From the Department of Homeland Security
Six Years of Combatting Human Trafficking Together
by Maria M. Odom
This month, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Blue Campaign is marking an important milestone - six years of work to combat human trafficking in the United States. Since 2010, the Blue Campaign has served as the unified voice for the Department's efforts to combat human trafficking.
Throughout the past year, we have made significant strides in our efforts to raise public consciousness of human trafficking across the United States, through law enforcement trainings, public awareness materials, and resources for both government and private sector partners.
The Blue Campaign recently expanded our suite of tools and resources. In the coming year, we plan to release a new Public Service Announcement, as well as new awareness materials depicting the different types of human trafficking and its many victims in communities across the United States.
In the past year, the Blue Campaign has greatly increased the number of people who can recognize the signs of human trafficking through training and educational materials. For the first time, the DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) included human trafficking awareness training in its basic training courses for over 90 federal law enforcement agencies. We also introduced online awareness materials for Native American communities, DHS employees, and different industries; and trained hundreds of airline personnel through the Blue Lightning Initiative. Through our train-the-trainer programs, we hope to reach even more people in the coming year.
The Blue Campaign is proud to stand alongside many others in this fight, because no one combats human trafficking alone. In the past year, we entered nine formal partnerships with the North Dakota Public Health Association; the Houston Mayor's Office; the Birmingham, Alabama Mayor's Office; the California Hotel and Lodging Association; the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission; the D.C. Office of Human Rights; and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General. In the coming year, we hope to add even more partners that can help spread awareness across the country and increase the number of individuals, families, and communities across the nation who have learned to recognize and report human trafficking.
Six years in, we have made great strides in our efforts to raise public awareness and identify and rescue more victims of trafficking. But we need your help. To learn more about the Blue Campaign and to get involved, visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign
NY lawmaker: Pokemon Go players easy prey for sex offenders
by The Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A state lawmaker in New York says the wildly popular smartphone game Pokemon Go could inadvertently give sexual predators easy access to new prey.
To ensure that doesn't happen, the state should prohibit higher-level sex offenders from being able to play the game, and others like it, Sen. Jeffrey Klein said. The Bronx Democrat also is proposing requiring game manufacturers to take steps to ensure the virtual Pokemon creatures don't pop up near the homes of sexual offenders.
"While children believe they are out to catch a Pokemon, what might really be lurking could be a predator instead of a Pikachu," Klein said, referring to a type of Pokemon creature. "We want our children to have safe fun, but it makes no sense at all to give dangerous sexual predators a virtual road map to where our children congregate."
Users playing Pokemon Go roam through the physical world searching for virtual Pokemon creatures. The game also allows players to attract other users using so-called "lures."
Klein said the state already prohibits high-level offenders from using social media, and said it makes sense to prohibit them from playing a game that could easily be used for malicious purposes.
In addition, Klein's proposal would require game makers to cross reference the state's sexual offender registry to automatically delete any Pokemon creatures near the residence of an offender.
An investigation by the senator's office found several instances of Pokemon creatures near the homes of sex offenders, he said.
He predicted the game is only the first of a wave of similar augmented reality games.
A message seeking comment from the game's manufacturers was not immediately returned Friday.
ACE course teaches adults how to overcome trauma
by Travis M. Whitehead
HARLINGEN — What happened wasn't your fault.
ACE Overcomers assures people who take their course they didn't deserve the trauma dealt them when they were children. Through no fault of their own, they must also deal with the effects of that trauma on their adult lives.
People who've survived childhood trauma are often prone to sudden outbursts of rage or crying, and they can't figure out how to stop it. Jamie Graham teaches an ACE Overcomers class each Thursday to show adults how to “regulate” their behavior.
It's a long process, not something to be achieved overnight.
“We focus on the here and now, not in the past,” said Graham, who teaches the 12-session course, a faith-based approach combining science with biblical principles.
“It's more about, ‘I don't know why I feel this way,' or ‘Why did I act that way?'” said Graham, herself a victor over childhood trauma.
ACE, Adverse Childhood Experiences, refers to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study explored the long-term effects of childhood trauma, ranging from verbal abuse to sexual abuse. These adverse experiences have been linked to poor health, reduced potential and early death.
It also carries over into people's behavior. Survivors may be prone to sudden outbursts of anger, wreaking havoc on their social lives, their personal lives and their professions. Others may experience sudden fits of crying.
ACE Overcomers is a national organization. Locally, the class is part of the Blue Sunday Wings Program which is an outreach to adults who suffered childhood trauma.
Janet Magee, founder of Blue Sunday Child Abuse Prevention, said most people who attend ACE classes are young men and women. Many have been in detention facilities or juvenile boot camp.
“Now we know why,” she said with a frustrated chuckle.
The free class, which Graham teaches each Thursday at the Friendly Neighborhood Health Clinic at 617 E. Loop 499, uses a workbook and video. Attendees learn how trauma from their past causes them to erupt in fits of anger or crying.
ACE Overcomers shows people that, as victors, they can control their reactions. There are tools they can use to dispose of the switches which set off those reactions.
Still, the damage could be so deep it requires more than replacing the switches. The whole house must be rewired. The inhabitants can't fix it themselves. They have to call an electrician to rewire the whole electrical system so the lights will come on when they're supposed to and, just as important, not turn on unless you deliberately hit the switch.
This extensive rewiring traces back to the lousy job someone did on the house as it was being built. Either the electrician was on drugs, or he'd fallen on his head, or maybe he wasn't even certified at all. He just decided to do the wiring himself because he knew a little about it.
ACE Overcomers tells adult survivors the adults of their childhood had no right to beat them, to get right in their faces and scream obscenities, or touch them without permission.
Nor do those same abusers have the right to follow them into their adulthood and be the trigger-happy demons flipping their switches, sending them into fits of rage. They don't have the right to take that kind of power and jeopardize jobs and relationships. ACE Overcomers shows survivors how to short out that ticking bomb and defuse it — permanently.
The program has touched the lives of about 300 people since it began about a year ago.
There's one statement that nearly every person attending the class has been told.
“Just get over it.”
Thrown against a wall, screamed at, someone coming into your room at night.
“Just get over it.”
Such a dismissive statement in itself might be considered a trigger, setting off memories of adults who had given no consideration to a child's plight. The victim may find himself repeatedly invalidated by statements which make no reference to such a conclusion. In his troubled mind, he loads seemingly innocent comments with a tangled thread of imaginary accusations which alienate those around him.
Adults, agencies failed Alyssa Beck
by Tessa Duvall
Throughout her ordeal as a victim of human trafficking, Alyssa Beck was failed repeatedly by government agencies that had the power to help her. Instead, they ignored, labeled and blamed her.
Beck encountered a lack of understanding and awareness around human trafficking and what she had endured during her five years in and out of juvenile detention centers, foster care and adult jail. State and local agencies labeled her “promiscuous” and focused on her drug addiction and the crimes she had committed. Her trafficking was treated as an afterthought.
Widespread state reforms have since been passed to help victims of sexual exploitation like that which Beck endured, and government agencies have beefed up their training and responses for these victims. But the system today is not so airtight that what happened to Beck couldn't happen again.
When Beck, now 21, reflects on those years of her life, she readily concedes she didn't always make the right decisions and she holds herself accountable for that. She doesn't put the blame entirely on other people.
But, Beck wonders, where was the guidance from the adults in her life?
Why didn't someone, anyone, step up to help her? Like the first police officer who arrested her when she ran away. Or a teacher she told about struggles in her life. Or the probation officers who should have realized she was a victim of severe trauma.
“If they were doing their jobs, that was a place they could have intervened and helped me,” she said. “There were so many times where someone could have intervened and something could have changed. But it didn't. But they didn't.”
She said a little understanding could have gone a long way.
“No one helped me,” she said, her arms flung out wide. “Where was the help?”
-- ‘Didn't know where to go' --
Beck's legal troubles began in June 2009, when she was just 14 years old. She had run away. Her parents called the police. A Jacksonville Beach police officer found her, and she gave a fake name.
Heather Beck, Alyssa Beck's mother, said the officer recommended she have her daughter arrested because there would be additional resources for her once she was in the juvenile justice system. And so, exasperated, she did.
“At that point I was probably so desperate for services that it probably sounded like a really good option,” Heather Beck said. “We didn't really have the money to put her into any kind of upscale rehab. I didn't even know what kind of drug rehabs were around. I didn't know if drugs were the main issue. I just didn't know where to go.”
Shannon Schott, Alyssa Beck's attorney, said she sees this well-meaning mistake often in juvenile cases.
“The parents are like, ‘We just want them to get help,'” she said. “And we have to explain to them that, ‘Now that the police are involved and your child has been arrested, that's not necessarily what they're going to get; they're going to be punished.'
“And a lot of parents don't realize we no longer live in the world of Mayberry where the sheriff is going to come give you a stern talking-to. It's more, ‘Your child will be held accountable.'”
She added: “It's not a good practice.”
Alyssa Beck was placed on probation, a circumstance that would impact her future run-ins with police.
In hindsight, both mother and daughter wish they had been offered some type of counseling to help the family. They both describe their strong, loving relationship and how counseling has helped them.
“She never left my side,” Alyssa Beck said. “Never, ever.”
THE JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF'S OFFICE
-- Arrested because of warrant --
With Beck's problems unresolved, she continued to do what she'd done before: run away.
But because she was on probation, her running was no longer just a teenager acting out — it was a matter for the courts. Police treated her as a suspect first and a victim second.
She ran from home. She ran from rehab, this time with a girl already caught in the sex trade, which in turn led to Beck using heavier drugs and being trafficked for the first time by Ian Sean Gordon at age 15.
She didn't know how long Gordon held her or fully understand what had been done to her, but she escaped and called her mother to come get her. She hadn't bathed in days. There was blood on her clothes. She had no shoes.
“And I told her, ‘Mom, I was raped. We need to call the police.' I knew I needed to call the police. I wanted their help. I knew I really wanted help. So she brought me to the police station and instead of getting help, I got arrested.”
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Detective Richard Trew said Beck was arrested because she was under a custody order, the juvenile equivalent of an arrest warrant.
“When Alyssa was arrested on the pickup order, Alyssa asked to be detained, she didn't want back out there with this guy,” Trew said. “She knew she had an issue with drugs. She had run away. Most of this seems to hinge on being a runaway and problems at home, and in this particular case, she asked to be detained.”
Beck said she wanted to be away from her trafficker, but detention shouldn't have been the best option.
“After being severely trafficked, who would want to be incarcerated?” she said.
In its four pages of policy regarding human trafficking, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office acknowledges there is “a great likelihood that the officer will be responding to another crime” such as, robbery, fraud or battery when they encounter a suspected victim.
The policy also stipulates that “when appropriate, officers are directed to treat sexually exploited juveniles as victims and to not arrest these juveniles for participating in prostitution and other related crimes that are a component of human trafficking.”
Trew said the discretion is primarily used by him and his partner, both officers on the local anti-trafficking task force, after other officers notify them of suspicion of trafficking. In instances where the suspected victim also has charges, they work with the State Attorney's Office, Trew said.
Trew credits improved training at the police academy for officers now having a better understanding of trafficking and “getting out of the old-school image where a prostitute is a prostitute.”
Another state reform enacted this year prohibits anyone under 18 being charged with prostitution.
DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE
-- Lockup and treatment --
Beck spent more of age 15 as a prisoner — to her trafficker, then to the justice system — than free. After a two-month wait spent in the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center, she was assigned for seven months to a residential program in Central Florida.
That lockup focused on her substance abuse problems, using the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous style of counseling, Beck said.
Schott said, “No one understood she was so traumatized. It was always, ‘She needs drug treatment; she's an addict.'”
Beck said, “the drugs are what I used (to cope). … Everyone missed it! But no one understood trafficking, the effects of trafficking.”
Bethany Gilot, human trafficking director for the Department of Juvenile Justice, said in instances of dual issues, such as substance abuse and trauma from trafficking, substance abuse tends to take precedence because survivors need to be sober enough to begin to address their other problems. But many programs can treat both at once, she said. A multidisciplinary team staffing that included DJJ and the Department of Children and Families would discuss the best option for a child victim.
The passage of the state's Safe Harbor Act in 2012, which allows the state to treat victims of human trafficking like victims instead of criminals, prompted agencies across the state to craft protocol to identify and help victims. The new law was the big change that prompted DJJ to take a closer look at human trafficking.
In 2012-13, the department implemented a trafficking-screening tool pilot at three high-volume assessment centers: Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange counties. It was the first major initiative the department undertook to make sure it could identify the victims coming through the system, Gilot said.
The department soon learned several things: Its tool was effective at screening for girls, but not boys. It was better at identifying victims of sex trafficking than labor trafficking. And most victims of sex trafficking wouldn't have prostitution charges.
From 2009 to 2013, only 3 percent of suspected human trafficking victims entered the juvenile justice system on prostitution charges, according to DJJ; they were primarily charged with battery or theft.
“If we were only looking at kids coming in on prostitution charges, we would have missed a good portion of the population,” Gilot said.
Of the children who were later identified as victims, Gilot said, only 6 percent voluntarily disclosed they had been victimized.
“It was just a reminder that we need to be asking these questions because they're not just going to come out and saying ‘hey, I'm a human trafficking victim.' It's really important for us to be asking those targeted questions so we can identify easier.”
Now the department screens all children, regardless of gender, for sexual and labor trafficking at intake.
In an August 2011 Department of Juvenile Justice report, completed after Beck caught new charges of petty theft and grand theft, the report's author describes her as “promiscuous.” The report repeatedly describes Beck's victimization as being an “incident” of or being “exposed” to trafficking.
“Alyssa's drug use has led to her promiscuous behavior,” the report states. “She has historical issues with a sexually traumatizing incident that could be contributing to this behavior.”
The writer recommends long-term counseling for Beck to “address past hurts and poor decisions she has made.”
The Department of Juvenile Justice declined to discuss any case specifically, but spoke generally about how a victim's relationships are evaluated during screening.
The screening tool asks about a history of sexual abuse as well as romantic relationships. Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend? How old is he or she? What is your relationship like? While learning that a young woman was spending a lot of time with young men would be a red flag items if disclosed, the screener does not directly ask about consensual sex.
Beck had never read or heard anything written in the report prior to a May meeting with Schott and The Times-Union.
“It sounds terrible,” she said of being labeled promiscuous.
“It's really hard. I've never heard of that report before so hearing [Schott] say the word ‘promiscuous' really hurts my feelings,” she said, tears welling in her eyes, “because I wasn't. I wanted to change. I wanted to be a good kid. I wanted help. And no one gave it to me.”
During multiple interviews over many hours it was the only time she cried.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
-- Pimps recruiting at group homes --
Beck's second trafficker lured her back into the sex trade from a place intended to keep her safe.
