Police abuse of trafficking victims weakens fragile help system
by Erin Allday
The girls are 16 and 17 years old. Sometimes as young as 10. They're brought into juvenile hall wearing miniskirts and crop tops in the middle of February. Or they show up at an urgent-care clinic with three different sexually transmitted infections, or for their second pregnancy test in two months.
Stacey Katz, executive director of WestCoast Children's Clinic in Oakland, knows that they are victims of sex trafficking, even if the girls don't always say it. Their traffickers are men they call their boyfriends. Their abusers — their so-called clients — may be relatives, school counselors, lawyers. Sometimes, they're cops.
Last month, when an 18-year-old woman began telling reporters she'd had sex with 29 Bay Area law enforcement officers over the past two years, including Oakland officers she met on the streets, Katz wasn't surprised.
“That's not a scandal — it's something that's happening all the time,” Katz said. “The problem is systemic.”
Her thoughts are echoed at agencies throughout the Bay Area that work with sexually exploited youth. This kind of abuse — inflicted by those who should represent a first line of protection — undermines a fragile system that seeks to get them safely off the streets, trafficking experts say.
Already it's profoundly challenging working with these kids, who may not even perceive themselves as victims. They tend to have endured traumatic childhoods, sometimes bouncing in and out of foster homes and suffering physical or sexual abuse from caretakers. They're often dealing with poverty, as well as mental health and substance abuse problems on top of, or related to, the exploitation.
Efforts to help them are hampered by a cultural paradigm that shames victims and quietly allows their exploitation, Katz said. It's a system that implies it's OK to pursue sex with a woman when she's 18, even if she was an exploited child a few months earlier.
That behavior is unacceptable among law enforcement officers, said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, who is investigating cops in the county linked to allegations made by the 18-year-old woman who goes by her online alias of Celeste Guap.
Some officers already have quit, and others may be fired or brought up on charges. But what's happening is more than just a legal problem or police scandal, O'Malley said.
“It isn't just talking about the laws, it's also talking about the moral responsibility of people who are in power, who have authority, to not be the exploiters,” O'Malley said. “They're supposed to be the protectors, not the exploiters.”
Guap, a Richmond resident who now works as a prostitute, has said in interviews that she knows what was done to her in the past two years was wrong, but she's been hesitant to describe herself as a victim or express much outrage.
“I guess they did take advantage,” she said in an interview with The Chronicle, “but I guess it was harmless.”
Her attitude is typical, said counselors who work with exploited teens. That's part of why it can be so tough to identify trafficked girls and help them break away from the people taking advantage of them.
For decades, most people thought of sex trafficking as something that happened to girls and women who were taken from other countries and forced into prostitution in the United States. Or if domestic girls were involved, they were kidnapped off the streets and imprisoned until police came to save them.
Abuse in neighborhood
Those scenarios do occur, experts say. But far more often, trafficking happens by subtle force or coercion as young people — usually girls, but sometimes boys, too — are exploited in their own neighborhoods, either by strangers or people they thought they could trust.
“A lot of kids at risk have a history of abuse, of unstable housing. A huge driver for all of this trafficking is poverty,” said Dr. Tonya Chaffee, director of the Teen and Young Adult Health Center at San Francisco General Hospital, who helped put together a federal report on youth sex trafficking for the Institute of Medicine. “It's a hugely vulnerable population. You're talking about young people who have no power to do anything.”
At WestCoast Children's Clinic, counselors created a behavioral health program tailored for victims of sex trafficking in 2009. They had five clients the first year; they see more than 100 a year now.
Don't see exploitation
Increasingly, counselors found themselves working with girls in their late teens who did not realize they were being exploited. What was especially alarming, counselors said, was that in many cases the exploitation had gone on for years, sometimes starting when girls were just 10 or 11.
“We have clients whose first johns were counselors in school or group homes,” said Adela Rodarte, who runs a WestCoast program to connect young clients to mental health services. “And that sets the stage for everyone else abusing her. It clouds her judgment of what is appropriate and what is not.”
By the time these girls got help — perhaps after they'd been picked up by police and taken to juvenile hall, or referred by an attentive teacher or foster parent — they'd been enveloped in a lifestyle of trafficking for years. Some girls had grown to see their trafficker as a caretaker — someone who provided them with food, clothes, gifts and attention.
One young woman Rodarte worked with was in her early 20s before she recognized she'd been exploited as a teenager. It was only after she saw someone trying to exploit her little sister, who was 11, that the woman suddenly understood.
“She's just a baby,” the woman realized, according to Rodarte. And then: “Wait, that was me. Someone did this to me.”
Hard to earn trust
Counselors working with girls who have been exploited for years have learned they need to tread carefully, Rodarte said. The girls often don't trust adults. They may not want to leave their abuser. Even if they're ready to leave, they may feel scared or hopeless. Some are ashamed.
Caseworkers like Rodarte often spend months building trust with clients. They will meet them for appointments in the middle of the night. They'll meet them at school, in a car parked a few blocks from their house, or at a McDonald's two towns away where they won't be caught.
“They're testing you out. They've been failed before,” Rodarte said. “Then they'll realize, ‘Wow, this lady is coming back. She's not asking for anything in return, I don't have to do anything for her, and she's coming back.'”
Last year, WestCoast began testing a screening tool to help identify victims early — ideally, before they've been exploited at all. The tool is a series of more than 50 identifiers that can be used by counselors, teachers, law enforcement officers and health care providers who come into contact with at-risk youth.
Among the questions: Is the young person dressed appropriately for the weather? Has she been asked to lie about her age or where she lives? Does she have expensive gadgets or clothes and no job or parents supporting her?
In pilot programs at 56 sites in California, almost 6,000 young people ages 10 to 21 were screened over a year. All of them were considered vulnerable, and many were in foster care or unstable housing. Twelve percent — 710 children — came up as very likely victims of exploitation. Among girls, the results were more dramatic, with 1 in 5 flagged as likely victims of trafficking.
Follow-up testing found that the test was accurate almost 90 percent of the time.
“I hope in the long run that we get better at identifying these kids much, much younger,” said Molly Brown, director of programs at Huckleberry Youth Programs in San Francisco. “By the time they get to 18, 19, 20, it's a much different story. Helping them requires a lot more patience, and our system doesn't have a lot of patience.”
Finding victims early can save them from years of trauma, Katz said. Exploitation, especially over many years, can lead to long-term physical and emotional distress. In particular, girls who grow up as victims of trafficking can lose their sense of worth and struggle to form close relationships, Katz said.
“You're talking about ruining kids' sense of selves and the world around them,” Katz said. “The real trauma and the real healing is in relationships that can restore that sense of self.”
The trafficking victims that Chaffee treats are “probably my most challenging patients,” she said. “But they're also, for me, people I can really help.”
Putting an end to child exploitation and sex trafficking is going to take more than screening tools and specialized intervention, Katz said. As evidenced by the laundry list of accusations against Bay Area police officers, what's needed is a “cultural shift,” she said.
‘Problem is systemic'
One potential step in that direction is a bill working its way through the state Legislature that would decriminalize prostitution for minors, meaning children under age 18 could not be arrested. That could reduce the stigma young people may attach to being exploited and raise awareness that these girls are victims, not criminals. But it's just a start, Katz said.
“If you're going to be exploited by police, by people who are supposed to rescue or save you or intervene on your behalf, then the problem is systemic,” she said. “We still get males that say, ‘How old are they?' and ‘How were they dressed?'
“I think a cultural shift will happen. I don't believe that we're just going to abide while our girls are exploited,” Katz added. “But how long will it take? When will there be a critical mass of people who say, ‘Not now, not ever. Not my daughters, not my sisters, not my friends?' It should have happened already.”
Editor's Corner: Trenton child-abuse nightmare has stalked girls into adulthood
by Charles McCollum
One of the most moving stories I've ever edited in The Herald Journal was a front page article on April 11, 2004, titled “Brittany's Song.”
In it, reporter Jason Bergreen caught readers up on the life of a young girl who six years earlier was saved from the basement of a Trenton home where she had been locked in for at least six months with only scraps of food, no bed and no place to go to the bathroom.
Brittany and her half-sister, Tara, were living in an adoptive home in Richfield by that time, and Jason managed to get an interview with the family, including Brittany herself. It had to be a huge relief for many Cache Valley residents to read this story and see the picture of a rosy-cheeked 13-year-old smiling for the camera. The nightmare that darkened our corner of the world just before the turn of the century appeared to be headed toward a happy ending.
Last week, I made a call to find out about Brittany's current life, but before I tell you what I learned, a little more background seems in order.
Jason's article started like this:
“When 13-year-old Brittany wakes in the morning, the first thing she sees is the mural her mother painted of a castle and a large, bright sun on her bedroom wall. Her feet land on plush pink carpet as she rises from the double bunk bed she shares with her younger sister, Tara. In an adjacent room, a rainbow made of hand prints arches across the wall and waves to her. This basement bedroom is like heaven compared to the dark, urine-stained one she was confined to six years ago by Chris and Becky Tucker.”
Even now, more than a decade since that was written, I feel a wave of emotion come over me while thinking of Brittany's deliverance from the Tucker family dungeon. As many readers no doubt remember, the girl weighed only 32 pounds when authorities discovered her crouched in a corner of the dark basement wearing only a T-shirt and described as looking like a Holocaust survivor. The basement contained nothing but a bucket of dirty water and some bed springs.
Jason's article went on to explain that although things were looking up in Brittany's life after seven years, she was still experiencing nightmares and suffering from PTSD. And Tara was having an even more difficult time.
In the severely dysfunctional household of the Tuckers, 4-year-old Tara had been taught that her imprisoned older sister was bad, and only after several months in their adoptive Richfield home was she able to show any affection for Brittany.
“It's been a long road with her,” the girls' new mother was quoted as saying. “Once she tried to jump out of a car going 40 miles an hour after getting upset over a math assignment.”
I don't know what made me think about the Tucker case recently, but after going back and reading “Brittany's Song,” I thought Herald Journal readers might be interested to know how the girls are faring as adults, some 12 years after that article and nearly 20 years since they were pulled from the Trenton home and their first set of adoptive parents were arrested.
Brittany is now 25 and Tara 23. Both have children of their own. Their Richfield mother, who I will refer to simply as Karen, sounded cautiously optimistic about their futures but said it has been a very rocky road to this point.
“That trauma runs deep. It affected our whole family, and we've all had to deal with post-tramatic stress.” she said. “We spent tens of thousands of dollars on their therapy, and it's been a long, difficult process.”
Karen said Brittany at one point “lost her smile” and her will to live, and Tara has been in and out of jail on mostly drug-related offenses. “I wish I could say they went on to be attorneys. The fact that they're able to parent their children, even that's a miracle,” Karen said.
As for the Tuckers, Chris pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony charge of child abuse and was sentenced to 1-15 years in prison. He was released the very week in 2004 that “Brittany's Song” appeared in The Herald Journal. Becky spent six more years in jail than her husband, but she was not only prosecuted for the Trenton atrocity but for the death of another adopted child in Michigan — an “accidental death” case that was reopened after word got out about the Tuckers in Utah.
In a phone call to the Michigan Department of Corrections last week, I learned Becky Tucker was denied parole on two occasions leading up to her 2010 release.
When Becky Tucker was in court on the Trenton child-abuse charges, the Ogden judge presiding over the case broke into tears when she saw pictures of Brittany taken just after her rescue, then she ordered those pictures be posted in the mother's prison cell for the duration of her incarceration. I've been unable to find out if that order was ever carried out.
Appearing with this column is one of the photos of Brittany and Tara taken for Jason's article. I love this picture, considering the context. I just wish things could have turned out as sweet as they seemed at that moment in time.
Help prevent child abuse and neglect
by Sue Fegelein
Northwest Rocky Mountain Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, is a local nonprofit. Its mission is to inspire, educate and empower community volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused, neglected and at-risk children to help ensure safety and permanency in their lives. NWRM CASA also provides community education about child abuse and neglect.
Adults share a responsibility to protect against and report child abuse and neglect. Thankfully, the number of substantiated victims of child abuse and neglect in Moffat County decreased from 60 in 2014 to 49 in 2015. We must work together to continue to lower this number.
