Pennsylvania couple gave daughter to man as thanks
FEASTERVILLE, Pa. — A Pennsylvania couple is accused of child endangerment after police said they gave away their 14-year-old daughter to a man who helped them financially. The friend has been charged with sexually assaulting the teen, who had two children with him.
Officials acting on a tip Thursday found 51-year-old Lee Kaplan at his Feasterville home, along with 12 girls ranging in age from six months to 18 years.
According to an affidavit, the girl's father, Daniel Stoltzfus, told an officer he gave his daughter to Kaplan after he helped the family out of financial ruin. He told police he thought it was legal after he did some research online.
Kaplan faces a number of charges including statutory sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault. Daniel Stoltzfus is charged with conspiracy of statutory sexual assault and children endangerment. His wife, Savilla Stoltzfus, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
All three are being held on $1 million bail. No lawyer information was listed in court documents.
The girl, now 18, told police she and Kaplan have a 3-year-old and a six-month-old.
Lower Southampton Police Lt. John Krimmel said the Stoltzfuses told police they were Amish, and a criminal complaint shows their address as Quarryville, in Lancaster County. However, Krimmel said it appeared the couple had been living with Kaplan, although it was unclear for how long.
The Stoltzfuses told police they were going to lose their farm until Kaplan "came out of the blue and saved them from financial ruin," said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler.
The couple told police the other nine girls in the house were their children, Krimmel said. No birth certificates or Social Security cards could be located to confirm they were the parents, he said.
The children have been placed in child protective custody, Krimmel said.
Investigators are still piecing together what exactly happened, Heckler said, including how Kaplan and the couple met each other.
Neighbors held suspicions of house where 12 girls were living with 51-year-old
by The Associated Press
FEASTERVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A neighbor said she had long felt that "something isn't right" at a Bucks County home where a man is accused of sexually assaulting a teenager whose parents police say gave her to him when she was 14.
Jen Betz of Feasterville said she called authorities because was concerned about the young girls she saw outside the house, which she said had boarded windows and high weeds.
"They're so sad and fearful every time I see them. That's what made me call," she said Saturday. "I've been telling my husband for years 'Something isn't right, something isn't right.'"
Officials acting on a tip Thursday found 51-year-old Lee Kaplan at his home along with the girls, ranging in age from six months to 18 years. The 18-year-old told police that she and Kaplan have a 3-year-old and a six-month-old. Kaplan faces charges including statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, and aggravated indecent assault.
District Attorney David Heckler said the parents of the girl Kaplan is accused of assaulting told police they were going to lose their farm until Kaplan "came out of the blue and saved them from financial ruin."
Authorities allege in an affidavit that the girl's father told an officer he gave his 14-year-old daughter to Kaplan after researching the legality of such an action online.
On Saturday, police and dogs scoured the home's backyard for evidence. Lt. Ted Krimmel of the Lower Southampton police department said authorities waited until dawn so they would be able to search the property in daylight.
"We have a search warrant for the entire property," he said. "There are dogs searching for evidence."
Krimmel said officials are trying to verify who the parents of the other children found at the home are. The teenager's parents told police the other nine girls in the house were their children, but no birth certificates or Social Security cards could be located to confirm that, he said.
When police entered the home Thursday, "all the children were running around," Krimmel said. "Some were hiding. They were well-behaved, but scared."
The oldest girl's father, Daniel Stoltzfus, is charged with conspiracy of statutory sexual assault and children endangerment. His wife, Savilla Stoltzfus, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
The couple and Kaplan were being held in lieu of $1 million bail. Court documents don't list attorneys for them.
WPVI--TV reported that the Stoltzfuses 19-year-old son, John, told the station at the house Friday night that his folks are "good parents."
Heckler said the children apparently did not attend school and it was unclear if they had ever been to a doctor, but they didn't appear to be in bad health and showed no visible signs of trauma.
Another neighbor, Bob Greenfield, said Kaplan seemed "weird" and he now wishes that he also had called authorities.
"You knew something was wrong," he said. "It makes you feel bad. If I had said something a while ago, they would have come earlier."
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Stoltzfuses were born into the Amish faith, but renounced it amid a long fight with community elders, according to a federal lawsuit they filed in 2009 against their former church. The lawsuit, which was dismissed later that year, said they operated a metalworking business on their property.
Heckler said the children are now together in protective custody.
Ex-Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg found guilty of orchestrating 2013 gang rape
by Laura Bult and Nicole Hensley
Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg was convicted Saturday night in the 2013 gang rape of an unconscious woman in a dorm room.
After two days of explosive testimony from a former teammate, who said Vandenburg orchestrated the attack, the jury found the 23-year-old guilty on five counts, including “aggravated rape.”
The Nashville jury delivered the verdict after just four hours of deliberations.
Three ex-teammates still face charges in the case, including Jaborian (Tip) McKenzie, who depicted Vandenburg as the ringleader who “made sure he was in control” of the assault.
McKenzie testified Vandenberg handed out condoms before the trio raped the woman, whom Vandenburg was dating.
A video recording of the attack was found on his phone, WKRN-TV reported.
The victim witnessed court officers escorting Vandenburg out of the room in handcuffs following the verdict.
He will face 15 to 25 years in prison at a later sentencing hearing.
“Our first thoughts are with the victim who has shown incredible strength and fortitude as she has endured another retrial,” said Vanderbilt University spokeswoman Beth Fortune in a statement hoping for resolution in the case.
“It is our sincere hope that today's verdict strongly sends the message to victims and to perpetrators that sexual assault will not be tolerated in our communities.”
McKenzie's two-day testimony capped off the state's high-profile case against Vandenburg, the second former Vanderbilt football player to be tried in the woman's June 2013 gang rape.
On Thursday, McKenzie said that Vandenburg was “amped and aggressive and bossy” on the night of the assault and that he even slapped the unconscious woman to prove to his teammates that she wouldn't wake up while they attacked her.
McKenzie expressed remorse for following Vandenburg's twisted plan, saying he was “ashamed, embarrassed of what happened that night."
“I'm sorry I let it happen,” he said Thursday inside the Nashville courtroom, according to News Channel 5.
This is the second time Vandenburg was convicted. A mistrial was declared last year after it was revealed that a jury member had not disclosed he was a victim of sexual assault.
His co-defendant, Cory Batey, was convicted in April.
The four former football players have been accused of dragging the intoxicated woman into Vandenburg's dorm room where they photographed and videotaped the alleged assault.
The victim, who is now a grad student in a different state, took the stand Friday for the third time to tell the court that she initially felt protective of Vandenburg during the investigation.
“One of my biggest concerns at the time was trying to protect him. And I was worried about them getting kicked off the team,” she said, according to WKRN.
When asked if she gave consent to having sex with any of the former football players on the night of the alleged assault, she responded, “absolutely not.”
The woman's only recollection of the night was drinking a blue drink Vandenburg served her and waking up disheveled the following day, she said. Vandenburg, who had been dating the victim for about two weeks at the time of the assault, told the woman he took her to his room to take care of her after she drank too much.
She only learned of her assault after investigators told her of the graphic photos and videos that were found on Vandenburg's phone.
Prosecutors played the videos to support their case against the victim's former boyfriend, who can be heard laughing while he filmed the attack.
Vandenburg's former roommate, Mack Prioleau, who was in the dorm at the time of the assault, testified that he “heard Mr. Vandenburg say he couldn't get an erection due to cocaine use,” according to his testimony Friday.
McKenzie and the other defendant in the case, Brandon Banks, have yet to go to trial.
Vandenburg's potential prison time is a stark contrast to the six-month sentence a judge delivered to ex-Stanford student Brock Turner for raping an intoxicated 23-year-old woman — the minimum he'd have to serve.
Turner's father infamously slammed the lenient sentence, criticizing the punishment for being too much after “20 minutes of action.”
Turner, 20, is expected to be released from the county jail after serving only half of the sentence in early September.
Sexual Assault Help Center Offers Free Counseling, Advocacy for All Victims
by Betsy Bethel
The mother of the beloved children's television host Fred “Mister” Rogers once told him, when tragedy strikes or “scary things” happen, “look for the helpers;” they are always there.
In the cases of rape, sexual assault and child sexual abuse that occur all too often in the Ohio Valley, “helpers” are available 24 hours a day seven days a week at the Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Help Center in Wheeling.
The United Way agency was founded 41 years ago after local social service and mental health leaders met and determined there was a need for a 24-hour crisis hotline and support for rape victims, said Helen Wilhelm, who has served for 25 years on the board.
The need is greater now than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week launched a community support package on sexual violence prevention, citing about one in five women have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. The CDC also states one in four girls and one in six boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18.
“The need is still there, and all the staff we have is very busy, so we know it is still a need and hope to continue this,” Wilhelm said.
Staff members have worked with victims from some of the most high-profile crimes the Ohio Valley has seen, to cases in which a victim's experience never was heard outside the center's walls. The center serves women, men, girls and boys in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties and is one of nine rape crisis centers in West Virginia. They will serve clients from other states, too.
“We turn no one away,” Wilhelm said.
Located on the second floor of the Ohio Valley Medical Center Nurses' Residence, the nonprofit agency has five employees who work during the week and seven volunteers who log four-hour shifts answering the after-hours hotline, which is 800-884-7245.
In addition to the hotline, the center provides advocacy, which means staff members give resources and physical support, such as going to the hospital or court hearings. It also offers group counseling, individual counseling and community education in the form of professional trainings and outreach to schools and community groups.
“We offer all these different services, and they're all free of charge,” said Megan Gallaway Palmer, the center's new executive director.
A 15-member board of directors hired Palmer in April, following several directors who didn't pan out after longtime executive director Linda Reeves left in 2014. The Wheeling Park High School graduate has a Master of Public Health degree from Kent State University and a communications degree from West Virginia University.
“We're very excited to have her. She has tremendous credentials, and she is enthusiastic and engaging in the community. We just think she's a great face for the organization,” said board president D.J. McGlaughlin, a Wheeling attorney.
“It's a great opportunity to do some really, really important work,” Palmer said.
The board's current goal is awareness.
“The Sexual Assault Help Center is such a great service for the community. I really don't think a lot of people know about it,” said Marian Martin of St. Clairsville, who became a hotline volunteer six years ago after retiring as a Union Local High School music teacher and seeing the call for volunteers in the newspaper. She is on call eight hours every weekend and continues because she feels she has made a difference in victims' lives.
“There are a lot of people who need help and sometimes don't report it; I thought maybe I could help them,” Martin said.
Holding fundraisers is one way the board is hoping to get the word out about the center. Last fall, the center hosted the Heal to Heel 5K walk and run on the Warwood Trail, which was its first fundraiser in many years and was a success, according to McGlaughlin.
Another fundraiser, a quarter auction, will take place this Saturday at the Nurses' Residence auditorium. Doors open at 11 a.m., and the auction will take place from noon to 2 p.m.
The agency operates on grants from the West Virginia Victims of Crime Act, West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services, the United Way and other grants, plus some private donations and fundraisers.
Palmer said fundraisers help provide art supplies and games for the children to play during sessions, snacks and beverages for the support groups, and new undergarments and clothing for sexual assault victims to wear home from the hospital.
“We're always looking for donations to make victims feel more comfortable when they're here,” Palmer said.
A SUCCESS STORY
Four years ago, an Ohio Valley mother was told the unthinkable had happened: Her preschool-age daughter had been sexually molested by her biological father, whom she visited on weekends. The mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of her minor daughter, immediately called the police, and her daughter underwent a physical exam at a local hospital that day, followed by a forensic interview at Harmony House Children's Advocacy Center.
Harmony House then referred the mother and child to the Sexual Assault Help Center for advocacy and counseling.
“We receive referrals from Harmony House, law enforcement, DHHR (Department of Health and Human Resources), schools and some parents call us on their own,” said Janet Kowalski, who has worked as the center's child advocate for four years.
Kowalski, who has a master's degree in mental health counseling, met with the girl every week for two and one-half years, while the girl's mother received counseling as a secondary victim from Reeves.
“Janet's been wonderful to her,” said the mom in a face-to-face interview Friday. She attributed the strides made by her daughter, now 8, in school, attitude, physical and emotional health to the counseling she has received. Frequent bedwetting has disappeared; grades and communication have improved. Kowalski and Reeves attended every court hearing with them, and because of Kowalski's testimony, the girl did not have to take the stand and her father is now in prison. The mom and daughter also attended separate group counseling sessions every other Wednesday for two years.
Said Kowalski: Parents in the group “get the feeling they are not alone, there are other parents going through the same heartbreak and challenges they're going through, their children aren't the only children going through that.” It's a safe place to vent, support each other and “learn techniques to help the children heal.”
Of her young client, Kowalski said: “Her basic personality is very resilient. … She learned it wasn't her fault. That's something I work on with all the kids. We talk about why you thought it was your fault, and why you know now it was not your fault. … You validate their feelings and give them a place where they know, ‘If I want to talk about something that's uncomfortable I will, but I don't have to.'”
Kowalski noted that while statistics show more girls than boys are sexually abused, many times her caseload includes more boys, some of whom are teens.
The young girl, when asked about her time at the center, used the word “happy” frequently. On their way out, the mom asked Kowalski if they could come to a group session even though they hadn't attended since last year.
They parted ways with smiles and “See you next Wednesday!”
In addition to providing counseling to child and teen victims and children who are secondary victims (such as siblings of victims), the Sexual Assault Help Center also serves adults who are sexual violence victims. Lisa Lohsl is the adult victim advocate and also has served the agency as the prevention specialist, hotline coordinator and a general victim advocate. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Ohio University Eastern.
“I would like to get people to be able to know that they can survive and overcome this and end up thriving from it,” Lohsl said of her work at the center.
If necessary, the center can bring in Jessica Bozenske, a licensed independent clinical social worker, to work with clients, as well.
Ashley Garlow, hotline coordinator and general victim advocate with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, previously worked with troubled youth at a residential treatment facility and has been with the agency about a month. She said she is excited about the “opportunity to provide the clients with resources and ways that they can help themselves get back on track.
“I love the mental health field … and I find a passion for helping those who can't help themselves in the moment,” she said.
Hotline volunteers go through eight hours of training annually and are required to work two four-hour shifts a month for six months. To be a volunteer, Garlow said, a person should be dedicated to helping others, have the ability and willingness to learn, and be compassionate, caring and professional.
“Our first priority (on the hotline) is to make sure the victim is in a safe space,” Palmer said. After that, the most important role of a hotline volunteer is to listen. Sometimes the caller will end up coming in to receive additional services, but many times, they just need to talk.
“All you have to do is listen to people. Anyone can do it if they're willing to listen and take the time. You don't even have to leave the house,” Martin said, noting the calls are forwarded from a communications center to whoever is on call.
