby home in Blackrock, and has campaigned for justice for the many people mistreated in all such homes, told his story to the Irish World in 2014.
Tony had searched for information on his parents for years, finding out all about them just too late after both were dead and buried.
He welcomed last week's ruling and told the Irish World: “This is a very important decision by Mr. Justice Hogan and the other Judges who sat with him in The Supreme Court.
“It now paves the way for an untold amount of men and women who were in these homes and schools like myself and suffered abuse to go forward now and make their rightful claim for compensation for the wrongs done to them.
“As we know an awful lot of these men and women emigrated to the UK and elsewhere and sadly some never returned to Ireland.
“Many of them are like the man who took this legal challenge and cannot read or write and were unaware of time constraints.
“Of course the Redress Board did not except those facts as exceptional circumstances,” he said.
“What I would like to see now is for this judgment to be published and highlighted so that all men and women in the UK and elsewhere who spent time in these so called homes and industrial schools and suffered abuse can be made aware that they can now make an application for compensation”.
The Redress Board had originally refused to extend time for him to apply because he had not established “exceptional circumstances” as required by the 2002 law, which set up the redress system.
The man claimed he had not applied in time because he was illiterate and drank heavily between 2002 and 2005.
He had been aware from TV and radio reports of various institutional child abuse scandals but had assumed they were exclusively associated with sexual abuse and the clergy.
He had lived as a boy in St Kieran's Industrial School where he says he suffered the abuse and only became aware of his possible entitlement when his girlfriend saw an advertisement from a local solicitor in September 2011, which was just before the cut-off date for applications to the Redress board.
Mr Justice Hogan said at the heart of the man's claim was the refusal to extend time was based on the wrong premise of an interpretation of the words “exceptional circumstances”, as contained in Section 8(2) of the 2002 Residential Institutions Redress Board Act.
Mr Justice Hogan said a recent Supreme Court decision found the power to extend time should be given “a wide and liberal interpretation.”
A person seeking a time extension need only demonstrate the existence of exceptional circumstances in its plainest terms, he said.
Top Catholic Church clergy could face child neglect charges
Victoria Police are investigating senior Catholic Church figures, with the idea of charging them with child neglect or endangerment.
by Tessa Akerman - Reporter Melbourne
The Australian can reveal that Task Force Sano detectives have been examining charging church figures with failing to protect children when they were facing potential danger.
Former Victorian crown prosecutor and chief magistrate Nick Papas QC said he would prosecute a case against church officials for endangering a child provided the legal threshold was met.
Several senior clergy in Victoria knew that pedophile priests were operating, but failed to report the crimes to police, the sex abuse royal commission has been told, with many victims, perpetrators and church officials now dead.
Details of the investigation emerged as George Pell announced he had written to the Victoria's Acting Police Minister formally requesting an inquiry into the “maliciously timed” leaking of details of a police investigation into allegations against him.
Mr Papas, one of Australia's most experienced prosecutors, said people needed to face the courts if police uncovered a proper basis for taking action. “As a private barrister who both defends and prosecutes, my personal opinion is if the evidence is there and there's no other factors that prevent the matter being prosecuted properly and fairly, then you should prosecute them,” he said.
Neil Wileman, 55, was abused by former Christian Brother Ted Dowlan at St Patrick's College in Ballarat more than 40 years ago.
He told the royal commission he reported the physical abuse to the college in 1973 but was punished for complaining and the abuse continued, both physical and sexual. “They had a duty of care for those underage children,'' he said. “They did nothing and they allowed them to be raped.”
The child sex abuse royal commission has heard evidence that officials in the Ballarat diocese knew of pedophile priests but failed to report the offenders to the police. At the time, failing to report knowledge of child sexual crimes was not an offence, however misprision of a felony — or concealment of a felony by someone other than a participant — was a common law offence until 1981 and conduct endangering people became an offence in 1985.
Detectives have been reviewing evidence of when victims of abuse made complaints to church officials.
The royal commission has received evidence former bishop of Ballarat Ronald Mulkearns moved one of Australia's worst pedophile priests, Gerald Ridsdale, between parishes when complaints were made. Ridsdale, who had possibly hundreds of victims, was moved to the western Victorian parish of Horsham to serve as assistant priest in 1986.
The royal commission also heard evidence Ridsdale committed further offences in Horsham.
Cardinal George Pell served as auxiliary bishop in the Melbourne archdiocese from 1987 until 1996, when he was appointed archbishop. Pedophile priest Peter Searson served in the archdiocese and many complaints were made about his conduct, which included holding a knife to a schoolgirl's chest. Searson is dead.
Archbishop Denis Hart told the royal commission there was a failure in the handling of complaints and he would have expected Cardinal Pell to have an “adequate degree of knowledge” about the situation. “Whether he knew all these awful things, which make me feel ashamed, I'm not sure,” he said.
Mr Papas said there was an imperative to ensure the truth was told. “Sexual abuse in the context of breach of trust, especially in the environment such as priest and parishioner and child, can't simply be swept under the carpet,” he said . “If there's a proper basis to bring criminal proceedings, no matter when they occurred, they need to be brought. Ultimately, the prosecution of all serious sexual offences is in the interest of the community, but always subject to competing factors.”
He said the factors included the length of time since the matters occurred, ability to obtain evidence and fairness to all parties.
Cardinal Pell yesterday announced he had written to the Victorian Acting Police Minister formally requesting an inquiry into the “maliciously timed” leaking of details of a police investigation into allegations against him.
Victoria Police confirmed that Cardinal Pell's complaint had been referred to the state's peak anti-corruption body for investigation. “Victoria Police takes this allegation seriously and accordingly we have referred the matter to IBAC,'' a spokeswoman said.
Time limit on suing for damages following child sex abuse removed by New South Wales Parliament
Child sexual abuse survivors will be able to make civil claims regardless of the date of an alleged incident under legislation being introduced into New South Wales Parliament today.
by Sarah Gerathy
The Government flagged last year that it was considering removing the time limit on suing for damages as part of its response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
"There should be no use-by date for justice for survivors of child abuse," Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said.
"This change will remove a significant barrier in the way of that justice."
Under existing laws, victims of child sexual abuse in NSW typically have had between three and 12 years to pursue compensation in a civil court before the statute of limitations can be used to block their claims.
National redress scheme still needed, survivors groups say
Groups representing survivors of institutional abuse have welcomed the move but said it was long overdue.
Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) spokeswoman Leonie Sheedy said the Government needed to ensure there was adequate support for people who wanted to make claims.
"It costs a lot of money to deal with lawyers and we are not like the middle classes, we have lived very marginalised lives, we've got limited education," she said.
She said all governments needed to work together to quickly set up a full national redress scheme, as it was difficult for survivors to pursue civil claims.
"A lot of survivors haven't got the emotional energy to take a civil case to the courts, they don't have the financial means and they don't have the emotional energy to do that ... they want justice through a national redress scheme," she said.
Ms Upton said discussions were continuing with the Commonwealth and other State and Territories about a redress scheme that could accept applications from survivors by no later than July 2017, as recommended by the royal commission.
She said the State Government believed a single national redress scheme for survivors was the best way to ensure consistent, accessible justice for survivors regardless of where the abuse occurred.
Ms Upton said the State Government would also take further steps this year to address the royal commission's other recommendations on redress and civil litigation.
"We know there is more to do, and the NSW Government will release a consultation paper in the coming months in relation to the royal commission's other civil litigation recommendations," Ms Upton said.
Rotherham holds sex abuse trial for three men and two woman
by Dave Higgins
Three men and two women have been convicted of a range of offences involving the sexual exploitation of teenage girls in Rotherham.
Brothers Arshid and Basharat Hussain were found guilty of multiple rapes and indecent assaults of teenagers in the South Yorkshire town at Sheffield Crown Court today.
Karen MacGregor, 58, and Shelley Davies, 40, were convicted of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.
But brothers Majid Bostan, 37 and Sajid Bostan, 38, were cleared of all charges.
A third Hussein brother, Bannaras, 36, had admitted 10 charges including rape, indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at the beginning of the trial.
Today's verdicts following a two-month trial, during which the court heard how teenage girls were repeatedly raped, beaten, passed between abusers and used as prostitutes.
One girl was locked in a house for weeks as she was forced to have sex with a succession of Asian men in the town, jurors heard.
Another girl, aged 12, was forced to perform sex acts with a group of men in a car after she was picked up from a children's home, prosecutors said.
And one victim was allegedly called a 'white b**** and trash' after she was forced to perform a sex act.
The conviction of the Hussain brothers and their associates is the first successful prosecution of a grooming gang in Rotherham since the child sexual exploitation scandal engulfed the town 18 months ago.
Rotherham became a byword for the exploitation of teenage girls and the failure of police and social workers to stop it happening with the publication of the Jay Report in August 2014.
Professor Alexis Jay said she had found 'utterly appalling' examples of 'children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone'.
Prof Jay's report shocked the nation partly due to the scale of exploitation it described, finding that at least 1,400 children had been raped, trafficked and groomed in the town over a 16-year period.
But its impact was so far reaching because it also laid bare the extend to which police and council officials failed to act on what they knew, and explicitly questioned whether this neglect was related to the perpetrators largely being adult men of a Pakistani heritage.
Although the Jay Report resulted in the Rotherham exploitation becoming a national scandal, it was the previous major prosecution of a grooming gang in the town that kick-started this process.
In 2010, five men - Umar Razaq, Razwan Razaq, Zafran Ramzan, Adil Hussain, Mohsin Khan - were found guilty of a string of sex offences against girls aged between 12 and 16.
This case provoked some media attention but did not gain nationwide coverage.
But it was followed by a growing number of prosecutions of a similar nature around the UK, including in Derby, Oxford and Rochdale.
The Times reporter Andrew Norfolk exposed a pattern of mainly white teenage girls being groomed by gangs of adult men of a Pakistani heritage.
When Mr Norfolk began to disclose in detail the stories of girls who had been exploited in Rotherham, it started a chain of events that led to Rotherham Council asking Professor Jay to look into what was happening.
