National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


NAASCA Weekly Highlights

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

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

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

June, 2016 - Week 1
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a retired Registered Nurse from Ohio.

New York

Child sex abuse victims need a window for justice and protection in New York — so we'll march to demand it


On Sunday at 1 p.m., hundreds of us will walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall in support of the Child Victims Act, a bill that has been blocked for a decade by a small — but powerful — cabal of state legislators in Albany.

Among our numbers will be rabbis and black clergy members, Latinos and Catholics, victims and survivors of childhood sex abuse and their advocates, and family members of nearly every age and heritage.

We will also be joined by marchers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our cause — to protect children from sexual predators and seek justice for older victims is part of a growing civil rights movement for children. It is a movement whose time has not only come; it is long past due in New York state. As a Brooklyn native, I'm ashamed that statute-of-limitations reform in our state ranks among the worst in the nation, along with Alabama and Mississippi.

Why are legislators like GOP Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, and some of their cohorts fighting so hard to keep the Child Victims Act from becoming law?

What is it about protecting children and allowing justice for those preyed upon as innocent girls and boys that they find so repugnant?

As Americans, don't we count the protection of children from violence and exploitation as one of our core values? When we speak of “justice for all” — as politicians love to do — is it mere lip service?

Maybe they're just mesmerized by the sound of their often-empty platitudes?

In a recent radio interview, DeFrancisco expressed once again his opposition to the Child Victims Act and its one-year “window” that would allow older victims who were sexually abused as children to file a civil lawsuit (full disclosure: I am one of those victims).

“You can't have someone indefinitely being able to bring suit,” DeFrancisco said.

In the senator's view, people who were abused prior to 2006 should not be able to file lawsuits. His argument: “People have died, memories have faded and it gets down to eventually a he-said, she-said situation.”

In reality, since 2006, the highest levels of sex-related crimes in New York — such as first-degree rape — have no criminal statute of limitations. Why, then, are lawmakers like DeFrancisco opposed to expanding the civil statute of limitations in cases involving sex crimes against children? If the weak argument that “memories have faded” is allowed to prevail, a gross injustice will continue to be perpetrated on New Yorkers who have been the victims of sexual predators.

I'll cite one example here, but there are hundreds more like it. I know a Forest Hills man named Charles Marri, who, as a boy in Brooklyn, was sexually abused by three different Catholic priests. The horrific abuse began when he was 10 and lasted three years. Two of the priests died, but one - the notorious Romano Ferraro - is now serving a life sentence in Massachusetts for his crimes as a pedophile. Tragically for Charles, however, the former Father Ferraro was moved from parish to parish in the Diocese of Brooklyn and beyond, abusing boys everywhere he went. The law did not catch up with him until 2002 in Massachusetts.

Romano, a serial predator, was given due process, but if we follow the logic of DeFrancisco and other legislators blocking the Child Victims Act, Charles Marri should be (and currently is) barred from bringing a civil lawsuit against the institution that gave Romano safe harbor and knowingly moved him around, enabling him to target more children. Where is the justice in that? And who is DeFranciso really protecting?

In my own case, the religious order whose member sexually abused me for nearly four years, acknowledged to the Daily News that my claims were credible; they also apologized to me in writing. This, too, belies DeFrancisco's shallow characterization of “a he-said, she-said situation.” But, like Charles Marri, I have been barred from seeking justice because I did not bring a civil claim by the age of 23.

Along with DeFranciso and Flanagan, Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn Diocese, and the Catholic Conference of Bishops — who have been lobbying strenuously against the CVA — may want to consider a visit to the confessional booth for continuing to cover up decades of crimes against children in New York.

One way they can do penance and get serious about protecting children from sexual predators is to join our Walk for a Window on Sunday. We invite all New Yorkers to walk with us. Walking for a Window means walking for our children.

Stephen Jimenez is an award-winning journalist and a survivor of childhood sex abuse.



What Hand Were You Dealt

by Judy Carley

UNITED STATES—Alienated, disappointed, embarrassed, furious, humiliated, ignored, inadequate, jealous, judgemental, lonely, overwhelmed, powerless, resentful, scared, skeptical, suspicious, victimized, vulnerable, worried… What common feeling affects your SOUL as a result of the hand you were dealt?

To the left is an example I made myself, although ONE COULD NEVER legitimately create a “hierarchy” of what physical vs mental problems are “worse.”

REMEMBER: trauma is as much perception as it is experience. Look at it though, and note that all will alter a life. Whether the person develops positive perseverance OR PTSD WILL BE up to the strength and support of the person or people around them.

We know this because research shows it.

There are millions of survivors of trauma in America, each with his or her own individual “hand” of cards that play off each other to make unique experience and personality.

For one of my personal heroes, mental illness survivor and research psychologist Eleanor Longden, it was “sexual trauma and abuse” that led to “rage, shame, loss, guilt and low self-worth.”


When I read interviews or writings about her I cry because it is so familiar. Suddenly my brain is hit with a wham-like BOOM because there are so many just like her, just like me and maybe just like you. Living with adaptations in our lives that are SURVIVALISTIC to us, but make others find us weird, paranoid, or non-relatable.too

I can only speculate how many people can relate to her childhood experiences, with a reported minimum 42 million survivors alive today, according to National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA) who also tells us: “one year worth of traumatized kids” cost American taxpayers $585 billion.

Let's make this FACT more eye-catching for those who are creative-minded. We ignore the root of the problem, while combating the side effects like bullying and labeling. WE KNOW that what children learn at home SUPERSEDES all the schooling, laws, and public service announcements that you can throw your money at.

It is the unwritten word now: mental illness survivors have MOST LIKELY been abused in some way whether they know it or the memories are repressed, because strong human minds can do that . Traumatic events will leave their scars on our psyche, summed up by Eleanor Longden when she says:

“An important question in psychiatry shouldn't be what's wrong with you but rather what's happened to you.” She continues, “What happened to me was catastrophic, and I survived only because of luck…”

The luck was her psychiatrist who thought OUTSIDE THE BOX, helping her work around the luck of a bad draw. Longden says, “I'm not anti-medication; I'm pro-choice. Hearing voices is like left-handedness; it's a human variation, not open to cure, just coping.”

Before thinking this woman is different, I propose it's merely how you perceive that VOICE you are also hearing.

Is it your mother, father, sibling or boss's voice in your head, dishing out criticism, warning, encouragement or reward?

Maybe the one strong enough to intrude your thoughts about EVERYTHING: God?

For me it's two, my double consciousness and they both have my own voice: one with a bias meter and the other MEAN AS HELL and in constant need of being kept in check. A result of my experiences, my unique personality, blah blah, blah…

At this point, life is a big gamble with the most important hand being the first, dealt upon birth. Chin up though , you can always get that WILD CARD that changes everything!

Click Here to take the very IMPORTANT ACE test, helping Uncle Sam put a number on the widespread problem that abuse IS. I personally think if your quality of life has been affected by trauma, you should consider it your due diligence to go take this test.



Francis gives Vatican authority to initiate removal of bishops negligent on sexual abuse

by Joshua J. McElwee

Pope Francis has signed a new universal law for the global Catholic church specifying that a bishop's negligence in response to clergy sexual abuse can lead to his removal from office.

The law also empowers several Vatican dicasteries to investigate such bishops and initiate processes of removal, subject to final papal approval.

The move, made by the pontiff in a formal document known as a motu proprio on Saturday, appears to represent a significant moment in the worldwide church's decades-long clergy sexual abuse crisis.

In case after case in the past, the Vatican and church officials would dig in to protect bishops even when there was substantial documented evidence of negligence on their behalf. Now, the pope has formally mandated that the church's offices in Rome must prosecute bishops who fail in protecting children.

"Canon law already foresees the possibility of removal from the ecclesial office 'for grave causes,'" Francis states in a short preamble to the new law, given the Italian name Come una madre amorevole ("Like a loving mother.")

"With the following letter I intend to specify that among those 'grave causes' is included negligence of bishops in the exercise of their office, particularly relative to cases of sexual abuse against minors and vulnerable adults," he continues.

Marie Collins, a member of Francis' Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and an abuse survivor, told NCR she welcomes the new procedures and "hope they will succeed in bringing the accountability survivors have waited for so long."

"The most important aspect of any new procedure is its implementation and that is what we must wait to see," she said.

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the head of the commission, called the motu proprio "clearly an important and positive step forward."

"We are grateful that our Holy Father has received the recommendations from our Commission members and that they have contributed to this new and significant initiative," he said.

The new measure, comprised of five short articles, allows "the competent congregation of the Roman Curia" to begin investigations of local bishops, eparchs, or heads of religious communities when the congregation suspects a leader's negligence has caused "physical, moral, spiritual or patrimonial" harm.

"The diocesan bishop or the eparch or whoever has the responsibility for a particular church, even if temporarily ... can be legitimately removed from his position if he has by negligence, place or omitted acts caused serious harm to others, whether their physical persons or the community as a whole," states the first article.

"The diocesan bishop or eparch can be removed only if he has objectively been lacking in a very grave manner the diligence that is required of his pastoral office," it continues, specifying: "In the case of abuse against minors or vulnerable adults it is sufficient that the lacking of diligence be grave."

The law obliges the Vatican to notify the local bishop or leader of the investigation and to give him the possibility to produce relevant documents or testimony.

"To the bishop will be given the possibility to defend himself, according to the methods foreseen by the law," it states. "All the steps of the inquiry will be communicated to him and he will always be given the possibility of meeting the superiors of the congregation."

The law states that "if it becomes necessary to remove the bishop" the congregation involved in the matter can either proceed "to give, in the shortest time possible, the decree or removal" or "to exhort the bishop fraternally to present his resignation within 15 days."

"If the bishop does give his response in that time, the congregation can release the decree of removal," it states.

All decisions by Vatican congregations, the law states, "must be subjected to the specific approval of the Roman Pontiff." The pope, it continues, will be assisted in making his decision "by a special association of legal experts of the designated need."

The new law appears to modify a suggestion Francis was given last year by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to create a new tribunal at the Vatican to judge bishops who respond inappropriately to sexual abuse claims.

Where a new tribunal would have likely required much time and effort to create, the law deputizes current Vatican offices to undertake that work.

The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a statement they were "highly skeptical" of the pope's new law.

"A 'process' isn't needed," said the group. "Discipline is what's needed. A 'process' doesn't protect kids. Action protects kids. A 'process' is helpful only if it's used often enough to deter wrongdoing. We doubt this one will be."

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's chief spokesman, said in a note Saturday that four Vatican congregations would be charged with investigating prelates: for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples, for the Oriental Churches, and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The Vatican's chief doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will not be involved with the new law "because it is not a matter of crimes of abuse but of negligence of office," Lombardi said.

The spokesman also said that the "special association" that is to assist the pope in deciding on these matters will be a new group of advisers and "you can foresee that this association will be composed of cardinals and bishops."

The new law is to take effect Sept. 5.



Michigan Candidate For Congress Says Sex With Teenagers Could Be OK, If They're Mature Enough

by Christy Strawser

ANN ARBOR (CBS Detroit) -- The story of a 24-year-old female teacher allegedly impregnated by her 13-year-old student shocked much of the world, with comments across the Internet pushing the same theme: “What was she thinking?”

Teacher Alexandria Vera, 24, immediately faced the fallout of her actions and surrendered to authorities on a charge of sexual abuse of a child. She's being held on a $100,000 bond, according to Montgomery County sheriff's spokesman Brady Fitzgerald.

A Wyandotte man running to unseat Democrat Rep. Debbie Dingell in the race for the 12th Congressional District raised eyebrows when he went on Facebook to proclaim the teacher potentially did nothing wrong.

Contacted by CBS Detroit, Bagwell, a Libertarian candidate, stood by his assertions.

“Here is my quote on that, my stance is clearly that age of consent laws in this country need to be reformed,” he said on Friday. “My personal view is … they need to take into account the maturity level of the participants. Not every case is boiler plate.

“Most of the time it's abuse, but there are times like this case in Texas where the case isn't cut and dried. I think there's more to it… Generally speaking teenagers who are responsible should be able to make choices.”

Bagwell says his belief about the legality of sex with teenagers comes from his Libertarian philosophy that “government intervention doesn't make things better.”

This question was posed: How about murder, should the government react to that?

“Murder is an aggressive act, a forcible rape of a child or anyone else is always wrong. But a situation where a teenager is a few years away from being an adult, it's not a cut and dried crime,” Bagwell explained, adding, “We need to look at that more closely.”

Bagwell said he has never faced charges of any kind beyond traffic infractions, and his position isn't because he wants to have sex with teens. “I think that's just a knee jerk reaction to an extreme philosophical position … I don't believe in drug laws, does that mean I smoke dope? No.”

The Facebook post shocked Zvi M. Walter, who worked in a psychiatric hospital on a unit for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and whose friends engaged with Bagwell on Facebook, including a social worker named Alyse and a teacher named Jimmy.

“I think it's horrific. The idea that children–or even worse, their parents–can consent to having sex with an adult, especially an adult in an authority position such as a teacher, is dangerously ignorant. Obviously, teenagers can desire sex with adults or other teenagers, but teenagers are not known for their capacity for rational decision-making, especially where sex is concerned. This makes them ripe for exploitation by adults.

“Mr. Bagwell's follow-up comment, that there should be solutions other than legal ones, is mad. What other way is there to punish someone who abuses their position of power, both in the child/adult sense and the student/teacher one? How exactly would “the free market” prevent child exploitation, and punish the exploiters? I hope those questions are put to Mr. Bagwell, and I hope that his responses are followed-up harshly when he moves the goalposts or tries to shift responsibility for the exploitation to anybody other than the exploiters.”

For his part, Bagwell said he understands his position isn't popular and with or without it he's probably not going to beat established candidate Dingell. “My goal is not to gain control of the state, it's to educate people about individual liberty,” he said.

Before moving to Wyandotte, Bagwell lived in Ypsilanti, where he ran unsuccessfully for Ypsilanti City Council in 2004 and 2006. Announcing his candidacy, he wrote, “It will be a monumental task to beat Mrs. Dingell but I believe our message of true freedom, fiscal conservatism and social acceptance will resonate with folks”



Empower Yolo targets local human trafficking

by Natalia Baltazar

Human trafficking is not only an international problem, but also one occurring locally in our own back yard in Yolo County.

According to the law and justice section of Yolo County's official website, human trafficking is the second most profitable criminal enterprise after the illegal drug trade.

“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where victims are under ownership and control of an exploiter,” says Celina Alveraz, associate director of Empower Yolo. “Victims are taken advantage of and forced to engage in either labor or sex trafficking, often required to work long hours with little to no pay.

“Many victims of trafficking have vulnerabilities which exploiters use to their advantage to manipulate and maintain power and control. Common vulnerabilities we have seen at Empower Yolo are poverty, history of sexual assault and domestic violence, limited immigration status, substance use, runaways, and family involvement with child welfare services.

“However, despite all the horrific abuses human trafficking survivors face, they are by far some of the strongest, most resilient people,” Alveraz says.

In September 2015, following the passage of SB 855, Yolo County developed a countywide protocol to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). According to the National Center for Youth Law, SB 855 established a state-funded program with an allocation of $5 million in 2014-15 and $14 million annually thereafter to fund prevention, intervention, training and services for trafficked children.

SB 855 also clarified that a child who is sexually trafficked and whose parent or guardian has failed to protect him or her, or is unable to do so, can be served through child welfare as a victim of abuse and neglect. Children engaged in “survival sex” also can be served through the dependency system.

Historically, the majority of sexually exploited children have accessed critical services only through contact with the juvenile justice system. The clarification to the law and the CSEC Program will begin to shift California away from criminalization and toward more appropriately treating these children as victims of exploitation.

Empower Yolo advocates are finding a lack of awareness about human trafficking.

“Because we are a small community compared to larger cities in California such as Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego, the community is under the impression that these issues simply do not happen here,” says L.C., an Empower Yolo advocate. “Moreover, much like we see in domestic violence and sexual assault, the community is reluctant to intervene if it is an issue that does not affect them directly.

“Yet, the only way that we can address human trafficking is if the community is educated on the issue and collaborates with our local law-enforcement agencies, as they simply cannot address the issue on their own.”

Yolo County is working to address these human trafficking issues. Specifically, it has developed a multidisciplinary team approach to include a first responder protocol, steering committee, training standards, case management, service planning and provision of services.

The following agencies have agreed to participate in the Yolo County CSEC Protocol: Yolo County Departments of Health and Human Services (Child Welfare Services), Child/TAY Mental Health, Community Health, County Counsel, District Attorney, Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center, Public Defender, Probation and all local law enforcement agencies. Community partners are CommuniCare Health Centers, Empower Yolo, Sutter Medical Foundation BEAR Program, Turning Point and Yolo Family Service Agency.

All participating agencies have assigned personnel who have been trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of commercial sexual exploitation and are piloting a screening tool that was developed by West Coast Children's Clinic to identify these children.

Everyone has the potential to discover a human trafficking situation. While the victims sometimes may be kept behind locked doors, they are often hidden right in front of us. Traffickers' use of coercion — such as threats of deportation and harm to the victim or their family members — is so powerful that even if you reach out to victims, they may be too fearful to accept your help.

Traumatic bonding occurs as the result of ongoing cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates powerful emotional bonds that are resistant to change. Knowing indicators of human trafficking and some follow-up questions will help you act on your gut feeling that something is wrong and report it. For tips on recognizing signs, visit

Help for survivors: Empower Yolo's CARE Team (Concerned Advocates Responding to Emergencies) was created to meet the emergency needs of the community for adult and child survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking. The program provides 24/7 emergency response and advocacy to survivors and their families.

CARE Team advocates provide hospital and law enforcement accompaniment, crisis intervention, emotional support, criminal justice, legal and social service advocacy, and information and referrals to survivors of sexual assault, child sexual abuse or human trafficking.

In partnership with the Yolo County Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center, Empower Yolo's CARE Team coordinates services to child victims of sexual assault and human trafficking, and provides emotional support, advocacy, information and referrals to parents/guardians during child interviews.

The response the advocates on the CARE Team provide is so important because “we are able to give the survivor a voice in a time where they are most vulnerable and/or in crisis,” L.C. says. “It can be a very confusing and overwhelming time for a survivor who on some occasions has to tell their story more than once and has to deal with questions from law enforcement and medical providers, which can be both scary and intimidating for clients.