Michelle Oliver of Wheeling was one of four new and two veteran volunteers at a training session on June 9. Having recently left her accounting career with the possibility of going back to school for social work, she heard Kowalski being interviewed on a local radio program the day before the training and called to sign up.
“It's just such a critical need in our society that people who have experienced the trauma of a sexual assault, they need help and the first thing they need to know is it's not their fault. It's something so critical for our society to face, to not hide it or bury it,” Oliver said.
Another facet of the raising awareness is through prevention and education.
Lesley Prince is the brand new prevention specialist, tasked with providing educational programs to children from preschool through high school, as well as on college campuses. She can provide dating violence prevention programs, anti-bullying education, information on sexual harassment and consent, internet safety and programs for very young children to help them recognize “safe touches” versus “unsafe touches.”
To get help or for information, visit www.fris.org/CrisisCenters/Pages-CrisisCenters/Center-SAHC, call 304-234-8519 or email email@example.com.
Yes Virginia , There Is A Rape Culture…
by Alex Yarde
I was reading about the case of the “Stanford Swimmer” the article was dancing around the issue so much, you'd think the kids only crime was swimming for Stanford. Most outlets were afraid to show his mug shot or call him what he is—
As survivors of rape who come forward, (90% do not and its still the most underreported violent crime) soon realize, the first rape is only the beginning. Society piles on. We ALL pile on. We trigger and cajole, we try to understand and relate in our own ham-fisted ways, we fall all over ourselves armed with political agendas, and we try too hard to talk while nobody listens to the victims.
We can't even get to an agreement about the language. Until we can agree on language we can't get much further.
So let's talk about the language. For the record, there is no such thing as “non-consensual sex”. People have consensual sex or someone is raped. Period. Full stop.
Rape happens all day, every day.
Rape Culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970's. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence. A complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It's about what we collectively think about and how we react to sexual assault, and violence in general.
Rape is ignored, trivialized, normalized, or made into jokes. Rape Culture is promoted by Grammy award winning hit songs. Rape Culture is promoted on billboards as violence against women to advertise a silly superhero movie. And the only chance any of it gets better is if we as parents & caregivers first LISTEN and learn about Rape Culture, privilege, power and societal oppression, speak up and speak out as we can, and in ways most germane to our future, walk the talk for the kids in our charge.
Here are examples of Rape Culture and what us parents are up against:
Platinum selling songs about “Blurred lines” that people love and children dance to at everything from birthday parties to Bar Mitzvahs, everyone hears the lyrics but no one chooses to listen.
Insultingly light sentences for the privileged–like convicted rapist Brock Turner's pathetic six month slap on the wrist by a sympathetic judge who “Doesn't want to ruin the boys life.” What about his victim, whose life he ruined? And the parents who made excuses for “twenty minutes of action”. He was caught raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster while taking pictures and sending them to his buddies.
Victims on trial for their own abuse. It's being charged the cost of processing your own rape kit, if police even consider or bother preserving any physical evidence.
Making the victims wardrobe, intoxication level, behavior, sexual history, or education level the issue instead of the perpetrators action.
It's being a Black Woman or Trans or Poor White or Gay or a Sex Worker or Prisoner in a Correctional Facility in the States care.
It's not being CIS Male & Straight, in a CIS White Supremacist society.
It's fraternities that create hashtags like #doingitforstate and their apologist sorority sisters that say “she had it coming”.
It's the media that can both sensationalize rape and ignore rape simultaneously.
It's perpetuating the lie that “boys don't cry”.
It's victims, keeping their abuse to themselves and carrying on the best they can because they see the first rape is only the beginning, because WE, our society are standing by ready to abuse them again if they dare come forward.
Rape Culture diminishes us all, and we all buy into it to this culture to some degree when we refuse to tackle any “isms” that are the breeding grounds for the power discrepancy that is the heart of the mater.
Rape is what those with power do to those without. I've little use for talk about rape that isn't intersectional.
That's why the biggest victims of rape are—heartbreakingly—children, Trans and Non-Gender conforming specifically. They lack the power others have.
Nothing will change until are ready to first acknowledge these power discrepancies exist. And then proceed to tackle the power vacuums in all aspects of society in affirmative ways.
It must start from the cradle and continue throughout ones life. It is a journey of raising ones own personal awareness and it is generational. It took a long time to get here and it won't be solved overnight.
The exploitation of power, Rich/Poor White/Minority, Male/Female Adult/Child is corruptive, breeds injustice, and is counterproductive in addressing the needs of educating our youth on BOTH sides of the equation.
Here's an example, as a CIS Straight Male, I acknowledge my CIS Straight Male Privileges. Among them—
As a child, I was able to find plenty of non-limiting, gender role stereotyped media to view.
I can get up at a bar with little concern of watching my drink.
When I was dating, I had little concern about going home with women I didn't know well or walking home alone or waiting on a deserted subway platform late at night.
When I'm praised now for caring for my children, instead of being expected to be the full-time caretaker.
When I can complete a sentence uninterrupted.
When leaders of every major religion, share my gender and it's teachings are firmly Male CIS Straight centered.
Both Privileged and Oppressed members of our society must commit to break vicious cycles of abuse. Owning your own privilege and spending that currency to raise awareness of others in your group is an important step. As parents, we must be also be vigilant about the messages we send, primarily on how we conduct ourselves, as all parents eventually realize our children are sponges.
How many times have you heard or seen yourself in your children? For good and ill. They may hear half of what you say, but they see ALL of what you do.
Which societal messages we accept or challenge speak volumes.
But I believe our collective silence on Rape Culture to date is deafening.
California - United States Attorney's Office
Dept of Justice - PRESS RELEASE
British Man Previously Charged with Coming to U.S. to Have Sex with Pre-Teen Boys Now also Faces Child Pornography Offenses
LOS ANGELES – A British man who was previously charged with travelling to the Coachella Valley to have sex with pre-teen boys was charged today in a superseding indictment that adds child pornography charges
Paul Charles Wilkins, 70, of Littleport in East Cambridgeshire, England, a dual United States-United Kingdom citizen, was named today in a four-count superseding indictment that now includes charges of transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
The indictment reiterates charges contained in the original indictment that was filed in February – traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and attempted sex trafficking of children.
Wilkins allegedly travelled to the Coachella Valley in late January in order to engage in illicit sexual conduct with boys who were 10 and 12 years old.
While the first count of the indictment relates to Wilkins travel to the United States to allegedly have sex with two pre-teen boys, the attempted sex trafficking charge stems from a deal he allegedly brokered with an undercover investigator in which Wilkins allegedly paid $250 to have sex with a 9-year-old boy at an apartment he had rented in Palm Springs.
The child pornography counts related to images found on a laptop computer and a digital storage device that were seized when Wilkins was arrested on February 11 at his rented apartment after allegedly paying the money to the undercover operative.
“Child predators – whether foreign or domestic – threaten the most vulnerable members of society, which is why we devote considerable resources to stopping them,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The new indictment adds additional charges that more fully reflect the totality of this defendant's conduct and could subject him to a longer prison term.”
Wilkins, who has been ordered held without bond, is currently scheduled to go on trial before United States District Judge Dolly M. Gee on July 19. An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. The charge of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years.
The charge of attempted sex trafficking of children carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and statutory maximum penalty of life without parole.
The two child pornography charges each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years, and the transportation count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.
The investigation into Wilkins was conducted by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
“Pedophiles in the United States, or anywhere in the world, who believe they can escape the detection of law enforcement by traveling to another county to commit heinous crimes against children should take note,” said Robert Goetsch, acting special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “HSI and its law enforcement partners around the globe will pursue those criminals who subject children to this torment and bring them to justice by using every tool at our disposal.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christina T. Shay.
Profile of a child molester: ‘It can be anybody'
Cobb County has found itself in an upsetting media spotlight given back-to-back cases of child molestation involving prominent community leaders.
Just as attention was beginning to wane over former Kennesaw mayor and Councilman Leonard Church, who was given an 18-year prison sentence in December after pleading guilty to child molestation, former Cobb Republican Party Chairman Joe Dendy was arrested last month on similar charges.
Both cases caused public shock given Church and Dendy were respected leaders in the community and the last people, many thought, who would be arrested on such awful charges. But as prosecutor Chuck Boring, who runs the Special Victims Unit in the Cobb District Attorney's Office, said, a child molester is usually not the bogeyman of imagination who snatches children from bus stops.
“The reality is the person that earns the trust to molest a child isn't the ‘Chester the Molester' guy who you see on the street and say, ‘Oh, that's a child molester!' It can be anybody,” Boring said.
Here are some unsettling statistics from Boring:
Ninety percent of victims know their abuser and the younger the child, the more likely the abuser is a family member;
Girls are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse. One in seven girls under the age of 18 will be a victim of child sexual abuse compared to about one in 25 boys;
Only 38 percent of child victims of sexual abuse disclose the abuse.
The reason the majority of offenders are family members or people the child knows — such as coaches, pastors or teachers — is that they have more access to the child and thus the ability to earn their trust. Offenders tend to be master manipulators who are able to find the child who is the easiest target — a child with low self-esteem, a speech impediment or who may be isolated, for example.
The teenage victim, meantime, may have an alcohol or drug addiction.
“Offenders are oftentimes looking for the easiest target and the target who A) other people won't believe, or B) the child who won't report it,” Boring said.
“Grooming” is the term for how an offender earns the child's trust and makes them feel special. For example, a predator may touch five different children on the knee to see which of them doesn't complain. And the one who doesn't complain is the one who is targeted.
A man who accused Dendy of molesting him back in the late 1950s testified he didn't come forward sooner because he was ashamed. Another alleged Dendy threatened to kill family members if the boy ever disclosed what happened.
Dendy, it bears mentioning, has not been convicted and his case is in the early stages of the judicial process, yet the examples in his case illustrate the wider phenomenon that shame and threats are reasons many victims never come forward.
There is also the adult/child dynamic at work, where the child has been brought up to do as they're told. Depending on how young the child is when the molestation begins, the child may not know there is anything wrong with what is happening to them.
And there is the factor of the abuser being a family member who 99 percent of the time lavishes the child with praise and gifts, but 1 percent of the time molests them, making it difficult for a young child to rationalize what is happening.
Every time there is a jury selection in a child abuse case, Boring asks potential jurors if they or someone they know have been a victim of child abuse. Several times jurors have disclosed they, their wife or their husband were molested and never reported it to police.
The first line of defense for parents, Boring advises, is having a relationship with their children that allows for open communication. Parents must keep track of what their children are doing and that includes what they see on the internet and who they communicate with on social media. There are plenty of apps to help parents accomplish this. But the internet has made it easier for predators to communicate with children.
Some may argue that a child has a right to their own privacy, and to this we say horse feathers. A parent's role is not to be their child's buddy, but to protect them.
If the child is receiving calls or texts at unusual hours of the day or night, or hides their phone or closes their laptop when a parent suddenly enters the room, take this to be a warning sign, Boring advises.
If a child becomes withdrawn, uses language inappropriate for their age, abuses drugs or alcohol or engages in self-harm, this doesn't necessarily mean it's a case of child molestation, but it's certainly a signal to start asking questions.
Another signal that should raise suspicions is when an adult gives gifts to a particular child to the exclusion of others, or crosses boundaries such as bringing the child home at unusual hours of the night.
It is horrible there are predators in our community looking to prey on children. But following Boring's advice will go a long way toward protecting the most vulnerable and precious among us.
Updated registry tracks Missouri child abuse and neglect perpetrators
by Michael Landis
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Child abuse is still a growing problem in Greene County, and shows no sign of slowing.
"It is heartbreaking, said Paula Tindell, CA of The Victim Center. "You hope to think you are making a difference and bringing hope to a situation of a family or a child."
Child advocates say it could be that society and some parents are more abusive these days. Also, those numbers may reflect the fact more people are reporting cases they didn't before.
Tindell explained, "I don't know the answer why we tend to see so many of these types of crimes."
Upgrades to the safety system could help.
You may be aware of the sex offender registry. Missouri also has a similar registry for those committing crimes related to child abuse and neglect.
This week, Governor Nixon signed a bill expanding the times of crimes covered- including rape, sodomy, and promoting underage prostitution, sexual exploitation of minor, possession of child pornography, furnishing pornographic materials to minor. Those crimes would already be listed in the sex offender registry. These changes mean fewer crimes are overlooked when a person searches.
Tindell stated, "I think in this world that we live in now with all that is high-tech, the whole pornography thing is an important thing to include as well." She added, "I think we all want to know and feel that we are living in a safe community and certainly identifying where those people are living would be very helpful."
The Victim Center operates an around-the-clock hotline for abuse victims, and for others to anonymously report abuse. That number is 864-SAFE (7233).
City's 'Shoddy' Child Abuse Investigations Endanger Kids, Audit Finds
by Jeff Mays
NEW YORK CITY — The city's Administration for Children's Services has failed to properly investigate allegations of abuse, violating its own policies and placing thousands of children at risk, according to an audit by Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Stringer sampled 25 ACS cases from July 1, 2013 to May 1, 2015 and found that regular, required meetings occurred in only one case. In one of the worst instances, ACS had no contact with a possibly abused child for 31 days.
In another example, ACS workers were supposed to meet every other week with a 15-year-old girl whose father allegedly grabbed her by the hair and slapped her before throwing her mother to the floor and choking her.
Instead, ACS workers did not meet with the teen for almost a month.
“After years of horror stories about children dying under their care and pledges by ACS to reform itself, our audit uncovered an unchanged agency, rife with mismanagement and bureaucratic inaction, Stringer said in a statement.
"No child should have to spend a single night in an unsafe home and it's government's job to make sure that doesn't happen."
This is the second such report to find the ACS has failed to meet basic minimum safety standards. In May, the Department of Investigation warned that the agency had reached a system-wide failure, leading to the deaths of two children under its watch and the near-death of one more.
ACS handles 60,000 reports of child abuse each year and there have been 30 deaths of children under its care over the last decade, Stringer found.
Nevertheless, supervisors failed to review high priority cases — those where a fatality was involved or where the families have four or more previous interactions with the agency — in two-thirds of the cases reviewed.
ACS also failed to do a required domestic violence review in 16 of the 25 cases sampled, Stringer found. In six of the cases, no screening apparently took place and in 10 others, the review was started but never finished.
Half of the 25 cases reviewed involved domestic violence.
Workers for the agency also failed to keep notes which would allow supervisors to determine if cases are being properly managed. There were no notes in 20 of 25 cases reviewed and the other five cases deemed to have insufficient notes.
To make matters worse, ACS is also unaware of what it needs to do to solve its problems, Stringer said. ACS employees told auditors that the 10 to 12 cases handled by each caseworker was too much to properly investigate each case.
ACS officials have said that caseworker's loads are manageable, but auditors found there was no data to support that belief.