Waves of criticism followed, aimed mainly at Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police.
Resignations included the leader and chief executive of the council as well as its director of children's services.
The most high-profile casualty was South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, who was the councillor in charge of Rotherham's children's services between 2005 and 2010.
A further review of Rotherham Council by the Government's Troubled Families chief, Louise Casey, heaped more criticism on an authority she labelled as "not fit for purpose" and "in denial".
That led to the then communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles handing over its powers to a panel of appointed commissioners.
South Yorkshire Police says it now has a team of more than 60 officers working on child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Its joint operation with the council and Crown Prosecution Service - Operation Clover - has resulted in the current prosecution and others currently moving through the criminal justice system.
The National Crime Agency has also been brought in to investigate historical crimes and last year announced it was looking at 300 potential suspects.
The police and the NCA have said that successful prosecutions are the key to building trust with the survivors of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
But, also last year, David Greenwood, a lawyer who represents 58 women who were subjected to sexual abuse by gangs of men in Rotherham between 1996 and 2012, said he was aware of fewer than 100 victims who had come forward.
The charges in full
Arshid Hussain , 40, of High Street, East Cowick, Goole, denied one count of conspiracy to rape, 11 indecent assaults, five rapes, one other serious sexual assault, one count of procuring a girl under 21 to have unlawful sex with another, one count of false imprisonment, two counts of procuring a woman under 21 to become a common prostitute, one count of attempting to procure a girl under 21 to have unlawful sexual intercourse, two counts of abducting a 15-year-old girl, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two counts of aiding and abetting rape and one of aiding and abetting another serious sexual assault.
Qurban Ali , 53, of Clough Road, Masborough, Rotherham, denied one count each of indecent assault, rape, procuring a girl under 21 to have unlawful sexual intercourse with another and conspiracy to rape.
Majid Bostan , 37, of Broom, Rotherham, denied one indecent assault.
Sajid Bostan , 38, of Broom, Rotherham, denied three rapes, two counts of aiding and abetting rape, one indecent assault and one other serious sexual assault.
Basharat Hussain , 39, of no fixed abode, denied one rape, five indecent assaults, one count of procuring a girl under 21 to have unlawful sexual intercourse with another, false imprisonment, three counts of indecency with a child, one count of procuring a woman under 21 to become a common prostitute, two assaults occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of making threats to kill.
Karen MacGregor, 58, of Barnsley Road, Wath, South Yorkshire, and Rotherham, denied one count of conspiracy to procure a woman under 21 to become a common prostitute, false imprisonment and and two counts of conspiracy to rape.
Shelley Davies, 40, of Wainwright Road, Kimberworth Park, Rotherham, denied one count of conspiracy to procure a woman under 21 to become a common prostitute, false imprisonment and conspiracy to rape.
Students Accused of Cedar Shoals Rape Were Not Suspended
by Blake Aued
Three students who are accused of raping a classmate at Cedar Shoals High School on Jan. 7 were never suspended, Superintendent Phil Lanoue confirmed in an email to parents today.
"I know that there are still many questions around the incident at Cedar Shoals High School,” Lanoue wrote. “What I can share is that unfortunately, no student suspensions occurred. Disciplinary decisions are made at the school level. At the district level, we did not receive any follow-up through our police department. We did not effectively provide communication to our community. Due to breakdowns that transpired, we are working at the district level to increase checks and balances.”
The school district will hold training sessions for principals on safety protocol and work to improve communication between the district and Athens-Clarke County police departments. In addition, CCSD Chief of Police Fred Stephens, Associate Superintendent of District Services Ted Gilbert and Executive Director of Student Support Services Ernest Hardaway will meet weekly.
Previously, Director of Public Relations Anisa Sullivan Jimenez has said the students were disciplined but did not give any details. Administrators have cited federal privacy laws in refusing to answer questions about any discipline that was meted out prior to the students' arrests Jan. 30 and Feb. 1.
Cedar Shoals Principal Tony Price is on administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation.
The school board met in closed session for an hour and a half Monday to discuss personnel matters but took no action.
Lanoue's full email is below.
The past few weeks have been very emotional and difficult for our community. I know it has been extremely challenging to be patient through this process, and I want you to know that your frustration is understood and shared. The safety of our children is and has remained my priority, and in order to keep that focus, the integrity of an ongoing investigation must be kept intact.
One of our district's beliefs is that “caring and trusting relationships among students and adults in schools are vital to encouraging and promoting meaningful learning.” We must remember that children are learning from us every moment. Exactly what they learn often depends on our reaction to difficult conversations and situations. Some of the ways we talk with each other and with children can have a definite impact on their views about conflict, sexual assault, victim blaming and healthy relationships.
Data from the Crimes Against Children Research Center shows that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. Self-report studies of adults show that 20% of adult females and up to 10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident. Clearly, the school and community conversations we have moving forward will have the greatest impact on our students, colleagues and many other individuals in our school and community.
Our counseling and support services departments are ready to provide support. If you notice signs of distress among your children, please seek out our school counselors to provide professional assistance.
I know that there are still many questions around the incident at Cedar Shoals High School. What I can share is that unfortunately, no student suspensions occurred. Disciplinary decisions are made at the school level. At the district level, we did not receive any follow-up through our police department. We did not effectively provide communication to our community. Due to breakdowns that transpired, we are working at the district level to increase checks and balances. Therefore, the following have occurred or are in process:
-We will hold a work session/training for all principals regarding safety protocol, including reporting and communication
-Our Chief of Police has communicated with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department to streamline communications
-Weekly standing meetings have been scheduled between the Associate Superintendent of District Services, CCSD Chief of Police and Executive Director of Student Support Services
-Community partners such as The Cottage and Project Safe continue to be available to our school community to help facilitate conversations around education, prevention and intervention
It's time for us to all come together to move forward and work together to do what is right for all children. Thank you for your continued support of our district and community.
Pennridge OKs additional cameras on buses, policy for maintaining adult/student boundaries
by Bob Keeler
EAST ROCKHILL - - Additional cameras on school buses and a new policy setting guidelines to try to assure adults associated with the school district don't cross the boundary lines in interacting with students were both approved at the Feb. 22 Pennridge School Board meeting.
The new cameras will cost $67,386.74.
That's for 214 additional cameras, Sean Daubert, the district's business administrator, said following the meeting.
“We will now have at least one camera on every one of our vehicles that transports students,” Daubert said. “The bigger buses would have at least three cameras.”
At the Pennridge School Board Facilities Committee meeting earlier in the month, the board heard a report that several of the district buses do not currently have a camera and others do not have enough cameras to give a full view of the bus.
The new “Maintaining Professional Adult/Student Boundaries” policy, approved Feb. 22, “applies to district employees, volunteers, student teachers, and independent contractors and their employees who interact with students or are present on school grounds,” according to its introduction.
The term “adults” is used in the policy to describe all those roles.
“All adults shall be expected to maintain professional, moral and ethical relationships with district students that are conducive to an effective, safe learning environment. This policy addresses a range of behaviors that include not only obviously unlawful or improper interactions with students, but also precursor grooming and other boundary-blurring behaviors that can lead to more egregious misconduct,” the policy says.
“My understanding is the school district is one of the first in the commonwealth to pass such a policy,” Robert Cox, the school district's attorney, said.
A copy of the policy is available on the district website.
Under it, adults are prohibited from “dating, courting, or entering into or attempting to form a romantic or sexual relationship with any student enrolled in the district, regardless of the student's age.”
“Romantic flirtation, propositions, or sexual remarks”; “sexual slurs, leering, epithets, sexual or derogatory comments”; “personal comments about a student's body”; “sexual jokes, notes, stories, drawings, gestures or pictures”; and accepting or offering massages other than by an athletic trainer, coach or health care provider as injury care are some of the listed prohibited acts.
Other examples of “prohibited conduct that violates professional boundaries” include “disclosing personal, sexual, family, employment concerns or other private matters to one or more students,” exchanging communications of a personal nature with a student; inviting a student to the adult's home or going to the student's home without a legitimate educational reason; singling out a student or students “for personal attention or friendship beyond the ordinary professional adult-student relationship”; and sharing personal secrets with a student.
“Electronic communication with students shall be for legitimate educational reasons only,” according to the policy. Under it, all electronic communications from coaches and advisors must be sent to all participating team or club members, unless the communication is about an individual student's medical or academic privacy matters, in which case a copy must be sent to school principal.
The policy also bans adults from following current students on social media or accepting social media friend requests from the students.
The policy says it is not meant to interfere with personal relationships that exist between an adult and a student's family or with the adult's participation in civic, religious or other outside organizations that include district students.
There are exceptions to the rules for emergency situations or legitimate educational reasons, although the adult should be prepared to explain the situation and “must demonstrate that s/he has maintained an appropriate relationship with the student.”
Two residents at the Feb. 22 meeting said they were concerned about a change made from the initial wording in a section of the policy. It says any educator who knows of sexual misconduct shall immediately report it to the school superintendent and the educator's immediate supervisor, but dropped earlier wording saying the state must also be notified.
Cox, pointing to a section that says, “All district employees, independent contractors and volunteers who have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is the victim of child abuse, shall immediately report the suspected abuse, in accordance with applicable law, regulations and Board policy,” said the policy requires that both the state and superintendent be notified.
In another matter at the Feb. 22 meeting, both Superintendent Dr. Jacqueline Rattigan and board member Suzette Schmidt said an open house for the $23 million renovation and expansion project at Upper Bucks County Technical School will be held Thursday, March 3.
“It really is very impressive,” Schmidt said.
The open house will be 6 to 8 p.m., according to the UBCTS website.
The next Pennridge School Board meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, March 21. See the district website for committee meeting dates.
Alleged killer of Coloma Township 8-month-old has prior child abuse conviction
by Suzanne Spencer
Court documents show a Berrien County man, charged in the murder of 8-month-old Carter Donovan, had a history of child abuse.