She was in foster care and living at a group home in the Spring Park area when she met Gregory Hodge. She said he immediately saw her weakness and soon convinced her to run away with him. She was awaiting sentencing on theft charges, so she went.
The Department of Children and Families removed Beck from her parents' home in March 2011 at the insistence of the FBI, and she was placed in a foster home, and then group homes.
Schott said traffickers and pimps target this particular facility because they know it's where they can find vulnerable girls.
“That really bothered me when I found that out,” Schott said. “Yes, she ran away and this happened and she was trafficked again, and that's not good because she never should have gotten in the car with him. But they're literally cherry-picking girls. What the hell is DCF doing?”
State Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll said that until a few years ago, group home staffers weren't trained how to recognize potential safety threats, like traffickers. They work extensively with the kids in the homes to understand avoiding dangerous situations, something they never did in the past, he said.
“But that's more difficult for us because group homes are typically in neighborhoods that kids were removed from. … Folks know where they're at and they don't have the level of security [that safe houses do],” Carroll said. “So we have to be cautious because we know that they certainly are recruiting.”
DCF reports focused more on Beck's actions than the underlying problems causing those actions. Though her history of trafficking was well known, the DCF also labeled Beck “promiscuous” and homed in on her substance abuse instead of her trauma.
A trauma therapist cited in the report told the author that “they have been making progress in understanding as to how Alyssa's lifestyle and drug use set her up for the victimization that she had endured.”
The assessment recommended individual counseling, a group home and continued drug counseling. There was no mention of therapy for Beck's trauma.
Carroll, who did not speak specifically about Beck's case, said the language the department uses needs to “empathize that these kids really are victims.”
“We have to understand what the risk behaviors are for sure, but really if we're going to make progress, we have to understand the trauma they experienced because [the behavior is] just the symptom. It's not the root cause.”
STATE ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
-- ‘Beck was heavily involved' --
Despite the best efforts of Beck's attorneys, prosecutors decided to charge Beck as an adult for her role in the attack on Hodge, her second trafficker.
Nothing could have kept Beck out of adult court, Schott said.
“I just don't think [State Attorney] Angela [Corey] was swayed by it,” Schott said. “Angela is a prosecutor through and through. She only sees the crime.”
Assistant State Attorney Dan Skinner said the crimes Beck was charged with were “very, very serious crimes” — six felonies, including kidnapping, false imprisonment and carjacking — and an 8-year-old girl was among the victims.
“Ms. Beck was heavily involved, and if anything, was one of the ones who helped set up this very serious line of crimes that occurred that day,” Skinner said.
Rob Mason, head of the juvenile division in the Public Defender's Office, remembers the fight against the prosecutor's decision to charge Beck as an adult. Even though she was cooperating with federal prosecutors as a witness against her traffickers, Mason was frustrated the State Attorney's Office couldn't be talked out of proceeding with adult charges against Beck.
“I didn't think they considered it mitigating circumstances at the level I thought it should be,” he said, adding that it's always disappointing when mitigation falls on deaf ears.
Skinner disagreed. He said prosecutors could have sought minimum mandatory sentencing, but did not because of her mitigation and her cooperation in prosecuting her co-defendants. One of them, Alex Wingard, received life in prison.
“We didn't even ask for prison when we very well could have at her sentencing. We could have asked for county jail at her sentencing,” Skinner said. “We completely deferred to Judge [Mallory] Cooper's wise legal decision regarding an appropriate sentence.”
Schott says the best way to handle Beck's felony charges would have been by keeping her in juvenile court and requiring intensive counseling. She says at the time, the Department of Juvenile Justice didn't have the resources to adequately treat Beck and that officials there were quick to label it a simple drug problem without fully evaluating her underlying issues.
What Beck had been through was “the most horrific crime,” Schott said, and the lasting effects of it should have been given more weight when judging her behavior.
“We sit here, the community, we say, ‘This is so terrible,'” Schott said. “Then a year later we say, ‘That was so long ago. Get your life together.'”
Rachel Heidenberg, a public defender who handles juvenile cases of trafficking victims but who was not involved in Beck's case, said having a client who was a victim makes the cases “very delicate” to handle. She said she tries to connect them with services, and prefers a safe home placement over residential commitment, but it's not easy.
These cases tend to last longer, too, Heidenberg said. “It's usually because I'm trying to get people to understand that [victims] shouldn't go to jail.”
Skinner said the State Attorney's Office handles cases in which the defendant was also a trafficking victim on a case-by-case basis. In cases where the crimes are minor, prosecutors may drop charges if the defendant receives treatment.
Ultimately, Beck was sentenced to two years of probation. Because adjudication was withheld, she is not a convicted felon.
What has changed?
All signs point to the fact the state of Florida is doing more to help victims than it was just a few years ago.
The Florida Safe Harbor Act, written to protect sexually exploited children, prompted agencies across the state — child welfare, juvenile justice, law enforcement and more — to craft and implement policies to handle human trafficking, to better identify and serve victims and train their staff members about trafficking. In some instances, agencies had little to no framework for this.
Lawanda Ravoira, CEO of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center and longtime advocate for girls, said state lawmakers got it right with Safe Harbor. But, without the money and service network in place to support it, “we have a really good law that we're not able to actually implement.”
This is where the Open Doors Network, approved and funded by the state this past legislative session, comes in. Open Doors, administered by nonprofit Voices for Florida, will aim to standardize the response to victims of human trafficking so they all get help, no matter how they are identified or where they are in the state.
Linda Alexionok, president of Voices for Florida, said the Legislature approved $500,000 in one-time general revenue money for Open Doors, and Voices has also been approved to apply for nearly $2.6 million of federal Victims of Crime Act grants.
“We had some good things going on,” Alexionok said of Florida prior to Open Doors, “but what we didn't have was an actual one-stop system of care that will ensure protocols are the same no matter where a victim is receiving services.”
What more is there to do?
Alexionok said she will continue to push for financial support for Open Doors from legislators, and will advocate for it to become a recurring line item in the future.
Carroll, the DCF secretary, said he wants to see Open Doors become an umbrella organization to provide consistency for survivors around the state. He said it is crucial to make sure traumatized children get treatment, even if they're not yet exhibiting symptoms.
“We have this notion that, ‘kids are resilient, they're tough, they'll get over it and they don't seem to be having any problems now,'” Carroll said. “While that may be true, when that 7-year-old becomes a 12-year-old and those issues have manifested themselves, they start acting in a way that becomes risky to them.”
Carroll said “for us, if we're ever going to move this upstream, it's about understanding these kids are traumatized. … We have to do a better job serving these kids, dealing with these issues.”
Ravoira said it's also time to look more at prevention and addressing the root problem of johns and traffickers who are buying and selling children for sex.
“My hope would be that we can move to where we don't have victims,” Ravoira said. “But we've got to stop the demand. And how are we socializing our boys? How are we defining our girls as commodities … how are we defining our children as commodities? So we have got to have that conversation.”
Trew, the detective, said the task force also works on the demand side of the issue, and doesn't shy away from going after johns. But unfortunately, he said, trafficking is such a money-maker that when one pimp goes down, another replaces him.
Beck said people are more understanding today than they were when she was a victim, but it bothers her that there's still so far left to go.
“Wake up. Open your eyes. Watch the news,” she said. “And that still makes me upset. Then I question myself. What are we not doing? Why don't people know?”
Ravoira said the way the juvenile justice and child welfare systems called Beck's victimization an “incident” of trafficking and labeled her as a “promiscuous” teen was the common response to victims of sex trafficking. This “shame and blame,” she said, puts the responsibility on the child instead of the rapists.
Schott, Beck's attorney now in private practice, said parents still believe the juvenile justice system will remedy their child's behavior. She sees caseworkers who go into the job for the right reasons, but get overworked and desensitized to trauma. She sees a prosecutor who needs to understand that kids will be kids and “not all crimes are created equal.”
Heidenberg, the juvenile defender, said in her limited time working with clients who have been trafficked, she's seen it take a long time to get a child accepted to a safe home and find a bed for them. In some instances, the homes may turn a girl away or not have space.
“It's frustrating for me because I feel like the intent of the statute was that these victims receive help, but there's not really a remedy if there's no beds available or all six of the Safe Harbor homes say no — then where do they receive those services?” she said.
“What do you do when the Safe Harbor home says ‘no thanks'?”
For many clients Heidenberg sees, it's not often their first brush with trouble. But with the right services, things like running away, family issues and substance abuse could be resolved.
“We shouldn't be locking up these children who were victims; we should be going after the people who made them victims,” she said. “Putting a victim in jail isn't making the community safer. Putting the perpetrator, the trafficker, out of the community is what's going to make the child safer.”
Could it happen again?
When Beck advocates for survivors of human trafficking in Tallahassee or elsewhere, she said she always concludes the same way:
“‘It's by luck that I'm standing in front of you today,'” she tells lawmakers. “‘We need to eliminate luck from the equation because not every girl will be lucky.'
“I was lucky. It shouldn't have taken five years for me to receive healing. It shouldn't have taken all this failure from the system. … It shouldn't have taken for them to fail me for people to realize that I needed help.”
Ravoira, who leads the organization where Beck now works, agreed about the role of chance in recovering from such trauma.
“I think there's still a lot of luck in who answers the phone or who is doing the intervention,” Ravoira said. Because of that, she said, it's essential that agencies make comprehensive training about human trafficking mandatory for anyone interacting with kids.
Alexionok said advocates and the citizenry alike need to call for meaningful action.
“Because we cannot have one more Alyssa.”
Advocates seek help for sex trafficking victims
by Christian M. Wade
BOSTON -- Prostitution, drug abuse and other charges could be erased from the records of sex trafficking victims in a move that advocates say will help young women who've been enslaved to reclaim their lives.
Expunging criminal records would allow sex trafficking victims access to resources -- such as job training and certain addiction treatment programs -- not open to people with a criminal past.
"These are people who have been subjected to human trafficking, physical harm and exploitation, so it makes perfect sense to allow them to try to expunge their records and give the court all the facts," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, a primary sponsor of a bill recently approved by the state Senate.
The measure, which requires approval by the House of Representatives and Gov. Charlie Baker, also extends the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits against sex traffickers to 10 years.
"You have people who have been victimized and are trying to get their lives together and need more time to bring a civil case," said Tarr.
Supporters of the legislation include the New England Trafficking Aftercare Coalition, whose members include safe houses and victim advocacy groups.
The Massachusetts Coalition to End Human Trafficking -- a Boston-based alliance of nonprofit leaders, community activists and faith groups -- backs the bill, as well.
Stephanie Clark, executive director of Amirah Inc., a North Shore safe house for sex trafficking survivors, said many who seek refuge come out of the criminal justice system with substance abuse problems and mental health issues.
"They're dealing with addiction recovery issues, emotional trauma and host of other issues," said Clark, who works with several young women at an undisclosed location.
Clark said there is a lack of funding and services for the victims, despite attention given the issue by state and federal officials.
"We get an average of three phone calls a week from providers seeking beds for young women who've ended up in emergency rooms or prison, or who've been picked up by law enforcement," she said.
Overall, the number of victims rescued from brothels in New England has tripled in the past few years -- to 183 women and girls last year, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The government describes sex trafficking as a “modern-day form of slavery."
More than 1,300 instances of human trafficking have been reported in Massachusetts since 2007, mostly involving adult women, according to the nonprofit National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
The International Labor Organization estimates there are more than 20 million human trafficking victims worldwide.
Clark said while much attention is focused on foreign sex-trafficking rings, the women she sees are typically native New Englanders.
State officials have also stepped up efforts to arrest and prosecute individuals responsible for sex trafficking.
In April, Lt. Gov. Karen Polito announced a new state police unit that will investigate human trafficking involving children under 18. The four-person team also supports local police in smaller investigations.
Attorney General Maura Healey's office has stepped up efforts against the sex trade. In April, the office announced the indictments of several people tied to what prosecutors said were human trafficking rings operating throughout the state, including the North Shore.
Healey's office said young women in the sex trafficking rings were forced to perform sexual acts and were never compensated.
Lawmakers are debating several other bills to strengthen laws against human trafficking.
One calls for the licensing and regulation of "body work therapy" shops that law enforcement officials say are often a front for prostitution rings.
Such businesses proliferate under a legal loophole. The proposed bill would allow unannounced inspections, prohibit sexual activity and provocative advertising, and require therapists to be certified and "properly clothed."
"I honestly didn't know how prevalent this is in our communities and how many minors were being trafficked until this came up for debate," said Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, who supports tougher laws to protect victims. "It's like an invisible part of our society.
"These are vulnerable young women who fall into these situations and often can't find a way out," she said.
The state has also implemented a new law, signed by former Gov. Deval Patrick in 2014, that treats child victims of sex trafficking as child abuse victims, which keeps prostitution charges from being filed against them.
Until recently, organizers of human-trafficking rings hid behind the fact that their young charges weren't considered as victims by the state, said Daniel Bennett, secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, at a briefing.
"We were treating them as part of the overall problem," he said.
Christian Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for the North of Boston Media Group's newspapers and websites.
Specially trained nurses help victims of sexual assault
by Laura Garcia
call usually comes during dinner on Sundays or at the family Christmas party.
When the phone rings, Jennifer Mumphord knows it's usually because someone has been hurt.
For the past 10 years, she has worked part time, collecting the forensic evidence needed to put sexual offenders behind bars.
"My parents know what I do, and they are very very proud," she said. "But it's not the kind of job you promote."
Some of her family members might not realize what she does when she gets called back to work.
Mumphord is one of two sexual assault nurse examiners in the Crossroads.
A 2013 Texas law mandates that all hospitals with emergency rooms have doctors and nurses trained in basic forensic evidence collection. But the law also requires patients have the choice to go to medical facilities with sexual assault nurse examiners.
There is a 96-hour window to consider. However, most prosecutors prefer evidence is collected by a certified nurse examiner because they will have experience as an expert witness in court.
When the two nurses in the region are at their regular full-time jobs, or if they happen to be out of town, victims are strongly encouraged to have an exam in Corpus Christi or San Antonio.
The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, programs in those cities are staffed so that exams can be done 24/7.
There's a national shortage of forensic nurses who are trained to conduct medical exams on sexual assault victims.
According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, a study looking at six states revealed there are too few sexual assault nurse examiners to adequately cover the need for sexual assault exams, especially in rural areas.
Still, 120 exams were performed last year by Mumphord at DeTar Hospital North and Leslie Kallus at Citizens Medical Center.
"We do a lot fewer cases now. I think it's because people just really don't know the service is out there," Mumphord said.
But another reason is the workload can be time-consuming in addition to a full-time job and family obligations.
"We're getting older," she said. "I'm a grandma now."
Mumphord, 52, works as a full-time labor and delivery nurse at DeTar and a lactation consultant for nursing mothers. On Friday, after she clocked out for the week, she drove to Dallas to visit one of her six daughters.