“As advocates, we are there to inform survivors of their rights and of the process itself, provide resources and a sense of comfort. Some survivors will look back and only remember their interaction with the advocate.”

All of Empower Yolo's services are available to trafficking victims. They include emergency, confidential shelter at the Wallace and Vannucci shelter, housing resources, counseling and legal resources. Empower Yolo also can help with benefit enrollment through The Center for Families programs. Empower Yolo's clothing closet is available as well as resource and referral services.

Since 2015, Empower Yolo has worked with eight survivors of human trafficking, including both adults and youth. If you would like to support Empower Yolo's efforts, please join us at our Summer Solstice event, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Buehler Alumni Center at UC Davis, 530 Alumni Lane. Tickets are $50 per person and include dinner, live music by Stone Kold and a dessert auction. For tickets, visit



Churches should address sexual violence, provide safe place to heal

by The Alabama Baptist

Something happened recently on Baylor University's campus in Waco, Texas, that Kyndall Rae Rothaus said she doesn't remember ever happening before. She and others hosted a four-part series for survivors of sexual assault and their advocates.

“We created a space for lament, then silence, next anger and finally hope,” said Rothaus, pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church, Waco, and a columnist for Baptist News Global (BNG). “We acknowledged in each service that everyone's pace of healing is unique, and that the stages of healing are never linear.”

And she wrote in a BNG column that she didn't remember any other single instance of hearing a sermon on sexual violence.

“The rarity of what we created strikes me as a sad failure of the Church,” Rothaus wrote. “It occurs to me that perhaps not all pastors realize that around one quarter of the women in their congregations have been (often silent) victims of sexual or inter-personal violence/abuse. Some of the men in their congregations have been victims too.”

Maybe pastors just don't know what to do about the “horrifying” statistics, and as a result the silence surrounding dangerous situations can persist, she wrote.

One thing they can do, Rothaus noted, is to always include comments for people in abusive situations when they preach on marriage and relationships.

Public caveat

“Some people do need to leave a relationship for their own safety or the safety of their children,” she wrote. “I'm serious. Never talk about marriage or divorce again without that public caveat, even if it feels a little out of place. Maybe it is only one sentence in your whole sermon or Bible study lesson, but that one sentence could save someone's life.”

Many people stay in severely abusive situations because they've never heard their pastor say it's OK to leave, Rothaus wrote.

“It's not your life that's in danger. Let your words make someone else uncomfortable if it could save a life,” she said.

Pastors and youth leaders also should make it their mission to educate their church about sexual violence, Rothaus wrote.

“Require everyone who works with children and youth, whether they are paid or volunteer, to complete child abuse prevention training before they can work with the children,” she wrote.

Lisa Keane, clinical director at Pathways Professional Counseling, a ministry of Alabama Baptist Children's Homes & Family Ministries, agreed.

“We're huge fans of background checks,” she said, but she added that churches should take it one level further and also get a child abuse and neglect check done.

“It's kind of a headache but it can really be worth it, because instances of child abuse don't show up on a criminal background check if charges are dropped,” Keane said.

And it's important for church leaders to know their volunteers well, she said.

“It's good to do interviews beforehand and get your eyes on the person,” Keane said. “It's also good to occasionally drop in on classrooms just to be there and make your presence known.”

It's also key not to relax on your policies, she said.

“The first thing we always talk about with a congregation is to make rules — for example there should be two adults present at all times with children or adolescents — and then stick with them,” Keane said. “Sometimes church leaders get lax with following their own rules and think, ‘Oh, it's OK this one time.' But you have to be firm.”

Trust the victim

And if abuse allegations happen, trust the victim, Rothaus wrote. “This is crucial. Always respond to an abuse story with belief. The percentage of false accusations is small and you can do a lot of psychological damage to a victim by casting doubt on their story.”

And if the victim is an adult in an abusive relationship, church leaders should never be the judge of whether or not they should go back to that relationship, she wrote.

“Never. That is never your job. No matter how sincere you think a perpetrator's apologies and confessions are, you do not know if he (or she) is telling the truth, or if that partner is safe,” Rothaus wrote.

“Sometimes Christians are so afraid of condoning divorce that we uphold marriage to the detriment of someone's safety. Keep in mind that abuse can be very well hidden and it can happen in the homes you least expect.”


New York


Truth without limitations: The facts back allowing adults justice for childhood sexual abuse

With the days dwindling in Albany's legislative session, two perniciously false arguments stand between victims of child sexual abuse and access to the legal system that could bring those who harmed them to justice.

The victims are seeking legislation that would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations on sex crimes, extend the statute of limitations on civil suits that now ends when a victim turns 23 and give victims who have been barred from the courts a fresh one year to file suits.

Although priests are by far a minority of those who commit sex crimes against minors, the Catholic Church has pressed the Legislature to squelch the so-called one-year look-back, while supporting the other measures.

The first perniciously false argument voiced by church representatives and like-thinking legislators was best expressed last month to the Daily News by Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle of Rochester:

“With each passing year, it gets harder and harder to reconstruct the truth.”

Republican Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco of Syracuse conveyed the second argument directly to victims:

Giving adults abused as kids the power to go back and press criminal charges or file lawsuits would invite fabricated claims of abuse against the innocent.

Neither knows what the hell he's talking about — and Linda Fairstein does.

“With each passing year, it gets harder and harder to reconstruct the truth.”

Republican Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco of Syracuse conveyed the second argument directly to victims:

Giving adults abused as kids the power to go back and press criminal charges or file lawsuits would invite fabricated claims of abuse against the innocent.

Neither knows what the hell he's talking about — and Linda Fairstein does.

False claims, she says, came rarely, at less than 2% of the total. Prosecutors weed those out, as do judges and juries.

Overwhelmingly in her experience, the challenge was not deflecting false claims but advancing legitimate ones, so terrified are many sex-crime victims at the prospect of reliving their trauma in court.

Legislative leaders' objections are, in short, made-up nonsense, covering for institutions fearful of civil liability for any complicity with predators.

Feared most of all is the one-year look-back window — but there is hope on that score. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie signaled for the first time Thursday that he might be open to some form of the concept.

As he and his colleagues wrestle with the issue, they need to closely consider what hangs in the balance.

On one hand, it comes down to protecting people and institutions from having to pay money to childhood sex crime victims.

On the other hand, it is a matter of giving those very real and numerous victims a chance to seek reparation for terrible harms through a court system that is designed to weigh evidence and reach fair resolutions.

In all decency, there should be no competition between the two considerations.



Why the conversation on sexual abuse must continue

Vera Starbard talks on her play 'Our Voices Will Be Heard' in light of Jack Dalton charges

by Lisa Phu

The day news broke that Alaska storyteller Jack Dalton was being charged with sexual abuse and attempted sexual abuse of a minor, Tlingit playwright Vera Starbard felt like hiding from the world.

Starbard wrote “Our Voices Will Be Heard” — a part-fiction, part-autobiographical play about her own experience being sexually abused by her uncle as a child. It's set in a 19th century Tlingit village. She cast Dalton in the important role of storyteller.

“If I can't write a play about sexual abuse without casting someone who may be a sexual abuser in the play, then I just need to give up, and that was a pretty overwhelming feeling,” Starbard said.

Writing “Our Voices Will Be Heard” started off as a way for Starbard to tell the story of her mother speaking out about Starbard's abuse and going against family pressure to keep it quiet.

Starbard's mother reported her own brother to Alaska State Troopers and told Starbard's story in court. Starbard's uncle went to jail for two months.

“She was very much blamed for causing trouble in the family and for that, she got pretty ostracized from her whole side of the family for sticking up for us,” Starbard said in a recent interview.

When the play was brought to stage — something Starbard never thought would happen — the play became a catalyst for audience members to share their own stories.

“After every single show I would stand out in the lobby and people would come out and start talking about their story of abuse or someone they knew who was abused. It really became the conversation starter to what they really felt and wanted to talk about. (The play) reflected pieces of their story,” she said.

Talking about abuse is a step toward stopping abuse, said Starbard, who's been trained in sexual abuse prevention.

“Abuse is such a shaming action to happen that people don't know how to talk about it. Not talking about it helps abuse. The shame of it and the guilt that goes on around victims not talking about it is exactly what abusers want to happen. One of the first things that so many of them say is a version of, ‘Don't tell anyone.'”

But exposing an abuser, like her uncle, can be powerful. While many of Starbard's family did try to “hush it up,” others wouldn't allow their children around him.

“There are a lot of studies that say if I had been able to say something like ‘Stop' or ‘Don't,' he would've just stopped. But, especially back then, nobody knew how to talk about it or how to teach their children that your body is your own and you can say no,” she said.

Confronting the issues

“Our Voices Will Be Heard” debuted at Perseverance Theatre in Juneau in January and then traveled to Hoonah and Anchorage in February. Starbard never sought out to become a poster child for surviving child sex abuse, but her play touched upon issues communities in Alaska and around the nation grapple with everyday.

Dalton's arrest pushed Starbard to further confront the issues. She was afraid his involvement in “Our Voices Will Be Heard” could take away its power and change how people viewed it. She felt betrayed and wanted to hide.

“I didn't want to talk to anyone, but what is the message of the play? That shutting up after it happens is really bad. That's a simplistic view, but after having presented him to people on this subject, there was a responsibility to model speaking out about it,” Starbard said.

On May 14, she wrote a Facebook post about Dalton's arrest and how she felt. She said she started writing it in the middle of the night. It was originally 12 pages long.

“What I hope the post would at least try to show was I don't have a great response for this. This shouldn't happen, so there's no correct response. The correct response is just to start talking about it,” she said. “Speaking out was the right thing even if it wasn't perfect. People need to know it was OK to speak.”

And she doesn't mean just talking about Dalton. She said he has yet to have his day in court. But abusers exist among us. They're in our community, they may be someone we love, and Starbard said we need to move the dialogue around abusers beyond “we just need to lock them up.”

“We need to look at them as human more than we do and not because I think we should go easier on them necessarily as far as justice and what they've done criminally, but if we just think these people are monsters, we're not going to see them as part of our daily life. I don't think people recognize that it's the person next to them that they love very much who is actually doing these things, and it comes from a broken place, versus a place that is out of our realm of understanding,” Starbard said.

“If we only look at them as sociopaths or these sort of creatures that don't exist on the same plane of us, we're never going to understand how to get this to stop,” she continued. “It's human behavior that we need to get to stop, not this monstrous behavior that we can't possible help.”

In her Facebook post, Starbard explained, “I wrote a play to tell a story about my own childhood sexual abuse, and then I invited someone I trusted, respected, and cared for to be my voice.”

As the storyteller in “Our Voices Will Be Heard” — a role originally written for a female, but adapted for Dalton — Dalton embodied a futuristic character telling a story involving bear, wolverine and otter.

“It was not a character who was in the same timeline as the other characters. The storyteller character was meant to represent the future of what this land can be, which is a future without child abuse,” Starbard said emotionally. “The idea of child abuse is so unthinkable that he has to resort to myth to get people to understand it, that it's just not something that happens anymore, and that's who he was representing.”

At the end of the play, Dalton's character walks on stage with a child.

Wake up call

Dalton, born in Bethel and from Anchorage, has long been known around the state as a storyteller. In the past year, the 43-year-old spent some time in Juneau for his performance in Starbard's play as well as his own play, “Assimilation.”

“Assimilation” flips the script on the history of Native boarding schools. In the play, Native people are running the boarding school and white people are being assimilated into Native culture. He started a statewide tour of the play at University of Alaska Southeast last October. The play was paired with a community discussion on healing and trauma, and one of the play's goals was to start a statewide dialogue.

“He was modeling a lot of healthy behaviors,” Starbard said, “healthy stories, helping people to heal, and he was really good with empathy and evoking empathy in us.”

Starbard said she genuinely feels bad for Dalton.

“He has to be in a really dark place to sort of live with saying these things in [filtered word] and what he might have actually been doing when he went home. That's a pretty dark place to go. You really have to compartmentalize in a way I don't understand to be able to do that,” she said.

Starbard hasn't been in communication with Dalton since the news broke May 11 about his charges, and doesn't imagine she will be. She said she's going to recast the role of storyteller for future performances of “Our Voices Will Be Heard.” Other plans have changed as well.

“He was actually going to do more than just acting in it. He was going to take the reins and take it on a little mini community tour,” Starbard said.

At the moment, Starbard is holding off on the community tour until more funds can be raised. She's focusing on potentially showing the play in Fairbanks during the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention in October.

Despite her original reaction to hole away, Starbard realizes, more than ever, “Our Voices Will Be Heard” needs to be shown.

“This is a wake up call to where we need to take the community conversation next,” she said. “The play started it. Now, how do we continue it?”



One in three young South Africans victims of sexual abuse, report finds

First ever national study finds boys at higher risk than girls, with few safeguards in place to protect them.

by Marelise Van Der Merwe

South Africa's first nationwide study on sex abuse has found that one in three young people will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 17, with boys at a higher risk than girls.

The groundbreaking report, released by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention and the University of Cape Town, found that 784,967 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 had been sexually abused.

Of that number, no boys reported these incidents while just 31% of girls told the police or an authority figures about their experiences.

In assembling data for the report, researchers interviewed more than 10,000 children, conducted focus groups with community representatives, and held discussions with care workers.

In their findings, the seven authors distinguished between contact abuse, which is frequently penetrative, and exposure abuse, which is defined as victims being forced to witness sexually explicit events, such as masturbation or pornographic material.

Professor Catherine Ward, one of the study's authors, said girls were found to be more likely to suffer contact abuse, while boys were more frequently victims of exposure abuse.

Ian Welle-Skitt, spokesman for UBS Optimus Foundation who commissioned the study, said that “even though the forms the abuse takes may differ, it can nonetheless be equally harmful to the victim and should be treated just as seriously.”

Speaking to the health reporting site Bhekisisa, Julia Privalova Krieger, from the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, said the findings identify “a critical gap in programme design that needs to be taken into account – the experience of boys”.

Risk factors

The study found the major risk factor for sexual victimisation in South Africa is alcohol and drug abuse.

The children of substance abusers can be up to 1.5 times or even twice as likely to suffer sexual abuse, with the country's high alcohol consumption per capita as well as a high rate of drug abuse posing a significant problem.

The researchers also heard an increasing number of cases of peer-on-peer sexual abuse, but co-author Lilian Artz said it remains unclear whether this indicates an increase, or whether the more in-depth research methods simply provided a clearer picture.

What is clear from the findings is that abuse is both under-reported and has been underestimated, particularly for boys, and that there is a clear link between sexual abuse and ill-effects on mental health and wellbeing.

“All forms of abuse, including child sexual abuse, are associated with sequelae such as sexual risk behaviours, mental health disorders including anxiety, depression and PTSD, and substance misuse,” the report notes. “All of these – particularly mental health problems – can affect ability to perform at school.”

The authors say sexual abuse and maltreatment of children is preventable, but until now the lack of reliable data has hindered the development of systems needed to protect and support them.

Previous research has underscored the vulnerability of young girls to sexual abuse, but the risks to young boys – and the seriousness of “no-contact” sexual abuse – has frequently been overlooked, the authors argue.

But as South Africa battles with a critically overburdened care system – it was recently reported that there were fewer than 750 social workers caring for over a million children – schools are taking the strain despite many being severely under-resourced.

“Caring for the carers” is a significant challenge, said Artz, and the lack of support for social workers, teachers and other guardians currently makes it difficult for children to report abuse safely. “There needs to be confidence in the system that something will happen if abuse is reported,” she said.

There is already comprehensive legislation in place to protect children and deal with sexual offenders, but user-friendly protocols and “a really simple information and referral process” was lacking, Artz said.

“The complexities of the legal system can be overwhelming. We don't need teachers to be able to recite the Sexual Offences Act or the Children's Act. We need five simple steps that teachers can take when abuse is reported,” the researcher said.

Ultimately, it's the role of caring communities that will help eradicate the problem, Artz said. “We have to rely on all people who have contact with children to be vigilant. It's every adult's responsibility.”



Charity warns thousands of children in Scotland could be suffering abuse similar to that endured by murdered Liam Fee

by Peter Swindon

The head of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in Scotland has warned that as many as 9,000 children in Scotland are at risk and suffering abuse and neglect similar to that endured by Liam Fee before he was murdered.

Of that figure, as many as 8,000 vulnerable children may not have come to the attention of the authorities - who could step in and prevent the maltreatment.

On Tuesday, Liam Fee's mother Rachel and her partner Nyomi were convicted of subjecting the two-year-old to an escalating pattern of cruelty before killing him at his home in Thornton, Fife, in March 2014. They were also found guilty of a catalogue of abuse against two other children.

The head of the NSPCC in Scotland, Matt Forde, said he had been left “utterly shocked” and “outraged” by the case.

“Liam's short life was marked by the most horrendous abuse and neglect, carried out the very people who were supposed to keep him safe,” Forde said. “The suffering he experienced is difficult to comprehend.”

He added: "A child dying at the hands of their parents or carers is a rare occurrence in Scotland. Neglect, however, is less so. Over a thousand children were placed on the child protection register in Scotland last year due to concerns about neglect or emotional abuse.

"There are more children suffering abuse or neglect than those who are known to social workers. We estimate that for every child subject to a child protection plan or register...another eight have suffered maltreatment. These children are not visible. How can we help those children living unhappy lives in circumstances which do not meet thresholds for formal intervention?"

Forde insisted “wider lessons must be learned” from Liam Fee's death following the announcement that Fife Child Protection Committee has begun a Significant Case Review to look at what went wrong.

When Liam Fee died in March 2014, former Fife Police officer John Myles was chairman of the influential committee.

Myles was also head of the committee in January 2014 when three-year-old Mikaeel Kular was killed by his mother while under the supervision of Fife social workers.

Then, in April 2014, two-year-old Madison Horn was murdered in her home in Kelty, Fife, by her mother's former boyfriend.

Myles, who stood down as chairman of Fife Child Protection Committee in December 2014, announced a Significant Case Review after Kevin Park was convicted of killing Horn in November 2014.

“We would hope to conclude the review early Spring 2015,” Myles said at the time – however the findings have yet to be released.