Brandon Beshires, 30, was charged with murder and child abuse on Monday after police said he inflicted such an extreme amount of trauma on Donovan that it led to his death.
Beshires, according to court documents, was watching the child while his mother, Autumn Atchley, was at a doctor's appointment. After she returned to the car, they drove around Coloma before Atchley told police her son was “cold and not breathing.”
Since 2004, Beshires was charged with 15 felonies and 7 misdemeanors, according to court records. Some of those were dismissed.
In 2010, Beshires was charged with four counts of child abuse, all felonies.
He was sentenced to 365 days in prison on one of the counts. In court on Monday, an attorney said two children were removed from his care as a result of that case.
But Carter's family wished they knew that sooner.
“It's awful,” said Gina Lovelace, a family friend. “I don't see how somebody could do this to a baby. I don't get it.”
WSBT 22 filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for court documents pertaining to the first child abuse case. In that report, it said Beshires caused “serious abrasions and bruising” on several parts of a 3-month-old child in 2010.
‘He was in the bathroom for quite a long time'
When Dana Long got to work at a Coloma café on Friday, her first customer was Brandon Beshires, who walked in with a car seat. She and other patrons in the restaurant tried to calm the baby, who was crying, they said.
“We noticed [Beshires] was in the bathroom for quite a long time with the baby crying,” said Long. “Then he stopped crying, but he was still in the bathroom for awhile.”
Long said after almost 30 minutes, Beshires, who ordered a coffee, brushed past her carrying the car seat with a blanket covering the top of it.
“At that point, I didn't think anymore about it,” she said.
Gary Jewell owns the café where the alleged abuse occurred. He said surveillance video showed the suspect walking in and out of the restaurant.
“He went into the bathroom and…25-30 minutes he comes out, baby's feet dangling,” said Jewell. “We were not thinking much of it.”
It was during that time period, according to police, that Beshires was the only one left alone with Carter.
On Monday, Coloma Township Police told WSBT 22 the abuse happened inside the restaurant and was considered one-single incident.
It could have been minutes to hours after Carter obtained the injuries that he died, according to Chief Jason Roe.
‘It was an accident'
In court documents, Beshires listed his last address in Benton Harbor. When WSBT 22 knocked, a woman who identified herself as his grandmother answered.
“It was an accident,” she told our reporter. “I believe him.”
She told WSBT 22 that Beshires told her that the child fell from the changing table. She said he would have “never intentionally hurt a child.”
She chose not to speak on camera. When WSBT 22 was in the restaurant, our crew could not locate a changing table.
WSBT 22 reached out to the Berrien County Prosecutor's Office to see if more charges could be filed in this case, but we have not received a response.
Beshires is scheduled to appear in front of a judge in March. He's being held on a $1 million bond.
Cambridge teens charged with child abuse for hazing incident
by NICHOLAS BERGIN
Two Cambridge High School students have been charged with felony child abuse for a June 30 incident that allegedly involved a freshman being forced to eat doughnuts off the older boys' genitalia while others watched.
The Nebraska Attorney General's Office filed juvenile petitions against the two Cambridge High seniors on Feb. 9 in Adams County Court.
The incident is alleged to have happened during a summer wrestling camp at Hastings College. The Nebraska State Patrol investigated after the incident came to the attention of authorities and school officials in late August.
Cambridge Public Schools Superintendent Robert Gregory said the district is aware that charges have been filed and continues its work to educate students on hazing issues.
“We will continue to support the entire student body and of course the victims of this alleged crime," he said in an emailed statement Monday.
Adams County Attorney Donna Fegler Daiss declined to prosecute the incident as hazing, saying in October that Nebraska law says such incidents must involve post-secondary organizations, such as fraternities and sororities.
She said she wasn't charging them with sexual assault because it would be difficult to prove the teenagers performed the act for sexual gratification.
The incident prompted state Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango to introduce a bill (LB710) earlier this year that would broaden state hazing laws. Hughes has made the measure his priority bill, which means it likely will be debated this session.
Gregory said the students involved in the incident have been punished by the school district but would not elaborate.
One of the students who was criminally charged and his parents have filed a petition seeking to get his expulsion for this semester of school overturned and removed from his scholastic record. The appeal was filed on Dec. 29 in Furnas County District Court. Gregory declined to comment on the appeal.
A description of the incident included in the court documents says several members of the Cambridge wrestling team were in a dorm room at Hastings College on June 30. They had bought snacks earlier in the day, including doughnuts.
There was some discussion about “initiating,” and the atmosphere in the room led the freshmen to feel they had no choice, court documents say.
An attorney for one of the boys declined comment, as did the attorney general's office. An attorney for the other could not be reached.
Former youth academy director guilty of not reporting child abuse
by the Daily News
A Smiths Grove man and retired Kentucky National Guard colonel was found guilty in U.S. Magistrate Court of failing to report child abuse at the school where he served as director.
John Wayne Smith, 65, was convicted by a jury last week following a three-day trial. He was director of Bluegrass Challenge Academy on Fort Knox military base, where he was accused of failing to report to law enforcement or child protective services knowledge that one of his staff members at the academy, Stephen Miller, inappropriately touched multiple female students.
Miller is serving a 48-month prison sentence related to four separate incidents that took place at the academy, a quasi-military school for students at risk of not finishing high school.
The charges against Smith were brought while he was a candidate for the Kentucky House of Representatives seat held by Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Brownsville.
Smith, a Democrat, remained in the race and lost to Meredith in 2014.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky said Smith faces up to a year in prison. He will be sentenced May 19.
Chandler woman charged with child, animal abuse
by Sarah Anderson
A Chandler woman arrested about a year ago for hoarding multiple dogs in a feces-filled home was charged recently with two counts of child abuse and 26 counts of animal abuse, according to authorities.
Kathleen Tempel, 44, was charged in Maricopa County Superior Court on Feb. 17, said Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb.
Tempel was arrested nearly a year ago after a Chandler police officer discovered the living conditions of the home, near Dobson and Elliot roads, authorities said. Shortly before 1 a.m. on March 2, 2015, an officer was dispatched to Tempel's home in response to a complaint about barking dogs. As Tempel stepped outside her home, the officer detected a foul smell from the inside, according to the police report.
Tempel told the officer she could not hear the dogs barking because she was hearing-impaired and that the dogs were probably just excited because she had returned from Flagstaff with three more dogs, which could be seen in the back of her vehicle, according to the police report.
When the officer asked how many more dogs Tempel owned, she told the officer she had four in the house and four in the backyard. But when the officer looked in the backyard, he reported seeing nine dogs.
When Tempel could not sufficiently answer why she had lied about the number of dogs she had, the officer asked to look inside her house. Inside, he found 13 dogs in the front area of the house, according to the police report. One dog was bleeding from the face, and another small dog was severely malnourished, with its ribs and shoulder bones showing through the skin, the report said.
There were also two boys inside on a damaged, dirty couch with some of the dogs, the report said.
According to the report, feces — some fresh and some dried — covered the floor of the house, from the kitchen to the bathroom. In addition, the hallway, kitchen and front of the home showed signs of urine and blood, and some of the feces were covered in a white substance thought to be mold.
When shown one of the boys' bedrooms, the officer noted in the report that the floor of that room was also covered in feces and the room had a broken wooden bed frame with no mattress. The master bedroom lacked a bed frame or mattress and contained another feces-covered floor and two large dog cages, one of which held a large brown dog, the report said.
Through speaking with the boys, the officer learned that they had not had beds since December 2014 and that they would instead sleep on the couch with their mother. The officer also found out that Tempel did not feed them every night. One son felt it was not OK to live in the house as it was, but the other felt it was normal, the report said.
Tempel told the officer she was a volunteer for the animal rescue group Crazy Pit Bull Lady, which the officer confirmed by phone with someone from the organization. Tempel told the officer she felt it was acceptable to have 26 dogs; one of the sons told the officer he sometimes felt in danger from the dogs, the report said.
Tempel was arrested that day on charges of child abuse. Her sons were temporarily left in the care of Tempel's adult daughter, police said.
Police achieve training standard in child sexual abuse
by Monica Vendituoli
The Fayetteville Police Department's Special Victim's Unit has achieved "Partner in Prevention," a nationally-recognized public standard to end child sexual abuse, a Fayetteville police news release said.
The designation was awarded because 90 percent of the staff and volunteers have been trained on how to prevent, recognize the signs and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through the Child Advocacy Center in Fayetteville, the news release said.
"We're proud to have earned this distinction, our detectives investigated over one hundred sexual abuse cases last year. These dedicated detectives have volunteered to work these types of cases, which are at times heart wrenching, to be the voices of the children who have no voice," Police chief Harold Medlock said.
Study Evaluates Childhood Sexual Abuse Treatment
by Zawn Villines
Child abuse campaigns often highlight the importance of arresting perpetrators or detecting the signs of abuse. Research into effective treatments for survivors is scarce. Using data from the United Kingdom's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (NSPCC) to Children, a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol and Durham University is working to change. Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of “Letting the Future In” (LFI), a program designed by the NSPCC for social workers working with childhood sexual abuse survivors.
Statistics on the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse vary, and reliable numbers can be hard to find given the stigma associated with abuse. Children are often reluctant to disclose their abuse and may fear retaliation from their abusers, even in adulthood. The authors of the LFI study say 1 in 20 UK children have been sexually abused. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center points to research in the United States estimating 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused before their 18th birthdays.
Letting the Future In: Helping Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors
The team of researchers worked with 242 children ages 6-16 who had been sexually abused. Most experienced physical contact, rather than inappropriate sexual commentary or other forms of non-physical abuse. The children were almost twice as likely to have been abused by family members as non-family members. Forty percent of perpetrators known to the victim were younger than age 18.
Researchers randomly assigned children to either the LFI group or to a waitlist group. Nine children were ultimately removed from the waitlist group for various reasons.
Children on the waitlist saw no significant improvements in symptoms. Among children younger than 8 who participated in the LFI program, symptoms also did not improve within six months, but children who stayed in the program for a year saw a decrease in symptoms of trauma.
