Race, Class, Feminism…and Brock Turner
by Joseph Margulies
On September 2, Brock Turner was released from the Santa Clara County Jail. Mr. Turner is the former Stanford undergrad convicted by a jury of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
The prosecutor sought a prison term, but the judge sentenced Turner to six months in the county jail, followed by three years on probation. Because he behaved himself in jail, Turner was released after three months, consistent with California law.
The sentence has led to a tremendous backlash—against Turner, of course, but also against the judge, who voluntarily removed himself from hearing criminal cases and is now the subject of a vigorous recall campaign spearheaded by Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor.
But what exactly is the criticism in the Turner case? For many, the answer to this question is obvious—so obvious that they have not paused to consider the question carefully. But care is demanded, for in truth, there are two, very different complaints. Admittedly, they are related, but they reflect different criticisms about society.
Observers have not paid sufficient attention to this complexity. But the solution endorsed by the state of California is likely to make one problem far worse, without making the other any better.
Certainly the most common charge is that Turner got off far too easily, and that any time a man undresses and digitally penetrates an unconscious woman he richly deserves to be sent to prison.
U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who represents the San Francisco Bay area, expressed a common sentiment: “There is no justice in the light sentence and early release of Brock Turner.”
To prevent sentences like this in the future, the California legislature changed a provision of state law that had distinguished between the forcible sexual assault of a conscious victim and the sexual assault of an unconscious victim.
In the former situation, California law required a mandatory minimum prison term. But in the latter, the assault was not considered “forcible,” and a judge could order probation in lieu of prison, as the judge did in the Turner case. Under the new law, both offenses require a prison sentence, from a minimum of two years to a maximum of 14 for first-time offenders.
Supporters of the legislation are clear about its purpose: to punish offenders like Turner, certainly, but also to alter what they see as a culture of male privilege.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, for instance, whose office prosecuted Turner and who sought the new legislation, asked rhetorically, “Why under the law is a sexual assault of an unconscious woman less terrible than that of a conscious woman? Is it less degrading? Is it less tragic, less traumatic?”
And Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa), a co-author of the legislation, argued on the floor of the California legislature, “If we let a rapist off with probation and little jail time, we re-victimize the victim, we dissuade other victims from coming forward, and we send a message that sexual assault of an incapacitated victim is just no big deal.”
Many people make a second charge—viz., that if Turner were poor, and especially poor and minority, his sentence would have been considerably more severe and he would not have escaped prison. In discussing the case in a radio interview, professor Dauber recently railed against a double standard in criminal justice:
We have one system of justice in this country, and we need to make sure … that when an individual does perpetrate an offense, that they're subject to the same kind of justice and to equal justice, regardless of who they are, whether they have high grades, whether they are a Stanford student or not, whether they are an excellent elite athlete or not. Everyone needs to be subject to the same standard.
Of course, I recognize that the criticisms are related. I suspect many people feel, correctly in my view, that Turner got off easily because he is not poor or a person of color. But ultimately the criticisms are not the same.
Fundamentally, the former is about feminism. It says, “Men do not understand the reality of sexual assault against women, and we need to make absolutely clear that all forms of this conduct will be punished severely.” This criticism applies regardless of whether the offender is white or black, rich or poor.
In contrast, the latter criticism is fundamentally about racism and classism, and attacks a culture of white elite privilege. It says, “If rich white kids get a break, so do poor kids of color. If poor kids of color don't get a break, neither do rich white kids. We need to make absolutely clear that justice can't depend on the color of your skin or the size of your bank account.” It applies regardless of the offense, and regardless of whether the offender is male or female.
I feel strongly that both problems—which we might shorten as male privilege and white privilege—are unpardonably severe in contemporary society. But observers have generally neglected how these two complaints interact in this particular case.
Turner's victim was a fellow Stanford undergrad. She read an extraordinarily eloquent and articulate statement in court that described in aching detail how Turner's assault had affected her.
The statement is available online and has apparently been downloaded more than a million times. No one doubts its enormous impact on the debate surrounding the Turner case, nor should they.
Yet the very power of the victim's statement forces us to consider whether the mainstream feminist critique—as applied to this case—obscures the race and class critique.
That is, I wonder whether we are appalled at Brock Turner's treatment precisely because his victim expressed herself so beautifully. We recognize her as one of the “good” people, which makes me wonder whether we would see and hear the same reaction if the victim had been an uneducated woman of color.
As Mr. Rosen asked, is her suffering less tragic, less traumatic? If it is the same—and of course it is—we have to ask why it took this particular case to produce a change in the law.
So we are presented with a situation in which the feminist critique emerges because of the problems of race and class presented by Turner's sentence. We feel compelled to protect women as a group, at least in part, because this woman in particular was not an uneducated woman of color.
In fact, what gives us any confidence that a newly minted mandatory minimum will be used against the next Brock Turner? Isn't it at least equally likely, given what we know about race and the criminal justice system, that when we create more carceral weapons, they will most likely be used against people of color?
Indeed, recent research shows this may be particularly true in the prosecution of sex offenses. For instance, roughly 750,000 people in the United States are registered sex offenders, two-thirds of whom are white men. Yet the sex offender registration rate for blacks is twice that of whites.
The fact is that creating a mandatory minimum for a specific crime will not reduce white privilege when there are so many ways for white defendants to avoid the most draconian consequences of the carceral state.
Brock Turner's sentence exposes two ugly aspects of American society: White men get a break when they mistreat women, and whites get breaks that people of color do not.
But the response to Turner's sentence threatens to exacerbate one to ameliorate the other. If that is our choice, we should at least be explicit about it.
Sexual abuse survivor reacts to OPD sex scandal
by Allison Weeks and Hermela Aregawi
(Video on site)
LIVERMORE (KRON)—Sex crimes victim advocates are welcoming the charges filed this week against seven Bay Area officers.
At the center of the sex scandal, 19-year-old Celeste Guap, who was a minor at the time of some of the allegations.
A former Livermore police officer is one of the seven charged.
KRON4's Hermela Aregawi spoke to a sexual abuse advocate about this case.
Vanessa Russell is also a sexual abuse survivor.
One of the things she says makes it difficult for a survivor is how she or he is perceived and part of what complicates that is what the victims themselves say.
Russell runs a Bay Area nonprofit that helps survivors like her and like Celeste Guap.
“Absolutely Celeste Guap is a victim,” Russell said. “She is a victim of child rape. She's a victim of exploitation of human trafficking because a child cannot consent to sex.
“Even if she was an adult, the mere fact of her being subjected to an authority figure using their influence to have sex with her to engage in sexual acts is an inappropriate use of power and should never be allowed.”
Russell says like Guap, a lot of survivors refer to themselves as a prostitute or call girl. She says it is one of many coping mechanism victims use.
“It's very normal for a victim to associate or call themselves a prostitute or a call girl or escort because those terms have been normalized in the world that they're in,” she said.
“Whatever that horrific thing is that that they're keeping tucked deep down inside. They've convinced themselves what they're doing is normal.
“Perhaps the law enforcement officer was a boyfriend, or he was a cute guy or he was just somebody she was flirting with but all of those are just tactics that people use to cope with the abuse that they've endured.”
Russell says Celeste Guap is facing a long road to recovery,but she says it's possible for her to eventually move forward.
She says a key part of that is the public keeping in mind that she was a child when some of these allegations happened.
Russell says she thinks the conversation is moving in that direction.
Courthouse dog helps Conway-area victims
CONWAY, Ark. (AP) — Her name is Barb II. Her fur is white with a golden streak down her back and a bit of golden fluff on her tail. Her ears are golden, too.
At about 70 pounds, the 2½ -year-old Barb is three-fourths Labrador retriever and one-fourth golden retriever. And she's a working dog who goes on the clock when one of her handlers -- two employees of the Faulkner County prosecuting attorney's victim services division -- puts a blue, yellow, black and white vest on her.
At that point, Barb goes from a tail-wagging dog with a chew toy in her mouth to an all-business therapist of sorts, the kind that listens and doesn't talk or judge.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2cCbC8q) reports that her job is comforting people, especially scared children, who must be questioned and sometimes testify about graphic details in trials dealing with rape, murder, abuse and more. Depending on the place, that comfort can range from playing with the child to simply lying still while the child strokes her repeatedly during a stressful interview.
Bred and trained by Canine Companions for Independence in Oceanside, California, Barb joined the prosecutor's office in February. She's Arkansas' first courthouse dog; she even sports a Razorback collar. And she's already been sitting in on lengthy court sessions.
"She will sleep the entire time and snore" as her feet bounce slightly, perhaps from dreams of chasing rabbits, said Susan Bradshaw, Barb's primary handler and director of victim services for the state's 20th Judicial District, which includes Faulkner, Van Buren and Searcy counties.
Barb has helped adults, too.
The prosecutor's office had been having trouble persuading a borderline agoraphobic woman to stop by the county courthouse to answer investigators' questions. Told that Barb would be there to welcome her, the woman finally ventured out of her home and visited the courthouse.
Barb has her own ottoman, and it's a whopper -- big enough for her and a few adults to sit.
She warms up to people when one of her handlers, Bradshaw or Fawn Borden, victim witness coordinator, tells her, "Go say hey." Those words are the cue for Barb to pick up a brightly colored Easter basket and take it to the person seated on the ottoman.
Barb's snoring can be loud, but she doesn't seem to enjoy barking, so that's not been a problem. And if a cat -- or even one of those fantasy rabbits -- were to show up in a courtroom, Barb wouldn't chase them, Bradshaw said. Barb has been trained to let them be.
Barb gets potty breaks every four hours and does her business on command.
The one rule she tends to fudge on is the one to sit when a child is nearby. She remains seated but wiggles and scoots herself closer to the child, Bradshaw said.
"She has a special heart for kids. ... She will ignore every adult if a child comes around," Bradshaw said.
When the vest is on, Barb is "very serious," Borden said. Take it off, and Barb starts wagging her tail, becomes "very playful" and loves to play fetch with a ball or one of the other toys scattered on a courthouse floor.
Barb was especially helpful with two children who were witnesses in a kidnapping and attempted capital murder case in Faulkner County.
"They got to throw a ball and pet her and roll on the floor with her," Bradshaw said.
The children played with Barb before and after their testimony. That way, they didn't have to wait in the small, dreary witness waiting room.
"We have trouble getting them (children) to leave" when they've gotten to visit with Barb, Bradshaw said. "We've heard them say, 'It wasn't so bad. I want to come back.'"
Barb hasn't accompanied a child testifying in court yet but may in two cases coming up.
Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said such dogs can help children speak "in intimate detail" about actions that may make the child feel unjustly ashamed, especially when there is a courtroom full of people listening.
"The great thing about this program is that dogs don't judge, and kids understand that," Hiland said. The dog "injects a small dose of positive" into an otherwise "harrowing (and) painful experience," he said.
Not all children enjoy being with dogs, and the prosecutor's office keeps that in mind, Bradshaw said.
In her few months in Conway, Barb has made "a difference in everyone's life" in the prosecutor's office, Bradshaw said.
"She's made it a better place to work. ... We have police officers that come by just to see her."
Even when she's not working, Barb hangs out in one section of the courthouse during the day. If she hears a worker who sounds upset or stressed out, she promptly goes to check on that person.
At night and on weekends, she goes home with Bradshaw. The courthouse-dog program calls for Barb to spend her retirement years with her primary handler, Bradshaw.
For now, Barb gets to play with Bradshaw's other pets and chase floppy flying discs when they're at home. Bradshaw and Borden make sure Barb gets plenty of down time after a lengthy court session, because staying still for so long can be hard work for a young, healthy dog.
She gets a bit of special treatment, though. She gets a weekly nail trimming and a good bath twice a month. She eats only dog food twice daily, at 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The closet things she gets to food treats are ice chips because the program wants to be sure her weight stays at a healthy level.
The Canine Companions program took great care to make sure that the dog chosen for the 20th Judicial Circuit would be a good fit for the workers.
"They were looking for a specific dog that would fit in with the personalities here," Borden said.
"They said they have better (success) rates than Match.com," Bradshaw said, smiling. "We couldn't have asked for a more perfect match."
Labrador ready to help victims of child abuse
by PAUL SWIECH
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The newest resource to comfort stressed child abuse victims in McLean County has dark, soulful eyes, a soft coat and a patient disposition.
Joch (pronounced "Jock"), a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, was introduced Aug. 15 as the first support dog in McLean County for child victims of sexual or serious physical abuse, human trafficking or witnesses to major crimes.
"If it can help to ease any of the stress that the children are experiencing, that's the main benefit," said McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers.
"Joch has the ability to help a lot of kids during a stressful time for them," added Judy Brucker, executive director of the McLean County Children's Advocacy Center and Court Appointment Special Advocate program.
Joch was introduced to the media by his daytime handler — Stephanie Jewett, a CAC child family advocate — and nighttime handler, Jacob Harlow, an assistant state's attorney who handles child-exploitation cases.
Joch is the first CAC support dog in central and southern Illinois, Brucker said. Lake and Will counties in northern Illinois also have support dogs.
Research has proven that just petting a dog can reduce stress and the heart rate of some people, so some CACs nationwide are adding support dogs, Harlow said.
The center investigates allegations of abuse against children. In a multi-disciplinary approach, children are interviewed in a friendly environment that focuses on reducing trauma. When a case moves through the judicial process, therapists provide counseling to victims.
Joch is meeting with children before and after their interviews. Joch demonstrated how, on command, he can place his head or his head and front paws onto a child's lap and how he can retrieve fallen stuffed animals.
Eventually, Joch may join children during their interviews and during their testimony in court, Jewett and Harlow said. In court, Joch may sit at the child's feet in the witness box to comfort the child without distracting jurors, Harlow said.
Jewett and Harlow spent two weeks getting trained on how to handle Joch at Support Dogs Inc. in St. Louis.
The Children Protection Network — which is supported by donations — spent $11,000 for the training and initial expenses and has committed to $1,500 a year for food and other bills, said network board president Terry Lindberg.
Dr. Kimberly Burks of Highland Pet Hospital and Wellness Center is providing complimentary veterinary care.
Children's Advocacy Center served 356 children in McLean, Livingston and DeWitt counties last year, with 276 from McLean County, Brucker said.
Already, three children have been comforted by Joch, Jewett said, who anticipates that most of the children served by the center will want to see Joch."When kids come here, they have been humiliated," Harlow said. "Anything we can do to relieve the stress is good for the kids."
Reflections on the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse
by Michael Grogan
As most Australians would be aware the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse has been holding hearings in Newcastle, New South Wales gathering evidence into how the Anglican Church handled child sexual complaints.
I think in this day and age it is not unusual to find someone you know who was either a victim or a perpetrator.
I was not a victim but I certainly knew at least three perpetrators. One was a teacher when I was at school who has since met his just desserts, another a priest I was friends with as a teenager, now deceased and in recent times a work colleague.
At the Newcastle hearings evidence has been given from a number of victims covering a long span of time, we know this atrocity has been going on a long time before anyone really took seriously the claims of the victims.
The local Newcastle newspaper has been publishing the events each day. One day they named the men connected with one case they are investigating. There before me was my work colleague's name.
I found it hard to imagine that the man I worked with so many years was the person they were saying he is. The man I knew was not the man accused but an excellent colleague and one with whom I engaged with in conversation many times during our time in the workplace.