A Significant Case Review of Kular's death found that it could not have been predicted,

The Sunday Herald visited Myles' home in Fife to give him the opportunity to discuss child protection in Fife but he refused to comment.

The current chairman of Fife Child Protection Committee, another former Fife Police officer, Alan Small, also declined an opportunity to speak to the Sunday Herald.

All meetings of the committee are minuted and “are considered to be public documents” according to the committee's official website.

However, minutes for the period when Myles was chairman are not available online and a spokeswoman for Fife Council said they can only be obtained by making a request in writing.

Vice chairman of Fife Child Protection Committee, Dougie Dunlop, said a significant case review into the circumstances leading up to Liam Fee's death has been commissioned.

He added: “We want to provide reassurance that this independent review will be thorough and comprehensive.”




Proposal helps give a voice to sexual-assault victims

Silence is not survival.

Many sexual assault victims carry the emotional weight of the attack long after the physical wounds have healed. For too many, the mental scars last a lifetime.

For some, it's the unwarranted shame or embarrassment about the attack. For others, it's a belief they are to blame or that no one will believe them.

As a result, crimes go unpunished. Without justice, there can be no healing.

In Illinois, like in most states, statistics showed sexual assaults were going unreported. There were 9,593 calls to rape crisis center hotlines and 10,241 cases referred to child advocacy centers for sexual abuse last year. But it is estimated just 5 to 20 percent of rapes were reported to law enforcement officials and even fewer were ever prosecuted.

The Joint Sexual Assault Working Group explored the reasons behind those numbers. The group — led by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly and Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Polly Poskin — worked with lawmakers to mold laws more attentive and sensitive to victims.

Senate Bill 3096, sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett and Rep. Emily McAsey, now awaits the governor's signature.

This needed piece of legislation would increase training for law enforcement and medical authorities, including emergency dispatchers and first responders. It would also provide for faster processing of “rape kits,” the physical evidence gathered after an assault that can help in the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

One of the significant legal changes will be the time frame in which sexual assault victims can consent to testing of evidence gathered after an attack. The law now limits that to 14 days. Under the legislation, forensic evidence could be tested up to five years after it was collected. Children would have five years from their 18th birthday to consent to testing of the evidence.

Law enforcement authorities would also be required to complete a written report of every complaint involving allegations of sexual assault.

“The majority of sexual assault survivors do not report their attacks to law enforcement for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they don't think they will be believed or receive justice,” said Bennett, who is a former prosecutor.

Some of the reasons for silence by victims cannot be overcome. An estimated 42 percent of sexual assault survivors say they did not go to authorities because they were afraid others would find out what happened. Self-blame and unnecessary shame and confusion over whether what happened to them was a crime — a common reaction when alcohol or coercion is involved or when it is someone the victim knows — were also common reasons for not going to police.

The ridiculous social stigma associated with sexual crimes is slowly fading, but there are still other impediments in the path to justice for victims.

By removing some of the legal roadblocks through legislation such as Senate Bill 3096, victims have a better chance of regaining a fraction of the control they feel was lost in the assault. Giving that control can ensure justice for those who should be held responsible for their actions.

That justice cannot erase or lessen what happened. But it can tear down those self-imposed walls of silence and allow healing to begin.


Why Are We Negating Sexual Abuse and Fetishizing A Child Rapist just because she is ‘Pretty'?

by Neffer Kerr

Just this past week, Houston middle-school teacher Alexandria Vera was arrested for sexually abusing one of her students whom she had also become impregnated by. This woman did a heinous and damaging thing to this child whether people realize it or not. Yet all over the Internet I am seeing something just as disturbing. Not only are some people viewing this as a ‘win' for the boy (who seems to have lived out a lot of guy's middle school fantasies of scoring with the teacher), but also the fact that this child fucker is being fetishized because 1) people still don't truly associate sexual abuse with women as the aggressors and 2) because she is ‘pretty'.

Newsflash folks, this is not a ‘rites of passage', ‘pat on the back', or ‘high five' moment. The fact that there are a lot of people who see it that way is what is so fucked up with our society. I do understand that hormones are raging at that age and that many schoolboys have always fantasized sexually about teachers, but when a teacher acts on a sexual urge towards a child THAT is where the abuse and problem occurs. It is wrong and a violation of trust/abuse of power. This was not him ‘becoming a man'; this was the grooming of sexual abuse and ultimately (and repeatedly) statutory rape of a child.

The child is not at fault or the manipulator. It is the ADULT who the burden of responsibility lies on. We all know little boys that age get horny at everything. But NO TEACHER should be FUCKING THEIR UNDERAGED STUDENTS. That's not up for negotiation.

Despite all of this, many people are conditioned to believe instances like these are a badge of honor. No, it is a form of sexual abuse towards a child and may have many adverse and lasting psychological repercussions on this child that may not surface for years.


It's all about women's lib and equality right? Well lock her ass up the same way you would if the teacher was male and had impregnated his 13-year-old student. Throw the fucking book at this bitch and place her on a registry where she can't be within parks, schools, or anywhere children are (including her own). Fuck her.

I am so sick and tired of the sympathy shown to child sexual abusers simply because they are women as if their actions are not just as manipulative and damaging to the victim. I am also sick of the media using these beautiful ass selfies and pictures of her to portray her in a different light than the monster she really is. Have you noticed that? We have not been inundated with mug shots, but with Facebook and Instagram photos of her looking young, innocent, attractive, and carefree instead. If I see another photo of her blowing another kiss to the camera I am going to fucking hurl because all it does is make me think of the mental fuckery and abuse she put that boy through.

I wish more people saw it this way. I hope that she doesn't get a lighter sentence because she cries ‘poor me, I'm lonely, it's not my fault but my mental state' tears on the stand. Is she well mentally? Fuck no, but in this particular case it should not exempt her from punishment because she knew what she was doing was wrong. Ms. Vera did not make a ‘mistake', she made a decision to abuse a child, and for that she should be held accountable.



Pope approves measures to oust bishops who botch abuse cases

by Nicole Winfield

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Saturday scrapped his proposed tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed to protect their flocks from pedophile priests and instead established new legal procedures to remove them if the Vatican finds they were negligent.

The new procedures seek to answer long-standing demands by survivors of abuse that the Vatican hold bishops accountable for botching abuse cases. Victims have long accused bishops of covering up for pedophiles, moving rapists from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police — and suffering no consequences.

In the law, Francis acknowledged that the church's canonical code already allowed for a bishop to be removed for “grave reasons.” But he said he wanted to precisely state that negligence, especially negligence in handling abuse cases, counts as one of those reasons that can cost a bishop his job.

Bishops “must undertake a particular diligence in protecting those who are the weakest among their flock,” Francis wrote in the law, called a motu proprio.

The statute effectively does away with a proposal approved by Francis last year to establish an accountability tribunal inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to hear negligence cases. Francis' sex abuse advisory board had recommended that the Congregation prosecute negligent bishops because it already oversees actual sex abuse cases against clergy.

But that proposal posed a host of legal and bureaucratic issues. In the end, Francis decided to streamline the procedure and task the four Vatican offices that already handle bishop issues to investigate and punish negligence cases.

As a result, the new procedures don't amount to any revolution in bishop accountability since those four offices already had the authority to investigate bishops for wrongdoing. The new law, though, specifically states that negligence in handling abuse cases is a cause for dismissal.

The main U.S. victims' group, SNAP, said it was “extraordinarily skeptical” that the new procedures would amount to any wave of dismissals since popes have always had the power to oust bishops but haven't wielded it.

“A ‘process' is helpful only if it's used often enough to deter wrongdoing. We doubt this one will be,” SNAP's David Clohessy said.

Marie Collins, a survivor of abuse who is a key member of Francis' abuse advisory board, said while it was “depressing” that the tribunal proposal had stalled for a year, the new procedures emphasizing negligence show that bishop accountability “has not been allowed to disappear into the sand.”

“As a survivor, I am hoping the congregations involved will implement these new procedures as speedily as possible, as the success or failure of any initiative can only be judged on visible results,” she said in an email to The Associated Press.

In the law, Francis said a bishop can be removed if his actions or omissions cause “grave harm” — physical, moral, spiritual or financial — to individuals or communities.

The bishop himself doesn't need to be morally guilty. It's enough if he is purely lacking in the diligence required of his office.

The procedures call for the Vatican to start an investigation when “serious evidence” is provided that a bishop was negligent. The bishop can defend himself. At the end of the investigation, the Vatican can prepare a decree removing the bishop or ask him to resign. If he doesn't, the Vatican can issue a removal decree.

Any decision to remove the bishop must first be approved by the pope, who will be assisted by legal advisers, the law says.

The four offices now tasked with handling negligence investigations are the congregations that oversee diocesan bishops, bishops in mission territories, bishops who belong to Eastern rite churches and bishops who are members of religious orders.

Even before the new procedures were announced, two U.S. bishops who bungled abuse cases resigned on their own: Bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, and Archbishop John Nienstedt in St. Paul and Minneapolis. They were presumably pressured by the Vatican to step down after civil authorities got involved.

Canon lawyers, though, say said such arm-twisting resignations do little to “repair scandal and restore justice,” which the Church's penal law system is supposed to accomplish.



Father ' very sorry' as son found after week's disappearance

by Yoko Wakatsuki, Junko Ogura and Emanuella Grinberg

Tokyo (CNN)A missing 7-year-old boy, who was left on a mountain roadside by his parents for misbehaving, was found unharmed after searchers spent nearly a week combing dense forest on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, officials said Friday.

He was discovered in a hut at a military exercise ground about 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the spot where he was left.

Takayuki Tanooka, the father of the boy, said he was "very sorry" for what happened to his son and regretted the punishment.

"I told my son that I am sorry that I made him go through a very hard situation. He nodded to me," Tanooka said at a press conference after being reunited with his son.

"I have been raising him with lots of love," he said, his head bowed and on the verge of tears. "I would like to pour a lot more love over him from now on, and watch him growing up."

"I never thought the situation would develop in such a way. I thought it would be good for him, but it was too much," he added.

Hungry but uninjured

Three soldiers from Japan's Self-Defense Forces found Yamato Tanooka on the premises of the military's Komagatake exercise field Friday morning, said Hiroki Komori, a spokesman for the Northern Army 11th Brigade.

The boy told them he was hungry. The soldiers gave him water and two rice balls, and said that the boy was fine and talking normally.

The boy told police he reached the building the first night he was missing, local media said.

He appeared to be in good condition for someone who had spent seven days without food, Dr. Yoshiyuki Sakai, the doctor who examined Yamato, said at the press conference.

He spoke coherently and showed signs of mild dehydration and malnutrition; he had light scratches on his arms and legs, the doctor said.

Yamato will remain in the hospital while his internal conditions are checked, the doctor said. He was being treated intravenously for dehydration.

The small building where Yamato was found is usually used as a rest station, but hadn't been used recently, CNN Affiliate Asahi TV reported. Yamato had wrapped himself up in two of the futon mattresses that were stored inside to keep warm.

He drank water from a tap outside.

Odd circumstances

News of Yamato's disappearance spread beyond the island nation due to its odd circumstances.

The boy's father told authorities on May 28 that his son disappeared while picking wild vegetables with his family.

Tanooka later admitted they left him on the side of a mountain road in the woods of Nanae, home to wild bears. It was punishment for throwing stones at passing cars and people.

When his parents returned for him, the boy was gone.

Tanooka suggested the family hesitated to report him missing because of the punishment.

"I thought it might be taken as a domestic violence," he told TV Asahi.

The lie may have put search and rescue efforts at a strategic disadvantage, said the Fire Department's Saito.

"We cannot speak retrospectively, but we would have seen a different development if we had known the story from the beginning," Saito said earlier this week.

Parenting debate

The case has sparked debate in Japan about parenting styles. Many have been highly critical of the parents, accusing them of neglect.

But some have been more understanding.

"Disciplining children through gentle talking is ideal, but it is difficult sometimes on busy daily life," said Kiyosihi "Big Daddy" Hayashishita, a TV celebrity with 13 children.


High-Profile Cases Spur States to Reconsider Statutes of Limitations for Rape

by Rebecca Beitsch

Fueled by sexual abuse allegations against comedian Bill Cosby and the Catholic Church, and other high-profile cases dating back decades, state legislators across the country are considering lengthening or eliminating statutes of limitations on rape.

Statutes of limitations, which exist for most crimes besides murder, are intended to encourage the timely reporting of crimes. As time passes, evidence deteriorates or gets lost, memories fade and witnesses die.

But it can take years for sexual abuse victims to find the courage to come forward. Advocates for victims say statutes of limitations for rape and sexual assaults are arbitrary and outdated, and note that police departments across the country are still digging through a backlog of rape kits, some of which are three decades old.

Forty-three states have statutes of limitations for sex crimes, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Of the states with statutes, 27 include an exception that allows prosecutors to file charges when there is DNA evidence. State statutes of limitations often range from three years to 12 years, but in some states, accusers have more time to come forward when they say they were abused as children — until they are 21 in some states or as old as 50 in others. Some states don't start the clock until the victim turns 18.

Legislators in states such as California, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania are currently considering bills that would extend statutes of limitations for rape and sexual assault or eliminate them entirely.

In Pennsylvania, where the statute of limitations is 12 years in adult rape and sexual assault cases, prosecutors late last year beat the deadline by just weeks when they charged Cosby for a crime he allegedly committed in 2004. Backers of a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for people abused as children have pointed to the Cosby case, and to an attorney general's report released last month alleging decades of abuse by Catholic priests.

Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane accused previous bishops in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown of ignoring or hiding decades of sexual abuse by priests, but Kane said that nearly all of the allegations were too old to be prosecuted.

Nevada last year extended its statute of limitations on rape cases from four years to 20 after a woman who alleges that Cosby raped her in 1989 in Las Vegas pushed for the bill. And Oregon recently approved a law allowing prosecutors to file rape charges beyond the statute of limitations if there is new corroborating evidence or multiple victims come forward.

In Illinois, where former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert admitted molesting students when he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in the 1970s, lawmakers are considering eliminating the statute of limitations for people abused as children. Under current law, prosecutors may file charges up to 20 years after the victim turns 18.

Illinois state Sen. Scott Bennett, a former prosecutor, proposed the measure after Hastert was indicted for related financial crimes rather than for the actual sexual abuse.

“He admitted that he did things with children and you can't do anything about it, but you can get him on money laundering charges. That seems wrong,” said Bennett, a Democrat.

Changes in public policy often follow cases like Hastert's, according to Polly Poskin with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “Most law and public policy is really a response to an event,” she said. “Why it's so critical is because when one person comes forward, if there are other survivors — and inevitably there are — it gives courage to other victims to come forward … you see a pattern.”

In the last several years, Hawaii and Minnesota have approved “window” laws that lift the statute of limitations for two and three years, respectively, to allow people to sue their alleged abusers in civil court.

The Pennsylvania bill also includes a “window” provision, because lawmakers can only eliminate the statute of limitations for future crimes, not ones that have already occurred.

“We're going to put the liability back on the people who caused this. We need to be able to go back and sue the perpetrators and institutions who covered it up,” said Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi, who shepherded the bill through the House and says he was abused by a priest when he was 13.

Tough to Tell

Victims of rape and sexual abuse are often reluctant to report the crime. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nine out of 10 child sexual abuse victims are abused by someone close to them, and may be hesitant to report them. Many initially feel it is their fault or they will not be believed. For others it may take years, or even decades, to come to terms with what happened and to tell others about it.

“It wasn't until the last year and a half that I was able to use that word and call it what it really was — rape,” said Victoria Valentino, who says she was raped by Cosby in 1969 in California — a state where the current statute of limitations on rape is 10 years. Calls to Cosby's attorney were not returned.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Illinois chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which has advocated for the bill pending in the Illinois Legislature, long blamed herself for the abuse she says she experienced as a child. She didn't tell anyone about it until she was nearly 30 and a therapist asked her about her first kiss.

“Well, I was in seventh or eighth grade, and it was the priest at my church,” she said.

Blaine said she spent years working with the church to try to keep her alleged abuser away from children. But, she said, by the time it became clear that legal action was necessary, the statute of limitations on her case had run out.

Making a Case

But critics, including some prosecutors and defense attorneys, say efforts to eliminate the statutes are misguided.

Natasha Minsker of the American Civil Liberties Union of California is opposing a bill that would scrap the state's 10-year statute of limitations for rape. Minsker points out that California already allows extra time to file charges if there is DNA evidence. She said the accused affected by the change would have a hard time mounting a defense.

“When you're talking decades later trying to reconstruct what you were doing and finding witnesses to testify on your behalf it becomes nearly impossible,” Minsker said.

In Oklahoma, where a pending bill would allow prosecutors to file charges up to 18 years after the crime becomes known to a third party, prosecutors have expressed concerns.

Trent Baggett with the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council said crimes become harder to prosecute the more time passes. Evidence gets destroyed or lost, witnesses' memories fade, and prosecutors may doubt their ability to persuade jurors “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

It's understandable that victims want to have their day in court, Baggett said, but the likelihood of a conviction is low. “You hate for that person to get their hopes raised and then feel they've gotten victimized again by the state.”

Even some victims are worried about scrapping the statutes.

Sujatha Baliga, who said she was sexually abused as a child, now works in restorative justice, a process in which victims and offenders come together to talk about the incident and reconcile.

She said many victims may be hesitant to use the process if there's a chance that something said during it might be reported to police. Many victims don't report what happened to them because they don't want their abuser, who may be a relative, to get in trouble, Baliga said.

“They need to hear it wasn't their fault and that the other person is sorry,” she said. “Because the only option is punitive, I suffered in silence for a decade.”

But Susan Howley of the National Center for Victims of Crime said prosecutors should be free to determine whether to pursue each individual case, regardless of how much time has lapsed since the crime occurred.

“If in a given case the prosecutor believes the available evidence is strong enough to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, there should be no arbitrary time limitation prohibiting the case from going forward,” Howley said.

Bennett, the Illinois legislator and former prosecutor, said when victims don't report crimes right away it can make it harder to win cases, “but that's true whether it's been a year after it happened or 20 years after it happened. You've got to take more time to explain to jurors why they didn't come forward.”