Listen to children. Let them know it is safe to talk about anything. Get to know your neighbors, child's friends and their families. Teach children the difference between "good touches" and "bad touches." Screen babysitters and day care centers and assess their knowledge and training in child health, development, and care. Find local resources at https://211colorado.communityos.org/cms/node/142
Warning signs of physical abuse may include:
• Behavioral changes such as: fear, anxiety, depression, aggression, hostility or withdrawal, not wanting to go home, appearing afraid of certain individuals, attempts at suicide
• Sleeping pattern changes, which may result in the child appearing tired or fatigued
• Changes in school performance and attendance
• Unexplained injuries such as burns, bruises, or fractures
• Injuries that don't match the provided explanation
• Use of drugs or alcohol
Warning signs of sexual abuse may include:
• Trouble walking or sitting
• Sexual behavior, knowledge or language inappropriate for the child's age
• Blood in the child's underwear
• Abuse of other children sexually
Warning signs of neglect may include:
• Ill-fitting, filthy or inappropriate clothing for the weather
• Consistently bad hygiene (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor)
• Untreated illnesses and physical injuries
• Frequently unsupervised, left alone, or playing in unsafe situations and environments
• Poor school attendance or frequent tardiness
• Taking food without permission, eating a lot in one sitting or hiding food for later
Advocate for children. If a child reports that s/he has been harmed or hurt, keep calm, reassure the child that you believe him/her. Offer to help new parents who may not have support from extended family.
Children or teens who are being abused: don't keep it secret. You are not at fault. Please tell a trusted adult immediately.
Speak quickly if you suspect abuse or neglect — a child's life may depend on it. Report child abuse and neglect anonymously at 1-844-CO-4-KIDS, or call the Moffat County Department of Social Services between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 970-824-8282 ext. 2042, or 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. at 970-824-8111. If a child is hurt or in imminent danger, call 911.
Learn about Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA and about volunteering to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children at rockymountaincasa.org.
Sources: "Child Abuse and Neglect-Topic Overview." Webmd.com June 17, 2015, Helpguide.org, safehorizon.org, Colorado Department of Human Services, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/child-abuse/basics/symptoms/con-20033789
Sue Fegelein, J.D., is Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA's executive director.NWRM CASA provides volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children in Moffat, Routt and Grand counties.
A Child Abuse Investigator's Opinion of Joe Paterno: "He Chose Evil"
Paterno read the classics and often quoted Plato. Plato once wrote "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the law". Make no mistake, Joe Paterno was not good people.
by Patrick Perion, a child abuse investigator working in the Mid West.
In the wake of the testimony in the Jerry Sandusky child rape trial being unsealed, there is new shock and outrage directed at Penn State and Joe Paterno -- and rightly so.
Paterno facilitated what may well have been a criminal child sex trafficking operation by turning a blind eye to reports of Sandusky's depravity as far back as 40 years ago.
The first contact about Sandusky with police was in 1998, yet he wasn't arrested until 2011. The nation and sports fans in particular were dumbfounded at this revelation, and were more shocked when reports surfaced that Paterno was made aware of the crimes in 2001 and informed higher ups at Penn State who did nothing.
Now we have learned that 22 years of additional victims exist. From a numbers perspective we are talking about hundreds of more victims, and thousands -- if not tens of thousands of individual acts of sexual assault and child rape perpetrated by Sandusky.
It is important to understand that when a perpetrator like Sandusky has access to a victim, he doesn't just assault the victim once. In cases like this there is almost always grooming behavior, inappropriate touching, followed by acts of oral sex and anal penetration. In 22 years of conducting forensic interviews of children, maybe only a dozen have told me it happened only one time. An overwhelming majority of sexual abuse and child rape victims suffer the abuse over and over and over.
Due to legal confidentiality, I cannot be specific but I had a case with a perpetrator who was abusing a child 7-10 times a day. This is the rule and not the exception.
The saddest thing about all of this is the response by the Paterno family and Penn State officials. Anthony Lubrano, a Penn State trustee and a staunch supporter of Paterno was interviewed by Dan Bernstein and Barry Rozner on WSCR 670 The Score in Chicago today. He is still making the case that Sandusky didn't commit any crimes.
I read much of the testimony of the victims in the trial, as well as the statements made in the original indictment. The details provided by the victims are the key to their credibility. It is what we look for when interviewing victims -- the more detail, the more corroboration.
Sorry, Mr. Lubrano, but the allegations are not uncorroborated.
It's important to remember that as many as 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. The percentage of false reports is infinitesimally small as very few people make up sex abuse allegations. That is not to say there are not false reports, but we members of the child protection community can weed those out pretty quickly.
Today's revelations underscore one of the things we always tell people: If you see or suspect child abuse call the authorities . The worst thing that will happen is that a professional will meet with the child and determine whether they are safe and not being abused.
All of the coaches named today bear some responsibility for the evil they let go unchecked, but Paterno was the man in charge. A man charged with molding young men into responsible adults who didn't have time for a 14 year old telling him he was abused. He told the young man John Doe 150, "I don't want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about"
Joe Paterno was fond of talking about the Grand Experiment, coaching football and educating young men at the same time. Paterno read the classics and often quoted Plato. Plato once wrote "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the law".
Make no mistake, Joe Paterno was not good people.
HEAL Project Tackles Child Sexual Abuse Using Survivors' Videos, Theater and Social Media
Survivor Ignacio Rivera's HEAL Project aims to end child sexual abuse 'by making visible the hidden tools used to guilt, shame, coerce and inflict violence onto children.'
by Miriam Zoila Perez
Ignacio Rivera —a child sexual abuse survivor as well as a "transgender, Two-Spirit, Black-Boricua Taíno and queer activist, writer, educator and artist"—has dedicated their life to breaking silences. With their new HEAL (Hidden Encounters Altered Lives) Project, Rivera is using theater, social media campaigns and sex education for parents and guardians to interrupt the cycle of this often buried form of abuse.
A Pervasive but Underreported Problem
Research about the incidence of child sexual abuse in the United States is often prefaced with a disclaimer about the likelihood of underreporting because of stigma. According to a 2010 report to Congress by the Department of Health and Human Services, of the 1.25 million children neglected or physically abused, 24 percent were sexually abused. This translates to approximately 1 in every 15 children.
The report also found that girls are much more likely to be sexually abused than boys, and Black and Hispanic children are abused at higher rates than their White counterparts. But the bottom line, Rivera says, is that "child sexual abuse is something that affects all of us. Someone you know is a survivor of child sexual abuse, or you are."
Performance Art as Healing
Rivera has been sharing their own experience of child sexual abuse with audiences since 2001. What began as a poem became a one-person show called "Lágrimas del Cocodrilo" or "Crocodile Tears," which Rivera toured with for four years. The show evolved over the years, incorporating more audience participation and interaction and opening the door for people to come out as survivors. "Once [after a show] I was in the bathroom washing my hands and this woman comes in. She stands there, looks at me and just loses it," recalls Rivera. "She starts hysterically crying, falls to the floor and I hold her. [She says] 'That's my story, I've never told anyone.'" Rivera says they are often the first person that an audience member has talked to about their abuse and that those interactions led to the HEAL Project.
Making Visible the Hidden Tools
HEAL, which launched in January, has three components. The first is "Outing CSA," a series of short videos of people identifying themselves by race, gender, sexuality, location, profession and their status as child sexual abuse survivors. The videos, says Rivera, are not about telling the story of the abuse itself but claiming the identity and experience. "There is no burying," they say. "The shit sprouts. It comes up everytime."
In addition to the video series, Rivera is working on a sex-education curriculum aimed at parents and guardians. "The culture of silence and shame around sex and sexuality creates a breeding ground for child sexual abuse," Rivera has said. Rather than using what they call "fear-based approaches," Rivera wants to use sex education as a tool for opening up honest dialogue between parents and guardians and their children. "When we think about sexuality in that context, we are teaching our children how to be better partners, better friends. [It's] a cultural shift in the celebration of sexuality rather than shaming and hiding."
Rivera has their own experiences building this kind of relationship with their daughter, who was born when they were 19. "The first four years of her life I was so losing it," they recall. "In my teenage years I had already attempted suicide. When she was young, I thought about it every day. I wanted to die. But she was the thing that kept me going. As she approached the age I was when I was abused, it was really hard to parent. I didn't want to see her naked, I didn't want to change her diapers. But I started healing myself and got into therapy and I realized I needed to be open with her."
Rivera says they enjoy an open relationship with their daughter, who is 26. They plan on traveling and talking with other parents and guardians to further shape the curriculum. "I want parents to tell me what they are afraid of, what they've talked to their kids about, [what] worked for [them], [what] didn't, what [they'd] like to see."
Rivera is also adamant about incorporating a race, class and queer analysis that makes sure their curriculum reaches marginalized communities. "With all of my work I center people of color, and queer and trans people," they explain. "I feel like anyone who is at the margins [is] the most vulnerable for abuse."
Pain and Progress
The last part of HEAL returns Rivera to their performance art roots with a theater project led by survivors. Rivera says that while the work is daunting, they do see significant progress since they began this public journey 15 years ago. "I think the shifts that have happened have been around talking about sex, kink, polyamory and sexual liberation, about what's happening on campuses, rape culture and [the idea] that 'consent is sexy.' It's being cracked wide open."
HEAL is supported for two years by a new fellowship from the Just Beginnings Collaborative. Rivera is one of eight fellows, all people of color who have survived child sexual abuse. Despite this fellowship and their long history, Rivera insists they're just an everyday person. "I'm no expert," they say. "I'm just a survivor."
Microsoft joins WePROTECT Global Alliance to end child sexual abuse online
Earlier this week, WePROTECT Global Alliance Board was launched that brings together the U.K.'s WePROTECT Children Online initiative and the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online, launched in 2012 and co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission. Microsoft today said that they are privileged to be a part of and to support the new WePROTECT Global Alliance through their participation on the WePROTECT Global Alliance Board.
In a strategy document outlining its commitment to eradicate the online distribution of child sexual abuse images, the alliance articulated the massive global nature of the problem; vowed to secure high-level commitments from all parts of the international system, and championed a tool to help countries independently self-assess their progress in combatting these vile crimes. Indeed, in 2014, INHOPE, the association of internet hotlines and helplines, assessed 83,644 URLs as containing child sexual abuse imagery worldwide, a 71 percent increase from the prior year. The grave nature of the problem is echoed in data compiled by the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In 2015 alone, NCMEC received a record 4.4 million reports of child sexual abuse imagery on online services from more than 1,100 companies actively reporting to its CyberTipline. In the prior 17 years combined, NCMEC received a total of 3.1 million CyberTips.
Read more about it from the link below. Microsoft last year announced the first major update to its PhotoDNA image-matching technology which is being used by organizations like Facebook, Twitter and agencies around the world to help fight the spread of child sexual abuse material online. With the new update, Microsoft has significantly improved the speed of the PhotoDNA hashing and matching, and expands support to new platforms and programming languages.
Once again, a foster family fights to love a child
by Lisa Falkenberg
At times, the foster father's emotional testimony at a legislative hearing in Houston seemed like déjà vu.
Another loving home. Another pair of kids with a history of abuse. Another potential forever family severed.
The "hell" that Charles Lambert described a little over a week ago was similar to that of the Houston foster moms I wrote about recently who saw the boys they hoped to adopt removed after relaying accusations of abuse against a half-sibling also in foster care. That story ended happily. The family was reunited.
Lambert and his husband, Aaron Sonnier, hope for the same outcome. But every day without answers, without knowing how or where the boys are, without the 8-year-old "cuddle bug" they still hope to adopt, gets harder.
"It's almost worse than death," Lambert told me in an interview after the hearing. "Then you know they're not coming back."
Lambert, who turns 54 today, says he and Sonnier, 47, moved to their lake house in Livingston after successful careers in design and in retail. They'd always wanted children, and a friend encouraged them to look into adoption.
They began the process in March 2015, and by December had welcomed two half-brothers, now ages 11 and 8, into their home on 2.5 acres surrounded by woods and water. About a month in, Lambert says he and Sonnier began noticing strange behavior from the older boy, who had a history of neglect and sexual abuse and had been in eight different foster placements. His behavior grew from "creepy" to alarming.
Lambert told lawmakers how the boy once rammed into his brother's bike and knocked him into a four-wheel utility vehicle, how he tried to choke him, and how he twisted his neck in a motion similar to what TV attackers use to kill. In each instance, Lambert said, the older boy showed no remorse and sometimes even giggled when confronted.