Stringer said the agency needs to better follow its own guidelines and fully investigate each case in a timely fashion. The agency also needs to review whether it has enough staff to handle its caseload.
ACS disagreed with the audit's findings. The 60,000 reported child abuse cases represent 80,000 children and 25 cases is an extremely small sample, ACS officials believe.
"It is important to note that in each of the 25 cases that the comptroller reviewed, the children involved are safe and the families have received appropriate services," said ACS spokeswoman Carol Cáceres.
The agency is also in the process of hiring 500 more child protection workers and supervisors. ACS recently opened two new offices, in Brooklyn and The Bronx, where most of the cases are located and hired 300 additional child protective staff.
The average caseload of child protective workers is 10.2, below the agency's target of 12 and within guidelines from the Child Welfare League of America.
The Casey Family Programs plans to do a full analysis of ACS' policies and procedures for keeping children safe. The agency is also creating a $12 million Workforce Institute to train 5,000 child welfare staff.
Stringer said ACS' disagreement with the audit is part of the problem.
“Children are being left to suffer in abusive households and, in the face of this damning audit, ACS has the audacity to claim that everything is under control," said Stringer.
"With our children's lives at stake, we simply cannot let this go on any longer."
Serial rapist downloaded child abuse images from his cell
by Harley Tamplin
Images showing children as young as four being raped were among those viewed by Richard Baker, who is suspected of raping more than 100 women.
The 51-year-old was told by a judge that he will be a ‘very old man' if he is ever released, after he was sentenced to an additional six years.
A jury at Aylesbury Crown Court in Buckinghamshire found him guilty of nine offences of possessing and making indecent images of children after hearing he smuggled a tablet into his cell.
Judge Francis Sheridan said: ‘If ever there was a clear and present danger to women and female children this man represents it, it is as simple as that.
‘I think you are one of the most dangerous men I have ever had the displeasure of trying.
‘You have started showing an interest in children of four or five years old. You're a control freak.'
Baker bought the tablet in February 2012 for £580, shortly after moving to Chadwick Lodge, a medium security mental health unit in Milton Keynes.
He instructed friends to send it to him in a parcel, enclosed in bubble wrap below paper, newspaper and sweets.
As staff are not permitted to censor post, it was not discovered.
The former nightclub DJ used it to download images and videos and visited illegal porn websites over five months in 2012.
In June of that year he confessed to Dr David Forshaw, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the hospital, to having the tablet, but refused to give staff the pin.
As Baker was led away from the court after the verdict he said: ‘I swear on my mum's life I didn't do it.'
Speaking after the trial, investigating officer Det Con Darren White from Devon and Cornwall Police's Child Exploitation Unit, said: ‘Richard Baker has been shown to still pose a significant risk to the public despite years of imprisonment and treated and described by Judge Sheridan as the most dangerous man to ever be tried before him.
‘Whilst Mr Baker is currently serving a life sentence the verdict of the court today will mean he is unlikely to be released for the foreseeable future.'
Province pledges additional support for victims of child sexual abuse
by CTV News
The provincial government has announced $1.7 million in additional funding will support Alberta's seven child advocacy centres that assist underage victims of sexual abuse and their families.
“Violence and abuse in any form are unacceptable,” said Irfan Sabir, Alberta's Minister of Human Services. “We will continue to support and work with our community partners to stop child sex abuse and exploitation from happening.”
The money, part of the Family and Community Safety Program, will help survivors access specialized services throughout the long process of mental healing.
“I think right now the mindset is a couple of counselling sessions and you're good to go,” said Sheldon Kennedy of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre. “The reality is that's not enough, that's not good enough, I think that was a decision that was made without the reality of understanding the true impact of this type of crime on our kids”
The funding will support the existing Child Advocacy Centres in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie as well as the new centres in Lethbridge, Red Deer, Lloydminster and Fort McMurray.
Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester lead Md. in child abuse
by Gino Fanelli
A small chalkboard rests on an easel at the front entrance of the Salisbury Life Crisis Center.
Beside it are bins of crayons perched atop stacks of coloring and pop-up books. Around them are small toys of all varieties – all placed knowingly and deliberately to create the intentional veneer of safety and comfort.
They've received a lot of use. When it comes to child abuse, Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties have a grim distinction.
"The three counties of the Lower Shore have three of the highest child abuse rates in Maryland," said Michele Hughes, executive director of the Life Crisis Center.
According to the Maryland Department of Health, in 2014, the most recent statistics, 13.4 out of every 1,000 children in Wicomico County were subject to some variety of abuse, compared to a state average of 9.9 and a national average of 8.5.
In Worcester county, that number jumps to 29 out of 1,000, and for Somerset, the number comes in at 30.5.
"We never see fewer than a 100 discrete children per year," Hughes said. "In the past year (2015), that number was closer to 125."
The Life Crisis Center works in collaboration with the three child advocacy centers across the Eastern Shore, one in each county.
The concept of child advocacy centers began in Huntsville, Alabama, the current location of the National Child Advocacy Center, in 1985, as a way of both streamlining the investigation process and preventing any further trauma children might experience.
Rather than a stream of interviews from police stations to the courtroom, a process that Hughes cites as extremely traumatic, these centers use a team consisting of social workers and law enforcement, as well as on-site medical and therapeutic services.
"The most important piece of this is the child is treated in a way that is sensitive to the child's needs," Hughes said.
"That means the CAC needs to be a place that the child is comfortable in — that isn't like a police station with people walking around with guns on their hips. That it isn't a place where the child feels like they're there because they've done something wrong. You have to help a child in a way the child understands."
"Just horrible, tortuous things"
Along with lessening the traumatic damage of the court process, the more compassionate approach also can result in higher prosecution rates.
The more stress, the higher likelihood that a child will recant a story, Hughes said.
"You have these little children that see these people that did these awful things sitting there that said to them, 'If you tell anybody, they're going to take you away from your mother,' " she said. "That's terrifying to a child."
Life Crisis Clinical Director Donna Leffew further stated the complexity of children being coerced by their abusers.
"Sometimes they say things like, 'If you tell, I'll go to jail,' " Leffew said. "That's actually true. The threats given to children that are sexually abused are almost always true. 'We'll lose everything. I'll go to jail. Mommy won't have any money. Mommy will be mad at you.'
"You're asking a lot for a child to sit there and face that person, and a lot of the time they love that person."
"Because it's granddad, or uncle Charlie, or daddy, or someone like that," Hughes added.
What Hughes and Leffew describe is a problem that plagues child sex abuse justice. The vast majority of abusers are people the child knows.
As reported by the child sex abuse advocacy and prevention program Darkness to Light, between 30 and 40 percent of child victims were abused by family members. In total, 90 percent of victims were abused by someone they know, usually someone they trust.
"At this point, I think I've seen it all," Leffew said. "I've worked with children at length that had been sexually abused before they had language. Kids that have been sexually abused there entire lives and that's all they knew. I'm working with a teenage girl right now that has been sexually abused her entire life.
"I've had children that have been forced to pose for naked pictures, I'm working with a girl right now who was prostituted by her parents.
"Just horrible things, torturous things."
Drugs only add to the problem
Leffew detailed how substance abuse, a growing concern as heroin and opiate abuse continues to rise across the state, contributes to and exasperates the problem.
"What I find is they're far more kids at risk when there's more people coming into their lives," Leffew said. "And in those drug houses, those chaotic environments, with people coming and going at all hours, the child is at far more risk. Furthermore when the parents are high, they're not in that protective state."
Like much of the country, the Eastern Shore has seen a surge in heroin use in recent times, and Leffew said she has seen the ramifications of that problem in the children she sees.
"Over this time I've been doing this, over 22 years, what I've seen is that the cases are more severe," Leffew said. "It's just not how it used to be. Now, it's kids have multiple offenders, once kids are abused they seem even more vulnerable. The cases are far more complex than they were even 10 years ago, and I think drugs are a big part of that."
At the Children's Resource Intervention Center, Kid Empowerment Team, or "CRICKET " Center, in Berlin, many of the problems Leffew and Hughes cited were echoed.
"We always have around 100 cases a year here in Worcester County," Program Manager Wendy Myers said, sitting in a padded seat monitored by a surveillance camera.
In the next room, a computer station sits where a police officer would record interviews between child protective workers and children.
In 2015, there were 93 total cases, with Ocean City having the highest rate, constituting 36 percent of all cases, according to documents from the CRICKET Center.
With a population of 51,540, 17.9 percent of which are under the age of 18, that correlates to a sex abuse investigation with the end goal of prosecution for one in every 99.2 minors. Myers stated this number likely doesn't encompass the whole issue, as many cases go unreported.
According to a study by U.S. Department of Health, an estimated 9.2 percent of all children are victims of sexual abuse.
"It's a very under-reported crime," Myers said. "It's a crime of secrecy, so we like to believe our prevention efforts are giving parents tangible ways to keep their children safe."
Myers also said while the numbers remain stable in Worcester County from year to year, the presence of substance abuse has contributed to the problem.
"Anytime that there's economic issues or a time where people are struggling, we do see an increase particularly in acute physical abuses," Myers said. "Unfortunately, that does happen, and drug abuse does contribute to neglect cases."
For the protection of children, there's always hope
The existence of child advocacy centers has brought a new era of prosecution for child sexual abusers. The former stream of interviews and police station visits by victims have been replaced by single, all-encompassing treatment centers that offer a simple process for victims.
Myers agreed with Hughes that, with the help of advocacy centers, prosecution rates are up, as children are less likely to recant.
But these centers are still in need of help.
Though the CRICKET Center receives substantial grants from the county, Ocean City, Berlin, Pocomoke and Snow Hill citizens can get involved by donating directly.
"One long-term goal that we've had for about 10 years was starting an endowment fund through the community foundation, and that is actually happening this month," Myers said. "When folks want to remember the CRICKET Center, they can do it through the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, and it's a great way for them to know their gift is going to the right place."
The CRICKET Center will also hold their annual fundraiser at Seacrets on Oct. 16. Tickets are $65 per person and include food, a two-hour open bar, a silent auction and live entertainment from When Worldz Collide.
In the dozens of fingerprint hand prints of child clients adorning tiles of the CRICKET Center, the existence of this sort of abuse is made glaringly evident.
Hughes said the perpetrators of these crimes are not the typical image of a monster. They can be charming, they can be family friends, teachers or neighbors. Knowing this, the fight may seem uphill, or even unwinnable. Yet, along with the efforts of the advocacy centers, there are always actions citizens can take, and they are mostly simple.
"If you see something, say something," Myers said.
Watch out for red flags of child sex abuse
by Eloisa Duarte
Child sexual abuse is a multiheaded monster that threatens our community, shattering the physical and emotional lives of many children.
One of its heads includes intimidation, lies and deceit that sexual abusers use to catch their prey.
Another is overconfidence of parents who need to work, leaving their children under the care of unscrupulous people who take advantage of childhood innocence.
Abuse of alcohol and other drugs also increases the risk of children becoming victims.
There are other issues, such as the carelessness and indifference of many parents who may suspect their children are being abused, but believe it or not, would rather ignore the situation and let things be.
Most of the time the sexual abuse is committed by an acquaintance who may be a child's sibling, neighbor, coach, friend, grandparent, religious leader, counselor, teacher, parent partner or, in the worst scenario, a parent.
Offenders who target children employ a variety of methods to gain sexual access. Some groom their victims into compliance with attention and gifts, while others use threats, alcohol or other drugs, or physical force.
In July 2015, the Time magazine published a statement by Joseph Campbell of the FBI Criminal Investigation Division that the agency considered child sexual abuse at “almost epidemic levels.”
Have you ever thought if your children are at risk of being sexually abused?
Pedophiles and other sex offenders are always lurking, which sometimes parents ignore.
We think that won't happen to our children — and that is precisely the biggest mistake. We tend to ignore excessive demonstrations of affection to our children by family or friends.
Watch for warning signs. The monster of child sexual abuse sneaks everywhere, especially in overcrowded conditions, such as multiple families or people cohabiting in the same house or apartment.
It also operates under conditions of poverty, dysfunction or individuals who maybe isolated and poorly connected with community resources. This gives offenders more confidence regarding their crime not being reported if discovered.
The River Bridge Regional Center in Glenwood Springs provides prevention classes for parents on this topic. They are regularly providing support services for the community to be more informed.
The first step in preventing abuse of children is notifying your local police department of any suspicion of mistreatment, reporting it with your family doctor, at your child's school or simply by dialing 911.
In many cases the offender has an accomplice — this should not be you.
Do not be afraid to report. Pedophiles, child molesters and abusers are mentally ill. They need help to stop hurting children. Their crimes may include child sexual abuse, statutory rape, offenses involving child pornography, child grooming, stalking and indecent exposure.
Unfortunately, many of these crimes go unpunished. Few come to light for fear of the reprisal.
Many of us have been abused or have friends who have been in this situation and, sadly, talk about this only after many years have passed and the aftermath of abuse has overwhelmed the victim.
It is important to understand that child sexual abuse is a reality that affects our community; we must learn to prevent it, fight it and inform about it, no matter who the abuser is.
Let us talk about it openly with our children and avoid placing them in high-risk situations.
If you are an abuser or fear that you could be one, ask for help. You must understand that this behavior is a disorder that can be treated.
A complaint prevents many children from being hurt and many lives from being torn apart.
Our ecosystem of hope is your bravery; please be courageous and raise your voice against this crime, you should do it, you can do it and you have to do it.
Trauma counselling a must for child victims of sexual abuse
by Keshia Mahmood
PETALING JAYA -- In the wake of the case involving British paedophile Richard Huckle who molested 22 children in Malaysia, authorities are working towards identifying his victims to provide counselling.
A psychologist and criminologist from the forensic science programme at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Dr Geshina Mat Saat, said trauma counselling sessions would help victims of sexual abuse reduce incidents of flashbacks and adverse reactions in order to address unresolved fears.
"Without appropriate trauma counselling, it is very likely that the child's current and future emotional, familial and social ties are going to be badly affected," she told theSun .
"The child needs time and a lot of support to come to terms with the victimisation and overcome it," she said, adding that this is done via phobia management, fear management, and learning emotion-based and action-based coping skills.
Action-based coping involves actually dealing with the problem that is causing stress by seeking help or practising self-control and restraint.
"Emotion-based coping skills are more internal, like denial, repression or distraction. The victim may try to divert attention from their sadness by involving themselves in other activities," she explained.
According to Dr Geshina, practitioners advocate an eclectic mix of techniques and methods to help children combat their fears, which includes play therapy, art therapy, sand therapy, dance therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.
In Malaysia, the most commonly used is play therapy, specifically theater-based ones, which has been utilised by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry for the past five or six years.