It got me to thinking that we never really know the people around us. Not only that but we can find good reason not to trust them or even question who it is we can trust.
I am not for one moment trying to lessen what he is accused of, for I believe what he and others did was an act of sexual abuse that has clearly ruined the lives of the victims.
I know I have been lucky in this regard. The teacher who was convicted in the past year was committing acts of abuse at the school I was attending and I had no idea they were going on.
The priest in question at one stage when I was a teenager came into my bedroom and at the time I thought he was concerned over my health. In later years I fear he was grooming me. Thankfully nothing happened.
We live in a world now days where we have access to so much information. When we were kids that information was not available and in terms of the church we believed they were God's right-hand men and could do no wrong. They preyed on that fact with so many victims. They have destroyed so much trust we should have in our clergy and as the Royal Commission has already shown no religious group has been exonerated.
I have found it confronting to see the names people I thought were okay as I grew up accused of crimes, which left their victims scarred for life.
'Child houses' to be set up for sex abuse victims
by The BBC
Two so-called "child houses" are to be set up to support victims of sexual abuse and help them through the court process, the home secretary has said.
Under the £7.2m project, children will be able to get medical care and therapeutic support and also give evidence in a single building.
Amber Rudd said the plans would put victims' needs "front and centre".
The charity NSPCC said the announcement was a "welcome step" towards minimising suffering.
Both houses will open in London next year. They will each look after about 200 children and young people annually.
The project is being led by the London Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime and NHS England and funded by the Home Office Police Innovation Fund.
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Ms Rudd said: "What I'm doing... is making sure that children are protected going forward.
"It's about making sure that we learn the lessons from the child abuse scandals of the past and that we actually act now."
The child house model
The idea for child houses is based on the "Barnahus" in Iceland, which provides one building for victims of child sexual abuse to receive a variety of services, the Home Office said.
It said the Icelandic system offered "a more child-friendly service and environment to help young victims through the criminal justice process" and has been shown to "speed up the progress of investigations and court cases".
Within the building, victims will give recorded interviews to child psychologists and specially trained police officers, reducing the need to give multiple sets of evidence to different agencies.
The child house is also expected to provide a safe and "sympathetic" environment where victims can give evidence through video links to court.
A spokesman for the children's charity NSPCC said it had been a strong advocate for the houses and was working with the government to make them happen.
In a statement, Ms Rudd said: "As we investigate and prosecute these crimes it is vital that victims, who have already suffered in ways most of us could never imagine, are supported and protected throughout the process.
"The Home Office is providing police forces with funding that rewards and incentivises new approaches to police work and drives forward positive change.
"The child houses, by improving evidence gathering while putting the needs of the victim front and centre, demonstrate exactly the kind of innovative thinking that we are encouraging."
The Home Office added the development of the child houses was part of wider government plans.
These include launching a £1.24m Child Sexual Exploitation Response Unit giving specialist support to people working in safeguarding in the UK, and providing ongoing funding for projects in England and Wales which help victims and survivors of sexual abuse.
Wake up Palistan-child abuse exists
by Imane Babar
As a society, why are we so adamant to believe what we want to believe? We pretend that the brutal reality of child abuse doesn't exist. We are taught to remain silent when such tragedies occur, why? There is no point in being in denial about this matter. I wonder who we try to save by not raising our voice against this brutality. Perhaps turning the blind eye makes it bearable for us, but what about those victims? Our silence destroys them further.
When a child suffers from abuse – be it emotional, physical or sexual – it leaves an affect that cannot be described in words. Any kind of exploitation, taking place at a tender age, can have unimaginable life-long effects; leaving the victim emotionally scarred for life. It curbs the victim's overall personality, from their self-confidence to their perception of the world – all tends to be viewed in a negative light. Can we blame them? We remained silent while they suffered, hence why would they see this world any differently? With a lack of uproar from the public, to the insensitive institutions that we have, everyone seems to be okay while a child suffers.
“ Unke ghar ki baat hai ” (it's their family matter) – that's our excuse for being indifferent and selfish. We hear about a child rape case and all of a sudden, we start pointing fingers. From the law-makers to those implementing it, are held responsible. But, are you?
I am sure you are not, as your own child is safe, and you haven't caused any harm to another child – perhaps your domestic help is over the age of 18 as well, so you of course do not support child labour. I am sure you support sex education in schools so your child is aware of the concept. I am sure that you keep your child away from verbal and physical violence. Also, you must want politicians to raise child abuse concerns, given that over nine children were abused a day in the first six months of 2015.
But, then you're silent yourself, minding your own business – so are you not a part of the problem?
Childhood Trauma: Focus on Validating Feelings
by Sarah Newman, MA
When you're a child and you suffer abuse, whether it's physical, sexual, or emotional, you make it your mission to find out if this is normal. You wonder if other kids experienced the same things.
It's easier to doubt your perception than it is to accept the fact that you are living in a dangerous situation. If you knew that to be true, you'd have to do something about it. You'd have to talk to a teacher, a school counselor, or a police officer. You'd have to expose something that brings you great shame and pain. You'd have to face your abuser. Even though you're only a child.
As a child, you can't walk to school on your own, you don't understand fractions, you don't know what the economy is, and your best friend is your best friend because you brought the same cookies for lunch on the first day of school. For a child, life is simple and small. Abuse is not.
You don't understand what's happening to you. You wonder if it's just something you did. Perhaps you're just deeply flawed and deserve to be treated this way. You wonder if your perception is all wrong. As a child, your experiences are limited, and gauging whether or not other kids are experiencing the same abuse is tricky.
I recall my own experience. I remember having asked myself almost every day, “Is this normal? Is it just me?” I know that I didn't want to be direct in asking my friends about it because I didn't want to expose my own experience. I was deeply ashamed of what happened to me. Sometimes I even believed I deserved to be abused. I thought that telling my friends about it would make them disgusted with me.
What I had to learn was that it's the feelings that matter. It's not helpful to focus on the abusive event, the motivation of the abuser, and the rate at which other people experience similar abuse. The thing that is most important is… How it makes you feel.
Abusers don't want you to trust your feelings. They tell you — maybe explicitly but definitely implicitly — that your feelings don't matter.
That was drilled into my head. I was taught that my feelings weren't trustworthy. In fact, my feelings were a total nuisance because they were constantly at odds with my abuser's. Things were the way my abuser said they were and nothing more. My abuser decided if I had any rights to my body or personal space, if I have the right to cry or complain. When I felt disgust, self-pity, fear, or any other negative emotion, I was told it was wrong. My abuser told me how to feel.
It's taken years to learn to trust my instincts because that would mean embracing my feelings. What is instinct if not a feeling? What is anxiety if not an emotion cluing you into the fact that you are in danger? And certainly feelings aren't facts, but you don't have to tell that to an abuse survivor. Survivors take to ignoring their feelings because it was the only way to survive.
In order to move on though, you have to give yourself permission to stop weighing the trauma, measuring it's perimeter, and scrutinizing each detail. Trust your feelings. No one should ever make you feel degraded, insignificant, or miserable. A person who loves and cares about you doesn't make you hate yourself. This might sound obvious and you may understand this when it comes to how you treat your own friends and loved ones. But this is about how you were treated.
Console the child inside by accepting the feelings you have about the abuse without judgment. Validate yourself.
“Validating yourself is like glue for fragmented parts of your identity,” writes Karyn Hall, PhD. “Validating yourself will help you accept and better understand yourself, which leads to a stronger identity and better skills at managing intense emotions.”
You have a right to your feelings, you are the sole authority on your own experience, and you deserve comfort and safety. Understand that your emotional reaction to the abuse was normal. Any child would have reacted the same way. Now it's time to validate those feelings to help you move on from that childhood trauma and give yourself the life you always deserved.
Old Order Mennonite community keeps faith after child abuse case
Lawyer says community members have accepted outside help, but have stayed warm and welcoming over the years
by Riley Laychuk
Dozens of their children were taken away and they were bombarded by outside agencies after they found themselves in the middle of a massive child abuse investigation, but has a small Manitoba Old Order Mennonite community really changed after all the outside help?
They've committed to changing the way they parent and welcomed outside help, but their basic foundation remains the same, says the defence lawyer on the child abuse case, who has had rare in-depth exposure to the community.
"Their strength through challenging times like this is that they haven't changed that much," Scott Newman said, days after the last of the community members was sentenced for his role in the abuse.
The Winnipeg-based lawyer got the chance to do something very few have done — become intimately familiar with the traditions and ways of life of Old Order Mennonites.
Newman was one of the first lawyers on the case, picking it up on day one nearly four ago and staying on until this week, when the last of the community members charged in the case was sentenced to more than four years in prison. Newman told court this week that he was the only lawyer to stay on the case for its entirety.
Every person in the small, insular horse-and-buggy community was affected by the charges and eventual convictions against five people for child abuse. More than 40 children — every child in the community — were removed from their homes (38 have since returned). At one point, 14 people faced charges.
For Newman, it was a once-in-a-career case like no other, a case that couldn't be summed up in two or three words, or even in a sentence.
"I don't think anyone has done anything like this before," Newman, who has practiced law for about 10 years, told CBC News on Thursday. "Not only from the nature of the allegations, but the nature of the community."
"There wasn't a lot of people that weren't implicated in one way or another, either as a victim or as someone involved in wrongdoing," he said, recalling the beginnings of the case. "It really did balloon shortly after I became involved."
Before Newman could start building a case, he had to learn about the community and their traditions.
"I had a very positive impression of the members of the community," he said, recalling his initial meetings in the community. "They're very earnest and hard-working. They have a very large focus on humility."
Just keeping everyone's identity straight was a challenge, he said. Many in the small community have the same or similar surnames, and they all dress alike, with the same hairstyles and clothing.
Newman described the case as bringing a tsunami of outsiders crashing into the community. Lawyers, police, Child and Family Services workers, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists and foster families all inserted themselves into the lives of those in the community.
Ultimately, other defence lawyers were brought in to help deal with the sheer volume of people involved.
Community accepting of help
But while the community has been overwhelmed with help and supports from government agencies and others, not much has changed, Newman said.
They still live by their traditional values and reliance on faith, tradition and hard work. The children still attend school within the community.
But they have accepted the outside help presented to them over the years, Newman said.
"They believe that they don't always know best and that they're willing to learn and they're willing to change," Newman said. "They've engaged exceptionally well with groups like Child and Family Services, with counsellors.… They've shown a real commitment to ensuring that their parenting practices are at an acceptable level."
Even through the challenges they have faced, community members haven't forgotten their warm and welcoming ways, Newman said. Two of the men who were jailed for their roles in the abuse have since been welcomed back by the community and allowed to reintegrate.
As for the outcome, Newman said it was about as satisfactory as anyone could have expected, adding that those charged feel their sentences were fair. He said all of those charged admitted to what they had done to avoid calling children, some as young as six, to testify and potentially face cross-examination on their stories.
"It was a very interesting case. It was the type of case that comes along once in a career," Newman said. "I can't think of too many cases that utilized the number of resources [used in] this case."
In total, 13 people were charged for abuse that occurred from 2011 to 2013. Four men were sentenced to jail for their roles in the abuse. A woman was sentenced to probation. Charges were stayed against eight others after they agreed to enter into peace bonds.
He sexually abused her as a child. She became a police officer and hunted him down.
by Travis M. Andrews
Erlis Joseph Chaisson is a serial child molester.
He first spent time in prison for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old in Louisiana but was released in 1994, according to KXXV.
The 47-year-old might have remained free if one 27-year-old north central Texas police officer hadn’t gone far above the call of duty.
The two weren’t strangers. In fact, they’re relatives.
And their pasts dovetail in a horrific way. For four years, Chaisson had sexually abused her when she was a young girl, forcing her to rub his penis and performing oral sex on her.
It began when she was 8 years old.
She became a cop. And in 2014, more than 15 years after the abuse, she arranged a meeting with him and secretly recorded their conversation.
She had a recorder stashed away in her bra, capturing the entire traumatic conversation.
On that two-hour tape, he described to her, in detail, what he did to her. He blames her for it. He tells her she wouldn’t understand because she doesn’t possess male genitalia. He praises himself by saying that at least, “I kept you a virgin, didn’t I?”
Most importantly, he confessed. Over and over and over again.
Because of that, he’ll spend life in prison, a jury recently decided.
The officer’s name has not been made public and The Washington Post does not name victims of sexual abuse.
A few years ago, the officer decided to begin attending therapy. She learned that her issues likely stemmed from the abuse Chaisson heaped upon her from the ages of 8 to 12 — more than 15 years ago. At first, he would rub and scratch her back, cuddling with the child. Then he made a habit of climbing into her bed at night, as she tried to sleep.
Chaisson began gyrating his genitals between her legs, forcing her hand to rub them. Eventually, he performed oral sex on her.
Through therapy, Doe realized she needed to confront this painful past. And she had a pretty good idea of how she could do it — after all, she had just been trained as a police officer.
“I’ve always, always wanted to be a detective,” she told the Daily Beast. “I was fresh out of the academy. It was kind of, ‘If he’s going to talk, he’s going to talk’ — how do I prove it?”
Added Doe, “I thought to myself: I’m the difference between him and prison.”
Doe decided it was her responsibility to put this predator away for good while facing her own past — two birds with one stone.
“My job is in law enforcement,” she told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “I’m held to a higher standard. I just want to protect people, and how can I do that if I can’t even protect myself?”
So in September 2014, the then-25-year-old told McLennan County Sheriff’s Detective Brad Bond everything she could remember about the abuse. The two decided she could get him to confess, on tape.
So she called Chaisson.
Doe presented a good reason for the conversation — she was in therapy and needed closure.
“He knew that I was in counseling and he knew I wanted to talk about the abuse,” she told the Waco Tribune-Herald.
In the 25-minute phone recording, which was played in court, Chaisson insisted they meet in person to have the conversation, so he could present his side of the story.
“We need to talk, but not on the phone,” Chaisson said. “We need to sit down and talk face to face. Then you can explain and I can explain. There are always two sides to every story.”
“How can there be two sides?” she asked.
“Everything has two sides. If you want to meet, maybe we can go through some scenarios and have some closures,” Chaisson said.
They arranged a meeting in a public park in Granbury, Texas, and she prepared herself — both mentally and physically.
She borrowed a tape recorder from a friend who also worked in law enforcement and hid the device in her bra. She armed herself with her pistol. She arranged for her friend to observe her meeting with Chaisson from her truck, parked about 75 yards from the bench where they were meeting.
She took a deep breath.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, she explained what happened that day.
When she arrived to the park, Chaisson was on a bench, holding a cigarette.
“My heart was racing,” she said.
So many things could go wrong, and the idea of him actually confessing to what he had done likely seemed absurd at that point.
But it shouldn’t have. He poured out the truth.
“He was talking like he was talking to his best friend,” she told the Daily Beast. “Six times, he confessed — in the first hour and a half of that recording.”
He confessed, but he said, “You’re putting, trying to put all the blame on me.” He attempted to shift the blame by saying things like, “I always stopped myself before I went too far,” “It takes two” and “I kept you a virgin, didn’t I?”
“You need to control your curiosity. I wasn’t supposed to be the friend you played nasty with,” Chaisson told her. “I’d be laying on the couch and then you got that look in your eyes. I’d pull the covers up and you’d come run in and jump under there and back up all the way to me. In the mornings, cuddle up to you, scratch your back.”