98 claims received by Diocese of New Ulm

by The Granite Falls Tribune

The Diocese of New Ulm engaged in a day of prayer Wednesday, May 25, the final day to make a civil sexual abuse claim under the Minnesota Child Victims Act. According to a press release from the Diocese of New Ulm, Bishop John LeVoir called on all local Catholics to pray for healing, reconciliation, and hope.

“Today is a day to remember in prayer all those harmed through abuse by priests or others in Church ministry,” said Bishop LeVoir. “It is a time to recommit to efforts to prevent the abuse of the vulnerable and to vow never to forget the lessons of this tragic chapter in church history.”

As of the end of the day on May 24, the Diocese of New Ulm and parishes within the Diocese had received claims from 98 victims and survivors under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations for historic claims of sexual abuse of a minor. Of the Diocese's 75 parishes, 28 are named in claims.

A total of four of the 19 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse served in either pastoral or administrative capacities at area churches, including all four at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Granite Falls.

According to the release, The Diocese will continue to work closely with the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates and other representatives of victims and survivors as the aggrieved move forward in their healing journey. The Diocese and Jeff Anderson & Associates have committed to taking the time necessary, working together, to come to a fair resolution of claims that allows the work of the Church to continue while promoting healing.

“The Diocese is committed to helping victims and survivors in healing and protecting children and young people from abuse,” said Bishop LeVoir. “I apologize on behalf of the Church to victims and survivors of sexual abuse by priests.”

“The release of names and the Diocese's efforts since then demonstrate a willingness by the Diocese of New Ulm to be transparent about clergy who have abused children,” said Jeff Anderson, referring to the Diocese's March 2016 release of the names of 16 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children. “We will continue to work together to put this commitment to transparency and healing into action.”

While the period for filing civil claims on historical abuse ends today, the Diocese continues to encourage anyone who has suffered sexual abuse or exploitation by a priest or anyone else involved in Church ministry in the Diocese of New Ulm immediately to report such misconduct to local law enforcement, regardless of when the misconduct occurred.

Victims and survivors of abuse in the Church are also encouraged to contact the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at 1421 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073 or 507-233-5313 for counseling or other assistance in healing.

The Diocese is considering all options for fairly resolving the claims made against it, including reorganization under the bankruptcy laws. However, diocesan leaders do not foresee any imminent decision in this regard.

Parishioners and Catholic school families are being informed of the claims against parishes. It is not expected that the claims will affect the normal operations of parishes or Catholic schools in the Diocese.

More information about healing resources, the Diocese's response to claims, names of priests accused of abuse, and safeguards put in place to protect children can be found at

The following is a list of the four priests serving in local parishes.

Fr. Gordon Buckley: has a credibly confirmed case of sexual abuse, with imminent litigation, that occurred in Granite Falls while he was assigned to St. Andrew and St. James in Dawson. He also served St. Mary in Cottonwood, 1960-61; the Church of St. Isidore in Clarkfield, 1961-63; and the Church of St. Michael in Milroy, 1969-78. Buckley retired from active ministry in 1978 and died in 1985.

Fr. Charles Stark: is alleged to have committed abuse while assigned at St. John in Darwin where he was located from 1965-69. His following assignment was at St. Andrews from 1969-1971.

Fr. Bernard Steiner: was ordained in February 1961, for the Diocese of New Ulm. He served as pastor of St. James, Dawson and the mission of St. Isidore, Clarkfield from 1965-1969 and from 1981 - 1982 as an Administrator St. Andrews in Granite Falls.

Additionally, he was pastor of St. James and Dawson from 1978-1981; St. Clara, Clara City from 1982-1987; and was Administrator at the Sacred Heart and Raymond parishes from 1982 to 1987,

According to the release, the credible case of abuse occurred at the Church of St. Paul in Comfrey, Minnesota in the 1970s. Steiner retired from assigned ministry in 2005.

Fr. Francis Markey: Has a long history of sex abuse dating back to the 1960s. He underwent treatment multiple times in Ireland and England before essentially being kicked out of both countries.

While assigned at St. Andrews Parish for three months in 1982 he would abuse at least one child from the parish and one vulnerable adult at another institution within the community.

Markey died in jail in 2012 while awaiting charges of raping a 15-year old in Ireland over 40 years ago.



Leechburg principal and vice principal accused of not reporting child abuse

by Beau Berman

LEECHBURG, Pa. —Leechburg High School's Principal and Vice Principal were both placed on administrative leave Thursday by the school district amid allegations they failed to report child abuse.

Principal Matthew Kruluts and Vice Principal Michelle Ferretti were both placed on leave according to students, parents and Ferretti's attorney.

"Student safety is the top priority of the Leechburg Area School District. The District has been made aware of allegations that certain staff members did not report alleged child abuse to the proper authorities. The District is cooperating fully with police and CYF investigations. The staff members have been placed on administrative leave pending finalization of this investigation," the district said in a statement.

The district's statement did not specify which staff members nor how many were placed on leave, but Pittsburgh's Action News 4 was able to confirm the identities of the staffers through other sources.

The disciplinary move comes just 15 days after the district put an unnamed substitute teacher on leave who was accused of having inappropriate conduct with several students.

Ferretti did not come to her door Thursday but her attorney did.

"Well there's not a real accusation yet but certainly we would deny that she would ever fail to report a legitimate report of child abuse," said Charles Pascal, introducing himself as Ferretti's attorney.

Kruluts, of Shaler, did not return emails requesting comment.

In mid-May it became public knowledge that nine students as young as fourth graders had come forward with allegations of inappropriate contact from a substitute teacher.

Police said the students all told them the contact occurred between February and early May.

"According to the written statements children had advised specific teachers and the Principal of these incidents and their concerns," police said.

But those concerns from students which dated back to February, were not reported to the proper authorities until May 13th by a teacher.

The move to place the principal and vice principal on leave came the same day as commencement.

Outside the high school prior to the commencement ceremonies some parents chided Pittsburgh Action News 4 for being there with a camera.

Every parent that spoke out said they were upset about the district's decision distracting from graduation, but none expressed any concern about the actual allegations of abuse or the subsequent allegations of administrators turning a blind eye toward abuse.

“It's sad that it had to happen today because there are 55 students walking across this stage tonight that are being outshined by something that could have been reported tomorrow or the next day," said 2005 Leechburg graduate Sara Bradbury.


The characteristics of burns among children referred for child abuse evaluations: New research

by Lauren Leatherby

Burns are one of the leading causes of accidental injury among children. Every day, U.S. emergency rooms treat more than 300 children under the age of 19 for burn-related injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But while touching a scorching pot on the stove or spilling hot liquid can cause burns that are common childhood injuries, burns also can indicate abuse in the home.

Being able to differentiate between an accidental burn and a deliberate one is sometimes difficult. But it is critically important for medical professionals and child protection workers to be able to recognize such signs of abuse, especially when a child is too young to communicate. The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that the majority of children who suffer intentional burns are under the age of 2.

Researchers have tried to identify features that distinguish deliberate burns from accidental burns, including scalds. There are not, however, many published studies that attempt to describe the burns of children who have been referred to child protection workers for an investigation into possible maltreatment. A group of scholars from the United Kingdom reviewed 20 small studies – primarily case studies — involving a total of 73 children to try to identify patterns and similarities. Their 2014 published study, “Contact, Cigarette and Flame Burns in Physical Abuse: A Systematic Review,” found, among other things, that most non-scald burns were from household items such as cigarettes and irons and appeared in multiple places on children's bodies.

More recently, another research team sought more information about the characteristics of intentional burns. That team — six researchers from three medical schools — examined data on U.S. children aged 10 years old and younger who had been referred to one of 20 identified child protection teams between January 2010 and April 2011. Data was collected on a total of 215 children through the Examining Siblings To Recognize Abuse (ExSTRA) network. The resulting study, titled “ Children with Burns Referred for Child Abuse Evaluation: Burn Characteristics and Co-existent Injuries,” was published in May 2016 in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.

Among the key findings:

•  The median age of children with burns who were referred to child protection workers was 20 months. Nearly 56 percent were boys.

•  The vast majority had public insurance. Almost two-thirds were racial or ethnic minorities.

•  For about 86 percent of these children, burns were the primary reason for their referrals. Burns were secondary injuries for about 14 percent.

•  The most common burn types were scalds (52.6 percent) and contact burns (27.6 percent). The most common causative agent was hot water.

•  Burns that did not have adequate explanations – or any explanation at all — and burns that followed a history of other burns were significantly more likely to be associated with abuse than one-time burns or burns with an adequate explanation. Physical abuse was deemed likely in 70 percent of cases for which there was no explanation and in 62.5 percent of cases with an additional burn history.

•  Burns from hot water, burns sustained from being immersed in hot liquid and burns from unknown sources were more likely to be associated with abuse. In contrast, burns that were not likely to be associated with abuse were burns from hot food and beverages or a radiator or burns that resulted from touching hot objects.

•  Bilateral burns, burns of the skin's full thickness and burns that covered 10 percent or more of a child's body were significantly more likely to be associated with abuse.

•  Burns that coincided with other injuries were significantly more likely to be associated with abuse. Researchers deemed physical abuse likely in 88.2 percent of cases in which a bone fracture accompanied a burn.

•  About 55 percent of children with burns who were referred to child protection workers underwent a skeletal survey — a series of X-rays of all the bones in the body. The skeletal survey identified a new injury in 16 percent of those children. Skeletal surveys found new injuries in 25 percent of youngsters aged 36 months to 60 months and in 23 percent of babies 6 months old and younger.

Related research: A 2014 study published in Pediatrics , “Income Inequality and Child Maltreatment in the United States,” considers the link between income inequality and child abuse. A 2013 study published in JAMA Pediatrics , “Violence, Crime, and Abuse Exposure in a National Sample of Children and Youth: An Update,” offers data on trends related to child abuse and childhood violence. A 2013 study in the International Journal of Public Health , “The Current Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse Worldwide: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” suggests that an estimated 9 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys worldwide are the victims of forced sexual intercourse.



DSC encourages the public to help prevent child abuse

Department of Child Services shared best practices on keeping children safe with area EMTs

by Devin Zimmerman

DSC encourages the public to help prevent child abuse

On average, the Department of Child Services (DCS) receives 160 reports of child abuse a month. About 10 workers handle these reports and the investigations that ensue after a report is made.

There are things the citizens of Howard County can do to streamline the process and ensure children are cared for in a timely manner, according to DCS employees.

Last week DCS employees met with area EMTs to explain to them how, as first responders, they commonly provide the first step in reporting child abuse. However, the procedures they follow can easily translate to how neighbors, teachers, and other witnesses can protect children from abuse or neglect.

“Basically, the main idea is we want to protect the child and get help for the family,” said DCS family case manager Ryan Mix. “All you need to do is be suspicious that there's abuse or neglect. You don't have to have proof. You can have that gut feeling that something doesn't feel right about this family, something doesn't feel right about this kid, and you want to make a report so there can be a second look.”

To make a report, individuals can call 1-800-800-5556 where they will be connected to a DCS representative. These reports can be made anonymously; however, Mix encouraged callers to give a name and phone number in case a follow-up call for more information is necessary. Those making reports, he added, will never have their name revealed to the families that may be investigated.

According to Mix, Indiana state law even encourages individuals to report possible cases of child neglect, with medical professionals and teachers having an even higher responsibility to make reports.

“Indiana state law says any individual who believes a child may be a victim, shall contact [DCS]. It doesn't say should, it doesn't say maybe. It says shall,” said Mix. “So, as a citizen of Indiana, you're responsibility is to contact the DCS. “

The Signs

One factor that spurns the veracity of reports, according to DCS, is consistency. If stories change regarding how a child incurred an injury, eyebrows tend to be raised.

“You're not supposed to be subjective and say, ‘I think this person is a child abuser,'” said Mix. “You can be objective. Say, ‘Mother claimed the child fell down the stairs; however, the child reports that X happened.' If you see those inconsistencies, document that. We're going to look for that; we're trained to.”

Outside of injuries that can raise concern from neighbors and outside caretakers, typically in the form of broken bones, black eyes, or other non-typical wounds, signs of abuse also can be seen without visible injuries being readily apparent.

For example, Mix listed holes in walls from punches, fearful family members, and even over-justification for visible injuries as warning signs of abuse.

But actually picking up the phone to make a report isn't always enough if it's not done on time. Making reports in a timely fashion can make all the difference in protecting a child.

“Normally we'll get a report that says, ‘A couple weeks ago I saw a child with a black eye,'” said Howard County DCS Director Karen Denton. “By the time they're making the report, the black eye is gone, so being timely is important.

Denton said the goal isn't always to take a child away from a family. Rather, reunification is always the goal. DCS views child removal as a last-ditch effort, according to Denton. However, it does happen. And unfortunately, when it happens in Howard County, there simply aren't enough foster families available to handle the children.

As of now, there are only five foster families in the county, and Denton encouraged families to act as foster parents.

“There's a drastic need for foster families in the county,” said Denton. “Most of our children in Howard County are being removed from their families, their schools, and their community because we do not have foster homes in Howard County. We've got the kids going to Grant, Tippecanoe, Lake, and Marion counties, basically everywhere but here. If people are willing to open their hearts and homes to foster children, that's what we need.”


New York


Truth without limitations: The facts back allowing adults justice for childhood sexual abuse

With the days dwindling in Albany's legislative session, two perniciously false arguments stand between victims of child sexual abuse and access to the legal system that could bring those who harmed them to justice.

The victims are seeking legislation that would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations on sex crimes, extend the statute of limitations on civil suits that now ends when a victim turns 23 and give victims who have been barred from the courts a fresh one year to file suits.

Although priests are by far a minority of those who commit sex crimes against minors, the Catholic Church has pressed the Legislature to squelch the so-called one-year look-back, while supporting the other measures.

The first perniciously false argument voiced by church representatives and like-thinking legislators was best expressed last month to the Daily News by Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle of Rochester:

“With each passing year, it gets harder and harder to reconstruct the truth.”

Republican Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco of Syracuse conveyed the second argument directly to victims:

Giving adults abused as kids the power to go back and press criminal charges or file lawsuits would invite fabricated claims of abuse against the innocent.

Neither knows what the hell he's talking about — and Linda Fairstein does.

Fairstein served for 26 years as the chief of the Manhattan District Attorney's Special Victims Bureau. As she explained in a Daily News article on Thursday, her prosecutors routinely won criminal cases against rapists years after the fact — by dint of diligent detective work to corroborate testimony from victims, with cases often hinging on evidence harbored by perpetrators long after the fact.

False claims, she says, came rarely, at less than 2% of the total. Prosecutors weed those out, as do judges and juries.

Overwhelmingly in her experience, the challenge was not deflecting false claims but advancing legitimate ones, so terrified are many sex-crime victims at the prospect of reliving their trauma in court.

Legislative leaders' objections are, in short, made-up nonsense, covering for institutions fearful of civil liability for any complicity with predators.

Feared most of all is the one-year look-back window — but there is hope on that score. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie signaled for the first time Thursday that he might be open to some form of the concept.

As he and his colleagues wrestle with the issue, they need to closely consider what hangs in the balance.

On one hand, it comes down to protecting people and institutions from having to pay money to childhood sex crime victims.

On the other hand, it is a matter of giving those very real and numerous victims a chance to seek reparation for terrible harms through a court system that is designed to weigh evidence and reach fair resolutions.

In all decency, there should be no competition between the two considerations.


Defiance, Ohio

Long prison term imposed in child sexual abuse case

by Todd Helberg

A Defiance man was sentenced to a long prison term Thursday in Defiance County Common Pleas Court on four child sexual abuse charges.

Russell Detwiler II, 43, 1560 S. Jackson Ave., pleaded guilty to a prosecutor's bill of information charging him with two counts of rape, each a first-degree felony; and guilty to two counts of gross sexual imposition, each a third-degree felony included in a seven-county grand jury indictment.

He was given prison terms totaling 25 years by Judge Joseph Schmenk and classified as a tier 3 sexual offender. Detwiler also was given credit for time served in jail while his case was pending.

The maximum sentence that could have been imposed was 32 years.

The sentence followed the recommendation made by Defiance County Prosecutor Morris Murray following plea negotiations with Detwiler's attorney, Danny Hill II of Defiance.

The remainder of a seven-count grand jury indictment returned in April — which included three counts of rape and two other gross sexual imposition charges — was dismissed.

According to Murray, the rape charges alleged that Detwiler engaged in sexual conduct with two girls — now aged 13 and 8 — while the gross sexual imposition counts alleged that he had sexual contact with them as well.

The grand jury indictment had alleged that the incidents occurred between Aug. 31, 2013, and June 1, 2015.

Due to the youngest victim's age, the indictment had included the possibility of life imprisonment upon conviction. But that possible penalty was not included in the rape charges in the bill of information.

Defiance County Victims Assistance advocate Sally King, speaking on behalf of the victims' father, noted that Detwiler stole the older girl's “innocence and trust.” Addressing the younger child on the mother's behalf, King said she was “too young to understand” what was going on.

Schmenk said he found that “hard to believe.”

Murray noted that the agreed upon recommendation with the defense spared the children from further proceedings.

According to Hill, Detwiler has “accepted his responsibility for his actions” and is “extremely remorseful.”

Asked to make a statement, Detwiler apologized to the girls and those impacted by the crimes. Too, he indicated that he has since had a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, and had he had the “knowledge of mental health issues” beforehand, “... I probably wouldn't be here.”

The judge called the acts “terrible crimes” just before he pronounced sentence.



Department of Public Safety to investigate sexual assault reporting at BYU

by McKenzie Romero

SALT LAKE CITY — At the request of BYU police and Utah County law enforcement agencies, the Utah Department of Public Safety announced Wednesday it will review how the university police agency accesses and disseminates information connected to sexual assault investigations.

Brigham Young University has come under public scrutiny after some students claimed that their efforts to report sexual assaults has led to disciplinary investigations under the school's Honor Code. The allegations have included reports that the private university's treatment of sexual assault victims has created a climate that makes students wary of reporting crimes for fear that they themselves will be penalized.

Also included in the controversy are claims that information from police reports had been passed between police and BYU's Honor Code office, leading the university to investigate student victims.