In preparation, trauma counselors also need to conduct a thorough check to determine if parental involvement in counselling sessions would aid in trauma recovery, she said.
She cited examples of cases where parents were already aware of the sexual abuse but chose not to believe in the child, allowed the abuse to continue, or had punished the child for their involvement in the abuse.
"Some parents or guardians may deny and reject what the child shares during these sessions or is not supportive of the child's efforts at home in completing counselling assignments," she said.
She also cautioned against completing counselling as a short-term effort because the outcomes of trauma may be experienced years after the incident as the child enters different phases of psycho-social development.
Lawsuit Claims School Ignored White Boys Dragging Black Girl by Rope Around Her Neck
by BaRock Odrama
A predominantly White private school in Waco, Texas is being sued by the parents of a 12-year-old Black girl, who suffered brutal injuries during an overnight field trip.
The $3 million lawsuit is filed against Live Oak Classical School and the owner of the ranch where the incident occurred.
According to the lawsuit, three white male students allegedly put a rope around the girl's neck and pulled her to the ground, causing severe rope burn all over her throat.
[Editor's Note: The girl's name is obviously being withheld for privacy concerns, and she is referred to in this Daily Beast article as “KP.”]
The family's lawyer Levi McCathern says the attack was “racially motivated” and that the school had been contacted by the girl's mother about bullying in the past, but never appropriately handled the situation.
“Based on the injuries KP sustained, it's nearly impossible to argue that this was somehow an accident that could've happened to any child that day, regardless of race. The severity and the specificity of the injury certainly point to this incident being racial,” McCathern said.
McCathern also said the school failed to notify the child's mother of her injuries or give the child proper medical attention.
“Even if this incident was unintentional, the school's lack of supervision to let this happen, dismissive and tone deaf response after it happened, and refusal to investigate until legally prompted to, showed an utter disregard for one of the only African American children in the school.”
Live Oak Classical School has released a statement saying the incident at the ranch was “accidental” and that proper protocol was followed.
“The lawyer claimed that the student's injuries were [the result of a] racially motivated, intentional attack. Live Oak takes this accusation seriously. The school interviewed all student eyewitnesses and teachers who were present and each independently established that the accusation made by the attorney is absolutely false. The injuries were caused accidentally while the students were playing with the swing and attached pull rope. The attorney was advised of the results of the interviews.”
More details below via The Daily Beast:
The $3-million lawsuit accuses Live Oak Classical School in Waco of negligence, gross negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lead attorney on the case is Levi McCathern, who represents the Dallas Cowboys.
According to the lawsuit, KP's mother chose Live Oak—a largely white private school with a pricey tuition rate—and applied for scholarship grants so that her daughter could attend an institution with a “better education” and a “wholesome learning environment.”
In the next year though, the lawsuit claims KP encountered bullying at the school that was not disciplined.
An email from KP's mom in the lawsuit from November alleges that a boy repeatedly pushed and shoved her 12-year-old daughter.
“This is not the first time this has happened,” she wrote to the principal. “During the the Tempest play rehearsal he was pushing and kicking her in the line that they were in.”
According to exhibits submitted with the lawsuit, the school's principal, Allison Buras, wrote back to the mother that she “would never want children hurting one another” and that she spoke to the boys about the alleged incident.
“It sounds like he may have pushed on the back of her leg to make her leg buckle, which is something the kids sometimes do,” Buras wrote. “Rarely is that done out of meanness but more out of a desire for sport.”
Attorney David Deaconson, who represents Live Oak, said Tuesday said that the allegations about bullying made in McCathern's petition are not accurate.
“The school appropriately responded to concerns raised by the parent in the fall of 2015 concerning her child,” he told The Daily Beast via email. “No other concerns about any boys were raised by the parents at any time thereafter.”
But the main complaint against the school comes from an April field trip to Germer Ranch in Blanco County, Texas. KP and several other children were said to have come across a swing with long rope was attached so children could pull it, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit states KP was standing to the side of the swing when three white males, including one who allegedly bullied her in the past, pulled the rope back and wrapped it around her neck. The boys then violently jerked KP to the ground, the family claims, leaving abrasions on her neck.
Jeremy Counseller, a board member for the school, told the Dallas Morning News that “Live Oak takes the safety of its students seriously and is saddened that one of its family suffered an unfortunate accident and injury.” Counseller described what happened as “accident.”
Deaconson, the school's counsel, said it was “proactive” afterward and conducted interviews with “students, chaperones and teachers who attended the field trip in order to gather information about the accident with the swing.” Deaconson said that the school's internal investigation indicated that “the injuries suffered by the student were the result of an accident.”
“Anyone can allege anything they want to in a petition, but that doesn't make it fact,” he told the Waco Tribune-Herald.
McCathern, the family's attorney, called the alleged attack “racially motivated” in a statement.
“Based on the injuries KP sustained, it's nearly impossible to argue that this was somehow an accident that could of happened to any child that day, regardless of race,” he said. “The severity and the specificity of the injury certainly point to this incident being racial.”
When KP told adult chaperones what happened, she was allegedly given Vaseline for her neck and Motrin for the pain. None of the adults informed KP's mother afterward or when they returned the kids to the school to be picked up from the trip, the lawsuit claims.
“Even if this incident was unintentional,” McCathern wrote, “the school's lack of supervision to let this happen, dismissive and tone deaf response after it happened, and refusal to investigate until legally prompted to, showed an utter disregard for one of the only African American children in the school.”
“Live Oak Classical School continues to stand behind the facts of this case and will not participate in the spreading of untruths and misinformation about its students or the school,” Deaconson wrote in a statement, adding that “the family hired a lawyer who threatened the school with racial allegations less than four days (including a weekend) after the field trip.”
When KP got into the family vehicle, the lawsuit said her mother saw the injury and was “shocked.” The girl was taken to the emergency room.
Doctors at the hospital commented on the severity of the injury and then notified police, the lawsuit alleges. A crime scene unit took photos for an investigation.
Blanco County Sheriff's Office Capt. Ben Ablon told The Daily Beast that he has begun interviews, obtained initial police reports and requested hospital records in the case. Ablon said he'll interview every person who was on the trip, including students and chaperones.
“We are still actively working this case,” he said. “It's going to take a while.”
Ablon has also requested the help of a pediatrician with a specialty in child abuse injuries to review the evidence and scans that were taken during KP's hospital visit.
KP, then 12, was immediately removed from the school, said attorney Mark “TJ” Woods, who works at McCathern's firm. She's now receiving treatment and counseling for the injuries she sustained, he said.
Deaconson said the school has also evaluated its parental notification protocol and “is making changes to insure parents are notified of any injuries on field trips in the future.”
In Guatemala, 60 percent of sex trafficking victims are children
by Lisa Nikolau
Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world. Although sexual exploitation accounts for just over half of all detected human trafficking victims globally, statistics are lacking on how many of those victims are children.
In Guatemala, however, trafficking children for sexual exploitation is something of a crisis, with 57 percent of victims under the age of 18, according to a new U.N. report.
The shocking proportion of children amounts to nearly 30,000 of the total 48,500 Guatemalans who are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, a business whose profits amounted to $1.6 billion a year, according to the report by UNICEF and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
“It is outrageous that this occurs under the indifference of society and the lack of state action,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative Mariko Kagoshima in an interview with the Mexican newspaper Noticias de Chiapas.
Poverty is one of the biggest drivers of sex trafficking in the central American country, where three in five people live on less than $3.10 a day, according to the UNICEF report.
Traffickers often target poor, uneducated and unemployed women and girls, luring them with false promises of earning money as a waitress or model. The system is also fueled by widespread sexual abuse in the home, low levels of education, having few opportunities for economic growth and a family history of domestic violence.
In some cases, precarious economic conditions drive mothers to sell their own daughters for sexual exploitation. In the report, an unnamed expert on victims of trafficking assistance explained how a situation like this may transpire:
“[…] the mother thinks: “She is the right age to be with this man; he will give her five hundred quetzales for her virginity.” Some girls have been known to say: “Mom, this man will give me a mobile phone for doing this and that,” to which the mother replies: “No, girl, don't ask only for a mobile phone, ask for more.”
This is why we say it is a matter of social paradigms and ignorance; ignorance of what it means for their lives.”
To address the problem, it's important to understand what's driving mothers to such deplorable situations. Guatemala's cycle of exploitation carries through generations: Girls living in poverty and abusive conditions abandon their homes and their studies, become vulnerable to traffickers and are recruited for sexual exploitation. Then, when they become mothers themselves, they in turn subject their daughters to exploitation.
The severity of Guatemala's sex trafficking system is even more difficult to swallow when considering that, according to the U.N. report, there are just two prosecutors working on sex trafficking cases across the country. Unsurprisingly, the number of trafficking convictions in Guatemala remains low.
The report offers a host of recommendations, among them increased control of the detection, prosecution and punishment of officials who tolerate or promote human trafficking for sexual exploitation, as well as the creation of social audit mechanisms to guarantee that authorities effectively close down sexual exploitation centers and prosecute traffickers.
Guatemala has already introduced several initiatives and laws to tackle human trafficking, Reuters reports. These include a 2009 anti-trafficking law, a protocol implemented in 2014 to guide officials when assisting victims and greater focus on combating the online child sex trade.
Gov. Cuomo leaves Child Victims Act off end-of-session letter for legislature
by Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - With three days left in the state legislative session and their chances fading, advocates for a bill to make it easier for child sexual assault victims to seek justice are hoping for a miracle.
And they'll need it.
Gov. Cuomo sent a letter to the Legislature Monday outlining six end-of-session issues he believes can be achieved - and the Child Victims Act was not among them. Allowing restaurants to sell booze on Sundays before noon, made the list as did improving safety at rail crossings, and ethics and campaign finance reform.
“It's not in the letter, so obviously he's not pushing for it,” Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor and a child sex abuse victim, said. “If he was, it would be in the letter. By not including it, the message to the Legislature is they don't have to pass it.”
State lawmakers, meanwhile, have reached a tentative deal to allow bars and restaurants to begin selling liquor at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, sources told the Daily News.
The deal also allows bars and restaurants to apply for a permit that would grant them permission to sell booze beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday for special occasions, sources added. Lawmakers are expected to formally announce the deal Tuesday.
Making it even more disappointing is the fact Cuomo met with sex abuse survivors for two hours recently and had told the Daily News he wanted to get something done on the issue before the legislative session ends Thursday.
“The whole place is dysfunctional,” Greenberg said. “Alcohol on Sundays is more important than helping child abuse victims. ... It's unbelievable those priorities he mentioned are more important than protecting kids and providing hope to people who have been through hell. But that's his choice.”
Kathryn Robb, an advocate and sex abuse survivor, called it “terribly disappointing” that the Child Victims Act was omitted from the Cuomo letter, “especially since I understand the governor to be a man of reason and compassion, and committed to justice.”
“Victims and children desperately need the Governor's great leadership,” Robb added.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi insisted the issue is still under discussion with legislative leaders.
“These victims deserve justice and we still very much want this issue addressed this session,” Azzopardi said. “Although consensus has not been reached with the Legislature, we are continuing to fight for one.”
The Assembly as early as Tuesday is expected to pass a bill that would extend the time child sex abuse victims can bring cases by five years, open a six-month window to revive old cases, and treat public and private entities equally when it comes to child sex abuse cases.
But some survivors trashed the plan for not going far enough, leaving legislative insiders to say it is the final nail in the coffin since the GOP-controlled Senate won't go further.
But another advocate, Marci Hamilton, is urging the Assembly to move forward with its legislation and asked lawmakers not to hold advocate frustration against them.
“I sincerely hope that the Assembly will consider and pass its current bill,” Hamilton said. “The perfect is the enemy of the good. Moreover, in this arena it is difficult for survivors to handle the ups and downs of the legislative process, so they should not be punished for angst at any stage.”
Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens), who has long sponsored the Child Victims Act, sent an email to supporters Monday urging they contact the Senate Republicans to apply last-minute pressure.
“You must act right now, today, if we are to have (statute of limitation) reform for kids in Albany in 2016,” Markey wrote. “The Assembly is ready to enact a revised ... reform bill this week, but the state Senate is still not on board. Your voice can help convince the Republican leaders in the state Senate to act.”
The Senate Republicans have yet to decide whether to take action on any bill on the issue before leaving Albany this week, a spokesman said.
“We're still hoping the leaders do the right thing and give an opportunity for the victims to have justice and the children of New York to be safe,” Robb said.
Survivors speak out against sex crimes
by Cali Bagby
He was an older man and Susan had just turned 18. After he started physically and sexually assaulting her, she was ashamed and afraid that the community would not stand by her if she left him. When she thought he would actually kill her – seven years into their relationship – she ran away with nothing but a few clothes. She was free from bodily harm, but she had to face another obstacle: the people who did not believe her.
The woman, now in her mid-30s, has chosen to share her story anonymously as her ex-partner still lives in the San Juans and she fears retaliation for speaking out. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
"The sad thing is that his employer and everyone wanted to protect him," she said. "I was horribly harassed by his friends and they were aware of what had been going on. People were taking sides and they were protecting the abuser."
She reported the abuse to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of the San Juan Islands and applied for a restraining order, but dropped it for two reasons: pressure from her ex's friends and because she didn't really think the order would work.
"It's just a piece of paper," she said. "If he had wanted to hurt me it wouldn't have stopped him."
Though her case occurred more than 10 years ago, her story is becoming more frequent in San Juan County. Local law enforcement and staff from DVSAS told the Journal last week about the uptick in the number of sexual and domestic abuse cases. One disturbing trend is the number of sexual assault victims that are children, ages 0 to 17, seeking services from DVSAS. From 2012 to 2015 the reports tripled from two to six. In the last six months, DVSAS already has four reports. Kim Bryan, DVSAS director, stated that it's likely the increase is due to more victims reporting such crimes.
This has not always been the case. For our anonymous source, talking about the crime was almost as painful as the event itself.
"Rape is not easy to deal with, but it's so much more personal coming from your spouse," Susan said, describing how painful it was to relieve her trauma with detectives. She chose to let go of her anger and move on rather than pressing charges and going to court.
"It would be very hard and they treat you like victims not survivors," she said.
A San Juan County man who was raised on the mainland in the 1950s has also come forward to share his story years after the fact. He asked to remain anonymous, and his name has been changed to protect himself and his family. Although he has come to terms with the abuse he suffered, he said it's hard for others to handle the weight of his difficult past.
From the ages of five to 13, Dan was sexually abused by his mother, grandmother and several of their female friends.
"I am sure that they were abused too," he said. "When I was supposed to be taught how to be nurturing and loving and kind, it's not what was happening. There is a huge emotional chapter missing for me."
His older siblings had already left home and his father, who was often gone working for weeks at a time, died a few years after the abuse began.