He also blamed his biological sex.
“If you had a penis, you would know,” he said.
Police were pleased to capture the confession but shocked.
“We don’t ever get stuff like that,” Det. Bond told The Daily Beast. “It’s better than a confession. Even when they confess, they don’t give us all of the details. It was even better.”
Prosecutors played the two-hour tape in its entirety for the jury.
“I don’t think you can hear that recording — no matter who you are — and have it not have an impact on you,” District Attorney Gabrielle Massey told the Daily Beast.
“A life prison term is the only just punishment,” Prosecutor Andrew Erwin told the jury during the trial, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.
Stephen Gordon, the attorney representing Chaisson, begged for mercy.
“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.”
The judge and jury agreed with Erwin.
He was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child by contact on Aug. 26, which led to automatic life sentence.
He will spend at least 42 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. By that point, he’ll be 89 years old.
One other victim testified during the trial, and others found the courage to come forward to prosecutors after the trial.
As for the detective, she told the Daily Beast it feels like “a weight lifting over my shoulders.”
“I no longer have to hide the secret or bear the responsibility of it.”
Adrian Peterson hasn't learned a thing in 2 years since suspension
by Anthony Barstow
Adrian Peterson offered up his first long-form interview since his 2014 suspension for child-abuse charges, and it looks like the whole experience has taught the Vikings' star running back who the real victim in this ordeal has been: Adrian Peterson.
Speaking on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger,” Peterson revealed his feelings about his punishment, the sense that he was judged unfairly and whether he did anything wrong in the first place.
“I missed an entire season, you know?” Peterson told Bensinger. “I was judged before I was actually judged, you know? But I'll accept it because it didn't break me. It made me a stronger person, a smarter, more wiser individual. I was actually able to see people, a lot of people, for who they really are.”
Peterson presumably was referring to the people who reacted negatively when it was revealed he repeatedly hit his 4-year-old son so hard with a tree branch — a “switch” — it left inches-long cuts and bruises all over the boy's legs and scrotum.
The 2012 NFL MVP defended his actions at the time as parental discipline in the form of corporal punishment, and in the two years since, he has not changed his tune.
“I would think that any parent wouldn't intentionally harm their child, you know, and in my case, that was definitely, you know, what it was,” Peterson said. “It was purely trying to discipline him, and unfortunately, because of errors on my behalf, it ended up differently.”
He also reflected on his youth, when he was disciplined similarly and forced to choose the wooden switch with which he would be hit. He said the experience “helped me become the person I am today,” without specifying if he was talking about the person indicted for child abuse or the person who plays football well.
“When I was growing up – and I know, like, my mom and stuff, too, they got whooped with extension cords. … That doesn't feel good at all,” Peterson said. “But [with] a switch, there's a sting to it, and it makes you get some act right.”
Peterson avoided jail time for the incident and pleaded down to a single misdemeanor charge of reckless assault, for which he agreed to pay a $4,000 fine and perform 80 hours of community service. He also missed 15 games and lost $4.2 million in pay for the 2014 season.
Bensinger asked what, if anything, Peterson learned from saga, and the answer seems to be: not much.
“Just not to be judgmental towards people because after going through that and just seeing other people you know going through different situations as well, just like, man, you should really find out the details and, you know, before you sit there and start persecuting people and judging people,” Peterson said. “Just leave it up to the one person to judge.”
So, take a cue from Peterson and don't judge people accused of child abuse too quickly. Wait for the pictures to come out that reveal the abuse was much worse than previously thought. Then, maybe go ahead and form your opinions.
District teachers get training in preventing sexual abuse
by Karen Magill
Patricia Dailey-Lewis, who heads the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, recalls the moment the foundation was born.
It was in Lewes, she said, as she and Biden walked through the seaside town in the midst of the case against one of the most notorious child abusers in United States history. Dailey-Lewis was deputy attorney-general at the time, and recalled that “I lived in the AmericInn in Rehoboth Beach” while the State built its case against Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley.
Bradley was indicted with 529 counts, including rape, covering more than 100 patients. He was eventually convicted of all 24 charges in a consolidated indictment and sentenced to 14 life sentences plus 165 more years.
The case rocked Sussex County. Dailey-Lewis recalled the day, in the midst of it, that she and Biden were walking down Savannah Road and a woman approached Biden and asked, “What are you going to do?” The question, she said, hit Biden at his core, and he responded that he was going to start an organization to help prevent another Bradley from harming children.
“He was a person who did what he said he was going to do,” she said of the late attorney-general.
Bradley has been in jail for more than four years, but the case still sends chills through Sussex County families.
“It was traumatizing,” Dailey-Lewis said last month, as she stood before nearly 100 new the Indian River School District teachers preparing to meet their students for the first time.
Dailey-Lewis now carries out Biden's legacy as director of the foundation named for him. Her presentation to the new teachers was part of a training program called “Stewards of Children.” The program seeks to prevent child sexual abuse by raising awareness and educating adults how to recognize it and how to react responsibly to it.
Stewards of Children is a training program offered by nationwide Darkness to Light organization. Central to the program is a video featuring former victims of child sexual abuse, including Marilyn VanDerbur, Miss America 1958, who was abused for decades by her father and now advocates for victims of child sexual abuse.
Also featured is Margaret Hoelzer, an Olympic-medal-winning swimmer who was abused by the father of a friend when she was a very young child.
One of the most chilling moments in the video comes when VanDerbur recounts a night when her father was in her bedroom with her, and she heard her mother's footsteps in the hallway. She hoped, she said, that her mother would open the door and her nightmare would be over. Instead, VanDerbur said, she listened as her mother paused, and then walked away, leaving her alone with her abusive father.
“My mom made a choice that night, and she didn't choose me,” VanDerbur said in the video.
The stigma around child sexual abuse is part of what makes it so difficult to deal with, and Stewards of Children training teaches adults to face their responsibility as potential reporters of the abuse. For teachers, the importance of such training is paramount, given that one in 10 children will be sexually abused before turning 18.
Since child sexual abuse victims are more likely to experience other issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, sexually transmitted diseases, self-inflicted harm, delinquency, running away, homelessness and seemingly unrelated health problems, including diabetes, cancer and heart ailments, the impact of it is immeasurable.
The new Indian River teachers learned five steps toward protecting children from sexual abuse:
(1) Learn the facts — understand what sexual abuse is, recognize its prevalence and understand how it occurs;
(2) Minimize opportunity — which as teachers, can mean minimizing “hotspots” in schools where abuse could occur, monitoring internet use in schools and instituting a code of conduct that addresses appropriate and inappropriate interactions between teachers and students;
(3) Talk about it — be open with children about setting boundaries, encourage them to talk to you or another adult if something makes them uncomfortable, and give them proper language for body parts so they will be properly understood when they do approach an adult;
(4) Recognize the signs — even though in some children, there may be absolutely no signs of abuse, certain behaviors and signals can often be clues that a child is being abused; and
(5) React responsibly — understand how to respond when a child discloses abuse or it is suspected.
“You will be the voice of these children,” Dailey-Lewis told the teachers.
Citing the Bradley case, she emphasized that his abuse continued for years because other adults did nothing to stop it. The same, she said, was true in the case of Penn State University coach Jerry Sandusky.
“How did that go on for so many years with so many people talking about it?” she asked. The answer, she said, is that “the institution was put before the kids.”
There is hope, Dailey-Lewis said, as education efforts against child sexual abuse move forward across the country. Delaware, for example, has gone from 48th in the nation in reporting of child sexual abuse, to fifth within the past five years — which she said indicates not so much an increase in sexual abuse of children, but an increase in the reporting of the crimes so that the perpetrators can be prosecuted and prevented from harming more children.
As teachers, Dailey-Lewis said, the new IR staffers need to face the reality that “pedophiles are going to go where they have access to children,” and that “our job is to build that wall around them” and keep them safe.
Sticks And Stones May Break Bones, But Words Can Hurt Forever
We've got to stop this attitude of "it's not my business".
by Neil Carrington
Emotional abuse is one of the most misunderstood forms of child abuse and neglect. In 2014-15, there was 42,457 substantiated cases of abuse and neglect, and sadly 43 percent of these children were emotionally abused.
People understand the effects of hitting a child or sexually abusing a child. A harder concept to grasp is the damage that is caused by calling a child "stupid" over and over again or telling them "they never should have been born". Bruises fade, but making a child regret their own existence is a bit tougher to heal.
When children are emotionally abused, this can prevent their brain from developing properly, which can lead to struggles with their wellbeing and development -- from their speech and language to their ability to engage and function at school.
If emotional abuse is left untreated, children are significantly at risk of drug or alcohol abuse problems, mental health issues, eating or sleep disorders and struggles with future life coping skills.
It breaks my heart that we have to teach children that they are not stupid or worthless, that they have a right to feel safe and that they are the boss of their own little bodies.
Through techniques such as art therapy and sensory play, we work with these children to break down the walls that have been built up due to constant abuse. There's no one-size-fits-all approach; every single child has gone through their own personal trauma. As we learn more about the child, we can determine which techniques would best help them relax and open up.
We recently conducted research which confirmed what we anticipated was true -- that emotional abuse really is one of the most common forms of abuse. Unsurprisingly, the results of our survey revealed that over a third of respondents had experienced emotional abuse in their childhood. What did surprise us however, was that 40 percent of those surveyed didn't feel confident that they could identify the signs of abuse and neglect and one in ten people would wait to see if the situation got worse before reporting it to the authorities.
Over a third (38 percent) stated that they had experienced emotional abuse in their childhood
1 in 4 (25 percent) would talk to the child's parents or caregivers if they suspected abuse or neglect
1 in 2 people (50 percent) believe that child abuse and neglect are increasing
42 percent of women said that they had experienced emotional abuse in their childhood.
We've got to stop this attitude of "it's not my business" or "I'll just wait and see what happens".
The theme of this year's National Child Protection Week is "protecting children is everyone's business". It's time for us to stop being scared and start taking a stand for kids that don't have a voice.
We need to educate children on how to stay safe, and encourage parents, carers, teachers and childcare workers to educate themselves on the signs of child abuse and neglect, keeping in mind that this will be different for every child.
Look for changes in behaviour: have they become anxious or withdrawn? Are they unwilling to participate in activities? Are they acting out or have their sleeping or eating patterns changed? These could all be possible indicators of child abuse or neglect. And it is everyone's business to care.
To find out more about Act for Kids please visit www.actforkids.com.au
Save the Children Launches Child Protection System Report
Children in Papua New Guinea experience some of the most extreme forms of violence, and the rates are extremely high according to world standards.
According to UNICEF and MSF, 70% of children in PNG suffer from emotional and physical abuse; 50% experience sexual abuse; and 50% of children are endangered by family violence within their homes.
This week, Save the Children launched a report on Papua New Guinea's child protection system. The report was launched following a research into the country's Child Protection System.
The research was conducted in May and June this year, with a sample size within 5 provinces: the National Capital District; East Sepik Province; Eastern Highlands Province; Morobe Province; and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
From this report Save the Children highlighted that
Violence on children remains extensive in PNG;
There is a general lack of understanding on violence against children;
There is a need for Child Protection laws to be implemented practically,
With adequate resources, and clear allocation of budget;
Also children's needs are not adequately attended to, due to
- lack of knowledge and skills; and a
- lack of available resources.
Save the Children Country Director, Jennifer El-Sibai, highlighted that the report carries the voices of children and parents in communities. She said real change for child protection will be achieved with a collective effort from all organisations and members of the society.
Mother of malnourished boy found dead in a closet pleads not guilty to murder
by Hailey Branson-Potts
The mother of a malnourished 11-year-old boy who was found dead in the closet of an Echo Park home appeared in court Thursday wearing a suicide-prevention garment and pleaded not guilty to murder and child abuse charges.
Veronica Aguilar, 39, was charged with one count each of murder and child abuse resulting in death after her son, Yonatan Daniel Aguilar, was found in the closet in the family's home in the 2100 block of Santa Ynez Street.
Yonatan was wrapped in a blanket and had been dead for at least several hours, police said. Several law enforcement sources told The Times he was severely underweight with healed injuries that showed signs of long-term abuse.
During a brief appearance in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, Aguilar pleaded not guilty through a Spanish-language interpreter. She stood expressionless in the defendants' area, wearing a padded blue antisuicide smock.
Aguilar's public defender, R. Lawrence Tripp, said he did not believe his client had undergone a psychiatric evaluation but that there would be one before trial. The Sheriff's Department decided to put her in the antisuicide garment, he said, after determining that there was “some sort of danger.”
“They're not sure about her mental state; that's all I can say,” Tripp said.
Yonatan's family had been the subject of six prior reports to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the department's director, Philip L. Browning, said last week.
Two reports to DCFS were made about Yonatan in 2012, and there was one report in 2011 and one in 2009. Two additional reports in 2002 predated Yonatan's birth and involved at least one of his siblings, Browning said.
Yonatan's autopsy report has been put on a security hold by law enforcement, according to Ed Winter, a spokesman for the L.A. County coroner's office. No details regarding the cause of death or the condition of the child could be released.
Tripp said he had not yet gotten any DCFS records regarding prior visits by social workers. He declined to provide any details about Aguilar's emotional state or about his conversations with her.
“It's always tragic when a child dies, but she's innocent until proven guilty; and at this point I don't even have the coroner's report so I don't know what the cause of death is,” Tripp said. “I've heard all kinds of dramatic allegations in the press about injuries and the state of the child, but I don't have any evidence at this point.”
The prosecutor on the case, Deputy Dist. Atty. Scott McPheron, declined to comment, saying the case was still in an early stage.
Days apart in 2012, two teachers contacted DCFS, with one saying Yonatan was suffering from general neglect and the other reporting that he had a black eye, Browning told The Times. County social workers — who interviewed numerous school employees, the child and others — determined the boy to be living in a safe environment, Browning said.
Any reports that involved possible physical abuse were cross-reported to the Los Angeles Police Department, which was aware of the black eye, Browning said.
Capt. Julian Melendez, commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Juvenile Division, told The Times last month that Yonatan's mother has at least three other children, ages 14, 16 and 18. The minors were released to DCFS, he said.
Melendez said he was aware of three reports to DCFS of possible abuse regarding Yonatan that had been cross-reported to police but did not trigger an investigation by Juvenile Division detectives.
The child had not attended classes in the Los Angeles Unified School District since 2012 and was thought to have been in Mexico for some time, according to the LAPD. It was unclear whether the boy attended school in another district.
LAPD authorities and DCFS officials said the family seemed to have moved numerous times.
According to police, the boy's stepfather, Jose Pinzon, reported Yonatan's death after coming home and learning from Aguilar that he was dead. Pinzon was not arrested.
Aguilar is being held at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood in lieu of $2-million bail. If convicted as charged, she could face a possible maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
Kristin Smart vanished in 1996. Authorities say she may be buried on her college campus.
by Sarah Larimer
Kristin Smart went to a college party on a May night in 1996.
She was a freshman at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo at the time, and the night of the party, she was wearing running shorts and what the Los Angeles Times described as a “short-cropped T-shirt.” She left with other students, the newspaper reported, including Paul Flores, who was the last person to see the 19-year-old Smart alive and would later become a “person of interest” in her disappearance.
Smart went missing after that party.
Now, 20 years later, local and federal authorities have begun an “excavation project” on the Cal Poly campus, in an effort to determine whether Smart's remains are on the premises.