"At the request of BYU Police Chief Larry Stott and other law enforcement administrators in Utah County, the Utah Department of Public Safety's State Bureau of Investigation will review information access and dissemination issues including any possible violations related to the sexual assault reporting situation at BYU made public this spring. SBI is currently working with BYU Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies involved, to determine the scope and focus of the investigation," the Department of Public Safety release said.

At the conclusion of its review, the department will determine whether any issues should be referred to the Utah County Attorney's Office.

Provo Police Sgt. Brian Taylor said the department joined in requesting the review when it realized and became concerned that its own investigative reports may have been used in Honor Code reviews.

"We rely on victims to make timely reports to us, and when we learned that Provo police reports may have been accessed, we felt that the best way to preserve the trust we need with victims was to ask an outside agency to conduct that review," Taylor said.

The department limited its comments Wednesday while it awaits the results of the review, Taylor said.

"We are confident that they're going to do something reasonable with that investigation and make a reasonable recommendation, and we look forward to hearing it," he said.

In April, deputy Utah County attorney Craig Johnson described how a woman who had reported a sexual assault was being investigated by the Honor Code office and barred from registering for classes until a review determined whether she had violated university rules through the circumstances surrounding the attack.

Johnson said the woman became the subject of an Honor Code review after Utah County sheriff's deputy Edwin Randolph turned a police report over to the standards office. The report potentially incriminated the woman in alleged violations of the Honor Code, according to Johnson.

Randolph was charged in February with retaliation against a victim, a third-degree felony, for allegedly turning the document over to BYU. Those charges were later dropped.

Students attending BYU agree to adhere to Honor Code standards, including abstaining from premarital sex, not consuming drugs or alcohol and following dress and grooming regulations.

BYU Police Lt. Steven Messick asserted Wednesday that in the nearly 30 years he has been with the department, there has been no practice of handing off investigative reports to the Honor Code office.

"The bottom line is that we don't share information with other entities. What we're really making sure is that we're keeping victims safe and we're not revictimizing. We want to make sure we're taking care of them," Messick said. "It's important for people to have confidence in us that if they come in, they know that as victims, we're not going to release their name or information without their approval."



Summer brings unreported child abuse cases


As temperatures rise this summer, so can the number of child abuse cases.

Children's of Alabama says the heat, bored children -- coupled with no breaks for caregivers -- can increase the likelihood for abuse.

Teachers and daycare workers are mandated child abuse reporters. If children aren't in school, they aren't able to report. That's why it's important during the summer months for people to be on the lookout for signs of abuse.

"The heat can play a factor in children's attitudes, and caregivers attitudes," said Debra Schneider, director of Children's Hospital Intervention and Prevention Services.

The CHIPS center provides immediate medical care for child abuse victims.

"We also have counseling services for the children and non-offending caregivers," Schneider said.

She explains why cases may go unreported during the summer months. "The reports may not be as prominent, because we're not getting the report from the school systems," she said.

Schneider says having a set structure for children can relieve stress for parents and caregivers -- in return, decreasing chances for abuse.

"Don't let them get bored, give yourself a break as a caregiver," she said.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources says anyone is encouraged to make a report if he or she suspects a child is being abused or neglected.

Schneider says people should properly vet their child's caregivers

"If it's someone who doesn't know your child, or know your child's behavior and personality, maybe they should spend some time with your child - get to know them - before you consider them to be the person you're going to leave the child with," Schneider explains.

Alabama DHR stresses the importance of reporting cases this summer, whether it be contacting law enforcement or county DHR offices.

You can do so anonymously.



Kern has 10 confirmed child abuse cases daily

by Tom Corson

The Kern County Network for Children's 2016 Report Card — a report on the condition of our children and families — was released today, June 1. The report identifies that during 2014, 33 percent of our community's children lived below the poverty level — an 8 percent increase over last year. To help illustrate what this means for families, a Kern County renter earning minimum wage must work 63.5 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent. What's more, 72,000 Kern children were at risk of hunger in 2014.

Research well documents that, for a variety of reasons, when compared with children from more affluent families, poor children are more likely to have low academic achievement, to drop out of school, and to have health, behavioral and emotional problems. These linkages are particularly strong for children whose families experience deep poverty, who are poor during early childhood, and who are trapped in poverty for a long time.

In 2009, the Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, a congressionally mandated, periodic research effort to assess the incidence of child abuse and neglect in the United States, found that children from families with annual incomes below $15,000 were over 22 times more likely to experience abuse and neglect than children from families whose income exceeded $30,000.

Poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect. Impoverished families often live in inadequate housing, lack access to health care and transportation, struggle to meet their basic needs, and suffer from depression and/or emotional detachment.

During 2015, reports of suspected child abuse were filed on 18,409 Kern children. Of these children, an average of 10 each day were confirmed victims. Eighty-eight percent of the substantiated allegations were related to general neglect. Statewide, 67 percent of substantiated referrals were related to neglect. California state law defines general neglect as the failure of a caregiver of a child to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care or supervision, where no physical injury to the child has occurred.

Kern's Differential Response program expands the ability of Child Protective Services to respond differently to suspected reports of child abuse and neglect, by assisting families at the first signs of trouble. CPS Social Workers assess the referrals received and determine their safety risk level. Referrals that do not require formal intervention services are referred to DR. Trained staff provide integrated case management, a range of in-home supportive services (e.g. teaching and demonstration, advocacy, and transportation), as well as linkages to counseling and medical services, parenting education, job training, food and housing assistance. During FY 2014-2015, 79 percent of DR referrals included a general neglect allegation.

The good news is that poverty is resolvable and child abuse and neglect can be prevented. In 2015, Differential Response began an innovative partnership with Kern's Welfare To Work program. WTW helps parents who are receiving CalWORKS (cash public assistance) with preparing for work, gaining employment, and becoming self-sufficient. Since 2008, DR has helped Kern's substantiated child abuse referral rate decline by 38 percent.

At the end of the day Kern County families need jobs. Our economic development efforts aimed at creating jobs that demand the skills present in our community's workforce are vital to helping families break the cycle of poverty. Collaborative efforts such at the City/County Task Force on Workforce Development, the Career Technical Education focus in local school districts including Kern Community College District and CSU Bakersfield and the work of the Kern Economic Development Corporation will help create jobs for local families and provide the pathways to employment that will help raise the local per capita income level.

A primary goal of KCNC's Annual Report Card is to help educate the community about the primary issues our children and families and are struggling with so that we can work together to improve them. Over the years we have found poverty to be a root cause of so many of our social challenges highlighted annually in the Report Card.

Please consider what you can do personally or professionally to help create employment opportunities and support for Kern's most vulnerable families. A high tide raises all ships and our community benefits when all of us work together to create opportunity. For information about programs that are working to help families, call the Kern County Network for Children at 636-4488.

Tom Corson is the executive director for the Kern County Network for Children, a partnership of local government, schools, businesses and communities working together on behalf of children.


United Kingdom

UK Overseas Territories take a stand against online child sexual abuse imagery

by Caribbean News Now

LONDON, England -- In an historic announcement on Wednesday, 12 British Overseas Territories launched dedicated reporting portals, to allow web users to report images and videos of child sexual abuse.
The IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) initiative has been made possible by funding from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) cyber security capacity building programme. The IWF reporting portals will provide a quick and easy way for web users in 12 overseas territories to safely and anonymously report online images and videos of child sexual abuse.

On Wednesday, a planned roll-out of the IWF reporting portal took place simultaneously in the following 12 UK Overseas Territories:

• Akrotiri and Dhekelia
• Anguilla
• Ascension Islands
• Bermuda
• British Virgin Islands (BVI)
• Cayman Islands
• Gibraltar
• Montserrat
• Pitcairn Islands
• Tristan Da Cunha
• Turks and Caicos
• St Helena

IWF reporting portals have already been successfully established in Mauritius and Uganda.

Susie Hargreaves, IWF CEO, said: “This is a ground-breaking initiative for us, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the territories involved. We're now able to provide a first class reporting portal to protect the citizens in each of these territories. Child sexual abuse imagery is a global problem and we can only fight it with a truly global solution.”

By working closely with internet companies, the IWF helps people who stumble across online child sexual abuse images and videos to report them anonymously, via a web-based reporting hotline. A team of experienced IWF analysts then work directly with the internet industry and law enforcement, to have the abusive imagery removed quickly.

The advantage of establishing an IWF reporting portal is that any reports of suspected online child sexual abuse imagery generated in these territories will be assessed directly by one of IWF's analysts. These analysts are respected globally for their experience.

The IWF hotline provides one of the most successful reporting mechanisms in the world. When the charity was founded 20 years ago, 18% of the world's online child sexual abuse imagery was hosted in the UK. Thanks to IWF analysts, that figure is now 0.2%. These analysts are considered world-leaders for their expertise.

What does it mean for the fight against online child sexual abuse imagery?

Harriet Lester, IWF's technical projects officer, who worked closely with the territories throughout the project, said: “Launching these 12 reporting portals is a huge step toward our mission to remove child abuse images and video from the internet completely.

“I travelled to a number of the territories early on in the project and the response from people there was overwhelmingly positive. We're looking forward to working with them to make their corner of the internet a safer place.”

The IWF worked closely with the FCO on getting the 12 portals up and running.

James Duddridge, UK Minister for the Overseas Territories, said: “This demonstrates the Overseas Territories commitment to protecting children from harm and builds on the excellent work of the Internet Watch Foundation, who remove child sexual abuse content hosted anywhere in the world. I am delighted the FCO, through our cyber security capacity building programme, have been able to support this.”

Online child sexual abuse images and videos are a very real problem across the globe. The IWF brings together governments, law enforcement, the online industry and civil society to do what's needed to eliminate images of child sexual abuse from the Internet.

In 2015 (figures published in April 2016) the IWF positively identified 68,092 reports of child sexual abuse images or videos, which it then helped remove from the internet. From that figure, 69% of the victims were assessed as ten years old or under. 1788 victims were assessed as two or under. Just over one third were category A – the rape or sexual torture of children.

Removing these abusive images from the internet makes it a safer place for all.

What the territories say:

Gibraltar: Eddie Yome, Commissioner of the Royal Gibraltar Police, said: "The rise of social media and new technology have been some of the biggest contributory factors to the change in the global policing landscape over the past couple of years and there is no doubting that it brings with it some very difficult challenges, especially at a time when our resources are under increased pressure and demand.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of a joined up approach to this issue and as a result, we continue to focus on effective partnership, working to ensure we are better educated and prepared to successfully address the growing demands of the digital age. This latest partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation is an example of our efforts in support of our Annual Policing plan. The IWF perform an outstanding job in minimising the availability of child sexual abuse images online, through an effective network of trusted international partnerships with law enforcement, industry and voluntary sectors.”

Turks and Caicos: Mary Durham, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Acting Superintendant in charge of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Unit, said: “Every way and means necessary to protect our children here in the Turks and Caicos Islands is of high importance. The introduction of the reporting portal is certainly a great initiative and is impeccable as we move forward with an aim to stop child abuse images and video from surfacing on the internet.”


New York

A Catholic Conference Disgustingly Tried To Block Reforms To Protect Child Sexual Abuse Victims

by Marissa Miller

As  if it weren't hard enough for victims of abuse to seek justice, let alone feel supported or even believed, the Catholic Conference has stooped to a new low amid years of reports of child sex abuse. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who leads New York's Catholic Conference, hired major lobby firms to halt legislation geared toward helping child abuse victims seek justice, The New York Daily News reports. State records show that between 2007 and 2015, the conference doled out more than $2 million in an effort to stop New York's Child Victims Act from becoming law.

The Child Victims Act would get rid of the statute of limitations for victims to bring civil cases against their abusers and open a one-year window for people who have passed the current limitation to do so. If the conference, which represents all of New York's bishops in public policy, manages to block the reform, adult victims who were abused as children would not have their GOD-GIVEN right to file civil claims after their 23rd birthday. Time is ticking since the state legislature's session ends June 16.

“They are willing to spend limitless money in order to basically keep bad guys from being accountable for their actions,” Melanie Blow, chief operations officer of the Stop Abuse Campaign, told Kenneth Lovett from The New York Daily News . “I think they're doing it because they don't want to have to pay out settlements.” Messed up on so many levels, if I may say so myself.

The Catholic Conference argued that opening a one-year window could bankrupt the Church if lots of old cases reemerge.

The news is not much different than New York's already outdated system of “protecting” victims of child sexual abuse. You know how it can be so traumatic it often takes years or decades of therapy just to be able to articulate the incident out loud? Yeah, well as it stands, New York State requires you to come forward within five years after the age of 18 for any charges to hold weight. The state's law ranks among Georgia's, Mississippi's, and Alabama's in supporting assault victims, New York State assembly member Margaret Markey told The New York Daily News citing a survey by Professor Marci Hamilton of Cardozo Law School. I thought we were passed that victim-blaming shit where you have to report it right away or no one will believe you.

A 2010 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau report found that 9.2 percent of child victims of abuse have been sexually assaulted. This number could be far higher as it doesn't factor in unreported cases. What's worse (I mean they're all equally bad, I just need a transitional phrase), is that a 2003 National Institute of Justice report found that 75 percent of teens who've been sexually assaulted were abused by someone they know well.

In our national effort to protect marginalized populations (or you know, ANYONE) from being stripped of their civil rights, it is crucial the CVA remains intact . Here's why. When California enacted a similar law, the state uncovered 300 perpetrators. Delaware, a state comparably smaller, found 60. This is one step closer to protecting and securing justice for every victim.

Now, let's give victims the luxury of, at the very least, a safe space that lets them heal in their own time, on their own terms. Or better yet: imprison first-time offenders instead of letting it happen


New York

Author, ex-prosecutor slams critics of Child Victims Act, urges New York to stop protecting abusers

by Linda Fairstein

There is no class of people more vulnerable to sexual predators than children. In the overwhelming number of cases, the perpetrators are people who have betrayed the trust of children in their care — relatives, foster families, educators, coaches, clergy and health care professionals — who are far more likely to commit the traumatizing acts than strangers our children are brought up to fear.

The greatest damage has been done to child victims whose voices have long been silenced — first, by their abusers, and then by the senseless laws that have placed arbitrary limits on the time they have to seek justice. We cannot save many who have come before this, but we can change the outlook, the possibility of justice — both in criminal and civil court — for the thousands more who have suffered at the hands of predators and those whom we know will come next. The time to pass the Child Victims Act is now.

There is no reasonable opposition to this argument. What is it opponents fear? Some have raised the concern of false reporting, but the statistics are abundantly clear that this problem represents a small fractional proportion — less than 2% of all claims. For example, California saw about five false claims out of 850 against the Catholic Church. False reporting occurs in every category of crime and it is certainly an issue in cases which fall within the statute of limitations. It is part of the job of every prosecutor to identify those complaints and get them out of the system. They are rare, and they should never be a barrier to the overwhelming number of valid complaints that deserve to be investigated.

Is it the ease with which some critics say the reporting occurs? That is terrifically unfair and absurd. One must only meet with, listen to, experience the moment when an adult survivor discloses the torment of her or his youth. In most instances, the first telling of the facts is made after an agonizing period — years and years — of self-doubt, of denial, of wondering whether the listener will blame or believe. To look in the eyes of the individual is to understand immediately the depth of the pain and the searing imprint the criminal conduct has imprinted in the heart and on the soul of the victimized child. I can think of few things more difficult in one's life than deciding when and to whom to reveal the abuse. That alone makes me understand that only a small number of survivors ever choose to tell their stories. We are not opening the floodgates when we change these laws. Do not be misled by that kind of argument. The inherent difficulty in reopening the wounds caused by sexual abuse prevents victims from ever reporting these crimes. Another issue of how predators are expected to defend against such charges so many years after the fact — the basis in law for all statutes of limitation. Three things come instantly to mind. First is the specificity of the complaints made by so many of the survivors, especially in cases of ongoing episodes of abuse. These children experienced conduct and heard language that most kids of their age (especially in the pre-internet days when much of the abuse now being reported happened) had no reason to know. In the retelling, the excruciating detail of what the predator said and did is a compelling piece of the case. Second, with the training of Special Victims detectives and prosecutors, it is now possible — much as we do in cold case homicides — to go back and seek evidence that corroborates the accuser's story. I have had a survivor tell me about the painting over the dresser in the perpetrator's bedroom — the one she stared at every time he demanded that she come inside, the one she stared at to distract herself from the pain and the horror of what she was being forced to experience. She had no reason to have ever been in the bedroom of her best friend's uncle and yet 20 years later she could recall every piece of furniture and art, down to the detailing of the swirling pattern in his rug. In some cases, that bedroom will be exactly the same when investigators go back to view it.

Then there is actual evidence. Predators — just like in film and crime novels — often keep souvenirs to revisit the excitement of their actions. Armed with search warrants today, investigators will all too often find photographs of the adult witness — then a child — naked on a bed, or retrieve letters and diaries that document when each victim visited and what occurred. One of my perps seduced young boys by starting at a fast-food restaurant, and he kept lists of what each child liked to eat and drink — burgers and fries, nuggets and shakes. Those lists were still on his computer many years later. Occasionally, the all-powerful tool of DNA helps confirm the case, when clothing or bed linens or a stuffed animal — often saved for a reason that is entirely emotional — which was present for the criminal conduct still carries the evidence of the sexual contact.

For 26 of my 30 years in the Manhattan DA's office, I was in charge of the country's pioneering Special Victims Bureau. When I joined that great office in 1972, our state's laws were so archaic that the word of an adult survivor of sexual assault was considered “incompetent” in a court of law. My colleagues and I were unable to prosecute rapists unless there was independent evidence of the commission of the crime.

Throughout the 1970s and '80s, prosecutors, survivors, advocates, and enlightened legislators lobbied for reform when societal attitudes finally allowed us to discuss these dark subjects in public. New York lagged behind almost every state in the nation, then as now, in addressing this long-overdue reform. While that effort was underway, I continued daily to interview women who had been raped — mothers, sisters, daughters, students, secretaries and executives — sitting with them as they tried to understand why our legal system would not allow them to confront their attackers in the courtroom. Despite great opposition from the legislature at the time, the law was finally changed to allow adult sexual assault victims to have their day in court.

