Penn. AG Kathleen Kane Convicted of Perjury, Obstruction of Justice
by Barbara Hollingsworth
(CNSNews.com) – A jury found embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane guilty of nine criminal charges on Monday for leaking grand jury information about a political rival to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter and then lying under oath about it in a scandal that roiled the state government in Harrisburg.
Kane, the first woman and first Democrat to be elected attorney general in Pennsylvania, was convicted of two counts of felony perjury and seven misdemeanor counts of abusing her office, including obstruction of justice, for her attempt to discredit former state prosecutor Frank Fina.
Josh Morrow, Kane's former political consultant, testified at her trial that he had “conspired” with her to illegally leak the grand jury documents about a 2009 state corruption investigation and then attempted to frame Kane's chief deputy for the crime.
Kane faces a maximum of 28 years in jail when she is sentenced on October 24.
Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy ordered Kane to surrender her passport and warned her that “there is to be absolutely no retaliation of any kind against any witness in this case,” threatening Kane with immediate incarceration if she did not comply with her order.
Kane, who refused to step down as attorney general when she was indicted last year, announced Tuesday that she was resigning as required under state law.
Kane claimed she had been targeted for retaliation for exposing a corrupt “old boys network” in which judges and prosecutors allegedly passed around “one million emails” with pornographic images of women and children on state government computers.
The “Porngate” scandal resulted in the early retirements of former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices Seamus McCaffery and Michael Eakin, as well as reprimands for dozens of state employees.
Fina, who previously prosecuted Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky for child sexual abuse, was also caught up in the scandal. He resigned from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office in June, accusing Kane of using the pornographic emails as a weapon in her “personal and political vendetta” against him, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Judge Demchick-Alloy refused to allow Kane to use the emails as evidence at her trial, although her attorney, Gerald Shargel, did not call any witnesses in her defense.
Shargel, who called the verdict “a crushing blow,” said he would appeal the judge's decision to exclude the emails.
“We have been denied the opportunity to mount a full defense,” he told reporters.
Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Kathleen G. Kane, is convicted of nine criminal charges
by Samuel Vargo
On Monday night, Kathleen G. Kane, Pennsylvania's top prosecutor, was found guilty of nine criminal charges, including perjury and criminal conspiracy. A judge also convicted her of leaking grand jury information and then lying about it in an effort to discredit a political rival.
Kane, 50, was “...caught up in a web of scandal and counter-scandal, threaded with lewd emails, political rivalries and alleged leaks. It has cost other state officials, including two State Supreme Court justices, their jobs and Ms. Kane her law license, although she has remained on the job as attorney general,” according to New York Times writer Jess Bidgood.
By all accounts, Kane was one of the most promising Democratic potentials in the Keystone State. High-profile, powerful, political players fall hard, and unfortunately for Kane, her downfall has been a nasty one. According to an article yesterday in LAW*NEWZ: ““Kane has reportedly portrayed the prosecution as revenge for uncovering the sharing of pornography among prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys over state servers.”
“According to Fox News, that revelation led to the dismissal of two state Supreme Court justices and others, but a judge said that Kane's defense can't use that information during her trial,” LAW*NEWZ adds.
“Since Monday's conviction, the calls for Kane to resign have only intensified,” the LAW*NEWS article continues.
“'As I have made clear, I do not believe Kathleen Kane should be Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I believed this when she was charged, and today, after conviction, there should be no question that she should resign immediately,'” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, also a Democrat, said in a statement, obtained by CNN, LAW*NEWZ reports.
As in the fall of any high-profile and powerful political figure, there will be a legal battle — it's not over yet. “We will continue this litigation and we will continue this fight because we believe that our client has been wrongfully accused of misconduct,” Kane's defense attorney Gerald Shargel told media outside the court, according to CNN.
Is Kane a rogue hatchet-lady who made some mistakes in voraciously attacking other high-profile, powerful leaders of her state? Has Kane been severely reprimanded of crimes because she went after some leaders who really deserved to fall under an Attorney General's legal fire? Is Kane actually a maverick Democrat who had the audacity to attack members of her own party?
Or is she an inept, rash, and malicious prosecutor who deserves to suffer dire consequences for breaking the law in an haughty manner?
Well, this story hasn't ended yet and only time will tell.
I sort of like mavericks in politics. I think a lot of other Americans do, too. Not only do they keep the news interesting, they are also valiant - noble even. They shake things up and sometimes even create the waves for change. And at times this change is positive and very much required.
But even so, how can an attorney general continue to act as a state's top prosecutor when she has lost her law license? What type of dysfunctional legal diphtheria has the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania been stricken with here?
And the crimes she has been convicted of — perjury, leaking grand jury information and then lying about it in an effort to discredit a political rival, criminal conspiracy, and so on, are just not things any attorney general is allowed to do! My God man, it's criminal! Tssk. Tssk. Tssk. Serves her right! Give her the royal treatment — lock her up and throw away the keys! — The boys at the Old Crow's Diner somewhere in Lower Boonsville, Pa. have been saying all week over coffee and bacon and eggs.
Kane's conviction on so many counts couldn't come at a worse time for the Keystone State's Democratic Party. The Clinton campaign is closing in on November's Presidential Election and such a horrid black eye on the face of the Democratic Party in a key battleground state is not what the ballot box needs right now, at least for Pennsylvania's - and even the national - Democrat leadership.
Although Kane's consequences might not hurt Clinton's campaign all that much, any bump of the Voting Day Apple Cart this late in the battle for the keys of the White House is not good. The last thing the Clinton camp should have to face right now is such a horrid controversy coming out of Pennsylvania.
Hillary needs to win the Keystone State. Much of this state is blue collar and these folks watch the nightly news. They are well informed and take a very active interest in local and state political news. And as crazy and temperamentally dysfunctional as the polling numbers have swung in this Presidential race, a retired steelworker who was a Democrat last week might be a Republican now. Hillary Clinton doesn't need this sort of thing — and although Kane's disgrace should not be seen as a reflection on Clinton in any way, some voters don't see things this way.
Pennsylvania also borders on coal country. West Virginia is its immediate neighbor to the south. Bernie Sanders beat Clinton by 51% to 36% in the Mountain State's May 10 Democratic Primary and Donald Trump triumphed in the Republican Primary here by a walloping 77% margin. Republican rivals Ted Cruz got 9% of the vote while Ohio Gov. John Kasich got 7%.
People in neighboring states tend to think along the same lines. Voters who live in western Pennsylvania, from Pittsburgh to the West Virginia border, tend to have the same mindset, politically in many ways, as their Mountaineer neighbors directly to the south. Those who come out of steelworker and coal mining stock are as blue collar as blue collar gets, after all. And even their children and grandchildren have a love and fond remembrance of what grandpa and grandma said around the table. Yes, they talk about politics a lot in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I know this because I've been a newspaper reporter and editor who has covered the people of both of these states. I know them well. These people overall, tend to have strict principles, hard opinions, a love and reverence for the work ethic, ditto for the Red, White & Blue and Almighty God, and are usually very direct. They believe in honesty and integrity and especially want these values in their political world.
Just to the west of Pennsylvania lies Ohio. Cities not far from the Pennsylvania line, like Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown, and Steubenville, are also very blue collar. Sundry types of factories, tire making plants, steel mills and down-line steel processing facilities, aluminum extrusion facilities, some auto plants, and other types manufacturing and fabricating facilities were booming here at one time. And there are still many of these concerns in operation in eastern Ohio. So in many ways, the political mindset of this group of people is part of the overall “think tank” of this wide, deep, populous region that also includes northern West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.
Although Clinton's Pennsylvania Presidential Primary vote showed her winning over Bernie Sanders by a 55.6% to 43.6% margin, Donald Trump's win in the Pennsylvania Republican Primary showed him winning with a 56.7% overall vote. John Kasich's home state - Pennsylvania — gave their Republican son a 19.4% nod. Kasich was bested, however, by Ted Cruz here — Cruz got 21.6% of the vote. This scattered vote in the Republican Primary in Pennsylvania could be seen as a good omen for Clinton, however, and even Republican also-rans Ben Carson got 0.9% of the vote, with Marco Rubio grabbing 0.7% and Jeb Bush seeing a 0.6% overall tally.
Things could change, though. After all, aren't they changing like the wind almost every week in this capricious and oftentimes volatile political rumpus between Trump and Clinton? The last thing Hillary Clinton needs right now in Pennsylvania is for a sizable margin of those who voted for Sanders to jump over to the Trump side. Ditto for those who voted for other candidates in the Republican race who might have swayed to the Clinton side before the Kathleen G. Kane scandal, which evolved into a nightmare multiple criminal convictions for the top prosecutor.
Staying the course is essential in golf, swimming, a university Logic class, and in particular, in such a fitful and unpredictable political horse race as this one has been — and as mean-spirited, underhanded and opportunistic as Trump has shown himself to be, Clinton doesn't need any more trouble, least of all in a state as important to her election as Pennsylvania.
Clinton has a way of coming through in the toughest of circumstances, however, and email scandal aside, she knows exactly how to respond to Trump's constant barrage of vitriol. Even one of his latest outrageous statements turned into a debacle - in which this lame-brained hothead commented on something that could be construed as a threat of fatal violence against his political rival during a recent speech in front of a crowd in Wilmington, N.C., on Tuesday, Aug. 9, really served to injure his campaign, if you want to call this crazy thing he's built around himself “a campaign”.
"If she gets to pick her judges, there's nothing you can do folks. Although for the Second Amendment people, maybe there is I don't know." — I hope the men in black suits have taken notice of this horrible comment. I'm not kidding around when I say this man, this Donald Trump character, although a filthy rich billionaire, is also a crazy lunatic that never thinks before he blabbers.
Trump also has the proclivity and seeming capability of being a very dangerous and diabolical man. A tyrant? Yes, I think so….
Trump can't stop himself, can he? He has to make these horrible comments and they come so often that it's a wonder he has five supporters in America. After alienating essentially every race except for Caucasians. Oh well, let me think for a second — maybe a large percentage of Caucasian women should seem not only offended, but violated by the the Great Orange One's caustic misogynistic comments toward women in general - but how can any level-headed and sensitive Hispanic, Arab-American, or African-American honestly like this blowhard? And when other minority groups see their brothers and sisters of darker skin persuasions than pale come under attack, these folks get skittish and at times, even hostile.
I don't see a great number of positive posts concerning Trump on the Native American social media groups that I belong to — oh, there's been a plethora of posts on these groups — with some even bordering on blatant slander — against this truly terrible man — but not much of anything positive or supportive concerning `The Donald'. Those in the Native social media community seem to abhor Trump. And I don't need to take any polls on this fact. I've probably seen more than a thousand pejorative and caustically ridiculing posts on these social media groups to know that I am right here. Truthfully, I've only seen a few supportive posts holding up this knucklehead.
Hillary Clinton is a seasoned federal leader who has learned how to deal with this egregious and bottom-feeding political predator. I have no doubt that over the long run, she'll win handily in November. Even in Keystone land. For a man who had no business even being in the Presidential race, it's absolutely amazing what a following Trump has gathered. And like many Americans, I'm concerned about the overall welfare and stability of the USA in seeing this man's rise to prominence and popularity. Although it was ugly and weird watching him say “You're fired” over and over again, week after week, on that Apprentice or Celebrity Apprentice show, I don't want him to get rid of the global warming problem by initiating a nuclear winter.
Back to the Keystone State now. The New York Times writer captures and ending to this trial in a somber and even a somewhat eerie way:
“Ms. Kane stared straight ahead as the word ‘guilty,' uttered decisively by a juror in a flowered dress, echoed nine times around the courtroom. The lawyers immediately went into a private conference with the judge, leaving Ms. Kane, who campaigned on a promise to uncover political interference in Pennsylvania, alone at the defense table,” according to Jess Bidgood's New York Times that appeared Monday.
“And when Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy returned to the courtroom, she turned directly to Ms. Kane with a stern warning, her words slicing through the silence,” Bidgood goes on to write.
“There is to be absolutely no retaliation of any kind against any witness in this case, either by your own devices, from your own mouth or your hand, or directing anybody to do anything,' the judge said. She threatened Ms. Kane, who is currently free on bail, with immediate incarceration if she failed to comply,” the New York Times writer adds.
“'Is that clear, Ms. Kane?' the judge asked,” Bidgood writes.
“'Yes it is, your honor,' Ms. Kane said,” The New York Times writer pens.
It's sad. I can't help but feeling sorry for Ms. Kane. It's sort of like the one sensitive soul who watched Saint Joan of Arc burned at the stake and then the bearded goliath broke down and cried.
Well, so much for some really bad political gunky coming out of Pennsylvania this week. We'll see what happens next week, though. Donald Trump may make some kind of crazy statement that if he is elected, he will send the U.S. Marine Corps into Pennsylvania looking for potential terrorists and stray horses and camels. Hang up high on those there oak trees boys! Don't show ‘em no mercy!
Or he might say something even more outlandish and horrid later this week than he said about the Second Amendment and poor Hillary. And if not, probably at least sometime next week he'll fall off a stage somewhere and cause a national fiasco.
Maybe by November, “The Donald” will only have five supporters coast to coast. I don't think Hillary really has much to worry about in the macro view of her political sphere.
Parker County man sentenced to life in sexual abuse of child
by Tommy Witherspoon
A Parker County man with a previous conviction for sexually abusing his girlfriend's young daughter was sentenced to life in prison Friday for sexually assaulting a young family member in 2001.
A 19th State District Court jury determined that Erlis Joseph Chaisson was convicted in 1993 for molesting a young girl, which, coupled with his conviction Thursday, led to an automatic life prison term for the 47-year-old home framer.
Jurors convicted Chaisson of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child by contact. Besides the life sentence, the jury recommended that Judge Ralph Strother sentence Chaisson to seven-year terms on both of the indecency counts.
The judge also ordered that the seven-year terms be served consecutively with the life sentence, meaning Chaisson will have to serve at least 42 years in prison before he can seek parole.
Chaisson, who did not testify during the five-day trial, also has convictions for burglary and drunken driving.
The victim in this case, now a 27-year-old state law enforcement officer in north central Texas, testified that Chaisson sexually abused her for four years beginning when she was 8 years old while her family lived in Louisiana. She said he also abused her after her family moved to a home near China Spring in 2001.
“In Louisiana, they may give you a slap on the wrist for child abuse, but the defendant made a mistake when he moved to McLennan County,” Assistant District Attorney Gabrielle Massey told jurors in closing statements. “He made a big mistake when he abused another child in this county.”
Prosecutor Andrew Erwin told the jury people like Chaisson are the reason the Legislature passed the “two strikes and you're out” statute that provides for an automatic life prison term the second time someone is convicted of abusing a young child.
“A life prison term is the only just punishment,” Erwin said.
Stephen Gordon, who represents Chaisson with Christy Jack, told the jury Chaisson is a hard-working man who did his best to provide for his family.
“Can you consider mercy? Can you consider grace? He is going to prison no matter what you do,” Gordon said. “He's going to be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.”
Chaisson challenged the authenticity of his Louisiana conviction, pleading “not true” to the enhancement because of the two-strike rule.
Prosecutors submitted the 1993 judgment from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and called a Parker County deputy to testify that Chaisson has been registering as a convicted sex offender in Weatherford since moving there.
Jurors heard a two-hour recording of a 2014 meeting between Chaisson and his victim. She testified that she told no one of the abuse until years later after she sought counseling for relationship difficulties and a questionnaire from the counselor's office asked if she had ever been sexually abused.
Chaisson agreed to meet her in a park in Granbury, knowing that she was seeing a counselor and wanting to talk about the sexual abuse.
Chaisson was heard on the tape acknowledging the abuse, but he tried to mitigate it by blaming her for craving so much attention and saying that he stopped himself “before he did something really stupid.”
Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse
by Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera
The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.
Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. And, he said, the mother of a child in a wheelchair confronted Mr. Jungreis’s mother-in-law, saying the same man had molested her son, and she “did not report this crime, so why did your son-in-law have to?”
By cooperating with the police, and speaking out about his son’s abuse, Mr. Jungreis, 38, found himself at the painful forefront of an issue roiling his insular Hasidic community. There have been glimmers of change as a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, taking on longstanding religious and cultural norms, have begun to report child sexual abuse accusations against members of their own communities. But those who come forward often encounter intense intimidation from their neighbors and from rabbinical authorities, aimed at pressuring them to drop their cases.
Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.
“Try living for one day with all the pain I am living with,” Mr. Jungreis, spent and distraught, said recently outside his new apartment on Williamsburg’s outskirts. “Did anybody in the Hasidic community in these two years, in Borough Park, in Flatbush, ever come up and look my son in the eye and tell him a good word? Did anybody take the courage to show him mercy in the street?”
A few blocks away, Pearl Engelman, a 64-year-old great-grandmother, said her community had failed her too. In 2008, her son, Joel, told rabbinical authorities that he had been repeatedly groped as a child by a school official at the United Talmudical Academy in Williamsburg. The school briefly removed the official but denied the accusation. And when Joel turned 23, too old to file charges under the state’s statute of limitations, they returned the man to teaching.
“There is no nice way of saying it,” Mrs. Engelman said. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”
Keeping to Themselves
The New York City area is home to an estimated 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews — the largest such community outside of Israel, and one that is growing rapidly because of its high birthrate. The community is concentrated in Brooklyn, where many of the ultra-Orthodox are Hasidim, followers of a fervent spiritual movement that began in 18th-century Europe and applies Jewish law to every aspect of life.
Their communities, headed by dynastic leaders called rebbes, strive to preserve their centuries-old customs by resisting the contaminating influences of the outside world. While some ultra-Orthodox rabbis now argue that a child molester should be reported to the police, others strictly adhere to an ancient prohibition against mesirah, the turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities, and consider publicly airing allegations against fellow Jews to be chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.
There are more mundane factors, too. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews want to keep abuse allegations quiet to protect the reputation of the community, and the family of the accused. And rabbinical authorities, eager to maintain control, worry that inviting outside scrutiny could erode their power, said Samuel Heilman, a professor of Jewish studies at Queens College.
“They are more afraid of the outside world than the deviants within their own community,” Dr. Heilman said. “The deviants threaten individuals here or there, but the outside world threatens everyone and the entire structure of their world.”
Scholars believe that abuse rates in the ultra-Orthodox world are roughly the same as those in the general population, but for generations, most ultra-Orthodox abuse victims kept silent, fearful of being stigmatized in a culture where the genders are strictly separated and discussion of sex is taboo. When a victim did come forward, it was generally to rabbis and rabbinical courts, which would sometimes investigate the allegations, pledge to monitor the accused, or order payment to a victim, but not refer the matter to the police.
“You can destroy a person’s life with a false report,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, a powerful ultra-Orthodox organization, which last year said that observant Jews should not report allegations to the police unless permitted to do so by a rabbi.
Rabbinic authorities “recommend you speak it over with a rabbi before coming to any definitive conclusion in your own mind,” Rabbi Zwiebel said.
When ultra-Orthodox Jews do bring abuse accusations to the police, the same cultural forces that have long kept victims silent often become an obstacle to prosecutions.
In Brooklyn, of the 51 molesting cases involving the ultra-Orthodox community that the district attorney’s office says it has closed since 2009, nine were dismissed because the victims backed out. Others ended with plea deals because the victims’ families were fearful.
“People aren’t recanting, but they don’t want to go forward,” said Rhonnie Jaus, a sex crimes prosecutor in Brooklyn. “We’ve heard some of our victims have been thrown out of schools, that the person is shunned from the synagogue. There’s a lot of pressure.”
The degree of intimidation can vary by neighborhood, by sect and by the prominence of the person accused.
In August 2009, the rows in a courtroom at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn were packed with rabbis, religious school principals and community leaders. Almost all were there in solidarity with Yona Weinberg, a bar mitzvah tutor and licensed social worker from Flatbush who had been convicted of molesting two boys under age 14.
Justice Guston L. Reichbach looked out with disapproval. He recalled testimony about how the boys had been kicked out of their schools or summer camps after bringing their cases, suggesting a “communal attitude that seeks to blame, indeed punish, victims.” And he noted that, of the 90 letters he had received praising Mr. Weinberg, not one displayed “any concern or any sympathy or even any acknowledgment for these young victims, which, frankly, I find shameful.”
“While the crimes the defendant stands convicted of are bad enough,” the judge said before sentencing Mr. Weinberg to 13 months in prison, “what is even more troubling to the court is a communal attitude that seems to impose greater opprobrium on the victims than the perpetrator.”
Silenced by Fear
Intimidation is rarely documented, but just two weeks ago, a Hasidic woman from Kiryas Joel, N.Y., in Orange County, filed a startling statement in a criminal court, detailing the pressure she faced after telling the police that a Hasidic man had molested her son.
“I feel 100 percent threatened and very scared,” she said in her statement. “I feel intimidated and worried about what the consequences are going to be. But I have to protect my son and do what is right.”
Last year, her son, then 14, told the police that he had been offered $20 by a stranger to help move some boxes, but instead, the man brought him to a motel in Woodbury, removed the boy’s pants and masturbated him.
The police, aided by the motel’s security camera, identified the man as Joseph Gelbman, then 52, of Kiamesha Lake, a cook who worked at a boys’ school run by the Vizhnitz Hasidic sect. He was arrested, and the intimidation ensued. Rabbi Israel Hager, a powerful Vizhnitz rabbi in Monsey, N.Y., began calling the mother, asking her to cease her cooperation with the criminal case and, instead, to bring the matter to a rabbinical court under his jurisdiction, according to the mother’s statement to the court. Rabbi Hager did not return repeated calls seeking comment.
“I said: ‘Why? He might do this again to other children,’ ” the mother said in the statement. The mother, who asked that The New York Times not use her name to avoid identifying her son, told the police that the rabbi asked, “What will you gain from this if he goes to jail?” and said that, in a later call, he offered her $20,000 to pay for therapy for her son if the charges were dropped.
On April 24, three days before the case was set for trial, the boy was expelled from his school. When the mother protested, she said, the principal threatened to report her for child abuse.
Prosecutors, against the wishes of the boy’s parents, settled the case on April 27. Mr. Gelbman was given three years’ probation after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child.
Mr. Jungreis, the Williamsburg father, had a similar experience. He first suspected that his son was being molested after he came home with blood in his underwear at age 12, and later was caught touching another child on the bus. But, Mr. Jungreis said, the school principal warned him to stay silent. Two years later, the boy revealed that he had been molested for years by a man he saw at a mikvah, a ritual bath that observant Jews visit for purification.
Mr. Jungreis, knowing the prohibition on calling secular authorities, asked several rabbis to help him report the abuse, but, he said, they told him they did not want to get involved. Ultimately, he found a rabbi who told him to take his son to a psychologist, who would be obligated to notify law enforcement. “That way you are not the moser,” he said the rabbi told him, using the Hebrew word for informer. The police arrested Meir Dascalowitz, then 27, who is now awaiting trial.
Prosecution of intimidation is rare. Victims and their supporters say that is because rabbinical authorities are politically powerful; prosecutors say it is because there is rarely enough evidence to build a criminal case. “The intimidation often works, at least in the short run,” said Laura Pierro, the head of the special victims unit at the Ocean County prosecutor’s office in New Jersey.
In 2010, Ms. Pierro’s agency indicted Shaul Luban for witness tampering: he had sent a threatening text message to multiple recipients, urging the Orthodox Jewish community of Lakewood, N.J., to pressure the family of an 11-year-old abuse victim not to cooperate with prosecutors. In exchange for having his record cleared, Mr. Luban agreed to spend about a year in a program for first-time offenders.
Mr. Luban and others “wanted the phone to ring off the hook to withdraw the complaint from our office,” the Ocean County prosecutor, Marlene Lynch Ford, said.
Threats to Advocates
The small cadre of ultra-Orthodox Jews who have tried to call attention to the community’s lack of support for sexual abuse victims have often been targeted with the same forms of intimidation as the victims themselves.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg of Williamsburg, for example, has been shunned by communal authorities because he maintains a telephone number that features his impassioned lectures in Yiddish, Hebrew and English imploring victims to call 911 and accusing rabbis of silencing cases. He also shows up at court hearings and provides victims’ families with advice. His call-in line gets nearly 3,000 listeners a day.
In 2008, fliers were posted around Williamsburg denouncing him. One depicted a coiled snake, with Mr. Rosenberg’s face superimposed on its head. “Nuchem Snake Rosenberg: Leave Tainted One!” it said in Hebrew. The local Satmar Hasidic authorities banned him from their synagogues, and a wider group of 32 prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis and religious judges signed an order, published in a community newspaper, formally ostracizing him.
“The public must beware, and stay away from him, and push him out of our camp, not speak to him, and even more, not to honor him or support him, and not allow him to set foot in any synagogue until he returns from his evil ways,” the order said in Hebrew.
“They had small children coming to my house and spitting on me and on my children and wife,” Rabbi Rosenberg, 61, said in an interview.
Rabbi Tzvi Gluck, 31, of Queens, the son of a prominent rabbi and an informal liaison to secular law enforcement, began helping victims after he met troubled teenagers at Our Place, a help center in Brooklyn, and realized that sexual abuse was often the root of their problems. It was when he began helping the teenagers report cases to the police that he also received threats.
In February, for example, he received a call asking him to urge an abuse victim to abandon a case. “A guy called me up and said: ‘Listen, I want you to know that people on the street are talking about what they can do to hurt you financially. And maybe speak to your children’s schools, to get your kids thrown out of school.’ ”
Rabbi Gluck said he had helped at least a dozen ultra-Orthodox abuse victims bring cases to the Brooklyn district attorney in recent years, and each time, he said, the victim came under heavy pressure to back down. In a case late last year that did not get to the police, a 30-year-old molested a 14-year-old boy in a Jewish ritual bath in Brooklyn, and a rabbi “made the boy apologize to the molester for seducing him,” he said.
“If a guy in our community gets diagnosed with cancer, the whole community will come running to help them,” he said. “But if someone comes out and says they were a victim of abuse, as a whole, the community looks at them and says, ‘Go jump in a lake.’ ”
Traces of Change
Awareness of child sexual abuse is increasing in the ultra-Orthodox community. Since 2008, hundreds of adult abuse survivors have told their stories, mostly anonymously, on blogs and radio call-in shows, and to victims’ advocates. Rabbi-vetted books like “Let’s Stay Safe,” aimed at teaching children what to do if they are inappropriately touched, are selling well.
The response by communal authorities, however, has been uneven.
In March, for example, Satmar Hasidic authorities in Williamsburg took what advocates said was an unprecedented step: They posted a Yiddish sign in synagogues warning adults and children to stay away from a community member who they said was molesting young men. But the sign did not urge victims to call the police: “With great pain we must, according to the request of the brilliant rabbis (may they live long and good lives), inform you that the young man,” who was named, “is, unfortunately, an injurious person and he is a great danger to our community.”
In Crown Heights, where the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement has its headquarters, there has been more significant change. In July 2011, a religious court declared that the traditional prohibition against mesirah did not apply in cases with evidence of abuse. “One is forbidden to remain silent in such situations,” said the ruling, signed by two of the court’s three judges.
Since then, five molesting cases have been brought from the neighborhood — “as many sexual abuse-related arrests and reports as there had been in the past 20 years,” said Eliyahu Federman, a lawyer who helps victims in Crown Heights, citing public information.
Mordechai Feinstein, 19, helped prompt the ruling by telling the Crown Heights religious court that he had been touched inappropriately at age 15 by Rabbi Moshe F. Keller, a Lubavitcher who ran a foundation for at-risk youth and whom Mr. Feinstein had considered his spiritual mentor.
Last week, Rabbi Keller was sentenced in Criminal Court to three years’ probation for endangering the welfare of a child. And Mr. Feinstein, who is no longer religious, is starting a campaign to encourage more abuse victims to come forward. He is working with two prominent civil rights attorneys, Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitelbaum, who are asking lawyers to provide free assistance to abuse victims frustrated by their dealings with prosecutors.
“The community is a garden; there are a lot of beautiful things about it,” Mr. Feinstein said. “We just have to help them weed out the garden and take out the things that don’t belong there.”
The Second Assault
Victims of childhood sexual abuse are far more likely to become obese adults. New research shows that early trauma is so damaging that it can disrupt a person’s entire psychology and metabolism.
by Olga Khazan
Christine White was a preteen when she went on her first diet. At school, she was bubbly and outgoing, an honors student immersed in social causes. But at home, she would carefully ration her food.
By the time she was 14, she had developed bulimia. It was easier to hide the purging from her family than it was to explain why she wasn’t eating. In her darkest moments, she would scribble her anxieties into a blue-lined journal.
“When I eat food now I feel guilty,” she wrote in rounded, 14-year-old script. “I don’t like to eat in front of other people.”
As a college student, she stopped throwing up but kept overeating. Carbs were her crutch. “If I'm stressed, let me crawl inside a bag of Tostitos,” said White, who goes by her nickname, Cissy. She would shovel handfuls of cereal in her mouth, or boil and eat enormous amounts of pasta.
She didn’t fully understand what drove her binges, but she had one idea—an experience she referred to as “my hell” and “my secret” in later journals.
When White was an infant, her mother began dating a man 26 years her senior, and he lived with the family until White was 10. Though to outsiders he seemed affable, the stepfather was largely unemployed, according to White, and he had a boorish streak. “He was the kind of guy who would beep at pretty women walking down the street,” she said, “even with his kids in the car.”
At home, his immaturity had a sinister element, White said. A number of times, after White showered, he’d make her parade in front of him naked so he could “inspect” her. During games of Yahtzee, he would force her to sit on his lap for longer than was comfortable. He’d grab her behind and make flirtatious comments. Occasionally, he’d put a treat in his pocket and cajole her into fishing around for it.
“I knew that I didn’t like what was happening,” she said, “but I didn’t know what was appropriate.”
To her teen self, White’s body was criminal. “I felt like I was always in a battle with food,” she said. “I just thought, this body needs to be tamed. It makes terrible things happen.”
As horrifying as White’s story is, it’s a common one among people who have been abused as children. Researchers are increasingly finding that, in addition to leaving deep emotional scars, childhood sexual abuse often turns food into an obsession for its victims. Many, like White, become prone to binge-eating. Others willfully put on weight to desexualize, in the hope that what happened to them as children will never happen again.
In White’s case, overeating did not lead to obesity—her weight only ever ranged from roughly 118 pounds to 175. But research shows that in general, childhood sexual abuse might be an important predictor of obesity and overweight in adulthood. More importantly, experts say, this disturbing connection suggests it’s fruitless to treat eating-disordered patients without investigating and addressing potential childhood trauma first.
* * *
In 1985, a 28-year-old woman named Patty arrived at a weight-loss clinic in San Diego operated by Kaiser Permanente. The clinic was designed for people who were between 60 and 600 pounds overweight. Patty asked the doctor running the program, Vincent Felitti, for help. Patty weighed 408 pounds. In less than a year, she had shed 276 of them on a near-fasting diet.
“We thought, ‘Well, we’ve obviously got this problem licked,’” Felitti told me recently. “We’re going to be a world-famous department of preventive medicine here.”
Patty stayed at her svelte new weight for a few weeks. Then, in less than a month, she gained back 37 pounds—a feat that would require eating more than 4,000 excess calories daily. Patty blamed it on sleepwalking, saying that though she lived alone, she had been waking up in the mornings to a kitchen covered in opened boxes and cans.
Felitti believed her sleep-eating story, but he asked her, “Why did that start now? Why not five years ago? Why not 10 years from now?”
Patty said she didn’t know. When Felitti pressed her, she said there was a man at work who was much older and married. After she lost weight, he complimented and propositioned her.
Felitti countered that, though the sexual advances were understandably unpleasant, extreme weight-gain seemed like a strange response.
That’s when Patty revealed that her grandfather began raping her when she was 10.
In short order, Patty regained all of the weight and then some.
Patty’s story offered a clue into why nearly half of Felitti’s obesity patients dropped out of the weight-loss program. He interviewed more of these patients and found that 55 percent acknowledged some form of childhood sexual abuse. Like Patty, many would enter his program, slim down, then promptly bulk up again.
Together with Robert Anda at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Felitti would go on to run the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, which hunted for lingering impacts of difficult upbringings in the general population. The study generated a framework called the ACE Score, or the sum of all the types of trauma a person might have experienced in childhood—everything from their parents’ divorce, to poverty, to physical and sexual abuse.