“After a comprehensive review of the Smart case, a lead was developed over the past two years that strongly suggested the remains of Kristin might be buried on the hillside near the Cal Poly ‘P' landmark,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
Dogs brought in to search the area earlier this year had “alerted” on sites in the area, according to the sheriff's office. The agency said the “P” wasn't the only location that investigators were focusing on, but it was disclosed because of its high-profile nature.
“Due to its high visibility, we really decided that it was best just to go ahead and disclose why we are here,” Sheriff Ian Parkinson told reporters.
About 25 FBI agents and about 15 members of the sheriff's office would search the site in the coming days, Parkinson said at a news conference.
“We're not sure where this is going to take us,” he said. “Obviously, we want to be [as] optimistic as possible. And we hope that this leads us to either Kristin or evidence of Kristin.”
In a statement, Smart's family said they were “encouraged and hopeful for the new developments” in the case.
“We have been hoping, praying and waiting for the last twenty years for the return of our daughter. And while the road has been difficult beyond words; our hopes were rekindled when Sheriff Parkinson took office,” the statement read.
The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported that “a steady hum of machinery filled the air on a steep Cal Poly hillside Wednesday as members of the FBI Evidence Response Team combed through thousands of cubic feet of dirt.”
“It is hard labor,” FBI Special Agent Tom Brenneis said, according to the Tribune, which noted:
Over the next few days, the team will sift through 20,000 cubic feet of dirt — the equivalent of about a dozen 26-foot-long moving trucks filled to capacity — at each of three different locations on the hillside near the Cal Poly “P,” the landmark concrete letter that has overlooked campus since 1919. …
Sheriff's officials did not say Wednesday whether anything of interest had been unearthed. Sheriff Ian Parkinson will determine the timing of any announcement, spokesman Tony Cipolla said.
“I think he's just waiting to see what, if anything, is found before we do any kind of announcement,” Cipolla said, noting that Parkinson would not want to jeopardize the investigation.
He added: “A lot of people are excited that we may find her. Well, we haven't. Not yet.”
This is not the first time authorities have tried to locate Smart's remains. Hundreds searched the campus in June 1996, after the teen's disappearance, according to the Tribune. And in July of that year, authorities visited the home of Flores, the male student who was the last person to be seen with Smart.
Flores, authorities said this week, remains a “person of interest” in the case.
The searches continued through the years, but investigators never found Smart's body.
Her roommate told ABC News that she grew concerned when Smart wasn't around after the party in 1996. The roommate tried to alert campus authorities, but her efforts weren't successful.
“They were like, ‘It's Memorial Day weekend, and if we did this, if we filled out a missing person's [report] for every student who went away for the weekend, etc.,' ” Smart's roommate, Crystal Calvin, told ABC. ” ‘You know that's not really necessary. I'm sure she'll be back.' ”
A few days later, Smart was declared missing.
She was last seen with Flores, who had also been at the party, the Times reported in 2006. Another student who had been with Smart, Cheryl Anderson, later said in a deposition that she broke away from the duo as they walked back to the dorms.
“I said, ‘Will you walk her to her room?' you know, ‘Will you take her back to her room?' ” she said. “And he said, ‘Yes.' And I said something about ‘Yes?' and he said — and I said, ‘If you won't, I will do it. I will walk her to her room,' you know. … I didn't want to have to do it. But, you know, if he didn't want to do it I was — I was going to do it.”
Smart had previously been seen on a lawn near the party, according to the Times. Another student, Tim Davis, told investigators that he saw her there. Smart looked like she had passed out, the Times reported, and Davis — who was clearing out the party around 2 a.m. — told authorities that he got her up.
But Smart wasn't in a state in which she could get back to her dorm by herself. That's how she ended up walking back with Anderson and Flores.
Here's the Associated Press, with an update on the case:
The student who told of leaving Smart near her dorm was questioned by authorities and his home was searched but he was not arrested or charged in the case. Asked if that man is a suspect, Parkinson said, “I would say it's safe to say he's a person of interest in the case.”
The sheriff also said it was “probably accurate” that authorities were now no closer to making any arrest than they were previously.
There are remembrances for Smart on a bluff near the Pacific, according to Mustang News, Cal Poly's student newspaper. Two benches are located at the spot, the newspaper reports.
Smart's name can be found on a plaque next to one of the benches. Next to the other, there's a plaque displaying a poem she wrote about the ocean.
“Nothing really has changed,” Smart's father, Stan, told the Times in 2006. “I mean, I still have a lot of anger about the situation. And my wife is a bit of an emotional wreck at times. And it hasn't been resolved. We haven't really resolved the issues as to where our daughter is, and what happened to her.”
On Wednesday, at the dig site, the Tribune reported, “as a CAT excavator scraped away hunks of dirt with its claw, a CAT compact terrain loader moved piles over to the FBI team. About 10 agents wearing blue FBI shirts, hats and masks sifted through dirt using rakes and shovels, trying to find anything of ‘evidentiary value.'”
“Once we find something, then we'll hone in on it and it will get down to brushes and trowels, more like an archaeological dig,” the FBI's Brenneis told the Tribune.
But, the newspaper reported:
So far, though, the team is finding a lot of trash and has to analyze whether there's anything they want to keep.
A dozen California cops disciplined for shocking sex scandal involving underage prostitute
by Chris Sommerfeldt
A dozen disgraced Bay Area cops will face disciplinary action for their roles in a wide-ranging sex scandal involving an underage prostitute — and four have already been fired, officials announced Wednesday.
The Oakland Police Department became the target of a scathing investigation after officials revealed that as many as 30 area cops at some point had sex with now 19-year-old Celeste Guap.
Guap later admitted she had sex with at least four officers before she turned 18 — sometimes in exchange for not getting arrested.
An embarrassed Oakland mayor announced the planned disciplinary actions at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
“I am deeply sorry for the harm this scandal has caused, particularly to community trust,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said.
Schaaf boasted of the “rigorous scope of the investigation,” which reviewed over 78,000 pages of social media postings and 28,000 text messages, according to a Wednesday statement.
Schaaf did not release the names of any of the officers but said the four who have been fired were found to have attempted sexual assault, engaged in lewd conduct in public and assisted in the crime of prostitution.
Seven other officers were suspended without pay for failing to report a violation of law and accessing law enforcement databases for personal gain.
Another officer was ordered to attend counseling and training classes after bringing disrepute to the police department.
Schaaf has previously blasted the department for perpetuating “a toxic macho culture.”
“I am here to run a police department, not a frat house,” she said at a June press conference, visibly frustrated.
The sex scandal headache started after an investigation into the suicide of an Oakland officer revealed his and other officers' involvement with Guap, the daughter of a police dispatcher.
The shamed department went through three chiefs in 10 days after the scandal was first reported in May.
As if the sex scandal wasn't enough, the Oakland department was also entrenched in a racist text and email scandal that was unearthed around the same time.
The Alameda County district attorney's office has launched a criminal investigation into the toxic department, but has yet to outline any formal charges.
Schaaf pleaded for “patience” from the local community Wednesday as several public offices work towards prosecuting the officers responsible.
“We care deeply about this community and its officers and believe that the outcomes in this case will root out misconduct, encourage a culture of transparency and continue the work of restoring trust,” she said.
Child Protection Is For All God's Children
by Ryan Stollar
The American Church is facing a child abuse epidemic. This epidemic transcends denominational and theological boundaries. While Catholics continue to be rocked by tragedies, and Catholic priests fight against expanding legal protections to survivors, Protestants are little better. In fact, according to GRACE's Boz Tchividjian, Protestants are “worse” than Catholics when it comes to how they respond to clergy sexual abuse.
But the Church has begun to wake up. More and more Christians realize just how important it is to do everything in their power to protect children from harm. More and more Christians are taking Jesus seriously when he said, “Let the little children come to me, and forbid them not.”
This is not an issue that the Church can afford to ignore any longer. Child abuse of every sort—emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect—is plaguing our world. Take the example of sexual abuse. Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults occur to children ages 17 and under. Put another way, one out of every ten children will be sexually abused before their eighteenth birthday. If your church reflects the average population, that means it is likely that one out of every ten children in your church has experienced sexual abuse!
That is why it is so important for churches to start waking up to this pervasive tragedy.
But as the Church at large wakes up to the reality of child abuse, it also needs to pay attention to the way that abuse manifests. At the same time that nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults occur to children ages 17 and under, child abuse impacts certain groups of children more so than others. For example:
• Females are five times more likely to be abused than males.
• African American children face almost twice the risk of sexual abuse than white children.
• Female African American children face even higher risk, as 60% of black girls experience sexual assault by the age of 18.
• Native American children face two times the rate of abuse.
• Children in low socioeconomic status households are three times as likely to be victimized.
• Children with disabilities are 2.9 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence.
• Deaf children are particularly at risk, with females reporting childhood sexual abuse twice as often as the hearing population and males reporting it three times as often as the hearing population.
• LGBTQ children are more likely to be sexually assaulted than heterosexual and cisgender children.
Child abuse impacts certain groups of children more than others because it joins forces with the way our world in general and the Church specifically thinks about and treats females, people with less money, LGBTQ people, people of color, and disabled people. This is the idea of intersectionality —the idea that no sin happens in a vacuum. Children in general bear the brunt of an adult sin like abuse. But a black child, for example, stands at the intersection of multiple adult sins—facing not only the increased likelihood of abuse like other children, but also facing racism.
The sin of racism can shape how exactly and how frequently a black child experiences another sin like child abuse. For example, while many children face physical abuse in public schools through school-inflicted corporal punishment, black children face that abuse at greater rates: “A disproportionate number of the students receiving corporal punishment are black. According to federal statistics, black students are 16 percent of students enrolled in public schools but are 35 percent of those physically disciplined; black children receive physical punishment at almost three times the rate of their non-black peers.” The same goes for disabled children: “Students with disabilities made up 18.8 percent of students who suffered corporal punishment at school…although they constituted just 13.7 percent of the total nationwide student population.”
The Church cannot ignore how child abuse connects to other adult sins.
Unfortunately, many conversations in the Church about abuse seem to only address child abuse in blanket ways—and I include myself in that criticism, too. We talk about generic warning signs of abuse. We talk about generic child abuse statistics. We talk about generic solutions and generic child protection policies. But those signs and statistics and solutions and policies are often geared towards the common denominators, which means that children at the margins—the children who are most frequently abused—get left out.
So how can the Church's vision of child advocacy better address the populations of children most in need of protection?
If we are truly committed to fighting child abuse, we need to make sure we are committed to all children. And being committed to all children means considering how certain actions and beliefs keep the Church from protecting all children. We must consider how the way many churches think about and treat girls puts them at a greater risk of abuse. We must consider how the way many churches think about and treat disabled children puts them at a greater risk of abuse. We must consider how the way many churches think about and treat LGBTQ kids puts them at a greater risk of abuse.
For example, many LGBTQ children's abusers use their being LGBTQ to keep them from coming forward about the abuse. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network points out that a child's sexual orientation can be a sword that abusers wield against the child in at least three different ways: first, by silencing a child from coming forward about the abuse with the threat of “outing” the child; second, by telling the child that their sexual orientation is what caused the abuse; and third, by telling the child that the abuse has now “made” them LGBTQ. The shame of abuse can thus be amplified if a child also feels shame about their sexual orientation; the deadly combination of these shames might very well keep the child silent about the abuse.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who is bisexual, has spoken about his own experiences of childhood abuse and how he was bullied into keeping that abuse secret. In an interview with NPR, he explained at length about how some predators specifically target LGBTQ children: “Children who will eventually identify as LGBT are more likely to be targets of sexual predators,” he says. “In some cases the predator is targeting children who they already see as kind of having some kind of characteristics that will later be different. And that difference means they're isolated. That difference means that they are already outside of the social mores, that the predator behavior is now somehow justified because this person is already outside the norm.”
If children in our churches hear the message that it is shameful to be LGBTQ, our churches are playing directly into abusers' hands. It is not in my power to convince anti-LGBTQ churches to overthrow their entire theology about LGBTQ people. But I can appeal to them—and the Church at large and to fellow child advocates—to take seriously how shame about sexual orientation or gender identity is keeping children from coming forward about abuse. We need to do something about that if we want to protect children. We need to have tough conversations—as Christians and child advocates—about how we can pry shame away from abusers and end its use as a weapon against the least of these.
And note that shame is not limited to a weapon used by abusers against LGBTQ children. It is also used against girls—and Christian purity teachings have enabled that use. Abusers have taken advantage of how Christians have taught the concept of sexual purity to trap girls (and women) in abusive relationships. Consider the following testimony from a young woman about this:
“I had to go through the True Love Waits program. The ‘activity' I remember the most was a wrapped present. I held the package and stood at the front of the room. Then, the youth leaders lined up the guys and each of them tore off some of the paper. Then I had to read some paragraph about how virginity is like a gift – no one wants a present that was ‘meant for them' to have already been opened by someone else. Because of that one activity, I never told anyone I was raped at 15 until years later.”
The way abusers use anti-LGBTQ theology and purity ideology as weapons are merely two of many examples of why we need to think about intersectionality in our child advocacy. If our efforts to make the Church a safer place for children do not address how LGBTQ and female children, who face higher rates of child abuse, are treated by the Church in general, how can we hope to better protect all children in the Church from abuse? Sure, we may catch future predators with better child protection policies, but current predators who are preying on LGBTQ children and female children in the Church can continue to use shame to silence their victims.
It is not sufficient, in other words, to educate the Church about the warning signs of abuse or to push for better child protection policies—though such education and efforts are desperately, urgently needed. I myself advocate for those very things in homeschooling communities. But we also need to be actively prying abusers' weapons from their hands when those weapons are the Church's own theologies and ideologies. We may not be able to end the scourge of child abuse entirely, but we can reduce its reoccurrence by making it more difficult for abusers to inflict, by allowing them fewer tools to groom and exploit. Throwing up obstacles—background checks, buddy systems—is important. But so, too, is disarmament.
One way to begin disarmament is to lift up voices from marginalized communities in child abuse conversations in the Church. It is an uphill battle to get the Church to truly, humbly listen to abuse survivors in the first place. We need to create room for them. But we need to make sure we create room to hear from all survivors. We need to lift up and value the voices of children and survivors on the margins. We need to humble and quiet ourselves, learning to listen and be taught.
Bill aims to help sexual assault survivor, in part, by preserving evidence collection kits
by Haley Bull
Jefferson County — A bill is making its way through Congress aiming to protect the rights of sexual assault survivors, in part through preservation of evidence collection kits. It already passed the house and is awaiting a vote from the Senate.
The sponsor of the bill hopes it can serve as a model for states.
"It's a tremendous crime, one of the most horrific crimes that can happen to an individual," Brenda Garison said. "We see way too many."
Garison is the director of Child Abuse and Forensic Services in Beaumont. She said the number of exams they've had to perform is up this year compared to the same time last year.
"I think Texas is, we're one of the leaders in laws protecting sexual assault victims and you know we've always kept our rape kits for an extended period of time," Garison said.
The bill making it's way through Congress, the Survivors Bill of Rights Act of 2016, has similar goals.
It would, in part, require evidence collection kits be preserved for the maximum applicable statute of limitations or 20 years, whichever is less. It would also allow a victim to be notified before a kit is disposed or destroyed.