Children older than age 8 had more clinically significant improvements. At the six month mark:
Only 46% of children older than age 8 had severe emotional difficulties, compared to 73% at the beginning of the study.
The number of children experiencing severe symptoms of trauma dropped from 68% to 51%.
Social workers administering the program reported confidence in their role and felt the program added value to their work with children.
Participants reported greater confidence, reduced guilt and self-blame, improved mood, better sleep patterns, and a keener understanding of appropriate sexual boundaries.
Insights for Treating Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors
LFI is just one among many programs that can treat sexual abuse. Therapists may use a combination of structured programs and unstructured activities in their work with children. Because the LFI program proved effective, those who work with children may want to draw upon some of its principles. Those include:
Using creative therapies such as drawing, painting, and telling stories to help children talk about their abuse.
Involving the child's caregiver in individual sessions with the therapist as well as joint sessions with the child.
Helping children feel safe as they talk about and work through their abuse.
Area school district employee arrested on federal child pornography charge
Investigators seek public's help to identify possible unknown minor victims
PORTLAND, Ore. – Federal and local investigators are seeking the public's help to identify additional possible underage victims following Friday afternoon's arrest on a federal child pornography charge of a Portland-area school district employee who worked with special needs students.
James McGlothlin, 39, of Portland, is charged in a criminal complaint with one count of producing child pornography. He is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court Monday. The prosecution will be handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon.
Prior to his suspension Feb. 16, McGlothlin worked with a small number of developmentally disabled children as an adaptive physical education instructional assistant for the Oregon City School District. The school district, which placed McGlothlin on leave immediately after learning of the allegation, is cooperating fully with law enforcement.
Friday's arrest is the result of an ongoing investigation by the Interagency Child Exploitation Proactive Task Force (INTERCEPT), which includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the sheriff's departments of Clackamas and Multnomah counties; and the Oregon State Police. Additionally, the Digital Evidence Cybercrime Unit (DECU), made up of investigators from the Vancouver Police Department and the Clark County Sheriff's Office, has provided substantial assistance with the case.
McGlothlin's arrest came just two days after Task Force investigators executed a search warrant at his Portland home, seizing laptop computers and other items related to the ongoing investigation, including external hard drives, thumb drives, cell phones, and digital cameras. According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, a forensic examination of McGlothlin's computers revealed sexually explicit images and videos of infants, along with essays where the defendant allegedly discusses drugging and sexually abusing young children.
The investigation surrounding McGlothlin is continuing and authorities believe there may be unidentified minor victims. Members of the public who have information that may be relevant to the case are urged to contact the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office tip line at (503) 723-4949.
#TeenDVMonth: The Young Activists Taking Action Against Domestic Violence
by Erin McKelle
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, which was created to expand the cultural consciousness around violence in teen relationships, which is sadly all too common of a reality for many young people. In fact, one in three teens in the US will experience physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse from a dating partner before they turn 18.
This epidemic of violence is disproportionately high compared to other rates of youth violence, so why aren't we talking about it more? For one, many parents of teens may not even realize their children were in or are in abusive relationships, as 81% either don't think teen dating violence is an issue or don't know that it is. For another, there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the seriousness of abusive relationships for young people, as many assume that young people's relationships are nothing more than child's play and couldn't possibly yield the real-life consequences of adult relationships. Looking at effects for a moment, however, violent teen relationships make it much more likely that the victim will develop an eating disorder, engage in substance abuse, become involved in more abusive relationships, and commit suicide. Also, there's a lot of stigma that exists around abusive relationships, which causes many young people to live in silence.
Fortunately, there are young activists working to raise awareness and address the problem of teen dating violence head on. I think it's particularly powerful to see young people working to initiate change around this issue, as this is something that directly affects them.
Fortunately, there are young activists working to raise awareness and address the problem of teen dating violence head on. I think it's particularly powerful to see young people working to initiate change around this issue, as this is something that directly affects them and perhaps involves different needs than those of adults in these kinds of abusive relationships. In that spirit, let's take a look at a few young activists whose work on teen dating violence deserves to be recognized.
First, let's look at the work of young actress Debby Ryan, who is most well known for her role on Disney Channel shows like "The Suite Life On Deck" and "Jessie". After experiencing an abusive friendship, Ryan has become an anti-domestic violence activist. “The time I decided to get out wasn't too late, but it was really, really late in the game. I'm very fortunate because I had people help me get this person out of my life, out of my house—like physically lock the door,” she told Teen Vogue in an interview about her experience.
Instead of living in silence, Ryan has become the face of Mary Kay's Don't Look Away campaign and has worked with teen dating violence organization Love Is Respect. As a part of her campaign, Ryan decided to create a social media challenge to raise even more awareness,#dontlookaway, asking teens to illustrate healthy relationships and friendships with their friends in Instagram photos using the hashtag.
When asked to summarize the work she's doing with Don't Look Away, she emphasized the importance of not turning a blind eye. ”If I'm summarizing this entire thing that Mary Kay and I are [doing], it's don't look away from abuse,” says Ryan.
Next, let's look to a national organization. The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence is highlighting the work of young activists this year as part of their campaign for Teen Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which will include a radio interview with young activists and a Twitter chat for youth leaders in the movement. The radio interview on Blog Talk Radio will feature a conversation with young leaders working in various capacities in anti-domestic violence organizations, sharing their experiences and insight. You can listen to their conversation on February 18th from 4-4:30pm EST on Blog Talk Radio. In addition, their Twitter chat “Empowered Youth on the Margins- Activism In Action,” will feature youth-led social justice initiatives that work at the intersections of domestic violence and oppression. You can join the chat on February 29th at 7pm EST, using the hashtag #YouthLeaders.
Sex, Etc. is another organization empowering young leaders to work to end teen domestic violence by publishing writing by young people about healthy and abusive relationships online and in print. For example, 16-year-old Cynthia Lam wrote a piece on healthy behaviors in romantic relationships. Sex, Etc. is an especially dynamic platform because the information is written by teens, for teens.
Another amazing teen-led campaign is #TheLoveCulture, which is an on-going project that focuses on giving young women a voice in creating and maintaining healthy relationships. The campaign includes Twitter chats, opportunities to run a Tumblr blog, regular features in Miss Heard Magazine about dating violence. Over 900 women have participated in the campaign, which deserves a huge shout out for empowering teen girls.
Finally, let's take a look at some of the work teens have done as a part of Break The Cycle, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to working to end teen dating and intimate partner violence. This PSA is one example of their work, featuring student survivors from Lehman High School in the Bronx speaking out to raise awareness. They also ran a contest a couple of years ago called “Let Your Heart Rule,“ where young activists created short PSA's to raise awareness about teen dating violence.
It's so amazing to see the work of young people who feel empowered to take action against domestic violence. What teen activists or groups working to end teen dating violence are you inspired by? Share your thoughts and resources using the hashtag #TeenDVmonth on social media.
Insider: Pope's Child Abuse Commission Is ‘Smoke and Mirrors'
Pope Francis portrays himself as a man who leads by example, but his protection of bishops who protected child-abusing priests continues.
by Jason Berry
Pope Francis, speaking to reporters on the flight from Mexico City to Rome last week, gave his strongest comment yet on the clergy sex abuse crisis.
Francis called such acts “a monstrosity,” according to the Associated Press. In the Holy See's transcript, the pope went beyond current Vatican policy in stating: “A bishop who moves a priest to a different parish if he detects a case of paedophilia is without conscience and the best thing for him to do would be to resign.”
But the official church policy on such bishops remains unclear, and the Vatican reform on this issue, charitably put, is a lurching work in progress.
By using the present tense—“a bishop who moves”— Francis may be signaling a going-forward stance when new cases surface. But what is the policy on bishops with past transgressions?
The pope echoed a Vatican Radio statement earlier in the week by one of his key advisors, Boston Cardinal Seán O'Malley, who chairs the Pontifical Commission on the Protection of Minors: “The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must not be kept secret for any longer.”
“We all have a moral and ethical responsibility to report suspected abuse to the civil authorities who are charged with protecting our society,” declared O'Malley.
But in the view of Peter Saunders, an international leader of the abuse survivors' movement who was suspended Feb. 5 from the commission O'Malley chairs for giving candid media interviews, Vatican policy is “smoke and mirrors.”
“When I met with the pope and joined the commission [in December 2014] I thought Francis was serious about change,” Saunders told The Daily Beast from London in a wide-ranging telephone interview. “I don't think so any more. I don't see any major reform achievement.”
The Vatican historically has given de facto immunity to negligent cardinals and bishops. Francis personally has defrocked two bishops who abused children.
But in another case Archbishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo. stayed in office more than a year after his conviction for a criminal misdemeanor. He had sheltered a priest who had child pornography and is now in prison for child abuse. Finn now ministers to a Nebraska community of nuns.
Former St. Paul, Minn. Archbishop John Nienstedt, who recycled abusers and resigned in a huge scandal, works in a Michigan parish, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
“On the oversight of bishops, the Vatican has to set up rules regarding their conduct in response to wrongdoing,” Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke told The Daily Beast.
Justice Burke, a member of the Sovereign Order of Malta, was a founding member of the U.S. bishops' National Review Board, which advised the prelates on reform measures back in the early part of the last decade. Burke has been critical of American bishops for failure to abide by their 2002 youth protection charter which announced “zero tolerance” for clergy sex offenders.
Finn and Nienstedt flagrantly violated the charter; the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voiced no criticism of them, waiting for a Vatican response.
“They need world-wide rules for bishops' conduct,” says Burke.
“An archbishop over a given region needs rules that his bishops and he have to abide by. If they don't abide by them, then there has to be a penalty. Catholics in pews must know what the rules are.”
Under Francis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican has established a special tribunal to deal with charges against bishops; but it has been slow getting off the ground. The credibility of any Vatican policy turns on two overarching questions:
Will the tribunal accept legal findings damaging to bishops from court cases with democratic jurisprudence? Will Pope Francis promulgate a law, under the church's monarchical governing system, specifying that cardinals and bishops lose their titles and priestly rights if found guilty?