The more ACEs a person has, the greater their risk of all sorts of maladies. Six ACEs increases the risk of injecting-drug abuse by 4600 percent, for example. Though some people develop resilience to early adversity, Felitti and Anda found that abuse victims’ ability to “bounce back” without treatment is markedly overstated.
“The things that don’t kill you can make you stronger,” Felitti said. But if they go unaddressed, they can also “get to a point where they become overwhelming and will destroy you.”
* * *
White’s stepfather moved out eventually, but he still made her wary whenever they interacted. His overtures ramped up as White lost weight in adolescence. He’d send her cards and tell her she should be a model. “That was just disgusting to me,” she said.
White’s stepfather has since passed away, but the distress he inflicted loomed over her early adult life. In 1985, when she was 18, she confessed to her journal that she was having trouble having intercourse with her boyfriend. “I’m so frigid,” she wrote.
She wouldn’t have a normal sex life until her early 40s. In college, she’d cry nearly every day and wake up with nightmares and flashbacks.
Experts say sexual abuse is one of the worst adverse experiences, and also one of the most likely to compound other life stressors.
“It’s bad to have a substance-abusing parent, or a mentally ill parent who's untreated,” said Frank Putnam, a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and another prominent childhood-adversity researcher. “Of all those [ACEs], sexual abuse seems to be the most pernicious. This is particularly true for women.”
“Sexual abuse is about betrayal,” he added. “It’s occurring at the hands of trusted family members and caregivers.”
Studies by Putnam and others have found that sexually abused women are more likely to suffer from an array of seemingly unrelated mental and physical ailments, including premature puberty and problems in school.
One 75-year-old former patient of Felitti’s, who saw him when she was in her 20s and weighed 270 pounds, said she began eating compulsively after a childhood of horrific sexual and emotional violence. (She and several other sources requested anonymity to protect family members and friends.) She now has a host of health problems, like bone problems and tumors in her brain and sciatic nerve, that she believes are related to her weight and mental anguish.
“It bothers you all your life,” the woman told me. “It decimates you as a human being.”
The trauma of sexual abuse often manifests through a preoccupation with food, dieting, and a drive to feel uncomfortably full. One analysis of 57,000 women in 2013 found that those who experienced physical or sexual abuse as children were twice as likely to be addicted to food than those who did not.
One Maryland woman who was a victim of incest at the hands of her father, uncle, and cousin would sometimes go for days without eating as a teen. Now that she’s in her 50s, the pattern has reversed, and she finds herself prone to binges. When at the airport, for example, she beelines for snack shops, buys two to three bags of M&Ms and a pack of Cheez-Its, and downs it all.
“I’m telling myself the whole time, ‘Why am I doing this?’” she said. “We still always carry this guilt around.”
Trauma that occurs during critical periods in the brain’s development can change its neurobiology, making it less responsive to rewards. This anhedonia—a deficit of positive emotions—more than doubles the likelihood that abused children will become clinically depressed adults. It also increases their risk of addiction. With their brains unable to produce a natural high, many adult victims of child abuse chase happiness in food. It’s this tendency, when combined with what many described as a desire to become less noticeable, that makes this group especially vulnerable to obesity.
Constance, a 53-year-old Virginia woman who also asked that I use a pseudonym, was fondled as a young girl by both an older cousin and her grandfather. A few years after the molestation ended, she was at a family function when she became so uncomfortable that she snuck off to a pantry and ate cookies until she felt sick.
In middle school, three neighborhood boys tricked her into coming over to their house. When she arrived, she said, they held her down and gang-raped her. For years, Constance didn’t tell anyone about the rape. Her weight spiked. When people weren’t looking, she would gorge on cookies, cakes, and chips. By the time she was a teenager, she weighed 180 pounds.
In high school, she turned to drinking and prescription pills, and later, she went to jail and rehab for a cocaine addiction. “When I was under the influence, I was able to come outside of myself,” she said. “I would talk and laugh.” Even after rehab, she struggled with a compulsive-shopping habit that ran up her credit cards.
Today, Constance is still overweight and lives alone. She’d like to find a partner, but she has doubts. “I'm never really quite comfortable or feel safe with men,” she said. “I’m a little afraid of them because I know what they can do.”
Compulsive overeating doesn’t always lead to obesity, but studies show that sexual-abuse victims are far more likely to be obese in adulthood. Research suggests childhood sexual abuse increases the odds of adult obesity by between 31 and 100 percent. One study found that about 8 percent of all cases of obesity, and 17 percent of “class three” severe obesity, can be attributed to some form of child abuse.
The reasons are both metabolic and psychological, both willful and subconscious. For many victims, the drivers of their obesity act in synergy, compounding each other, and they might change over time. One such pathway is inflammation: The major, unrelieved stress of abuse triggers the adrenal glands to pump out steroid-like hormones. One of these hormones, cortisol, not only affects the brain’s ability to plan things like diets, it also affects appetite, satiety, and metabolism.
And there’s some evidence that stress induces the body to squirrel away fat—a vestige of a time in human evolution when this would have been useful. Chronic stress also sparks the release of chemicals called pro-inflammatory cytokines, which prevent insulin from being taken up by the muscle cells. This is called insulin resistance, and it’s strongly correlated with obesity. “If you think of the body as a clever organism, if it’s exposed to something that’s threatening, it protects itself by making sure there are plenty of calories on board,” said Erik Hemmingsson, an associate professor of medicine at Karolinska University in Sweden.
Abuse victims might therefore become heavy even if they eat normal amounts. One 93-year-old woman, Helen McClure, has been obese for years, but she’s not quite sure why. She doesn’t have a problem with overeating, she says.
As a child, she thought the fact that her father occasionally massaged her genitals was “just a part of growing up.”
“I first realized how bad it was was when I was in junior high and we learned about how babies are born,” she said. “It shocked me.” By then, she weighed 200 pounds.
Many survivors, meanwhile, put on weight in order to protect against future abuse. Women I interviewed said they felt more physically imposing when they were bigger. They felt their size, rightly or wrongly, helped ward off sexual advances from men.
Patricia Borad, another of Felitti’s patients, said physical abuse was a daily part of her childhood. Her mother called her “jezebel”; her father would paddle her and her other siblings if only one of them did something wrong. When she was in her teens, her father refused her permission to go on a camping trip with her boyfriend’s family. When she asked him why, he backhanded her so hard she flew across the room.
“For that reason, I just grew up not being able to say ‘no’ to a man,” she said.
In adulthood, she was fine with the attention she drew from romantic prospects—whenever she was single. But if she was in a relationship, she’d put on weight so that other men would be less likely to flirt with her and try to lure her away from her partner. “If I didn’t want that extra attention from men,” she said, “it was much easier not to get it if I was overweight.”
Another survivor echoed her perspective: “Eating and getting big, I felt like nobody would notice me.”
People who have unexamined childhood trauma often fail when they attempt weight-loss treatments. Some studies show that patients with histories of abuse tend to lose less weight after bariatric surgery or during clinical weight-loss treatment. Among women who were hospitalized for psychiatric treatment after bariatric surgery, one study found that 73 percent had a history of childhood sexual abuse. Gastric bypass prevents them from eating large quantities—thereby removing an essential coping mechanism.
In Felitti’s weight-loss group, there was one woman, also a victim of abuse, who would come every week and sit silently with a smile on her face. One week, she announced that her family had finally scraped together the $20,000 necessary for her to have bariatric surgery.
“Well, this is going to be a disaster,” Felitti thought.
She lost 94 pounds, became suicidal, and was psychiatrically hospitalized five times the following year.
“The [weight] came off too quick,” she told him later. “I felt like I was losing my protective wall.
* * *
These women’s stories suggest that obesity is not what it seems. Given how it increases obesity risk, preventing child abuse could be considered a public-health measure on par with mandatory calorie labels. Doctors may tell overweight patients to diet and hit the gym, but if they’ve suffered childhood trauma, their bodies might be actively working against them. Worse still, the patient might—consciously or otherwise—have a dark reason for remaining heavy.
Felitti eventually incorporated a questionnaire that asks patients about sexual abuse and other childhood trauma into Kaiser Permanente’s Obesity Program. Several obesity-treatment specialists contacted for this story also said they routinely ask their patients about sexual abuse—most won’t mention it unless prompted.
Wendy Scinta, an obesity-medicine specialist in central New York, says the first question she asks patients who seek weight-loss treatment is, “Did you have a happy childhood?”
People who did will say so right away. Among those who didn’t, there’s usually a pause. A “hmmm.” A vague explanation. If the patient recalls abuse, Scinta might refer them to the psychologist she has on staff.
Some doctors say they struggle to secure insurance-plan payouts for the extensive psychological or psychiatric treatment that abuse survivors require. About half of psychiatrists don’t take insurance, and half of U.S. counties have no mental-health professionals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services covers 16 to 22 visits per year for obesity-related medical counseling, but psychological therapy is not included.
“With people who are abused, you have to uncover their awful wounds before they get better,” said Marijane Hynes, an internist at the George Washington University Medical School in Washington who focuses on obesity. At her hospital, psychiatry residents see many of her patients for free, and she’s not sure how she would provide mental-health treatment without their help.
Some survivors find unorthodox routes to restoring mental and physical health. Later in her life, McClure, the 93-year-old abuse victim, began speaking regularly on abuse issues to groups of doctors, social workers, and police departments. The advocacy “has certainly dulled the pain and given me a sense of pride in the fact that I have been able to turn my disgusting story into a tool to help others,” she said.
White, the woman who documented her teenage dieting and bulimia in journals, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in her 20s. After suffering an anxiety attack, she called the health center at her college, which referred her to therapy. She would ride the bus to the therapist’s lily-white, immaculate office twice each week. “I used to refer to it as paid-for parenting,” said White, who is now 49 and living in Weymouth, Massachusetts.
The therapist was warm and welcoming. Eventually, though, White felt it wasn’t enough to simply talk about her emotions. Her abuse had left her feeling like an amputee, she said. Talk therapy was like retracing the question, “How do you feel about the fact that you can't get up the stairs?” she said—when all she really wanted was a ramp.
In her 30s, she enrolled in a writing workshop. She and dozens of other people, many of them survivors of trauma, would sit in a room, compose essays about their pasts, and share their work with the group. At first, being open about her childhood felt awkward. But after each of the four sessions, White found herself feeling better for months.
It was around that same time that she began regularly practicing yoga. That, too, was fraught initially. For a survivor of sexual abuse, lying down in a dark room with strangers, as most yogis do at the end of a class, was scary. Gradually, though, the practice helped her once again feel safe in her skin.
Decades later, the days of seeing her body as tainted are finally over for White. She still believes she’ll be keenly sensitive to stress for the rest of her life. But now, when something triggers her—like her home flooding a few years ago—she turns to a relaxation technique called guided imagery to manage her symptoms. She’s become an advocate for abuse victims, and in 2014 she opened her own writing workshop.
She says the abuse will always tug at her, but today its power is diminished. “That's just stuff that happened to you,” she said. “It isn't you.”
Woman Recorded Shocking Sexual Abuse On Children For Money
by Chelsea Hoffman
A New Jersey woman who filmed sex acts with a child has been sentenced in prison, and the details surrounding her actions are making media headlines. WFLX News reports that 30-year-old Pamela Dziminski was convicted after she admitted to what she had done.
The incidents reportedly took place earlier this year. Authorities in Ewing became aware of the abuse when videos and photos of it were posted on the internet. What resulted was an investigation that led to the arrest of the 30-year-old New Jersey woman. The media that had been uploaded to the internet appeared to feature the New Jersey woman sexually abusing a 4-year-old boy.
Pamela Dziminski admitted that she took the videos and photos with the child, and sold them to three different people on the internet. The Trentonian reports that Dziminski was charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault at the time of her arrest. She was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Authorities discovered that the young child was in the care of the woman, and was a relative. However, the identity of the lad, or his exact relationship to the convicted New Jersey woman, hasn’t been clarified.
This isn’t the first time a woman has been charged or convicted with exploiting a child, sexually, for various reasons. Earlier this year, a daycare worker named Heather Koon pleaded guilty in association with vile sexual behavior against children in her care. Koon admits to raping more than one child under the instruction of her sex offender fiance. The woman reportedly raped as many as four children — some of whom just a year old.
Also this year, an Indiana woman named Jessica McCain was reportedly arrested for sexual abuse of a child. The 23-year-old woman is accused of using a friend’s cellphone to record herself sexually abusing a 1-year-old boy.
Also this year, a 42-year-old Washington woman was arrested in association with crimes against children. The woman allegedly lured kids into her home with ice cream and popcorn, before forcing them to perform sexual acts on her. The alleged victims in this case range in age from 12 to 15 years old, and authorities report that one of the kids even recorded an incident with the 42-year-old woman.
In June, a Cincinnati woman pleaded guilty in association with trafficking her own daughter. Police say that 32-year-old April Corcoran traded her 11-year-old daughter with her drug dealer in exchange for drugs, allowing the man to have sex with the young girl. Not only did she traffic her own daughter, but she also allegedly gave the girl heroin as a “reward” for allowing the woman’s drug dealer to have sex with her.
As for the conviction of Pamela Dziminski, the New Jersey woman has been sentenced to approximately 25 years of imprisonment. Meanwhile, the woman’s family has appeared to forgive her for the vile act of child sexual abuse she committed. Her parents have provided statements, in hopes of getting the woman a shorter prison sentence, declaring that the boy “doesn’t remember anything regarding the assault.” The New Jersey woman’s attorney noted that she has no prior criminal history, but agrees with the prison sentence she was given.
Do you think 25 years of imprisonment is long enough for the sexual exploitation and abuse of a 4-year-old child? Could the sexual abuse suffered by the child have any lasting effects on him that may surface when he’s older? Sound off with your opinions in the comments section below.
Tip Sheet: Warning Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse In A Child's Behaviors
Any one sign doesn't mean that a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you begin asking questions and consider seeking help. Keep in mind that some of these signs can emerge at other times of stress such as:
During a divorce
Death of a family member or pet
Problems at school or with friends
Other anxiety-inducing or traumatic events
Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent
Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
Seems distracted or distant at odd times
Has a sudden change in eating habits
Refuses to eat
Loses or drastically increases appetite
Has trouble swallowing.
Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
Talks about a new older friend
Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge
Signs more typical of younger children
An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
Has new words for private body parts
Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
Signs more typical in adolescents
Self-injury (cutting, burning)
Inadequate personal hygiene
Drug and alcohol abuse
Running away from home
Fear of intimacy or closeness
Compulsive eating or dieting
Physical warning signs
Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare. If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor. Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.
Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
What You Can Do If You See Warning Signs
Create a Safety Plan. Don’t wait for “proof” of child sexual abuse.
Look for patterns of behavior that make children less safe. Keep track of behaviors that concern you. This Sample Journal Page can be a helpful tool.
See our Let’s Talk Guidebook for tips on speaking up whenever you have a concern.
If you have questions or would like resources or guidance for responding to a specific situation, visit our Online Help Center.
Share Prevention Tip Sheets in Your Community
We encourage you to print and share these tip sheets in your family and community. Our tip sheets are licensed under the Creative Commons (link is external), which allows you to reproduce them as long as you follow these Guidelines. Please contact us about permissions and to tell us how you plan to put our resources to work.
For more information and guidance, please visit our Online Help Center.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Recognizing, Preventing, and Reporting Child Abuse
Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars. The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal and break the cycle—rather than perpetuate it. By learning about common signs of abuse and what you can do to intervene, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life.
Understanding child abuse and neglect
Child abuse is more than bruises or broken bones. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.
Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect
MYTH #1: It's only abuse if it's violent.
Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene.
MYTH #2: Only bad people abuse their children.
Fact: While it's easy to say that only "bad people" abuse their children, it's not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.
MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn't happen in “good” families.
Fact: Child abuse doesn't only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
MYTH #4: Most child abusers are strangers.
Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.
MYTH #5: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.
Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.
Effects of child abuse and neglect
All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school. Some effects include:
Lack of trust and relationship difficulties - If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
Core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged” - If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it or are worth more. Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
Trouble regulating emotions - Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see the full article (linked below) for much more info on types of child abuse, recognizing abuse and what to do about it.
How can abuse affect me?
Experiencing any form of childhood trauma and abuse can impact on an adult's quality of life in fundamental ways. It can make basic day-to-day activities, such as eating, sleeping, working and study difficult. Trauma and abuse in childhood can also affect your mental health, physical health, and your relationships with the people around you.