"It's gonna help us in the sense that we always want to preserve evidence especially whenever it comes to DNA," Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Kim Pipkin said. "The technology when it comes to DNA and things like that is always advancing so we're able to get DNA off evidence that we weren't able to five years ago, 10 years ago or 20 years ago and so to be able to hold onto that DNA for that much longer because DNA can make or break a case."
But DNA isn't something Pipkin always has as evidence in her cases. She leads the Special Crimes Unit dealing with crimes against children. She estimates about a third of the cases are sexual assault.
"My goal is to do more, anything and everything we can to back up these children and get better outcomes, see that justice is done for these kids," Pipkin said.
Justice whether for a child or an adult, left to play out in the courthouse and the Capitol.
Child abuse, including sexual abuse, is on the rise in Pa., state data shows
by Ivey DeJesus
The welfare of children across Pennsylvania took a downward turn last year, according to a report out today from the state Department of Human Services.
Statewide, 4,203 children were abused - nearly half of them sexually - over a one-year period, according to the agency's 2015 Annual Child Protective Services Report. In total, 34 child deaths were confirmed as having been related to abuse.
The tally - which reflects the number of substantiated child abuse cases - represents a 25 percent increase over a one-year period. Forty-seven percent of the substantiated cases involved child sexual abuse.
"Today is a sad one for the children of our commonwealth as we see the terrible toll child abuse and neglect inflict upon our most precious resource – our children," said Angela Liddle, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance. "Every abuse-related death of a child in Pennsylvania is a mark on our conscience - a grievous blow to our common good."
State officials logged 40,590 cases of suspected reports, an increase of 11,317 from 2014. The substantiation rate (the percentage of reports in which abuse was confirmed) dropped from 11.4 percent to 10.4 percent.
The report looked at cases over a one-year period from 2014 to 2015.
Among the findings of the report:
4,203 reports of suspected child abuse were substantiated - 863 more than in 2014.
1,960 substantiated reports involved sexual abuse
Seven reports of suspected student abuse were included in the reports
Some children were involved in more than one incident of abuse.
61 percent of child victims - or 2,558 - were girls; 39 percent were boys.
Instances of child abuse was highest for children living with a single parent.
In a written statement released with the report, DHS Secretary Ted Dallas noted that enhanced background checks for individuals seeking jobs that involve child care had enabled the agency to identify more than 1,800 applicants who had a prior report of substantiated child abuse in the state child abuse registry.
"Successfully protecting Pennsylvania's children from abuse and neglect only happens when we all work together," Dallas said.
Gov. Tom Wolf noted that the state had recently implemented 24 laws that changed how state officials respond to child abuse. The changes impact reporting, investigation, assessment, prosecution and adjudication.
"While great progress has been made in the commonwealth, we must continue to raise awareness and educate the public on this critical issue," Wolf said.
Liddle noted that the report - previously known as the Annual Child Abuse Report - showed that state residents were reporting suspected child abuse or mistreatment to ChildLine, the state-sponsored hotline for reporting child abuse.
However, she added that the number of volunteers who made reports of suspected child abuse appeared to be disproportionate to "the untold numbers" of volunteers who are mandated reporters.
"This means we have a long way to go in educating residents and professionals about recognizing suspected child abuse so that they can make accurate reports to ChildLine," Liddle said. "The extent of child abuse reported makes clear that each of us has a responsibility to do our part to protect children. We all have a role to play in preventing child abuse so that every child has the chance to grow and thrive free from abuse and neglect."
The organization is the leading provider of mandated reporter training.
Local groups bring grassroots child sexual abuse prevention campaign to Nevada
by Michael Lyle
For the most part, the days of “stranger danger” — the fear that an unknown assailant will sexually assault a victim — are behind us.
It only accounts for a small percentage of cases today, yet it was the focus of many past preventive campaigns.
“The nation has grown, and we've gotten to the point where we know children are more likely to be abused by someone they know,” said Daniele Dreitzer, executive director of The Rape Crisis Center, 801 S. Rancho Drive.
However, what people are less willing to think about, she said, is a potential abuser being someone from their social circle.
Though the center will continue to offer support for victims of sexual abuse, it wants to look at another frontier — preventing abuse altogether. To achieve that goal, it has partnered with Prevent Child Abuse Nevada to bring the Enough Abuse Campaign to Nevada.
Amanda Haboush-Deloye, associate director and director of programs for Prevent Child Abuse Nevada, was familiar with the national campaign when she recommended it as the best choice for Nevada.
“It focuses on evidence-based curriculum,” she said.
The Enough Abuse Campaign has been introduced in a few states and provides anyone from parents to youth-serving organizations with education and training on preventing child sexual abuse.
Together, the two groups worked to secure a grant in order to bring it to Nevada. The campaign has offered multiple “train the trainer” seminars, going over a variety of information. Those trainers then go out to train other groups. It expanded efforts to Northern Nevada this year.
It is currently looking at other groups it can reach out to, from nursing students to after-school programs.
The campaign isn't designed to scare parents, Haboush-Deloye added, but rather to make people aware of things happening and adopt best practices to prevent future abuse. For organizations that work with youths, it could be enforcing “no hug” policies between staff members and children or making sure if there is a group of children of a single gender, there is at least one chaperone of the same gender.
It could also involve setting up a system that gives workers comfortability to comment if they see leaders not embracing the policies.
For parents, it could be creating a sense of awareness that they can respond if they see uncomfortable interactions between children and adults.
“It might not be happening in your house,” Haboush-Deloye said. “It could be happening at your neighbor's.”
In addition to knowing what to look for, the Enough Abuse Campaign also teaches people how to respond correctly.
“The only thing worse than the abuse is going to an adult and not having them believe you or respond inappropriately,” Dreitzer said.
She said a campaign such as Enough Abuse works even better when states take initiative to enact policies that strengthen prevention methods. She added that Nevada has taken strides.
There have been efforts to teach children age-appropriate lessons on boundaries and safety. At the 2015 Nevada legislative session, the Legislature approved an initiative to have such curriculum in every school by 2020.
“But it shouldn't be on children (to take action),” Dreitzer said, adding that the nation is starting to look more in-depth at prevention methods.
But there is more that could be done, she said.
“My favorite analogy has been funding for Zika,” Dreitzer said. While the virus is horrible, she said it hasn't had the same effects as child abuse when you look at the numbers.
“There are 13 million children under the age of 18 who have been affected by sexual abuse,” she said. “We have never talked about putting a billion dollars into child sexual abuse protection.”
Old Order Mennonite sentenced to 5 years for 'unfathomable' child abuse
Community forgives offender, leaves 'vengeance to God'
by Riley Laychuk
Unjustifiable and unfathomable. Those were just two of the harsh words a judge used to describe the abuse of children in a Manitoba Old Order Mennonite community when handing down a five-year sentence to the man considered the "main actor" in the abuse.
Justice John Menzies handed down the sentence Wednesday afternoon in a Brandon courtroom full of members of the Old Order Mennonite community, which cannot be identified due to a publication ban.
The man, who previously pleaded guilty to seven counts of assault with a weapon and one count of assault, sat silently in the prisoner's box as the Crown gave a lengthy background on the case and on the small, insular horse-and-buggy community where the abuse took place between 2011 and 2013.
The man pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to one count of sexual assault. A second count was stayed by the Crown in exchange for the guilty plea.
About two dozen community members sat in court Wednesday, some with their heads down, while others held their heads in their hands. Several left the room when the Crown attorney started detailing the facts related to the sexual assault charge.
A respected elder
The Crown described the man as the "main actor" in the abuse, directing and involving others in the discipline of the community's children.
On Wednesday morning, the Crown painted a picture of a man who was considered a respected elder in the community. Parents were told to take their children to his home where they were to receive counseling.
That counseling then turned into discipline sessions and punishment where cattle prods and straps were used on the children, along with the hands of the four men and one woman who were charged.
The man's defence lawyer called his actions an "unfortunate chain of events," saying the man believed that he was doing the right thing for the community at the time. He said his client is sorry and regrets his actions.
Harsh words from judge
While delivering his sentence, Justice Menzies read out the names of each of the victims of what he described as "torture." Their names are protected by a publication ban.
"I hope that as I read out those names that you could see their faces," he told the man. "This is not the type of offences that happened once, or happened twice, these are offences that were inflicted on numerous occasions over the course of years."
"Long, prolonged periods of angry questioning, isolation, physical assaults, prolonged assaults with leather belts, beaten with wooden boards, electric shock with cattle prods … Who on this earth could possibly think that that is conduct that a child justified?" he said. "What could a child do to deserve that kind of treatment?"
Menzies compared the abuse to the man and the other abusers waging a war on the community's children, turning their church, a place of comfort and refuge, into a place of terror.
"What does a young child think when they are struck 40 times with a leather strap?" Menzies added. "All you taught them was how to be victims."
Menzies said the man abused his position of trust with the victims.
"The crimes are serious, unjustifiable and, in fact, unfathomable," Menzies told the court.
The 5½-year prison term was the joint recommendation put forward by both Crown and defence lawyers earlier Wednesday morning and the worst out of all of those sentenced for the abuse to date.
Fourth man sentenced
The man was the fourth man to be sentenced for the abuse, which involved dozens of the community's children. He was led away by Sheriff's officers showing no emotion while the community members in the courtroom stood in silence.
Two previously sentenced men received sentences of six months to a year. Another man, who was sentenced in late June, received 18 months behind bars for his role in the abuse.
A woman was handed three years probation for her role in shocking two girls with a cattle prod and hitting another one with a strap.
Thirteen people were initially charged in connection with the excessive discipline. Charges against four men and four women were stayed in 2014 after they agreed to peace bonds requiring them to enter counseling and not contact the other accused.
Social workers took 42 children from 10 families into custody after the abuse came to light.
Thirty-eight of the community members have since returned to live with their parents and away from the modern technologies, like running water, television and internet, that they would have experienced in foster care.
Two teenagers refused to return to the community. Two of the children were made permanent wards of Manitoba Child and Family Services.
Leave 'vengeance to God'
Outside court, a community leader handed reporters a statement, expressing deep regret and shame for the abuse but forgiveness for the offender.
The statement said they do not want to seek revenge or reimbursement for any of the losses they have suffered.
"We leave justice to the government and vengeance to God," the statement read.
The community is now hoping to heal and provide safety for the families, the statement said.
Court heard that 13 families lived in the small community at the time the abuse came to light. Nine remain.
Full statement from the community
As members of the [name withheld due to a publication ban] Mennonite Community, we express deep regret for the abuse and shame that took place in our midst.
We want to humbly [re-build] the community in harmony with Christ and his teaching.
We do not want to seek revenge or ask for reimbursements for the losses we suffered, instead we choose to forgive the offender and desire that he would come to full repentance so the he can be found forgiven from God as well.
We leave justice to the government and vengeance to God.
Our desire is that our community may heal and our families be safe.
Online paedophiles can groom a child in less than 20 minutes, study finds
by Sam Dean
It can take less than 20 minutes for “highly skilled” paedophiles to groom a child on the internet, according to new research.
Parents have been urged to take more of an interest in their children's online activities after the four-year study found that paedophiles employ a range of techniques to persuade children into doing what they want at worrying speed.
In contrast to popular belief that paedophiles always pretend to be children, academics from Swansea University have said that in the vast majority of cases those doing the grooming had admitted they were adults.
Professor Nuria Lorenzo-Dus and Dr Cristina Izura analysed conversations between 192 online sexual predators and researchers posing as children as part of the Online Grooming Communication Project, which will be presented at the British Science Festival on Thursday.
They said the “strategies” used by internet paedophiles include ‘small talk' to develop a sense of trust and compliments to increase trust.
The study found that the time between initial online and the first sexual requests ranged from between 18 minutes and 82 hours.
“We have carried out a detailed analysis of the language used by more than 100 online groomers which shows that they are skilled communicators who use a range of strategies,” said Professor Lorenzo-Dus.
“These include seemingly innocuous ‘small talk' to develop a sense of trust in them, requests and commands to gauge the children's disposition to meet online groomers' desires for verbal or visual sexual engagement and compliments on various topics to increase feelings of trust and emotional bonding.”
The researchers found that the age range of the online predators was between 21 and 65, with the majority admitting they were not children.
“Online groomers are communicatively, highly skilled and can interact with their victims as if they care about them, and pretend to be romantically - rather than only sexually - interested in them,” said Dr Izura.
"They complement children regularly on a range of topics, rather than only on sexually-oriented ones.
"We have found that depending on online grooming speed, sexually-oriented compliments, whether on appearance or on personality, comprise between over half and a quarter of all the compliments online groomers pay.
"Moreover, online groomers use compliments not only to develop an emotional bond with the children, but also strategically to frame communicative exchanges in which they desensitise the children to sexual behaviour."
They warned that many of these conversations are not picked up by online grooming protection software because of the groomers' level of “communicative sophistication”.
And they have urged parents to talk openly with their children and make them more aware of the strategies used by groomers. They have called for parents to have regular discussions with their children about their favourite internet activities and how they spend their time online.
"It is unrealistic to stop children using the internet and it is not always possible to monitor all their digital activities,” said Professor Lorenzo-Dus.
"However, increasing their understanding of how online grooming works and the communicative tactics online groomers use will make it possible to recognise the potential dangers."
Dr Izura added: "Parents could try to open up discussions with their children about the dangers on the internet, including online grooming.
"Listening to them carefully and taking an interest in their online activities is a good way to build their trust in us and help reduce the risk of children looking for trust elsewhere online."
The NSPCC said children are increasingly contacting its ChildLine service about online predators.
A spokeswoman said: "In 2015 a change in the law, as a result of NSPCC campaigning, banned adults from knowingly sending sexual messages to children, as a prelude to carrying out sexual abuse.
"It's quite incredible that a year after this new legislation was passed it has still not been implemented, at a time when police are under crushing pressure to tackle this type of crime.
"We hope these insights into how predatory adults groom children online will help educate young people about staying safe, and assist the police in catching offenders."
Too Young to Say ‘I Do'
by Christie Renick
This summer, Virginia lawmakers passed a law preventing anyone under the age of 16 from marrying in the state.
Some would call this progress, but advocates fighting to end child marriage in the United States see it as a sobering reminder that adults can legally marry children in all 50 states.
According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), child marriage is “perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls,” and “marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights.”
Fraidy Reiss is the founder of Unchained at Last, a nonprofit that helps women and girls leave or avoid forced marriages, and advocates to end the practice of child marriage. She lived in an arranged marriage for more than a decade.
“The effects [of child marriage] on a girl's life are so devastating that our own State Department, in March of this year, apparently not aware that child marriage is legal in all 50 U.S. states, declared child marriage to be a human rights abuse,” Reiss said.
Today 27 U.S. states allow children of any age to marry so long as they have permission from parents, a judge or some combination of the two. In 38 states and Washington D.C., older youth, often ages 15-17, can be authorized to marry by a clerk and don't ever have to go before a judge.
Nine states currently allow pregnancy exceptions. Only 11 states have set a minimum age for marriage without some form of exception, and in those states that age is still below 18.
“A lot of Americans have this romantic notion of marriage as this beautiful thing, and it's a civil right that we want everyone to have,” Reiss said. “But I would caution people to understand that forcing children into a marriage or even having children enter into these relationships ‘willingly' is a very different type of marriage. We're talking about human trafficking, we're talking about statutory rape, we're talking about something very different. No one would say, ‘let's allow human trafficking if it's part of someone's culture.'”