Lambert said they reported each incident, in addition to the time when they say the 11-year-old tried to get the family dog run over, and when he was caught drowning a lizard, but they say CPS in Montgomery County didn't seem concerned.
"They just pooh-poohed it as though it's normal kid stuff," Lambert told the committee.
The foster dads say CPS downplayed the seriousness of the older boy's condition and gave them only a couple of hours initially to review a mound of records on his history. They came to believe that CPS was using the younger boy as a "golden carrot," because "anyone who meets him falls in love immediately."
The older boy was later admitted to a psychiatric hospital, Lambert said, and afterward, CPS approved a "safety plan" that banned the boys from ever playing together unsupervised. Lambert said the arrangement was "impossible."
Then, after several medical professionals recommended separating the boys and a psychologist diagnosed the 11-year-old in April with "conduct disorder," which can be a precursor for sociopathy and antisocial personality, Lambert said he and his husband made the heartbreaking decision that they could adopt only the youngest child.
Soon after they notified CPS, the foster fathers said the boys were removed from their home in June. They took five days of clothes, some stuffed animals and their electronic tablets. At first, the foster parents said, the younger boy screamed and cried. And then, he simply shut down.
Calls not returned
If there's another side of the story, I couldn't get to it. A CPS spokesman wouldn't comment, citing confidentiality. The boys' CASA advocate gave the same response. The boys' attorney, who the foster fathers say never visited their home, didn't return my call.
For their part, Lambert and Sonnier provided letters from Livingston school officials vouching for their parenting, their active involvement in the boys' education and treatment, and the boys' academic progress.
'Best interest' of child
Anna Chancellor, a licensed professional counselor since 2002, described the foster parents in a May letter to CPS as "attentive, caring, committed to whatever is in the best interest of each child."
After treating the older boy and reviewing his medical records, Chancellor urged CPS to separate the boys, saying the younger one "has to be protected." She suggested placing them in separate homes, but with supervised visits.
In an interview last week, Chancellor said she doesn't understand why CPS didn't seem to consider that option. She acknowledged CPS has a mandate under state law to try to keep siblings together, but she said there should be exceptions.
"That's not always going to be the best thing," she said. "And this is one of those cases."
State Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, a former Harris County prosecutor who handles CPS cases as a private attorney and heard Lambert's testimony, said CPS is often hamstrung by state law.
The agency has marching orders: Protect child welfare, look out for children's best interests, reunite families, get kids adopted. But the law doesn't rank these issues by importance. And mandates sometimes conflict.
Covering up issues
He said the story of Lambert and Sonnier is similar to some he's heard across the state in which CPS downplays a child's challenges in order to secure adoption.
"What do you do if a child has a lot of medical problems, or behavioral problems? Well, you cover it up," Wu said.
"They created a system where a lot of times common sense and experience is overridden by the desire to produce good numbers."
And that leaves two strong foster parents heartbroken. And two abused kids in another devastating situation.
The fathers are challenging the removal in court and look forward to a hearing later this month in which they'll argue to adopt the younger boy.
Everyone involved here - CPS, the judge, the advocates and attorneys - should give this case a close look and do the right thing.
And lawmakers, take note. These cases should move you to make real change for Texas foster kids when the Legislature meets again next year.
A Victim's Courage: Former volleyball player breaks silence 3 decades after alleged abuse by coach who continues to lurk on courts
by Michael O'Keefe
Christine Tuzi was just 16-years-old in 1983 when she says her club volleyball coach Rick Butler, then 29, shoved her against the sink in the tiny galley kitchen of his Carol Stream, Ill. apartment west of Chicago, stuck his hand down her pants and kissed her on the mouth.
“I got to go out the front door that day,” Tuzi told the Daily News in her first-ever interview about Butler, the owner and coach of the prestigious Sports Performance Volleyball Club in Aurora, Ill. “The first time we had intercourse he used no protection at all and it hurt really bad. He had me climb out the bedroom window.”
The now 48-year-old mother of two grown children says she still carries deep scars from the sexual, physical and emotional abuse Butler inflicted on her for more than three years in the early to mid-'80s. Tuzi chokes up when she talks about how Butler got her pregnant — and then, she says, gruffly told her to “get rid of it.”
Tuzi, who went by Christine Brigman when she says she was abused by Butler, has never spoken publicly about the abortion or the abuse she says she endured, but Tuzi agreed to talk with the Daily News about Butler because she wants to support her friend, Sarah Powers-Barnhard, another former Sports Performance volleyball player who says she too was molested by Butler in the 1980s.
Powers-Barnhard, now the director of the Powers Volleyball Club in Jacksonville, filed a lawsuit against the Amateur Athletic Union last month in Florida state court that claims the organization violated the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by allowing Butler to participate in its events, even though its own policies bar membership to those accused of sexual misconduct.
“I'm doing this to support Sarah, that's a no-brainer,” says Tuzi, who still lives and works in Illinois. “I don't want her to stand alone.”
Butler, one of the most influential coaches in youth volleyball, acknowledged at a 1995 USA Volleyball ethics hearing that he had sex with three players who testified against him then, but Butler insisted they were consensual relationships that began after the women had turned 18-years-old. The legal age of sexual consent in Illinois is 17.
USA Volleyball issued Butler a lifetime ban in 1995 after Tuzi, Powers-Barnhard and another former Sports Performance player, Julie Romias (then Julie Bremner), testified against him. The sport's governing body in the United States reinstated Butler as an administrator just five years later, in 2000, a decision Lori Okimura, the chairwoman of USA Volleyball's board of directors, called a “mistake” earlier this month.
The AAU has allowed Butler, now 61, to participate in its events despite policies it adopted after its longtime president Bobby Dodd was accused of sexual abuse in 2011. Powers-Barnhard said it was “torture” to see Butler at an AAU-sponsored tournament in Orlando last month, where Powers-Barnhard was also coaching. She also is concerned that the Junior Volleyball Association, the organization Butler helped form that has fueled the sport's recent growth, has not addressed the abuse allegations.
Tuzi says she wants the volleyball community to know that Butler lied when he claimed in press accounts that she was 18 when he began having sex with her, and that their relationship was consensual.
“The fact that he could not pull up his pants and own up to what he did infuriates me,” Tuzi says. “You did wrong and you can't own up to it?”
Butler, who did not return Daily News calls and emails for comment, has never faced criminal charges as a result of the allegations by Romias, Powers-Barnhard and Tuzi, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said in 1995 that it found “credible evidence” the allegations against him were true. Butler's attorneys were not available for comment.
Butler, who did not return Daily News calls and emails for comment, has never faced criminal charges as a result of the allegations by Romias, Powers-Barnhard and Tuzi, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said in 1995 that it found “credible evidence” the allegations against him were true. Butler's attorneys were not available for comment.
Tuzi was a sophomore at Downers Grove North High School when she first joined Butler's Sports Performance volleyball team, she says.
Butler's club was turning into an elite volleyball program when Tuzi joined, even though Butler was a latecomer to the sport. Stephen Burkhart, a former Glenbard West High School (in Illinois) volleyball coach, says that when Butler first entered the suburban Chicago volleyball scene, he “didn't know a volleyball was round.”
“There were few volleyball clubs in that area in the early ‘80s,” says Burkhart, who now coaches volleyball in Moorpark, California. “(Butler) was at the right place at the right time. It caught fire. He became bigger than life.”
Tuzi says that she viewed volleyball then as her outlet from an unstable home life. She remains estranged from her father, who she says left the family when Christine was in college. The Sports Performance team advertised itself as an elite club which could fast-track the girls who played for Butler toward college scholarships at universities with big-time volleyball programs.
Then came what Tuzi says was an awkward exchange between her and Butler when she first started playing for him. The meeting with Butler, Tuzi says, was the start of him grooming her to be one of his victims.
“He took me to a Burger King after practice,” says Tuzi. “He said I was the one. I told him I wanted to be the best and he told me I can't question him. He said I wouldn't see improvement immediately, but that in time I would, and that I had to trust him. It was very cult-like.”
Tuzi wanted to play for the Olympic team, and she soon discovered that while Butler's program prepared girls for an elite playing level in the sport, being on his roster exacted a toll – and for some of the team members, the fallout was life-altering.
“We were all good athletes, but he made the majority of us feel that unless we were abused and broken, we weren't going to be good,” says Tuzi. “Without him, we were nothing. He had all of our futures in his hands. I didn't come from money, so I had this inner desire to be good (at volleyball). He took advantage of that. And then there's that fear that if you speak out, you might lose that future opportunity or that scholarship. You get messed up.”
The letters that Butler wrote to Tuzi — when she went by Christine Brigman — during the roughly three-year period she says Butler sexually abused her, underscore a disturbing pattern of behavior.
The hand-written letters at first appear to be words of encouragement between the elder coach and the teenage pupil, but in an Oct. 25, 1983 letter and in other notes Butler sent Tuzi, his tone becomes more suggestive — and perhaps even downright creepy. Butler tells Tuzi in one letter that she is “someone who I could sit and talk with for hours and never think about you only being 17. You went from someone I loved to some (sic) who I fell in love with.”
Butler calls Brigman affectionate nicknames like “Peanut” and signs off several letters with, “Love, Rick.”
Tuzi and another of Butler's former players, Nancy Reno, both say that during a trip to Japan with Butler's team, they witnessed first-hand the volatile nature of Butler's temper. One of the girls wasn't performing a drill to Butler's standards, Tuzi says, and that is when the coach, according to Tuzi, “f—-ing lost it.”
“He continued making her do the drill until she was so exhausted, she lost control of her legs. She pissed on herself and we had to carry her out of the gym,” says Tuzi, still shaken recounting the incident. “That one still haunts me.”
Reno, who says she was not molested by Butler, adds that her former coach “had anger issues, control issues” and that he was “a total bully.”
“It was a very good (volleyball) program, but I can say for myself, we played under fear,” says Reno. “We knew we would become the best players. But (Butler) was that controlling. You could feel the fear.”
But most haunting for Tuzi was having to abort the pregnancy that she says came as a result of Butler. Tuzi says she was 19 and a student at USC when she had the abortion.
“I think he told me he didn't think it was his (baby),” Tuzi says of the painful phone call she placed to Butler to tell him she was pregnant. “He told me to get rid of it. I was barely able to take care of myself at the time, and having a child wasn't an option.”
Tuzi says she met Butler at his hotel room after the abortion to talk — and that he made her pay half the hotel bill. When asked if she was able to confide in anyone else at the time, Tuzi lets out a deep breath.
“What do you say? I'm 48 now, and I was just figuring it out then. I was alone. I was trying to get out and away. (Butler) has altered my whole life from then to now. But I will not give him that power to alter the rest of my life,” says Tuzi.
During the testimony for the USA Volleyball hearing in 1995, Tuzi, who requested to remain anonymous at the hearing, testified that she still remains a victim of Butler's.
“I am before you today to tell you in person that I was in many ways and still am a victim of Rick Butler's,” Tuzi's testimony reads. “I do not wish to relive again all the grotesque details of sexual abuse that Butler subjected me to. I believe that from the letters I supplied this Committee you should by now have a complete picture of the molestation Butler inflicted upon me. I can't understand why he denies this.”
One of Butler's former players, who asked to remain anonymous, still has a letter Butler wrote to her in late 1994, before the USA Volleyball ethics hearing, in which Butler asks the player not to rush to judgment about any allegations. “I would think when you start hearing these vicious rumors you would at least have enough respect for me to call me up and talk to me to hear my side of the story and what I might have to say about the situation,” Butler wrote.
Tuzi says that all these years later, after she married and raised two “beautiful kids” with her husband Pete, she still suffers awful flashbacks. She says that a simple, loving gesture of her husband walking up from behind and placing his arms around Tuzi is a no-no.
“She's a phenomenal wife and mother,” says Pete Tuzi. “But I'll never know what that Christine was like. You just see the pain that she goes through. When she is feeling bad about herself, she withdraws and she can get defensive. I know to back off.”
The couple says their teenage daughter is an “unbroken” version of Christine, while they've taught their 22-year-old college graduate son the importance of respecting women and leading a decent life.
“It's something I've struggled with for a long time — ‘It's my fault.' I didn't even get my degree from USC. I was all about surviving in college,” says Tuzi. “I'm still f—-ed up. What my husband did, he was wonderful for pointing out that I have to look beyond me. And I'm doing that. I'm no longer living my life in fear.”