Many complicit bishops in Western countries remain in their positions, most notably Cardinal Roger Mahony. From 2002 to 2006, Mahony spent millions of dollars in legal fees to blunt a subpoena by the Los Angeles district attorney seeking files of clergy child molesters. The DA wanted to indict Mahony for recycling predators; the cardinal claimed a freedom-of-religion privilege in refusing to turn over the files. Over four years, the appellate courts rejected the novel argument. Meanwhile, the criminal statute of limitations ran out. The DA's indictment strategy tanked.
Mahony personally met with and apologized to many victims of priests. In 2007, the archdiocese agreed to $775 million in settlements to 554 sur-vivors. In 2013 Mahony voted in the conclave that elected Pope Francis. Now retired, Mahony is archbishop emeritus, a cardinal in good standing.
Peter Saunders' unvarnished public criticism of complicit bishops and cardinals put him at odds with 15 of the 16 other papal advisory commission members, and with O'Malley.
In a previous Daily Beast interview, Saunders singled out one of the pope's close advisors, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Chile as a particular obstacle to justice.
Errázuriz had called a prominent Chilean survivor activist, Juan Carlos Cruz, “the serpent” in an email to another cardinal which surfaced in the Chilean media. Cruz was under consideration to join the papal commission at the time; his nomination did not go forward. “What the pope said and those cardinals said was dreadful,” Saunders told The Daily Beast.
Church officials denouncing, counter-suing or trying to muzzle survivors and whistle-blowers from the clergy is a theme threading through the decades-long crisis. The hierarchy has translated crimes into sins, while putting the defense of pedophiles over justice and the human rights of children.
Saunders's criticism of Errázuriz triggered a blow-back.
“The Daily Beast [interview] certainly got them riled up,” Saunders says of his colleagues on the papal advisory commission. “You gave me the opportunity air my opinion and not everyone wanted that. Certain members of the commission were unhappy about the piece.”
Ironically, the candor that offended his commission colleagues actually helped them with their most important constituency: sexual victims of clergy, and leading reform advocates. Because of his suspension by the commission, Saunders has become more a flash-point figure in the crisis, as the Commission struggles to demonstrate that it has leverage with Pope Francis.
“Every time Pete Saunders criticized the Vatican, the credibility of the Commission shot up in the eyes of outsiders,” Anne Barrett-Doyle, a director of the online archive BishopAccountability told The Daily Beast.
“There were Catholics and survivors starting to believe that this Commission was different from advisory boards we've seen in the past, which ended up being compromised by bishops,” said Barrett-Doyle. “Suspending Pete indicates that the Commission won't produce the systemic reform we need. Pete gave them credibility as a bracing truth-teller. He's a devout Catholic. Loyal critics are crucial to reform.”
Saunders, in phone calls and emails with The Daily Beast, described an almost surreal obsession with secrecy among commission members.
“The day before I was ejected [Feb.5], they were talking about the need for bishops to report, and O'Malley said he thought it a moral duty,“ says Saunders.
“I put forward an agenda item to discuss more openness and transparency. That was shot down,” said Saunders. “Secrecy is why we have this crisis in the first place! I wasn't suggesting they livestream the meetings, but in our previous meeting last October, Austen Ivereigh spoke to us on dealings with the media and said that as commission members we should not engage with the press.”
Ivereigh is an activist-journalist and the author of a respected biography of Francis, The Great Reformer. He is director of a conservative group in the UK, Catholic Voices, whose agenda includes briefings for conferences of bishops on church issues.
Ivereigh's partner in Catholic Voices is Jack Valera, the Opus Dei spokesman in Scotland. Saunders took offense at the presentation Ivereigh made to the commission.
“Austen tried to imply that the reason the press is interested in you is because you're on the Commission. I said, ‘Sorry, Austen, I've been speaking to the press for years.'He tried to say that our job is to keep our mouths shut; but once he realized that wouldn't work he gave a description of how the media work and what they're after. Then we did a mock-interview in front of a TV camera with someone asking questions.”
“I never said they shouldn't speak to the media,“ Ivereigh told The Daily Beast by email. He said the session had come at the request of a Vatican radio staffer, Emer McCarthy.
“The whole training was about helping them speak to the media,“ continued Ivereigh. “I proposed that they should not address specific cases because that was the rule that the Commission was moving to agree on. Peter wouldn't accept that; the others did. I proceeded with the training anyway, and left it to the commission to resolve the issue at their subsequent meeting. Which they did—with the result that Peter was asked to leave because he couldn't abide by their decision.”
Saunders has a different view: “It was all part of damage control. I'm absolutely certain that the impetus for [Ivereigh] being there was related to the interview I did about George Pell on Australian TV.”
Cardinal Pell of Australia—now an influential Vatican official—has been trailed for years by damaging news reports about his handling of clergy predators, inconsistent statements he has made, and cold response to victims.
Saunders, in a June 7, 2015 interview with the Australian news program, 60 Minutes, said Pell has a long history of “denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness— almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care.”
“I think it's critical that George Pell is moved aside, that he is sent back to Australia, and that the pope takes the strongest action against him,” said Saunders.
Pell refused to be interviewed by the Austrailian 60 Minutes, but his attorneys in a statement to the program called Saunders's claims "false” and outrageous.”
Pell, 74, has recently cited health problems in refusing to return to Australia to give testimony to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, a sweeping investigation not limited to the Catholic Church. He is scheduled to give testimony in Rome by video link on Feb. 29.
Pell is a towering, broad-shouldered man who was known for a sometimes stormy tenure as an archbishop in Melbourne and Sydney when Francis, shortly after the 2013 conclave, chose Pell as a member of the Council of Eight—top advisor-cardinals.
A police investigation is underway into Pell's early years as a seminarian and young priest, according to fresh reports from Australia. Several years ago Pell denied charges, which were never substantiated, that he had sexual contact with a minor years earlier.
"Pell has called for a public inquiry to be conducted into the Victorian [Australia] police, saying the allegations were leaked to damage him," The Guardian reports.
Should the royal commission final report portray Pell as an obstructionist protecting clergy child abusers, or worse, Pope Francis would face a real crisis. Pell is one of the most powerful men in the Vatican.
As Prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy—a pivotal agency created by Pope Francis in response to Vatican financial scandals— Pell has a concentration of power unrivaled under the old Roman Curia bureaucracy.
The oversight powers invested in Pell's office allow it to probe the budgets of various Vatican congregations (cabinet-level offices), bypassing the prefect, typically a cardinal or archbishop of the offices.
The turf wars within the Curia that spilled out in the Vatileaks scandal—leaks widely seen as an attempt to drive Pope Benedict's Secretary of State, the unpopular Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone, to resign—ignited a counter-shift that some Vatican insiders believe has produced a new imbalance of power favoring Pell.
“You've never had a cardinal, not surrounded by a commission, with the authority to enter into affairs of another Congregation of his own will,” a well-placed source in the Vatican told The Daily Beast. “If you have a weak pope it could become a significant problem, because Pell controls the budget of other offices.”
This source speculates that Pell “may be an unfair target” in Australia, while being “an avatar of economic virtue“ in Rome.
Nevertheless, according to this insider who spoke on condition of anonymity, Pell has made his share of enemies in the Curia because “his view of transparency is whatever he wants. He does not share. He acts in a small closed circle of people. If you're not with him, you're against him. It's a pretty intense mentality.”
Meanwhile, Saunders, whose TV interview put a hole in Pell's credibility, is mulling over his place in the limbo created by the commission, which suspended him, but did not fire him.
Holding his tongue is not exactly Peter Saunders' style.
He told The Daily Beast: “Francis has a great opportunity to put his hands up and say,‘I got it tragically wrong in my dealings with survivors in Argentina. I toed the party line like many other bishops, and now's the time to atone.' To get rid of bishops who are protectors and abusers, he probably needs not a commission of devout Catholics, but a body akin to an FBI flying squad who do not have an allegiance to the church but know their work and go around the world however it needs to be done and eject these people or hand them over to authorities.”
Jason Berry is author of Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, and was co-producer of Frontline's 2014 “Secrets of the Vatican.”
Police chief says ‘system broke down' in Kansas child abuse case
by The Associated Press
NEWTON — A Kansas police chief investigating the alleged abuse of three adopted Peruvian children by their parents said "somewhere, some time, the system broke down."
North Newton police chief Randy Jordan said numerous reports of suspected abuse concerning the children were filed with the Kansas Department of Children and Families since 2014, but none were forwarded to his department for further investigation, The Wichita Eagle reported. He said it also doesn't appear that anyone who suspected the abuse contacted law enforcement directly, either.
The children's parents, Jim and Paige Nachtigal, each were charged last week with three counts of child abuse. They remained jailed Monday in Harvey County, each on a $300,000 bond. Authorities said last week that they didn't know if the couple had an attorney, and a jail official said Monday that was still the case.
State welfare officials have declined to talk about the case. DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said that, speaking generally, the agency works closely with law enforcement to ensure a child's safety when concerns are raised.
Authorities say the children — an 11-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl — were severely malnourished, had broken bones and had been beaten. Doctors who examined them diagnosed it as child torture.
"There's accountability all over the place," Jordan said. "And somewhere, some time, the system broke down. We're trying to find out how and why."
Authorities began an investigation after the parents reported the 11-year-old son missing on Feb. 5. He was found later that day by a Kansas Highway Patrol Officer walking barefoot in a field, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton has said. The boy told the officer he hadn't done his homework and had "sinned" so he was afraid to go home. The boy did not tell the officer about any abuse at the time, and he was returned home.
But six days later, the children were placed in protective custody.
Police plan to spend the coming days tracking down and interviewing the people involved in various stages of the Nachtigals' adoption process, as well as those who made welfare reports about the family to DCF.
Jordan says one possible source of information in the case will be post-adoptions reports. Health and welfare updates are among a host of strict requirements from Peru's government in international adoptions.