She said she hoped more nurses would go through the certification process, but she understands it's a lot to ask.
"Just the other day I did four cases in one day," Mumphord said. "You can go a month without doing a case and then boom - you do cases every day."
Each exam could take the nurse four to six hours to complete.
Mumphord has a private workspace provided by the hospital to perform the exams.
During a recent sexual assault advocate training provided by Mid-Coast Family Services, Mumphord led a group of advocates from area agencies through the examination process.
She told them she prefers they didn't use the term "rape kit" because it has a negative connotation.
Nurses do what they can to avoid the child or adult patient feeling re-victimized.
Part of that training is asking for details about the assault or abuse without judgment.
During the medical exam, Mumphord uses a special camera to document any physical trauma and preserves evidence found on the victim's body.
She told the group that she's done exams on victims as young as 3 months up to 86 years old.
If the patient needs to be seen by a doctor, Dr. Dana Gonzalez serves as the program's medical director.
Any follow-up exams will be done at the Victoria Women's Clinic where Gonzalez is an OB-GYN and partner.
Gonzalez said she signs off on the exam reports on a weekly basis.
She said more nurses are needed in the progam.
"If we could do that, it would be better," she said. "It's tough for them. It gets taxing. It's hard to even read it (an exam report)."
In Texas, there are 308 individuals with active Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner certifications.
But that number doesn't reflect how many nurses may still have a certification yet no longer practice.
"The burn out rate is so high," Mumphord said. "And not only because it's an emotionally challenging job."
Nurses said financial barriers include having to use their own money for travel to maintain the specialized training.
"You have to be re-certified every two years," she said.
Nurses must also complete hours of continuing education on sexual assault.
This week, she received three subpoenas from neighboring counties to serve as an expert witness in court.
This added duty can take its toll, but because a forensic nurse's testimony helps the jury understand the evidence presented, it could affect the outcome of the trial.
The evidence Mumphord and Kallus collected in 2009 helped prosecutors make the case against the so-called "Twilight Rapist."
Then-Gov. Rick Perry created a task force in 2010 for the capture of the serial rapist who was targeting elderly women in the Crossroads and Central Texas.
Authorities linked Billy Joe Harris by DNA and other evidence to multiple burglaries and sexual assaults of women between the ages 65 to 91. He was convicted in several counties and is serving a life sentence in Huntsville.
That was a high-profile case that has stuck with Mumphord through the years.
"It was kind of like doing a sexual assault exam on your grandmother," she said.
Mumphord said she helps victims in this role for personal reasons.
"In probably 70 percent of the sexual assault nurses that do the job, it's because sexual assault has affected them or their family members," she said.
That's how she knew about the specialty, years before she saw a flier recruiting nurses for the program.
"You know, most of us want to just give back to the community what somebody gave us," she said.
So when she gets called on a case and has to miss church service again, she reminds her husband that it's her way of doing good.
"I just go, Well, that's my church," she said. "I just helped out somebody."
In Bay City, Danielle Rodriguez, 35, recently started a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program at Matagorda Regional Medical Center.
A nurse for 10 years, she was certified in December after an almost two-year process.
"It was a long, hard road," she said.
As part of the necessary training, she needed to shadow a sexual assault nurse examiner.
This meant traveling to San Antonio and Galveston, an expense that was covered by her employer, she said.
"I could not have done it without the backing of my hospital," she said. "They were wanting this program for the community."
Because she is the only forensic nurse in the area, she's also the program coordinator.
Since April, she has already seen 35 patients.
Rodriguez has even seen sexual assault patients from Calhoun County.
She hopes to eventually have two nurses and exam space has been included in the hospital's expansion plan.
The Matagorda County program has also seen support from local law enforcement and the advocacy and crisis centers.
In rural areas, using a patrol officer or two to transport a sexual assault victim was costly and took officers off the street, she said.
"For us, that was the biggest issue," she said. "Our resources were so limited."
Rodriguez works full time as a trauma nurse in the emergency room and schedules cases when necessary.
Her advice for anyone considering becoming a forensic nurse is to shadow a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
"This is definitely not going to be the thing to make you rich or famous," she said. "When the patient hugs you and thanks you, it kind of makes it worth it."
The first Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program started in Memphis, Tenn., in 1976. Eventually communities across the country adopted protocol for the effective medical treatment of victims of sexual assault or abuse.
State legislation was passed on Sept. 1,1997, and certifications were issued through the Texas Attorney General's Office beginning in 1998.
• A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, is an RN who has been specifically trained to:
• Provide comprehensive care to sexual assault survivors
• Demonstrate currency of practice in the care and treatment of patients who present with a complaint of sexual assault or abuse
• Have the ability to provide effective courtroom testimony
• Show compassion and sensitivity to survivors of sexual assault.
• To qualify for either the adult/adolescent and/or pediatric SANE certification, the nurse must be currently licensed by the Texas Board of Nursing with a minimum of two years direct contact with patients within five years of application.
• They must also complete a state approved training course designed to increase the registered nurse's knowledge regarding the role of the SANE while providing nursing care and treatment during a medical forensic examination, during courtroom testimony and as a member of the community Sexual Assault Response Team.
• The training includes a minimum of 80 hours in a classroom and then complete clinical requirements supervised by a preceptor. Depending on the specific certifications, applicants must complete 15 pelvic exams and 20 well-child exams, then 8-10 sexual assault medical forensic examinations.
• Then the nurses must complete 16 hours of in-person courtroom observation.
SOURCE: Texas Attorney General's Office
What to do if you suspect child abuse
by Rachel Browne
Reporting suspected child sexual abuse is hard but staying silent is worse.
That's the verdict from child protection experts who spoke to Fairfax Media about how to act on suspicions a child is being abused.
Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive Joe Tucci? said adults need to be open to the signs of abuse and follow their instincts.
"In a lot of cases children don't make direct disclosures," he said.
"They might say, 'This happened to a friend' as a way to test the reaction of the person they want to tell. They want to assess whether they will be believed and whether the adult will stand up for them.
"Trust your gut. If you feel that something is not right, seek out support. It is difficult but it's worse to do nothing."
Manager of the Child Wise helpline and community training Linette Harriott? said people are often reluctant to contact the authorities due to a misguided fear of breaking up a family unit.
"If you have an inkling that something is wrong, it's better to call than not call," she said.
"You don't know who else might have made a report – it could be a teacher, a doctor, a neighbour. All those accounts help child protection specialists understand the full picture. You are adding your piece of the puzzle to that picture."
The child's safety needs to be a priority, according to Cathy Kezelman?, president of advocacy group the Blue Knot Foundation.
"This is everyone's business," she said. "As a society we have moved away from the idea that the family unit is somehow a sacrosanct, closed space which we're not allowed to enter. If we believe a child is at risk, we must act."
Dr Kezelman said the onus was on all the community as children are often scared to speak up, despite improved awareness about child abuse.
"For children, there is a lot of good education in schools now about approaching a trusted adult, a teacher or a school counsellor," she said.
"When there is abuse in the home it can be very hard for a child to go forward to anyone because they are worried about breaking up the family or being punished. Often the child feels as if they are to blame."
In NSW, a number of professionals such as teachers, health care workers and police have a legal obligation to report suspected abuse.
NSW Family and Community Services Child Protection Helpline (24 hours): 132 111
Kids Helpline (24 hour service specifically for young people: 1800 551 800
Child Wise National Child Abuse Helpline: 1800 991 099
‘Disturbed' kids at city foster-care center ‘drugged' at hospital
by Susan Edelman and Rachel Petty
Dozens of kids housed in a city-run foster-care center are labeled “emotionally disturbed persons” and hauled next door to Bellevue Hospital, where some get drugs to sedate them, The Post has learned.
“We call it ‘booty juice' when they're acting out,” said a 15-year-old girl at the Nicholas Scoppetta Children's Center in Manhattan, using a slang term for medication typically shot in the buttocks to calm psychiatric patients. “Nobody likes to be sent to the hospital.”
Social workers and safety officers in the First Avenue holding pen, which is run by the Administration for Children's Services, struggle to control outbursts and talk rebellious youths into cooling down. But in the last year, at least 50 kids were “EDP'd” and taken by EMS to Bellevue's emergency rooms, internal reports show.
“They're doping them up,” an insider charged.
The Post's findings come as Mayor de Blasio — who has pledged to protect the city's most vulnerable children — fights a federal class-action lawsuit filed in Manhattan last year against ACS. It charges that children in the foster-care system suffer physical and mental abuse, and some get put on mind-numbing doses of psychiatric drugs.
ACS said it partners with Bellevue for mental-health services. “If it is determined by doctors that a child requires medication, families are consulted .?.?. Children are not medicated to sedate them, but only for medically necessary reasons,” said ACS spokeswoman Carol Caceres.
But ACS's Psychotropic Medication Unit has the power to “override” parents unwilling or unable to consent to give drugs. And experts said drugs can be administered to kids in crisis.
“If someone is so agitated and out of control that they're hurting themselves or others, they absolutely could be given an injection,” said Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist and author of “Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER.”
She said kids or adults who refuse to take oral medication may get shots of an antipsychotic such as Haldol plus sedating drugs such as Ativan and Benadryl in the arm or buttocks.
The 55-bed Children's Center houses wards of the city, from newborns to 21-year-olds. They can spend days to months in the chaotic and dangerous place.
ACS insisted the center sees “very few incidents that require the attention of the NYPD,” but incident reports document many cases of assault and vandalism.
Some kids kick, punch, bite, scratch and spit at staff. Some break windows, toss furniture and damage property. Most are physically restrained but not charged with crimes, even when a staffer is injured.
“They refuse to arrest because it makes it harder to place these kids,” the insider said. “The agency is covering everything up.”
Among the uncontrolled youths taken to Bellevue:
A girl who screamed and banged on the walls, igniting “a riot” with eight roommates. When cops arrived, one girl was pepper-sprayed. The girl who started the mayhem was sent to the psych unit.
A boy who ran through the building “in a state of emotional crisis” last December, ripped down a Christmas wreath and tossed garbage. He kicked a radiator, breaking it, and tried to shock himself with the inner coils.
A 20-year-old man who banged his head against the window in a sleeping room, then tried to jump out a second-floor cafeteria window to kill himself. He flipped tables and wrestled with cops who handcuffed him. He suffered an eye injury.
A 17-year-old boy told The Post he was sent to Bellevue after threatening to attack a worker who unplugged a TV he was watching.
“I wouldn't do that to him. Why should he do that to me?” he asked.
He said he didn't get any drugs, but other kids said meds given at Bellevue include Benadryl, which can help someone relax, and drugs for bipolar and anxiety disorders. A 17-year-old girl said she was sent to Bellevue and “they had to up the dosage of my medication.”
Kids warehoused at the center have been abused, neglected and removed from their parents but not yet placed in foster homes. They include children with autism, conditions such as diabetes, and pregnant girls or teen moms with babies.
“It's not a jail, but it might as well be,” an insider said.
Kids, who attend public schools, are searched with metal detectors upon entry, must turn over cellphones and cigarettes and sleep in rooms with up to 12 beds. “Some kids come and go in the middle of the night,” one said.
Those who leave without permission or miss the midnight curfew and fail to return after 24 hours “go AWOL.” Since Jan. 1, the center has called 911 more than 600 times and filed 474 complaint reports — mostly for missing persons, NYPD Lt. John Grimpel said Friday.
Guards often break up squabbles and fistfights among kids.
“There's some tension with me and a couple of the girls,” said a 17-year-old girl staying at the center for the second time. Three others tried to “jump” her because she spoke to one of their boyfriends, she said.
Marcia Robinson Lowry, the lead lawyer in the federal suit, says she is appalled that kids are sleeping in what was intended as intake center.
“Foster kids don't do well in shelters. These are troubled kids, and staying in a place like that is likely to exacerbate the problem,” said Lowry, who is also executive director of the advocacy group A Better Childhood.
She said she believes the wide use of psychotropic drugs on the kids are “a form of behavior control.”
The office of Public Advocate Letitia James said Friday that it has received numerous reports of “overmedicated” foster kids.
James, a plaintiff in the suit, faulted de Blasio's management of ACS, which oversees some 10,300 children.
ACS, she said, “has failed at its singular responsibility, with persistent reports of children placed in harm's way while under its watch.”
Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, the union that represents ACS safety officers, blasted de?Blasio for “a pattern” of going easy on kids who break rules and attack others.
“All that behavior is being excused by this administration,” Floyd said. “I'm not saying incarceration is the answer, but they need to acknowledge the problem and get them the appropriate treatment or it will only get worse.”
ACS said it's trying to move older kids out of the downtown center. It has a 12-bed “youth reception center” in Brooklyn for those 14 and above, and aims to add 18 teen beds in Brooklyn and Staten Island by the end of September. It also plans to open “host homes” in each borough where 30 teens can stay while awaiting a permanent placement.
Bill Cosby Drops Breach-of-Contract Lawsuit Against Sex Assault Accuser Andrea Constand
by Nicole Weisensee Egan
Bill Cosby has dropped his breach of contract lawsuit against Andrea Constand, his accuser in a pending sexual assault case in Pennsylvania, which could have required her to give back the money he paid her in a 2006 civil settlement.
Cosby dropped the suit just ten days after a partial victory in the lawsuit when a federal judge ruled he could sue her for her Tweets, which Cosby had alleged violated a confidentiality agreement stemming from the 2006 civil settlement after Constand sued Cosby.
His attorneys filed a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit – which also named Andrea's mother, Gianna, her two attorneys and the National Enquirer – Thursday, offering no reasons for the withdrawal.
Cosby's new attorney, Angela Argusa, issued a statement saying, "Last week, Judge Robreno denied in substantial part the motions to dismiss filed by American Media, Inc. (publisher of the National Enquirer), Andrea Constand, and her lawyers. With a court validation of his ability to proceed forward in that action to protect his own rights, Mr. Cosby has today stepped away from that suit and will instead focus his efforts on defending himself against the claims that have been lodged against him."
A spokesperson for American Media Inc., the parent company of the Enquirer , issued a statement saying, "We were always confident that AMI had not breached any agreement with Mr. Cosby, and we are pleased that he has decided not to pursue the litigation further."
Constand's attorneys, Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz, had no immediate comment.
Cosby, 79, filed the lawsuit against Constand in February, less than two months after he was criminally charged for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania mansion in January 2004.
The lawsuit alleged that, by cooperating with law enforcement's investigation, Constand broke the confidentiality agreement.
Her attorneys filed a response saying the entertainer was "bullying" Andrea and her mother with the suit.
On July 18, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno ruled Cosby could sue Constand for her tweets but could not sue her for cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand. His next hearing on the case is Sept. 6.
He has denied the charges as well as similar ones from more than 50 women.
Police are investigating child abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell who rejects them
by Shoba Rao
As Cardinal George Pell denies historical sex abuse claims, a survivors group has called on him to stand aside in the Vatican and return to Australia.