CCSO: Kids found in 'severe state of neglect and filth'
by Annika Hammerschlag
Collier County deputies said they discovered four abandoned children in a “severe state of neglect and filth” in a Collier County home. Two of the children were handicapped and unable to walk, and one had severe developmental delays, according to a Collier County Sheriff's Office report.
According to the report, the children were wearing dirty, smelly clothes and one smelled of urine. Deputies provided a description of the home:
“There were piles of filthy, foul-smelling clothing piled up in one of the rooms. There was a small child's outfit with feces and urine on it lying on the kitchen floor, with flies on it. The kitchen itself had a foul odor about it. The walls were stained with food and other substances of unknown origin. There was a small container with dog food in it on the floor that was covered with maggots, with ants all around it. There was actually a small amount of food in the cabinets, but it was all spoiled and inedible. The refrigerator had a very bad odor about it and inside there was an accumulation of fluid on the bottom. There was a container of meat in the freezer that had turned gray with congealed fluid on one end. All the food within the refrigerator was inedible. The countertops were very filthy and stained. The bathroom was very filthy and the floor was wet with urine. Throughout the residence there was the strong smell of mildew with mold visible on the walls. The yard was luttered [sic] with garbage. There was broken glass, old and rusty metal, and mildewed garbage piled up.”
The two older children told deputies they woke up Tuesday to find their mother gone and that she'd disappeared many times in the past.
On Tuesday evening a pastor who occasionally stays with the family found the children home alone with no food. Unable to reach the children's mother, Judeline Philemon, Pastor Wilner Charles called the father of the two older children, who lives in Miami, to warn him about the situation. The father arrived Wednesday morning to bring them food.
Florida's Department of Children and Families was contacted and agreed to place the children in a foster home.DCF investigator Laura Civetta contacted Philemon, who returned to the home a few hours later.
Philemon denied any wrongdoing and told deputies she had asked the pastor to watch her children for two days while she went to Miami to begin her new job. Deputies said she claimed she'd left the house clean and the kitchen stocked with food.
Philemon was arrested on suspicion of child neglect without harm and taken to the Naples Jail Center. Miami-Dade County arrest records reveal she was arrested under the same charges in 2010.
66 Indiana children died from abuse, neglect in fiscal 2014
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A recently released report by Indiana's Department of Child Services says 66 children in the state lost their lives because of abuse or neglect during fiscal year 2014.
The latest statistics show a more than 25 percent increase from the 49 child deaths in Indiana in fiscal year 2013, the Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/29Y3D4P) reported.
The department said that half of the children who died from abuse were one year old or younger. Of the neglect deaths, 46 percent were 1 year old or younger.
In one incident, a 3-year-old boy was fatally shot in the head by his mother's boyfriend, who pointed a gun at him while playing a "gun game" with him. The man, who is now serving a prison sentence, said he forgot the gun was loaded.
There was also an increase in deaths due to lack of supervision. Officials said children were left alone around bodies of water, kept in homes with unsafe heating methods or practiced unsafe sleeping methods.
"Each one of these deaths could have been prevented," said Mary Beth Bonaventura, the department's director.
Gov. Mike Pence announced plans to hire more than 100 additional child abuse and neglect caseworkers last year after an increase in cases and a class-action lawsuit over allegations that the department's caseworkers were overworked.
Bonaventura said in a statement that the issue isn't one the department can handle alone and recommended that residents call the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline if a child is believed to be in danger.
Crime Victim Grants Available Soon
by Hannah Wiegnand
Victim services organizations can now take advantage of $8.6 million in grants.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced that local organizations can apply for the $8.6 million in Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) to provide services to victims of crime.
The Upper Peninsula could get up to $213,151 for domestic violence victims, $99,072 for adult sexual assault victims, up to $60,298 for child abuse victims, and a total for underserved crime victims at $109,812.
The purpose of the funding is to enhance and expand services to victims of crime. The funding will also help with reducing psychological consequences of victimization and help restore victims sense of dignity.
The MDHHS will accept applications beginning Wednesday, July 20 through Thursday, August 18, 2016 until 3 P.M. Applicant agencies must be non-profit or public organizations which includes faith-based organizations and American-Indian tribes that give direct services to crime victims. Eligible organizations could include, but are not limited to, domestic violence programs, sexual assault treatment centers, child abuse programs, children's advocacy centers, survivors of homicide, drunken driving or elder abuse or other underserved victims.
For more information or to apply go to, MI E-Grants website and click on "about EGrAM" link on the left panel to access the Crime Victim Agreement training Manual. For anymore questions email, MDHHS-CVSC-VOCA-GRANTS@michigan.gov by July 29.
$450K in grants awarded to prevent child abuse in Arizona
by Claire M Roney
Nineteen child-abuse prevention programs in Arizona are benefiting this year from more than $450,000 in grants they received from the sale of license plates bearing this message: It shouldn't hurt to be a child.
More than 16 years ago, the Arizona Community Foundation, the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families, and The Arizona Republic established the Child Abuse Prevention License Plate program, with a goal to fund child-abuse prevention programs throughout Arizona.
The plate is $25 — $17 of which is tax-deductible and goes to fund the programs, and $8 from each sale goes to administrative costs. Each year, the license plate is renewed; so too is the donation.
This year, 19 grants were given to child-abuse prevention programs across the state, with amounts ranging from $2,000 to $47,000.
The top awards were given to the following:
Prevent Child Abuse Arizona was granted $47,000 for its Never Shake a Baby Arizona program. NSBAz is an evidenced-based program that provides information to parents to prevent shaken baby syndrome. Nurses offer the program's services to parents before the discharge of their newborn. If accepted, the parents receive a tip sheet, watch a video and sign a commitment form stating they were educated on the syndrome and will extend their knowledge to other parents.
Phoenix Children's Hospital was awarded $37,000 for its Child Abuse Prevention program to reduce the risk of child abuse in communities through educational outreach.
Arizona's Children Association was awarded $37,000 for the Parent Connection, which offers a variety of play-based parenting groups, parenting classes and workshops to help aid in child development.
Child Crisis Arizona received a $37,000 grant for Case Manager Prevention Services. The program offers parent-education courses, counseling and other services to foster a healthy living environment, with the goal of helping children from abusive homes reunite with their families.
Casa de los Ninos was awarded a $37,000 grant for its Community Outreach and Programs: free classes for parents, professionals and caretakers on raising a child happily and safely.
Huntington Police: Several aware of child abuse before 3-year-old was found dead
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Wednesday is the Huntington Police Department's first full day of investigating the death of a 3-year-old boy.
Mariya Jones and her boyfriend Aaron Miles, both of Huntington, are being charged with child abuse resulting in death.
Emergency responders were called to their home in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue for a cardiac arrest.
According to the criminal complaint, EMS said when they showed up, the boy was already dead and cold to the touch.
Huntington Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli tells WSAZ officers have collected several pieces of evidence from the home to build their case. He also said that evidence shows several people knew the alleged abuse was happening prior to the child's death.
"We have already found, even though it's very early in this investigation, that there are people who were aware that abuse was taking place in regard to this child," Ciccarelli said. "The failing is they did not report it."
Ciccarelli said some even made efforts to make sure the abuse didn't get reported.
WSAZ checked with the Cabell County Magistrate Court and found neither Jones nor Miles have criminal records in the county.
However, police say the two suspects have Detroit connections. According to Wayne County, Michigan court records, Miles has been arrested several times. His prior charges include fleeing from police, stealing property and possessing, delivering and manufacturing marijuana. There are no child abuse charges.
Ciccarelli says it's possible more charges could be filed in this case, but that's up to the prosecutors.
The criminal complaint says Child Protective Services (CPS) had been trying to make contact with that child for a month, but they hadn't been able to do so because the mother made herself and her son unavailable.
“We are unable to comment on an ongoing investigation," said Nancy Exline, Commissioner of DHHR's Bureau for Children and Families, in a statement to WSAZ. "The well-being of the children is our utmost concern and we have assured their appropriate placement in a safe environment.”
Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) officials also said that anytime abuse or neglect is suspected, anyone concerned should contact the DHHR hotline at 1-800-352-6513 and/or contact law enforcement.
Ciccarelli said tips can be made anonymously.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mother and her boyfriend are accused of being responsible for the death of her 3-year-old son.
"I'm a great mom," Mariya Jones said. "Anybody who knows me knows that. I didn't cause this. This is not my fault."
Emergency responders were called to her home in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue, told the child had suffered a cardiac arrest.
According to the criminal complaint, EMS said when they showed up, the boy was already dead and cold to the touch.
The boyfriend, Aaron Miles, says Tuesday he walked down the block and left the child in the house without adult supervision periodically.
"He went to sleep on the bathroom floor," Miles told WSAZ as he was arriving for his arraignment at the Cabell County Courthouse. "I came back and checked on him. He said he was okay. I came back in the house, and my son didn't wake up. I called 911."
Police say the boy had multiple injuries in different stages of healing, one on his genital area. They say his stomach was distended and hard to the touch.
The boyfriend admitted to disciplining the boy when he got out of line.
"He'd been in trouble the last few days for being mischievous," Miles said, "and I had him doing push-ups."
"They tell me the reason I'm being charged is because, yeah, I did hit him with a belt," Jones told WSAZ. "What else are you supposed to hit your child with?"
The criminal complaint says the injuries were not consistent with being struck by a belt.
Jones and Miles are both charged with child abuse resulting in death, but the two deny being responsible.
"Yes he was bad, he got his butt whooped, yeah," Jones said. "If he'd run into something and black his eye, that was his fault. I didn't punch him. I didn't do anything."
Jones says she wasn't home when her son died.
"I didn't cause that death," she said. "I didn't do that."
The criminal complaint says CPS had been trying to make contact with that child for a month, but they hadn't been able to do so because the mother made herself and her son unavailable.
"For me to be sitting here is bull crap," Jones said in the hallway of the courthouse. "It's really bull crap."
Miles also told WSAZ the boy had been eating feces and drinking water out of the toilet.
The bond for both the mother and her boyfriend was set at $1 million each.
The victim's fourth birthday would've been later this month, his mother said.
The mother has two other children. Miles is the father of one of them. Those kids were taken in by CPS Tuesday.
Police say the two suspects have Detroit connections.
Church of England apologises for abuses at Kent children's home
Young women were drugged, locked up and physically and sexually abused at Kendall House, Gravesend, during 60s, 70s and 80s
by Caroline Davies
The Church of England has offered a “whole-hearted apology” to hundreds of emotionally disturbed adolescent girls placed at a church-run children's home where residents were drugged, locked up and physically and sexually abused over a 20-year period.
A review published on Wednesday presented “harrowing” findings about Kendall House, in Gravesend. It found vulnerable teenagers were over-medicated on psychotropic drugs and tranquillisers to control them, locked in isolation rooms sometimes for days, and in some cases raped, during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Evidence showed the home was “on the whole, toxic and destructive to the girls placed there”, the report concluded.
Warnings about behaviour at the home, run by the dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury, went unheeded for decades, and the church's initial response was “woeful and inadequate”, said Prof Sue Proctor, who led the review and wrote the report.
The Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, who commissioned the review, said he was “appalled and saddened” to learn of the pain suffered by those at the home, which cared for 325 teenage girls from the 1960s until its closure in 1986.
He said the report was clear there was a “woeful lack of oversight” by the dioceses. “I know that no apologies will take away the pain that has been caused. But, on behalf of the diocese of Rochester, I apologise for that,” he said.
The Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury, echoed the apology, adding: “We know that words cannot undo the failings of the past.”
The Gravesend home was run by authoritarian superintendent Doris Law, described as a Christian churchgoer and lay preacher, who has since died, the report said. Its medical regime was overseen by consultant psychiatrist Dr Marenthiran Perinpanayagam, known as Dr Peri, who has also since died. Proctor said there appeared to be an “experimental element” to Dr Peri's drug regime.
The home closed in 1986, by which time 325 girls aged 11-16 had spent time there, their stints ranging from a few days or weeks to more than four years.
The review, led by Proctor, who led inquiries into sex abuse by Jimmy Savile at Leeds General infirmary, followed claims of abuse by former residents. Among the claims is the concern that the cocktail of drugs the teenagers were forcibly fed may have caused birth defects in their children.
Around 20 legal claims have so far been lodged by former Kendall House residents against the dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury regarding their personal treatment at the home. Some have been settled. More could come forward in the wake of the report. None of the claims have involved birth defects, said Langstaff.