"I'm hoping that several people were interviewed or talked with about how that adoption was going and how those kids were doing and that kind of thing," Jordan said.
Caged Child Abuse Survivor Speaks Out
Cynthia Vasquez now in a unigue position to help neglected and abused children
CAMARILLO, Calif. -- A child kept in a cage by the foster mother who adopted her more than a decade ago is now in a unique position to help other children like her.
Cynthia Vasquez,19, works at Casa Pacifica in Camarillo, the same center that helped her when she was an abused and neglected 9-year-old.
Casa Pacific CEO Steve Elson said she was one of the worst cases they've seen. " It was horrendous what she and her sister went through," Elson said.
Cynthia still remembers what it was like when she first arrived at the shelter. She remembers being asked if she was hungry and getting something sweet to eat.
Vicky Murphy, Casa Pacifica's Chief Advancement Officer and Director of Alumni Services, said, "This is a little girl that came to us from a cage she had lived in an animal cage in basement for years."
Cynthia said the first year with her foster mother included dance lessons, ice skating, and trips to Disneyland, but then everything changed.
Even though her foster mother received thousands of dollars to pay for Cynthia's care, she wasn't going to school.
"Eventually, it just went out of control," Cynthia said.
Court records described the case as made of plywood, about 5' by 4' with a wire mesh window. Cynthia said there were several cages, the first cage was outside, the third cage was in the basement.
"On the inside, there was a bed and latch so you couldn't get out, " she said.
Cynthia wasn't alone, her sister and other foster children suffered the similar fate.
She remembers being kept on the edge of starvation. While court records said the children kept in cages were given peanut butter, Cynthia said she remembers eating raw eggs and being warned not to complain about it.
Her foster mother, Sylvia Jovanna Vasquez was a social worker and daycare provider when she adopted Cynthia and her younger sister. Cynthia said Vasquez changed their first and last names. She said she is in no rush right now to have it legally changed back.
Cynthia said she was told to behave on rare occasions when social workers visited their Foothill Road home.
"I thought maybe all kids go through this maybe it is a phase, I was expecting it to stop at some point, " she said.
She said a cleaning lady Sylvia Jovanna Vasquez threatened with deportation called the police to report the abuse.
During her Santa Barbara trial in 2007, Sylvia Jovanna Vasquez blamed parenting books someone had recommended she read that were supposed to help her raise foster children diagnosed with attachment disorders.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley was a prosecutor back then. With cameras in Judge Frank Ochoa's courtroom you can hear Dudley questioning Syliva Vasquez about the books. Vasquez denied some of the abuse, but pleaded no contest to four counts of child endangerment.
Although she received a ten year sentence most of it is being served on probation. Vasquez spent less than a year in jail.
After almost a decade of therapy Cynthia said, "I have a job a car, I'm going to college, I graduated high school having missed four grades. I've worked hard to get to where I am and I'm happy."
When she asked for a job at Case Pacifica during a visit to the Camarillo campus Vicky Murphy hired her as a part-time office assistant.
Murphy calls her a resilient miracle.
Cynthia Vasquez doesn't shy away from telling other children they are not alone and that she knows what they are going through because she lived at Casa Pacifica, too.
"I've always had the saying, 'Don't dwell on the past,' you can complain, but that is not going to change what's going to happen, so it's always better to go forward," said Cynthia.
In the near future she hopes to transfer from Oxnard College to finish her bachelor's degree. She wants to become an earth science teacher.
The Statue of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Victims in Civil Court Could Extend
A change in the statue of limitations for child sexual abuse victims to file a civil suit against a suspect in a Tennessee courtroom is on the horizon. State Representative Dr. Bryan Terry of Murfreesboro commented.
The bill as proposed by Representative Daren Jernigan, extends the statue of limitations for civil actions against the accused child rapist or person who committed sexual crimes against a child.
In civil litigation, the victim of a child sexual attack can file suit against the suspect for illnesses or injuries related to the abuse, even though the abuse occurred when the victim was a child and did not come forward with the allegations until adulthood. The bill will extend the statute of limitations by three years from the date of discovery.
Currently, victims of child sexual abuse only have one year to file a civil claim after the discovery of the reported crime. One in ten children are victims of sexual abuse by the time they turn 18 in Tennessee, according to the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford and Cannon Counties.
The Civil Justice Committee will review the proposed bill on Tuesday (2/23/2016).
HB 2593 / SB2484 states:
Statutes of Limitations and Repose - As introduced, extends the statute of limitations for civil actions based on injury or illness resulting from child sexual abuse that occurred when the person was a minor but was not discovered until after the person became an adult to three years from the discovery of the abuse. - Amends TCA Title 28, Chapter 3, Part 1.
Significant new study shows importance of help for childhood sexual abuse victims
While the sexual abuse of children is currently an issue at the forefront of public life, concern has focused on the protection of children and the identification of perpetrators. However, a new study by the Universities of Bristol and Durham for the NSPCC, hopes to refocus attention on what can be done to help the victims of childhood sexual abuse.
The study, published today, (FEB 22) evaluated the delivery of "Letting the Future In," an NSPCC-designed programme that sees social work professionals deliver therapeutic support to children aged four to 17 who have experienced sexual abuse.
"Letting the Future In" focuses on creative therapies such as painting, drawing and storytelling, giving children chance to talk about their abuse experiences, and to express themselves creatively. The individual sessions enable the children to safely work through past experiences, and come to understand and move on from what has happened. The child's parent or safe carer is also offered individual sessions as well as joint sessions with their child.
The study's lead author John Carpenter, Professor of Social Work and Applied Social Science at the University of Bristol, said: 'Child sexual abuse is an international problem of staggering proportions. In the UK one in 20 children have been sexually abused, and its effects in childhood and adulthood include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, problematic sexual behaviour and suicide.
'Evidence-based therapeutic approaches are vital to help all children deal with the effects of sexual abuse. This 'real world' evaluation – the largest randomized control trial in the world for a sexual abuse intervention – is a significant contribution to the evidence base, providing benchmarks for others to evaluate interventions.
'Crucially, it also demonstrates the importance of offering therapeutic support to children and young people who have been sexually abused, to help them deal with their experience.'
The study showed promising evidence about what works to help children recover from the trauma of being sexually abused.
For those children aged eight and over, the proportion receiving the intervention who experienced the highest levels of trauma dropped from 73% at the start of the programme to 46% after six months.
Even taking into account out those who did not engage in the intervention, or who dropped out early, the reduction was 68 per cent to 51 per cent.
There was no statistically significant change for the waiting list control group in either analysis, so improvements can be attributed to receiving "Letting the Future In."
For children younger than eight who completed the programme, there was little change six months after starting "Letting the Future In." However, for those children who remained in the service, after one year the highest levels of trauma (clinical or significant difficulty) had dropped to 40 per cent, from 89 per cent at the start – a change that is approaching statistical significance.
This may be due to the intervention taking longer to work for younger children, or because carers took longer to recognise improvements.
Simon Hackett, Professor of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University and co-author of the study, said:'Concern has focussed on the protection of children and the identification of perpetrators, but we need greater understanding of how children affected by sexual abuse can be helped. This study sends out an important message to children and families affected by sexual abuse. With the right help and support it is possible to recover and move on from abuse.'
Jon Brown, NSPCC Head of Development and Impact said: 'These findings provide promising indications that the "Letting the Future In" intervention can significantly reduce the highest levels of trauma experienced by children who have been sexually abused. We know professionals say support for children after abuse is "inadequate". Over half say tight criteria to access local NHS mental health services mean these children are increasingly struggling to access vital help. This study shows therapeutic work can be delivered by a greater range of professionals, including social workers who receive additional training in therapeutic work – as in the case of "Letting the Future In."'
Parents and carers interviewed by the research team were unanimous in thinking that the intervention had resulted in positive changes. In their children, parents identified improved mood, confidence and being less withdrawn, a reduction in guilt and self-blame, reduced depression, anxiety and anger, improved sleep patterns and better understanding of appropriate sexual behaviour. As one mother said: 'I've got my child back.'
The NSPCC is reviewing the "Letting the Future In" model based on the evaluation findings, particularly around providing additional support for both older and younger children to sustain the intervention's effect. It is also piloting an adapted version for children with learning disabilities.
Explore further: Making sad sense of child abuse
More information: Evaluation of the Letting the Future In service: Helping children and their parents move on from sexual abuse.
Kansas Senate gives approval to 'sexting' bill, early release program for parents
SB 391 would create three new crimes related to sexting
by Justin Wingerter
The Kansas Senate gave first-round approval Monday to several pieces of criminal justice legislation to create three new sexting crimes and release low-risk prisoners who are parents.
Senate Bill 391, described by its sponsor as “the sexting bill,” would create three new crimes: unlawful transmission of a visual depiction of a child, aggravated unlawful transmission of a visual depiction of a child and unlawful possession of a visual depiction of a child. It was passed by a voice vote Monday.
Unlawful transmission of a visual depiction of a child is defined as transmitting images or videos of a child between the ages of 12-17 in a state of nudity when the offender is under the age of 19. It would be a misdemeanor on first offense but a felony after multiple offenses.
Aggravated unlawful transmission of a visual depiction of a child is similar. It involves the same acts done with the intent to inflict emotional, psychological or physical harm. It would be a felony.
Unlawful possession of a visual depiction of a child would be knowingly being in possession of a photo or video of a child between the ages of 12 and 15 in a state of nudity if the person in possession is under the age of 19 and received the transmission from the child. It would be a misdemeanor.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, and approved by the Senate Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice. Baumgardner argued police and prosecutors are reluctant to punish teenage sexting for fear of labeling young men and women as felony sexual predators for life.
“The reason this is the most under-prosecuted juvenile crime is the punishment does not fit the crime,” she said.
By lowering most sexting crimes to misdemeanors, Baumgardner argued the bill would lead to more consistent prosecutions of sexting.
Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, told the story of a 22-year-old man who received nude images of a 16-year-old girl he believed to be an adult. Haley wanted to know if the man would be prosecuted under the bill, despite having no intent to possess images of a minor.