On ABC 730 tonight, Andrew Collins, the spokesman of the Ballarat Survivors Group, said Pell should stand aside.
“I think it's incumbent upon George Pell to immediately stand aside until the allegations are dealt with,” he said.
“And if not, then I think the Pope needs to take action and stand him down. The Church not only needs to do the right thing, but they need to be seen to be doing the right thing as well. It's just one of those things that should be done. Not only that - I think he should immediately return to Australia to deal with these accusations.”
His comment comes after Pell told the media from Rome that he's entitled as an Australian to get “a fair go” and promised to cooperate with authorities.
Pell said the “allegations are untrue”.
“I deny them absolutely,” he told reporters.
“I've got no intention of adding to the discomfort or the harm of the people who made the allegations, but they're not true. I'm like any other Australian, I'm entitled to a fair go. Untested allegations should be put through the proper procedures. I'm quite prepared to cooperate with the appropriate civil and appropriate procedures. I won't cooperate with trial by the media. I think it's unjust and inappropriate.”
The ABC 730 program last night revealed that Victoria Police are investigating several complaints from the 1970s to the 1990s from complainants in Ballarat, Torquay and Melbourne for more than a year.
Victoria Police's Taskforce SANO, which investigates complaints from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, is looking into the allegations.
The allegations relate to a period when Cardinal Pell was the Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
ABC 730 stated it had eight police statements from complainants, witnesses and family relatives, who are assisting the Victorian taskforce.
ABC 730 stated there were two men from Ballarat in their 40s, who alleged Pell touched them inappropriately in 1978-79 at the Eureka pool during a throwing game.
One of the complainants, Lyndon Monument, told police and ABC 730 that Pell would allegedly would touch his penis, testicles and a*** before throwing him up into the air in the pool.
“I tried not to think about it,” he told the program.
“He was always just the godly figure. We all had to look up to him. We would get told in class that George Pell is coming today, so brush your hair and tuck yourself in.”
When asked why he didn't come forward earlier, he said it was too traumatising to discuss.
“Because it was a lot of pain for not only me but for a lot of other people. And I learnt to deal with things by just keeping them close to me, I suppose,” he said.
In a statement to the ABC, Cardinal Pell's office said he would not be giving an interview to ABC 730 and “emphatically and unequivocally rejects any allegations of sexual abuse against him”.
Mr Monument also alleges in his statement that Pell invited him into the changerooms after they went swimming.
“He would undress. And then he would say to us to undress. So we would undress. And then he would teach you how to dry your testicles and in between your bum and stuff like that,” he told the program.
When asked by ABC 730 if he was wearing any clothes at the time, Mr Monument said: “No”.
Mr Monument's childhood friend, Damian Dignan, also told ABC 730 that he told police about the throwing game in the pool with Pell.
Mr Dignan's allegations remain untested by the law. But he said he was scared of Pell.
“It's sort of hard to explain. To sit in the confession box with a very, very strong scary man sitting on the other side. We were very, very scared as little kids,” he said.
In another complaint, Les Tyack from Torquay gave a statement to the royal commission last year.
He alleged he walked into the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club in 1986-87 and found George Pell allegedly naked in front of three boys he estimates were aged between eight and 10.
“I thought that was not on. Very strange situation for an adult to be full frontal to three young boys. I said to the young boys, ‘Finish doing what you're doing, off you go.' When they left, I then said to, George Pell, ‘I know what you're up to. P*** off, get out of here. If I see you in this club again, I'll call the police,'” he told ABC 730.
Another complaint about Pell that ABC 730 aired relates to when he was setting up the Melbourne Response — the Australian Catholic Church's first attempt to seriously address child abuse in the 1990s.
At the time, he was the Archbishop of Melbourne. The alleged incident involved two teenage choirboys who asked their parents to leave the choir after alleged abuse had occurred. One of the boys died. The other is working with Victorian Taskforce SANO detectives.
ABC 730 said that a spokesman for Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed it is “very much a live investigation”.
The program said that the Pell case has been referred by Victoria Police to the Office of Public Prosecutions for advice.
Cardinal Pell, 75, is Australia's most senior Catholic cleric, serving as the Vatican's finance chief.
In its statement to the ABC, Cardinal Pell's office said last night: “The Cardinal's conduct has been repeatedly scrutinised over many years, including before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations and according to leaked reports, by Victorian Police's SANO Taskforce.
“The Cardinal does not wish to cause any distress to any victim of abuse. However, claims that he has sexually abused anyone, in any place, at any time in his life are totally untrue and completely wrong.
“He denies the allegations absolutely, and says that they, and any acceptance of them by the ABC, are nothing more than a scandalous smear campaign which appears to be championed by the ABC. If there was any credibility in any of these claims, they would have been pursued by the Royal Commission by now.
“In February this year media outlets carried stories of purported allegations against the Cardinal which were being investigated by the SANO Taskforce.
“However, no request has been made to interview Cardinal Pell nor has he received any details of these claims from the police or anyone. In late May the Cardinal was advised by the SANO Taskforce that there had been no change in the status of the investigation since the leaks were first reported.
“When Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was asked in June this year if there were any plans to speak with Cardinal Pell in Rome he replied “.....it had not been put as necessary to me at this point in time.”
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart also issued a statement saying the allegations on ABC 730 do not reflect the man he knows as Cardinal Pell.
“I have known Cardinal Pell as a seminarian, priest, bishop and friend for more than 55 years,” he wrote.
“The allegations made on the ABC 7.30 Report on 27 July against Cardinal Pell do not reflect the man I know or the behaviour which I have observed over the years I have known him.
“All citizens are entitled to have allegations of criminal conduct investigated independently and according to law by the Police.
“Cardinal Pell is entitled to have allegations against him investigated according to the usual lawful processes without being compromised or sensationalised by the media. Cardinal Pell is also like all citizens entitled to the presumption of innocence. All in society are at risk if these basic tenets are breached.”
‘For the last 17 years I've been looking to vindicate myself'
by Joyce Fegan
John Allen was sexually abused as a child in the 1970s in North Monastery Primary School in Cork City.
However, despite a 2014 ruling from the European Court of Human Rights against the Government, the State continues to deny any liability in relation to Mr Allen's case.
“How long do you have to keep fighting? I'm tired of it. I'd like somebody to acknowledge 1971 and say, ‘Yeah John, we understand what happened you there',” he told the Irish Examiner yesterday.
Mr Allen, 53, has been fighting for 17 years for his right to sue the Department of Education for failing to protect him while at school.
In May the High Court found that he could not sue the State. Yesterday the State decided it was not going to pursue him for costs associated with the trial, even though this action was previously threatened.
“Look, you've one life, I'll be 54 next month so that's a third of my life so far that's fighting this issue,” he said outside the High Court yesterday.
In 2004, his abuser, Garry Creevey, a former Christian Brother, was found guilty of indecently assaulting him in 1971. Since then he has been found guilty of similar offences.
This is the first interview Mr Allen, from Fairhill, Cork City, has given in relation to his abuse, after he allowed his name to be used publicly earlier this month.
“For the last 17 years I've been looking to vindicate myself and look for justice and so far it's unsuccessful. All I ask for is justice,” he said after the High Court had decided not to award costs against him.
“As of present under article 3 and 13 [of the European Convention on Human Rights] my human rights are actually in violation, so I want those human rights addressed.
“In many senses they [survivors] don't realise their way of thinking and how it affects issues in relation to trust and many, many others like intimacy and figures of authority.
“For many, many years, I was, let's say under the cosh of something. I didn't realise what was going on.”
Mr Allen said: “There's a picture here of myself when I was nine years of age, in essence it looks like me as an adult fighting for that child, because I remember the hurt as a nine-year-old child to this day.”
Mr Allen said that, above all else, counselling is what survivors need and that anyone in his position should speak out and seek help.
“I find it quite unbelievable” that the State continues to fight his case, he said.
“It's hurtful. I know other survivors. They suffered deeply. There are a lot of people who deal with it in different ways but nobody is immune to hurt,” said Mr Allen said.
He said his life has been impacted greatly by what happened to him as a child.
“There was a report a number of years ago by Professor Alan Barrett, director of the ESRI [Economic and Social Research Institute]. He quantified the economic effects on survivors and the effects that it has upon them,” he said.
Mr Allen said Irish politicians need to look at human rights violations closer to home, as well as addressing them abroad.
“Our representatives go abroad and they raise issues in China and in Turkey just recently — and yes, it's correct, it's correct for our political people to raise these issues, but we need to look at these issues here at home. Ireland needs to put a mirror up to itself.”
Make it your business to stop child abuse, neglect
About 1,580 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States in 2014, according to childwelfare.gov.
To put it another way: An average of four children died in our country daily that year from abuse or neglect.
A recently released report from the Indiana Department of Child Services brings the problem closer to home. The report, for the state's 2014 fiscal year, found that 66 Hoosier children died as the result of abuse or neglect.
Here are some more troubling statistics:
• Nearly half of the children who died were age 1 or younger.
• The majority of the abuse deaths were caused by head trauma.
• Substance abuse was a risk factor in about 30 percent of the deaths.
While none of the deaths reported were in Madison County, a total of three came from adjacent counties Grant and Delaware.
And we have had our tragic stories here in the Anderson area. Some were high profile:
• A 12-year-old girl died after, allegedly, being run over by a lawn mower in November 2015. The girl's legal guardian, Denell Roberts, faces a murder charge. A jury trial is scheduled to start Tuesday.
• After authorities found a 15-year-old Anderson girl locked in a filthy room and barely alive, Anderson's Steve and Joetta Sells — the girl's grandparents and caretakers — were each sentenced to 24 years in prison.
• In April, Anderson's Kim Robinson and Stephen Auker were sentenced to 20 years in prison each for neglect of their 29-month-old twin daughters. Authorities said the girls, because of neglect, were two years behind in physical and cognitive development.
While these cases are disturbing, in part, because of the apparent intentionality of the neglect or abuse over the course of time, other acts of fatal neglect can come from inattention or a single act of carelessness. Every summer, heart-wrenching stories surface of kids perishing in the heat after being left in cars.
More commonly, children don't have the proper supervision around water. The majority of the 54 cases of Indiana children dying from neglect in 2014 were caused by drowning.
It's easy to feel powerless when confronted with these anecdotes and statistics. But there truly is something you can do about it.
First, take good care of your own children, giving them the attention, shelter, food, education, health care and other necessities they need to flourish.
Next, report suspected neglect or abuse to the Indiana Department of Child Services or to the local police.
The easiest path sometimes is to turn away, reasoning that it's none of your business. But think of it this way: By making it your business, you could save a child's life.
Guidelines on Interviewing Reported Victims of Child Abuse Being Developed
by KSTP TV
One of the issues the Legislative Task Force on Child Protection is tackling involves how suspected victims of abuse or neglect are being interviewed.
Many call Minnesota's child protection system "broken" but lawmakers are working to make it better.
One of the issues the Legislative Task Force on Child Protection is tackling involves how suspected victims of abuse or neglect are being interviewed.
"Frequently, they have not just been coached in the moment, they have been coached for weeks, months, perhaps years by their perpetrators to be quiet," said foster care provider Marsha Van Denburgh as she testified in front of lawmakers, Wednesday.
Coaching is a concern for many involved in child protection.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found proof that it happens in a petition for children in need of protective services.
It shows, during a forensic interview, the child in this case started "by stating that he knew the questions he was going to be asked, 'Do my mom and dad abuse me?' and 'They do not.'"
The child "reported that his mother told him he might be asked that," and "he knows this because [his mother] told him."
"Anything that you do that gives parents an advanced warning and an opportunity to coach or intimidate a child if there is something going on, that's not going to be good for the child and it's not going to get the facts out on the table," said Rich Gehrman.
Gehrman is the executive director of the child advocacy group Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota. He also helped form the 93 recommendations written to help overhaul the current child protection system while sitting on the Governor's Task Force on Child Protection.
New best practices say children should be interviewed first and alone when there are allegations of substantial child endangerment or sexual abuse, allegations of mental injury, when a child expresses fear of their parent, when significant history of maltreatment exists or when they have been witness to domestic violence.
However, in every other case, its preferred practice to interview a child with a parent or guardian present.
"This is a respect for the worker as well as a respect for the family and we have to measure that as we go," said Assistant Commissioner of Children and Family Services for the Department of Human Services.
Koppel wants to leave the option open. However, according to the 93 recommendations formed by the Governor's Task Force on Child Protection, number 32 states, "child safety must be the primary guide as to when and how to structure interviews."
"These children have been threatened, often with death even, if they speak and so it concerns me greatly that there is a possibility that they would be interviewed in front of their perpetrators because in my experience they will not tell the truth out of fear for their own lives," said Van Denburgh during her testimony.
It's hard to hear but those perspectives can make a difference as lawmakers asked DHS to reconsider the guideline before it's sent out for counties to implement in August.
"The priority is the safety of the child and that takes priority over the other social service goals of maintaining a relationship with the family," said Senator Kathy Sheran.
County leaders push to keep the option on the table as well, saying they believe separating a child for an interview can create unnecessary insecurity for that child during an already stressful and traumatic time.
In all, the Governor's Task Force on Child Protection has made 93 recommendations to better care for Minnesota's most vulnerable kids.
To date, 40 are completed and in use by DHS and counties across the state.
Twenty-seven recommendations are in progress with specific plans to address them.
Seven are ready to be implemented but need legislative approval. There are plans to address those recommendations in the 2017 session.
Nineteen recommendations still need work before they can start to be implemented.
You can see the full list of recommendations and where they stand here.
Online child sex abuse investigation identifies 523 potential victims
by Lucy Adams
More than 500 children have been identified as potential victims of online sexual abuse during a major investigation by Police Scotland.
The force said 30 million indecent images were uncovered and 77 people had been charged during Operation Latisse.
The charges include rape, sharing indecent images of children and grooming for sexual purposes.
Of the 523 potential victims, some as young as three, 122 have been referred to child protection services.
The operation, which involved 134 separate investigations, was carried out between the 6 June and 15 July.
Police said child victims had been found after the homes of 83 suspects were searched and 547 computers and other devices seized during the five-week operation.
Almost 400 charges have been brought so far, including rape, sharing indecent images of children, grooming for sexual purposes, sexual extortion, indecent communication with children, possession of a firearm, bestiality and drugs offences.
In one instance, a computer that featured 10 million images depicting child abuse was found. Police Scotland said it would take four full-time officers six months just to view the number of images uncovered.
Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, who led the investigation, said: "This is not sexting in terms of people sending abusive messages to each other.
"This is children being sexually abused and these images being shared.
"It is about real victims in Scotland and elsewhere. It's about these horrific acts which ruin people's lives and we need to make sure that stops."