The report concluded that Kendall House was “a place where control, containment and sometimes cruelty were normalised”. Every resident was at risk from physical or sexual abuse by staff or visitors, it said.
“Girls as young as 11 were routinely and often without any initial medical assessment, given antidepressants, sedatives and anti-psychotic medication. Often these drugs were given in dosages which exceeded usual prescribed adult levels. This served to control their behaviour, placing them in a constant stupor, restricting their ability to communicate or to learn, or have any personal autonomy.
“These drugs put them at risk of numerous side effects, many of which were distressing. The effects of the drugs also increased their vulnerability to emotional, physical and, in a smaller number of cases, sexual abuse.
“Those that resisted, challenged or overcame the effects of these routinely administered drugs faced sanctions. These included being locked in a room for long periods, and receiving emotionally abusive threats and actions. In a number of cases, even the slightest misdemeanours, the typical features of teenagers' behaviour, were ‘dealt' with by physical restraint, sometimes violent, and intra-muscular injections of powerfully sedating medication,” the report said.
Residents were troubled teenaged girls, some sent there as a place of safety, others because of anti-social behaviour, some had psychological or behavioural problems. They were supervised by unqualified staff led until 1985 by Law, who had an “autocratic leadership style”.
Concerns about the medication regime at Kendall House were raised in the 1970s and 80s by residents, their parents, by some social workers and some employees. “All were either ignored, rebuked, ridiculed or belittled by those in the position of authority in the home,” the report said.
When wider concerns about the medication of children in institutions were raised in the press in the 1970s and early 80s, public requests were made to review the regime at Kendall House, but it did not happen. The home was closed down in 1986, after first being subjected to formal regulatory inspection in 1984.
Two former residents reported being raped on the premises in the late 70s inside the “locked isolation room”, one allegedly by a male visitor to the home when sedated, the other, allegedly, by several male visitors on different occasions. None of the alleged perpetrators could be identified.
The report drew submissions from 20 former residents, a number of their family and friends, and 15 former staff; it accessed 44 original versions of residents' records.
Proctor said the church's initial response to the claims was “woeful and inadequate”. None of the identified alleged perpetrators of any alleged criminal activity is still alive.
It concluded there was “no effective supervision” of the running of Kendall House, described as an “old fashioned and formal” place.
The report concluded former residents had experienced “damaging life-long effects” and a “small number of residents went on to attempt suicide after living there”.
It called for an apology from the dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury and a thorough examination of safeguarding measures. Among some 19 recommendations is the suggestion the church should make ex-gratia payments to all the former residents who participated in the review “to acknowledge the pain of revisiting the trauma of Kendall House”. Langstaff said that and other recommendations would be considered.
David Greenwood, of Switalskis Solicitors, who has represented 15 survivors of abuse at Kendall House in compensation claims, said: “I have been truly shocked at the way in which staff at Kendall House handed out heavy doses of drugs designed to treat schizophrenia to young teenaged girls. Many of the ladies I have represented have suffered poor-quality lives as a result of this treatment. Many have been sexually assaulted and most were physically abused. It was only when the Home Office inspectors advised the church to alter the way they deal with drugs that this treatment was brought to an end.”
In 2009, a BBC investigation examined allegations one ex-resident had been given drugs more than 1,200 times at the Kent home. Teresa Cooper told BBC Radio 4's Today programme she was given tranquillisers, antidepressants and drugs while in the home. The programme claimed 10 ex-residents had gone on to have children with birth defects after being forcibly given cocktails of drugs including tranquillisers during the 1970s and 80s.
In 2010, Cooper agreed an out-of-court settlement with the Church of England, which did not accept liability. Her eldest son was born with respiratory difficulties, her second son is blind and has learning difficulties, and her daughter was born with a cleft palate and short lower jaw.
The report gives detailed examples of the abuse suffered. One former resident, orphaned in the 1960s, alleged she was touched inappropriately by Law. She also claimed that when she became pregnant by a boyfriend and gave birth, Law advised her to behave, threatening her by saying: “She wouldn't want anything to happen to him,” adding: “We've got a plot in the garden for little babies that have had accidents,” the report stated.
Another girl, with behavioural problems, who spent four years there in the 1970s, recalled feeling like a “zombie” because of the cocktail of drugs she was prescribed after Dr Peri called her a “psychopath” believing “medication was essential for her control”. She later spent time in prison and borstal and in psychiatric care, becoming an “alcoholic” and homeless before getting her life back on track.
One girl, also from a troubled background and living at Kendall House in the 1980s, was prescribed “crisis medication” when staff would pin her to the floor and forcibly inject her with sedatives to control her behaviour. When she said she had been raped while allowed out on weekend leave, no action was taken. On two occasions she tried to take her own life. She also claimed a male member of staff tried to kiss and touch her.
CALL 6: State finds more adults responsible for child abuse, neglect deaths
Growing number of calls to state hotline
by Kara Kinney
INDIANAPOLIS -- A newly-released report from the Indiana Department of Child Services shows the agency is finding more adults responsible for abusing and neglecting children.
DCS assessed 239 child fatalities in state fiscal year 2014 (July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014), and in 66 of those cases, the agency substantiated child abuse or neglect against the caregivers.
In comparison, the agency substantiated child abuse or neglect in 49 deaths in SFY2013 and 34 deaths in SFY2012.
DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura took office in March 2013, so this child fatality report is the first that covers a full year under Bonaventura's leadership.
“Each of these deaths could have been prevented,” said Bonaventura. “As summer begins, it is important to re-emphasize water safety and to never leave a child unattended in a hot car, ever.”
The newly-released annual report also shows more people are calling the DCS hotline to report allegations of abuse and neglect. (Entire report may be viewed on the site.)
DCS spokesperson James Wide told Call 6 Investigates he believes people are becoming more vigilant about recognizing and reporting suspect child abuse and neglect.
REPORTS TO STATE HOTLINE
• 2014- 198,684
• 2013- 187,465
• 2012- 177,542
The 48 page report details children dying in horrific circumstances, mostly at the hands of their biological parents.
Drownings, gunshots, fires, asphyxia, overdosing, and car crashes are among the top causes of child abuse and neglect deaths in Indiana.
Abusive head trauma was the top type of deadly child abuse, records show.
Lack of supervision was the primary cause of child neglect deaths in Indiana, according to the report.
Fourteen children drowned in state fiscal year 2014, the same number that drowned in SFY 2013.
For example, a 1 year old boy drowned in a pond by his family's home while playing with a sibling.
His mother was on the phone and not watching the children, according to the 2014 report.
DCS found the mother responsible for neglect and lack of supervision; however, prosecutors did not filed criminal charges against the mother.
Prosecutors did not file criminal charges in the vast majority of the child neglect cases listed in the state report, including drownings, carbon monoxide poisoning, and unsafe sleep conditions.
To win a criminal case, prosecutors must prove the allegations “beyond a reasonable doubt” compared to DCS cases which follow a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which means the allegations are more likely to be true than not true.
Nine children died due to a negligent sleep environment, according to the 2014 state report.
In one example, an eight month old baby boy was found not breathing in an adult sized bed with the mother.
The mother admitted to drinking the night before, and her BAC level was .28 the morning of the incident.
No criminal charges were filed in the case, which was ruled a sudden unexplained infant death with unsafe sleeping conditions as a contributing factor.
In another example, a one month old baby died after the mother admitted she may have rolled over the infant while in bed with her.
The mom also admitted to using methamphetamine.
DCS found the mom responsible for child neglect, but prosecutors did not file criminal charges. (Facts on child fatalities from SFY 2012-2014 may be viewed on the site.)
The Indiana Department of Child Services has faced criticism for failing to heed warning signs prior to child abuse and neglect deaths.
In the child abuse and neglect deaths in SFY2014, DCS had a prior history in only 6% of the cases, according to the report.
In comparison, DCS had prior involvement with 14% of the deaths in SF2013 and 21% of the fatalities of SF2012.
"Our infants and toddlers are the most vulnerable of all our children," said Bonaventura. "Younger children demand active supervision, attention, care and patience-which may be difficult to give if someone has low or poor parenting skills, or is dealing with multiple stress factors, including substance abuse."
To report child abuse or neglect, call the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556
Child abuse reports ignored by Rockbridge social services, report finds
by Laurence Hammack
ROANOKE — Reports of child abuse and neglect did not just fall through the cracks at the Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services, an internal review has found. Some of the reports were fed into a paper shredder, never to be investigated by the Lexington-based agency.
Of the 41 problems identified in the report, “of utmost concern” was evidence that a former department supervisor shredded reports before they could go to the Child Protective Services unit for assessment.
The former supervisor is not named in the report. Susan Reese, head of the Virginia Department of Social Services' Piedmont Regional Office, which conducted the review, declined to comment on the reasons for the supervisor's departure. But Reese confirmed that the director of the Rockbridge agency, Meredith Downey, announced her retirement during the inquiry.
Other problems cited in the report include slow responses to emergency calls, missed deadlines, altered documents and low staff morale — which many employees attributed to “an atmosphere of bullying, harassment and intimidation” by the unnamed former supervisor.
The report cites one case in which a child later died. Earlier this year, an infant was assessed by the agency as “high risk” in an unfit home. “But no services were offered,” the report stated. In April, the 3-month-old girl was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital. Police are investigating both the death and the actions taken by the department in that and other cases.
For years, members of the Rockbridge County Sheriff's Office have been troubled by the agency, which serves Rockbridge County and the cities of Lexington and Buena Vista, said Capt. Tony McFaddin of the sheriff's office.
Testimony in documents allege Joe Paterno knew of child abuse in 1976
by Josh Moyer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno was aware of sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky as far back as 1976 and some assistant coaches knew in subsequent decades, according to alleged victims' depositions that were unsealed Tuesday.
John Doe 150 said in a 2014 deposition that he informed Paterno the day after a 1976 incident that Sandusky stuck his finger in the then-14-year-old boy's rectum while he showered. The man said in 2014 that other boys in a shower heard him yell that Sandusky had just touched him sexually.
He said he told several adults about it, then sought out Paterno.
"Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, 'I don't want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?'" a lawyer for Penn State's insurance carrier asked the man. "Specifically, yes," the man replied.
"I was shocked, disappointed, offended, I was insulted," John Doe 150 testified. "I said, is that all you're going to do? You're not going to do anything else?"
He said Paterno then "just walked away."
Paterno told a grand jury in 2011 that he first learned in 2001 of inappropriate sexual contact by Sandusky involving young boys.
"I do not know of anything else that Jerry would be involved in of that nature, no. I do not know of it. You did mention -- I think you said something about a rumor. It may have been discussed in my presence, something else about somebody. I don't know. I don't remember, and I could not honestly say I heard a rumor," Paterno testified.
Paterno told a reporter before he died in early 2012 -- just months after Sandusky's arrest -- that the first inkling he had that Sandusky might be abusing children occurred in 2001, though there are records that show high-ranking Penn State officials dealt with a complaint in 1998 by a mother that Sandusky had showered with her son.
According to the documents, current UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano were among those coaches who were also aware of the abuse. Mike McQueary, a former assistant who reported to Paterno the 2001 incident in a team shower and who testified against Sandusky at trial, said in a 2015 deposition that former defensive coordinator Bradley was "not shocked" when told of it.
Bradley, who briefly took over as head coach after Paterno's firing, "said he knew of some things" about Sandusky dating to the 1980s, McQueary testified.
Bradley's representative Brett Senior issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.
"At no time did Tom Bradley ever witness any inappropriate behavior," it read. "Nor did he have any knowledge of alleged incidents in the 80's and 90's. He has consistently testified as such. Any assertions to the contrary are false. When he became aware of the 2001 incident it had already been reported to the University administration years earlier."
McQueary also said Bradley told him that he'd been approached by someone in the '80s who saw Sandusky "doing something to a boy" and that in the '90s, former assistant coach Schiano saw Sandusky in the shower with a boy.
"Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower," McQueary testified.
Schiano told ESPN: "I never saw any abuse, nor had reason to suspect any abuse, during my time at Penn State."
Dozens of documents and excerpts were released Tuesday by a judge who is presiding over litigation between Penn State and Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Co. over payment of claims for abuse by Sandusky, who is now serving 30 to 60 years in state prison for child molestation. Penn State has made $92 million in total payouts to settle 32 civil claims in the Sandusky sex molestation scandal.
The judge two months ago disclosed the existence of the 1976 allegation, along with claims that coaches witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and children in the '80s, but the newly unsealed documents provide far greater detail.