When DNA became a reliable scientific tool that revolutionized the criminal justice system in the 1990s — used both to identify offenders and to exonerate the innocent — we fought again to eliminate the statute of limitations that prevented victims from testifying in cases solved long after the statute had expired. There was vociferous opposition from the legislature, until at last its members removed the impediments of 17th century law and applied 20th century reason. Sadly, the reforms only applied to adult victims of sexual abuse.

In too many cases, after the adults present themselves to disclose childhood abuse, a quick check about the offender shows the predatory nature of his being. It is the private school teacher who has been transferred from one institution to another after suspicions were confirmed, but never reported. It is the football coach who had too many skiing weekends with his favorite boys at his weekend cabin until a parent finally trusted the instincts of his child to forego the trips.

We need to recognize the pervasive nature of the crimes of child sexual abuse by passing the Child Victims Act. We need to arm our survivors with a chance to do justice, just as we need to end this epidemic of victimization and restore dignity to our children, whenever they have the strength and courage to speak out.

Fairstein is a best-selling author and former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA's office



Sexually abused mother authors children's book to empower other parents and kids

by Yahoo News

A mother who was brutally sexually abused as a child by a neighbour and a silbing has bravely spoken out about her ordeal and penned a children's book to empower both children and their parents against potential abuse.

The loving mother has revealed that the painful reason she penned the book was the birth of her first child, which triggered painful memories from her haunted past.

“Changing her and seeing her naked, I saw what was happening to me with her in front of me. It was just awful, so that association caused a trigger for me which made it problematic when you're trying to parent,” Mother and abuse survivor Naomi Hunter told Kidspot .

Hunter was eight-years-old when she courageously told her mother that she had been sexually abused by a paedophile neighbour however sadly her mother did not believe her.

However it was later revealed according to online reports, Naomi was one of 16 children who had been abused by the predator.

Hunter also became the victim of sexual abuse when her half-brother, nine years her senior, also began abusing her.

When Hunter told her story of abuse to people she was brushed off and told that it was ‘normal' for brothers to experiment on their sisters.

She also claims she was told that 'all siblings explore'.

At the tender age of 10, with no one to turn to after her mother had turned her back on her, Naomi developed an eating disorder.

Years later after Naomi became a mother for the first time, she once again developed the crippling disease.

“You pick up unhealthy habits which can be equally hard to navigate. My eating disorder resurfaced after my flashbacks started coming back because I thought ‘OK I'll control that because I can't control anything else' but then I was even more exhausted while trying to look after my baby,” she told Kidspot.

Speaking today about her relationship with her own daughter Hunter told Kidspot , “She's awesome – she's empowered, assertive, confident, strong-minded and able to speak up for herself – she's not afraid to speak her mind”.

After years of therapy and making both of her predators take responsibility for their actions Hunter decided to write a picture book titled A Safe Secret to Tell.

The book skillfully manages to subtly encourage children to speak out if they are feeling trapped in vulnerable or undesirable situations.

“It's not just for child abuse survivors – the story can relate to any stressful situation that a parent is going through. A lot of parents have found it very helpful for their kids if they are going through a separation,” the mother told Kidspot .

The book has been well received with parents purchasing the book along with kindergartens, youth groups, schools and psychologists.

“The books have been an awesome tool in our home as well. My daughter is always coming up with new questions which we navigate through,” Hunter told Kidspot .

“Parents often think that it's best not to acknowledge to their children about the way they are feeling as a way of protecting them but it just leaves them confused. Kids can handle meaningful conversations in an age-appropriate way.”

Although Hunter managed to largely confront her demons, she still endures difficult days.

“When you're at the height of the triggers they all flood back at once – it's really frustrating. You have to do a lot of therapy to work through each one. It's quite overwhelming,” the mother told Kidspot .

Hunter stresses the need for parents to properly communicate their feelings to their children if and when these events occurs.

“Otherwise they make up their own scenario of what's going on and feel worse after - and often it's self-blame and you don't want to put that on them.”

Hunter said her story has resonated with thousands of adult abuse survivors and has been used by teachers and psychologists across the world to encourage children to speak out about sexual abuse.



Mormon Church accused of turning blind eye to child abuse in foster care program

by The Associated Press

The Mormon Church has been hit with another lawsuit saying that it did nothing to protect children in a church-run foster program from sexual abuse.

Two Navajo siblings sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Navajo Nation court earlier this year. A second lawsuit made public Tuesday outlines similar allegations.

A Navajo woman identified as B.N. says she was sexually molested and raped multiple times while in foster care and by health care providers in Utah, from 1965 to 1972. She was among thousands of American Indians who participated in the church's Indian Student Placement Program.

Attorneys representing the three plaintiffs say church leaders did not report the abuse to law enforcement and failed to protect the children who, as adults, suffer from emotional and physical distress.

They have scheduled a news conference Wednesday in Gallup, New Mexico, to discuss the cases that seek changes to church policy, written apologies and unspecified damages.

"Religious organizations and programs should be places where children are safe from harm, not places that protect sexual predators," said one of the attorneys, Patrick Noaker.

A spokeswoman for the Mormon Church, Kristen Howey, did not immediately respond to messages left Tuesday evening. The church has said it doesn't tolerate abuse of any kind and now tracks church members who have harmed children to keep them away from other kids.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say the Navajo Nation is the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuits because decisions about where to place children were made on the reservation. Participation in the placement program that lasted from the late 1940s to around 2000 was voluntary.

The Mormon Church says the tribal court is not the proper venue because none of the alleged conduct took place on the reservation. Attorneys for the church asked a federal court judge Tuesday not to allow the tribal court to hear the siblings' case, saying it is an unfair burden to require the church to litigate in a venue that doesn't have criminal jurisdiction over non-tribal members.

"They can file their suit in Utah courts, the proper forum, and seek relief there," attorney David Williams wrote.



Va. mom pleads for CPS to change after alleged child abuse

by Stephanie Ramirez

RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- A Virginia mother is begging CPS to change their procedures and investigate more after her 9-year-old son was nearly beaten to death.

Sheriff Deputies arrested the boy's father on child abuse charges and told WUSa9 the father had been investigated before when he lived in Stafford County

“Try to follow-up. Try to follow-through, try to see that the child is in a safe place,” said 32-year-old Amy Brown outside of VCU Medical Center in Richmond, VA. That's where her 9-year-old son, Elijah, is still be treated for severe injuries he sustained almost two-in-a-half weeks ago.

Brown told WUSA9 she's been fighting for custody of her son Elijah for about two years and last year, had Elijah's father, 37-year-old Thomas Jennings Jr., investigated after she found scars and bruises on Elijah's back.

She said there was an open case, but they didn't actually meet with a Child Protective Services case worker until the day of a custody hearing. She also said Elijah wasn't forthcoming at the time.

“It's been a struggle to get someone to believe us,” said Brown.

Brown said Elijah did eventually reveal information to doctors, so she tried again. She showed WUSA9 an email sent to Stafford County CPS in June 2015 making a plea to the department to reopen the case and describes not being able to reach an investigator.

Brown believes Jennings' military background and steady job as well as her decision to go back to school impacted the case.

May 17, 2016 is when Spotsylvania County Sherif Deputies say Jennings brought Elijah to the hospital unresponsive and admitted to striking Elijah. Doctors discovered a ruptured spleen among other injuries. Medical staff performed CPS for more than 30 minutes to revive Elijah.

“I'm hoping somebody, somewhere, either in CPS with other counties or throughout the nation could just learn that it takes more than just one time to sit with them. Children need time to open up,” she said.

A Stafford County Public Information Officer responded in a statement saying, “We are aware of the case but Virginia law precludes us from discussing case specific information about any Social Services case.”

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Social Services wrote:

Although we are not permitted by law to release any information regarding this case. The procedure is as follows:

A local department of social services is required to respond to all valid reports of child abuse and neglect by either conducting an investigation or a family assessment.  A safety assessment is done and a safety plan is put in place, if needed.  The worker is required to interview and/ or observe the victim child, interview and/observe minor siblings residing in the home, interview the caretakers, observe the environment where the alleged abuse/neglect took place, and to interview collateral contacts who may have pertinent information.  Once this information/evidence is gathered, if an investigation was conducted, the worker makes a determination if the case is founded or unfounded based on a preponderance of the evidence.  Once a finding is made, the case cannot be re-opened or re-investigated.  A new investigation can be initiated, if there is a new incident.

In terms of screening valid reports for priority, local departments of social services are provided with guidance based on the following:

1. The immediate danger to the child;
2. The severity of the type of abuse or neglect alleged;
3. The age and vulnerability of the child;
4. The circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse or neglect;
5. The physical and mental condition of the child; and
6. Reports made by mandated reporters.



Senate-Sponsored Measure to Better Protect Victims of Child Abuse Passes House

by Community Contributor, Office of State Representative Carol Sente

Vernon Hills , Ill. - State Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, helped pass legislation out of the House unanimously that would allow jurors to donate their jury duty stipend to the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center, which works to prosecute child abusers.

"This pilot program is a way to raise additional funds for the Advocacy Center's important task of prosecuting criminals who prey on children in our community," Sente said. "This is a creative and innovative way to fund a vital service."

Sente is the chief co-sponsor on Senate Bill 3034, which creates a pilot program that would allow jurors to donate their jury duty pay to the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center, a division of the Lake County State's Attorney's Office. The Center's focus is on investigating and helping to successfully prosecute child abusers.

Under the measure, jurors must be informed that such a donation is optional, and any money donated will only go to the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center. Jurors are currently paid $25 for the first day and $50 for each additional day of jury service. The Lake County Board would be required to report information about the pilot program to the Governor and General Assembly by March 31, 2018. Senate Bill 3034 passed out of the General Assembly unanimously and now awaits the Governor's signature to become law.

"Despite the gridlock we face in Springfield, this is an example of how we can work cooperatively, in bipartisan fashion, to benefit constituents who truly need help," Sente said. "I urge the Governor to take quick action and sign this bill into law."

For more information, please contact Sente's constituent service office at 847-478-9909 or email


Microsoft Building Blockchain Identity System To Fight Human Trafficking, Prostitution And Child Abuse

by David Gilbert

The World Bank says 1.5 billion people do not have an officially recognized document to prove their identity. Most of them live in the developing world, and a lack of identity leads to problems with human trafficking, child abuse and forced prostitution. Microsoft wants to fix that.

The U.S. tech giant aims to use the technology that underpins the cryptocurrency bitcoin called blockchain to create a secure identity system that will allow for the independent verification of people's identities. The blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that is decentralized and allows for each part of the network to verify each transaction taking place on the network.

While early blockchains, such as bitcoin, focused on the transfer of financial data, in the last 12 months companies have been exploring the possibility of using the blockchain for a hugely diverse range of services, including registering Internet of Things devices, tracking the provenance of diamonds and verifying people's identities.

"Microsoft is collaborating with partners Blockstack Labs and ConsenSys, and developers across the globe on an open source, self-sovereign, blockchain-based identity system that allows people, products, apps, and services to interoperate across blockchains, cloud providers, and organizations," the company said in a statement.

Microsoft said that a lack of legal identification means children and people are invisible to society, and that makes them most vulnerable to trafficking, prostitution and child abuse. Lack of proof of identity also delays the movement of refugees to the developed world. The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals include giving everyone legal identity by 2030. As part of that ambition the U.N. wants to find scalable identity systems by 2020. That's where Microsoft's blockchain solution could come in.

The system would give back to individuals control of their identity, allowing them to decide who gains access to their personal information. "The self-sovereign nature of the solution enables many scenarios and becomes an asset owned by the individual, with attributes doled out on a time bounded basis only to parties with a need to know," Microsoft's Yorke Rhodes said in a blog post.

Microsoft will launch the open framework on its Azure cloud platform in the coming weeks to allow developers to build their own identity systems. Last November the company launched a so-called blockchain-as-a-service modelwhen it announced it was offering enterprise customers the ability to “have a single-click, cloud-based blockchain developer environment.”


New Jersey

NJ Bill Would Require Child Abuse Checks For School Bus Drivers

by Ryan Gray

Legislation to run background checks on new and current school bus drivers and teachers looking for any prior child abuse charges was reported favorably out of the New Jersey Senate Education Committee and forwarded to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

If passed, S1210 would require the Department of Children and Families to conduct the check against its child abuse registry. Substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect permanently disqualify any candidate from employment or service with a school district, including current employment, though the individual is afforded the right to first challenge the accuracy of any record.

School bus drivers as well as teachers would also have to provide written consent for DCF to conduct the child abuse check and would be responsible for paying all associated fees and costs. It was not immediately clear if a local school district or private bus company employer would pay the background check fee. A message seeking clarification was left with the office of state Sen. Tony Bucco, who introduced the legislation.

A similar bill is also in the state assembly, where it has remained in the chamber's education committee since also being introduced in February.



Rape allegation, race, glare of national media divide town

by Kimberlee Kruesi

DIETRICH, Idaho — Teaching her children how to peacefully respond to racist comments in a tiny Idaho town was not new for the mother of 20 adopted children, many of whom are black. She often found herself echoing the virtues taught in Dietrich's only church.

Kindness and patience can overcome ignorance in the mostly white, rural community, she told her kids. Forgive. Turn the other cheek.

Then her black teenage son joined the football team. Within months, three of his teammates used a coat hanger to sexually assault him in a school locker room, prosecutors say. The attack came after the woman said she spent months trying to convince school officials that her and her husband's concerns about the repeated racist harassment directed at their children needed to be treated seriously.

The allegations of prolonged racist taunts and physical abuse were revealed this month when the family filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Dietrich School District. It claims the school failed to prevent the abuse even though much of it happened in front of football coaches and school officials.

Three teens have been charged in the Oct. 23 assault: two with felonies in adult court and one in juvenile court. In the lawsuit, the victim contends one of his teammates pretended to want to hug him but instead held him down so 17-year-old Tanner Ward and 18-year-old John Howard could assault him.

Ward has pleaded not guilty, and Howard has not yet entered a plea. The juvenile court case is sealed.

"Sometimes I wish I hadn't said anything," the mother said. "Then we could have lived a quiet life. But when you're right, you sometimes have to stand alone."

The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual abuse and is withholding the woman's name to avoid identifying her son.

Ward's attorney declined to comment, saying he was court-ordered not to discuss his client's case with the media. Howard's attorney did not return a request for comment.

The victim's mother, who is white, said her son was not alone in experiencing hurtful comments from fellow students. Another son was called the N-word in grade school, a daughter was called "Aunt Jemima," and another child was told by fellow students to "go back to Africa." The school district treated the taunts with indifference, she said.

School officials have repeatedly denied requests for comment from the AP. However, other residents of the town that revolves largely around church and school sports say it's a safe and welcoming place. They're stunned by the allegations, but some are unhappy the family took the district to court.

It's not the first time the family has been on the wrong side of local public opinion. The teen's father, a teacher at the school, received an ethics complaint in 2013 for saying the word "vagina" during a biology class. The complaint was eventually deemed unfounded, but the incident made national headlines, and the mother said residents who treated their family with disdain a few years ago have returned with the same anger.

Melissa Towne, 37, who has spent her whole life in the town of about 330 people, says Dietrich is a good place despite the negative attention. People wave at one another as they pass on the mostly gravel roads, and Towne makes it a point to welcome the occasional new neighbor.

"We never had this kind of attention when I was in school," she said. "But I still like it here. We have good people here. I like living in a small town, and so do a lot of people who live here."

Most residents attend church in the simple Mormon building that marks the town's main entrance. Basketball is the favored sport because of a series of state championships, but the high school football program is gaining popularity thanks to a recent winning streak and new equipment donations.

"In this town, it's all about your name and how athletic you are," the victim's mother said.

She and her husband have lived in Dietrich for more than two decades, though many of their children are older and have moved away. Large families and adoptions are common in the Mormon faith.

Most families in Dietrich, about 125 miles east of Boise, tally their time there in decades, not years.

"Everyone who is from here pitches in and helps each other," said Clay Divine, who has lived in the town for more than 30 years. "Those kids were not from here. This is a nice community."

Still, Ward is practically a next-door neighbor in the rural region where the nearest Wal-Mart is 40 miles away. He hails from Richfield, a slightly larger town of about 480 just 16 miles away.

Howard, accused in the lawsuit of being the ringleader in the attack, moved to Dietrich last year from Keller, Texas, a city nestled inside the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

But he's related to a Dietrich celebrity — Acey Shaw, a beloved girls' basketball coach who led the team to a record five state championships. The town rallied around Shaw after he contracted a rare bovine disease that stole his ability to walk and most of his ability to talk.

The victim's lawsuit cited that family connection, arguing school officials looked the other way on Howard's behavior because of his relatives.

It also said the victim has mental disabilities, though it does not elaborate. His mother declined to discuss specifics about the boy and the case.

Divine said he felt bad for the victim and understands why the state pressed charges against his teammates. But the lawsuit has given the town another black eye, Divine said, and in the insular community, that offense can be hard to forgive.

"This lawsuit really has people divided," Divine said. "But it happened on the coaches' watch, and this is something that young man is going to have to live with his whole life."

Divine's children grew up in the Dietrich school system, where they played sports and studied hard in a safe environment. He's not sure that's the case now.

"This is a good town for my grandchildren. I just don't think I would send them to the school anymore," he said.

Just down the road, the victim's mother was working in her front yard, waiting for a call back from a real estate agent. After 21 years in Dietrich, they're searching for someplace safer.


New York

New York Senate's power struggle in 2009 may have doomed child-abuse law reform


ALBANY — The best chance in recent years to pass legislation to help child sex abuse survivors may have fallen victim to a 2009 state Senate leadership coup that threw the chamber into chaos.

Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Westchester) was carrying a bill to make it easier for victims to bring lawsuits and wanted then-Senate Democratic Majority Conference Leader John Sampson to move the bill to the floor through the Rules Committee he controlled before the legislative session ended in late June.

But on June 8, 2009, Democratic Sens. Pedro Espada (D-Bronx) and Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) — who were convicted years later on federal corruption charges — shockingly joined with Republicans to give the GOP control of the chamber. Monserrate quickly jumped back to the Dems, leaving the Senate gridlocked for a month, with both sides having 31 members.

By the time the matter was resolved and Espada rejoined the Dems, the Child Victims Act was no longer in play as lawmakers just wanted to get done and leave Albany for the year.