"As a child, you are led to believe this is normal behavior," Dan said. "You live in a bubble, and you are manipulated into situations that you have no control over. And in that era there wasn't any press or information readily available about sexual abuse."
Although there is more information now than in the 1950s, rape is still the most under-reported crime: an estimated 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police, so the real number of men facing this trauma is unknown. Men are in the minority of reported cases because less violence occurs or because they are less likely to admit assault. Websites by anti-sexual violence organizations estimate that at least 10 percent of all sexual assault victims in the U.S. are male. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. One in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives and 27.8 percent of men were age 10 or younger at the time of their first rape/victimization. In the last five years, DVSAS tallied three adult men who reported abuse perpetrated by adult women.
For Dan, it took 35 years for him to face his past and to make peace with being a statistic.
In the ninth grade, hemoved out of his home and began living on his own, eventually earning his GED and attending university. As an adult, he worked long hours, traveled the world and never told a soul about what happened in his childhood. Instead of abusing others, he abused himself. He started drinking around age 12, and had a realization in his mid-50s that alcohol played too big of a role in his life. He hasn't touched a drink since, and chose to confront the reality of what he'd been avoiding for so many years. It wasn't until his therapist told him "you were raped" that he recognized he was a victim.
"There isn't a lot of information about young men who are sexually assaulted by their mothers early in life," Dan said. "It's hard for men to talk – period. And with something that is so volatile and intimate, it would behoove us to communicate more and not feel threatened, but you are still judged for being vulnerable. It's nice to think we have evolved beyond that, but we haven't. Everyone will say 'this is a terrible thing' but no one really wants to talk about it."
Dr. Hani Miletski, who wrote the book "Mother-Son Incest: The Unthinkable Broken Taboo Persists," states that society's denial about incest is not diminishing but has rather reached a plateau especially when it comes to prevention and recovery needs.
"Men who were sexually abused as children continue to encounter ridicule, minimization, and dismissal," wrote Miletski.
Dan credits his wife and their child with balancing out his negative experiences and helping him focus on the positive.
"I didn't stay in that revolving door," he said. "You go out and you create a better life for yourself. You can't go forward if you are looking in the rearview mirror. The abuse has certainly shaped my life. Emotional connections don't always come easily for me, and there are huge gaps in my memory that are disorienting. It's just always going to be a constant."
He says the $64,000 question is: why did the cycle of abuse stop with him? There is not an easy answer other than he saw what a normal family looked like and wanted to have that in his life.
"You can't overcome what happened, but you try to get it in order. You push out the negative triggers. I can't be angry anymore," he said. "I want the people around me to get the best of me. I don't want to be restricted by this."
For Susan, who left her partner in 2005, the insulated nature of the island community at that time made her struggle with reporting the abuse.
"I think our community is different in that victims are so scared to be judged," she said. "If you lived in Seattle you would only worry about your group of friends. In small communities it's tougher to speak out."
Despite the fact that false reporting of rape is less than 10 percent, victim shaming is a common occurrence in society. According to the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness: "Victim-blaming attitudes also reinforce what the abuser has been saying all along; that it is the victim's fault this is happening."
Its website explains that victim shaming is often born from the fact that people want to distance themselves from the horror of the event, giving them a false sense that somehow they will be safer from being abused themselves.
Susan said she recalled someone looking at her with pity after news spread that she had been abused.
"They either hate you or pity you," she said. "No one says, 'good for you for speaking up.'"
Despite the negativity, she found friends who did support her and helped her to move on. She eventually relocated to another island to start fresh.
Her advice to others is, "Don't be afraid. Your life is more important than what others think of you."
Dan recommends that victims find someone trusted to confide in – whether that person is a therapist, friend or family member.
"You have to commit to talking to someone about it," he said. "You have to be able to be honest and say: 'This happened. And it's okay. I survived it.' You have to own it – for better or worse. You can get comfortable with it. You can live with it. It doesn't have to control you."
New approach to human trafficking a 'sea change'
by Grant Schulte
Law enforcement and social service agencies are preparing a major push to clamp down on human trafficking in Nebraska, but advocates say the state should do more for survivors who are likely to require housing, specialized counseling and medical care.
The new approach championed by Attorney General Doug Peterson focuses on helping survivors, stopping traffickers and shrinking the market by going after customers instead of victims who are coerced into working as prostitutes. A state task force is developing a plan, and Peterson is considering legislation next year to increase criminal penalties for traffickers.
Advocates are starting with a focus on sex trafficking, where victims — usually women and children — are forced into prostitution. They eventually plan to expand their efforts into labor trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery in which people are made to work through violence, threats or debt bondage.
“It's really important that we get out and start prosecuting these guys and getting services to the young ladies” who are sexually trafficked, Peterson said. “We have to let this industry know that to operate in Nebraska, you're going to place yourself at great risk.”
Yet Peterson and other advocates acknowledge major changes will take time, largely because Nebraska has a shortage of services that are tailored to sex trafficking victims.
The Women's Fund of Omaha conducted a survey last year that found 84 percent of “service providers,” including nonprofits and state agencies, did not believe they were adequately meeting the needs of people who have been trafficked.
Survivors often need an array of services including housing, education and life skills training and “peer mentoring” from others who have similar experiences, said Meghan Malik, the group's trafficking response coordinator.
Many have criminal records because they were forced to participate in illegal activity, making it harder for them to find a job. Without a support system, Malik said, many will return to prostitution because it's a way to make money.
“It's the life they know, and they have to put a roof over their heads and feed their children,” Malik said. “It's really on us as a community and service providers to ensure we're providing a comprehensive array of services. We're making progress, but we still have a long way to go.”
Stephen Patrick O'Meara, the human trafficking coordinator for the Nebraska attorney general's office, said the state is working to improves services for survivors.
Survivors frequently suffer from mental health and substance abuse problems, as well as developmental disabilities that impair their judgment. Many experience post-traumatic stress disorder, have no place safe to go, and may believe their pimp is caring for them. Some foreign trafficking victims speak no English.
O'Meara said authorities will pursue serious charges against traffickers to prevent them from creating new victims, but they also must help victims avoid falling into the same pattern. He said they're also working to dispel the notion that trafficking isn't a state problem.
“I'm beginning to see a significant shift in awareness,” said O'Meara, a former federal prosecutor who has worked on human trafficking issues since 2007. “But we're not there yet. There are still a lot of people out there who don't believe or don't want to believe that something like this could happen in a good place like Nebraska.”
The human trafficking task force is building a statewide network of law enforcement, prosecutors, social service agencies, doctors and nurses, and industries that are more likely to encounter prostitutes, such as motels and trucking.
The task force now has caseworkers in Omaha, Grand Island and North Platte who are training others to recognize signs of human trafficking, said Alicia Webber, program manager for the Salvation Army's anti-human trafficking initiative. The initiative began in October in partnership with the Nebraska attorney general's office.
Nebraska has seen a handful of high-profile human trafficking cases, but tracking specific numbers has proven difficult because many are prosecuted as prostitution or child sexual assault cases, which carry harsher penalties. O'Meara said a recent study found more than 1,850 people in Nebraska who were likely engaging in prostitution between November and May, and he suspects many were sex trafficking victims.
In 2014, Adrien Jamaal Cole of Omaha was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for sex trafficking in Nebraska and Iowa. In 2010, authorities disrupted a three-year prostitution ring in Omaha and Council Bluffs that preyed on women and teenage girls.
The Nebraska task force's work includes a heavy focus on training. Instead of immediately arresting women who are caught in prostitution stings, law enforcement officers are being taught to look for signs that they are trafficking victims. Minors are automatically treated as trafficking victims.
“The picture has completely changed,” Peterson said. “A 16-year-old girl typically doesn't get into prostitution by herself. Someone is most likely profiting significantly off of her.”
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln is working with the attorney general's office on legislation to increase criminal penalties for human traffickers and customers. This year, the Legislature approved a bill she introduced providing legal immunity to adult sex trafficking victims who are caught working as prostitutes. Nebraska already grants immunity to juvenile victims.
Pansing Brooks said most prostitutes have been trafficking victims at some point, and the state is only now starting to treat them differently.
“It's a huge sea change,” she said.
Abused boy, 4, about Brockton babysitter: 'She's just out of her mind'
A 31-year-old woman is accused of punishing two boys, 4 and 9, by burning them with cigarettes, beating them and torturing them in the shower.
by Benjamin Paulin
BROCKTON -Burned with cigarettes, beaten with a spoon, tortured with water, belittled and abused.
That's what police said two boys, ages 4 and 9, were subject to from their babysitter over the last six months.
A Brockton woman is facing 16 child abuse charges after being accused of horrifically abusing a 4-year-old boy and his 9-year-old brother over the last six months.
Nancy Intelisano, 31, was arrested on Thursday in Brockton following an investigation by Brockton police and the Department of Children and Families.
Intelisano had been living with the two victims and their mother in Brockton.
The allegations came to light when the 4-year-old's mother took him to the hospital last month because he had broken his arm.
Intelisano told the boy's mother that he was jumping from couch to couch and fell when she was babysitting.
A doctor at the hospital said that his injuries were not consistent with falling from a couch, but rather from a forceful push or pull from another person.
At the hospital, doctors said he had suffered bruising on his stomach, scratches on his face, a black eye, bruising on his right arm, a chipped tooth, a left arm fracture, a burn on his upper lip and an open sore on his palm.
The Department of Children and Families was notified and interviewed the boys.
The victims described horrific abuse by Intelisano while she was babysitting them over a period of about six months. Much of the alleged abuse occurred when she was alone in the house with the two boys and her own young children. The other children witnessed much of the abuses, court records state.
The victim told police that on May 4, Intelisano grabbed him by the arm and threw him around in different directions and twisted his arm until it broke, court records state.
Two days prior, the boy told police that he made a mess in the kitchen and Intelisano took the boy and put him in the sink to clean him up. She then suddenly grabbed him by the back of the neck and threw him across the room and he hit his head, court records state.
The majority of the abuse was focused on the 4-year-old boy, court records state, and she used multiple forms of punishment for what she considered bad behavior. A police report obtained by The Enterprise refers to the 4-year-old as Victim No. 1 and the 9-year-old as Victim No. 2.
When asked about a cut on the 4-year-old's hand, his brother told police that, “Victim No. 1 had been being bad so the suspect sat on his stomach so he couldn't move and rubbed her lit cigarette into his cut on his palm.”
The 9-year-old told police he saw her burn the cut on his brother's hand with a lit cigarette at least five times so it would not heal. She would also press down on his bumps and bruises when she was mad at him.
Several times she strapped the 4-year-old into a seat in the shower naked and turned on cold water and sprayed water in his face and forced his eyes open with her hands to spray his eyes, court records state.
“Victim No. 1 would lose his breath and beg her to stop it, but the suspect would tell Victim No. 1 to shut up,” court records state.
At least twice, Intelisano forced the boy to kneel on grains of rice with his bare knees, court records state.
“He explained that this is what they used to do in the Army in the old days. He said this almost made his knees bleed but they healed ‘super fast,'” the boy told investigators.
When the two boys would accidentally go to the bathroom in their pants, as punishment she would make them sit outside on the porch by themselves for long periods of time while still in their wet clothes, court records state.
“They were not allowed to come back into the house until the suspect let them. One time, they were out on the porch and Victim No. 2 had to pee. He ended up peeing his pants on the porch because he ‘really had to go.' When the suspect let Victim No. 2 back in, she threw him across the kitchen floor and threw clothes at him to change into. The suspect said to him ‘Change now pee pee boy.'”
On another occasion, the boys were driving with Intelisano. She stopped outside a vacant house with lots of vegetation growing around it. She made the 4-year-old victim get out of the car in front of the house and began to slowly drive away as if she was going to leave him, court records state.
Another time she made him get out of the car while it was snowing outside and each time the boy tried to reach for the door handle to get back in, she would accelerate and move the car out of reach while laughing, the victim's brother told police.
She told the boys that if they told anyone about the abuse and did not go along with her explanations for how they got injured, she would call DCF and have them taken away, court records state.
The mother of the two victims told police that Intelisano would tell her the kids suffered injuries from rough housing or falling down and that she was not aware of the abuse. Intelisano told DCF investigators similar stories about how the children got their injuries, court records state.
The 9-year-old victim told police that she only yells at her own children when they misbehave and she would never abuse him or his brother when their father was home.
Intelisano was charged and arrested on Thursday after an investigation and was arraigned on Friday. She was ordered held on $50,000 bail. Conditions of her release are that she stay away from all children, including her own, have no contact with the victims, stay away from the victims and not abuse the victims.
She is charged with two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, assault and battery on a child under 14 causing bodily injury, six counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, two counts of assault and battery, suffocation, threats to commit a crime and intimidation of a witness.
‘Spotlight' actor joins advocates to strengthen New York's child sex abuse law
by Michael O'Keeffe
Neal Huff was waiting in line at a Westchester post office earlier this year when a clerk recognized him as the actor who played dogged victim advocate Phil Saviano in “Spotlight,” the Academy Award-winning film about The Boston Globe's investigation into the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal.
The clerk had a big smile on his face as he announced that he was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Huff said that kind of openness is necessary to change laws that prevent victims from seeking justice.
“That is the only hope this issue has, if people talk about it,” the actor said. “Awareness is the tool we need to change these laws, because the laws will not get changed without public outcry. It is mind-boggling to think of how far back New York is on this issue.”
Huff has teamed up with Saviano to ensure the public outcry sparked by “Spotlight” doesn't wane once the closing credits end.
The actor and the activist marched across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month, along with hundreds of other survivors and supporters, to encourage lawmakers to repeal the statutes of limitations on sex abuse cases in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
They traveled to Albany last month to lobby for passage of a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations in New York, which bars victims from pursuing criminal charges or civil lawsuits after their 23rd birthday.
Huff and Saviano will also appear together at SNAP's (the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests) annual conference in Chicago later this month.
Saviano, 63, and Huff have forged a deep friendship. Saviano said he was impressed because while the New York actor understood that he would be playing the Massachusetts activist in the film, he would be standing in for millions of other abuse victims who have been denied their day in court.
“Right from the get-go, Neal understood that he would be representing not only me but all those other clergy abuse victims,” Saviano said.
Saviano said he was repeated molested by Father David Holley, beginning in 1964 when he was just 11-years-old. The abuse continued for 18 months until Holley mysteriously disappeared from Saviano's Douglas, Mass., parish.
Holley, also accused of sexually abusing children in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico, was sentenced to up to 275 years in prison in 1993. He died behind bars at age 80 in 2008.
Saviano, who was diagnosed with AIDS, got an attorney -- Eric MacLeish, played by Billy Crudup in “Spotlight” -- who eventually negotiated a $12,500 settlement with the Diocese of Worcester. The agreement did not bar Saviano from speaking publicly about the abuse.