“My only concern with the bill is they should know, have knowledge of the exact age” before being prosecuted, Haley said.
Proponents include American Family Action of Kansas and several law enforcement groups. The bill is opposed by the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Senate Bill 453 would allow the Kansas secretary of corrections to transfer low and moderate-risk inmates from prisons to house arrest as part of a community parenting release if they satisfy several requirements.
The inmates must have custody of a child, have no convictions for sex offenses or dangerous felonies, must not be eligible for deportation and must have less than a year remaining on his or her prison sentence.
The bill is supported by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, the Kansas Department of Corrections and the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
“In Washington State, this program has helped about 300 offenders over the past five years and only has an 8 percent recidivism rate,” King said.
The bill passed on a voice vote after being amended by King to clarify low-level drug offenders would be available to participate in the program but more serious drug offenders would not.
“How does this program work and who are the partners with the Department of Corrections,” asked Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita.
King said the bill would use parenting programs already available at the Department of Corrections. It would allow coordination with the Kansas Department of Children and Families to reward inmates who have passed those classes.
Senate Bill 408 would mandate that child abuse and neglect occurring in Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services institutions by reported to law enforcement agencies. Currently, those reports are sent to the Kansas Attorney General's Office.
The bill would also give the Kansas Department of Corrections oversight over investigations of child abuse and neglect at KDOC institutions. The bill was passed by a voice vote.
The bill is supported by the Kansas Attorney General's Office and was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 18. Other proponents include the Disability Rights Center of Kansas and AARP Kansas.
Senate Bill 407, also approved by a voice vote Monday, fixes a statute that was accidentally deleted from law in a bill last year. The statute requires an annual examination and court review of sexually violent predators.
SB 407 is also supported by the Kansas Attorney General's Office. There was no opposing testimony during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice.
Bill would open some child abuse, neglect court proceedings
by WES SWIETEK
A Senate bill working its way through the General Assembly would pave the way for many legal proceedings involving child abuse and neglect cases to be open to the public. Most such proceedings are currently closed.
Senate Bill 40, introduced by Sens. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, and John Schickel, R-Union, asks the Kentucky Supreme Court to create a pilot project to "study the feasibility and desirability of the opening or limited opening of court proceedings, except for proceedings related to sexual abuse, to the public which are related to" cases involving children. The Senate approved the bill Friday, and it now moves to the House.
Warren County Family Court Judge Catherine Rice Holderfield said she is generally in favor of opening proceedings regarding children and juveniles, with an important caveat.
"I would hope it's not misused or abused," she said, citing concerns about sensitive cases where open hearings can cause a child to be "stigmatized. They are already going through something traumatizing," she said.
An amendment to SB 40 clarifies that the "best interest of the child is given priority in (the) decision to close a hearing."
Concerned parties such as foster parents and counselors are already allowed in most proceedings, Holderfield noted.
"I do think we have a lot of people" watching out for children and juveniles in the system, and that's her job as well, she said. "But I'm only one person," Holderfield said. "I think it can be useful to make sure something is not slipping through."
Jana Sublett, executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of South Central Kentucky, which advocates on behalf of children in the court system, said the organization has no comment on the bill.
Kentucky Youth Advocates, however, has come out in support of SB 40.
The nonpartisan advocacy group's external affairs officer, Andrea Bennett, said KYA decided to publicly support the bill, which has been discussed in various forms for several years, when provisions to also open juvenile delinquency proceedings were removed.
Like Holderfield, Bennett said KYA doesn't support legislation that would "impact the future success of juveniles."
She said in states where cases of child abuse or neglect are open, a negative impact hasn't been seen.
"The whole goal is transparency in the system. It can help make sure everyone involved is doing their best for children," Bennett said.
While it's unlikely that a proceeding will draw spectators or media just because they would be allowed in, "just knowing the court is open, we hope to see better outcomes in general," she said.
The pilot nature of the proposal is also important so that officials can assess the impacts of opening of such cases before it is expanded statewide.
"These are the opening salvos," Bennett said. "We'll see how it goes."
Child sex abuse victims to hear cardinal's testimony in Rome
by Rod McGuirk
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA -- Victims of clergy abuse won permission on Monday to be present next week when Pope Francis's finance minister testifies from Rome to an Australian inquiry into child sex offenses within the Roman Catholic Church.
Child abuse victims angry that Cardinal George Pell will not return to Australia to testify at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had requested that they be allowed to hear in person Pell's testimony by video conference, the inquiry's chairman Justice Peter McClellan said.
"The commission considers that to be a reasonable request," McClellan said.
Many victims and their families welcomed the opportunity to face the 74-year-old cleric as he explains what he knew about abuse allegations and what action he took in response.
Anthony Foster, whose two daughters were raped by the same priest, said he booked flights to Rome for himself and his wife hours after McClellan gave permission.
The couple blame the abuse for one daughter's suicide and for the other being left severely disabled when she was hit by a car while drunk.
"It's really important, the evidence that he's giving, and we wanted victims here to know that there was someone from their support group watching it happen," Foster said.
A crowd funding website set up last week to raise 55,000 Australian dollars ($39,000) to send 15 abuse victims and their supporters to Rome had raised more than AU$200,000 by Monday. The excess money will be spent on mental health services at Pell's hometown of Ballarat, the website said.
The Fosters, who are critical of Pell's responses to their daughters' abuse, are paying their own way.
Another victim of cleric abuse at a Catholic school in Ballarat, Paul Tatchell, said he worried that victims' focus on Pell may distract from the inquiry's work.
"I'm no fan of George Pell, but I'm just concerned that some of these things will give the impression of a witch hunt," said Tatchell, referring to the crowd funding and public criticism of Australia's most senior Catholic.
Pell, whom the pope placed in charge of the Vatican's finances in 2014, was to testify next Monday for a third time at the royal commission.
The inquiry ruled this month that the cardinal could give evidence by video from Rome because he was too ill to fly to Australia.
Pell said in a statement last week that he would cooperate with whatever arrangements the royal commission made for his testimony.
McClellan said a hotel room in central Rome had been selected as the venue for Pell's testimony, but its communications equipment had yet to be tested.
Pell is to give evidence about how church authorities responded to allegations of child sex abuse in Ballarat and in Melbourne, Australia's second-most populous city after Sydney.
He is accused of creating a victims' compensation program mainly to protect the church's assets and of using aggressive tactics to discourage victims' lawsuits, all while he was a bishop in Australia. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Horrific catalogue of child sexual abuse by Christian Brothers in Australia
by Ruth Giedhill
More than 850 people have complained of child sexual abuse by one or more Christian Brothers in Australia. Three-quarters of the victims were under the age of 13, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard.
One Christian Brother, Stephen Farrel, who has already been convicted, was even hugged by a superior as his way of helping him after a child complained.
"He just put his arms around me and gave me a long cuddle. No words were said. He then just walked out," Sky News Australia reported.
Another student, Timothy Barlow, at St Patrick's College in Ballarat, suffered a beating at the hands of Christian brother Edward Dowlan, who has also been convicted. His offence was to report Dowlan to the school for putting his hands down the pants of students.
ABC highlighted Barlow's case as he told the inquiry it was common knowledge that boys were being abused at the school, with widespread rumours of boys being assaulted in dormitories.
"It was survival of the fittest. I think we were in a dysfunctional closed environment where the abnormal was normal," said Barlow, who at the time was on the student representative body and was beaten up after he asked the principal to intervene at the request of the younger students.
As he was beaten up by two Christian Brothers, he heard one say: "You'll regret this you lying prick, who do you think you are?" The student representative body was then disbanded.
In 1974, parents asked for Dowlan's "inappropriate behaviour" to be looked into.
The commission is looking at how abuse claims were handled in the Diocese of Ballarat. The Christian Brothers have already paid out more than $37 million in compensation after the claims from 853 victims against 281 Christian Brothers.
The most claims, 46 in total, were against Christian Brother referred to as "CCK". The average age of his victims was 11.
Australia's most senior Catholic and financial head of the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell, is due give evidence to the commission next week February relating to his time serving as an assistant priest at Ballarat East.
Boy's mother sues York YMCA after alleged sexual assault
by Liz Evans Scolforo
The mother of a York County boy has sued the YMCA of York, alleging staff members failed to protect him from being sexually assaulted by an older boy with a history of abusing young children.
It also claims that the YMCA didn't properly screen or train employees, that it failed to notify police about the alleged sexual abuse and that it failed to investigate despite knowing the 13-year-old boy had allegedly abused another child a year earlier.
"As a direct ... cause of the York YMCA's actions and omissions, and breach of the duties of reasonable care, (the boy) was sexually abused," the lawsuit states.
The assault allegedly happened last summer at the YMCA's Camp Spirit, a longtime day camp for children ages 5 to 15 that was advertised as a safe place for children to build "self-esteem, develop communications skills and create lasting friendships," the lawsuit states. Camp Spirit is located on 14 wooded acres outside Mount Wolf, its website states.
Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo confirmed his department is aware of the allegation.
"The case involving Camp Spirit in East Manchester Township is still under investigation," he said. "No charges have been filed as of yet, but it remains (an open) investigation."
Impact unknown: Attorney Ben Andreozzi represents the boy and his mother.
"Like many sexual assault survivors, we won't appreciate the gravity of (the boy's) injuries until he becomes older," Andreozzi said. "This is something that can follow (victims) throughout their lives. Our hope is to get him into counseling and make sure the issues are addressed as best as they can be."
The boy was 5 years old at the time and is suffering from nightmares, anxiety, depression and social withdrawal as a result of the assault, the lawsuit states.
"(His mother) is incredibly frustrated with the fact that something that was preventable was allowed to occur," Andreozzi said.
The lawsuit, filed last week in Philadelphia's federal court, also names the YMCA of the USA as a defendant and alleges negligence and gross negligence on the part of the YMCA and its staff.
Larry Richardson, president of the YMCA of York, said he learned of the lawsuit Thursday.