“A lot of things got messed up that year,” Hassell-Thompson said in a recent interview.

A year later, with the Democrats still in charge, the bill was sent to the powerful Codes Committee, which at the time was chaired by Eric Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat who is now the state attorney general.

Schneiderman wanted to move the bill to the floor and brought it up for a vote in his committee. The Republicans all voted against it. But if every Democrat voted yes, it would have been reported out of committee.

Instead, Sen. Thomas Duane, a Manhattan Democrat who had sponsored a tougher version of the bill, voted against it, meaning it died in committee.

Duane said last week he voted “no” because he didn't think the bill went far enough. He particularly opposed a provision that would have allowed a one-year window to revive old cases, but only for those up to the age of 58.

He also said he didn't agree with watering down the bill when there was no guarantee it would pass either house.

“I'm certainly not going to vote for something that wasn't as good as my bill with no guarantee it was going to pass,” Duane said. “In the Senate, the Republicans wouldn't go for it and there were probably some Democrats who wouldn't have.”

Meanwhile, after passing a bill four times from 2006 through 2008, things were changing in the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

In 2009, victims had hope after the Democrats took control of the Senate. But the Catholic Conference hired Patricia Lynch, a powerful lobbyist with close ties to then Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Other groups, like Agudath Israel, also vehemently opposed the bill but let the Catholic Conference take the lead.

Once Lynch was hired, the Assembly never took another vote on the issue. Silver had told his members that he wanted to wait for the Senate to first pass the Child Victims Act before his chamber took another vote.

“Lynch convinced Silver to let the bill die on the vine,” one source said.

Another source familiar with the situation said that one reason the Assembly previously passed the bill was that Silver despised Edward Cardinal Egan. After Egan retired in 2009, Silver enjoyed a much warmer relationship with Egan's replacement, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

Dolan, the source said, committed to Silver that the Church would continue to do private settlements and establish a separate fund to address the victims' claims. But Dolan has had his own troubles in this regard. In 2013, it emerged that he had years earlier tried to protect church assets while working as archbishop of Milwaukee by transferring $57 million from a cemetery fund.

In addition, the Catholic Conference also got powerful Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) to introduce a more favorable bill to them that did not include a one-year window for victims to revive old cases. Lopez even brought a priest from Brooklyn on to the floor of the Assembly to talk to different members, those who were there at the time remember.

The Lopez bill ultimately split the conference, with some still supporting the idea of a one-year window to bring civil lawsuits for those who under current law could no longer sue. Others backed Lopez' version that only extended the statute of limitations going forward.

With the Republicans having reclaimed the Senate in 2011, the issue was no longer on the front-burner.

Assembly sponsor Margaret Markey (D-Queens) renewed her aggressive push last year after Silver was toppled following an arrest on federal corruption charges.

He was replaced by new Speaker Carl Heastie. But with the Senate Republicans still not budging, Heastie saw no reason to tackle the controversial issue in his first few months on the job, a source said.

Heastie recently said he has begun surveying his members to see whether to bring a bill to the floor for a vote before the scheduled June 16 end of the legislative session.

Markey throughout the years has made different changes to the bill. Where it once included a push to extend the statute of limitation on child sex abuse cases, now she would eliminate it.

One source said there may be more support as some members are still angry they were targeted last year with attack mail sent to their districts criticizing them for opposing the education tax credit private and parochial schools were seeking.

“That was a major misstep by them,” the source said.

In addition, the idea could get a fresh airing by top Assembly staff now that Silver's old counsel, James Yates, has retired.

“Jim Yates hated the idea of changing the statute of limitation,” the source said.



Meth use drives demand for Montana foster homes

by The Associated Press

GREAT FALLS — Marilyn Fritz receives two or three calls a month from the Montana Department of Family Services asking her to provide foster care for children being removed from their homes.

A single mom with four foster children, two of which she has adopted, Fritz has to say no to the other children she knows need support.

"It makes me sick to my stomach to say no," Fritz said.

There were 1,000 more Montana children in foster care in November 2015 than the same month in 2011, according to statistics provided by the DFS.

And as the number of child protection cases in Montana continues to grow, there is a shortage of available foster families able to take these children into their homes.

"The dominant factor on these cases is drug abuse — predominantly methamphetamine," Cascade County Attorney John Parker said.

According to DFS, there were 851 children in foster care in 2010 due to abuse or neglect resulting from parental substance abuse. In early April of this year, that number was 1,658.

Local data shows that 59 percent of the 160 cases filed this year in Cascade County have some tie to meth. That's according to statistics compiled by District Judge Greg Pinski while preparing a Drug Treatment Court grant application.

The data showed 15 percent of the cases were filed due to suspected substance abuse involving alcohol, prescription drugs or other opiates and marijuana. Physical abuse accounted for 17 percent of the cases filed through May 20.

The demand on the foster care system continues to grow, but, finding a safe place away from a dangerous situation is just the beginning for children removed from their homes.

Fritz has provided a home to at least 40 children in the past four-and-a-half years. Her parents fostered children for 30 years.

"I wanted to continue what they started," she says.

Fritz adopted two of the children currently in her care. J.J., now 13, came to Fritz when he was 9. She took Sam, now 3, from the hospital days after his birth. His adoption was just finalized last November. Her foster children are siblings ages 16 months and 5 months.

J.J. was Fritz's 21st foster child. She was asked to provide temporary care until he could be admitted to Shodair Children's Hospital in Helena, the state's only acute and residential psychiatric treatment facility for children and adolescents.

Fritz had J.J. evaluated locally and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. He stayed with her and began a medication and treatment regimen.

J.J.'s birth mother was only 15 when he was born. Fritz was told she was addicted to opioids — prescription pain pills — and probably took them while she was pregnant.

J.J. recalled times he had to call 911 as a child when she would threaten to stab herself in front of him.

He's been with Fritz for six years, but he still struggles with emotional issues, a problem she's seen in all of her foster children stemming from abandonment, separation anxiety and anger management.

"It gets worse before it gets better," Fritz says of the treatment process.

Fritz says the kids she's cared for gravitated toward bad behavior even if they didn't want to. They engage in harmful habits for comfort.

For example, Fritz says, J.J. rubbed a bald spot on his head for years because his mother rubbed his head repeatedly in an attempt to comfort him when he suffered from untreated illnesses.

A young girl frequently masturbated because it reminded her of the only relationship she had with a sexually abusive family member. Another child Fritz fostered kept the last bite of food he ate in his mouth because he frequently went hungry at home.

The 16-month-old in Fritz's care suffers from reactive attachment disorder, the result of being neglected during the critical early months of infancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, reactive attachment disorder occurs when a child's basic needs for nurturing, comfort and affection are not met, and the child fails to establish any stable, loving attachments with a caregiver.

The 16-month old was removed from his home at 3 months old and came to Fritz three months after that, but "the damage was done," she said.

Fritz says the toddler's condition is improving, yet sometimes he'll drift off "somewhere else," rocking, moaning and sucking his thumb, the evidence of how he coped during his earliest weeks. These are typical symptoms of the disorder, along with a lack of social interaction and unexplained sadness or irritability.

"It's hard to watch the kids go through this," Fritz says with tears in her eyes. "You feel helpless."

The child's 5-month-old sibling has respiratory issues after visiting with his biological mother, "who can't stay clean," Fritz says. The father of Fritz's foster children is abusive, and still involved with their mother, though he is currently in jail.

The proximity of her foster children's parents has been a concern for Fritz.

"It doesn't just affect the kids," Fritz says of a birth parent's behavior. "It affects me and my other kids."

The life children lead before their removal also impacts everyone they come in contact with — peers, teachers, care providers and others they form relationships with in the future.

Sleep can be a problem, too, as issues seen in other children such as bed wetting or waking during the night stretch on for years.

Despite the conditions the children endured in their previous homes, being taken from those homes, and the only family they know, is extremely traumatic. The older children feel helpless, with no control over their lives, Fritz says.

Her children receive counseling or therapy, but the progress takes time and the work is constant.

"You go once a week," Fritz says. "Every other day the foster parent is the therapist, trying to correct behavior."

Behavior, bad or good, is one of the only things the kids can control after being removed from their homes.

Fritz views her role as "breaking the cycle," as she figures the parents of many of the children she cared for were subjected to similar treatment when they were young.

It's hard work, she says, but "it's where things start to get good."

At this point Fritz has no way of knowing how long she will be a part of her foster children's lives. Their cases are still open.

Open cases are Lisa Goff's business. She is the executive director of Cascade County CASA-CAN, a nonprofit group matching volunteer guardians ad litem to children involved in youths in need of care (YINC) court cases. The guardians appear at hearings on a child's behalf after they've been removed from the home.

"The kids are the real victims," Goff says. "It's not their fault, yet they are underrepresented."

The cases ultimately end with parental custody restored or terminated. Goff says cases involving substance abuse, especially drug addiction issues, can prompt cases to drag on as a parent struggles with sobriety.

"Our first priority is to reunite the family, make them whole," she says. "But, if a parent can't stay clean, that's not an option."

The staff and volunteers at CASA are seeing the same increase in meth-related cases as other facets of the justice system. According to Goff, 49 percent of the cases CASA has taken in the last two and a half years have a tie to meth, including meth-dependent newborns, children exposed to the drug in some fashion, a caregiver driving while impaired or an instance of drug-fueled domestic violence.

She also says meth was tied to about 24 percent of "re-abuse cases" filed during the first three months of 2016. These cases involve a child who has been involved in a previous YINC case.

The number of YINC cases filed each year continues to rise, but CASA's volunteer levels remain flat, meaning they can't assign guardians to every child in the system. This trend began in 2014.

Goff says they need more volunteers. "We need people who can be a voice for kids, advocate for their rights in a state where parents' rights are paramount."


United Kingdom

New Longitudinal Study Finds Epidemic of Fear, Not an Epidemic of Child Abuse

by Richard Wexler When a longitudinal study of children in California found that they are more likely to be reported as allegedly being abused or neglected over five years than over just one, this led to some remarkable leaps of logic. It was suggested that the study shows “child maltreatment is a far larger societal epidemic than we've previously thought” and “a reckoning is coming in child protection.” I've previously noted that it isn't exactly a surprise to find more of something when you follow a population for five years than when you follow it for one.

But the other problem is assuming that a whole lot of people picking up the phone to report their slightest suspicion of any form of “maltreatment” means that there is actually an epidemic of child abuse.

A new longitudinal study has been released in Britain that has some results similar to the California study. While there are some differences both in terminology and in the process for handling reports about children deemed “at risk,” this study found that 22.5 percent of English children – about 150,000 – are reported to child welfare authorities by the age of five. And 75 percent of those 150,000 children will be subject to some sort of government intrusion into their family lives.

Since well over half of all such reports, known in England as “referrals,” occur between ages 5 and 18, it's easy to see that the proportion of families subject to this intrusion over the course of the child-rearing years is staggering. And this is an average figure.  One can only imagine how often this happens to families in impoverished communities.

One could, of course, interpret this as meaning England is a cesspool of depravity where a “societal epidemic” of child abuse is so huge that the majority of parents abuse their children.

But the authors, Professors Andy Bilson and Katie Martin of the University of Central Lancashire School of Social Work, offer a more sensible interpretation: It's an epidemic of fear, not an epidemic of child abuse.

The number of referrals, investigations and children taken from their homes and placed in foster care in England all have shot up since 2008. There is no evidence that child abuse skyrocketed in this time. On the contrary, sexual abuse remained largely unchanged and physical abuse actually decreased.

The increase in the English equivalent of “substantiation” was almost entirely in the areas of “neglect” and “emotional abuse” – a particular paradox since a child abuse investigation often is, in itself, emotionally abusive for a child.

And while reports we would call “substantiated” increased by 40.4 percent, reports we could label “unfounded” more than doubled.

The real reason for the increases in reports and in foster care is largely a result of a nationwide foster-care panic resulting from a notorious child abuse death in London in 2007, known as the “Baby P case,” and other cases in Britain.

As Bilson told the Times of London: “The tragic deaths of children . . . and desperation not to be the one who misses the early signs next time have led to a climate of suspicion with child protection investigations spiraling.”

Or, as one newspaper headline more succinctly put it: “150,000 Kids on Baby P. Fear List.”

In addition to the harm to families needlessly investigated, Bilson said that the high number of reports makes it harder for caseworkers to identify the small group of children in genuine danger. And, he says, there is no evidence that skyrocketing numbers of reports and the increase in foster care have done anything to make children safer. Indeed, for at least four years after the Baby P. case made headlines, child abuse deaths increased.

The study concludes:

These policies bring high levels of suspicion, fear and shame on a considerable proportion of families in the most deprived areas where this activity is concentrated.

This is done without evidence that the individualised, investigative approach is effective in preventing further harm. Alternatives include a more humane developmental social work orientation and approaches that promote cohesion in neighbourhoods and reduce deprivation and poverty. But, to achieve this, we need to step away from our current preoccupation with the search for ever more parents to investigate and blame.

That's hard to do in the midst of an epidemic of fear.


Research Points to Transmission of Neglectful Child Abuse Through Generations

by Elizabeth Green

The latest white paper published by Upbring examines the “Intergenerational Transmission of Child Neglect” as a specific type of abuse within families.

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse, and until recently has not been closely studied independently of other forms of abuse such as physical and emotional abuse. In this paper, author Dee Wilson, M.S.W, considers the ways in which neglect has a lifelong physical and mental health impact on victims, and how it is “toxic” to childhood development and is more strongly linked to poverty than other kinds of abuse.

Wilson pulls together research from a new wave of scholarship over the last 10-15 years about how neglect can span multiple generations, and stem from other forms of abuse. It highlights findings from Carolyn Widom's longitudinal study of intergenerational neglect, and Bartlett and Easterbrook's study of infant neglect, as well as their study of adolescent mothers.

The author notes, among many findings synthesized from these studies, that having a history of physical abuse as a child increases the likelihood of substantiated child neglect by a factor of four, and that neglect was more likely to be transmitted to the next generation than physical abuse. Wilson identifies that neglect is “associated with multiple adversities, including poverty, co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders, domestic violence, and parental incarceration.” Therefore conclusions about outcomes related to poor children and neglected children can be difficult to untangle.

This is largely because of the repercussions both have on mental health and interpersonal relationships, which can perpetuate neglectful parenting for many reasons discussed in greater depth in the paper. One example is that the long-term impacts of abuse, such as PTSD as well as chronic and severe depression, make it difficult for individuals to maintain childcare.

Wilson proposes “a comprehensive program to derail this dismal cycle of impaired emotional and social development, academic failure and limited economic opportunities.”

That program primarily targets policy, with a focus on developing nurturing relationships within high-risk families; mental health, with screening and support options available for both low-income mothers and children; trauma-informed practices and care, emphasized by schools, child welfare and juvenile justice agencies; and supportive services for youth transitioning out of foster care through age 25.

To read the white paper in its entirety, click here.



Child abuse leaves mysterious physical scars in adulthood: psychiatrist

by Kate Aubusson

The scars of child abuse linger in the bodies of victims long after they've grown up, manifesting in physical symptoms that hint at their trauma, an Australian psychiatrist says.

It could be pelvic pain and stomach aches in a woman who suffered repeated sexual abuse as a young child, or back pain in a man who was beaten by his father, or more-complex conditions such as autoimmune disease, asthma, psoriasis and type 2 diabetes.

"There's something about early childhood trauma that makes you more vulnerable to illness later in life, independent of coping mechanisms like smoking, alcohol or overeating," psychiatrist Dr Michelle Atchison told delegates at the Royal Australian College of Physicians congress in Adelaide this month.

The younger a victim is and the more frequent the abuse, the more likely they are to develop complex post-traumatic stress disorder, Dr Atchison said.

"It's not just the ongoing psychological impact victims have to deal with, there seems to be actual biological changes that occur when you've experienced repeated childhood trauma."

The pain and illness can be real or imagined, where psychological distress presents as physical symptoms, she said.

The psychiatrist spoke of one patient, a woman who had experienced terrible and persistent oral rape as a child.

"She now has major difficulties eating certain types of food, or tolerating eating at all."

Another woman, who was in her 20s, presented repeatedly to her doctor with stomach aches and headaches.

It took 18 months for the woman to reveal she had been raped.

"That was bad enough, but when you bothered to look back to what else had happened in her life, you learn her father was a violent man who spent much of her childhood in prison, and her stepfather sexually abused her from the age of 8 to 13," Dr Atchison said.

"The only sexual relationship she ever had apart from her stepfather was the man who raped her," she said.

The woman's stomach pain and headaches were eventually recognised as somatisation: physical manifestations of her psychological trauma.

"When you put it all together there's no wonder that her abuse resulted in such persistent physical symptoms."

Between 7 and 36 per cent of females have been the victims of serious child abuse, and 3 to 29 per cent of males, international epidemiological studies suggest.

But only 38 per cent of victims report the abuse – either because they're too young, they want to protect the offender or they worry they won't be believed.

Patients whose child abuse manifests as physical symptoms could be suffering from complex PTSD, Dr Atchison said, a contentious diagnosis that is being considered for inclusion in the psychiatrist's bible, the DSM-5.

Like PTSD, patients who are subjected to frightening, often life-threatening events re-experience it through nightmares, intrusive thoughts and flashbacks.

But C-PTSD, often misdiagnosed as borderline personality disorder, is more specific to experiences of serious and repeated trauma when a child is going through emotional and physical development, she said.

Another patient, a 45 year-old man with terrible back pain, found opiates gave him little relief. His doctors had focused on his physical symptoms.

"But when you bothered to talk to him [we discovered] he had a father who would beat him and not his two siblings, for absolutely no reason. He couldn't understand why that was happening all the way through his childhood," Dr Atchison said.

Once the man could talk through his trauma, his treatment team focused on stepping down his drug use and trying to reframe his body as a healthy tool rather than a damaged object, she said.

Although the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood, researchers have suggested that trauma whittles away the body during the critical stage of hormonal, neurological and immune system development.

Repeated trauma is thought to affect the central nervous system, endocrine system, and the body's stress response.

Prolonged cortisol elevation triggered by repeated traumatic events can cause withdrawal and dysphoria that protects a victim during the abuse. But sustained and repeated trauma can lead to hypocortisolism, damaging the immune system, Dr Atchison said.