Church officials, Saviano said, probably thought that he would be dead soon after the deal was reached. But a new medication cocktail to combat the deadly virus kept him alive.
“Protease inhibitors,” Saviano said, “turned my life around.”
Saviano then became an advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse. He spent years trying to convince Boston-area media that the Catholic hierarchy not only tolerated predator priests but covered up their abuse, a key scene in the film.
“When you're a poor kid from a poor family and a priest pays attention to you, it's a big deal,” the Saviano character tells the reporters. "How do you say no to God?"
Huff emailed Saviano shortly after he got the part and asked if he could visit him. Their first meeting lasted 12 hours.
“He was trying to understand the emotional life of a sexual abuse victim. He had a great sensitivity and awareness,” said Saviano.
Huff, who attended Fordham Prep in the Bronx and NYU, said Saviano surprised him by convincing director/writer Tom McCarthy and writer Josh Singer to tweak the script at the 11th hour. The references to “grooming” - how a pedophile befriends a child to lower inhibitions and initiate sexual contact - came at Saviano's insistence, he said.
Huff said his approach to the role was shaped in part by a close friend who has struggled for years after being sexually abused as a teen. That man's struggles, he said, have driven his work on behalf of statute of limitations reform.
“Think about the sheer numbers of people hurt by this,” he said. “Think of all the promise lost. When you rob a child of power and render them helpless, it is hard not for them to feel helpless for the rest of their lives.”
Jewish Leaders Should Urge Change On Child Abuse Laws
by Ari Hart
Our Torah, our history, our God demands us to pursue justice. As Jews, we are called to stand with the oppressed and the mistreated. We are endowed with a sacred responsibility to seek and pursue justice where it has been denied.
This year, the Jewish community in the State of New York has an opportunity to act on this responsibility on behalf of one of the most violated groups in all society: victims of child sexual abuse.
To pursue justice, a victim must turn to the legal system for criminal or civil proceedings. Currently, New York offers legal adults a mere five-year window to report abuse they suffered as children. Once a victim turns 23, the statute of limitations takes effect and victims are no longer able to bring charges against their abusers. This policy prevents many victims from getting the justice they deserve. As mental health experts can attest, it often takes decades for a victim of child sexual abuse to overcome the fear, shame and trauma involved in coming forward to report these reprehensible crimes.
New York's criminal justice system ranks among the very worst offenders, alongside Mississippi, Alabama and Michigan, when it comes to the treatment of survivors of child sex abuse.
Now is the time to change that — our community can and should play an integral role in this fight. It is no secret that faith leaders have long been on the wrong side of history when it comes to exposing and prosecuting perpetrators of child sex abuse. In New York, members of the faith community have stalled and blocked passage of crucial reform efforts.
But the tide is shifting. The film “Spotlight,” which recently won the Academy Award for Best Picture, brought the issue of child sexual abuse to life for audiences nationwide. Meanwhile, scandals continue to break in all sectors of society, from faith to sports to entertainment and political communities, survivors are coming forward to share their stories. This may be the year that New York legislators finally have enough momentum to pass a bill that has been on the docket since 2006.
In recent days, Gov. Cuomo showed powerful, sensitive leadership by meeting with survivors of child sexual abuse and stating his support for reforming our broken laws. Support for reform runs deep and wide across the state, and our elected officials need to know that people of faith will stand with them.
Indeed, it's high time that members of all faiths and denominations help to pick up the torch of justice and ensure that the proper safeguards and policies are in place to prevent and properly respond to abuse. It's high time that we tell Albany to pass the Child Victims Act.
While legislative reform cannot stop abuse in its tracks, it will bring justice to past victims and also prevent further abuse by the same perpetrators. When similar legislation was passed in California, over 300 previously unknown abusers were caught. Delaware, Minnesota, Illinois, Florida and other states have also recently passed legislation extending or eliminating statutes of limitation in child sex abuse cases.
If victims have the courage to stand up and hold their abusers accountable so that others may be saved the same horror, we too should be brave enough to support them in their efforts to surface truth. Yes, for religious institutions, this means bearing the burden of possible financial risk in the case of culpability. But this is the price we pay for sustained silence on this issue. We must ask ourselves, to which bottom line are we accountable? Those of profits, or those of the prophets?
We cannot undo the pain of the past, but as Jews we can stand with victims of child sexual abuse in their quest for justice. As Jews, we can stand with children who are presently at risk from abusers who remain protected from prosecution. As Jews, we can fulfill our mandate to be relentless pursuers of justice by calling on Albany to pass the Child Victims Act.
To sign the petition of Jewish leaders and rabbis in support of the Child Victims Act, visit kolvoz.org (click on Media).
Ari Hart is an Orthodox rabbi in New York, Schusterman Fellow and leader of multiple initiatives that bring the Jewish community together to make positive social change.
Child abuse up slightly across region
by Jack "Miles" Ventimiglia
Warrensburg - Communication is the key to confronting and preventing child sexual abuse, Child Safe of Central Missouri Executive Director Kimberly Allen said.
Allen talked about Child Safe's work to stop abuse in the 11-county area. The group talks to suspected abuse victims, ages 3 to 18, who are referred by law enforcers or Child Services, Allen said.
"Last year we served 402 kids," she said, and with three weeks left in this fiscal year, the number has climbed to 422, a 5 percent increase.
The highest number of referred children come from Pettis County, with Johnson County being second, Allen said as the Warrensburg Rotary Club's after-dinner speaker Tuesday at the Traditions, the restaurant at Keth Memorial Golf Course.
The reason Child Safe exists is to reduce the difficulties children who report abuse face, she said. In the past, a child reporting abuse might have to go through reporting the situation several times to people with different interests, she said.
"These kids are being put through more more trauma," Allen said.
Child Safe, which started 15 years ago, eliminates some of the duplication, she said.
"We are truly a multidisciplinary response to child abuse," Allen said.
The group operates on a $600,000 budget and has to raise about 70 percent of the total, she said.
The questions asked of children are asked with care so that the child is not "led" to give certain types of answer. Because of the care, answers can be used in prosecution, she said.
"It is a fair interview that is respectful of the child," Allen said.
The questions are asked by one person, though others may watch from another room and the interview is taped - something prosecutors can use to make a case, she said.
Allen said, on average, one in 10 children is abused sexually, meaning about 6,000 of the roughly 60,000 children in Child Safe's coverage area have suffered abuse.
Abuse reports decline typically during summer months, she said, because children are around fewer adults who might help them, including teachers.
"We'll get busy about mid-September," Allen said.
Few children lie about being victims, she said.
"Only 1 to 2 percent of kids lie about being abused. ... They have nothing to gain from it," Allen said.
To the contrary, she went on, the have something to lose - possibly having a relative arrested and having to move away from friends. As a result of such changes, some children take back what they said about being abused.
"About 20 percent of those kids recant and then, many years down the road, they reaffirm," Allen said.
Children overcome fear to report abuse, she said.
"They are incredibly brave to finally tell. They are incredibly brave to talk to a stranger about this terrible thing that's happened to them," Allen said.
Telling can help a child begin the recovery process. Allen gave the example of an abusive family member being reported last week by a 10-year-old.
"He gave a big sigh and said, 'Wow, I really needed to get that off my back."
To reduce abuse, children have to feel free to report what happened, Allen said.
"We can teach our children to talk and tell," she said. We've got to give our kids permission to be in control of themselves and permission to say no."
Couple charged with abusing adopted Peruvian children appear in court
by Any Renee Leiker
NEWTON -- The North Newton couple accused of beating and starving the three children they adopted from a Peruvian orphanage – the younger two of whom have been diagnosed by a physician as victims of child torture – waived their preliminary hearings Monday morning in Harvey County District Court.
A preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial, where prosecutors present evidence and call witnesses to testify in an effort to support the charges alleged in a criminal case, Harvey County Attorney David Yoder said after Jim and Paige Nachtigal appeared briefly in court. If it takes place, a judge afterward decides whether there is probable cause to bind a defendant over for a jury trial on the counts alleged.
But the Nachtigals chose to forgo that step of the criminal process and instead acknowledged that prosecutors have “enough factual basis” for a judge to bind them over for trial on at least a dozen felonies. They include three counts of child abuse alleging cruel and inhuman corporal punishment, seven counts of aggravated battery and two counts of child abuse alleging child torture.
Yoder said the three children – 11, 11, and 15 – are living with foster families and are improving health-wise, but were still too traumatized to testify about the alleged abuse Monday.
Prosecutors and law enforcement have said the 11-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister suffered brutal, religiously fueled beatings with a cane and a board, had broken bones in various stages of healing and were “severely malnourished” when they and their 15- year-old sister were removed from the Nachtigals' home on Feb. 11. The 11-year-olds weighed 50 and 60 pounds at the time.
The Nachtigals adopted the children three to four years ago from an area of Peru where they worked as missionaries.
“All three of them are doing very, very well,” Yoder said of the children after court. “The two specifically included in this case, where the aggravated battery charges were incurred, they are doing much better.” But, he said, “They are still very, very traumatized.”
“After meeting with them and going over the case and their possible testimony, it became clear to me that they really aren't at this point in time prepared psychologically to go forward and talk in public about everything that happened to them.”
Phone messages left with the Nachtigals' defense attorneys were not immediately returned Monday afternoon. Neither spoke with reporters after Monday's hearing.
The couple's next court date – an arraignment – is set for Aug. 1 at 10 a.m. At that time, each will enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest to at least a dozen criminal charges, Yoder said.
North Newton Police Chief Randy Jordan launched an investigation into the children's welfare on Feb. 8, three days after the boy ran away from home and was discovered barefooted in a field by a state trooper. He told the trooper he feared returning home because of the sinning he had done.
In later interviews with Exploited and Missing Child Unit investigators, the children described being beaten as punishment for not doing homework, “for not behaving in certain ways” or for not praising their mother's cooking enough, Jordan has said; if they behaved, they were given minuscule amounts of bread, fruit and water or meat-and-cheese sandwiches to eat.
Jordan said at the time that it appeared that Jim Nachtigal, 51, doled out the majority of the abuse but that it was done at the direction of his wife, 49. It started as early as 2014, authorities have said, and went unheeded for months.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families received around a dozen reports questioning their welfare, Jordan told The Eagle in February.
The couple was arrested and jailed following a child-in-need-of-care proceeding at the Harvey County Courthouse on Feb. 16. They were criminally charged the next day.
The Nachtigals are free on bond pending further adjudication of their cases, Yoder said.
The couple smiled and spoke quietly with their defense attorneys prior to Monday's proceedings, but said only “Yes, sir” during court when asked by Harvey County District Court Judge Joe Dickinson whether they wanted to forgo their preliminary hearings.
Their attorneys escorted them out of the courtroom through a door used by the judge and court staff afterward.
Prior to their arrests, the Nachtigals had been seeking financial support from churches for ministry work in Iquitos, a Peruvian city in the Amazon forest, as well as through a GoFundMe page. Until his arrest, Jim Nachtigal also was the chief executive of Newton elderly care facility Kansas Christian Home, but he has since been fired from that position.
In addition to the three adoptive children, the couple has four adult biological children.
Retroactive provision of child abuse bill debate
by Brad Bumsted
HARRISBURG — Advocates and opponents of legislation expanding the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse debated the issue Monday at a Senate hearing, but those favoring the changes claim the witness list was stacked and the chairman has a conflict of interest.
The bill would extend the age for people filing civil suits for sexual abuse from 30 to 50. The bill prevents organizations from claiming immunity if they act with gross negligence.
But the key provision under debate is allowing retroactive lawsuits until a person turns 50 years old.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery County, denied a conflict because of his law firm's representation of a monastic order in a civil suit alleging abuse, saying he was not personally involved. A senior partner in Elliott Greenleaf, a suburban Philadelphia law firm, Greenleaf said he anticipated a question might arise and he checked with the Senate parliamentarian last week, who told him he would “have to vote on it as chairman, if it came up.” There was no vote.
“It wasn't a conflict,” Greenleaf said.
“The whole hearing reeked of being a set up,” Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Reading, an abuse victim and leading advocate of expanding the time for filing civil suits. “I'm embarrassed today to call myself a representative for the commonwealth.”
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and some businesses groups oppose the bill.
A grand jury report in March alleging abuse by Roman Catholic priests triggered the bill's passage in the House. Greenleaf said the Senate will “take ample time” to review the testimony; no vote is scheduled.
“This is an outrage,” said Marci Hamilton, a lawyer who has represented victims in lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church. “In the end, it's just some powerful men standing between (victims) and justice.”
Testimony before the committee was weighted heavily with witnesses saying the retroactive provision was unconstitutional, advocates claimed. Greenleaf said advocates were told they could bring other witnesses.
Hamilton, a witness and a senior fellow in religion in the University of Pennsylvania's Fox Leadership Program, testified that the retroactive provision is constitutional.
“Rep. Rozzi is claiming that we stacked the deck against him, but that's not true,” said Greenleaf's aide Patrick Cawley. “He (Rozzi) refused to accept the scope of the hearing, which was the Pennsylvania Constitution and Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases.”
The provision allowing retroactive lawsuits is unconstitutional, Solicitor General Bruce Castor, top aide to Attorney General Kathleen Kane, told the panel.
“The General Assembly in its zeal cannot overrule a constitutional right,” Castor testified.
“Apart from that provision, our office wholeheartedly supports the legislation,” he testified.
Stephen Neuberger, a Delaware attorney who represents victims and whose firm opposed Greenleaf's in 2008, said at a rally after the hearing that Castor also had a conflict he failed to disclose. Castor, when asked Monday, said he was “a partner of Senator Greenleaf's from 2008 to 2013.
“And so what? I was a shareholder and director of the firm, and as such, Senator Greenleaf and I were colleagues and friends,” Castor said.
Hamilton said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not ruled on retroactivity. She suggested the legislature could pass a law and allow the court to decide.
Hamilton called lifting statutes of limitations “a civil rights movement for children.”
The grand jury report found that hundreds of kids were abused by as many as 50 priests over four decades in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese. Kane's office oversaw the grand jury report. There were no state indictments at the time because statute of limitations had expired or some victims were no longer living or willing to testify, officials said.
Two weeks later, Kane's office charged three former Franciscan Friar leaders with allegedly allowing a known predator friar to abuse scores of children.
The Philadelphia Diocese recently launched a verbal assault on the legislation, with Archbishop Charles Chaput calling the bill “unjust” and deeply “misleading.” He said it doesn't treat victims equally, making claims retroactive against churches and private institutions but not on public institutions.
Kane, whose law license is suspended because she faces charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in Montgomery County, said she could not offer an opinion on the bill's constitutionality and tasked Castor with doing so.
Kane's trial is scheduled for August.