However research has established that recovery is possible. With the right help and support survivors can live healthy connected lives. Understanding the effects of trauma and abuse can help survivors connect their past experiences with their present challenges, and find pathways to a healthier future.
EFFECTS ON FEELINGS
Survivors are often out of touch with their feelings - confused by emotions or reactions they cannot explain. They have often been raised in environments in which a child’s normal expressions of upset or discomfort were punished or ignored. They may have been taught to attribute the negative emotions associated with childhood trauma and abuse, such as shame and anger, towards themselves. This confusion often persists into adult life, and can result in heightened experiences of:
Grief and sadness
Shame, self blame and guilt
Helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness
Like everyone, survivors have a right to “a life worth living” (Linehan 1993), but instead survivors often live with chronic distress and pain. For many survivors, these emotions are so much a part of their day-to-day life that they don’t realise that there are alternatives. Unable to readily regulate their emotions they may seek to do so through alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or other compulsive behaviours. Many survivors also harm themselves out of a sense of despair. All of these 'coping strategies' make sense in the context of childhood trauma and abuse.
Learning about emotions – what they are, where they come from, and how to respond to them – is a crucial part of finding a path to recovery. Survivors can learn new, effective ways of regulating the intensity of their feelings, so that they don’t need to use alcohol or drugs and/or cut themselves to express their emotions. For many survivors, learning about the psychological impacts of their trauma or abuse helps them to understand why they have struggled for so long, and how they can move forward.
Acknowledging these feelings, understanding where they come from and why they are so intense is an important part of any survivor’s journey.
EFFECTS ON RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS AND SELF-ESTEEM
Survivors often find it difficult to trust others. As children they might have been betrayed by the very adults who were meant to nurture and protect them. As a result, survivors often find it difficult to form and sustain relationships. A large survey of adult survivors of child abuse in Australia found that survivors had a higher rate of failed relationships and marriages, and reported lower levels of social interaction (Draper, Pirkis et al. 2008).
When children are abused they come to believe the messages their abusers deliver, such as: 'You are worthless' and 'You have no value'. Of course, these messages are not true, but children accept and internalise them. These messages become ingrained that, when a child who has been abused or traumatised grows up, the adult survivor will often experience feelings of low self-worth or poor self-confidence. Rebuilding self-esteem is a gradual process, but a crucial one.
EFFECTS ON PHYSICAL HEALTH
Childhood trauma and abuse doesn’t just affect the mind - they can affect the body too. Children who feel perpetually in danger grow up with a heightened stress response. This in turn heightens their emotions, makes it difficult to sleep, lowers immune function, and, over time, increases the risk of a number of physical illnesses. Adult survivors are at increased risk of chronic pain and fibromylgia, gynaecological problems, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, headaches, cardiovascular disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome. They are also more likely to smoke and drink more than other people in the community, and be less physically active. These factors can all affect health and wellbeing in later life.
Child abuse survivor finally gets justice and his life back after 40 years
Groom Dave Gipps's happy wedding day picture holds a grim secret.
The smartly dressed guest in a black suit just a few feet from the newlyweds is Dave's childhood abuser.
Vile Richard Lancaster wheedled his way into the church ceremony despite sexually molesting Dave for five years when he was a gullible teenager.
But now, 30 years after the happiest day of his life was overshadowed by the pervert, Dave has got justice.
Lancaster, 60, was jailed for ten years last week for his sick crimes.
Dave, 53, told the Sunday People: “I thought I'd be sad when I looked at those pictures from my wedding day but actually I'm happy now.
“I've put him behind bars and he can't do that to anyone else ever again.
“I can show it to people now and say, ‘This is the man who abused me. He got ten years'.”
Christine, 54, who only found out about her husband's secret torment ten years after their wedding, said: “I was absolutely sickened to know what Richard, a family friend, had been doing to him all those years.
“I never had a clue Dave had a dark past. Richard did a lot for him and I thought he was a genuine good friend.
“When I found out, I was so shocked I burst out crying, it was so horrible.
“It makes me angry he came to my wedding, that I stood in the same room with him and posed for pictures.”
Dave was 13 and getting little attention from his parents as they went through a divorce when Lancaster, then 20, targeted him.
Dave says: “Richard took me under his wing. He was like a second father to me.
Lancaster was popular in Dave's hometown of Chigwell, Essex, because he drove a motorbike and would take the children on their street for a ride.
Dave said: “We all love motorbikes and as kids we used to play football on the street, so that's how we met.”
Eventually Lancaster, a forklift engineer, invited Dave to his house.
In the days and weeks that followed he began to groom the teenager by showering him with attention, cuddles and gifts. Several months later he began touching him.
Dave said: “After that, it would happen three or four times a week. He would take me to a bedroom and have his wicked way while my parents were at home, oblivious that any of this was happening.”
Dave tells how he became so confused by what was going on he spiralled into depression and at just 14 attempted to slit his wrists in Lancaster's bathroom.
He said: “I think it was a call for help but I went into Richard's bathroom and made three cuts with a razor on my arm.
“I was just too terrified to tell anyone. It was like I had two lives, one life with him and one life apart.”
The abuse continued for five years. In 1980, when Dave was about to turn 18, it ended. He said: “I think it ended because I was becoming of age.” Despite the abuse stopping, Dave remained close to Lancaster.
He said: “The reality is I had no idea that what he'd been doing to me was abuse. I didn't understand what sex was.
“I saw him as a father figure and trusted him. Looking back I can see I was messed up.”
The same year Dave met Christine at her sister's 21st birthday party and they fell in love.
“Richard never let me mix with girls or women,” he recalled.
“So when I met Christine I felt like I was finally getting a chance at a normal life.”
As the years rolled by, Dave's relationship with Christine went from strength to strength. They decided to tie the knot in 1986 and even invited Lancaster as a guest. But Dave never thought about telling Christine about the abuse because he had locked away that part of his life in his mind.
He said: “Richard was still a friend who had done a lot for me and I never thought I shouldn't invite him to my wedding.
When their big day came, Lancaster stood for photos with Dave and Christine and other guests – a constant reminder in print of the dark past Dave had left behind him.
Dave and Lancaster lost touch the following year as Christine and Dave prepared to welcome their first daughter Leah into the world. Lancaster also got married, had three children and divorced. It wasn't until 2007, 31 years after the abuse began, that taxi driver Dave realised he'd been a child victim of sex crime.
He was sitting in his black cab at Heathrow Airport when the penny dropped.
He said: “I was just thinking there taking stock of my life when I realised I'd been brainwashed into never admitting I'd been abused.”
By then Dave had two daughters, Leah, now 29, and Amy, 25, and two grandchildren.
He said: “When I told Christine and the girls they just broke into tears. It was so hard to watch but I knew it was the right thing to do. I had been brainwashed by Richard to believe what we were doing was OK and when it dawned on me I absolutely hated myself.”
Dave went to the police in 2010 but there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute Lancaster until last year. He was found guilty of 12 sexual assault charges at Chelmsford crown court, Essex, on Monday.
As well as his ten-year sentence, he was ordered on to the sex offenders registerindefinitely.
Det Sgt Adam Goodger, in charge of the case, said: “I commend the victim for his courage through the investigation and trial. The offences still affect him. The lengthy sentence will hopefully give Mr Gipps some degree of closure.”
Dave said: “I've finally got justice after 40 years since this all began. Richard ruined my childhood by subjecting me to all that horror. It ruined my adulthood too.
“I've finally got my life back and I am so relieved to be able to move on.”
Dave is now desperate for people to know what he was subjected to in case anyone else fell victim to a similar crime. He said: “I want them to know it's OK to come forward.”
Christine, also delighted by the result, said: “It's been hard, but we got through.”
My Turn: Child abuse in rural Alaska villages
by Maleah Wenzel
Dear Juneau Empire,
You recently published an editorial titled “It takes a village to abuse a child.” As a victim of child abuse in an Alaskan village, I an attest to the truth of this editorial, as well as to the theory that it does take a village to abuse a child.
However, in the editorial, a very large aspect of this theory was left unspoken for: the village. Apart from the abuser supporters and the immoral lawmakers, there are alway the bystanders: teachers, nurses, doctors, police, family members, friends, tribal figures, community leaders and the many other townsfolk who often turn a blind eye.
I myself was an abused child for many years. You would think that growing up in Wrangell would have given me a support network that recognized the abuse and broke me away from it. My life in Wrangell was the exact opposite.
For nine years as a Wrangell student, it was a regularity that I would show up to school without lunch, that I would rarely have a snack, that my clothes would smell like urine and smoke, that my skin was always dirty and my hair always unbrushed. That never seemed to phase a teacher, or a friend, or a nurse, or other parents. Neither did the bruises that often covered my legs and arms, the burn marks I would have on my feet, or the general fear I had about the world.
At school, it was a regular thing for me to have to go to the office because the pain from my various bruises and burns would be so much that I would start crying during activities at recess or during P.E. In the office, our local secretary would look at my arms and legs, give me icepacks, talk with me, make sure I relaxed until the pain would subside and I could go back to class. She worked incredibly hard to always make sure I felt generally better. However, she never asked how I got the bruises and the burns, or why I never wanted her to call my parents (which she only did on rare occasions). The same things went for my teachers: they would see my foodlessness, my injuries, my isolation, and, at a young age, my outright fear for my father (who I would sometimes run away from when he came to pick me up from school) — but they never asked me why I was the way I was, and, as far as I know, they never reported these things to the Office of Children's Services (formerly Child Protective Services) or the police.
Even my family members, those who worked so hard to keep me alive and in school, rarely put forward any attempts to help me. I lived in a Native family, where my dozens of cousins and aunties and grandmothers served as my closest of family. Over years and years of abuse, only one family member, my white grandmother, ever reported my abuse or neglect. She may have been the only family member who honestly recognized it as that. Nothing ever came of her report: no investigations, no questions, no help. Over the next 10 years, she would report my parents, including her daughter, two more times but to no avail.
Eventually my parents divorced. My far more active, and far more abusive, father quickly gained custody of myself and my three siblings from my neglectful mother. He moved us to Hawaii, where he kept us in isolated homes, dangerous neighborhoods and rotting houses. His abuse and neglect grew by each day.
None of the residents in my town, none of my friends or family members, seemed to be phased by my sudden radio silence. I soon stopped calling any Wrangellites, and my appearance on Facebook was rare. The same went for my brothers. After two years of severe abuse in Hawaii, I finally realized that my life was not right, that I did not want myself to live through this and that I, particularly, did not want my younger sister to have this as her life. I spent months trying to break away from my father, and on April 8, 2014, I was finally free of him. My abuse was finally at an end. I was 15 years old.
I came back to Wrangell and told the police, my friends, my family members, my Wrangellites of what my life had been. Nearly the entire town was supportive of me: former colleagues of my father volunteered to be a character witness against him, people regularly brought me food, teachers worked incredibly hard with me to bring me back up to speed in my academics.
My entire town worked hard to make sure that my siblings and I were okay and that we could recuperate. During the time of what I now refer to as my “great reveal,” one of the most common phrases I heard from people was: “I had no idea.”
I had spent years being abused. I spent most of my childhood covered in bruises and burns, I rarely gained a pound of weight despite getting taller, I openly feared my parents, I was never at community events and was absent from school nearly as much as I was present. Every citizen in town knew I was the “dirty child,” the child who was never given baths and who wore clothes soaked in cat urine — and they “didn't know?”
What did they mean they didn't know?
Did they mean they didn't think these things were abuse? Or did they mean they hadn't seen these things? They hadn't seen any of the signs? Because if they hadn't seen the signs, then they hadn't seen me. Only on rare occasions did I wear clean clothes. Only on rare occasions was I injurty free. Only on rare occasions was I a normal, bubbly, happy-to-be-alive child. Had my entire town honestly been unknowledgeable of what abuse is, or had they just been ignoring myself and my brothers for some nearly two decades?
I still don't know the answer to those questions, and I may never know.
For some time, I thought I was the only one who had those questions in my head. I soon realized, however, that there were several other children from my childhood who were like me: kids who always had dirty clothes, who always had injuries, who avoided other kids. I went and spoke with them, and quickly realized that this was a norm for Wrangell. That this probably still is a norm for Wrangell. That it is still a norm for many, if not all, of Alaska's rural villages.
Of my knowledge, during 2015 in Wrangell High School, there were over 11 teens who had been physically and mentally abused during their childhood. That's nearly 13 percent of the high school population. Most of them were not saved by teachers or family or OCS, but rather had to save themselves, often at a young age. Those are just the teens that I, as a student, knew of. I know that there are more students who have never told of their buse, and more students that don't know how to tell, and more still that are currently being abused.
So yes, it truly does take a village to abuse a child. It takes a village full of people who are blind, who are afraid to tell, who think, maybe even hope, that they are wrong, who find ignorance to be bliss. For 15 years, I was a walking, talking case of child abuse, covered in the most obvious signs and symptoms, and it was only when I had to gamble with my life in order to be free that anyone in my life realized it.
I thank Wrangell for helping me to become a functioning, capable and resilient adult after 15 years of faux-slavery, but I also know that it is because of Wrangell that I was able to stay in that place for so long.
• Maleah Wenzel is a recent graduate of Wrangell High School. She will soon leave to attend Darmouth College where she is considering majoring in pre-medicine and biology and going on to study pediatrics.
Victoria senior charged in historic sexual assaults
by Pamela Roth
A 70-year-old Victoria man and former badminton coach has been arrested in connection with a series of sexual assaults that took place in the late 1970s and continued for several years.
Harry Charles Sadd was recently arrested after the victim, now an adult, came forward and told investigators multiple accounts of sexual assaults that occurred while he was a child and teen.
According to police, the victim was inspired by Theo Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy, who publicly shared their own stories of sexual abuse at the hands of trusted adults.
Sadd has previous convictions for sexual assaults involving young male children and teens, leading investigators to believe there are other victims in the Greater Victoria area who have yet to come forward.
He also worked as a teacher in Alberta and may have worked in a similar capacity in other provinces.
Sadd faces three counts of indecent assault by a male on a male person and one count of sexual assault.
Malnourished boy found dead in Echo Park closet was subject of earlier child abuse reports, LAPD says
by Hailey Branson-Potts and Richard Winton
When police arrived at his Echo Park home on Monday, the body of an 11-year-old boy was lying in a closet, wrapped in a blanket.
The boy had been dead for at least several hours, showed signs of physical abuse and appeared to be malnourished, officials said.
Authorities are now trying to determine the exact circumstances of the boy's death and also whether officials missed warning signs of possible abuse in the home.
On Tuesday, officers with the LAPD's Abused Child Section arrested the child's mother, 39-year-old Veronica Aguilar, on suspicion of child endangerment resulting in death.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services received reports of possible abuse regarding the boy at least three times between 2009 and 2012, said Capt. Julian Melendez, commanding officer of the LAPD's Juvenile Division.
He did not have details of the Police Department's response but added that any evidence of injury or sexual abuse would have triggered an investigation by Juvenile Division detectives. He added that he did not believe any police investigation was ever launched.
Armand Montiel, a DCFS spokesman, said in an email that “the law does not allow us to confirm or deny whether we provided any services to this child or family.”
At about 2:15 p.m. Monday, police received a call from the child's stepfather, Jose Pinzon, who said he had come home from work and his wife, Aguilar, told him the child was dead, Melendez said.
Pinzon told officers that he saw the boy in a closet in the home in the 2100 block of Santa Ynez Street and ran two blocks to a 7-Eleven on Sunset Boulevard to call police because his cellphone would not work in the house, Melendez said.
Officers met Pinzon there. When they found the boy, he had been dead for some time and “had obvious signs of malnutrition and visible injuries,” Melendez said.
Police arrested Aguilar early Tuesday morning. Pinzon was not arrested, Melendez said.
Aguilar has at least three other children, ages 14, 16 and 18, who were not at the home but were located and contacted by police, Melendez said. They were taken to a police station, and the minors were released to DCFS, he said.
An autopsy on the boy's body was expected to take place Wednesday, he said.
The child had not attended classes in the Los Angeles Unified School District since 2012 and was thought to have possibly been in Mexico for some time, Melendez said. It was unclear whether the boy attended school in another district.
Aguilar is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
In Echo Park, a neighbor who declined to provide her name said she and others in the tight-knit community were stunned by the boy's death.
“Every person on this block wouldn't have hesitated to take action if they had known about the child,” the neighbor told The Times. “We are all devastated by this tragedy.”