Another patient, a man in his 60s, had spent a traumatic period of isolation in a full body cast at a hospital in the UK separated from his family and with little human contact when he was six years old.

"He remembers purposefully soiling his cast so he could get his cast changed and actually talk to someone.

"Over the years, he had struggled with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, hypertension and chronic headaches, that didn't respond to treatment," Dr Atchison said.

The unresponsiveness was a red flag for C-PTSD, she said.

"If doctors suspect a patient has somatisation, they should take a developmental history, and ask with they had experienced abuse and trauma growing up.

"The load of childhood trauma may help explain the chronic pain they find so difficult to manage."



Child abuse cases driving spike of volunteers

by Elizabeth Zavala

The case of two children found tied up like dogs outside a Northeast Bexar County home last month drew a spike in community interest in child abuse that put new volunteers on the ground for Child Advocates San Antonio.

On Friday, CASA, a nonprofit organization that helps abused children after they've been legally removed from their parents, graduated 50 new advocates — a large class for the group, many of whose members rallied in response to media reports of the abuse, officials said.

“It's huge because of this case,” Yolanda Valenzuela, vice president of programs for CASA, said last week. “We have another one in June, and it's filling up.”

The interest and response couldn't come at a better time, she said.

“In May, over 100 cases came through, cases of children being removed,” each of which could involve two to three children, Valenzuela said.

“I haven't seen numbers this high since 2012, when there were 228 children removed (in May), or (maybe) in the last eight years,” she said. “It's been a real big month, and it's not over.”

On April 29, sheriff's deputies rescued a sister and her brother, ages 3 and 4, who allegedly had been abused for at least two weeks and for days had been tied up with dog chains and left outside.

Cheryl Reed, their mother, later was arrested, as were Porucha Phillips and De'andre Dorch, the parents of six other children found unhurt in the barely furnished, filthy house. The state has custody of all eight children.

Reed, Phillips and Dorch are being held on a variety of charges, and a grand jury could issue indictments next month, officials said. But the trauma experienced by the children could take a long time to repair, experts said.

“When (abuse) has been this extreme, it's a long process to rehabilitate the kids and undo damage,” said Hope Bell, a professor in the department of counseling at the University of Texas at San Antonio and an expert in child trauma and mental health. “It will take patience, caregiver education and a large team of professionals to address the deficits, both physical and mental, particularly with mental health.”

In a hearing May 11, an attorney representing the children told Associate Judge Richard Garcia in Bexar County Children's Court that the two children left outside were not speaking, still wore diapers and ate as if they had not seen food.

Bell said young children in their position can lack social skills and are more likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and suffer from attachment issues.

“They have no model for a healthy relationship,” she said. “All they know is, ‘People don't take care of me; they hurt me,' so helping them learn to trust people, that there are adults who want to help them and love them, is a big hurdle in mental health development. All of that has to be addressed long term.”

Valenzuela concurred.

“You can't see emotional abuse with your eyes,” she said. “All of these children are being ordered to have therapy and counseling, and they are all in great places that will definitely make those connections happen.”

Bell said organizations such as CASA and ChildSafe offer the type of support that is crucial to the healing process.

Though the road will be long, Bell said, caregivers need to instill hopefulness.

“If mom (or the caregiver) is positive, they have a better chance,” she said.

Valenzuela said that although the community has “stepped up,” volunteers still are needed to help with caseloads that continue to grow.


Information on volunteering at CASA is available at 210-225-7070. After completing training, volunteers commit to visit children once a month for 12 months. Applicants for training need to be 21, have a valid Texas driver's license and access to an insured vehicle. They also must pass background checks.



"Misbehaving" boy disappears in forest after parents abandon him

by CBS News

TOKYO - A 7-year-old boy is missing in a forest in northern Japan after his parents made him get out of their car as punishment for misbehaving.

About 150 rescue workers searched Monday in a wooded area on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. The boy, identified as Yamato Tanooka, has been missing since late Saturday afternoon.

The BBC reports Hokkaido's forest are known to be home to wild bears.

Hokkaido police said the parents initially told authorities that their son had disappeared while they were picking wild vegetables, but then admitted they made him get out of the car and then left him behind "as discipline." Police said the father returned to the site a few minutes later but the boy was gone.

The parents told police that they were punishing the boy for throwing rocks at people and cars while playing at a river earlier in the day, according to Japanese media.

The boy's father said in an interview with public broadcaster NHK and other TV stations that "I regret what I did to my child." He said he initially did not tell police the truth because he found it embarrassing to ask for a massive search for what happened as a result of the punishment.

Kyodo News service said police are determining whether the parents should be charged with child abandonment.


New Jersey

Bill would require child abuse checks for teachers, school bus drivers in N.J.

by S.P. Sullivan

TRENTON — State lawmakers are mulling whether public school teachers, bus drivers and camp counselors in New Jersey should be subject to more stringent background checks to determine whether they've ever abused a child.

A bill before the state Legislature (S1210) would subject public workers who regularly deal with children submit to a Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) check.

Currently, such employees undergo criminal background checks. But according to the bill's sponsors, CARI checks turn up any instances where the state Department of Children and Families has substantiated a claim of child abuse under the "preponderance of evidence" standard.

"How many teachers, camp counselors, bus drivers and school employees are child abusers? Under current New Jersey law, we simply do not know," said state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), one of the sponsors, in a statement.

The bill would require CARI checks for any new employee for positions currently subject to criminal background checks, and would mandate the DCF create a five-year schedule to perform such checks on all school employees.

The measure was approved last week by the state Senate Education Committee and referred to the Budget and Appropriations Committee, where it will have to be approved before going before the full Senate.



CISOCA wants Jamaicans to report child abuse cases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 30, CMC – The Centre for Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) is urging Jamaicans, particularly parents and guardians to report known or suspected cases of child abuse, noting that child victims are less likely to report abuses.

“We treat every matter that comes to our attention swiftly and we respect the rights of individuals to privacy and confidentiality, so there is nothing to fear as we have the child's interest at heart,” said CISOCA head and Superintendent of Police Enid Ross Stewart.

She said that under the Sexual Offences Act 2009 and the Child Care and Protection Act, CISOCA is empowered to take action on all reports of sexual offences in relation to children, reminding citizens that children under the age of 16 cannot give consent for sex.

Ross Stewart said the Child Care and Protection Act makes it mandatory for parents and citizens to inform of known or suspected incidents

“The law is strict in respect of the failure of persons to report instances of child abuse (sexual of physical) and expressly provides a list of prescribed persons,” she points out. These include physicians, nurses, dentists, principals and teachers.

“The State has placed these persons as those responsible and has the burden of reporting all instances of abuse that come to their attention.  Failure to comply with this section of the law results in sanctions,” she warns. This includes fines and/or imprisonment for six months,” she added.

Speaking on the Jamaican Information Service (JIS) programme, the senior police officer said CISOCA has developed a collaborative approach in addressing sexual abuse of children and has been working closely with other State agencies such as the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation.

“We collectively take decisions to restore normalcy to families and the best interest of the child is observed,” she said, noting that even after the case has been resolved CISOCA continues monitoring through the school guidance counsellors, foster parents, among other means.

Ross Stewart said that among the most challenging cases to investigate are those where the victim is in an intimate relationship with the perpetrator and is unwilling to give evidence.

“Complainants who are pregnant with the accused person's child are also unwilling to come forward and give evidence because of the fact that the accused person is the one who will be giving child support financially or emotionally.”.

The CISOCA gave no figures on child abuse cases but insisted that it is important for responsible persons to come forward and report what they know.



St. Cloud Diocese: 74 Sexual Abuse Claims Made Under Child Victims Act

by Jim Maurice

ST. CLOUD – The Diocese of St. Cloud says a total of 74 claims were made against the diocese under the Minnesota Child Victims Act.  The Act created by the State Legislature lifted for three years the civil statute of limitations for allegations of past sexual abuse of minors.  The window for filing claims ended on Wednesday.

The claims name 31 members of the clergy who served in the diocese. Thirty parishes are named in the claims; the diocese has 131 parishes.

The claims are related to abuse alleged to have happened many years ago — several decades ago in most cases. The claims do not involve anyone who is currently in parish ministry.

Pastors and parishioners are being informed about the claims. It is not expected that the claims will affect the normal operations of parishes or Catholic schools in the diocese. Diocesan and parish staff are working with attorneys to identify insurance coverage that could go toward resolution of these lawsuits.

Victims and survivors are urged to contact the diocesan victim assistance coordinator at (320) 248-1563.

Allegations of abuse were made against the following clergy members in the lawsuits against the Diocese of St. Cloud during the three-year window of the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which expired May 25, 2016.

  Cosmas Dahlheimer, OSB
Hubert Dahlheimer, OSB
John Eccleston
Richard Eckroth, OSB
Sylvester Gall
Raoul Gauthier
Thomas Gillespie, OSB
Philibert Harrer, OSB
Othmar Hohmann, OSB
Matthew Kiess, OSB
Val Klimek
Joseph Kremer
Henry Lutgen
Brennan Maiers, OSB
Antonio Marfori
James Mohm
Jerome Reisinger
David Rieder
Donald Rieder
David Sheldon
Paul Shurek
Robert Smith
Peter Snyers
Allan Speiser
James Thoennes
Thomas Thole, OSB
Roger Vaughn, OSC
William Wey
Joseph Wiersgalla
Mark Willenbring
Vincent Yzermans



Hundreds march to raise awareness of sex trafficking in the Valley


PHOENIX - Members of Victory Outreach Church gathered in Downtown Phoenix today to raise awareness of sex trafficking in the Valley and let women know there is a way out.

Hundreds marched down Van Buren Street Saturday morning as part of "Operation Code Red." The church group wants to let people know they are there to hep.

Women whose lives were almost destroyed by trafficking were among the demonstrators.

"I'm now looking at my son coming back into my life. I'm getting myself together physically, mentally, emotionally and I thank Jesus so much, and I thank Victory Outreach for being there for me when I needed help," said Jasmine Sticka, a victim of sex trafficking.

All this week, members of the church will go into some of the Valley's neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by drugs and crime. They said they'll offer help and resources for those looking for a way out.



Sex-Trafficking Stat Check: How 45 Toledo Teens Become '1,000 Child Sex-Trafficking Victims'

Officials claim that more than 1,000 Ohio children are "trafficked into the sex trade each year." Here's why they're wrong.

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Every year some 1,000 new children are trafficked for sex in Ohio, while an additional 3,000 remain "at risk" of being trafficked, according to U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty.

The Ohio Democrat was one of four federal lawmakers gathered Wednesday to talk about the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA), a 2015 measure that they claim isn't getting enough respect from the Department of Justice (DOJ). For instance, the DOJ has not provided lawmakers with data that JVTA mandated concerning human-trafficking arrests and convictions. "We do need accurate data on this," said Republican Rep. Ann Wagner (Mo.) Wednesday. So, in the spirit of accurate data, I asked Rep. Beatty where her child sex-trafficking statistics came from.

I was told they came from a report commissioned by the Ohio Attorney General's office. The only such report comes from 2010 and was prepared by the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission, a group commissioned by then-Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and comprised of two professors, the U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and representatives from city and county law-enforcement units, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the nonprofit Not for Sale. And it is, to put it mildly, a mess.

"To identify the number of [Ohio] youth ... who are at-risk for child sex trafficking and have become victims in the sex trade, the research team identified risk factors that included" homelessness, running away from home, and other "vulnerability factors," the commi

ttee states in an executive summary. By youth , minor , adolescent, or child sex trafficking victims , the committee means "those between the ages of 12 and 17" who "traded sex for money, items, drugs, food, or a place to stay." Ultimately, the committee arrived at the very specific-sounding estimates of 2,879 American-born adolescents "at-risk" for sex trafficking each year in Ohio and "1,078 youth [who] have been trafficked into the sex trade over the course of a year."

Let's start by examining the latter figure, which is often presented—by lawmakers like Beatty and local media—as a reliable accounting of actual victims in Ohio. At the root is an FBI-led operation that took place in Toledo and its surrounding county between 2005 and 2009, called "Operation Innocence Lost."

A precursor to today's expanded "Operation Cross Country," Operation Innocence Lost was established "in 14 cities with the highest incidence of child prostitution," according to an 2005 FBI press release. The city of Toledo, located in Lucas County, was one of them. It's also a city with a decaying economy and one of the highest crime rates in the region. According to 2013 FBI crime data, it's the ninth-most dangerous metropolitan area in the Midwest, number one in Ohio, and 49th in the entire United States.

In the course of Operation Innocence Lost, agents from the FBI, the Toledo Police Department, and the Lucas County Sheriff's Office identified "60 minor victims of sex trafficking." Forty-five—an average of 15 per year—came from Lucas County. It's this number from which the committee extrapolated for all of Ohio. Using Lucas County population data, the researchers arrive at the conclusion that 15 per 24,965 Ohio girls ages 12 through 17—or 0. 00 06 percent—are "successfully recruited into the sex trade from Ohio each year."

With 337,961 Ohio girls in this age group overall, that 0.06 percent rate yields an estimate of... 202 per year. How do we get from there to 1,078 victims—especially considering that Toledo has (according to the FBI's own data) more violent-crime and underage-prostitution problems than almost anywhere else in Ohio? Simple: Rather than acknowledge that extrapolating from Toledo might yield an inflated statewide estimate, the committee multiplies the Toledo number by five .

The basis for this decision was a study from the University of Toledo of Lucas County minors engaged in prostitution. That study claims that every minor talked to by researchers knew an average of 5 more underage minors "that were not known to law enforcement, but who were engaging in the sex trade." From the committee report (emphasis mine):

Because of the underground social networks, many girls involved know each other by their street names or nick names. In actuality, they may be unaware of which girls are engaging the Innocence Lost Task Force and not engaging the Task Force. But because other communities in Ohio do not have a focused Innocence Lost Task Force, the team decided the estimates provided by the victims may be an accurate measure for other communities throughout Ohio. Therefore, in using this as a measure for Ohio, we find that there may be over 1,000 girls per year in Ohio that are involved in the sex trade.

For estimating the number of 12- to 17-year-old Ohio boys, the committee uses a somewhat different (and even sloppier) method. Because being gay, transgender, or a runaway are "risk factors" for male sex-trade involvement, and because three to five percent of the overall U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, the committee decides that three to five percent of male runaways who go missing for more than two weeks probably become trafficking victims. This gives us an estimated 63 underage male victims, for a total estimate of 1,078 trafficked adolescents in the state.

If you can believe it, the committee's method for estimating "at risk" Ohio youth gets even less scientific and relies on even more half-baked assumptions.

Remember, the state claims that 2,879 American-born adolescents in Ohio are "at-risk" of becoming trafficking victims each year. To arrive at this conclusion, committee members "relied heavily" on the methodology from a 2001 study on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the United States.

That study, conducted by Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner, has since been widely discredited. The respected Crimes Against Children Research Center implored people to please stop citing its numbers. Its conclusions have been debunked by outlets such as The Washington Post . The study's own author, Estes, no longer stands by the research. And even the Ohio committee that relies heavily on it admits, in the same report, that the study is plagued by "many shortcomings and obvious flaws."

To arrive at a nationwide estimate of "at risk" youth, Estes and Weiner came up with 14 factors they said increased the chances of an adolescent entering or being forced into the sex trade. These included things such as involvement with child protective services or the foster care system, a personal history of depression, a recurrent illness in the family, being a member of a sexual minority, female gang involvement, living in communities where "pre-existing prostitution markets existed" or "a large number of street youths gather," and living in the presence of "sexually unattached and transient males including military personnel, truckers, conventioneers, and tourists."

Based on the estimated prevalence of these risk factors, Estes and Weiner claim that one quarter of one percent of all American youth are "at risk." With 675,922 minors between the ages of 12 and 17 in Ohio, a 0.25 percent risk rate yields an estimated 1,690 "at risk" Ohio adolescents.

But the committee doesn't stop there. Following in Estes' and Weiner's footsteps, they add to this number two separate (and equally dubious) estimates. Remember, the 0.25 percent risk rate was for all adolescents. Risk is higher, claimed the researchers, for homeless youth and runaways. How much higher? Estes and Weiner had declared that 35 percent of "endangered runaways"—defined as youth who leave home without permission and stay away overnight—risk commercial sexual exploitation if they are gone for more than one week. Using numbers on endangered runaways from Ohio, the committee gets an estimated number of 1,070 at-risk runaways.

They then turn to homeless youth. A 2001 study of 455 homeless youth in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas found that around 20 percent said they had traded sexual favors for a place to stay. Applying this 20 percent calculation not to the number of homeless youth in Ohio but to the number of adolescents who went missing for two weeks or longer ("for the period of time the youth is gone, they are technically homeless," states the Ohio report) the committee concludes that 1,261 homeless Ohio minors are at risk.

To arrive at a final number, the committee combined these various estimates, for a total of 4,021. Because two of these figures were derived from the same population (runaways missing for more than two weeks), and the other from all Ohio adolescents, the committee admits there might be some overlap in their estimates. For no precise reason, they decide that 25 percent may be duplicates, and reduce the 4,021 estimate by a quarter. From here, they arrive at the conclusion that some 2,879 Ohio 12- to 17-year-olds are "at risk" of being victimized by sex traffickers each year.

Ohio Rep. Beatty is far from the only one to quote these figures, which appear routinely in Ohio media — including major city newspapers such as The Columbus Dispatch , the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Dayton Daily News —and government statements as hard facts (i.e., "1,000 children are trafficked in Ohio each year"). But as someone leading an effort for better federal data on sex trafficking, Beatty might want to look a bit more closely at the data she herself cites, and demand better data from her home state.

The Dispatch and other outlets also claim that among these alleged 1,000 children who "fall victim to human sex trafficking" each year in Ohio, the a verage age is 12 or 13 years old. In fact, 12 was the very youngest age included in the Ohio Attorney General's study, and the youngest (and most rare) age of any minor recovered nationally throughout Operation Innocence Lost. A report from the Ohio Human Trafficking Commission that looked at identified, not theoretical, victims from Ohio in 2015 found a total of 203 alleged victims throughout the state. Around three percent were age 13 or younger, 11 percent 14- or 15-years-old, 15 percent 16- or 17-years-old, and 71 percent adults.