Child marriage is more common in the U.S. than most Americans may realize; why it's a problem is even less well understood. But the facts are that minors have few legal rights, and their brains are still developing – two conditions that set them up for particularly harmful outcomes when they say “I do” while underage.
The phrase “child marriage” usually calls up images like those captured by photographer Stephanie Sinclair: 8-year-old girls in elaborate dresses, wind catching their scarves as they stand next to their husbands, 20 years their senior, against a backdrop of hillsides in rural Yemen, the fields of Ethiopia or a village in Afghanistan.
The first thought is likely not of a 13-year-old Canadian girl being trafficked by her parents to a small town in Arizona where she'll marry a man 35 years her senior, or a 16-year-old immigrant mom now living in Texas who somehow survived the harrowing trip from Guatemala, her toddler in tow.
About 15 million girls around the world are married before their 18 th birthdays each year – or about 40,000 per day, according to the International Center for Research on Women.
Exactly how many of these young brides reside in the United States is unknown; states are not required to flag the number of marriage licenses issued to persons under the age of 18, and those that do are not feeding the numbers into a centralized database.
In Virginia, about 4,500 minors were married between 2004 and 2013, including girls as young as 13, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
“At least tens of thousands of children were married in the United States in the last decade, and it's clear that almost all of them were girls, and almost all of them were married to adult men,” Reiss said.
So why don't more people, more legislators, realize that marriage of minors, often forced by parents and prospective spouses, is a problem? It may be a latent function of American exceptionalism, according to experts.
Jeanne Smoot is senior counsel for policy and strategy at the Tahirih Justice Center, the nonprofit that led the charge in changing Virginia's policy.
“Maybe someone's grandmother got married young and it worked out okay,” Smoot said. “They don't look at maternal and child mortality rates in Africa and think they are relevant here. But I think they're just not aware of all of the mounting evidence we have that child marriage has devastating and lifelong harmful effects here in the U.S.”
Vivian Hamilton of William and Mary Law School has studied child marriage at length. Hamilton's 2012 Boston Law Review paper, “The Age of Marital Capacity: Reconsidering Civil Recognition of Adolescent Marriage,” culled nearly 400 sources to paint a complex picture of underage marriage.
“Many Americans assume that the law already requires individuals to reach the age of majority before marrying,” Hamilton said in an email. “There's a lack of awareness that our laws currently permit children to marry, and that children in the U.S. are entering marriages.”
“As a society, we view marriage as a foundational social institution, and it's one to which most individuals aspire. Understanding that some marriages – by their very structure – are likely to be harmful to one or both spouses runs counter to this shared, deeply held belief in marriage as a social good.”
The Costs of Early Marriage
Despite longstanding cultural and religious justifications for allowing underage people to marry, there is one fundamental problem with the practice, advocates say: A child, most often female, has no rights and no agency, but the person she is married to does.
This creates an imbalance of power that is often reinforced by the legal system.
In Virginia, for example, 16 is the legal age at which a teen can ask the court to recognize her as an independent adult, but if that 16-year-old gets married she is not automatically emancipated. This means that if her spouse abuses her, she can't pursue legal protection or go to a shelter, according to a blog post written by Smoot.
Laws allowing minors to marry are part of a sticky web that is not easily escaped when wedded adolescents find themselves in a bad situation.
“In most cases, if a minor leaves home, the police will track down the minor as a runaway and return the minor to her or his parents or family,” Reiss of Unchained at Last said. “Minors have a very difficult time getting into domestic violence shelters across the United States. I deal with this all the time. In one case, a shelter wouldn't take in a girl even a day before her 18 th birthday because they could be charged with kidnapping.”
In most states, children cannot bring legal actions, meaning a married child is not allowed to file for divorce.
The long-term impacts on the wellbeing of married children are significant. Smoot and Reiss describe them as “devastating.”
According to a literature review published by The World Bank on the economic impact of child marriage, each year of early marriage below the age of 18 can lead to a decrease of 4–6 percentage points in the probability of secondary school completion. A married girl is often isolated from her peers and other social supports, and if she works, she usually has no control over her earnings.
A 2011 study found that U.S. women who married under the age of 18 had more short- and long-term medical and mental health problems.
Another researcher focused on teen marriage and future poverty estimates that women who marry before age 19 are more likely to live in poverty, and are subject to adverse health impacts from early and frequent childbirth as well as intimate partner violence.
All of this begs the question of whether a young married girl can prevent the negative outcomes associated with early marriage through divorce, if she lives in a state where she can legally file for one.
But divorce, too, comes with a high price tag for females. Research says the negative psychological effects of divorce are greater than the positive benefits of marriage, and the risk of poverty is significantly higher for unwed women who marry and then divorce than for their never-married peers.
Adult men, however, have been shown to experience an increase in economic well-being post-divorce.
Early marriages overwhelmingly end in divorce. Hamilton found that 70 percent of marriages entered before age 18 fail; those who marry in their mid-teens experience divorce closer to 80 percent of the time.
Why Marry Young?
Some argue that child marriage has increased in the last two decades thanks to abstinence-only sex education in schools.
Although researchers have found that the highest concentration of those marrying early is often among the socially conservative, poorest and most religious groups, located in the southeastern U.S. and in nonmetropolitan areas, Reiss says child marriage happens across diverse communities.
What's more, marriage can be used as an escape hatch for adults who have sex with minors; in states where that's not the case, it is unclear whether the judge or clerk with the power to grant a marriage license is enforcing the law.
“In some states, marriage is a defense in a statutory rape case, so in those states the law can be an incentive to force a child into marriage because now her predator, who is having sex with a child and could be charged with a crime – as soon as he marries this girl, suddenly he's no longer committing a crime,” Reiss said.
In Virginia, Tahirih found that “All of the marriage licenses granted to children under age 15, and most of those granted to pregnant 15-17 year olds, sanctioned statutory rape as defined in Virginia.”
But Smoot says most of the child marriages they see are parent-perpetrated.
For some teens living in an abusive home environment, marriage might be a way out. “The fact that there's no mechanism to detect that that's the situation that's happening and to get that young person help rather than, perhaps, from frying pan to fire, is a huge concern for us,” Smoot said.
Casey Carter Swegman, project manager at Tahirih's Forced Marriage Initiative, says the abuse may be related to a planned marriage.
“They are suffering abuse at home but that abuse is truly focused, whether it is emotional, physical, psychological or all of the above, to get them to acquiesce to a marriage that they don't want, and so their solution is to marry someone else, someone they feel they've selected, but that we as a service provider know to also be abusive and also somewhat predatory, as a way to prevent the unwanted forced marriage that their families are planning,” Swegman said.
This underscores Tahirih's larger concern. “There are many layers of abuse and exploitation and coercion that go into these scenarios and in all of them the system is not set up to detect and protect the young person from them,” Smoot said.
Researcher Vivian Hamilton argues that the question of whether we should allow minors to marry is a matter of cognitive development.
Hamilton points to research that has shown that humans develop the cognitive abilities related to giving consent by age 15 or 16, but the socio-emotional maturity and other abilities needed to sustain a marriage don't come about until later, between the ages of 18 and 25.
In other words, teenagers can cognitively understand that they are entering into a marriage contract; what they cannot comprehend is what will be required of them emotionally, intellectually, maybe even physically, in order to fulfill that contract.
While adolescents' thinking abilities are not dramatically different from those of adults, their decision-making abilities can easily be compromised in certain situations. Such circumstances might include an emotionally charged or stressful moment, the need to decide quickly, or when subjected to external or peer pressure.
Based on what is known about brain development and divorce rates, Hamilton says that the minimum age for marriage should be raised to 21 or 22.
Unchained at Last advocates for a minimum age of 18, without exception. Other advocates might argue that intermediary steps would be ensuring that anyone under the age of 18 seeking a marriage license has to go before a judge, privately so they can speak freely, and that judges be trained to recognize signs of forced marriage.
So what prevents states from setting a minimum age for marriage?
“In many cases, state legislators, like their constituents, are simply unaware that child marriage occurs legally in the U.S. In other cases, legislators (and/or their constituents) believe that – especially in the event of unplanned pregnancy – marriage is preferable to a non-marital birth,” Hamilton said in an email.
Some legislators have pushed against establishing a minimum age, saying that there should be an exception when an underage girl is pregnant in order to discourage out-of-wedlock births.
But recent research has shown that girls ages 16-19 face intimate partner victimization rates that are up to three times the national average, and girls who are abused are six times more likely to get pregnant.
“Those who look at pregnancy exceptions and would want to preserve them don't have in mind how much a pregnant teen could be evidenced that she's already been abused, let alone that she could face a future lifetime of abuse,” Smoot of Tahirih said.
Tahirih is tracking legislation across the country related to child and forced marriage. Texas, Maryland and New York introduced bills during the last session, and there's legislation currently pending in Unchained at Last's home state of New Jersey.
“I have never heard a compelling case for why a child should be married,” Reiss said. “We're not taking away anyone's civil liberty; we're delaying it. We're saying, ‘Wait until you're the right age.'”
Cosby criminal trial tentatively moved to June 2017
by Brittany Horn and Maria Puente
NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby will go to trial on sexual assault charges, tentatively, in June 2017, even though it was expected to be this fall, a judge ruled here Tuesday, blaming the delay on the "extraordinarily overbooked" schedule of Cosby's lead defense lawyer.
Judge Steven O'Neill's setting of a June 5, 2017, trial date came after a hearing Tuesday where Cosby's legal team again attempted to persuade the judge to throw out key evidence in the sex-assault case against him stemming from a 2004 encounter with a Temple University employee who had looked up to him as a mentor.
But Cosby faced more bad news as the hearing opened: Just hours before, prosecutors filed to include the testimony of 13 other women who accuse Cosby of similar assaults to testify at a future trial. District Attorney Kevin Steele said prosecutors chose from nearly 50 similar accounts but his filing did not name the women.
Steele's plan to call testimony from witnesses asserting a pattern of "prior bad acts" had been expected, but this was the first official indication of the prosecution's intentions. Cosby's defense team is expected to argue vociferously against such a move.
“During the course of this case, the Commonwealth investigated nearly 50 women allegedly victimized by defendant,” the court papers say. “What became clear was that defendant has engaged, over the course of his lifetime, in a pattern of serial sexual abuse.”
Judge O'Neill postponed hearing arguments on the filing at the Tuesday hearing, giving the defense team more time to review the copious material.
Despite the delay in the trial, Steele said his team is prepared to start selecting a jury tomorrow.
Defense attorneys, led by busy Philadelphia lawyer Brian McMonagle, lamented that much of Cosby's track record of working for civil rights and against racism had been lost in the recent negative publicity surrounding the case and his multiple accusers.
Time to litigate this issue and many others will be necessary, accounting for the long delay in the start of a trial, says defense lawyer Stuart Slotnick, who's been following this case.
"This case could be potentially lost on the outcome of this motion," Slotnick said. "The judge will have to weigh whether this kind of testimony is probative or prejudicial. It's the most important issue in the case."
Cosby, who arrived in court wearing a light grey suit and assisted by aides, spoke with McMonagle extensively before the hearing began.
At stake in the Tuesday hearing were some of the same issues Cosby's legal team has been raising since the three charges of aggravated indecent sexual assault were filed against him in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia by Steele in December 2015.
Cosby, 79, maintains the encounter at his nearby home with former protegé Andrea Constand, 43, was consensual. Constand, a Canadian now living in Toronto, says he drugged and molested her. She did not report their encounter until a year later, when the then-district attorney, Bruce Castor, decided there was not enough evidence to pursue Cosby.
Steele is pursuing Cosby now because he believes he has new evidence: Cosby's own words in a deposition he gave in the civil lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, which was later settled. Also, the transcript of a secretly recorded phone call between Cosby and his accuser's mother, Gianna Constand, also in 2005.
Judge O'Neill put off ruling whether that evidence will be admitted or not.
In the deposition, Cosby acknowledged obtaining drugs to give to women he sought for sex. In the phone call, he described his sexual encounter with Constand. McMonagle argues that the deposition should be tossed because it was given after Castor made a verbal promise to Cosby not to prosecute him if he agreed to testify in the deposition.
McMonagle wants the phone call suppressed because he argues it violates Pennsylvania's wiretap law, which requires that both parties be aware of recording, and violated Cosby's privacy. At the time of the call, Gianna Constand was in Canada, Cosby was in California.
In the phone conversation, Cosby asked if he was being recorded after hearing a beeping noise. Constand's mother told him it was a parrot in the background. “I submit to the court that the whole thing stinks and I want it thrown out," McMonagle said, after detailing Pennsylvania law requiring dual-consent for recordings.
O'Neill said he needed to hear the recorded phone call himself to determine whether Cosby did know he was being recorded and thus whether the phone call will be admitted.
McMonagle said he plans to file for a change in venue for both the location of the trial and the jurors, asserting the current population is too saturated with information about the case. O'Neill expressed skepticism that an untainted jury pool could be found anywhere else.
“This is a case of national interest,” O'Neill said. McMonagle said his team is still researching what locations may not have been inundated with the story that has garnered national headlines.
O'Neill stressed early in the hearing that Cosby, like all defendants, has a right to a speedy trial in the state of Pennsylvania. As of Tuesday, 252 days had passed since Steele filed the original criminal complaint charging Cosby.
“I don't think anyone who is associated with this case believes that this case will be tried by this date (Dec. 29, 2016),” O'Neill said, referring to the year mark from the filing of the complaint.
Cosby's last appearance in court was in early July, when he tried to get the charges dismissed on the grounds that Constand did not take the stand for cross-examination.
But he lost that argument. Judge O'Neill ruled that the prosecution could use a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court allowing hearsay evidence, such as Constand's statement to police, rather than forcing an accuser to appear in court. Since the case was reopened in December, Constand has not appeared in court to face Cosby.
Of the nearly 60 women who have accused Cosby of drugging and/or raping them in episodes dating back decades, only Constand's accusations have resulted in criminal charges. Each charge against him carries five to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Meanwhile, Cosby's defense team has been trimmed: Monique Pressley, formerly the public face of Cosby's various legal battles (he's also fighting civil lawsuits filed in connection with the accusations against him), removed herself from his team last month, according to court filings.
Angela Agrusa, who is currently representing Cosby in some of the civil suits, has joined his criminal defense team and was in court with Cosby and McMonagle on Tuesday.
Diocese of Youngstown appoints two to Safe Environment Program
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The Diocese of Youngstown is expanding a program to ensure that children are safe in Catholic facilities.
The Diocese says they'll expand on their safe environment program in three ways: implementing the VIRTUS program, appointing a Victim Assistance Coordinator and appointing a Coordinator of Safe Environment Program.
VIRTUS is an internationally recognized program to protect children and vulnerable adults, according to the Diocese.
Retired Youngstown Police Department Detective Sergeant Delphine Baldwin-Casey was appointed as the Victim Assistance Coordinator.
As Victim Assistance Coordinator, Baldwin-Casey is the first point of contact for those who claim to have been sexually abused by clergy, religious, church personnel or volunteers.
A 31-year veteran of YPD, Baldwin-Casey is a graduate of Campbell Memorial High School, a graduate of the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy and received her Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice from Youngstown State University.