Books, stuffed animals donated to police to calm children in crisis
by Carmen Duarte
Duffel bags filled with stuffed animals and books to calm children during a crisis were recently distributed to Tucson police officers by the nonprofit organization Books to the Rescue-Pima County.
The nine duffel bags, which hold up to 40 books each, will be handed out to some patrol officers and to detectives who deal with child abuse and assault cases.
“I wanted to help children in emergency situations,” said Jennifer Dillon, founder and the program coordinator for Books to the Rescue. Dillon said she learned about the program through a friend who started one in Greene County, Ohio.
“I was moved by the program and decided to start it here,” said Dillon, who met with Tucson Police Department officers and the Pima County Sheriff's Department last year.
Dillon said the program struck an emotional chord because she remembered how upset her then 3-year-old son was when she was involved in a serious car crash eight years ago.
The crash was in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant at East 22nd Street and South Columbus Boulevard. She recalled that the driver of a truck that was traveling at a high-rate of speed crashed into the driver's door of her vehicle.
“My son was petrified. He was so scared. I couldn't get him to calm down,” said Dillon, recalling that her son, who was strapped into a car seat, was not injured.
In January, she began working on fundraising campaigns and teamed up with the nonprofit group Mended Little Hearts of Tucson, which now houses Books to the Rescue. Dillon is a volunteer for Mended Little Hearts of Tucson, a support group for families that have children born with congenital heart defects.
Community support and donations so far have provided 360 books to Books for the Rescue. The materials include coloring books and activity books, along with stuffed toys for TPD officers to hand out to children they encounter in traffic collisions, domestic violence incidents and abuse cases. The materials are for infants on up to age 16.
Dillon is working on collecting materials to fill up 10 duffel bags that will be handed out to sheriff's deputies in coming weeks.
New books and new stuffed animals for Books to the Rescue-Pima County can be dropped off at the following locations:
Sahuaro Trophy, 2616 E. Broadway.
Arts Pit Shop, 5656 E. Speedway.
The Advanced Open MRI, 3970 N. Campbell Ave.
Speed Auto Seat Covers, 1500 N. Oracle Road
UPS Store, 899 E. Silverlake Road.
On the Border, 5205 E. Broadway.
For monetary donations or more information, you can contact Dillon at 409-1751.
More information can also be found on the organization's website at www.tucsonbookstotherescue.org or its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/books4firstresponders.
Another Voice: Legislation will help prevent child sexual abuse
by Melanie Blow
New York cannot both protect children and those who sexually abuse them. That's why a fifth of New York's children are sexually abused while only one in 10 abusers ever see a day behind bars.
There is no effective way to prosecute child sexual abuse while abusers are protected by a statute of limitations on the crime. Research proves survivors need an average of 21 years before they can talk about their abuse. Child sexual abuse is usually committed by someone the victim knows and trusts. That relationship allows the abuser to manipulate the child into years or decades of silence.
Child sexual abuse cases are often hard to prosecute, meaning justice in civil court is as important. Successful lawsuits create documents that can block sex offenders from working with children. They ignite conversations within families, where half of child sexual abuse happens. The threat of lawsuits ensures institutions working with children adopt best practices that protect them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the cost of surviving child abuse at $210,000 per victim. Child sexual abuse is a stressor so intense it changes the way a child's brain, endocrine system and DNA develop, making abuse survivors more likely to develop cancer, diabetes and heart disease later in life, along with a host of mental illnesses. Currently, taxpayers shoulder most of this burden. Transferring the cost to guilty parties makes sense.
The Omnibus Child Victims Act, co-sponsored by State Sen. Timothy Kennedy, will eliminate New York's criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and provide a one-year window allowing victims already barred from the courts to sue their abusers or institutions that facilitated their abuse. The fate of this bill lies in the hands of state legislators.
New York lags behind the rest of the nation in allowing victims access to justice. Other states have passed similar legislation, and saw hundreds of old suits filed, hundreds of sex offenders exposed and thousands of children protected. Even in civil court, defendants are innocent until proven guilty, so the burden of proof is always on the plaintiff. I know survivors with written confessions, witnesses and records acknowledging their abuse, whose abusers are protected by the law today.
No other legislation can do as much to prevent child sexual abuse as the Child Victims Act. Opposing this bill is essentially saying that sex offenders have a right to mark their calendar and, on the assigned day, say, “I got away with it.”
I don't think most New Yorkers agree with that. The time to pass meaningful reform is now.
Melanie Blow is chief operating officer of the Stop Abuse Campaign.
How a Bar of Soap Could Save a Sex Trafficking Victim
by The Public News Service
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Some 50,000 people are expected to converge on Cleveland during the Republican National Convention in July. And among those who will not be there for political reasons are people who sell others for sex.
Theresa Flores was trafficked as a teen and as a survivor founded S.O.A.P. or "soap" which stands for Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution.
She says there is typically an uptick in prostitution during events like the RNC, and she wants to reach out to help possible victims when they are most in need.
"Which is in the hotel and having to wash up after every man that they serve," says Flores. "I knew that there was a toll-free hotline number that they could call so I just decided to put that number on bars of soap and offer it free to hotels. "
Flores is organizing the event called "S.O.A.P up RNC," on July 9 at Case Western Reserve University.
Volunteers will label and package soap, along with educational materials and missing children posters, and then deliver the items to Cleveland-area hotels.
Ohio is said to be among the worst states for human trafficking activity, and according to the Ohio Attorney General's office, every year nearly 1,000 youth are forced into the sex trade.
S.O.A.P. up RNC will target 225 hotels from Lorain to Ashtabula, and from Cleveland to Akron and Canton. Flores anticipates a spike in prostitution ads online in remote areas.
"Most of those hotels in Cleveland are already booked," says Flores. "So people will be going to farther out hotels, or the traffickers will be staying at hotels in kind of remote areas and then driving the girls into Cleveland where the business is."
She adds they are also hosting educational training on July 9 to teach people the signs of human trafficking, so they can report any suspicious activity.
"If you see young girls being dropped off at hotels and then the driver leaves," says Flores. "We've seen many times young girls with much older men going into a hotel; high-end cars in really low-end motels is another red flag."
Holy Angels Catholic Church and Case Western Reserve University are also involved in the project.
Senate's turn to pass abuse statute of limitations bill
The pope's approval of procedures for ousting bishops who fail to take steps to protect children from abusive priests is a delayed reaction to a crisis – but a step we welcome nevertheless.
Now the pope's archbishops and the state Senate should join Francis in taking the fate of children more seriously.
A bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse has passed the state House and awaits a vote in the Senate. The bill would treat future child sexual abuse cases like murder cases – that there is no deadline for when criminal charges may be filed.
The bill would also extend the deadline for filing civil action from age 30 to age 50 for victims who could have been violated decades before.
The legislation was sparked by outrage over the report in February that said more than 50 priests and religious leaders in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown had sexually abused hundreds of children over many years – and that two bishops, the late James Hogan and the retired Joseph Adamec – had moved the offenders from parish to parish and even paid off families to keep the abuse quiet.
The pope's new procedures would not retroactively affect retired bishops such as Adamec, but would set a new plan for handling cases in the future.
Could the pontiff have gone further? Sure, and we support the call from victims advocates who believe bishops found to have covered up or contributed to abuse should lose all rights as clergy.
Judy Jones, midwest associate director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called for the Vatican to “defrock any bishop who covers up sex crimes,” to entice the church to punish bishops in those circumstances by taking away their “entitlements” and “prestige.”
The state attorney general's office has said the Altoona-Johnstown case is open and ongoing, that new reports could lead to additional charges. But to date, the only charges filed involved three members of the Franciscan order that oversaw appointments for Brother Stephen Baker, who abused teens for years at Bishop McCort in Johnstown.
While the legal process continues, the legislative side must follow – with the Senate passing the statute of limitations extensions.
Strong opposition has come from the Church. Last weekend, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, the Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, sent letters to Catholics in that region urging them to contact lawmakers and oppose House Bill 1947.
Chaput wrote that the bill “poses serious dangers for all of our local parishes and for the ministries, charities and schools of our archdiocesan church.
“Over the past decade the church has worked very hard to support survivors in their healing, to protect our children and to root this crime out of church life,” Chaput wrote, calling the bill “a clear attack on the church, her parishes and her people” because he said the proposal treats private institutions more harshly than public entities.
His biggest concern is the retroactive nature of the statute change, which could mean lawsuits over cases decades old. Chaput urged parishioners to oppose the bill, “and any effort to impose civil statute retroactivity.”
Sadly, the victims of abusive priests cannot employ retroactivity to go back in time and wash away the horrific experience of violation.
Such crimes cause damage that lasts a lifetime, and any actions – in the courts or in legislative halls – must be fair to the victims of sexual abuse, regardless of how long ago that abuse took place.
The Altoona-Johnstown diocese scandal must do what the Jerry Sandusky tragedy did not – expand the rights of child sexual abuse victims, now and into the future.
Oakland police sex scandal spreads to other departments
The woman at the center of the scandal claims she had sex with two dozen current and former officers in five cities
by The Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. — A sex scandal involving Oakland police has spread to other area police departments, with the woman at the center of it claiming she had sex with two dozen current and former officers in five cities, a newspaper investigation published Sunday found.
The woman, a Richmond resident who was not named, tells the East Bay Times that she slept with three of the 24 officers before she turned 18 last August.
She also tells the newspaper that two Oakland officers provided her confidential police information, including tips on scheduled anti-prostitution stings and arrest records and other confidential information. In addition, she says a retired Oakland police captain in his 80s paid $250 to have sex with her in a motel. The captain and several other officers named did not return calls for comment.
The scandal, involving at least 14 Oakland police officers, is a blow to a department that has been under federal oversight because of failures to adequately hold officers accountable for misdeeds.
Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent stepped down Thursday and gave no specific reason for his resignation. Multiple sources told the newspaper the department's federal overseer, Robert Warshaw, pressured him to resign.
The woman, who began selling herself on the streets of Richmond at age 12 and eventually ended up in Oakland's International Boulevard, a well known sex-trafficking hub, said many officers knew she was underage.
"They nicknamed me 'juve,' which is short for juvenile," said the woman, whose mother is an Oakland police dispatcher.
The woman, who first spoke to the East Bay Express, said she also slept with five Richmond police officers, four Alameda County Sheriff's deputies, one Livermore officer and a law enforcement worker based in Stockton.
She said the first officer she met was Oakland Police Officer Brendan O'Brien. The two began a sexual relationship after he defended her from a pimp and others soon followed. Police opened up an investigation after O'Brien committed suicide last year and left a note naming officers involved with the woman.
"They were my protectors," she said. "I didn't have a pimp at the time. It did make me feel safer, having them."
Advocates for Child Abuse Act trash proposed N.Y. State Assembly bill
by Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY — Advocate opposition to an Assembly bill making it easier for child sex abuse survivors to seek justice may be the final nail in the coffin on the issue this year, legislative insiders say.
Assembly Democrats introduced a bill last week they believe holds the most promise of passing the chamber. The bill would extend the statute of limitations to bring a case to a victim's 28th birthday, up from 23.
It would also open a six-month window to revive old cases and treat public and private institutions equally when it comes to dealing with sex abuse cases.
But advocates were quick to trash the bill for not going far enough. They want the statute of limitations eliminated or greatly extended.
That could spell doom since it's unlikely the Senate Republicans would accept a bill that goes further than the Assembly proposal.
“I don't know why they came out of the gate like that,” said one insider. “This is a way forward.”
While no one officially declared the measure dead, those interviewed acknowledged the strong unlikelihood that Gov. Cuomo, the Assembly and Senate can reach a deal on a joint bill before the legislative session's scheduled end Thursday.
“Unless you do exactly what the advocates are calling for, what's the point in even trying to reach a three-way, negotiated solution?” asked a second legislative insider. “The advocates did themselves no favors here.”
Some complain the criticism, which was referenced on Thursday by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County), has simply given the GOP cover not to reach a deal.
A third source said that while the advocates currently have the most momentum on the issue thanks to a Daily News campaign, it might serve them better to wait to see how the fight for control of the Senate plays out in this fall's elections. The Senate Democrats have pushed the most comprehensive plan on the issue.
Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor who says he was sexually abused as a child in 1966 and called the Assembly plan “garbage,” said lawmakers need to look at themselves in the mirror and help victims.
“How can you blame people who have been victimized already?” Greenberg asked angrily. “The legislators are being paid to do a job. Do it.”
He said the Catholic Church has fought against a tougher bill and should be called out by legislators as protecting predators.
Greenberg, who has created a political action committee to go after senators who oppose the Child Victims Act, suggests a bill that includes allowing a victim to bring a lawsuit until they are 591/2, has a nine-month window to revive old cases and caps at $1 million monetary awards to victims in civil cases.
“You take (age) 28, that will be it for years,” he said of the statute of limitations contained in the Assembly bill.
Kathryn Robb, an advocate and child sex abuse survivor, said Sunday that “as a collective and seasoned group of advocates, there is the understanding that the Assembly has launched a first positive step forward for victims of child sex abuse.”
But she called it “ironic” that some in the Legislature are blaming the advocates for the bill's possible demise this year.
“The victims get victimized; it seems to be the commonality,” Robb said. “I can only hope the leadership in both houses just get out from underneath all the crap and present a bill that will help victims and children.”
Faith leaders want child sexual abuse victims to have day in court
by Linda Crockett
On June 2, a letter signed by nearly 100 Christian religious leaders from various traditions was delivered to members of the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee.
The letter called for the reform of our civil and criminal statutes of limitation in child sexual abuse cases and specifically for passage of state House Bill 1947.
In my work with Samaritan SafeChurch, I connect with leaders of faith communities across the state. Many are troubled that the public narrative has been that “the church” opposes reform.
While the Roman Catholic Church has indeed poured significant resources into blocking reform in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, it does not represent the full spectrum of churches, which includes various denominations, affiliations and theological understandings.
SafeChurch — along with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and other organizations — encouraged religious leaders to use the opportunity presented by the letter to counter this narrative.
I am moved by the numerous clergy from Lancaster County who stood up for justice for survivors, for protection of children and for accountability for not just those who harm but for the institutions that cover up sexual abuse.
The letter signers, acknowledging that the church has been in the news for its failure to protect children too many times, “grieve the harm this has done to not only to the reputation of the church, but to the Lord Jesus Christ we serve.”
The association of the church with efforts to deny access to justice for victims of child sexual abuse is painful for many survivors, including the majority who were not molested by clergy. Even survivors not currently religiously affiliated look to church leaders to uphold the values of protection for the most vulnerable among us, and justice for those who have been sexually violated as children.
The leaders signing the letter embody these values and should give new hope to survivors and others that the prevailing narrative of church opposition to reform is going to change.