Mr Graham called on parents and carers to be "alert" but not alarmed and said there were people in society who used technology to identify children who may be vulnerable to exploitation.
The investigation involved officers analysing in excess of 100,000 online chat logs.
Examination of one device led officers to conclude that one adult suspect had been sexually communicating with more than 110 children and young people.
Det Insp Andy McWilliam, who was also involved in the investigation, said that new technology meant there was no way for perpetrators to hide or erase what they had done online.
He said: "Whether they throw the computer in the bath or not, we can find what they have looked at. And we can use covert technology to identify who you are and where you are.
"These individuals want to be wherever children are. They are using websites, chatrooms and forums.
"These men - and it is predominantly men - are using the profiles of younger children to groom them and offend against them."
Police are also working with young people and parents to help raise awareness of the potential dangers of the internet.
They said a key aim was to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.
Figures from Police Scotland show that the number of recorded offences were growing each year.
In 2014-15, there were 23 offences of grooming children for the purposes of sexual offences. Last year it was 50 - an increase of 117%.
The offence of taking, distributing or possessing indecent images of children increased from 605 in 2014-15 to 645.
Woman charged with sexual assault after 13 year old fathers child
by Mike McKnight
FREMONT, Neb. (WOWT) -- A sexual assault case involving an adult accused of conceiving a child with a minor is now moving through the court system in Fremont, Nebraska.
Josh Hazelrig, at just 15-years-old, is the father of a toddler. At 13 years old, Josh became a father. He met the then 19-year-old mother during a sleepover at a friend's house. Well below the age of consent, Josh is a sexual assault victim.
“I was 13 and there was alcohol supplied, so I was not in the right state of mind,” he told Six on Your Side. "I know what sex is, but I never thought of the risk of not using a condom. I was never thinking about the risk of having a child."
The child's mother is 21-year- old Brianne McIntosh; she's been charged with felony first degree sexual assault and child abuse. Dodge County Attorney Oliver Glass says he'll prosecute the sexual assault case like any other case.
"You hear the jokes, ‘oh good for him' and that kind of stuff, but no…the trauma for either sex can be real and therapy may be needed,” said Glass. "It's the first case I can recall that I've had where the sexes had been reversed.”
Barely a teenager, Josh has adult responsibilities. While most 15 year old boys are out camping or swimming, Josh is performing fatherly duties like changing diapers and lots of them.
Josh's mother Kim Hazelrig said even though she can see the love and care her son gives his son, she wants justice. Kim wants the justice system to treat him as a victim of statutory rape.
"I think it was a manipulative game played on a then 13 year old boy and just because it's a boy does not mean she should walk away from a crime,” Kim said.
The 17-month-old toddler is now a ward of the state placed with Kim and Josh.
“I love my child but it's kind of overwhelming sometimes and that's why I have my family here to help me,” he said.
Josh is learning to be a dad when most kids his age think about a learners permit.
McIntosh is now 21 and faces two felonies that could put her in prison for up to 50 years. She does have supervised visitation. McIntosh declined comment and WOWT's calls to her attorney haven't been returned.
'Victims twice:' Police say justice is out of reach for some rape victims
by Alyssa Choiniere
Victims of rape and sexual assault are forced to relive trauma to receive justice, and are victimized twice when evidence fails to establish probable cause, criminal justice officials said.
The strongest cases require victims to take steps in the earliest hours after an assault that will likely involve further trauma, police said. Reporting the attack immediately often involves a victim trusting a stranger to believe their story, and submitting his or her body to be intimately examined directly after it was violated to complete a rape kit. Resisting the urge to bathe or shower involves keeping the scent of an attacker with them. When a case does go to trial, it requires the victim to re-experience their trauma publicly.
“You're taking what is an intimate act and tainting it, corrupting it,” said Fayette County Assistant District Attorney Meghann Mikluscak. “And then they have to relive that, usually more than once, and in front of strangers.”
Police said it is common for a victim to begin the process only to have the case fail. California Borough police Chief Rick Encapera said that for about 50 to 75 percent of sexual assault reports his department receives, no charges are filed because of a lack of evidence.
“It does happen frequently. More than I'd like it to happen,” he said. “God, that's devastating.”
Uniontown City Police Lt. Tom Kolencik said many pieces need to fall perfectly into place to build a strong case. While city police did not have statistics on the number of sexual assault cases dropped before charges are filed, he said every victim deserves justice.
“If it's happened once, it's happened too many times,” he said.
Campus sexual assault
Eleven sexual assaults were reported by students at four area colleges and universities in 2014. Officials at the schools said no charges were filed for any of those reports.
Washington & Jefferson College documented seven sexual assault reports, while California University of Pennsylvania documented four sexual assault reports. No sexual assaults were reported at Waynesburg University or at Penn State University, The Eberly Campus in Lemont Furnace.
Rapes and sexual assaults reported by students are investigated by the school's Title IX coordinator as part of a federally established anti-discrimination policy. Once a college becomes aware of a sexual assault on campus, they are required to investigate. Once this process begins, the alleged victim's confidentiality is no longer guaranteed, school officials said.
Washington & Jefferson College spokesperson Erik Reuter said previously that of the seven reported sexual assaults in 2014, investigators could not confirm assaults occurred. In one of those cases, the alleged victim pursued charges in criminal court, but the case did not move forward.
Campus police investigated reports of sexual assault on campus at Cal U in 2014, while borough police investigated off-campus reports. The alleged victims in all but one of those cases decided they no longer wanted to pursue charges. The remaining student wanted to pursue charges, but investigators were advised not to file them at the request of the district attorney, according to university officials.
Encapera said it is common for a student to report a sexual assault in which police believe the incident occurred, but there is not enough evidence to establish probable cause or prosecute.
Two cases in particular have stayed with Encapera for years.
One involved a student who said she was raped after playing strip poker. He said that the events leading up to the reported rape tainted her credibility. Although he believed her story, the officers could not establish probable cause. No charges were filed.
In another case, he said a man and woman were on a date, and the woman reported she was later raped. The case went to trial, and testimony from the prosecution was largely limited to the alleged victim and Encapera. The defense attorney claimed it was simply a date that ended with sex.
“The attorney put on a show in front of the jury. That was very frustrating,” he said. “He thought that she wanted it.”
The jury found the suspect not guilty on all charges.
Beyond a reasonable doubt
Mikluscak said that in some sexual assault and rape cases, she believed she proved the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt, but the defendant was found not guilty.
Why, she said, is impossible to say.
“There are never any guarantees, and you're playing with the cards that you're dealt,” she said.
Law enforcement members said sexual assaults cases are complex in terms of gathering evidence, trauma to the victim and stigmas.
Many in the public have a skewed perception of what constitutes rape, officials said.
“The misconception is that every case is the same, and life plays out like (the television show) Law & Order,” Mikluscak said.
Leaving the decision to convict or acquit in the hands of 12 individuals on a jury panel presents an endless number of variables, she said.
Encapera said many people equate rape with a stranger suddenly attacking a woman. But the victim knows the suspect in at least 95 percent of the reports his department has gathered.
“When you say ‘rape,' people have the connotation of a guy wearing a mask jumping out at a woman, dragging her behind the bushes and raping her. That would be easier to prove,” he said. “Those aren't the kind of rapes that we get.”
State police Trooper Stefani Lucas said even victims may have misconceptions about what happened to them.
“Unwanted sexual advances can be thrown to the side, because maybe they feel they did something wrong,” she said.
Police said it is easier to prove that a victim did not consent to sexual contact when the suspect is a stranger.
But since rape under these circumstances is rare, many cases are a victim's word against the suspect, police said.
Building a case
Evidence is often washed away in the hours following an assault, and hazy memories can impact a victim's statement, police said.
Kolencik said many victims feel compelled to take a shower immediately after an assault because they feel dirty and want to wash away the smell of their attacker.
While he said that compulsion is understandable, that evidence is what police need to bring a victim justice.
Other times, a victim may have unclear memories of what happened, either because of repressed memories, drugs or alcohol.
Kolencik said it is important for victims to come forward immediately, even if a person does not remember exactly what happened. He said forensic evidence gathered in the early hours of an investigation can corroborate memories that become clearer in time. That evidence can best be gathered in a hospital with a rape kit.
“It's very invasive and intrusive on your body,” he said. “That's very difficult on our victims.”
He said that while a rape examination can be traumatic in itself, more victims are likely to pursue charges after enduring that process.
Reporting to police as soon as possible is also a key element in the case, he said.
“As traumatic as something like that is, we encourage you to come down here. We ensure your confidentiality, and you have our 100 percent trust that we'll help you as much as we can and bring justice for you,” he said. “But the sooner you come down, the better.”
He said police take classes on the best ways to handle sexual assault cases, and work hard to establish trust with the victims. In many cases, counselors or religious leaders can come to the station with a victim, or police can provide those services through pastors on staff.
Investigators said that even when some of the biggest pieces of evidence are missing, corroborating evidence or witnesses can thread a narrative together.
Lucas said hospital exams often reveal minor injuries, such as cuts or bruises, that corroborate a victim's word that sex was not consensual. Kolencik said ripped clothing often serves the same purpose.
He said it is common for suspects to send a text message to a victim later, apologizing for what they did.
“If you didn't do anything wrong, why apologize?” he said.
Micluscak said while the only eyewitness is often the victim, corroborating witnesses can provide connections in the story. She said these are often people who were in the same area or saw the two together.
When evidence fails
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 994 out of 1,000 people accused of rape are never sentenced to prison. Out of 344 rapes reported to police, only 63 result in an arrest, the network's statistics reported.
When evidence fails to establish a case, Kolencik said the conclusion can be devastating for both the victim and law enforcement.
“That's probably the hardest thing to explain to a victim, because we believe them. You're not going to make up a story like that,” he said. “It's almost like they're a victim twice. They're a victim of sexual assault, and this is another injustice to them.”
Toddler Shot, Killed In Dania Beach By Father
DANIA BEACH (CBSMiami) – A one year old child was shot and killed by her father overnight in Dania Beach.
The shooting happened around 1:30 a.m.
The Broward Sheriff's Office said Timothy Hollis, 32, and the mother of his children, 34-year old Lashonda Bowers, were arguing as they drove through Dania Beach on their way to a relative's home.
When Bowers got out of the car at W Dania Beach Boulevard at SW 8th Avenue to get some help, Hollis reportedly pulled a gun and started shooting his kids who were inside the car.
“The mother left the vehicle they were in, trying to reach a relative's home to seek aid. While in that home she heard shots being fired. When she and her relatives came out they discovered the bodies and the injured child,” said Broward Sheriff's spokeswoman Gina Carter.
Hollis killed his one year old daughter Kalila and injured his seven year old son Timothy Jr. He then then fatally shot himself.
“This is a horrible, horrible scenario. It's the most tragic thing that could happen. This family is completely destroyed by this. Even myself, I'm shaken by this,” said Carter.
The injured boy was taken to the hospital with what were described as life threatening injuries.
Valley of the damned: The cruel spot where two different churches made the ‘epicentre of organised paedophilia'
by Candace Sutton
IT was a cruel game played out by vile abusers in an idyllic valley which will be revealed as the nation's “epicentre for organised paedophilia”.
The game of “spotlighting”, ostensibly a weekend camping pursuit by young Anglican boys and their religious leaders was actually a guise for child sexual abuse.
Revelations of how Anglican priests and their paedophile gang chased boys and raped them in the wilds of the Hunter Valley will unfold in coming weeks.
And the Hunter Valley, known for its vineyards, its coal industry and its fertile soil for crops, will emerge as something more sinister.
This valley of the damned is now being recognised as a playground for not only priests from the Catholic Church practising systematic abuse, but their Anglican counterparts.
It is the Anglican Church's turn to be exposed for its widespread practice of grooming and sexually assaulting young Hunter Valley boys.
Incredibly, both churches were secretly committing the same sorts of vile abuse at the same time in the same region.
The abuse occurred behind the doors of two of the Hunter Valley's most respected establishments between 20 and 40 years ago, St John's College in Morpeth, the seminary for the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle and the Catholic Diocese of Maitland and Newcastle.
The crimes of the Hunter Valley's Catholic abusers such as Father Vince Ryan and Father Jim Fletcher and Father David O'Hearn, and the cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy were described in sickening detail two years ago.
The Royal Commission into institutional child sexual abuse by Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC investigated the Catholic Church to a limited extent, handing down its findings in May 2014.
“But I don't think any of us realised exactly the same thing was happening to boys in the Anglican Church,” said abuse survivor and counsellor Peter Gogarty.
“It makes the Hunter Valley the epicentre of organised paedophilia in this country.”
Mr Gogarty was abused by Father Jim Fletcher who targeted him as a “shy boy from a devout family with lots of siblings, a stressed out mother and a father doing lots of jobs”.
“They didn't question if the priest wanted to spend time with them, it was ‘get your coat',” Mr Goarty told news.com.au.
“Fletcher had predatory long-term ‘relationships' and his threats (if you revealed the abuse) were that you wouldn't be believed and members of your family would be hurt.”
Unbeknown to Mr Gogarty, boys from Anglican families were falling prey to monsters from “the other side” of the church fence.
One of the victims preparing to give testimony to the Royal Commission is 64-year-old Paul Gray, who was sexually abused by his godfather Peter Rushton, an Anglican priest who ran a paedophile ring in Cessnock, 50km from Newcastle in the Hunter Valley.
As an altar boy aged 10 to 15, Mr Gray was targeted by Rushton and men including scout masters who would take boys into the bush for a game of “spotlighting”.
The game, supposedly to spot wildlife, ended up as a terrifying hide-and-seek pursuit of boys by adult men.
Instead of looking in the trees for possums and other animals, the boys “were made to do sexual acts” upon which every member of the paedophile ring caught them.
Mr Gray told the ABC that his godfather was “a kingpin” of the group who had left him to be abused by other men at St Alban's Boys Home in Aberdare, a suburb of Cessnock.
Another victim, Phil D'Ammon will give evidence to the Royal Commission about how, as an orphan in an Anglican home, he was abused.
Rushton and his lover, Brother Jim Brown, took D'Ammond on a two-week “holiday” where the 12-year-old was raped.
“There was always someone there. Always,” Mr D'Ammond told the ABC of the feared St Alban's. “There was never no one there and they were all young guys, like, between 12 and 14 and 15. And we were all drunk and we were all smoking hash and I was dropping acid and I was — yeah, it was sick.”
Yet another victim, Nick Brown, was brutally raped at camp and had his “backside split open” by adult abusers.
All the Anglican priest abusers had trained at the now abandoned St John's Theological College at Morpeth.
Rushton was “regularly out” at St John's and “on various boards and committees ... and was very influential in the dynamics and the management of St John's at various periods. He would also take children out there”.
The first set of hearings at the Royal Commission from August 2 will cover events in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.