The death comes as the DCSF has been grappling with several high-profile cases of children being killed after social workers received allegations of child abuse.
In 2013, Gabriel Fernandez was beaten to death, allegedly by his mother and her boyfriend, even though authorities had numerous warnings of abuse in his home.
Gabriel was allegedly forced to eat cat feces, shot with BBs and locked in a cabinet at their Palmdale home. The abuse of the 8-year-old boy went on for several months despite repeated reports to the Department of Children & Families Services and the Sheriff's Department, records show. The mother and her boyfriend are now both charged with murder and torture.
Four social workers have been charged with felony child abuse and falsifying records in connection with Gabriel's killing. Prosecutors alleged that they minimized his physical, mental and emotional injuries and allowed him to remain in the home.
Warren woman sentenced in hot-fork child-abuse case
by Jameson Cook
A 26-year-old Warren woman accused of torturing her then 3-year-old son with a hot fork three years ago was sentenced for a reduced charge and is working to regain her parenting rights over her two children.
Charveta Jackson was sentenced Aug. 18 by Judge Jennifer Faunce to time served, 16 months, behind bars after pleading no contest to second-degree child abuse. She was accused of inflicting five burns in three incidents over a month-long period in August and September 2013 and had been charged with first-degree child abuse and torture, both punishable by up to life in prison. Second-degree child abuse's maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.
Questions about the validity of the allegations against Jackson arose during her December 2014 trial in Macomb County Circuit Court, resulting in a mistrial due to a hung jury.
Instead of risking a second trial, Jackson decided to accept a plea offer from prosecutors, said her attorney, Thomas Tomko. Jackson and the father of her two children have an agreement with the state Department of Human Services to regain custody of the children, who have been residing with their grandmother.
“All around, everyone thinks this is the appropriate resolution,” Tomko said.
As part of the “parent-agency agreement,” Jackson is taking parenting classes, participating in supervised visitation, succumbing to drug tests and taking other measures to resolve DHS' abuse-neglect petition against her, Tomko said.
Tomko noted Jackson “will be stuck with a felony” on her record. The charge cannot be expunged.
Jackson was accused of inflicting the burns between Aug. 1 and Sept. 2, 2013, when her son was taken to a hospital.
During the trial, Assistant Macomb Prosecutor Vicki Walsh presented photographs of open, partially healed and healed wounds in a fork-prong pattern on portions of the boy's body concealed by clothing. Walsh said Jackson heated the fork on a hot plate.
Jackson made incriminating comments to police, but her previous defense attorney, Stanley Szot, argued she was coerced partially due to her low intelligence. Jurors indicated they had issues with her alleged confession.
Szot contended the burns were inflicted by someone else between Aug. 25-28, 2013, when the child stayed at a home occupied by many people.
Jackson was freed from jail in January 2015 after a Harrison Township man posted 10 percent of a $50,000 bond.
India to launch online system for children to report sexual abuse
by Joanne Lu
A simple classroom comment box has finally begun to chip away at the silence that has shrouded pervasive child sexual abuse in India for generations.
India's Ministry of Women and Child Development, in a 2007 study, found that more than half of all children surveyed had suffered some form of sexual abuse but had not told anyone about it. Later this week, the government agency plans to roll out an online reporting system children can access on their own called the ‘e-box.'
“A child who may be touched inappropriately or molested by others can put forth a complaint into the e-box, and it will be addressed,” Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi announced last Tuesday, reports the Times of India .
The e-box will be hosted on the ministry's website, and victims will have the option whether to remain anonymous or not. Each case will be forwarded to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and from there, a ministry official says the process will be similar to that of the existing helpline for children in distress, Childline.
“Earlier, we thought of physical boxes in schools, etc., but then it becomes a complaint for police where the complainant has to come out in the open. Hence, we decided to start an e-box facility on August 26,” Gandhi said.
These physical boxes Gandhi refers to are part of Project Nirbheek (“fearless” in Hindi), launched by police in August last year in classrooms across Delhi. In a country where sex ed is “banned in 13 states and non-existent in the remaining 16,” according to the Guardian , police took it upon themselves to teach students about sex and sexual abuse. And because abusers are often close to the children, even family, police installed these boxes as a safe avenue for children to speak out and took their message directly to the schools.
It's a message children in India desperately need to hear.
The 2007 survey by the Ministry of Women and Child Development found that over 53 precent of children under 18 in India have suffered one or more forms of sexual abuse. Half of the abuses were carried out by someone “known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility,” and most children never reported the abuse to anyone. Human Rights Watch has also reported on the problem in India.
Apparently, this pattern of abuse and silence has been perpetuated for generations. A Project Nirbheek police officer told the Guardian about one story of abuse by a girl's father, in which the mother told her daughter, “Just the way I've tolerated these things, you will have to tolerate it, too.”
In many ways, Nirbheek has been a huge success – police received over 5,000 written and verbal complaints in the first six months, reports the Guardian , and several convictions have been made as well, says DNA India .
But Gandhi's evaluation of Nirbheek is not as positive. “In many cases, the child was abused by someone who was close to him or her – father, brother, neighbor, and in some cases, the same teacher who was responsible for dealing with complaints in the box,” she told state officials at a meeting recently, reports DNA. In addition, she alleges that some people were opening the box to read or even manipulate the letters.
Gandhi says the online e-box would eliminate that conflict of confidentiality.
Of course, the success of the e-box would completely bank on students' access to computers, but Gandhi doesn't see it as a major obstacle. According to the Times of India, she's trusting principals to guide their students through use of the e-box.
Whether the e-box will be as effective as Gandhi hopes remains to be seen, but at least critics, experts and Gandhi all seem to agree that an initiative like this is only one part of the solution. The ministry is also working on compiling a national sex offender list, as well as collaborating with NGOs on India's first anti-trafficking bill, which Gandhi says will be passed by December.
Dip in school nurse numbers 'puts children at risk' of sexual abuse
by TES Reporter
Official figures show a drop of 14 per cent in number of school nurses since 2010
A dip in the number of school nurses could be putting vulnerable children at risk, leading nurses have warned.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that school nurses play a "key role" in delivering essential sex and relationships education (SRE) and safeguarding children against sexual exploitation and abuse.
NHS figures show that the number of school nurses has dropped by almost 14 per cent since 2010.
There are now 2,606 people employed by the NHS in England who are working in school nursing positions - a fall from 3,026 in January 2010, according to data from NHS Digital.
Fiona Smith, the RCN's professional lead for children and young people's nursing, said: "At a time when children are facing unprecedented exposure to influences like pornography and sexualised advertising, it has never been so important to equip them with a solid understanding of healthy relationships.
"Child sexual exploitation and assault are also on the rise and it's clear that many children are at serious risk.
"School nurses are there for all children and young people, providing support, encouraging healthy lifestyles and protecting those who are most vulnerable.
"They have the training and expertise to really drive forward effective SRE in schools. However, with numbers dropping all the time, school nurses simply don't have the capacity to follow this through.
"The government should be prioritising this expertise - not cutting the roles when we need them most.
"The RCN supports the call for compulsory SRE in all schools, but we need the workforce that can deliver this crucial aim and make sure all children and young people are safe and healthy."
News of the dip comes after the Royal College of Nursing said school nurses could hold the key to solving the mental health crisis in schools, but resources to do so were dwindling.
Man, Victim's Sister Sought in Kidnapping of 3 Kids Whose Mother Was Found Dead on Gorman-Area Road
by Mariel Turner, Wendy Burch and Tracy Bloom
Authorities pleaded for the public's help Wednesday as they continued to search for two people wanted in connection with the kidnapping of three young children whose mother was found dead on a Gorman-area road recently.
Joshua Robertson, 27, and Brittany Humphrey, 22, were last seen fleeing California with Kimberly Harvill's three children, identified as Joslynn Watkins, 2; Brayden Watkins, 3; and Rylee Watkins, 5, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Their father is believed to be deceased.
Humphrey is Harvill's sister and an acquaintance of Robertson, Sheriff's Department Lt. Joe Mendoza said during a news conference Wednesday morning.
Investigators are still trying to determine when the pair took the kids, according to Mendoza.
“We believe that they took the children sometime, either before the murder or after the murder,” he said.
A warrant has been issued for their arrest, the release stated. The warrant is for the kidnapping, though Mendoza said the pair are also wanted for questioning in connection with the homicide.
He described them as "persons of interest."
“Due to the fact that immediately after the murder – or sometime shortly after – it is suspicious that they did not come forward to law enforcement, and instead they fled,” Mendoza said.
Harvill's body was found in a desolate area by a motorist in some brush near Gorman Post Road north of California State Route 138 on Aug. 14.
She suffered trauma to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. A handgun was used in the killing, Mendoza said.
Officials could not identify her initially, but later figured out who she was based off unique tattoos, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Robertson has a criminal history and was previously arrested for possession of a firearm, the release stated. He was on Post Release Community Supervision at the time of the kidnapping.
He and Humphrey are believed to be driving a forest green or silver-colored 1999 Ford Expedition that may have the California license plate No. 7BEK024, or paper plates.
Authorities think they are headed eastbound on Interstate 40 through Arizona toward the New Mexico area. Between the two, they have relatives in Nebraska, and ties to Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to Mendoza.
The suspects are considered "armed and dangerous," the release stated. Anyone who sees the pair should not approach them and call their local law enforcement or 911.
Those with information about the case have been asked to call the Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Breaking the silence
by Michelle Bruch
One-hundred and twenty-six women and men have participated in “Break the Silence” events in Minneapolis to speak out as survivors of sexual assault, abuse and rape.
They took turns at a microphone Aug. 17, telling of violent boyfriends, attacks in parking lots, or lost memories after strangers sent drinks to the table. Some had never said the words out loud before. They included a woman who attended a professional conference and awoke to discover she couldn't move.
“I didn't see it coming,” she said.
One man said he was raped at age 12 after accepting a ride home from a stranger.
“I told myself for many years that I deserved that for getting in that car,” he said.
Southwest Minneapolis' 5 th Precinct saw 38 reports of rape in 2016 through July, which is higher than average based on year-to-date statistics dating back to 2000 in Uniform Crime Reports. At least two rape victims were age 12, according to police reports. Sexual assaults were reported this year in neighborhoods including Linden Hills, Kenny, Kingfield, East Isles, Stevens Square, Whittier, CARAG, The Wedge, Lyndale, East Calhoun, Lowry Hill and Kenwood. Crime Prevention Specialist Jennifer Waisanen said more than half of the cases appear to involve acquaintances.
According to one police report, a 19-year-old attending a party in February at the 2800 block of Dupont Avenue South blacked out and awoke to discover a suspect pulling her pants and underwear down and attempting to have sex with her. She was able to get away, according to the report, and went to a hospital and contacted police.
At least one suspect of rape in the 5 th Precinct was recently charged with the crime. In that case, an adult woman awoke from sleep at the 2300 block of Colfax Avenue South to find an intruder sexually penetrating her, according to court documents. When she became alert, she startled the man and he fled, according to the complaint. Police said they discovered cut or missing screens on the ground floor, a partially open bathroom window, and a plastic patio side table placed underneath a kitchen window. Police said fingerprint impressions match Bloomington resident Davon Allen, now age 35, who is charged with burglary and criminal sexual conduct in the 1 st degree. In a statement to police, Allen said the woman invited him in to the apartment and the sex was consensual. A hearing on the case is Sept. 1.
In another case this year, a Southwest High School student told staff and her parents she had non-consensual sex in May with another student while the two were in school, according to a police report. Minneapolis Public Schools declined to comment on the case, citing data privacy laws. Waisanen said the family is not moving forward with the case at this time, and she said there are conflicting stories about what occurred.
Jason Matlock, director of MPS Operational and Security Services, said sexual assault cases are rare in the schools. He said staff work closely with Minneapolis police when there is a direct allegation of sexual assault, and said social workers play a strong role in the investigation.
“We definitely make sure we're supporting them as much as possible,” he said.
He said the district's policy options include expulsion and schedule changes to avoid contact between students. Staff also look for any gaps in building security, he said.
“These kinds of cases are people who know each other,” he said, adding that it's important for students to learn good social skills in relationships.
One in five women will be raped at some point in their lives, according to a 2010 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center says it's the most under-reported crime, with 63 percent of sexual assaults not reported to police, and only 12 percent of child sex abuse reported to authorities.
The Minneapolis City Council recently passed a resolution calling Aug. 17 “Break the Silence Day.” The I-35W bridge was lit in teal to honor the day. The city resolution states that silence protects the perpetrators of sexual violence, and says 97 percent receive no punishment for their crimes.
“By breaking the silence, we can begin to face the urgent truth that sexual violence surrounds us, and by facing this reality can we begin to change it,” states the resolution.
A new photography project by Alex Roob shows survivor portraits from the Twin Cities along with their stories. It's inspired in part by the July 2015 cover of New York Magazine, which featured 35 of Bill Cosby's accusers.
“It's incredibly important to show survivors that they are not alone,” said Julia Bodin, a survivor herself.
At the Break the Silence event in August, some spoke of frustration with their chances at seeing justice. One man said he was assaulted at a homeless shelter, and police told him they wouldn't investigate because they would never find the perpetrator. Another woman spoke of the excruciating process of testifying in detail about what happened to her.
Bri Byram spoke of being raped seven years ago. She said her attacker was sentenced to 90 days in jail and served less than 30. She became outraged when she recently learned he would no longer have to register and is pardoned from probation.
One woman told of sexual abuse by her father and by her longtime boyfriend, followed by two other incidents in 2014.
“I'm here because despite years of group and individual therapy, assisting other survivors in their healing, and in my dad's case testifying in court, the peace that I've fought so hard for is fragile,” she said. “My sense of safety in the world crumbles from the smallest comment from someone who supports rape culture. In my mind, if good, kind decent men have twisted ideas about what constitutes sexual assault, then what happens when I come across someone who isn't good, kind and decent? I'm terrified of being raped again, and yet I can't shake the feeling that it's inevitable.”
Liza Laborde spoke of telling her mother at age 12 that her boyfriend tried to kiss her, and her mother's response was: “That's just what boys do.”
“And in my mind that transferred to you let boys do what they want to do,” she said. “And I got my first boyfriend, and I let him do what he wanted to do. And my second, and my third. … I married a man who said: ‘I don't believe rape is a thing. I mean, how can you have sex and not enjoy it?'”
Laborde offered the other attendees a hug, or a phone number to call at 2 a.m., or a coffee meetup.
“That rape will never go away, but happiness exists,” she said.
The Sexual Violence Center offers a 24-hour crisis line at 871-5111. Police ask survivors to call 911 or head straight to a hospital to preserve evidence, and not to shower or go to the bathroom first. Free rape kits can be completed up to five days after an assault, and it's never too late to call police to make a report. For more information about Break the Silence Day, visit their Facebook page or website.
For Child Rape Survivors, Justice Doesn't Always Lie in the Courts
On 14 August 2016, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl was raped in Mumbai. A week later on 21 August, an 11-month-old child was sexually assaulted in Agra. A day later, a 10-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in Delhi.
When tracking rapes reported every day, a startling trend that emerges is sexual assault against ‘children' (defined by the law as those below 18 years of age). Legally, such offences are registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. But legal recourse apart, there are a host of interventions (like psycho-social counselling and financial support) which are necessary for a child survivor of rape.
And in many cases of reported sexual violence, it is these extra-legal interventions which prove to be more important, and also the ones which fall through the cracks of our criminal justice system.
Far From the Gavel, A Healing Touch
I remember this child who was left at home with a caretaker and after a while, the baby became cranky and refused to eat. The family installed webcams in the house and discovered that the caretaker was penetrating the child with his penis. However young the child is, there is going to be behavioural manifestation of the trauma.
Vidya Reddy, Excutive Director, Tulir
For a child survivor of sexual assault, the family is the first hurdle in a skeptical society. Since the trauma of sexual violence is not always manifested outwardly, psycho-social support like counselling is of utmost importance. For the survivor, as well as for the family.
The family, unfortunately, is the first place where ‘victimisation' of a survivor of sexual assault is observed. More so when the survivor is a child. In some cases, rape is reported within the family by a child, by known persons. Which is why activists working with child survivors repeatedly emphasise a more complete idea of counselling, involving the family as well as the child.
But is our criminal justice system making space for extra-legal interventions and recognising its importance?