Penn State university president Eric Barron released a statement Tuesday morning and cautioned the community not to speculate on any new allegations. "Penn State's overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky," he wrote. "While individuals hold different opinions, and may draw different inferences from the testimony about former Penn State employees, speculation by Penn State is not useful. We must be sensitive to all individuals involved, and especially to those who may be victims of child sexual abuse."
"Although settlements have been reached, it also is important to reiterate that the alleged knowledge of former Penn State employees is not proven, and should not be treated as such. Some individuals deny the claims, and others are unable to defend themselves."
A lawyer for Paterno's family issued a statement Tuesday claiming there is evidence that "stands in stark contrast" to John Doe 150's story.
The lawyer, Wick Sollers, said, "There are numerous specific elements of the accusations that defy all logic and have never been subjected to even the most basic objective examination." Sandusky's lawyer has also denied the allegation.
According to other alleged victims' depositions, several other coaches also stumbled upon Sandusky abusing children throughout the years.
John Doe 75 alleged that in 1987, assistant coach Joe Sarra walked into the coaches' meeting room and saw Sandusky lying on the floor with the boy with his hand down the waistband of the 13-year-old's pants. John Doe 75 said Sarra may have said something like, "oh, sorry," and immediately walked out, after which Sandusky kissed him on the forehead. Sarra died four years ago.
John Doe 101 alleged in a 2014 deposition that in 1988, assistant coach Kevin O'Dea spotted Sandusky rubbing the boy's back while the boy was lying on a couch in his underwear. Sandusky attempted to hide the activity by pretending he was wrestling. O'Dea most recently was the special-teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2014-15.
According to the documents, then-athletic director Jim Tarman was made aware of an allegation in 1988 regarding John Doe 102, who lived in a group home for delinquent boys. After making the allegations, John Doe 102 said he was "asked to apologize to Sandusky and Tarman for telling lies."
The records also include an analysis by a lawyer working as an expert for the insurance company that said the settlements paid by Penn State seemed very high, possibly as a result of the university's concern about publicity and a wish to resolve matters quickly.
Lawyer Eric Anderson said the school "made little effort, if any, to verify the credibility of the claims of the individuals."
Ken Feinberg, a lawyer who helped mediate claims against the school, told reporters last week it was "a very objective process" and none of the cases was easy to resolve. He said Penn State was diligent in making sure the claims were backed up by sufficient proof.
Sandusky, 72, was convicted in June 2012 of sexually abusing 10 different boys between 1994 and 2008. He has maintained his innocence.
How you can help end child abuse
by Jonathan Wahl
LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- “We see child abuse every day at Kosair Children's Hospital. It's a sad, but true story, explained pediatrician Erin Frazier.
There's no quick fix to end child abuse, but people who see it on a regular basis say it starts with educating parents and with reporting any abuse you might see.
“Wouldn't you rather be wrong than have a child continue to be hurt, or possibly die? You can make an anonymous report to CPS,” Frazier said.
She says just because you report possible abuse, doesn't mean children are taken away. “Many times families are offered a lot of different services or they're given security plans or safety plans,” Frazier said.
So how do you know if a bruise is abuse and not from a slip or fall? With research done at the Kosair Children's Hospital, the TEN - 4 rule was created.
In children 4 and under any bruising to the Torso, Ears, or Neck isn't normal and should be reported.
For infants four months and younger any bruise, on any part of the body is a sign of possible abuse.
“The sooner that we find the child is being abused, we can place them in a safe place,” Frazier said.
The effects of abuse go well beyond a bruise. “[People who are abused] go through life insecure, angry, defensive, reactive, people tend to see the worst sides of them which are people who tend to be more angry or mean spirited even,” explained Dr. Fred Stocker, Child Psychiatrist, and University of Louisville Physician.
He said for healthy development, the first few years of life are critical.
“Children have to experience a sense that the world is generally a safe place, and usually nurturing, and that allows them to develop normally with resilience to outside trauma and stress,” he said.
Stopping child abuse altogether may seem impossible, but Stocker said there are steps to take that can help.
“Getting family or parenting counseling resources, that really makes a difference for families and can be the difference between a child being abused or not abused,” explained Frazier.
Part of that education for parents can be just letting them know what's normal. Helping them understand that kids will test their boundaries, and babies will cry, and letting them know it's OK to leave your infant in a safe place and step away for a while to clear your head.
If you see abuse you can leave anonymous tip at 1-877-597-2331.
Another way you can help is by volunteering. Stocker said poverty is the number one cause of abuse and neglect, and that's something that we can all work to end by volunteering through a community outreach, or your church.
In Kentucky and Indiana, any person who knows or has "reasonable cause" to believe that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect has a duty to report it. You can leave an anonymous tip at (KY) 1-877-597-2331 or (IN) 1-800-800-5556.
As punishment, 3 children left in desert without water
by Denise Goolsby
A mother and her boyfriend were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of felony child abuse after her three children had been left in the desert as punishment, according the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
Mary Bell, 34 and Gary Cassle, 29, of Twentynine Palms are being held at the Morongo Basin Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, deputies responded to a report of three children – a 7-year-old girl, a 6-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy – alone in the desert near the 74000 block of Samarkand Drive in Twentynine Palms. The children were without water and shoes.
During the investigation, it was determined that Bell was the mother of the three children and Cassle was Bell's boyfriend. They left the three children in the desert, by themselves, for disciplinary purposes.
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, Morongo Basin Station at (760) 366-4175.
Why emotional abuse in childhood may lead to migraines in adulthood
by Gretchen Tietjen And Monita Karmakar
Child abuse and neglect are, sadly, more common than you might think. According to a 2011 study in JAMA Pediatrics, more than five million U.S. children experienced confirmed cases of maltreatment between 2004 and 2011. The effects of abuse can linger beyond childhood – and migraine headaches might be one of them.
Previous research, including our own, has found a link between experiencing migraine headaches in adulthood and experiencing emotional abuse in childhood. So how strong is the link? What is it about childhood emotional abuse that could lead to a physical problem, like migraines, in adulthood?
What is emotional abuse?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines childhood maltreatment as:
Any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.
Data suggest that up to 12.5 percent of U.S. children will experience maltreatment by their 18th birthday. However, studies using self-reported data suggest that as many as 25 to 45 percent of adults in the U.S. report experiencing emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child.
The discrepancy may be because so many cases of childhood abuse, particularly cases of emotional or psychological abuse, are unreported. This specific type of abuse may occur within a family over the course of years without recognition or detection.
The link between emotional abuse and migraines
Migraine is a type of chronic, recurrent moderate to severe headache affecting about 12-17 percent of the people in the U.S. Headaches, including migraine, are the fifth leading cause of emergency department visits and the sixth highest cause of years lost due to disability. Headaches are about three times more common in women than men.
While all forms of childhood maltreatment have been shown to be linked to migraines, the strongest and most significant link is with emotional abuse. Two studies using nationally representative samples of older Americans (the mean ages were 50 and 56 years old, respectively) have found a link.
We have also examined the emotional abuse-migraine link in young adults. In our study, we found that those recalling emotional abuse in childhood and adolescence were over 50 percent more likely to report being diagnosed with migraine. We also found that if a person reported experiencing all three types of abuse (physical, emotional and sexual), the risk of being diagnosed with migraine doubled.
Why would emotional abuse in childhood lead to migraines in adulthood?
The fact that the risk goes up in response to increased exposure is what indicates that abuse may cause biological changes that can lead to migraine later in life. While the exact mechanism between migraine and childhood maltreatment is not yet established, research has deepened our understanding of what might be going on in the body and brain.
Adverse childhood experiences are known to upset the regulation of what is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which controls the release of stress hormones. In plain English, that means experiencing an adverse event in childhood can disrupt the body's response to stress. Stress isn't just an emotion – it's also a physical response than can have consequences for the body.
Prolonged elevation of these stress hormones can alter both the structure and function of the brain's limbic system, which is the seat of emotion, behavior, motivation and memory. MRIs have found alterations in structures and connections within the limbic system both in people with a history of childhood maltreatment and people diagnosed with migraine. Stressful experiences also disrupt the immune, metabolic and autonomic nervous systems.
Both childhood abuse and migraine have been associated with elevation of c-reactive protein, a measurable substance in the blood (also known as a biomarker), which indicates the degree of inflammation. This biomarker is a well-established predictor of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Migraine is considered to be a hereditary condition. But, except in a small minority of cases, the genes responsible have not been identified. However, stress early in life induces alterations in gene expression without altering the DNA sequence. These are called epigenetic changes, and they are long-lasting and may even be passed on to offspring. The role of epigenetics in migraine is in the early stages of investigation.
What does this mean for doctors treating migraine patients?
Childhood maltreatment probably contributes to only a small portion of the number of people with migraine. But because research indicates that there is a strong link between the two, clinicians may want to bear that in mind when evaluating patients.
Treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which alter the neurophysiological response to stress, have been shown to be effective treatments for migraine and also for the psychological effects of abuse. Therefore CBT may be particularly suited to persons with both.
Anti-epileptic drugs such as valproate and topiramate are FDA-approved for migraine treatment. These drugs are also both known to reverse stress-induced epigenetic changes.
Other therapies that decrease inflammation are currently under investigation for migraine.
Migraineurs with history of childhood abuse are also at higher risk for psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety, as well as for medical disorders like fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome. This may affect the treatment strategy a clinician uses.
Within a migraine clinic population, clinicians should pay special attention to those who have been subjected to maltreatment in childhood, as they are at increased risk of being victims of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence as adults.
That's why clinicians should screen migraine patients, and particularly women, for current abuse.
Pilot program helps families overcome abuse
by John McNeill
KALAMAZOO (WKZO-AM) -- A new way to tackle the problem of child abuse is getting a test run in Kalamazoo and two other counties and halfway through the five year trial, they're happy with the numbers.
The "Protect MI Family" program reduced the number of child removals by half, 90 percent of the families in the program report satisfaction with the services they are getting and 30 percent of the children in the program show improvement in the emotional and social development.
The focus is on keeping children with their parents and out of foster care by fixing their families. That means teaching life skills, child rearing and, in some cases, removing the abusive parent.
Program Director Rachel Sykes said current practice is a 90-day course that focuses on the abusive behaviors and making the child safe.
The program lasts 15 months and goes much deeper into roots of what made the family dysfunctional and led to the abuse.
Program graduate Alyssa Lovely said she was trapped in a cycle of abuse before they were selected for help. She has since divorced her abusive ex-husband, her son has started kindergarten and she has just gotten a promotion at work. She said the program has helped her turn her life around and create a much better life for her son.
The goal is to get better results without increasing the cost. If it works here and in Macomb and Muskegon counties, where it is also being tried out, the plan is to introduce it statewide.
9-year-old Indiana girl finds abandoned newborn in backyard
by CBS News
LOWELL, Ind. -- A 9-year-old girl in northwest Indiana found an abandoned infant on Monday morning in her family's back yard, CBS Chicago reported .
Elysia Laub found the infant. She said at first she thought the baby was a piglet, because her family keeps pigs in a pen.
"It just freaked me out. I didn't know what it was," she told CBS Chicago.
She screamed for her mom, Heidi, who was incredulous. The baby, likely less than a day old, still had placenta and umbilical cord attached.
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich is grateful for the child's discovery.
"We're considering her the guardian angel of that infant," he said.
"I didn't do this myself. Somebody helped me," Elysia said. "God. He put me in that place."
The baby suffered from sun exposure, but is expected to be okay.
Initial investigation indicates that the newborn was at that location no more than a day.
The newborn was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital for emergency medical treatment.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
Clergy sex-abuse victim: I'm meeting Archbishop Chaput to discuss stalled House bill
John-Michael Delaney plans to tell the religious leader why opposing the proposed statute of limitations extension is wrong
by Brian Hickey
As an outspoken victim of the Philadelphia clergy sex-abuse scandal, John-Michael Delaney said he's had a long-standing invitation to meet with the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Over the years, Delaney hasn't shielded his pain from the public eye. He's quoted in many stories talking about the 2005 grand jury report which deemed his assailant, the Rev. James Brzyski, one of the “archdiocese's most brutal abusers.” For years, he never agreed to meet with the archbishop, knowing he harbored too much anger to have a civil conversation.
Delaney told PhillyVoice this week that he's taken religious leaders up on the chance to have a private meeting with Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput at archdiocesan offices in Center City.