Peter Gogarty said the hearings would “stir up emotions” among victims and their families and that Lifeline and other groups were “gearing up” to receive more calls.
“I hope people take the opportunity to seek help,” he said.
Liz Mullinar, the film and television executive who is herself a survivor and runs the abuse help group Heal for Life, said that abuse victims could heal.
“When people say they are damaged forever, that is simply not true,” she said. “It is hard to heal but it can be done.”
Mr Gogarty said fellow survivors of Catholic Church abuse were shocked by the allegations against the Anglican Church.
His abuser, Jim Fletcher, was also responsible for the abuse of Hunter Valley choir boy Daniel Feenan, whose mother wrote a book about her son's torment in the Hunter, Holy Hell .
“I honestly didn't think it would be this bad in the Anglican Church,” he said. “I'm not sure why — perhaps my view was that because Anglican priests can marry that maybe there wouldn't be this level of paedophilia, and there wouldn't be this level of cover-up, so I've been shocked.”
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp
Heal For Life 1300 760 580 www.healforlife.com.au
Man charged with attempted murder, child abuse after baby found in trash
Marquis Jamall Young, 27, has been identified as the child's step-father
by KMBS Newws
LAWRENCE, Kan. —A 27-year-old man will face attempted murder and child abuse charges after he allegedly left his 6-month-old step-daughter in the trash.
Lawrence Police said 27-year-old Marquis Jamall Young will face attempted first degree murder and child abuse charges after he was accused of leaving his 6-month-old step daughter in a trash receptacle outside of a Lawrence apartment.
On July 7, 2016 a woman walked outside to empty a vacuum cleaner into an outdoor trash compactor at the Trail Ridge Apartment Complex when she heard a noise that she thought was a kitten.
The woman started digging and threw out five or six trash bags and found a baby girl in the compactor screaming.
A neighbor heard the woman yelling for help and called police.
The baby was rushed to the hospital in serious but stable condition with gashes on her head and many bug bites.
An hour and a half earlier, a man parked his SUV in another part of the complex. Neighbors said he was acting erratically, so they called police.
"There was definitely something wrong mentally going on with him, from the things he was saying, and (he was) just acting weird," said one neighbor.
The apartment where that man lived, the neighbor said, was the same one police had cordoned off after the child was found.
The man's wife told friends that she and her husband had a fight, she left and returned about 5:30 a.m. to find her 6-month-old daughter missing.
Neighbors also said they believe the man had been to the trash compactor before abandoning his SUV across the complex.
Lawrence Police investigators were able to identify the child's step-father, Marquis Jamall Young, as the suspect and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Young is currently in custody in Johnson County on unrelated charges. He will be brought to Douglas County to face charges of attempted first degree murder and child abuse.
Police said the baby involved in this case has since been released from the hospital and remains in the care of the state. She will continue to receive medical care for her injuries on an outpatient basis.
Parents accused of chaining kids inside north Charlotte home
by Ty Chandler
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A mother and father have been arrested after police say they chained their children around their wrists and waists inside their north Charlotte home.
Melissa Gonzalez-Guzman and Felipe Gonzalez-Guzman have been arrested and charged with 15 counts of false imprisonment and 15 counts of felony child abuse. They are in the custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office.
"The phone call that came in anonymously to the Department of Social Services worked," said Lt. Thomas Barry with CMPD.
According to a warrant obtained by NBC Charlotte, the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services and Youth and Family Services received an anonymous call on July 18 that four children were being chained to their beds and locked in their room by their mother and her boyfriend at a home in the 4800 block of Statesville Road.
The warrant also states that police seized several metal chains and that they found pictures in the mother's phone, "depicting four children with linked chains around their wrist and waist. The Officer observed one picture of what appeared to be an autistic 3-year-old child chained to a chair."
The warrant says two of the children had bruised wrists and ankles, consistent with being kept in chains.
"Anytime you hear of the details that are listed in the search warrant, it makes you pause," said Lt. Barry. "The long-term impact of being treated that way is difficult," he explained.
Mark Butler, a former owner of the Statesville Road home, rented the house to the Gonzalez-Guzman family six months ago.
"They're beautiful little children," he said. "I'm in the office and they will walk by and say, 'Hi Mark,'" Butler recalled.
He says he had no reason to believe the children were anything other than well cared for.
"The mother seemed to be a good caretaker because she kept other people's children, and I think she took care of elderly people," Butler explained.
His reaction to the allegations that the parents chained the children up, "That's horror to me, but that's shocking, just shocking to me," he said. "I've been in the home multiple times and I've never seen that."
The children are now in the custody of family members, according to CMPD, and have been referred to Pat's Place for additional services.
According to neighbors, the parents recently had another baby in June. There is no word on where where that baby is located.
NBC Charlotte reached out to DSS to see if the Gonzalez-Guzmans had been investigated for child abuse in the past. We were told DSS does not release this information due to state law. NBC Charlotte has filed a Freedom of Information Request to obtain more information about this case and the parents.
Swaziland's Secret Weapon Against Child Abuse: Grandmothers
by Natalie Jacewicz
It used to be one of the worst places in the world when it came to protecting children.
A 2007 Violence Against Children Survey coordinated by UNICEF and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found one in three girls in Swaziland was sexually abused before age 18. (The global rate is 1 in 5, according to the World Health Organization.)
The next year, the country ranked near the bottom of all African nations for child well-being, a measure that includes legal protections for children and spending on initiatives like education and health care.
But now, Swaziland is being hailed as a shining model of how to protect kids. On July 12, the CDC, WHO and eight other partner groups released a guide to tackling child abuse. Swaziland was singled out as an example of how a government can use a variety of approaches to make major strides.
And a lot of the credit goes to Swaziland's grandmas.
The government wanted to see improvement. So nonprofit groups asked the chiefs who preside over the country's districts: Who could help stand up for children? And the chiefs had a suggestion: grandmothers. They're excellent allies for several reasons, says Rachel Odede, UNICEF's representative in Swaziland. They enjoy respect within the community and often stay home with the community's children.
That was in year 2000. Since then, more than 10,000 grandmothers have enrolled in a new program called "Shoulder to Cry On" to combat child abuse. It's sponsored by government agencies and nonprofit organizations; UNICEF is one of the organizers.
The program has helped address one of the challenges of child abuse — helping children understand that certain kinds of treatment are not OK and should be reported to a grandmother or another trustworthy adult.
Khanyisile Simelane, a 58-year-old grandmother of eight, was selected at a community meeting to be a shoulder to cry on in 2005. She knocked on doors around the village to explain her new role. Then, she began discussing abuse with children at the community center, where she works as a caregiver.
"I use picture stories mainly," Simelane says. These tales, part of grandmothers' training, are designed to help children identify and report abuse. In the stories, animal behaviors often mimic the actions of abusers; victims can turn to Grandmother Elephant, whose big ears make her a good listener.
"I monitor the children's reactions [to the stories]," says Simelane, "and follow up afterward."
When a child comes to a grandmother to report abuse or the grandmother identifies abuse independently, she takes the child to the region's one-stop center dedicated to abuse victims. There, the child can talk to social workers, receive medical treatment and be interviewed by the police.
Because a lot of abuse occurs at home, Simelane says she faces pushback for exposing inappropriate practices by family members. "This is indeed a difficult job," she admits, adding that some grandmothers have dropped out of the program because of hostile community reaction. "What has sustained me this far is that I'm also a victim of abuse. When I grew up, my parents had separated. I was staying with relatives and was abused as a child. I didn't have anyone to talk to."
Simelane has found that parents may have misconceptions. Some believe that she will teach children to say they're being abused if they're asked to perform household chores. Simelane explains she's targeting sexual and physical abuse, not housework. After she explains this, she says parents usually seem more open to the program.
In addition to enlisting grandmothers, Swaziland's government enacted other initiatives in the wake of the 2007 UNICEF survey. It started a radio campaign to educate people about violence against children and created a database to record incidents of abuse.
By 2013, Swaziland ranked 9th for child well-being among African countries.
CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden credits the Shoulder to Cry On program, as well as the other government initiatives, for Swaziland's rapid improvement. "Grandmothers were a place that kids could turn to," says Frieden, "and there are dozens in every community."
Christensen/Laurin: Should lawyers report child abuse learned in representation?
by Margaret Christensen and Jessica Laurin
When — if ever — is it appropriate for an attorney to report child abuse learned through client representation? The question implicates Indiana Code § 31-33-5-1 (“Reporting Law”), Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 (“Confidentiality Rule”), and the attorney-client privilege, codified at Indiana Code § 34-46-3-1 (“Privilege Statute”). The answer centers on the difference between confidentiality and privilege.
The Reporting Law is broad, providing that “ an individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect shall make a report as required by this article” (emphasis added). The Confidentiality Rule, however, requires complete confidentiality of all knowledge learned during representation absent rare circumstances such as preventing reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm, and complying with another law. Also critical is the Privilege Statute; communications between the attorney and client purposefully made for obtaining legal advice may not be discovered, except if another statute so provides or if the client waives the privilege. See, e.g. , Richey v. Chappell , 594 N.E.2d 443, 445–46 (Ind. 1992) (citing Jenkinson v. State , 5 Blackf. 465, 466 (Ind. 1845)); Buntin v. Becker , 727 N.E.2d 734, 740 (Ind. 2000).
A lawyer's reporting obligation depends on whether confidentiality and/or privilege are implicated. In short, lawyers may not report privileged communications regarding child abuse. However, lawyers may report information that is only confidential, though not privileged, and are obligated to do so under the Reporting Statute. For example, suppose your client privately reveals in a parenting time discussion that her estranged husband abused their children. This communication is privileged. Conversely, suppose you are interviewing your client's nanny to determine if she would make a good character witness to finalize a parenting time order, and the nanny reveals child abuse. This communication is not privileged, but is confidential. The distinction concerns the communication's source. The Confidentiality Rule, Comment 3, explains, “[t]he confidentiality rule, for example, applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client [privileged communication] but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source.”
Unfortunately, only limited precedent guides Indiana lawyers deciding whether to report child abuse. According to the Indiana Supreme Court, the Reporting Law is designed “to err on the side of over reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.” Smith v. State , 8 N.E.3d 668, 683 (Ind. 2014) In Smith , the Supreme Court held that a high school principal's four-hour delay between learning of his student's rape allegations and notifying DCS was too long. Id. at 670–73. But Smith did not implicate a lawyer's duty of confidentiality or privilege, which likely would have affected the court's analysis.
It is especially complicated for lawyers because confidentiality and privilege may overlap; however, there are well-documented distinctions. Privilege only protects communications between the lawyer and the client made purposefully for giving or receiving legal advice. Sue Michmerhuizen, “Confidentiality, Privilege: A Basic Value in Two Different Applications,” American Bar Ass'n Ctr. For Prof'l Responsibility (2007). Further, confidential information is broader than privilege as it “includes information obtained from a third party as well as information obtained in the presence of unnecessary third parties, neither of which is protected by the attorney-client privilege.” Robert P. Mosteller, “Child Abuse Reporting Laws and Attorney-Client Confidences: The Reality and the Specter of Lawyer as Informant,” 42 Duke L.J. 203, 239 (1992). Because the ethics rules cover confidentiality but do not squarely address privilege, the legal analysis is different for each.
Despite the General Assembly's unqualified language that “an individual” must report child abuse, see Reporting Law, the Legislature evidently did not intend to abrogate attorney-client privilege. According to Indiana Code § 31-32-11-1, privileged communication between many parties — including spouses and social workers/clients, among others — cannot be excluded from evidence involving child abuse because it is privileged. Specifically, the fact that communication is privileged is “not a ground for … failing to report” as the Reporting Law requires.
Although Indiana Code § 31-32-11-1 abrogates privilege for many professionals, attorneys are noticeably not enumerated. The Indiana State Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee recently made this point. Quoting a 1993 Kentucky Bar Association opinion, E-360, the committee states that the statute “was intended to inform us, in a roundabout way, that lawyers are not required to report abuse or neglect if reporting would violate the attorney-client privilege.” It is improbable that the General Assembly intended to abrogate such an ingrained concept without doing so explicitly — especially because it explicitly abrogated several other types of privilege. See also Mosteller at 240 n. 109. This interpretation conforms with public policy, as the assurance that lawyers will take their clients' secrets to the grave is the bedrock of the trusting relationship required for attorneys to adequately advise and represent their clients.
Unlike privileged communications, lawyers must report confidential information regarding child abuse. Under Confidentiality Rule 1.6(b)(6), a lawyer may report to comply with other law. Because the Confidentiality Rule allows lawyers to comply with other laws, lawyers have no legal excuse for not reporting confidential information. See , e.g. , Nevada State Bar Ethics Opinion No. 30, March 25, 2005 (noting that a “comply with other law” exception would resolve the conflict between its ethics rules and its mandatory reporting statute).
The ISBA Committee, in contrast, concludes that the Indiana Supreme Court's authority over attorney “discipline and disbarment” requires that that the ethics rules trump the General Assembly's legislation. Therefore, “the Committee does not believe that the exception to confidentiality ‘to comply with other law' . . . resolves the issue.” But, by adopting ABA Model Rule 1.6(b)(6), did the Indiana Supreme Court defer to the General Assembly's legislation? When deciding whether to report child abuse, ask: Did you gain information from a privileged communication? If so, you must protect the privilege and cannot report. But if the information is confidential though not privileged, Indiana's ethics rules will not protect you from failing to report immediately. Admittedly, this appears at odds with the sanctified Oath of Attorneys, which states “I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my client at any peril to myself.” Thus, some attorneys may choose not to report unprivileged information in order to preserve the client's trust and avoid creating a conflict. However, upon learning of child abuse from someone other than the client, the information is no longer the client's secret, and it is, indeed, at the attorney's peril to not report.
Australia Promises Inquiry After Video Shows Abuse in Juvenile Detention
by Michelle Innis
SYDNEY, Australia — Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced an investigation on Tuesday into the treatment of juvenile detainees in Australia's far north, saying he was “shocked and appalled” by a news report that showed boys being stripped, sprayed with tear gas at close range and, in one case, shackled to a chair while forced to wear a hood.
The report, broadcast on Monday night on “Four Corners,” a news program of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, documented abuses at a number of facilities in the Northern Territory, including the Don Dale children's prison in the town of Berrimah, near the city of Darwin. That prison was closed in 2014, but previous inquiries into allegations of abuse there had not uncovered some of the details shown in the report, and some of the new video contradicted official accounts of past episodes.
“This is a shocking state of affairs,” Mr. Turnbull said in an interview on ABC radio on Tuesday morning. “Like all Australians, I've been deeply shocked, shocked and appalled by the images of mistreatment of children at the Don Dale center. We will be establishing a Royal Commission into these events.” A Royal Commission has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.