Well, we're getting there. That's what Vidya Reddy, Executive Director of Tulir – an NGO which works on prevention and healing of child sexual abuse – believes.
We have to understand that the system looks at child sexual assault from a very ‘legal' point of view, relying on testimonies and medical evidence. Not from a socio-psychological or a ‘politic' point of view, where trauma from sexual violence is delayed. But we're becoming better; compared to ten years ago, the situation is improving.
Vidya Reddy, Executive Director, Tulir
What Is the POCSO Act?
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, Act (POCSO Act) 2012 is a law which deals with sexual abuse and exploitation of children. For any sexual assault (including rape) reported against a minor, this is the Act under which a case is filed.
However, there have been notable exceptions where the POCSO Act was implemented when the rape survivor was an adult, which indicates the mandate of the Act.
Recently, the Chennai High Court instructed the police to invoke POCSO in the case of a 21-year-old woman, when it was ascertained that her IQ was that of a minor. The High Court ruling to invoke POCSO is interesting, since it implies that sexual assault is primarily a psychological assault, unlike Section 376 where rape is defined in penetrative terms.
POCSO defines sexual assault as both penetrative and non-penetrative, including exposure to pornography and sexual harassment as well. Furthermore, the Act mandates that the police be responsible for the child's protection and has provisions for a child-friendly court.
The Difference Between ‘Sexual Assault' and ‘Rape'
Sexual assault and rape are different, and the difference is crucial when looking at child survivors of rape. ‘Rape' is both a legal term and a descriptor. After amendments to the law in 2013, the act of rape is defined as an act of penetration; the penis or any other object into the anus, vagina or urethra of a woman.
‘Sexual assault' on the other hand, is a broader term which also includes kissing without consent, sexual harassment and pornography. Sexual assault of a child is a legal mandate under POCSO Act, as mentioned above. In the case of a child survivor of rape, even though there is penetration, the offence is charged under the POCSO Act.
Europol uncover major online child abuse network
Operation results in 207 criminal cases against suspected web distributors of child sexual abuse images in 28 countries.
A major operation against distributors of child sexual abuse images online has resulted in the arrests of 75 suspects across 28 European countries.
Code-named "Operation Daylight", the investigation has resulted in 207 criminal cases, Europe's policing agency Europol said on Tuesday.
"We know that individuals are abusing online platforms and networks to distribute child sexual abuse material and we are determined to target them and bring them to justice," Steven Wilson, head of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, said in a statement.
Operation Daylight was launched last year after Swiss police notified Europol after uncovering a vast network of criminals involved in the sexual exploitation of minors online.
"Europol received the information in June 2015 from the Swiss authorities and disseminated intelligence packages in July 2015. Based on that intelligence, separate investigations were initiated in the concerned countries," Tine Hollevoet, a spokesman for Europol, told Al Jazeera.
So far, some of the 75 arrested suspects have been prosecuted, and the investigation is still ongoing, Europol said.
Separately, an Italian police statement on Tuesday said that five people were arrested as part of the operation and 16 were reported to magistrates for producing and sharing child sex abuse images.
All the suspects had previously been "above suspicion", with no previous criminal activity, the police statement said, according to the DPA news agency. All of the suspects were aged 50 or above.
"The operation has uncovered a vast paedophile network," the Italian police statement said, adding that access to the online network where images were shared was "rigidly" regulated and required patient work to be infiltrated by police.
"Those networks continue to be a primary source for persons with a sexual interest in children who are seeking child sexual abuse and exploitation material online," Europol said in the statement.
Family defends woman accused of putting 4-day-old son in refrigerator
by Greg Suskin
CHESTER, S.C. - Family members are defending a South Carolina mother accused of putting her 4-day-old son in a refrigerator for three hours in February before taking him out and calling for help. The infant died of hypothermia.
The child was pronounced dead at a hospital after doctors were unable to raise his body temperature quickly enough to save him. Doctors had initially detected a faint heartbeat.
The child's father, Jeff Lewis, told WSOC that 27-year-old Angela Renee Blackwell didn't kill their son.
"She's innocent," he said. "She's a good mother."
Authorities said Blackwell put her son, William, in a refrigerator for three hours on Feb 27. Deputies said she then removed him and called for help.
The baby's grandfather, Billy Lewis, became emotional as he remembered holding his grandson just one time.
"I held him for two and a half hours," he said. "I sang to him, and talked to him, and that was the only time I did."
Several family members said there were many people in Blackwell's house on Rose Street that February night. They believe another young child, who has autism, put the baby in the refrigerator.
"I think it's all bull (expletive)," Billy Lewis said. "She didn't hurt the child. She didn't do (anything) to cause it to die."
Family friend Tim Houston said when the child died, there were rumors in the neighborhood.
"There was lots of talk around town about what happened. All I knew was a baby had died," Houston said. “I feel for them. I feel for both of them. ... You just wouldn't think a mother would do that to a child."
The investigation stretched on for nearly six months without an arrest, slowed as investigators waited for results from medical tests. Deputies interviewed many people who were in the house and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division officials also got involved in the case.
Family members also said Blackwell has a mental disability. Jeff Lewis said their older son, who is 2, was taken by the Department of Social Services after William's death. He's trying to get his son back now.
Blackwell walked into court Tuesday with her hands cuffed in front of her. She barely spoke above a whisper, facing a judge on a charge of homicide by child abuse. She was denied bond.
Blackwell faces 20 years to life in prison if she's convicted of homicide by child abuse.
Dept of Justice - Los Angeles
Van Nuys Man Sentenced to over 12 Years in Federal Prison for Distributing Child Pornography
LOS ANGELES – A Salvadoran national from Van Nuys has been sentenced to 145 months in federal prison after being convicted of using the Internet to distribute child pornography.
Denis Aviles Salguero, 31, was sentenced on August 18 by United States District Judge Fernando M. Olguin. Following the completion of his sentence, Salguero will be on supervised release for 15 years.
Following a three-day trial in September 2013, Salguero was found guilty of
17 counts of distributing child pornography, one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.
The evidence presented at his trial showed that Salguero traded child pornography with others, sharing images in his possession to obtain new pictures and video files.
“This defendant freely shared his child pornography collection for the purpose of obtaining additional images, which resulted in his conviction for distribution of child pornography,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The demand for child pornography drives a black market industry that relies on the sexual abuse of children and causes the continued victimization of those children as the images as spread around the world via the Internet.”
The case against Salguero stemmed from him uploading more than a dozen images of child pornography to a Yahoo usergroup page. Yahoo reported the postings to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which alerted law enforcement officials. Authorities executed a search warrant at Salguero’s residence on July 20, 2010 and recovered a laptop computer that showed Salguero had used email to receive and send child pornography on numerous occasions in 2009 and 2010. An examination of the laptop revealed 402 still images and 67 videos depicting child pornography, most of which involved boys between the ages of 6 and 14. Some of the images and videos were of boys being molested and raped.
The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
“The sexual exploitation of innocent children is unconscionable, and together with our law enforcement partners we will exhaust every resource to ensure these predators are punished,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles. “We owe it to the young victims in these cases, who will carry the emotional and physical scars of these crimes with them for the rest of their lives.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christina T. Shay of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.
FROM: Thom Mrozek, Spokesman/Public Affairs Officer
United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California (Los Angeles)
South Carolina mother kills 4-day-old son by putting him in refrigerator for three hours: cops
by David Boroff
A demented South Carolina mother killed her 4-day-old son by putting him in the refrigerator for three hours, authorities say.
Angela Blackwell, 27, was at her home on February 27 when she put little William in the fridge and shut the door, deputies say. After three hours, she took him out and sought medical attention.
"That's wrong,” Chester neighbor Neely Parker told WSOC. "Wrong is wrong, regardless of whatever it is. It ain't supposed to be like that."
William David Blackwell died from hypothermia with asphyxiation from being placed in the cold, according to Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker.
A teary Jeff Lewis, William's father, told WSOC that Blackwell is "a good mom" and that others were in the home at the time of the infant's death.
Blackwell was arrested Monday on a charge of homicide by child abuse following a lengthy investigation, according to WSOC.
The suspect's 3-year-old son was taken by the South Carolina Department of Social Services, the Herald reported.
She faces 20 years to life in prison, according to the newspaper.
Sandusky defense questions victims' credibility in hopes for new trial
by Matt Maisel
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of child sex abuse in 2012, due in part to a man who says Sandusky sexually abused him in a locker room shower more than 15 years ago.
However, that man, more commonly known as Victim 2, was not credible, according to case investigators testifying Monday at the Centre County Courthouse.
Sandusky is attempting to get a new trial following his conviction more than four years ago. His attorney, Al Lindsay, is arguing Sandusky had an inadequate defense team for the June 2012 trial. He also claims some of the victims contradicted themselves when they spoke with investigators in 2011.
Specifically, Lindsay is questioning statements by Victim 2, who claimed he was the boy then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary saw being abused by Sandusky in a Lasch Hall shower. Victim 2, however, never testified during the trial, after giving opposing statements to police and then Sandusky's attorneys.
"[Victim 2] was not credible," said lead investigator Anthony Sassano, remembering a conversation he had with fellow investigators in 2011. "There had been multiple version's of what [Victim 2] had reported. Two negative occurring and one instance where something occurred. It was very generic. There were no details."
However, attempts to find Victim 2 to have him testify under oath have been unsuccessful, because, as Lindsay said after Monday's hearing, "We cannot find where he is."
Victim 2 originally told investigators and Sandusky's defense team, then led by Joe Amendola, that while he had showered with Sandusky, "nothing inappropriate" occurred, according to retired Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Joseph Leiter. However, that story changed a few months later after Victim 2 hired civil rights and criminal defense attorney Andrew Shubin.
"We have a lot of big issues and we think they entitle Mr. Sandusky to have a new trial or a dismissal," Lindsay said following Tuesday's hearing.
Sandusky was ultimately found not guilty of sexually assaulting Victim 2, although the 45 counts of child sex abuse a jury did find him guilty on has him spending 30-to-60 years in prison.
Kristen Houser, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, argues the victims whose credibility is being called into question have been through enough scrutiny since Sandusky was arrested in November 2011.
"I don't think people realize how difficult it is for adult survivors, especially those abused by another man, to be honest about everything that happened," she said. "Sometimes, acknowledging the abuse is a very personal and painful thing to recognize to yourself first, and then to tell the rest of the world about it ... is a terrifying thing to think about."
Judge John Cleland, who oversaw Sandusky's conviction in 2012, granted his defense team three days to plead their case for a new trial. Tuesday is the hearing's final day, with testimony expected from prosecutors Joe McGettigan and Frank Fina.
Judge Rules Residential School Survivor Shouldn't Have Had to Prove Abuser's ‘Sexual Intent'
by Tamara Khandaker
A Manitoba judge has ruled that a residential school survivor shouldn't have had to prove that a nun who grabbed his penis was acting with a "sexual intent" in order to be compensated—a decision that could help at least dozens of others whose claims were rejected on the same basis.
The decision comes as the largest class action settlement in Canadian history, involving thousands of residential school survivors hoping to be compensated for physical and sexual abuse endured during their time in the system, is winding down, with hearings expected to be done by this spring.
There are now less than 100 hearings left, according to the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat. As of June 20, it had received 38,000 claims and $3.024 billion had been paid out in compensation.
But not everything has gone smoothly. A former Manitoba residential school student, identified only as J.W., testified at his initial compensation hearing that he was standing at the back of a line of boys, all wearing what he described as "little aprons," and waiting to use the shower, when a nun called him to come over.
When he approached her, the nun, he testified, grabbed or tried to grab his penis over the apron once, "then 'got a better grip.'"
He was embarrassed and pushed her hand away—that's when she became angry, grabbed him by the left ear, shook him, and tried to slam his head against the wall, he testified.
This incident, J.W. claimed, constituted "any touching of a student, including touching with an object, by an adult employee or other adult lawfully on the premises which exceeds recognized parental contact and violates the sexual integrity of the student," making him eligible for compensation.
While the hearing adjudicator said she believed him and didn't doubt that the incident had embarrassed him and caused him "certain harms," she rejected his compensation claim, writing in the decision that she wasn't "satisfied on a balance of probabilities that there was a sexual purpose associated with [the nun's] conduct."
Edmond disagreed, pointing out that the rules don't require sexual intent or sexual purpose—and other adjudicators have held the same in many other cases.
"Clearly, and on a simple plain-language analysis, a child's sexual integrity can be violated without a perpetrator having any sexual intent whatsoever," he wrote.
J.W.'s Winnipeg-based lawyer Martin Kramer said while the decision applies only to his client, "it is our view that the reasoning he employed could be employed in other cases wherein claimants were denied compensation based upon the fabricated sexual motivation requirement."
"It is unknown to us how many such cases there are, but we are aware of several and, in our opinion, it is very likely that there are at least dozens of such cases, and possibly hundreds," he told VICE News.
The denial of compensation for J.W., upheld twice—based on the government's position that claimants should have to prove that there was a sexual intention in the mind of the abuser—meant he was held to a higher standard of proof for sexual assault than what's required even under the Criminal Code, Kramer said.
This, despite the fact that the rules set up for the evaluation don't require proof of intent.
"Our view is that this narrow and forced interpretation flies in the face of both the letter and the spirit of the compensation rules," Kramer said.
J.W.'s case will be reopened and heard again out of court. Those whose claims were rejected on the same basis, who have the legal means to pursue them, could also have their cases reconsidered.
In a statement emailed to VICE News, Chief Adjudicator Dan Shapiro said all adjudicators and counsel had been made aware of the decision, and that secretariat welcomed the direction provided by the decision "in clarifying the interpretation of sexualized touching."
"Justice Edmond's decision addresses important jurisdictional issues in the IAP; it is one of only a few cases where a supervising judge has sent back a claim to an adjudicator in the IAP," said the statement. "We are still studying the decision to determine its impact."
Another Voice: Maternal programs can help prevent child abuse
by Melanie Blow
When Denay Foster was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing her infant daughter, VernayLah Laventure, the defense said Foster was “not equipped mentally to be a young mother.”
What no one said is that communities can choose to equip young mothers, or not to equip them. And when we choose not to, we choose to let children suffer and die.
It is fairly easy to determine whether or not a new mother is “equipped” for motherhood, based on her own childhood and the resources and support in her life. Mothers who aren't equipped can usually become equipped with intensive help. Maternal home visiting programs like Healthy Families NY help new mothers bond with their babies, overcome the obstacles in their lives and learn to parent non-abusively.
These programs prevent abuse, poor school performance, juvenile delinquency and emergency room visits among children, and they decrease drug use, poverty and welfare utilization among mothers.
All of those are good things, but most of us don't realize how important preventing abuse from starting is. Fatal abuse is almost always preceded by non-fatal abuse. So preventing abuse from starting will save lives. When mothers like Foster are slightly less brutal in their attacks, they may not kill a child, but cause traumatic brain injury, which will affect the child's ability to learn, to manage his behavior and to live up to his potential.
Even abuse that doesn't cause physical damage causes changes to a child's immune system, brain and endocrine system, making the child more susceptible to physical illness, mental illness, addiction and poverty throughout life.
This means that much of the addiction, crime, violence and even physical illness we see today is related to child abuse, neglect and maltreatment. It doesn't matter if the abuse stops; once it starts, it's too late.
Healthy Families NY, along with other maternal home visiting programs, returns significant savings to taxpayers for every dollar invested. Unfortunately, no new dollars have been invested in over a decade, meaning these programs serve fewer and fewer people each year. This puts more and more children at risk.
It's tragic when a baby in our community dies in the manner VernayLah did. It's also tragic when we refuse to acknowledge that we continue to ignore tools that are proven to help prevent abuse.
Instead of shaking our heads at the next inevitable death, we need to wake up and fully fund these programs that deserve our attention. The future of our families across Western New York depends upon it, and we cannot let another child – or mother – down.
Melanie Blow is chief operating officer of the Stop Abuse Campaign in Rochester.
Social Awareness: Let's define Child Sexual Abuse
by Lisha Chheda
Your child might be going through it and you may be missing the signs
Which of the following instances do you think constitute as Child Sexual Abuse?
An adult talking to a child (aged 13 years) about the reproductive system and sexual intercourse.
An aunt playing with her 5 year old niece by biting her cheeks and nuzzling her neck while the child is squirming.
A coach brushing his hand against a student's crotch.
An 8 year old looks at a woman whose cleavage is showing as she bends down to pick up her purse that she dropped.