“They know how important this is,” said Delaney who, when asked what he expects to tell Chaput, added, “I plan on letting him know what little they do for the victims, and what I as a victim went through.”
Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin said he was “not able to confirm or deny whether or not the Archbishop is meeting with a particular victim or to share details arising from such meetings,” as they're deemed private.
“It would be highly inappropriate for us to do so,” said Gavin, a statement that covers “several meetings with victims of clergy sexual abuse” that Chaput has hosted. “That is a common policy not only with the Archdiocese, but one which media outlets adhere to as well.”
Delaney has no concerns about his privacy. In fact, he said he wants to get word of this meeting out far and wide.
The timing, he said, is of major importance considering the recent uproar about House Bill 1947 which has left church and elected officials at odds. Specifically, Delaney decried the fact that the proposed extension of statutes of limitation stalled in Harrisburg after a state Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that was seemingly stacked against them.
“They killed the part of HB 1947 that would have given victims like me a shot at justice,” said Delaney, a 46-year-old who was abused in the early 1980s. “[I want to tell Chaput of] my disdain for his actions to squash the bill.”
He also lauded state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a fellow survivor, for his efforts pushing HB 1947.
Per Rozzi, the bill "would eliminate criminal statutes of limitation for child sex abuse, extend the civil statutes of limitation until the victim reaches age 50 and allow adult victims of child sexy abuse a permanent extension to file civil claims up to age 50." The state senate sent it back to the House after a hearing where concerns about its constitutionality led them to challenge the statutes of limitation changes.
Initially slated for July 18, Delaney said he's learned that a scheduling conflict could bring about a time change, but that the meeting is still a go.
Delaney said he'd catch up with PhillyVoice afterwards to discuss how it went.
Responding to an emailed inquiry about Delaney, who said victimization sent his life into disarray for decades to come, Gavin shared “information regarding Archdiocesan efforts to assist victims and prevent child sexual abuse.” Those statements, which Delaney predicted would arrive when the church was asked about him, appear below in their entirety:
The Archdiocese has learned some very bitter lessons from its past and has responded very effectively. The Archdiocese has also accepted responsibility for the abuse that took place in its ranks both publicly and privately on several occasions. Our efforts to protect children, prevent child abuse from occurring, and offer meaningful assistance to victims and their families have all evolved greatly over the years.
If the Archdiocese receives an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by any priest, deacon, lay employee, or volunteer, it is immediately reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency. That is a longstanding policy. The required canonical (Church) investigation of such an allegation does not take place until law enforcement has concluded its work. The work of law enforcement and any criminal investigation always take precedence and we cooperate fully. Additionally, since 2011 the Archdiocesan Office for Investigations has been headed by Al Toczydlowski, a former Deputy District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia. That office is responsible for forwarding reports to law enforcement and conducting the work of canonical investigations.
None of these things happen in a vacuum either. If a priest is placed on administrative leave due to an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, the Archdiocese communicates that information to his parish community and then to the news media. Appropriate follow-up communications are made to these same groups.
Additionally, if any priest is laicized or his ministry has been permanently restricted due to credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, that information is published on the Archdiocesan website. We have been maintaining this portion of the site for over 10 years in the interest of making the information publicly available. Please take a look at this link. http://archphila.org/archdiocesan-offices/office-of-investigations/status-of-clergy/. As you'll see there are various categories.
Before, I address efforts in the realm of victim assistance efforts I want to share one other important fact with you. In terms of child sexual abuse alleged to have been committed by Archdiocesan clergy in the past 10 years, there are 2 cases in which abuse has been substantiated.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia also has an active and effective program to help survivors of sexual abuse. It provides assistance for survivors and their families – no matter when the abuse occurred and it doesn't put a limitation on how long the assistance will be offered. It also does so without conducting investigative pre-screenings.
Since 2002, the Archdiocese has dedicated over $13 million to provide victim assistance to individuals and families, including counseling, providing medication, eliminating barriers to travel and childcare, and providing vocational assistance as well as other forms of support.
The Victim Assistance Program offered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is administered by professionals whose purpose is to provide support for adult survivors, child victims and their family members who have been affected by sexual abuse.
The focus is on healing through outpatient counseling. The Archdiocese provides payment for the following:
• Licensed therapeutic services by a therapist of the individual's choice
• Medications related to mental health treatment
• Psychiatric services
• Transportation expenses related to therapy sessions
• Childcare expenses related to therapy sessions
It's also important to note that the Archdiocese does not mandate the types of services an individual receives. In all cases, the Victim Assistance Program follows guidelines set forth by a survivor's independent counselor or therapist and tailors an assistance plan based on the unique needs of each individual. Efforts on the part of the Archdiocese to assist survivors far exceed what is being done by any other private or public institution.
The Victim Assistance Program offered by the Archdiocese is an important function of the Office for Child and Youth Protection (OCYP), which has been headed by Leslie Davila since 2011. She came to the Archdiocese from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, where she had been working as a victim advocate. She has over 20 years of professional experience in services to crime victims.
Along with help aimed at healing the individual, another major OCYP focal point is to improve awareness and prevent child sexual abuse from occurring.
I'm sure you have the social data. You already know that child sexual abuse is a problem much wider than the Catholic Church. It's an issue in nearly every profession, in millions of private homes, and in public institutions. Much of the work performed by OCYP seeks to preclude the abuse problem at its root through education and training of lay employees and volunteers as well as clergy.
As a result, the Archdiocese exceeds state mandatory reporter requirements. And it demands that all individuals working with children undergo background checks and child abuse clearances. Additionally, all employees and volunteers are required to attend Safe Environment Training Programs as well as Mandated Reporter Training Programs. To date, over 30,000 individuals connected with the Archdiocese have undergone mandated reporter training. Some 6,000 to 9,000 participants enroll in the Safe Environment Program each year. Additionally OCYP staffers travel to parishes on a regular basis to conduct child abuse prevention forums and audit parish records to ensure that everyone has received the appropriate training.
All of this training seeks to create a habit of prevention. It outlines what is expected of individuals in the Church and enables them to notice patterns of behavior that might signal possible child abuse.
Archdiocesan work to prevent abuse through education and strict background check policies has been more extensive and going on for much longer than in other institutions too. Those efforts exceeded what was prescribed by Pennsylvania law before it was changed a few years ago. In some aspects, Archdiocesan child protection efforts still exceed state law.
National Reaction: Chance Needeed Now
by Danny Robbins, Josh Sweigart and Carrie Teegardin
Sweeping reforms and public awareness should follow a national investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — in coordination with this newspaper in Ohio — of how doctors who sexually abuse patients often face limited consequences.
“I can't believe so much leniency is shown to these doctors,” said Dan Frondorf, chapter leader for the Dayton and Cincinnati chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He was shocked that medical boards in some states operate with secrecy that to him appears similar to what was seen in the church.
The AJC's and this newspaper's investigations, which were launched online last week and began in print Sunday, exposed a phenomenon of physician sexual misconduct that is tolerated to some degree in all 50 states.
This newspaper found that Ohio's medical board is among the nation's strictest and most transparent when dealing with such allegations, though discipline can still sometimes take years and follow multiple violations.
“The State Medical Board of Ohio will continue to pursue administrative action to the fullest extent possible,” said State Medical Board of Ohio Spokeswoman Tessie Pollock in reaction to the story. “We want to know of misconduct and we're dedicated to addressing complaints with quick and thorough investigations.”
‘People are in denial'
Sidney Wolfe, co-founder of the Health Research Group at the advocacy organization Public Citizen, said the AJC's reporting highlights a problem that has long been ignored.
“It's mind-boggling how much the health care system fails when these cases arise,” he said, noting that his organization reached similar conclusions when it studied the issue in the late 1990s. “There's no evidence of a significant diminution of these cases, and the reason is people are in denial.”
Wolfe said the problem of physician sexual abuse will persist until medical boards take meaningful action against offenders.
“The final common pathway is the medical board,” he said. “If they don't do anything, the doctor is free to continue practicing. A fine, probation — that really doesn't do it. If there is clear evidence that a doctor sexually abused a patient, that doctor should no longer be allowed to practice.”
Boston attorney Stan Spero said he found the AJC's findings consistent with what he has witnessed in more than three decades representing people sexually abused by physicians, members of the clergy and other professionals.
“The reason that your numbers ring true is the (state medical) boards are run by professionals who tend to know each other,” he said. “It's like the old boys' club.”
Spero has represented victims in several high-profile cases involving Catholic priests. He said those abused by physicians are left with the same scars as those abused by members of the clergy. That's because doctors are “idealized,” creating “almost an adult-child” relationship, he said.
Becky Perkins, communications director with the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, said this newspaper's findings, “unfortunately validates much of what we know about sexual assault and abuse, which is it's committed by people in a position of power against people that are vulnerable.”
She was disturbed by inconsistencies among states on how such cases are handled, sometimes meaning a doctor can practice in Ohio after losing his or her license in another state, sometimes without the public knowing what the allegations were elsewhere.
“Patients have every right to know what their treating physician has been accused of or sanctioned for in the past,” she said.
The Federation of State Medical Boards said state regulators take sexual misconduct seriously and have worked in recent years to address the issue. It noted that its House of Delegates adopted a policy in April that urges physicians, hospitals, health care organizations, insurers and the public to be proactive in reporting instances of unprofessional behavior, including sexual misconduct, to medical boards.
“Sexual misconduct by physicians is abhorrent and all stakeholders in health care must be vigilant in reporting suspected incidents,” the federation said in a statement to the AJC.
The AJC's series reported that the vast majority of doctors do not sexually abuse patients. But the investigation found that it happens far more often than the medical profession has acknowledged.
‘What we are doing now doesn't seem to be working'
Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center, described the series as timely and important and deserving of a thoughtful response from lawmakers and medical boards across the country. “The correct response is, ‘What can we do to diminish this?' because what we are now doing doesn't seem to be working,” he said.
A patient safety advocate pointed out that sexual misconduct is only one area where state medical boards have treated physicians with deference.
“The failure of state medical boards to take action against doctors' sexual abuse parallels their failure to act effectively against doctors that abuse drugs and alcohol, and also against doctors demonstrating gross incompetence,” John T. James, a toxicologist who is the founder of Patient Safety America, told the AJC. “Until state medical boards are comprised of mostly non-physician, public members, this sort of secret-keeping is going to work against safe care for patients. I hope your startling revelations will serve as a catalyst for changing the composition of medical boards.”
Frances Duncan, a counselor who helps victims of sex abuse in the Dayton area, said such stories should help people understand that sexual assault is an “epidemic” and predators often don't match society's expectations.
“We would think of somebody who maybe has a criminal history or a poor background or what our typical view of what an offender may be,” she said. “There are doctors that are offenders. There are religious leader that are offenders. There are professional people that are offenders.”
Men skating length of Route 66 for child abuse victims
Damien Rider and Dan Osper hope to finish their trek, roughly 2,500 miles, in 66 days
by Derek Dueker
On June 27, the 31st anniversary of the closing of U.S. Route 66, two men pushed off from Chicago, Ill. heading to Santa Monica, Calif. with the goal of skateboarding the entire length of the historic route in 66 days.
Damien Rider, endurance athlete and Men's Health Magazine's Man of the Year in 2015, along with childhood friend Dan Osper, passed through Waynesville on Saturday morning on their boards as part of their trek to spread awareness for child abuse victims.
“To commemorate the history that most people know, but also to try to celebrate a new history for people who need a restart in life,” Rider said.
This is the third endurance performance for Rider, who began his awareness events with an 800 km paddle in Jan. 2015 from Coolangatta to Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, breaking three world records in the process.
Rider caught the whole experience with an onboard camera that later became a documentary named “Heart of the Sea.”
“That's when I released myself with my childhood PTSD that I was dealing with,” Rider said. “That's when I started to work out the tools along the way to help out other people.”
Beginning at the age of six, Rider says he was raped, thrown against walls and forced to live in caves by his mother's boyfriend.
“Pretty much living every day for a couple of years thinking it could be my last day on earth,” Rider said. “[I had] to defend myself from the age of 6, living on the streets and doing what I could.”
After detailing this in his documentary, Rider said he was contacted by Osper, who he had skated with in Gold Coast, Queensland in Australia between the ages of 9-11, on Facebook.