The minister responsible for the Northern Territory's juvenile justice system, John Elferink, was dismissed from that job on Tuesday morning, though he continues to hold other government posts. The territory's chief minister, Adam Giles, said at a news conference that “anybody who saw that footage on television last night on ‘Four Corners' would undoubtedly describe it as horrific footage.”
According to the report, children as young as 10 were jailed at the Don Dale prison, and some as young as 13 were held for long periods in solitary confinement. Children were locked in small, high-security cells that had no running water and no natural light, the report said. Young boys were subjected to brutal and degrading treatment, including one who was stripped and another who was hurled across his cell by a prison guard.
The report included closed circuit television footage of two teenage boys scrambling and cowering under bedsheets and a mattress as tear gas is sprayed into an anteroom adjoining their cells. The boys, and four others, also tear-gassed, are shackled and dragged outdoors, crying and gagging, where they are sprayed with a fire hose.
That episode occurred in August 2014. Mr. Elferink had said at the time that the boys were trying to escape from the center and had armed themselves with metal bars and glass from broken windows. But the video shows some of them playing cards when the tear-gassing begins, and the entire episode appears to have taken place within a secure area.
Jared Sharp, a lawyer with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, said there had been “a deliberate effort to mislead the public about what had occurred.”
Elaine Pearson, director of Human Rights Watch Australia, said that an independent Northern Territory agency responsible for protecting children had exposed abuses in the juvenile detention system last year but that no action had been taken. “Excessive force is an abuse, and the perpetrators of such abuses should be held to account,” Ms. Pearson said.
Later Tuesday, eight inmates at a Northern Territory correctional facility, the Alice Springs Adult Prison, climbed onto the prison's roof to protest the treatment of juvenile detainees, according to a spokesman for the police in Alice Springs, which is about 930 miles south of Darwin by road. A police negotiator had been called to speak with the prisoners, a spokesman for the Northern Territory Correctional Services Department said. He said that the inmates were unarmed and that no one had been injured.
Ninety-eight percent of juvenile detainees in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal, according to the Law Council of Australia. John B. Lawrence, a lawyer who has written reports on juvenile detention in the territory, said that Aboriginals were imprisoned there at a much higher rate than the general population and that the imprisonment of juveniles, often for petty offenses, had “gone through the roof.”
“It is a bad situation, and it is getting worse,” Mr. Lawrence said.
Mr. Lawrence said images in the “Four Corners” report of a 17-year-old boy shackled to a chair and forced to wear a hood were particularly disturbing. “You are looking at a child,” Mr. Lawrence said by telephone from Darwin. “He has been set upon by a number of fully grown, large guards, and strapped in this chair. He's tied up, manacled and left there for hours. It takes you to a whole other dystopia.”
Mr. Turnbull said that the public inquiry, which is likely to be led by a former judge, would be held in conjunction with the Northern Territory government. “We want to know why there were inquiries into this center which did not turn up the evidence and the information we saw on ‘Four Corners,' ” Mr. Turnbull said.
But Mr. Lawrence said that it was important that the Royal Commission be fiercely independent. “The only involvement the Northern Territory government should have is as witnesses,” he said.
Marking kids for life on sex offender registries
by Nicole Pittman, Eli Lehrer, Stacie Rumenap
For decades, our country has been putting children as young as 8 years old on sex-offender registries. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are registered for things they did as kids, their entire lives tainted by youthful indiscretions as common as streaking or teenage Romeo and Juliet romances.
While lawmakers may not have been aware of the destructive consequences when they the passed registration laws, including the federal Adam Walsh Act, that include kids from the juvenile courts, new research confirms, definitively, registering youth is not an effective response — under any circumstance. It doesn't make the community safer and it certainly doesn't get at the root of the problem. Yet, 39 states and the federal government continue to do it. This July, lawmakers will markup the Adam Walsh Act, and it's time to correct course.
That is why — despite very different political and policy perspectives — we have come together to form a new bi-partisan coalition, called Just Kids, to advocate for this much-needed social change. One of us is the Converse-wearing social justice lawyer who established the Center on Youth Registration Reform, another the founder of a conservative Washington think tank who considers himself a proud member of the “vast right wing conspiracy”, and the third the president of Stop Child Predators, a survivor-focused organization motivated by the shared goal of protecting children and holding victimizers accountable. It's safe to say we don't always see eye-to-eye on certain issues. But on this we stand in solidarity.
The evidence of the ineffectiveness of child registration grows stronger by the day. In a new study to be published later this year, public health officials at the Johns Hopkins Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse found that rather than improving public safety, this practice, “communicates constantly and in a variety of ways that [registered] youth are dangerous, feared, worthless and have no real future.”
Another study one of our organizations produced, estimated that youth registration imposes a $3 billion annual net social cost, diverting resources from evidence-based measures that would prevent child-on-child harm and support survivors. Meanwhile, cluttering registries with low-risk individuals makes them less effective at their presumed task, which is why many law enforcement officials have echoed our calls for youth elimination.
Registering young people undermines our juvenile justice system. There's a reason we have distinct courts for kids: they ensure confidentiality, and, in most cases, the ability to seal juvenile records when someone turns 18. While it's vitally important to teach kids the difference between right and wrong, all parents, teachers and juvenile justice professionals understand the importance of second chances; the juvenile justice system was founded on rehabilitative values.
We believe that every child deserves a childhood. When we label kids as sex offenders, though, we deny them that most basic human right, while doing nothing to benefit society.
Children on registries face social isolation, often physically banished from their communities by “child safety zones,” invisible fences that extend thousands of feet around schools, parks or any place children congregate. As they enter adulthood, they are burdened with joblessness, homelessness and vigilante violence. Youth who currently or have previously had to register as sex offenders report significantly higher rates of considering and attempting suicide.
Yet, empirical research shows that more than 97 percent of youth registrants have never and will never reoffend sexually.
Many children who end up branded as sex offenders do things that probably don't require any involvement of the justice system at all. It may be undesirable for kids to “play doctor” or de-pants another classmate, but it's also fairly normative behavior. Two 16-year-olds who exchange nude selfies may deserve to lose their mobile phones, but they aren't “creating child pornography.” Teenagers who enter into consensual sexual relationships with other teens may be making bad judgment calls but having a boyfriend or girlfriend who is just a couple of years younger doesn't necessarily make the older partner a “child predator.”
For more serious errors in judgment that kids make — ones that suggest they might harm society — there are treatments that have proven to redirect behavior. And let's not forget that our criminal justice system allows juveniles, when truly warranted, to be tried in adult courts.
In this era of political polarization, let's unite around one of the few issues we can all agree on: protecting children from harm. It's time to put an end youth registration.
Demographic Party Platforms Missed Child Sex Abuse Victims
by Marci A. Hamilton
The wild ride of this year's presidential election has left many looking for landmarks that will guide their choice for the next president. One place to figure out who stands for what lies in the 2016 Republican and Democratic Platforms. So I decided to explore how each party deals with children.
It would not have been irrational to assume that this would be the year when the epidemic of child sex abuse might find its way onto a platform. After all, Spotlight won the Oscar Award for Best Picture. Institutions in every category that have recklessly dealt with the sexual abuse of children continue to fall over themselves as they choose between defensive silence, self-serving denials, and lame mea culpas. Indeed, there have been so many institutions outed, it is impossible to name them all here. Suffice it to say that tony prep schools, universities, sports, and religious organizations have had some problems. Pitched battles between fragile adult survivors of abuse and the Catholic bishops over statutes of limitations for child sex abuse and rape have dominated politics and headlines.
And talk about a demographic: 20-25 percent of the American public is sexually abused as children. That is an “interest” that might well persuade a voter to cross party lines, depending on the Party's message on child sex abuse. For this large number of Americans, however, the Platforms just nibble around the problem.
One needs to cast a wide net for “children” in each Platform to find some indication of how the Party views the epidemic of child sex abuse. Neither uses the phrase “child sex abuse.”
The Republican Platform on Children
One child-related Republican plank that decidedly does not apply to victims of sex abuse is the Republican Platform's constitutional right for “unborn” children. There is also the issue of “minimizing the separation of children with disabilities from their peers.”
Then there are the issues that have some relation to the scourge of child sex abuse: For example, the RNC has a section on pornography: “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions.” This seems like a serious commitment to the prevention of child sex abuse, though the next line seems to take it away: “We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children's safety and well-being. . . . We urge energetic prosecution of child pornography. . . .” Pornography is a classic example of problem with negative externalities that cannot be solved by states individually. It requires national action, in conjunction with countries all over the world, so why is the RNC pointing to the states to stop what is a global market in child pornography? More importantly, why would a presidential platform “ urge energetic prosecution?” Does that it mean it is not urging vigorous federal prosecution of child pornographers? Who and what are the Republicans protecting here, if anyone?
Finally, the RNC Platform opposes “human trafficking.” Now, this is a crime for which the Republicans appear to be suggesting federal prosecution: “We will use the full force of the law against those who engage in commercial sexual exploitation. . . .” Hear hear.
Yet, this phrasing is odd, and so here is my question for the Republican Platform drafters: what about the noncommercial sexual exploitation that happens in the United States every single day? In families, schools, churches, on teams, and anywhere children live or play. There should not have to be an exchange of money for the Republicans to oppose child sexual exploitation.
To summarize, the Republicans are pledging to fight sexual images of children and prostituting them, with which all good people should agree, to be sure, but they are mum on the child sex abuse crisis that is in everyone's news feeds every single day. The Platform also rejects ratification of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Democratic Platform on Children
The Democratic Platform does not have an “unborn” child plank, but does have a plank to “end raids and roundups of children and families” in the immigration context. There is also a lengthy plank on making education—including early childhood education—a priority. This section includes a promise to ensure “children have health care, stable housing free of contaminants, and a community free of violence in order to minimize the likelihood of cognitive delays.” Sprinkled throughout other sections are various promises to end child labor, provide children mental health care, feed the hungry, count them in the Census, and let them opt out of standardized tests.
The Democrats do join the Republicans in their stand against trafficking: “We will stop the scourge of human trafficking and modern slavery of men, women, boys, and girls. We will use the full force of the law against those who engage in modern-day forms of slavery, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children. . . .” There is that phrase again: “commercial sexual exploitation.” Again, there is no acknowledgment of the epidemic of noncommercial child sexual exploitation that afflicts American children border to border.
It is not terribly surprising to see neither Platform paying much attention to children, or to child sex abuse. There are many reasons for this omission: Adults prefer and protect adults. Children don't vote. Denial. A bystander culture. Willed ignorance. Yet, these reasons, whether individual or taken together, don't solve the problem.
A Proposed Plank for the Epidemic of Child Sex Abuse
Neither party has stepped up for the millions of sex abuse victims and, therefore, the Platforms should be disappointing to these victims, their families, and friends. But this is an epidemic that hurts every American, and there is a cost-benefit ratio that both parties need to consider. Taxpayers and the healthcare and insurance industries pay for the lost productivity and medical costs that flow from this epidemic. Preventing sex abuse, identifying hidden child predators, and providing treatment and justice to existing survivors would yield tremendous savings that could go toward other challenges like education.
Here is a draft plank to address the scourge of child sex abuse in the United States:
“Best estimates suggest that 20-25 percent of American children are subjected to sexual abuse. The science of child sex abuse has established that the trauma of child sex abuse often has lasting effects, with victims experiencing a significantly higher rate of PTSD, addiction, suicide, and many other physical, mental, and emotional negative consequences than the population generally. Child sex abuse destroys childhoods, lives, and families, and deprives the United States of the talents and contributions of too many. The cost is typically borne by the victims rather than the institutions that created the conditions for the abuse. The justice system has routinely failed child sex abuse victims through unfairly short criminal and civil statutes of limitations.
To turn the tide on this epidemic,
(1) the federal government should incentivize the states to eliminate the criminal and civil statutes of limitations for child sex abuse and to revive expired civil statutes of limitations;
(2) the President should appoint a National Commission on child sex abuse, similar to the Australian Royal Commission; and
(3) Congress should amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to prevent its application in any case involving harm to a child.”
I know, I know. Kids don't vote, but adults do, and with 20-25 percent of the population sexually abused when they were children, that's a “faction” worth appealing to.
8 Steps to Take to Protect Children From Sexual Abuse at the Hands of Rabbis
by Eric Aiken
Many Orthodox rabbis and institutions are affiliated with one or more major Orthodox umbrella groups. These groups include the Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of America, Torah Umesorah, the Rabbinical Council of America and the National Council of Young Israel.
Over the last several years, I have tried to convince several of these groups, numerous prominent rabbis and the Jewish Federations of North America to take even minimal steps to protect Orthodox children from the rampant sexual abuse found in our communities. My efforts went nowhere.
Most of the time, my phone calls and emails were ignored. In the rare instance that I was actually able to have a conversation with a rabbi or leader of one of these groups, they would not agree to do anything to protect our kids.
To my knowledge, none of these major Orthodox groups or the Jewish Federations have any publicly posted a set of child protection rules. Rabbis who do want to protect the children in their care have little or no direction from their affiliated organizations as to how to make their institutions safe for children.
In the absence of any guidance on this issue from most of our religious or Jewish lay leadership, I have written a set of child safety recommendations that all rabbis and Orthodox institutions can and should implement immediately.
I urge anyone interested in stopping the unrelenting plague of child sexual abuse in Orthodox communities to send this list to your rabbi, principal, board of directors, or president of your synagogue, school or yeshiva. If they stall, delay, make excuses or refuse to, ask them why protecting our children from sexual abuse is not a priority for them.
1) Publicize the names of the hundreds of Orthodox child molesters who are known to rabbis.
Frequently, victims or their parents report to their rabbi when a child has been sexually abused. In many instances, rabbis cover up the molester and demand that the victim remain silent about their abuser. Parents and employers can't protect the children in their care if they don't know who the predators are that deliberately target Orthodox kids for sexual abuse. “The List” on my website is a good place to start for this information.
2) Ban and excommunicate anyone known to have harmed children in the past.
Many studies show that there is no drug or therapy that cures child sex offenders from their desire to sexually abuse children. They are never safe around kids, and they should never have access to them.
3) Implement and enforce basic, common-sense child safety rules in every Orthodox institution.
No adult other than a parent or guardian may ever seclude themselves with a child.
Anyone who suspects that a child may have been harmed must report that suspicion immediately to the police, without first asking the permission of a rabbi. Only a suspicion of harm, not proof, should obligate one to make a report, as the law requires in many states. Let the experts in law enforcement determine if a crime has been committed.
No one who has harmed children in the past may be allowed in an Orthodox institution.
4) Expel from the rabbinate any rabbi who is known to have abused children or women.
There are hundreds of rabbis who are known sex predators. Some of them have even served jail sentences for sex crimes against children and women. Yet they inexplicably retain the honored title of “rabbi,” and they are free to officiate as a trusted member of the Orthodox rabbinate. By contrast, even the Catholic Church defrocks abusive priests.