From the above, which acts would be defined as abusive and which are well meaning and innocent?
Figuring this out is not easy. To help us sift through this conundrum, let us take a look at the definition of child sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse is defined as any act by which a child (person under 18 years of age) is used for sexual gratification, by a more powerful person.
The key to differentiating what is abusive behaviour and what isn't, is to consider what the intent of the person was and how is the child feeling about it. If their intention was to derive sexual gratification in any form from the child, then it is sexually abusive. If not, then it could be termed as inappropriate behaviour or simply an accident.
If you look at the examples mentioned above, all of them could be sexual abuse if the aim of the individual was to derive sexual gratification from the act.
There are two types of sexual abuse, largely outlined by the POCSO Act (Government of India, 2012) as:
Non-contact abuse (Yes, this too is child sexual abuse):
Exposing child to pornographic content for sexual gratification.
Making the child watch others indulging in sexual activity or showing private body parts of others.
Talking about sex and sexual activity with the child/Passing comments of sexual nature WITH the intent of gaining sexual pleasure from such talks.
Showing the child the private body parts, looking at a child's private body parts while the child is undressing or bathing for sexual gratification.
Looking at a child (not specific to private body parts only) to gain sexual gratification from doing the same.
Penetrative – Peno – vaginal intercourse, Anal sex, oral sex
Touching of the child's private body parts, making the child touch the powerful person's private body parts
Fondling of the child's body with an intention of sexual gratification of the powerful person
As parents we know our children the best and if any behaviour by an adult or another child seems to make them uncomfortable or unhappy in any way it is best to simply intervene saying that “the child seems to be uncomfortable, please stop”.
This works as a double-edged sword, as it makes the potential abuser realise that you have taken note and set up a boundary for the child. The child feels more empowered to say no to even an adult who is making them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. This further encourages children to stand up for themselves and say “no” should anyone try to take advantage of them, even in your absence.
We at Rubaroo are building a network of survivors of child abuse here in India. Statistically, 53% of all children in India undergo some form of child abuse. Follow us here to read more about this, and head on over to www.SilentNoMore.in to join the fight. We request for 1 hour of your time a month to make a difference.
Lisha Chheda is the co-founder of Rubaroo, an NGO that focuses on child sexual abuse. Write to her at email@example.com.
Child abuse protection: 10 years and counting
To date, half a million adults and children have received Virtus training, 66,000 adults have been fingerprinted
by Florida Catholic Staff
MIAMI | The Archdiocese of Miami has implemented the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People since its creation by the U.S. bishops in 2002, including the revisions in 2011. In these 10 years, the Charter's goal has remained the same — to provide a plan for dioceses to follow in order to protect children from sexual abuse and promote healing in those abused in the past. After completing the thorough audit process, the Archdiocese of Miami, under the direction of Mary Ross Agosta, has been found to be in compliance every year. Compliance began with the creation of a Safe Environment Department, comprised of a director, a Safe Environment Coordinator, a Victim's Assistance Coordinator and the Background Check Office. The success is credited to the department's ability to administer, evaluate and adjust as needs dictated.
Safe Environment coordinator
In the last 10 years, approximately 92,000 adults were trained in the Virtus program. In the last audit year, more than 20,000 adults and 62,000 children were trained in the Virtus program.
One component of the department is the awareness and prevention training offered through the Virtus programs. The Safe Environment Coordinator arranges and provides training programs to educate adults on the nature of child sexual abuse and the scope of the crime. More importantly, the trainings also teach adults the five tangible steps they can take now to prevent this crime from happening.
Of course, as with any new program, there were growing pains along the way. Some people misunderstood the program and its objectives and felt offended by the requirement, especially as it applied to volunteers. Fortunately, today, most understand that all the efforts are simply a matter of applying the best practices for providing safe environments. In the last 10 years, some revisions were made and implementation plans have been tweaked. Even today, policies and procedures remain perpetually under review to assure the most vulnerable among us is protected.
This month the archdiocese has newly compiled the “Creating and Maintaining a Safe Environment for Children and Vulnerable Adults.” It updates some of the guidelines for compliance with the bishops' Charter, primarily in the case of “covered volunteers” — that is, volunteers who have unsupervised interaction with children. The revised policy may be read in its entirety on our website, www.miamiarch.org.
This year also, we have asked our parishes and schools to assign a local coordinator to assist with the compliance and record-keeping of the policy at their site. Through our team efforts, to date, a half million people have received training in our archdiocese. This includes children and adults. While parents are the first protectors and educators of children, it is important to also give children the information they need to protect themselves. This includes lessons on recognizing grooming behavior, how to identify their safe adult, and encouragement to talk to their trusted adult when a situation makes them uncomfortable. Research indicates that children who have received training are more likely to report inappropriate behavior, less likely to blame themselves, and less likely to become victims of abuse.
Victims assistance coordinator
Another component of the department is the pastoral care of victims and appropriate reporting of abuse cases. The Archdiocese of Miami has a review board that offers recommendations in accordance with not only canon law but also civil law. In every case the archdiocese works in cooperation with the legal authorities.
Additionally, the Victims Assistance Coordinator serves as a liaison between the victim and the Church. Often this person is perceived as more approachable by a victim than the traditional Church hierarchy. The coordinator's ministry is to hear and help people abused by members of the clergy or Church. The goal is to turn victims into survivors. The coordinator also facilitates the arrangement for care and treatment for the victim. Often this treatment is ongoing and is provided by the archdiocese.
The hotline number for the Victims Assistance Coordinator is 1-866-802-2873.
Background Check office
In the last 10 years, more than 66,000 background checks were administered. The Archdiocese of Miami screens employees and volunteers with a digital level-two background check that covers both state and federal screenings. This goes above and beyond the Charter requirements, but is considered to be essential given the transient nature of our beautiful Sunshine State. There are multiple fingerprinting locations in the three-county area including one at the Pastoral Center, 9401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami Shores.
Priest arrested for child abuse at UK airport
by Dunya News
LONDON (AFP) - A British priest accused of child sex offences was arrested at London's Luton airport on Sunday, five years after he went on the run.
Laurence Soper was arrested on Sunday as he arrived back in the UK from Kosovo, police said in a statement.
Soper, 72, was taken into custody in London and is accused of nine sexual assault offences committed between 1972 and 1986.
His arrest concludes a lengthy legal battle between the UK and Kosovo, where Soper was arrested in May on a European warrant issued by Britain.
Police in Kosovo said at the time he was known as "Father Laurence" and gave his full name as Andrew Charles Kingston Soper.
Earlier this month a Kosovo court refused for the second time to extradite the Catholic priest, ruling he could not be extradited because the statute of limitations for the alleged crimes had been reached.
Kosovo authorities were not immediately available to comment on Soper's return to Britain and his subsequent arrest.
London's Metropolitan Police were unable to say whether his return to the UK was made possible through an agreement with authorities in Kosovo, or whether Soper flew to London voluntarily.
A spokeswoman for the UK's interior ministry was unable to confirm whether the government was involved in seeing Soper return to Britain.
The priest had been on the run since jumping bail in 2011. He has been accused of abusing five pupils when he taught at a private Catholic school in London.
Following an independent British report detailing 21 incidents of abuse by monks dating from the 1970s until 2010, the London school involved -- St Benedict's -- apologised in 2011 and accepted recommendations to fundamentally change the way it is run.
Multiple warnings precede a child's death by abuse
by Julia Terruso
It is known formally as an Act 33 Fatality Review report. The bureaucratic terminology belies the heartbreak within.
Over several pages, in stark, clinical language, a narrative of tragedy emerges. Children are tortured, shot, stabbed, burned with blow torches, and left unwatched in filth-filled, decrepit homes.
Infants are found face down in bathtubs or rolled over and suffocated as they sleep. Others are simply ignored.
At the heart of each tale is an attempt to show what the city's Department of Human Services did or didn't do prior to those tragedies in hopes of better protecting vulnerable children in the future.
"They are the only public window into what the department does," said Richard Gelles, dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. "Much of what's contained in the Act 33 reports reflects on what should be done to address overarching problems. . . . I think the department has a lot to learn from Act 33. I think a lot more can be done with them."
Mandated by a 2008 state law, the reviews are conducted by a team of doctors, nurses, detectives, psychologists, and DHS staffers. The team has made 156 recommendations to improve DHS's handling of children. While most have been adopted, progress is slow in the growing agency and some of the hardest problems remain unsolved.
An Inquirer review of the reports found that a child's death or serious injury is often preceded by multiple reports of mistreatment or bizarre or criminal behavior by a caregiver. While social workers often are unable to verify those reports, their very existence serves as a red flag for trouble ahead.
Since the advent of the Act 33 system, 40 children have died while under DHS watch. (DHS has oversight of more than 6,000 children.) Those deaths were preceded by 143 reports of abuse or neglect. Of those, 58 were substantiated and some action was taken. Despite that, children still fell through the cracks.
During the same period, another 40 children suffered near-fatal injuries from abuse or neglect. In those cases, DHS had received 119 prior reports, 56 substantiated.
"It's completely frustrating when you see the family has a huge number of histories" and nothing was done, said Jessica Shapiro, acting commissioner of DHS. "It could mean we never picked it up and we should have or it could mean [evidence of abuse] wasn't there at the time."
Red flag system
DHS's existing red-flag protocol followed a recommendation from the Act 33 team that took four years to implement.
In March 2009, twin toddlers were badly burned when they were placed in a bathtub with excessively hot water by their mother's boyfriend. One boy was critically injured, with second- and third-degree burns from his waist down. Bruises covered both boys' bodies.
The Act 33 team found that, leading up to the occurrence, there had been a series of worrying, but unfounded, reports, including that the home was infested with rats and roaches and lacked food, and that the children's mother was overwhelmed and suicidal.
"DHS should have a system that would trigger a closer review of a case when there has been a series of unsubstantiated reports," the Act 33 team wrote at the time.
The recommendation became policy in 2013. DHS now requires additional review when the agency receives six or more reports of problems - founded or unfounded - within six months.
The Act 33 team has concluded even that is not enough.
In 2014, an infant was hospitalized after nearly drowning in a bath. The family had six prior reports, including allegations the mother was using crack, children were not attending school, and one had ingested charcoal-lighter fluid.
The case was not flagged because the calls came in over more than six months. As a result, the Act 33 team recommended DHS "reexamine its criteria for the review of high-activity cases."
Two years later, a revised protocol is still in development. Shapiro said a new electronic case management system will include automated alerts in cases with multiple prior reports. How many and over what time period are still being determined.
That system won't be in place until December 2018, said Shapiro, who hopes to accelerate that process.
In a number of reports, Act 33 investigators specifically pointed to just plain sloppy casework.
In 2013, 3-month-old Samuel Cabrera was punched to death by his father. The infant's internal organs were crushed as if he had been in a car crash. Samuel's father is serving 20 to 40 years in prison for the boy's death.
The parents had six prior reports, four substantiated. Social workers missed that the family had a history with children's services in New Jersey. The mother was on probation for child abuse there and was not supposed to be living with the children.
"It appears the case history was not reviewed during the course of this investigation," the Act 33 team said.
A similar failure was found in the June 2015 case of 21/2-month-old Tymir Smith, who was born addicted to methadone and killed, authorities believe, when his mother rolled over on him while they slept together.
Caseworkers did not complete a safety assessment of the home and were unaware that Tymir's mother had already lost custody of another child.
In several instances, children suffered as a result of miscommunication within DHS or with other counties or contractors.
This spring, 10-year-old Ethan Okula died after a series of missed opportunities. Okula was intellectually impaired and had medical problems, including a bowel obstruction that ultimately killed him after his repeated complaints of a stomachache went unaddressed.
The child's case was transferred from DHS to a contractor, creating confusion at times for caseworkers, who were unaware that Okula had missed a number of medical appointments.
Sam Gulino, the city's chief medical examiner and chair of the Act 33 review team, said children are most vulnerable during these "handoffs."
Given that more than 6,000 cases have transitioned from DHS to the private providers for frontline case management, there has been a lot of opportunity for error.
On the whole, Gulino said, the department has improved by leaps and bounds since the Act 33 team he voluntarily chairs started eight years ago.
"We are unflinching," Gulino said. "Never have we felt there's pressure to make it look sunny when it's not."
Gulino said DHS senior staff members often attend the meetings and want a full account of what happened.
"I'm a believer in this process. I believe it has changed DHS and it can continue to change DHS."
Since 2009, Act 33 team recommendations have led to systemwide changes, including staff training on properly interpreting criminal records and a detailed policy on when caseworkers must consult psychologists or lawyers.
Additional nurses were hired after a recommendation that social workers needed more medical guidance when working with sick children.
The agency is currently dealing with a huge influx of children, sparked over the last three years by changes in mandatory child-abuse reporting laws. That means more cases per caseworker and greater potential for errors and missed warning signs.
The city is not shying from self-critique. Last month, the department selected a firm to review the agency, as Mayor Kenney requested.
Meanwhile, the state has launched a panel to look at child fatalities and near-fatalities statewide.
The panel aims to go deeper into the reports to identify trends across counties.
"We want to look at prior agency involvement, but also what other systems and services touch these families," said Cathy Utz, the state's deputy secretary for youth and families. "Other risk factors, family environment, education level, to see what we can learn."
Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice, questioned why the state hadn't launched a more comprehensive review sooner.
"We've essentially lost eight years," she said. "You asked a lot of people to jump through hoops, get in a room, make these recommendations, to what end? If all that happens is we dump them on a website then nothing changes."
Teen Impregnated His School Teacher. Now He's Getting Massive ‘Child Sexual Abuse' Payout
by Britt D.B.
In 2013, a California high school teacher pled guilty to having illegal sexual relationships with three of her students.
Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, who was 28-years-old at the time of the case, was charged with 41 counts of sex and oral copulation with a minor. The English teacher wound up pleading to six counts and served 6 months of jail time.
As if news of Whitehurst's sexual misconduct with multiple minors wasn't upsetting enough — she also gave birth to a child fathered by one of her teenage victims.
Now, that victim and his family have won a massive child abuse settlement case — one of the largest for a single victim from a public agency.
The price tag? 6 million dollars.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the victims family sued the Redlands school district on the basis that officials were negligent in protecting their students, or responding to accusations of Whitehurst's misconduct.
The former student asserted that certain school officials were well aware of his relationship with Whitehurst, and failed to warn his family. The victim also testified that the school questioned the English teacher and himself about the pregnancy — though it warranted no action on the district's part.
John Manly, an attorney for the victim, argued that school officials did nothing despite the mounting evidence of the relationship, saying:
“There was a picture of her in the birthing suite circulated to people at the school with the boy,” Manly said.” The principal wrote an email about the photo.”
Details of year long sexual abuse likely swayed the jury as well.
During the case, the victim painted a picture of manipulation on Whitehurst's part. Redlands Daily Facts reports:
According to the victim's complaint, Whitehurst demanded the teen keep their relationship secret, demanded he not associate with other women or girls and manipulated him in a religious manner by saying the baby was “God's plan” and a “miracle baby.” Whitehurst also allegedly required the victim to attend doctor appointments with her, and even called the principal to excuse the victim's absences while he attended appointments.
District Spokesman Tom DeLapp said at a press conference that he hopes “this tragic and unfortunate episode will now be behind us,” and allowed that the school district is unhappy with the outcome.
Whitehurst is currently registered as a sex offender and shares custody of her child with her former victim.
Delhi schools offer safe space for children to speak up about sexual abuse
Half of the student population in India's capital suffer abuse, a taboo subject in many homes. Now police are visiting schools to encourage children to report it
by Amrit Dhillon
In the cavernous assembly hall at Victor public school in the Delhi suburb of Shahdara, hundreds of pupils sit cross-legged on the floor to watch a story about seven-year-old Komal.
Komal's parents become friendly with a new neighbour. He treats her affectionately and her parents tell her to call him Bakshi Uncle. He gives her sweets. He plays hide-and-seek with her. Then he plays another “game” that leaves her feeling dirty. The video concludes with an explanation about the difference between “good” and “bad” touches.
Two female police officers then talk to the children about sex and sexual abuse.
The session is part of Project Nirbheek (meaning fearless in Hindi), launched in 556 schools in the north-east district of the city in August last year to raise awareness of child abuse and give youngsters a safe environment in which to speak out.