Following the release of the grand jury report by the state attorney general in March 2016 detailing the horrific abuse and cover-up in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, the failure of an institution to protect children once again put Pennsylvania in the spotlight.
As the grand jury report revealed, a victim payout chart developed by Catholic Church officials ranged from compensation of $10,000 for above- clothing genital fondling to $175,000 for sodomy and intercourse. Momentum swelled for reform of our statutes on child sexual abuse, even as the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference — the public affairs arm of the Catholic Church in the commonwealth — doubled down on opposition.
In April, House Bill 1947 passed overwhelmingly in the House, by a vote of 180-15. It's now in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, a Republican from Montgomery County.
As it stands, the bill would:
— Eliminate the criminal statutes of limitations for certain child sexual assault cases.
— Extend the civil statute of limitations from age 30 to age 50 to give survivors additional time to attempt to seek damages.
— Make the extension of the civil statutes “retroactive” for survivors older than 30 but younger than 50 — in other words, those people would now have until age 50 to file a civil suit.
It's important to note that in other states where reform has included retroactive provisions, the “floodgates” described by opponents have not been opened. The number of claims is relatively small in states where retroactivity has been implemented, compared to the actual number of survivors and state population. Nor have the predictions of mass closing of parishes and schools as a result of claims come true.
Anthony Flynn, counsel to the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, noted in a June 5 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, “We had 26 parishes that were sued and in the line of fire — and those parishes are still operating.”
He also acknowledged that a school that had to close was doing so badly financially it may have closed regardless.
In addition, the standards of evidence required for successful prosecution of a case remain unchanged under HB 1947, and still pose considerable challenges for older survivors. (For information and statistics on SOL reform around the nation, visit www.sol-reform.com.)
The letter from religious leaders urges the Judiciary Committee to move the legislation to the Senate without delay. The signers note that their own experiences with survivors reflect what mental health experts tell us about the long-term impact of child sexual abuse: that survivors often do not disclose until later in life, only to find the window for justice has closed.
There is no statute of limitation on murder. There should not be one on sexual abuse, which has the potential to destroy the spirit or soul of a child, leaving him or her unable to trust anyone, including God.
While some heal, others do not, and they are lost to suicide, addictions, serious mental health issues and a host of other ills.
In their letter, the religious leaders state: “We are reminded of the widow (Luke 18:3) who persisted in asking for justice. The time has come to grant that to survivors.”
If you agree, add your voice and sign on to a separate letter of support for the general public available at www.pcar.org. The time is now.
Dutch woman jailed in Qatar after reporting rape convicted of 'illicit sex'
by Schams Elwazer
Abu Dhabi (CNN)A Dutch woman who has been in jail in Qatar since mid-March after she reported being raped, has been found guilty of "illicit consensual fornication" and being "drunk in a public place."
At a court hearing in Doha Monday, the 22-year old, whom CNN has identified only as Laura, was handed a one-year suspended sentence and placed on probation for three years for the sex-related charge, and fined 3,000 Qatari Riyals ($823) for being drunk outside a licensed location.
She'll almost certainly be deported immediately.
A Syrian man also appeared alongside her and was found guilty of the same crimes. He was sentenced to 100 lashes for the illicit fornication charge and a further 40 lashes for the illegal consumption of alcohol. As a Muslim he is not allowed to drink at all under Qatari law.
No mention was made of the rape accusation during the hearing.
According to Brian Lokollo, a lawyer who was hired by the woman's family, Laura was at a hotel bar having drinks with a friend in the Qatari capital, but then had a drink that made her feel "very unwell."
She reportedly woke up in an unfamiliar location and realized "to her great horror" that she had been raped after her drink was spiked, Lokollo said.
When she reported the rape to the police, she herself was imprisoned.
The Dutch government and its embassy in Doha are in close contact with the defendant and her family in the Netherlands, according to a statement from the embassy.
"We have provided assistance to her since the first day of detention. For the sake of the defendant's case we will not make further comments at this point," the statement added.
The Qatari authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.
Adultery a crime
"Adultery," or "fornication outside of marriage," is a crime in Qatar as well as other countries in the conservative Muslim Gulf regardless of the marital status of those involved.
According to Qatar's Penal Code 2004 (Law No. 11), "anyone who copulates with a female above sixteen without compulsion, duress or ruse is convicted to no more than seven years in prison. The same penalty is also imposed on the female for her consent."
In the nearby United Arab Emirates in 2013, a Norwegian woman who reported being raped by a colleague was sentenced to 16 months in jail, charged for having unlawful sex, making a false statement and the illegal consumption of alcohol.
Marte Deborah Dalelv was later pardoned by Dubai's ruler.
Capitol showdown over child sex-abuse bill
by Steve Esack
HARRISBURG — From the pulpits of Catholic churches to the platforms of social media, emotions are running high over a bill that would make it harder for some child sex abusers — and employers who protect them — to escape criminal and civil penalties.
During Sunday Masses in the Philadelphia Archdiocese and elsewhere Catholic priests, at the behest of their bishops, have denounced the bill and the state lawmakers who supported it.
The bill's supporters, including legislators who have felt the clerics' wrath, have accused the church of spreading falsehoods that the bill would financially cripple the church while leaving public institutions unscathed if they protect and harbor child molesters.
On Monday, the two sides will face off in the state Capitol. Child sex-abuse advocates are planning a rally before a 10 a.m. Senate hearing on the bill in which Attorney General Kathleen Kane and her solicitor general, Bruce Castor, are to speak and testify.
Kane has previously supported provisions of House Bill 1947, which would increase the amount of time victims can privately sue their alleged abusers and the employers who protected them. The bill also would treat future cases of child abuse like murder, so they can be prosecuted at any time.
It's unknown exactly what Castor will say. However, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, Castor said the legality of the bill's retroactive civil lawsuit provision is less clear-cut under the Pennsylvania Constitution than under the U.S. Constitution.
Castor declined to elaborate on his pending testimony.
"I think the committee that asked for the opinion should hear what it is," Castor told The Morning Call on Friday.
The rally's purpose is to blunt the church's criticism and remind lawmakers that people, not institutions, will be harmed if the bill does not become law, organizers said. One called for "armies of survivors holding childhood photos and advocates holding signs" so lawmakers "see our numbers."
The Catholic church is not against the criminal law change for future child abuse cases. It opposes the civil law changes, arguing they are illegal and could bankrupt the church because there are no financial caps for damages as there are for government-run institutions.
"House Bill 1947 is a complicated bill," said Amy Hill, spokeswoman for the Catholic Conference, the lobbying group for all dioceses in Pennsylvania. "We have long been concerned about how it will conflict with the Pennsylvania Constitution."
The House overwhelmingly adopted the bill in April, about a month after a state attorney general's report accused two Catholic bishops of allowing at least 50 priests and other religious leaders to sexually abuse hundreds of children for five decades in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Based on the grand jury report, the attorney general's office on March 15 charged three Franciscan friars with child endangerment and criminal conspiracy.
The Altoona-Johnstown grand jury recommended lifting all statutes of limitations, and the same recommendations were made in grand jury reports detailing former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's crimes and sex abuse cover-ups in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
The grand jury report, as well as Rep. Mark Rozzi's personal story that a priest raped him when he was 13, pushed the bill through the House in a 180-15 vote April 12.
The bill would erase the 30-year statute of limitations on when criminal sex-abuse charges can be filed, meaning sex charges could be brought any time after alleged abuse occurred.
The bill also would add 20 years to the 12-year civil statute of limitations that dictates when an adult who was the victim of child sex abuse can file lawsuits against abusers and institutions. The change means adults up to age 50 can file civil lawsuits for old instances of sex abuse — no matter how far in the past they occurred.
Finally, the bill would partially lift the sovereign immunity clause that prevents child sex-abuse victims from suing state and local governments.
The bill says a victim could receive up to $200,000 and $500,000 from state or local governments, respectively, if he or she can prove in a civil lawsuit the abuse was caused by "gross negligence" of officials responding to a child sex-abuse claim. The dollar amounts are based on laws that waive sovereign immunity for accidents on highways, sidewalks and in liquor stores.
In sermons and circulars, priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese and elsewhere have blasted the bill and the House lawmakers who voted for it.
After seeing himself criticized in his church's Sunday bulletin, Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-Delaware, took to social media. He wrote on Facebook that the church was spinning falsehoods about him and the bill, and claiming that public institutions are immune from lawsuits. Miccarelli pointed out that Penn State University has been sued multiple times for Jerry Sandusky's crimes.
"Frankly, I would much rather be chastised from the altar than to be damned for not allowing justice to be done," Miccarelli wrote.
Monday's hearing is the first time the bill will be examined by the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sens. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, and Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery. Castor used to work for Greenleaf's Montgomery County law firm, Elliott Greenleaf.
Castor now works in the state attorney general's office as solicitor general, a position created by Kane, who is forbidden from practicing criminal and civil law because of her suspended law license. The title makes Castor the de facto attorney general.
Castor's involvement in the Senate hearing would be the third high-profile legal debate concerning sexual abuse issues he has faced in recent months.
In his role as solicitor general, Castor decided not to appeal a court ruling involving three Penn State administrators who were accused of covering up Sandusky's crimes and lying to a grand jury. Castor's decision effectively caused the state to drop the most serious charges against former university president Graham Spanier and top aides Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.
Castor is a former Montgomery County commissioner and district attorney. In November, he lost a bid to become the county's top prosecutor partly because of criticism over his 2005 decision not to prosecute Bill Cosby on charges he drugged and sexually abused a woman.
Royal Commission public forum in Bathurst: abuse victims urged to attend
by Nadine Morton
ANYONE affected by child sexual abuse at schools, churches or sporting groups is urged to attend Tuesday's Royal Commission public forum in Bathurst.
It will be the only public forum in the region for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The forum is open to individuals, community groups and service providers and offers people a chance to find out more about the commission's work, or to register to share their stories with a Royal Commission officer.
“The issue of child sexual abuse may be a confronting topic for many people,” Relationships Australia Bathurst branch manager, Leona Bishop, said.
It has not been made clear why Bathurst was chosen to host the forum, but the history of child sexual abuse in the city is well-known.
Strike Force Belle was established in 2008 to investigate allegations of paedophile activity at St Stanislaus' College and All Saints' College in the 1970s and 1980s.
To date, the strike force has laid more than 300 charges against 11 former priests and school staff.
Ms Bishop said speaking privately or publicly at the Royal Commission can be empowering and helpful, but it can be distressing.
“[It] can re-traumatise survivors, that is why there is need for support and referrals,” she said.
“Those affected often report a sense of relief that finally they have been heard and believed.
“Victims were often silenced as children and not believed. Often if they did disclose, they were punished for making these allegations against respected members of the community.”
Victims of child sexual abuse can suffer long after the incident with relationship and family problems, mental health problems, substance abuse and a loss of intimacy.
Ms Bishop said the loss of innocence at an early age can lead to a loss of dignity, shame, humiliation and sometimes victims can feel responsible for the abuse.
Relationships Australia has been providing community-based support services for people affected by the commission since its inception in January, 2013.
The commission's Bathurst public forum will be held at the Bathurst City Community Club on Tuesday, June 14 from 5.30-7.30pm.
Children under the age of 16 who want to attend should be accompanied by an adult.
Anyone seeking more information about the forum can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in 2013, the commission has held more than 30 community forums across Australia.
Witnessing Chronic Parental Violence Linked to Future Suicide Attempt
by Traci Pedersen
Approximately one in six children who witness chronic parental violence will attempt suicide as an adult, according to a new study at the University of Toronto.
The findings reveal that the lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts among adults who had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence during childhood was 17.3 percent compared to 2.3 percent among those without this childhood adversity.
“We had expected that the association between chronic parental domestic violence and later suicide attempts would be explained by childhood sexual or physical abuse, or by mental illness and substance abuse.
“However, even when we took these factors into account, those exposed to chronic parental domestic violence still had more than twice the odds of having attempted suicide,” said lead author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson at the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Institute for Life Course and Aging.
For the study, the researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of 22,559 community-dwelling Canadians, using data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health. Parental domestic violence was defined as “chronic” if the child had witnessed it more than 10 times before the age of 16.
“When domestic violence is chronic in a home, there is a risk of long term negative outcomes for the children, even when the children themselves are not abused. These chaotic home environments cast a long shadow. Social workers and health professionals must continue to work vigilantly to prevent domestic violence and to support survivors of this abuse and their children” said Fuller-Thomson.
The researchers add that participants who had experienced childhood abuse were also more likely to have attempted suicide, with 16.9 percent of those sexually abused and 12.4 percent of those physically abused having made at least one suicide attempt.
Furthermore, having a history of anxiety disorders, substance abuse and/or chronic pain approximately doubled the odds of suicide attempts, while a history of major depressive disorder quadrupled the odds of suicide attempts.
“These four factors accounted for only 10 percent of the association between suicide attempts and parental domestic violence, but almost half of the association between suicide attempts and childhood sexual abuse or physical abuse,” said Stephanie Baird, a co-author and social work doctoral student at the University of Toronto.
“This suggests professionals working with survivors of childhood adversities should consider a wide range of interventions addressing mental illness, substance abuse and chronic pain.”
The findings are published online in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.
An Open Letter to All Child Sex Abuse Victims Fighting for Justice
by David Slayed Goliath, Marci Hamilton
It is a simple fact that you have been silenced and shut out of the courts by powerful forces. Before you had the power to join forces and speak up, this was just the status quo. Now you have that power, and it is clear what is right and what is wrong. That is why armies of organizations, survivors, and people of good will are now fighting tooth and nail to get you what you deserve: a day in court against your perpetrator and institutions that violated their duty to protect you.
The forces arrayed against you are entrenched elites that are experienced in using their power to serve their interests. They are politicians, bishops, ultra-Orthodox Jewish organizations, businesses, Republicans, some prosecutors, and, of course, every child predator on the planet in these positions or connected to them. They are the Goliath to your David.
Right now, legislation is pending in New York and Pennsylvania that would modestly improve access to justice for some of you. Other states have done significantly more, like Delaware, Hawaii, and Minnesota. A few states have taken smaller steps, and some baby steps, while four states are mired in what amounts to a wall against justice: Alabama, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York.
Despite the modesty of the proposals on the table in New York and Pennsylvania, the powers-that-be are railing wildly against you. The political details are different in each state, but it is a fact that men who hold the power in each state could get these bills passed this week if they wanted to.
If these bills don't pass this week with the end of each session coming to a close, it will be because your elected representatives made the immoral decision to choose entrenched power and influence over what is right.
Both states are balanced on a knife's edge, and could go either way at this point.
I write this to remind you that David slayed Goliath. The story in the Old Testament is worth re-reading at 1 Samuel 17.
Like David, you hold the power that can slay the oversized elites.