"While there's much I wish to say, I cannot comment because it's pending litigation," he told The York Dispatch.
The allegations: According to the lawsuit, the YMCA of York was made aware that a 13-year-old boy, identified in the suit by his initials, "had a troubled past, including being involved in sexual misconduct" before he began attending Camp Spirit.
"Additionally, at the 2014 Camp Spirit, B. was discovered by a camp counselor sexually abusing a special needs male camper in the woods during a camp outing," the lawsuit alleges, adding it's believed the counselor notified Camp Spirit's director, who in turn apparently notified Richardson of the abuse.
"It is believed that neither Richardson nor (the director) reported B.'s conduct to the authorities, in violation of Pennsylvania's law regarding the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse," the suit states.
"At no point did the York YMCA inform other campers, their parents, or anyone outside the York YMCA that B. posed a severe risk of harm to other children," according to the lawsuit. "Despite all that the York YMCA knew about B., no one at the organization implemented any precautions during his time at Camp Spirit in 2014 or 2015."
No other details about the 2014 case could be obtained Friday.
Counselor unfit? On July 3, 2015, Camp Spirit counselor Kelsey N. Martin caught B. sexually abusing the 5-year-old under a wooden play structure during a camp outing, the suit alleges.
It claims Martin was "utterly unfit" to supervise children and did not have a Pennsylvania child-abuse clearance because she was at the time under investigation "for a crime involving her own child."
Martin, 21, of Springettsbury Township, was charged Jan. 28, 2016, with concealing the death of a child. She told police she didn't know she was pregnant and gave birth at home in April 2015, but panicked because her newborn daughter wasn't breathing, court documents state.
The baby's body was found in a shoe box in a bedroom closet at Martin's home, police have said. Her defense attorney, Chris Ferro, called it a "horrible, but explainable, tragedy."
As for the Camp Spirit incident, Ferro said Martin properly reported what she saw to her supervisors.
"I think at all times Kelsey handled the situation admirably," he said. "I believe she's been completely cooperative with all investigating (agencies)."
Mom called police: Camp Spirit's directors and counselors informed the 5-year-old's mother about the alleged sexual abuse, and she then notified police "despite Camp Spirit's director's objections," the lawsuit alleges.
It was only after the mother alerted police that YMCA staff told police about B. allegedly sexually abusing a special-needs camper in 2014, according to the suit.
In the fall of 2013, the state Department of Human Services, formerly the welfare department, revoked the York YMCA's license to run a day-care center at its Newberry Street location.
The agency has said the revocation resulted from a string of complaints to the state that began in April 2013.
The day-care center was allowed to remain open while the YMCA appealed, Richardson has said.
In compliance: A settlement agreement was reached Jan. 15, 2015, "which articulated numerous steps to increase supervision and return to full compliance with child care health and safety requirements," according to Kait Gillis, DHS press secretary. For the next six months, the day-care center operated with a provisional license, she said.
The day-care center remains in compliance and is fully certified, according to Gillis.
"Since last January, we've been on site there four times to ensure they are remaining in compliance," she said.
But DHS has no authority to regulate certain summer camps, including Camp Spirit, because of how state law is written, Gillis confirmed.
"Any time institutions don't rectify safety concerns after DHS citations, we have major concerns," Andreozzi said. "And oftentimes, the only way to address those concerns are through the course of civil litigation."
CASA volunteer toughs it out for abused children
by Danielle Grady
ANDERSON — Before either of Scott Ready's sons was born, he wasn't sure how he felt about children. A kid would cut into his “me time,” he thought.
He stopped thinking that way on the first day of his oldest son's life.
“I was like melted butter,” the 48-year-old recalled.
The sacrifice was well worth the outcome — much like it is now for Ready in his new role as a volunteer for East Central Indiana CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates).
CASA volunteers are the courtroom voice for neglected and abused children who have been removed from their parent's care. The volunteers investigate the children's situation, visit with them and create court reports to recommend what's best for the children.
More than 900 cases of child neglect or abuse in Madison County were assigned to East Central Indiana CASA and 94 more for Hancock County at the beginning of 2016. About 75 CASA volunteers work for the organization, leaving 590 area children without an advocate, according to CASA's records.
Volunteers might be rare because of the emotional strain of dealing with neglected children, said Ashlan Cavender, a CASA case manager who supervises Ready.
Ready doesn't want to feel that strain, but he knows he might.
CASA volunteers attend 32 hours of classroom training and six hours of courtroom observation to become certified.
One training day sticks out to Ready.
A woman who works for the police played a 911 phone call from a child whose dad was trying to kill the child's mother.
Ready almost walked out of the room.
“It just bothered me that much,” he said. “I almost couldn't take it — this lady screaming for help, and this little kid. It was just heartbreaking.”
But Ready didn't leave.
“I thought I should hear it,” he said. “Even though I didn't want to.”
Ready finished his classes in November. A judge swore him in and he received details of the lives of the children he'd represent. Ready wasn't sure he could accept the case at first. His reasons, again, were selfish, he said.
Ready's CASA children could be separated from each other or end up in an unhappy foster home. He didn't want to get attached to children whose bad situation could get worse.
The next day, however, Ready accepted the case.“Ultimately, I decided I would try to help. That's why I was there.”
Two months later, Ready is doing more than expected of a new volunteer, said Cavender.
“Even though Scott's just starting out, he's a good example of what a good volunteer is and what type of advocate we want ... for our kids,” she said.
Ready bought his CASA children Christmas presents, and he's spent 50 hours working on their case. He hasn't yet a negative CASA experience.
One day, however, he visited the Department of Child Services. There, he said, he saw an adult man drag a young child into the office and demand the kid's removal from his home.
“It bothered me,” Ready said. “I thought about it. I'm still thinking about it.”
Ready has thought about taking on another CASA case, but he might become a foster parent instead. CASA volunteers and foster parents are both needed, he said.
“I think if people would see what I saw at the DCS office — I think they would sign up to be a foster parent or a CASA,” he said.
The People of Action series, published Mondays, focuses on local volunteers. To nominate a person for the series, contact Editor Scott Underwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or 640-4845.
To volunteer, contact East Central Indiana Court Appointed Special Advocates.
Phone number: 765-649-7215
Email: Traci Barber at email@example.com
Sign up by the end of February to start the next class.
Kennedy book gives new perspective on abuse
by Tom West
I have written several times in recent years to increase attention on the ongoing problem of child abuse.
A landmark study 20 years ago by Kaiser Permanente, a health maintenance organization, found that 27 percent of U.S. adults experienced “adverse childhood experiences,” now commonly called “ACEs” as children.
The more ACEs one has, the study found, the more likely one is to have difficulty learning as a child, more likely to suffer from alcoholism and drug abuse as an adult, more likely to use tobacco and more likely to suffer from premature health problems.
ACEs include everything from witnessing violence in the home, being subject to violence oneself, being subject to emotional abuse, losing a parent through death or divorce, etc.
The toll, both human and economic, is enormous. And yet, the abuse of children is usually only noticed when it causes an emergency room visit or death.
For a while, I believed that ACEs explained just about everything about why some people's lives are so screwed up. I still think they explain a lot, but I gained new insight on the issue after reading “A Common Struggle” by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy.
Patrick is the son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.. In the book, Patrick admits that he has struggled with alcohol and drug addiction most of his life.
One thinks of the Kennedys as being this incredibly wealthy, powerful family. How could they have the kinds of problems with chemical abuse that are often attributed to poverty?
As Kennedy explains it, his father never received treatment for the loss of three brothers, two by political assassination and one in World War II. It wasn't something talked about in the family, and to seek psychiatric counseling was seen as a sign of weakness. So his father treated his grief by abusing alcohol.
Meanwhile, Patrick's mother, Joan, suffered from alcoholism and depression most of her adult life. Many days, he writes, she didn't bother to dress, just walked around the house in an alcoholic haze wearing her bathrobe.
Growing up in such an environment, by the time he was a teenager, Patrick was addicted to cocaine. By the time he hit college, he was abusing alcohol as well as numerous painkillers. He later was diagnosed to be suffering from anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Even so, he incredibly decided to follow his father into the high-profile, high-visibility, high-stress world of politics.
At age 21, he was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Six years later, at age 27, he was elected to the Congress from Rhode Island's 1st District and served eight terms.
All during this time, the issues of addiction never went away — most addicts will tell you that it is a chronic condition. Periodically, Patrick would go into rehab, but his life was a scandal just waiting to go public.
That time came in 2006, when he drove into a police barrier near the U.S. Capitol at 2:45 a.m. He told Capitol police that he was late for a vote, even though the Congress had adjourned for the day several hours before.
Many accusations were made that alcohol had caused the accident but the police took him home without testing his breath or blood. Members of Congress receive special privileges in D.C. Eventually, the accident was blamed on Kennedy's addiction to painkillers.
However, the first person to reach out to Kennedy after the scandal hit the news was Rep. James Ramstad, who was then the Republican congressman from Minnesota's 3rd District.
Ramstad had experienced his own issues with sobriety, and didn't seek help until after he spent a night in a Sioux Falls, S.D., jail blacked out by alcohol. He was then in the Minnesota Senate.
Ramstad eventually became Kennedy's sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous, and they helped keep each other sober during their remaining time in Congress. Kennedy, a Democrat, joked, “It's the only time I ever took advice from a Republican.”
In his book, Kennedy writes that while ACEs are important factors, he believes the biggest factors causing addiction are not the environment in which one is raised and certainly not just a character flaw, but chemical imbalances in the brain caused by our genes.
We can argue about ACEs vs. genes for another lost generation, but the question remains, what can be done about it? How and when does government need to intervene when an adult, mentally ill or not, abuses a child? Where should the line be drawn between discipline and abuse? The entire problem is hidden behind a great curtain of privacy, when it should be out in the open, the focus of discussions of every medical, church and government council.
We need a better plan to get those with genetic issues the medicine they need, those at risk because of environmental experiences the protection they need sooner, and to help new parents learn how to be better at parenting than their own parents may have been.