5) Punish anyone known to have retaliated against a victim of child sexual abuse or their family for speaking out against their abuser or going to the police.
Victims and law enforcement officials frequently report that victims are threatened or punished for reporting Orthodox child molesters to the police. The threats and witness-tampering cannot occur without the tacit, if not explicit, approval of the community's rabbis. Rabbis must stop intimidating and threatening victims and start punishing those who do.
6) Assign a prominent community rabbi to attend every court proceeding in support of the victim in a child sexual abuse case.
Statistically speaking, children almost never lie about being sexually abused. If a child is alleging that they were sexually abused, it is usually true. Only the public support of a victim by a prominent rabbi will teach the community to take every allegation of sexual abuse seriously and to treat the victim and their family with kindness, support, and compassion.
7) Rabbis must insist that Orthodox therapists report abuse to child protective services or the police.
Several Orthodox therapists have told me that they and their colleagues have been threatened by rabbis with termination from their jobs if they report Orthodox child molesters to the police, as most state laws require. Rabbis can either choose to protect our children, or to protect their abusers. By threatening therapists who report abuse, rabbis are choosing the molesters over our children.
8) Rabbis must demand that Israel extradite every Orthodox individual wanted by the police back to their country of origin.
Avrohom Mondrowitz, Malka Leifer, Gershon Kranczer, Asher Kranczer and Yona Weinberg need to be extradited without delay.
Eric Aiken is the owner of http://www.protectjewishkids.com and an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse. “The List” is the world's largest database of Orthodox child molesters.
Children's eSafety Commissioner conducted 7,400 child abuse investigations in first year
The release of a 12-month report card by the department tasked to deal with underage content posted on social media sites in the country has shown it conducted over 7,400 investigations into online child sexual abuse content.
by Asha Barbaschow
In its first 12 months of operation, the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner reported it conducted in excess of 7,400 investigations into child sexual abuse content found online.
The eSafety office also said in its yearly report card that 186 serious cyberbullying complaints were received, with 71 percent of the claims relating to young women. Predominantly, those complaints involved harmful comments, name-calling, and the posting of offensive or upsetting images or videos online.
In the 12-month period, the report card showed the office had educated more than 59,000 students across Australia through its virtual classrooms, which includes video presentations delivered online by eSafety office trainers. It also conducted face-to-face presentations to 71,000 Australians.
The eSafety website also received over 2.9 million page views, the office said.
The Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner was set up as part of the Australian Communications and Media Authority in July 2015 by the federal government to appropriately deal with content that has been posted on social media sites in the country after research it conducted found that over a 12-month period, as many as one in five Australian children aged eight to 17 have experienced cyberbullying.
The office has the role of removing online content that is deemed to be cyberbullying and developing a "cyberbullying civil notice regime", as well as dealing with complaints about offensive and illegal content. Parents, guardians, and children can lodge complaints to the office, which then investigates the content.
The department has the authority to force social media companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, to remove content deemed to be of a bullying, offensive, or illegal nature. Those that do not comply face fines of AU$17,000 per day.
In its six-month report card, the eSafety office said it resolved 92 cyberbullying complaints with the related content removed in less than eight hours and that more than 2,500 children were referred to the Kids Helpline counselling service as a result of its involvement.
5,561 investigations were carried out online by the office, and the department also worked with 50 international partners to remove over 4,000 URLs that contained child sexual abuse material.
"These accounts may not only damage the reputation of the child who has had their identity misused, but also harms others who are targeted by the cyberbullying coming from the account," former eSafety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon said.
"As an office we will continue to provide support for young people and the community, to enable them to have positive experiences online. We look to the next six months for bigger challenges, as online risks and threats evolve."
4 adults in same home face child abuse charges; up to 9 children allegedly punished with stun gun
LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Two Lakeland men are accused of using a stun gun to discipline children in a horrible case of child abuse. Deputies say two women who live with the men knew about the abuse, but did not stop it.
Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Eduardo Vazquez, age 22; his girlfriend Elizabeth Tarvin, age 33; William Torres-Morales, age 22; and his girlfriend, Veronica Sanchez, age 32.
Detectives say the four live together in a home on Skye Place.
The investigation began in mid-July when the sheriff's office received a referral from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) about allegations of child abuse. The referral said that nine children ranging in age from 7 to 13 were possibly being disciplined with a handheld stun gun.
Two children, ages 8 and 11, were removed from the home by DCF. it was discovered they had “patterned bruises and burns” and multiple “two-prong” burns over their buttocks. A medical examination found one child had 15 two-prong burns over his buttocks, which investigators said are consistent with the effects of a stun gun.
Detectives got permission from Veronica Sanchez to check the other children for injuries. Detectives located the same “two-prong” marks on five additional children that were consistent with the original victims injuries.
During questioning, investigators say Torres originally told a sheriff's deputy that he owned a stun gun and the children had found it and were using it on each other. According to the report, Torres later admitted he had lied, and that he and Vasquez had been using the stun gun for the past two to three weeks to discipline the children.
Vasquez told investigators he and Torres were making all the male children do push ups and would use the stun gun on any child who could not do one.
According to the report, Veronica Sanchez and Elizabeth Tarvin both admitted they were aware that the men were using the stun gun on the children.
The four face charges of aggravated child abuse, negligent child abuse and failure to report child abuse, among other charges.
Sanchez is being held on $62,000 bond. The other three are being held on bonds of $455,000 or more.
Prevent Adult Rape By Preventing Child Abuse
by Carrie Kaufman
June was a busy month at the Rape Crisis Center in Las Vegas. The Center assisted 32 percent more sexual assault victims than in the same month last year.
In fact – to cite more numbers – the Center has assisted 28 percent more people in the first six months of 2016 than it did in the first six months of 2015. The Center has built a counseling center, which offers one-on-one counseling and support groups.
And it has streamlined its website, to make information easier to get and, perhaps, reporting easier to do.
At the same time, the Center launched a child abuse prevention initiative with Prevent Child Abuse Nevada, called Enough Abuse. The hope is that by preventing child sexual abuse, you prevent people from growing up thinking they have no control over their lives or bodies. They also will understand the difference between what a healthy relationship is and what abuse is.
This empowerment then lessens the chance that they will be sexually abused in the future.
“Obviously, we will always provide services to victims, but if that's all we do then we are failing our community,” said Danielle Drietzer, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center of Southern Nevada.
Drietzer said we hear more about sexual assault on campuses then we do about child sexual abuse, even though it is more common. She said there are a lot of reasons for that.
“Child sexual abuse remains shrouded in a lot of secrecy and shame for the children,” she said.
Children don't report abuse because they feel it is their fault and many adults around them don't recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse, Drietzer said.
Amanda Haboush Deloye with the Prevent Child Abuse Nevada and the Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy at UNLV told KNPR's State of Nevada that Enough Abuse program is intended to educate the community at large about child sexual abuse.
“Ultimately, we want the community to be the responsible ones for protecting children from child sexual abuse,” she said.
The program offers classes for parents, medical providers and youth services personnel.
The classes for parents focus on the types of behaviors child abusers use to gain access and trust. The training for medical providers helps them recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse during a medical checkup. Youth services training is for people who are coaches or youth group leaders to make sure their behaviors are not misconstrued and what to look for when hiring people.
“This is an issue we have to start talking about as a community, as a culture, as a nation,” Drietzer said.
Drietzer pointed out while a billion dollars is going toward the prevention of the spread of the Zika virus, which although it is a terrible virus has impacted only a few thousand people in the United States, no where near that amount has been spent on preventing child sexual abuse, which impacts millions of children.
Public urged to spot signs of child abuse
Wigan people are being asked to think ABC when it comes to looking out for potential signs of child abuse or neglect.
As part of a national campaign from the Department for Education to encourage people not to be afraid to raise any concerns they may have about a child's welfare the ABC method is a way to help people recognise what signs might show potential neglect.
Every case of child abuse and neglect is different and there are no two cases which are the same.
But while this is the case there are signs which people can spot which could point towards something being wrong.
The signs of neglect could include:
* Appearance: such as frequent unexplained injuries, consistently poor hygiene, matted hair, unexplained gifts or parents regularly collecting children from school when drunk;
* Behaviour: such as demanding or aggressive behaviour, frequent lateness or absence from school, avoiding their own family, misusing drugs or alcohol or being constantly tired;
* Communication: such as sexual or aggressive language, self-harming, becoming secretive and reluctant to share information or being overly obedient.
Coun Jo Platt, portfolio holder for children's services at Wigan Council, said: “We know that research suggests one in three do not report suspected child abuse or neglect and those who do not speak out say they are concerned they may not be right.
“Thinking about these signs can help people who might be afraid to speak out, but we would always want anyone who has any concerns to come forward as everyone has a role to play in keeping our children safe from abuse and neglect.”
Last month it was revealed that hundreds of Wigan taxi drivers have been trained to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation.
More than 1,000 private hire and hackney carriage drivers have been given grounding in how to identify possible CSE case, how to report their suspicions and how to help disabled or vulnerable passengers.
Over the last five months Wigan Council's licensing team has arranged for the drivers to attend a mandatory training session to raise awareness of both subjects.
It comes just weeks after South Ribble Council's cabinet was accused of “covering up” a report which detailed how taxi drivers had not undergone the correct safeguarding checks, leaving children, especially those that got taxis to and from school, at risk.
Efforts to protect children have been stepped up across the country since it was discovered that more than 1,400 children in Rotherham had been groomed and exploited by a gang of men over a number of years. Both its council and the local police were criticised for the way they handled the abuse.
If you have concerns about a child or young person's welfare you can go to www.gov.uk/reportchildabuse where you can find an online form to fill in to raise your concerns.
You can also call 01942 828300 or 0161 834 2436 out of hours.
Child sexual abuse: Is Pa. pro-child or pro-predator?
by ELIZABETH EISENSTADT-EVANS
“It's not over,” said state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Monday, moments after throwing the grand jury reports on sexual abuse of children on the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.
The Berks County lawmaker, himself a victim of abuse, was most likely referring to his ongoing battle to retroactively extend the period in which victims of decades-old childhood abuse could sue those who molested them, dropping the statute of limitations in criminal cases and extending the window for civil ones from age 30 to 50.
HB 1947, which overwhelmingly passed the House this past spring, was stripped of the retroactivity language when it arrived in the state Senate after lobbying by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and other groups. They argued that the provision was unconstitutional, unfairly targeted private institutions like churches and would result in the closure of parishes and ministries. Both the Diocese of Harrisburg and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which opposed the House legislation, sent out letters to be read from the pulpit and included in parish newsletters.
“The constitutionality defense is an issue that bishops typically raise when they find themselves between a rock and a hard place,” says Marci Hamilton, an attorney specializing in the constitutional separation of church and state and a resident senior fellow in the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
“They typically lose in court. In Pennsylvania the (state) senators were willing to be swayed by a bishop. It is essentially a made-up theory that would have had life in the 19th century but it doesn't prevail anymore. They are grasping at straws; it's just politics,” said Hamilton, who added that a number of other states, including California and Delaware, had passed similar provisions.
“Today,” thundered Rozzi, flanked by a small group of abuse survivors and victim advocates in Philadelphia, “I want my message to be clear. I don't care who you are. I don't care what institution it is. I don't care when the abuse took place. If you abused children, we are coming for you. If you're an institution that protected and actively managed predators, we are coming for you. If you're a legislator who decides its more important to protect pedophiles and the institution that protected them, we are coming for you.”
I've been covering sex abuse stories in faith communities for decades, including those that occurred or are linked in some way to clergy or laypeople in my own denomination, the Episcopal Church. For more than a decade, the Diocese of Pennsylvania (in which I reside) was in a virtual state of civil war, due in part to allegations that the (now-retired) bishop, Charles Bennison, had participated in hiding the abuse perpetrated by his brother.
Nagging at me was the question of why, after all these years, the spotlight remains focused on ecclesiastical institutions and the pain of survivors.
After all, while such stories of horrific, institutionalized violence against minors and subsequent coverups were once frequently reported, they aren't surfacing with the shocking frequency of 10 or 20 years ago.
Help for victims
Many denominations, most notably the dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church, have instituted parish- and diocese-based programs, both to help victims and to clarify and facilitate the mandate to report suspected harm to children.
“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 long-standing policy,” said Ken Gavin, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “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. “
In addition to informing parishes if there is a credible allegation of abuse against a priest, and publishing information on its website, the archdiocese pays for treatment for victims, no matter when the abuse happened, added Gavin. Since 2002, it has disbursed over $13 million in victim assistance, he said.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg also has a victim assistance program.
Nor is sexual abuse of children a problem unique to churches — the majority of cases happen inside the home. According to statistics cited by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 80 percent of perpetrators were a parent, 6 percent were other relatives, 5 percent were “other” (from siblings to strangers) and 4 percent were unmarried partners of a parent.
Sexual abuse of children by clergy or laypeople associated with faith communities continues to draw our gaze and elicit outrage for a number of reasons.
Stories of abuse and organized efforts to conceal continue to surface, as they did this past spring in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, where a grand jury report documented not only abuse perpetrated by as many as 50 church officials, but a cover-up that involved not only local bishops but judges, police and the district attorneys' office.
Abuse in faith communities also attracts attention because it occurs in an environment that is supposed to protect the vulnerable, not leave them more open to harm.
Then there is the unspeakable pain of survivors.
At the Cathedral press conference, which became more of a rally, I had the opportunity to speak with a survivor, Jim Money. The retired detective, who spent most of his professional life helping abused children, is an alcoholic in long-term recovery who says he is doing well.
Many survivors go on to lead long, healthy lives. Often they find support in the witness of men and women like Rosalind Merritts, who traveled across the state to raise a sign and show her support for victims.
But others have struggled — and some have succumbed — to the pain of their traumatic wounds. In June, Brian Gergely, an abuse victim who counseled other survivors in Western Pennsylvania, took his own life. “He basically gave up” said Hamilton, pointing a finger at the state Senate, which she accused of having “arrogantly stripped out the provision that would have given him justice.”
Abuse victims are four times as likely to abuse drugs and suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and three times more likely to suffer a major episode of depression, according to statistics. Childhood sexual abuse seems also to raise the risk for other psychological disorders, including thoughts of suicide.
Given a choice, Hamilton said she'd rather have had the Monday press conference held outside the Capitol in Harrisburg. Hamilton believes that the root of the problem lies in a society that privileges the needs of adults over the welfare of children.
“Pennsylvania has failed to act over the years,” Hamilton said. “It has become a predator-friendly state, which is directly attributable to the Pennsylvania State Senate.”
The Senate is out of step with the public, argues Hamilton — and she suggests, as did Rozzi, that the remedy may lie with Pennsylvania citizens. “It's going to take some political heat” she says. “For survivors and children to win, members need to be identified as pro-child … or pro-predator.”
Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans is a freelance writer and nonparochial Episcopalian priest.