Baldwin-Casey retired in 2010 and serves as an instructor at the YSU Police Academy, as a Mahoning County Reserve Deputy, and as an Ohio Peace Officer Instructor for crisis intervention, domestic violence and culture diversity.
Baldwin-Casey also received special training in the Ohio protocol for the treatment of adult sexual assault, interviewing the victim, victimology, sexual assault first responder, identifying sex offenders, non stranger sexual assaults and sexual predator, abuse crimes that affect victims and the church, domestic violence and the religious community and empowering victims.
Monsignor John Zuraw, Chancellor of the Diocese, was appointed as Coordinator of the Safe Environment Program.
As the Safe Environment Coordinator, Msgr. Zuraw, who holds a degree in canon law, will ensure accountability on the Diocesan level for the implementation of the VIRTUS program and for the compliance of the Essential Norms as called for in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Baldwin-Casey and Zuraw's appointments were effective Tuesday.
The Diocese asks those who feel they have been a victim of child abuse by a priest, deacon, seminarian, religious, including those in formation, diocesan employee or volunteer, and persons who have reason to suspect that someone they know has been a victim, should call Baldwin-Casey at 330-718-1388.
Survivors of Ontario ‘training schools' say their suffering is being erased by redevelopment project
by Nicole Thompson
CLARINGTON, Ont. — Survivors of a shadowy chapter in the history of Canada's prison system say the legacy of the alleged abuse they endured as children is being ignored, if not erased.
They point to a recent decision by the town of Clarington, Ont., to refurbish and repurpose the Jury Lands, most commonly known as the site of Camp 30 — a prisoner-of-war camp for captured high-ranking Nazis during the Second World War.
For more than 50 years, it was also the site of the Pine Ridge Training School — a correctional facility for children, mostly boys, aged eight to 18 who were deemed “unmanageable.”
The schools — about a dozen in Ontario — were shuttered in the early 1980s.
The revitalization plan will see the site, located about 75 kilometres east of Toronto, transformed into an economic centre, complete with offices, restaurants and shops.
But the plan is not sitting well with some of those who allege they suffered horrific physical and sexual abuse in the hands of their minders.
“It's not fair that this real estate company is going to put all this money into it and glorify what it wasn't,” said Steve G., of Markham, Ont., who, on his lawyer' advice, did not want his last name used.
“I'd have every boy's name or girl's name on that wall somewhere,” he said in a recent interview.
Steve G. said he was sent to Pine Ridge as a young teen after being caught breaking and entering. He said he had a “difficult” childhood: his parents separated when he was young, his mother was a “partier” and he was forced to steal to provide for his sister.
When he first arrived at the school, Steve G. recalls looking at the white picket fence, which he would jump over in a number of escape attempts in the coming months.
Then came “the hole,” a solitary confinement cell where he would spend days at a time — his feet shackled, his wrists cuffed.
“It was a caged room — three walls of concrete and bars. I had a bed, toilet, sink, that was it,” he said. “That was your introduction to training school.”
Once, he was sent to “the hole” after an escape attempt in which he caught poison ivy.
“I had blisters all over me. I couldn't move. And the hole temperature was about 110 (Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius),” he said. “I remember it was so friggin' hot. And I was sittin' there at the sink, filling it up with water and splashing myself.”
The emotional and mental abuse was even worse, he said.
“They're trying to ruin you. Break you down.”
Steve G. also alleges that he was sexually assaulted twice after he was transferred from Pine Ridge to the Sprucedale Training School in Hagersville, Ont.
He had escaped to Toronto, where he overdosed, and then was taken to he hospital, where he was eventually picked up by a couple of guards from the school, he said.
They allegedly put him in a pickup truck and drove out of the city.
“They beat me, they sodomized me, they did what they wanted with me,” he said, adding that he doesn't remember all of the specifics because he was recovering from the overdose.
Steve G.'s allegations of sexual and physical abuse have not been tested in court. He said he is in the early stages of launching a lawsuit against the province.
As an adult, Steve G. said he's struggled with alcohol and drug addictions. He's had seven convictions, some for drinking and driving, and, on several occasions, he's attempted suicide, he said.
But in the last few years, Steve G. said he's turned his life around. He's started going to church, is more open about his past, and he's in a happy, stable, long-term relationship.
But he said he's upset that Pine Ridge will only be recognized for its role in the Second World War, while the hundreds of children who were allegedly abused there will be forgotten.
Loretta Merritt, a lawyer who has represented hundreds of training school survivors in civil court, said only one person has been convicted related to abuse at Ontario's network of secular training schools.
In January 2000, Raymond Arthur Elder, a former supervisor at White Oaks Training School in Hagersville, was found guilty of two charges, including gross indecency and breach of trust. Both charges related to oral sex acts which Elder had admitted to, and which involved one victim.
Elder was acquitted on nine other charges. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Sanford Cottrelle was at White Oaks, a training school for younger boys, when Elder was working there as a housemaster.
He was interviewed by police years ago about his time at the school, but was never called upon to testify at Elder's trial.
“(Elder) would get a hold of me and he would nibble on my ear,” Cottrelle alleged in an interview.
He also alleged he was beaten by a staff member when he was on his way to bed. The attack came out of nowhere, he said.
“I don't know what it was, if it was because I was a native kid or what,” Cottrelle said.
Since leaving the schools, Cottrelle says life hasn't been easy. He's been through the prison system, where he said he heard about more cases of abuse from inmates who had attended training schools in the province.
For much of his life, he says he's had suicidal thoughts, starting from the time he was at White Oaks.
Merritt said that many of the training school survivors are now in prison, some for violent crimes.
“I've been in most of the maximum-security facilities in this province, with some guys who have criminal records that go on for 10 pages,” she said.
Catherine Classen, a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto who specializes in therapy for people who have experienced trauma, called Ontario's training school legacy a “tragedy” on several fronts.
“If we actually would address the impact of trauma in childhood, of abuse in childhood, we would empty our prisons,” she said.
“So many of these behaviours really are about these people trying to cope in the best way they know how, and we never really help them figure out better ways of coping.”
Sometimes, Classen said, trauma survivors can be so consumed by what they experienced, they relive it in real time, through flashbacks.
Merritt said that's something she sees in her clients in prison.
“I see the 12-year-old who was beaten and sexually abused and had no one and nowhere to turn. That's who I'm meeting with,” she said.
“That's where they go, when they talk to me. They go back to that child they were and they talk about what happened to them.”
Merritt said her clients that have taken the province through the civil courts have received payouts that range from tens of thousands of dollars to just over $100,000.
Representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Ministry of Children and Youth Services declined to comment on the training school system.
Albuquerque teen raises awareness against child abuse
by Jeannie Nguyen
(Video on site)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque teen who gained national attention for his soap-making skills is now getting noticed for a video he made about child abuse. The video is in honor of 10-year old Victoria Martens.
“My mother and my brother both love me, and I think that they'll do anything to protect me. But sadly, that's not the case for some kids,” said Donovan Smith in the video he uploaded to his Facebook and Twitter.
The murder of Victoria Martens was something that left the community in shock. Her death inspired the 13-year-old to try and help anyway he could.
“It's just really sad that, someone that you trust, like your parents would do that to you,” he said.
Smith says he hears about incidents like these more than he'd like to.
“It happens far too often and I hope that with my video, I can encourage kids to speak up before they of course get killed.”
He's been trying to make a difference in the community for awhile now. For the past eight months, he's been making bars of soap from scratch to give out to the homeless.
Now, he's trying to fight child abuse with a video that's been viewed almost 2,000 times on Facebook.
“I need you to find an adult that you trust and tell them that you're being hurt and keep telling them, until they listen. Because someone hurting you is not cool.”
Smith wants to continue his community work by creating a non-profit to teach other kids how to make soap, or launch their own business like he did.
New ads released encouraging New Mexicans to report child abuse
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The governor is hoping a series of new television advertisements will convince people to report child abuse.
It comes following the brutal murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens.
The ads remind people that they can help save a child and they can be a child's voice.
On Tuesday, the governor talked about the brutal nature of Victoria's murder and the fact that her own mother is accused of the crime.
She reminds people that you don't have to have solid proof there is abuse happening, just a gut feeling. It's enough to pick up the phone and report it.
“We should be angry, we should all feel betrayed by what happened,” said Governor Susana Martinez. “As a community, we have to stop the next act of evil that takes place against a child. It is the responsibility that we all share.”
The best way to report suspected child abuse is to dial #SAFE or #7233.
The governor also held a moment of silence for Victoria on Tuesday.
She says since her death the number of reports to CYFD for suspected child abuse have increased significantly.
KOB 4 to air documentary on child abuse next week
In light of recent tragedies involving children in New Mexico, KOB Eyewitness News 4 will broadcast the Chris Scheuler documentary “Everyone's Business: Protecting our Children”.
The special will be shown Thursday, Sept. 15 from 7 to 8 p.m. Children, Youth and Families Department social workers will be on hand after the show to take phone calls, receive tips about possible child abuse, field questions and put callers in touch with resources.
“Terrible stories of child abuse are dominating the news,” KOB 4 News Director Michelle Donaldson said. “As the station that Stands 4 New Mexico, we always want to be focused on solutions to problems.”
Click here to learn more about the documentary.
New Mexico girl injected with meth, sexually assaulted and dismembered on day she was going to celebrate her 10th birthday
by The Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On the day Victoria Martens was going to celebrate her 10th birthday, she was found dead in her family's apartment by Albuquerque police officers, her dismembered remains wrapped in a burning blanket.
Details of what New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and law enforcement officials described as an unspeakable crime emerged Thursday in a criminal complaint made public and filed against the girl's mother, her boyfriend and his cousin. The three were taken into custody late Wednesday night.
Police say Victoria was injected with methamphetamine, sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed before being dismembered.
A caller told a police dispatcher before dawn Wednesday that there was a disturbance in the apartment, said Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden Jr. Officers who went to the apartment complex found the gruesome crime scene.
"This homicide is the most gruesome act of evil I have ever seen in my career," Eden said Thursday. "A complete disregard of human life."
By Thursday morning, a makeshift shrine for the girl had formed under a tree at the apartment complex — with relatives and friends leaving flowers, balloons, stuffed animals and lit candles.
Martinez said in a statement the abuse and killing of the girl "is unspeakable and justice should come down like a hammer."
The girl's mother, 35-year-old Michelle Martens, her 31-year-old boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, and his 31-year-old cousin, Jessica Kelley, face charges of child abuse resulting in death, kidnapping and tampering with evidence. Gonzales and Kelley have also been charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor.
Gonzales denied having anything to do with Victoria's death as he was led out of the police station in handcuffs late Wednesday as reporters yelled questions at him. The girl's mother said nothing as she was led out and placed into the back of a police car.
Police said Kelley was hospitalized late Wednesday and will be booked after she is released. No details were disclosed about why she was hospitalized.
According to the criminal complaint, the mother told police Gonzales drugged the girl so he could calm her down and have sex with her. She said Kelley held her hand over Victoria's mouth and stabbed her in the stomach after Gonzales choked the child.
The complaint also states that the mother told investigators that Gonzales and Kelley dismembered Victoria.
One of the police officers who arrived at the apartment found the girl's body in a bathroom, rolled up in a blanket that had been set on fire. The officer put it out.
Albuquerque school officials identified the girl Thursday afternoon, saying in a statement that "Victoria is in our thoughts and prayers as we hold our children just a little tighter on this sad day."
Gonzales has a New Mexico arrest record stretching back to 2004, including a felony child abuse charge, driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest.
He pleaded no contest to a charge of child abandonment in 2015 and court officials said there were two outstanding warrants for his arrest stemming from drunken driving and littering cases in South Carolina.
Kelley's arrest record includes battery, domestic violence and drug charges — most of them dismissed. Online court records show no criminal history in New Mexico for Martens.
Mug shots of Martens and Gonzales released by police showed them with bruises on their faces. In his statement in the criminal complaint, Gonzales said his cousin hit him and Martens with an iron.
Bail was set at $1 million each for Martens and Gonzales by a judge at their first court appearance Thursday afternoon. The two did not speak in court and the public defense lawyer who represented them did not comment about the allegations.
At the makeshift shrine, Christie Zamora said Victoria attended her gymnastics class every Saturday and always seemed happy.
"She was incredibly social," Zamora said. "It's just so tragic."
Neighbor John Madrid frequently saw Victoria around the apartment complex and in the morning, waiting for her school bus.
"It just hurts," Madrid said, crying.
A birthday celebration had been planned for Victoria Wednesday afternoon after she was supposed to return home from school, Laura Bobbs, a local minister, told the Albuquerque Journal.
Bobbs said she had planned the party and that they were going to have pedicures and manicures and eat cake.
She broke down sobbing and yelling Wednesday outside the apartment complex as detectives investigated.
"Who does this to a little child?" she asked. "Oh Jesus. Oh what evil."
Bill Cosby's lawyers want judge to throw out deposition, phone call
by Ralph Ellis
Bill Cosby's lawyers are expected to ask a judge today to throw out two key pieces of evidence in the sexual misconduct case against the comedian: a deposition Cosby gave in a 2005 lawsuit by accuser Andrea Constand and a recording of a phone call between Cosby and Constand's mother.
Judge Steven O'Neill's ruling on those defense motions could shape the case against Cosby, one of the nation's most-loved entertainers until dozens of women accused him of sexually assaulting them over several decades.
This is the first time he's faced criminal prosecution. Cosby is charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault from a 2004 case involving Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University.
She said she went to his home in a Philadelphia suburb for a career consultation and he gave her a mix of pills and wine that left her incapacitated and unable to consent to sex.
Cosby, 79, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
O'Neill is scheduled to hold a pretrial hearing at 1 p.m. in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown, Pennsylvania. It's not certain if he'll let lawyers argue the defense motions or whether he'll set a trial date.
Cosby is required to attend the hearing.
The 2005 deposition
The criminal case is based partly on a deposition Cosby gave in Constand's 2005 civil lawsuit, in which he talked about having extramarital affairs and giving other women drugs with their consent so they'd have sex with him. He also described the sexual encounter with Constand, saying it was consensual.
What Cosby said in the deposition
Cosby's lawyers want that deposition thrown out of court.
They say Cosby only answered the deposition questions because Bruce Castor, the district attorney in 2005, promised to never bring a criminal case based on Constand's allegations. To use the deposition now violates Cosby's right against self-incrimination, they say.
Castor said he made that promise so the entertainer would not be able to use the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions in a deposition, according to an email from Castor to his successor, Risa Vetri Ferman. The civil suit was the best chance Constand had for finding justice, the Castor email said.
Kevin Steele, the current district attorney, has not responded to the defense motion.
Constand filed her lawsuit after Castor decided not to prosecute.
The deposition was sealed when the parties reached a settlement 2006. The criminal case was reopened after The Associated Press went to court to compel the unsealing of the deposition.
In the years before that, more than 50 women had come forward to say Cosby sexually assaulted them, often by slipping them drugs. Cosby has denied all those accusations.
Almost all those other alleged incidents occurred outside the statute of limitations.
Phone call with Constand's mother
Cosby's lawyers cite wiretapping and electronic surveillance laws in their motion to suppress another piece of evidence: a recording of a January 17, 2005, phone call between Cosby and Gianna Constand, the mother of Andrea Constand.
The lawyers say he didn't know Gianna Constand was recording when he called her in Pickering, Ontario, from his home in California.