As well as the video and weekly visits by police officers, children can confidentially post any experiences of abuse or concerns they have in dropboxes installed in each school.
India has laws agaist child abuse (the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012), but implementation and knowledge of them are problematic.
“I realised we had to take the law into the classroom and create an atmosphere that allows children to invoke the law, otherwise the laws are pointless,” says the deputy commissioner of police, Veenu Bansal, who devised the project.
In the first six months, the police received more than 5,000 written and verbal complaints of abuse. Encouraged by the overwhelming response, Delhi police extended the programme to all schools in the capital.
“For the first time, children have a non-frightening way of reporting abuse in the familiar environment of school,” says Mukesh Kumari, one of the police officers visiting Victor public school.
Many of the children tell her that they thought adults would punish them if they talked about such “shameful” things. “Even I felt uneasy at first. It's just not something we Indians talk about,” says Kumari.
During the session, many pupils look embarrassed. “In our house we don't talk about such things. My father would slap me if I talked about this,” says 12-year-old Neelam Sharma.
But others were less timid. Two girls speak to Kumari and her colleague, Preeti Tomar, to complain about rowdy youths standing outside the school gates as they leave, directing obscenities at them. Another says she doesn't like the way the auto-rickshaw driver who drives her home insists she sit close to him even when there is space on the back seat.
Across the city, one or two female police officers visit a school every week, wearing a Nirbheek armband. The police have so far interacted with more than 1 million children and installed complaint boxes in more than 1,500 schools.
Stalking, lewd comments by shopkeepers, inappropriate behaviour by auto-rickshaw drivers, and youths loitering outside the school propositioning girls are common complaints.
In many cases, it is relatively easy for the police to take prompt action against the lesser forms of harassment. If it's a stalker, a visit to his home to speak to his family usually works. An auto-rickshaw driver can be warned. If it's a teacher, the school authorities act to discipline, suspend or sack him. The more serious cases require a police investigation. The police have filed formal charges in 11 cases of sexual abuse so far in the north-east district alone.
The only statistics on child sex abuse (pdf) in India are from a 2007 government survey that showed half of children under the age of 18 had suffered some form of sex abuse, ranging from rape to fondling and forced kissing.
“I think the 2007 figure is an eye-opener and the actual problem may be much larger,” Bansal says. “From what I see, a very large number of girls face abuse at some stage in their lives. It's grim. It happens under everyone's nose. How can we let our girls, one-quarter of our population, be damaged for life by sexual abuse?”
Bansal enlisted the support of the Recovery and Healing from Incest Foundation (Rahi), an NGO that works with child abuse survivors to train police officers. About 500 have been trained so far.
“It has to be handled sensitively because the social and family dynamics can be so complex. They need to understand these aspects because it will shape their response. It's great that the police are not waiting for cases to be registered but are being proactive,” says Rahi's founder, Anuja Gupta.
Tomar admits to being deeply distressed hearing some complaints. “A father had been raping his daughter for years. When she told her mother, the mother said, ‘Just the way I've tolerated these things, you will have to tolerate it too.' After the girl reported the abuse through the dropbox, the mother tried to force her to withdraw it but the girl refused,” she says.
In another case, says Bansal, a maths teacher had been assaulting girls for many years, touching them inappropriately when alone in the classroom. After two girls put a complaint in the dropbox, the other teachers sided with him and tried to bully the girls into retracting the allegation. But the police contacted ex-pupils who said they would testify against the teacher even if the two girls retracted their statements. The teacher is in police custody.
The success of Nirbheek in Delhi has come to the attention of Maneka Gandhi, minister for women and child development, and plans are being made to roll it out nationally using e-dropboxes, which will be hosted on the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights website.
Critics, though, say it's not the police's job to talk about sex abuse, and argue for sex education in schools.
Sex education is banned in 13 states and non-existent in the remaining 16. Because of ignorance, children usually don't even know they are being abused. And the cultural pressure to respect and obey older relatives adds to their reluctance to speak out.
How to talk to kids about personal safety? Check out these posters by a Chennai NGO
What every parent and child should know.
by Geetika Mantri
(Posters on site)
One of every two children (53.22%) in India is sexually abused, according to a 2007 study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. However, in a traditional discourse where talking about consensual sexuality is still taboo, sexual abuse of children finds no space and hence much goes unreported.
In 2005, a study was undertaken by Save the Children, an international NGO and Tulir – Center for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, which surveyed 2,211 school children in Chennai from varied backgrounds. Among its shocking findings was this - 48 percent of the boys and 39 percent of the girls they interviewed had been sexually abused, majorly by people known to them.
But not many children know what to do or how to react when they are in such an untoward situation. The 2005 study, in this context, talks about how when adults fail to protect children, they must themselves “through non-threatening and age-appropriate means, to participate in their own protection.”
In a novel initiative therefore, Tulir took to installing child-friendly posters and flyers at 289 Corporation-managed schools in Chennai. These colorful posters talk about simple things like good touch and bad touch as well as what children should do in as well in the aftermath of these situations.
They also spell out what child abuse is. Contrary to belief that only sexually or physically assaulting the child constitutes child abuse, the posters highlight how neglect and emotional abuse also qualify.
According to NCRB data, sexual crimes against children have increased even further with 13,766 cases of child rape registered in 2014, as compared to 12,363 in 2013.
While child sexual abuse has been condemned globally, a report by the Human Rights Watch says that “poor awareness, social stigma, and negligence have facilitated the continued perpetuation of such crimes”.
Tulir also has audiobooks and other material for parents, teachers and children. You can see access it here.
Indian kids in foster crisis
Minnesota wrestles with a system that has put more American Indian children in foster care than any other state in the nation
by Brandon Stahl and Mary Jo Webster
From his bench on the second floor of Hennepin County's juvenile courthouse, Judge Luis Bartolomei will determine the future of five American Indian families.
Among them: A father accused of beating his 8-year-old daughter. A mother who gave birth to a methadone-addicted baby. A mother who at one point shot up heroin eight times a day.
“Oh my God,” Bartolomei says in his chambers as he reads the county's report about the heroin case. “Oh my God.”
In each of the five cases, Bartolomei will have to decide whether the best way to protect the children is to take them away from their parents.
For American Indian families, that's more likely to happen in Minnesota than anywhere else in the country.
Minnesota has more American Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Indian populations, according to a Star Tribune analysis of federal and state data. Less than 2 percent of children in Minnesota are Indian, but they make up nearly a quarter of the state's foster care population — a disparity that is more than double the next highest state.
Indian children in Minnesota are five times more likely to be reported as victims of abuse than white children, and 10 times more likely to end up in foster care.
The rate of Minnesota's Indian children placed in foster care is higher now than it was in 1978, the year Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) that requires judges and social workers to preserve Indian families whenever possible.
The dilemma for Bartolomei and other judges around the country is balancing the demands of that law with the cases that end up in his courtroom. Indian leaders acknowledge that removing children from the family home is necessary in some cases, but they say the frequency with which it occurs in Minnesota shows that Indian families are held to a higher standard than others.
“The number of Indian families being broken apart is a crisis-level problem, threatening the survival of American Indians as a community and as a culture,” said Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
State officials, including Gov. Mark Dayton, acknowledge that the number of Indian children placed in foster care is a problem. “I share the concern of tribal leaders that too many Indian children are being removed from their homes and their communities,” Dayton told the Star Tribune.
State officials concede that bias may play a role in foster care decisions, which are made by social workers and judges at the county level.
“We have to look at the way we practice social work and child protection,” said Jim Koppel, the head of Children and Family Services for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). “And we have to look at those causes, those root causes that drive so much instability in families.”
Not all Indians agree that child protection agencies in Minnesota are too aggressive about pulling Indian children from their homes. Mark Fiddler, a Minnesota attorney and member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, believes too many states are reluctant to intervene in cases of abuse because of the federal law.
“Minnesota is the only state that's doing it right,” Fiddler said. “If anything, there should be more Indian children put into foster care.”
The question that weighs heavily on Bartolomei: By saving a child, is he destroying a culture?
Backpage.com defies sex trafficking subpoena despite Senate contempt vote
Feds: 1st Amendment is secondary to Senate's online sex trafficking investigation.
by David Kravats
The First Amendment has been good, really good to the online classified ads portal Backpage.com. In 2015, the US Constitution helped Backpage dodge a lawsuit from victims of sex trafficking. What's more, a federal judge invoked the First Amendment and crucified an Illinois sheriff—who labeled Backpage a "sex trafficking industry profiteer"—because the sheriff coerced Visa and Mastercard to refrain from processing payments to the site. The judge said Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart's anti-Backpage lobbying amounted to "an informal extralegal prior restraint of speech" because Dart's actions were threatening the site's financial survival.
But the legal troubles didn't end there for Backpage, which The New York Times had labeled "the leading site for trafficking of women and girls in the United States."
Thirteen months ago, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is examining sex trafficking on the Internet, subpoenaed (PDF) Carl Ferrer, Backpage's chief executive officer. But Ferrer, citing the First Amendment, has largely refused to comply with the subpoena—which essentially demands to know everything about the company's business model and profits, including how it screens ads. That screening aspect of the subpoena are similar to the one Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood issued to Google about its polices of policing third-party content. In July, however, Hood and Google settled their dispute about the subpoena, which read like a page from the anti-piracy playbook of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Meanwhile, in the Backpage brouhaha, one part of the 13-page Congressional subpoena requires Backpage to disclose "All documents relating to the use of a Tor browser, or any other anonymizing Internet browser on the Onion Network, to post advertisements on Backpage."
Other requirements include annual revenue, annual profits, and, among other things, "All documents" related to "Traffic directed to or from Adult Sections of Backpage's US-based websites," and "All documents relating to processing of payment and fees associated with posting advertisements."
Because of Ferrer's refusal to comply, the Senate in March unanimously approved its first contempt resolution in more than 20 years. Bolstered by horror stories of young girls saying they were sold for sex on the site, Senate lawmakers contended Backpage supports a flourishing market for sex-trafficking advertisements.
When the Senate voted for contempt, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said the authorities had found a missing girl via a "sex advertisement" on Backpage that contained a missing child poster of the child and a topless photo of her.
"We'd certainly like to know what supposedly market-leading screening and moderation procedures missed that one," Portman said from the Senate floor.
After the unanimous vote and because of the site's resistance, the Senate asked a judge (PDF) to demand that Backpage comply.
US District Judge Rosemary Collyer sided (PDF) with the government on August 5, ruling that Backpage had "no legal or factual support" for its position that the site was protected by the First Amendment. "The Constitution authorizes Congress to investigate any issue or subject about which it can enact legislation to the extent that it 'would be materially aided by the information which the investigation was calculated to elicit,'" Judge Collyer ruled.
Backpage appealed, asking the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to immediately block the order.
"The District Court was dismissive of Backpage.com's First Amendment concerns because they did not fall into familiar areas in which this Subcommittee or other legislative bodies historically abused authority—including efforts to root out subversives, political dissidents, or civil rights agitators," Ferrer's lawyers wrote. (PDF) "But the decision overlooked the way broad and punitive investigatory demands increasingly are used in the online context to exert pressure on speakers and publishers of third-party content."
A week after Collyer's ruling, the appeals court tentatively blocked the order—without deciding the merits.
"The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the motion," the court wrote.
The appeals panel ordered the government to reply by Friday. In its response, the government demanded that the court lift its stay. The authorities said any First Amendment rights Backpage has are secondary to the government's investigation into human trafficking on the Internet.
The Subcommittee is investigating the serious problem of human trafficking on the Internet—much of which takes place on Backpage's website—and has subpoenaed Mr. Ferrer for documents relating to Backpage's screening for illegal trafficking. It is important for the Subcommittee's investigation of Internet sex trafficking to understand what methods the leading online marketplace for sex advertisements employs to screen out illegal sex trafficking on its website. Mr. Ferrer has no First Amendment right to ignore a subpoena for documents about Backpage's business practices related to that topic. He has refused to identify his First Amendment interests except in sweeping generalities and failed even to attempt to show that any such interests outweigh important governmental interests served by the Subcommittee's investigation. Indeed, Mr. Ferrer cannot make any balancing argument because he refused to search for responsive documents or produce a privilege log describing them, claiming that the First Amendment gave him blanket immunity from having to carry out these basic duties of all subpoena respondents.
The appeals court ordered Backpage to respond by Wednesday. No hearing date has been set.
Safe Haven for Sex Trafficked Girls Coming to Texas
by Merrill Hope
A new therapeutic, $6.5 million, faith-based, 50-acre safe haven for sex trafficked girls aged 11-17 is coming to Texas. It will be the nation's first and largest long-term comprehensive residential rehabilitative facility of its kind.
“When we talk about domestic victims, we are talking about girls born and raised in the United States and they are trafficked in the United States, often city to city and state to state,” said Brooke Crowder, founder and director of the non-profit Refuge for DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking) in an interview with Breitbart Texas. Crowder said the project breaks ground in the Austin-area later this month.
“We only have 24 beds for child sex trafficking victims in Texas,” she commented. The Refuge ranch will offer 48 beds, more than at any other facility.
“If Texas only cares for 24, then we are really doing a bad job in our state in caring for our most vulnerable children. It's not one person's fault. It's a broken system and we've woken up a little late to the issue. Now, we've got to catch up,” she stated, adding there are only 350 residential beds dedicated to child sex trafficking victims nationwide.
The compound is not just a place for girls to recover but to “rebuild” their lives on the 50-acres donated by Refuge board member and Workfront CEO Alex Shootman. It will offer onsite psychological, medical, spiritual, art and equine therapy, plus house a University of Texas-University Charter School to help girls get back on track with their educations.
Unlike foster care where children age out of the system at 18, Crowder said they will have on-site transitional living if a girl is not equipped to leave. “This is incredibly important,” she said. “As you can imagine, children go right back into the arms of the traffickers if they are not ready.”
This is because victims often “trauma-bond” with their abusers, resulting in self-blame, shame, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Crowder said these psychological shackles are difficult to break.
Prior to founding the Refuge for DMST 2013, Crowder spent four years in Central America working with sex trafficked girls. She moved to Austin in 2010 to work on the problem stateside where it is epidemic. The average age of a sex trafficked girl is 12 years old. “From our vantage point in Central Texas, the cases we're seeing more and more of are those in the 13-14 year old range,” said Crowder.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) states there is no iron clad way to know the exact number of children missing or sex trafficked domestically as many cases are never reported. In 2010, their former CEO Ernie Allen estimated 100,000 U.S. minors were exploited sexually through prostitution. Last year, the FBI's National Crime Information Center recorded 460,699 U.S. children as missing while NCMEC cited 1 in 5 of the 11,800 known runaways nationwide as likely sex trafficking victims.
“We do know there are about 7,000 children a year in the state of Texas alone that are trafficked,” said Crowder based on NCMEC figures. In 2011, a Texas juvenile probation reported ballparked this figure at around 3,000.
NCMEC estimated 74 percent of likely sex trafficking victims were in the care of Child Protective Services (CPS) or foster care when they went missing. In 2013, Texas had 30,740 minors in foster care, considered a sizeable at-risk population, according to a Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force guide. This year, Governor Greg Abbott intervened in the state's trouble protective services, a system Crowder described as “overburdened” by the sheer number of minors in the system.
The state also has a vulnerable underage runaway population. Children at Risk's 2009 report, The State of Human Trafficking in Texas, called Dallas, Houston, and Austin hotspots for domestic human trafficking because of the many runaway and homeless youth.
Crowder told Breitbart Texas several factors contribute to these girls getting “sucked into” sex trafficking and prostitution. She highlighted the “proliferation of pornography in our culture.” She said, “Children are bought and sold over the internet.”
It can happen to anyone's child. Predatory sex traffickers look for emotionally vulnerable children to sell in a digital world where parents often do not know who their kids talk to online or who they engage with at the mall. Today, Crowder voiced, families are often “disconnected.”
She said, “You can't pick up on things with your kids, if you are texting them all day long. It takes putting eyeballs on them, sitting around the dinner table, hear their chatter. You have to stay engaged these days, otherwise there are too many things in our culture out there to damage our children.”
Child sex trafficking is not exclusive to girls. Breitbart Texas recently profiled Liberty Task Force, an East Texas faith-based restorative non-profit for underage boys either at-risk or formerly sex trafficked, many who come from the foster care system.
The Refuge for DMST is funded through the generosity of private and public donors, foundations, and public contributions. They hope to open in May 2017.