“He saw [Heart of the Sea] and contacted me on Facebook and said he had been going through the same child abuse at the same time and neither of us knew,” Rider said. “So, he asked if we could catch up, have a chat and go for a skate. I had already planned this (the journey down Route 66). So, I replied and just said, well can you get 10 weeks off work? He's like, 'Why's that?' I said, so we can go for a skate. So, here we are, going for our skate after 29 years.”
Along with these endurance events, Rider has created the “Rider Foundation” which started as Paddle Against Child Abuse (PACA). Through PACA, he holds events globally to help raise awareness and help victims find peace using ocean paddle sports. The Rider Foundation builds training institutes to share tools with others struggling through their own adversity and provide them with role models.
He says most people who suffer focus on the “why” that is behind them — “Why did this happen to me?” And etc.
“I teach them to press the reset button on their life and get a goal that is forward,” Rider said. “No matter whether it is work, family, social life, sporting, whatever it is, needs to intertwine so it all is leading a path to the one reason of the why. The, 'Why am I doing this?' I'm doing this because this is where I'm going. They start going forward instead of thinking backwards. We can't change anything from a minute ago or a second ago backwards.”
Now 39 years old, Rider said his abuse is just a “bad, distant memory” that doesn't control his life anymore like it once did.
And it can be like that for anyone.
“You're living by the rule of someone else, whether it's consciously or subconsciously,” he said. “They need to stand in front of a mirror and be proud of what they've accomplished in life and be able to move forward. That's one of the hardest things. It took me 38 years before I could say I was proud of myself. It's very hard to do that because when you go through all these traumas, you don't feel like you should be.”
Children guilty of sexual abuse should not be 'unnecessarily criminalised'
Charity-backed inquiry says national strategy is needed to help children and parents understand what sexual conduct is illegal
by James Meikle
Children and young people should not be “unnecessarily criminalised” for displaying harmful sexual behaviour towards others, an inquiry backed by the charity Barnardo's has concluded.
A consistent national strategy is needed for tackling growing concerns about access to extreme pornography, the sharing of naked images online and sexting, a cross-party parliamentary panel says.
Parents must also be helped to understand the difference between age-appropriate sexual experimentation and actions that might be harmful and abusive so they can take an active role in keeping their children safe on and offline, especially in the family home.
The report, Now I know it was wrong, highlights inconsistencies in support for children and sanctions against them across England.
The lack of any legal requirement for age-appropriate sex and relationship education in academy schools – while there is one in schools that are the responsibility of local councils – was also raised often during the inquiry, which was chaired by Nus Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden, Sussex.
“The key to this little-understood problem is prevention and protection, so the government must work with schools, local authorities, police and voluntary organisations to tackle it,” Ghani said.
“In this smartphone age, parents must also play a vigilant role protecting their children from harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) and from harmful sexual images that cause damage they are too young to understand.”
Barnardo's chief executive, Javed Khan, said: “We must remember that many children who show harmful sexual behaviour have experienced or witnessed physical, emotional or sexual abuse as well as neglect and can be extremely vulnerable.
“Automatically treating them as mini sex offenders prevents them being rehabilitated and living positive lives. In some cases a criminal justice response may be necessary, but we have to find a much better way to stop children abusing themselves and each other.
“It is imperative children receive high-quality, age-appropriate information and advice about healthy relationships. They also need to understand what sexual conduct is illegal, like ‘sexting', and the penalties and consequences of their actions.”
Figures from police forces in England and Wales show 4,209 children and young people under 18 were recorded as having committed sexual offences against other young people and children. Although experts speaking to the inquiry seemed almost unanimous in agreeing that the volume of reported incidents and the degree of offences were rising, the reasons were not certain.
It was improbable such behaviour was a new phenomenon, the report says, but society was more willing to discuss it and there was a greater understanding of the impact HSB, abuse and sexual development had on children's wellbeing. It might be that sexting and other online behaviour had made the issue of HSB more visible.
The inquiry found that services across England ranged “from preventative to punitive” and that children with the same behaviours might be treated very differently in different parts of the country.
Treating children who display HSB as mini sex offenders “not only fails to pay due consideration to the trauma they may have experienced but also overlooks that children and young people are more likely than adults to achieve successful rehabilitation”.
While the report acknowledges that parents cannot be expected to exercise total control over what their children see online, they must take a vigilant approach to protect them from harmful content and help them become critical consumers.
“As a member of this panel pointed out, if a child drinks a whole bottle of whisky in the family home, we would question why his or her parents did not prevent this from happening.”
An accompanying online poll of 436 parents of children aged 11-16 conducted for Barnardo's by YouGov suggested fewer than one in five (18%) thought their child had seen pornography or other harmful sexual content online.
This might be over-optimistic as research for the Children's Commissioner for England suggested two in five children that age had seen explicit content by design or accident.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the parents in the new poll felt confident they knew what their child was doing online.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “High quality sex and relationship education is a vital part of preparing young people for life in modern Britain, helping them make informed choices and stay safe.
“There are a range of resources available for teachers to help teach the importance of building healthy relationships, including new guidance on consent from the PSHE Association.
“Sex and relationship education is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools, and we expect academies to teach it as part of a broad and balanced curriculum.”
Project 639 hopes to save people from sex-trafficking
by Beth Alexander
JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In an effort to stop sex-trafficking, one organization is reaching out to the victims and meeting them face to face.
Tyler and Kristi James lead Project 639 and believe that the sex-trafficking problem cannot be fixed without knowing all of the problem.
“It says in all their suffering, he also suffered and he personally rescued them.”
That's the bible verse that inspires Kristi and Tyler James to keep going everyday despite some of the things they've seen.
The couple started working through their church, Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon and have received training for working with sex-trafficking victims from other groups.
“We focus on online ads. So we search online and find the victims that are being sold online and that's our focus. Well go contact them and ask if they're ok with us bringing some donated items and take them out,” said K. James.
Kristi starts where most people do when looking for a sex worker … online.
After making contact, she arranges to meet them, with a group of other women; dropping off supplies, sometimes taking food and praying with the workers.
“We want them to know they're not forgotten. It's not just about dropping off supplies,” said K. James.
Kristi says they are most concerned about bringing the victims to Christ.
She hopes fulfilling material needs leads to fulfilling spiritual ones.
“There's not a lot of success of people walking away from this lifestyle. So and ultimately, our ultimate goal is the salvation of a soul,” said T. James.
The group most often works with women but have worked with men and do collect clothes for the victims' children.
“In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.”
This is just one example of organizations across the country hoping to stop sex-trafficking.
In 2014, Governor Phil Bryant created a human-trafficking task force.
Human-trafficking is referred to as a modern day form of slavery that preys on women, children and the poor.
Tattoo helps sex trafficking victim begin to find herself, freedom again
by Dan Rascon
A Salt Lake County woman who was allegedly kidnapped, beaten, sexually assaulted, had her head shaved and was forced to get a tattoo said she finally feels somewhat whole again. That's because her tattoo which read, "Property of Matt D. Lyon" is finally covered up.
"It's amazing to be able to feel like a person again," said Gloria Roberts, 32, at Oni Tattoo shop in Salt Lake City after getting a cover up tattoo.
"Whenever I saw it I would break down or it was a trigger, I would have a flashback. It was a constant reminder of what I went through and I was nothing."
According to charging documents from Cochise County in Arizona, Matt D. Lyon is charged with 14 counts, which include all the above along with sex trafficking, which Roberts believes was Lyon's underlying motive.
"We were 20 miles from the border of Mexico. The only assumption I have, he was going to beat me down until I was nothing. And then sell me over the border as a sex slave."
Roberts and Lyons met online in May. A few weeks into it, Roberts said Lyons snapped and then started to threaten to kill her and her 12-year-old daughter if she did not obey his commands, including driving down to Arizona to meet him. According to the probable-cause statement on June 3, Roberts drove to Arizona and while on the way got the tattoo which she said he told her to get. She said she was too scared to call the police because she said Lyons had surveillance on her.
"I can't answer why I didn't do it. I was terrified and I really believe what I was told that he would kill me and he would hurt my family."
When she arrived, that's when she said the nightmare began. She said she was constantly beaten and ridiculed and raped.
"I was assaulted, tortured for days. I was shaved bald," said Roberts. "There were objects involved, there were fists. There were physical restraints."
Several days into it Roberts managed to message a co-worker who called the police. She said she's going public to send out a word of warning to others.
"I just want to help educate everyone else that this happens. This is a real thing. Nobody knows about this stuff. It's not talked about it's not told. It's sad. It's becoming such a huge issue. It's a growing industry with these people. Adults are becoming easier targets."
After hearing about what happened, Greg Romero with Oni Tattoo says he couldn't help but want to do a cover up tattoo for Roberts for free.
"A human is not property. If I buy a car that is my property or I buy my house. But a human should not be a property of someone else," said Romero.
Roberts said the cover up tattoo has given her a new sense of freedom.
"I have left my house and gone out. I have integrated back to society a little bit. I've seen some old friends," said Roberts. "I've been able to go grocery shopping for the first time. It's amazing to be able to feel like a person again."
Roberts said she has set up a go fund me account to help donate to some of the services she received to help her.
Texas Nonprofit Works to Fight Sex Trafficking of Boys
by Merrill Hope
Tasha Meyer hopes to change a perception about the sex trafficking of minors in Texas, largely thought of as primarily happening to girls, but it also occurs with boys.
“We want to bring awareness to the public that it happens to boys, too,” Meyer told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview.
Meyer, the mother of three young children, helms Liberty Task Force, a non-profit, grassroots organization located in East Texas which she founded in 2012. The fledgling group's four-person core team advocates for sex trafficked and at-risk boys, who often come from the foster care system. They offer these youths hands-on educational and restorative counseling tools in a Christian faith-based environment designed to help them overcome traumatic sexual victimization.
In 2012, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported 67 percent of children used in sex trafficking that year were in social services or foster care when they ran away. One year later, they noted 1 in 7 endangered runaways were likely used in child sex trafficking.
However, sex trafficking of boys is “vastly underreported,” according to And Boys Too, a 2013 white paper by End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA). In 2008, John Jay College and the Center for Court Innovation's study The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City estimated as many as 50 percent of sexually exploited children in the United States were boys.
Meyer's calling to this noble cause came after hearing Christine Caine, co-founder of A21, the anti-human trafficking non-profit organization. She told Breitbart Texas that Caine spoke at her native Illinois church. “When I heard that slavery still exists in the world today I knew that was what I had to be involved in.”
The deeply spiritual Meyer and her husband uprooted from their Midwestern home in 2011. They landed in Tyler, Texas, although, she admitted, “I didn't know why yet.”
Meyer researched sex trafficking. She learned from Children at Risk's 2009 report, The State of Human Trafficking in Texas the state was considered the epicenter of human trafficking in the U.S., attributed to the numerous interstate highways, international airports, bus stations, strip clubs, massage parlors, brothels, modeling studios, conventions, major sporting events, truck stops, and other entertainment venues. Children at Risk also called Texas a hotspot for domestic human trafficking because cities like Dallas, Houston, and Austin had many runaway and homeless youth. What continued to stand out to Meyer was how many boys were affected.
Presently, Liberty Task Force works with 10-20 boys each month in their “We are Warriors,” God-based mentoring program for these male minors ages 6-17. She told Breitbart Texas they conduct the program in a Tyler foster shelter. They also offer a Biblically-centered behavior modification “Conquer” series at an area church. This program intends to help adult males kick pornography, often a key component in child sex trafficking. Meyer said they plan to expand this program into the local juvenile detention center.
“Our work with male youth and adult men is to prevent them from becoming perpetrators. This is a big deal to us because it's the only way to end sex trafficking,” she stated.
Liberty Task Force partners with Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), which rescues child sex trafficking victims around the world. OUR was founded by former CIA and DHS agent Tim Ballard. The two organizations are working together on a sex trafficking sting headed up by Liberty Task Force board member Larry Hunt, a criminal investigator with the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office.
“Bags for Boys” is an online fundraiser that allows the non-profit to buy sturdy carry-bags that hold these youngsters personal items. Meyer explained foster children often leave a home with their belongings in a trash bag. Liberty Task Force fills the colorful material sacks with sanitary items, blankets, small toys, and a Bible. Meyer stated they give these bags to foster boys at the homeless shelter.
Liberty Task Force hopes to grow. One of their goals is to establish Liberty House, a safe house where sex trafficked and at-risk foster boys can receive therapeutic, holistic treatment and care.