Canadian law allows calls to be legally recorded with only one party consenting, the motion says.
But the defense lawyers say Pennsylvania law, which requires two-party consent, should be applied in this case.
In his response, prosecutor Steele says Cosby knew or suspected the calls were being recorded.
A transcript of the call has him asking about a beeping, which Gianna Constand says was a parrot. In the deposition, Cosby was asked if he believed the call was recorded and he replied yes, Steele's response says.
Further, Cosby knew he was placing a call to Canada, which only requires one-party consent, Steele says.
A transcript of the call shows Cosby offering to pay for Andrea Constands' further education.
(Photos of the accusers and further details about the allegations and his denials are on the site.)
Child Abuse Survivor Raises Awareness For Other Victims
by Chris Gilmore
OKLAHOMA CITY -- At first glance, Mark Lawmaster looks like your typical college student.
But behind those glasses are layers of physical and emotional scars from years of abuse.
“I think it's important that kids and parent alike understand child abuse,” Lawmaster said.
The abuse came from Sonja and John Kluth.
Lawmaster said it started when he was just five, for small offenses like wetting the bed.
“Getting choked, feeling like I might die,” he said.
Gradually, the punishments got worse.
“Taking a metal spoon, taking a candle up to it and making it really hot and putting it on your tongue,” he said.
For a long time, Lawmaster said this was what he and his foster siblings considered normal and were often confused.
“John (Kluth) had this thing about hugging us before we went to bed, to help us feel something, I don't know, I guess love,” Lawmaster said.
The abuse reached a peak when Lawmaster said he and his siblings were kept in kennels and starved.
One night, Lawmaster was caught sneaking out of the cellar to steal pet food.
He said he made the decision to run away.
“I thought that if I had gone back to the house, I would've probably died,” he said.
He was found sleeping on cardboard behind a Yukon store. Five years later, he has dreams of becoming an engineer.
He said he wants abuse victims to know that help is out there
“For the kids that are going through it that may or may not be watching this, they need to speak up somehow someway they need to speak up, run away something,” he said.
Lawmaster said he suffers from PTSD and social anxiety disorder.
Lawmaster said bike riding is one of his many coping mechanisms for his anxiety and his primary means of transportation.
Unfortunately, his current bike is falling apart.
He's created a GoFundMe page to share his story and raise money to get a new ride.
He also said has written to and forgiven John Kluth for his role in the abuse but has not heard back from Sonja Kluth.
Child abuse cases highlight need for preventative efforts
by Sara MacNeil
In recent weeks the Albuquerque community came together to mourn the death of Victoria Martens, a 10-year-old brutally murdered under the watch of her mother.
Some faculty at the University of New Mexico say a faulty system is to blame.
UNM Assistant Research Professor of Psychology Pilar Sanjuan said while she can't diagnose someone whom she doesn't know outside of a couple of paragraphs in the news, a person who allegedly tortures a child for pleasure has something so unique and especially wrong with them that there is no name for it in the psychology field.
“Even in other species, it's rare that mothers harm their own children,” Sanjuan said.
Although drugs were involved according to various news reports, they are not to blame for the atrocity, she said. Instead, anti-social personality disorder, delusion, and a lack of empathy attributed to psychopathy might be to blame.
Sanjuan said this particular case presents a deviation so far from a normal way of thinking that it doesn't fall under typical cases of child abuse.
“We know from research, there are certain things we can do to change the trajectory of high-risk families,” said Peggy MacLean, clinical psychologist and assistant professor in pediatrics at UNM.
All systems need to be collaborating to prevent these situations from happening, she said. Police officers, first responders, teachers, and social workers should be educated on the red flags of abuse and neglect.
“The only thing that can come close to justice for what this child has experienced, is putting our resources and efforts into making sure this doesn't happen to one more child,” MacLean said.
An inconsistent system
As an Albuquerque citizen and multiple time foster parent, Stephen Foster said what happened to Martens is something he worries about every day.
Foster said, through his own experience with the Children Youth and Families Department, he assumed the public would end up informed that CYFD was aware of the child abuse in Marten's home.
“I guess in this case no one ever called,” he said.
Foster said a child he fostered had 14 different referrals to CYFD until the child was removed from the care of his biological parents.
It took his father and his uncle murdering someone in the front yard of their home - which doubled as a meth lab - for CYFD to take the child into custody, and the child ended up being placed back in that same home later.
Foster fought for legal custody of a different child whose stepfather had been accused of molesting her older sister, but the department ended up placing his foster child back in the home with her stepfather.
Foster said the legal battle for his second foster child coincided with the death of Omaree Varela, a 9-year-old killed by his parents in 2013. He thought Omaree's death would make CYFD more scrutinizing when determining whether reunification was truly the best course of action in many cases.
Foster said CYFD has a new director who has never been a caseworker, and who doesn't have the proper experience to run the department.
Leslie Strickler, a pediatrician for the UNMH Child Abuse Response Team, said for every child heard about in the news, there's much more the public isn't aware of.
Strickler said there's not enough funding to support programs that work towards child abuse intervention and prevention. She said her own department is the only specialty clinic for child abuse in the state and that it lacks funding to hire the staff they need to best run the program.
Further, the financial challenges are not limited to her clinic, she said, and CYFD, law enforcement, and all non-profit organizations that provide public health services for families are affected by the current economic crisis.
“We need to look long and hard at how resources are allocated,” she said. “I don't think there's a more important resource to invest in than one that benefits our children.”
The officers who strive to stop child sexual abuse
by Amanda Beam
Capt. Jim Haehl has witnessed much in his 23 years at the Clark County Sheriff's Office. But he wasn't expecting to see a change like this.
When he started at the department, one, maybe two cases of child molestation were reported annually.
So far in 2016, Haehl has investigated 14 separate incidents of the crime, up from seven cases the previous year. Most were reported at the beginning of the school year, when kids trust friends with stories and secrets.
All happened in the unincorporated portions of the county, the country towns, if you will. The communities where neighbors know neighbors, and parents feel safe raising their families. Places where things like this aren't supposed to occur.
“It's doubled since last year and we still have the rest of the year to go,” said Haehl, who toured Indiana for 19 years as one of three state instructors that taught about childhood violence and sexual assault. As the detective that investigates crimes against persons, all sexual assault cases are assigned to him.
A little less than half of the 2016 cases are older children and teens that have reported past incidents of childhood sexual abuse, in line with the more traditional definition of child molestation. The CDC reports 34 percent of incidents like these involve a family member as the perpetrator, while 60 percent are perpetuated by acquaintances of the child — such as coaches, neighbors and family friends. Only 6 percent of victims don't know the assailant.
Stranger danger remains a kind of misnomer. Those welcomed into the lives of our children are by far the greatest threat to their safety.
But the majority of these recent incidents have been different from this.
In these, the underage victim contacts predominately older males and establishes a relationship, often times involving into something sexual. Social media and hook up apps like Tinder can aid the process.
We're talking about 11- and 12-year-old children here, those without the ability to give consent that can't fully grasp the repercussions of their actions. And older perpetrators who do know the difference between right and wrong still encourage the relationship anyway.
That's child molestation regardless of who initiated the liaison.
“It's bad enough when you have predators approaching the children,” said Haehl.
“When you have children who are opening themselves up to predators, boy, now we have a whole new problem.”
FACING THE HORRORS OF SOCIETY
For eight years, Detective Capt. Randy Burton sat across the table from monsters.
His goal as the officer in charge of investigating sex crimes was to elicit a confession from those accused. To do this, the father of three interviewed the accused with a sense of compassion and empathy. The moment they knew you were judging their actions, no matter how disgusting, the subject under investigation would shut down.
Engage them during the interview without animosity and a full admission will most likely result.
“Ultimately what we want is a confession. What we want is for him to go away and do his time. We want the little girl or the male to get the help they need to lead a quote unquote normal life after this,” Burton said. “Although there's no normal life after molestation.”
Due to the emotional toll of those whose job it is to investigate these crimes, the FBI recommends most officers work this beat only three to five years, with the general consensus being the shorter the better.
Law enforcement officials uncover the vilest of humanity. Children describe to them tastes and sights they should not know. One of the department's youngest sexting victims was only 9 years old.
It's hard to leave those memories behind at the office, especially when they have children of their own.
“Once you see it, you can't unsee it,” Burton said. “It's in your brain forever.”
In 2010, the 22-year veteran of the Clark County Sheriff's office requested a different assignment.
While he no longer works sex crimes cases, Burton still wants to end these disturbing acts. But the public must assist for real transformation to occur, and understand the factors leading to so many new cases. New technology remains the greatest threat.
“Now you can just go to your bedroom and meet the whole world. The whole world you can invite into your bedroom just by holding your phone in your hand,” Burton said.
“You just have to teach your kids no,” he said. “The thing is nobody is taught no anymore.”
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT REMAINS KEY
Technology abets perpetrators who seek relationships with children. Simple apps can give them the ability to contact with multiple kids, allowing photos and other materials to be shared without the child leaving the home.
Add to that oversexualization through television shows, popular music and other media desensitizes our youth, at times almost grooming them for sexual encounters at earlier ages.
“It's like that perfect storm,” Haehl said. “And we're feeding that perfect storm”.
Active parenting can make a difference, though.
Caregivers must stay involved in their children's lives, the officers warned. Know your kid's friends, as well as their parents and other family members. Find out about coaches and youth leaders who spend time with your sons and daughters. Volunteer at school.
In addition, give your child a sense of self-worth.
“You can be the prettiest. You can be the most popular, but without self-esteem you're going to be the biggest victim,” Burton said.
Establishing a phone contract also helps guard against predators. Parents should have complete access including all passcodes to their children's phones. Friends should never use their mobile devices. And if an app seems suspect, delete the app or reset the phone to factory settings. Make sure you're the only person allowed to buy apps, and protect that password from your kids.
“It's identifying your kid's behavior, tracking your kid's behavior, and modifying your kid's behavior,” Burton said. “You've got to protect your kids.”
The Little Girl Who Grew Up to Become a Cop and Catch the Man Who Sexually Abused Her
It took Hannah 13 years to come to terms with what Erlis Chaisson had done to her. That's when she devised a way to make him pay for his crime.
by Olivia Messer
Hannah sat down on a park bench and shared a cigarette with the man who had molested her as a little girl.
“Can I have one?” she asked Erlis Chaisson.
It was 5 p.m. on a warm September 2014 day in Granbury, Texas, and the 25-year-old woman had asked Chaisson to meet to talk about the years of sexual abuse he inflicted upon her beginning at age 8.
Are you sorry that you did it?” she asked him.
“I mean, I understand you're—you're putting, trying to put all the blame on me,” Chaisson said, over the sound of water splashing from a nearby fountain. “Lines got crossed. Our emotions got mixed and misread. Didn't mean for none of it to—to go as far as it did.
“The dick has no conscience, and there's no explanation for it,” he said, as the two sat under an oak tree. “If you had a penis, you would know.”
What Hannah did know is that a taped confession could put Chaisson behind bars. The little girl he abused grew up to be a cop, armed with an audio-recorder shoved inside her bra. For protection, she brought a gun and another cop who was parked nearby in a pickup truck.
“I've always, always wanted to be a detective,” Hannah told The Daily Beast, on the condition she be identified using a pseudonym. “I was fresh out of the academy. It was kind of, ‘If he's going to talk, he's going to talk'—how do I prove it?
“I thought to myself: I'm the difference between him and prison.”
Daily Beast, on the condition she be identified using a pseudonym. “I was fresh out of the academy. It was kind of, ‘If he's going to talk, he's going to talk'—how do I prove it?
“I thought to myself: I'm the difference between him and prison.”
A week earlier, Hannah had gone to McLennan County Sheriff's Detective Brad Bond to pursue her case against Chaisson. She spoke in painstaking detail of how, over four years, Chaisson, a family member, rubbed his penis in between her legs, performed oral sex on her, and guided her hand up and down his penis. Those descriptions would make it into a police report, then an arrest warrant, and finally a courtroom.
After talking to Bond, she hatched the plan to meet with Chaisson.
Hannah said she was nervous about whether the sting would go according to plan. What if the wind obscured the confession? What if the recorder came loose or made a noise?
“My heart was racing,” Hannah said, but she was also prepared. “We had hand signals and everything,” she said of the other officer, whose truck was within eyesight.
“He was talking like he was talking to his best friend,” she said. “Six times, he confessed—in the first hour and a half of that recording.”
Chaisson repeatedly implicated himself, telling Hannah, “I always stopped myself before I went too far,” and “It takes two.”
He also repeatedly blamed Hannah for what he did.
“You need to control your curiosity. I wasn't supposed to be the friend you played nasty with,” Chaisson said.
“I'd be laying on the couch and then you got that look in your eyes,” Chaisson said. “I'd pull the covers up and you'd come run in and jump under there and back up all the way to me.
“In the mornings, cuddle up to you, scratch your back… I shouldn't have put myself in those positions.” Chaisson, who was in his thirties and working as a contractor at the time of the abuse, added, “I mean, anybody would have got confused.”
Hannah rarely interjected during the conversation, adding at one point: “I was so little.”
“I don't think it's fair to blame an 8-, 9-, 10-, 11-, 12-year-old for that because it wasn't my fault,” she said. “You'd come in my bedroom, though, when I was asleep. That didn't have to happen.”
“I kept you a virgin, didn't I?” Chaisson said. “Sweetheart, you was young and curious, and I was old enough to know better but too young to care. That's the only way I can say it.”
According to prosecutor Gabrielle Massey, when Chaisson entered Hannah's life in the mid-1990s, he was already a registered sex offender who'd served time in Louisiana on two counts of molestation of a juvenile. That victim was also 8 years old.
“Most people understood what he'd done,” Massey told The Daily Beast, about Chaisson's life after his first jail term. “Nobody protected children from him.”
Chaisson left jail in 1994 and began molesting Hannah about a year later, Massey said. When Hannah was 12, the abuse stopped. By that time, she was living in a community near Waco.
“By all accounts, once a girl reaches puberty, he had no desire to molest them again,” Massey said.
At Chaisson's trial last month, Hannah told the jury that her abuse had become a “deep, dark secret” she held in a “closet” for 17 years and had affected her relationships as an adult.
Once she sought therapy and became a law-enforcement officer, Hannah said she realized she had to catch him.
“My job is in law enforcement. I'm held to a higher standard. I just want to protect people, and how can I do that if I can't even protect myself?” she said on the stand in 19th State District Court in Waco.
“I felt like a weight lifted over my shoulders after I testified the first time,” Hannah told The Daily Beast. “I no longer have to hide the secret or bear the responsibility of it.”
Powerful as her testimony was, the recordings were decisive.
“I don't think you can hear that recording—no matter who you are—and have it not have an impact on you,” Massey said.
It is unusual, she noted—even for a sex offender—to show no remorse and to speak as blatantly as he did in the recorded conversation.
“It's just a callous acceptance of ‘This is who I am' and no apology for it.”
“We don't ever get stuff like that,” Det. Bond told The Daily Beast in an interview. “It's better than a confession. Even when they confess, they don't give us all of the details. It was even better.”
Still, Bond said he wouldn't encourage ordinary citizens to take the same approach.
“With her training and status, and with a fellow officer with her, I felt like we were doing everything we could to ensure her safety,” he added.
“Obviously, this is not a situation we would put most victims in,” Massey noted. “But she felt very compelled to go have that conversation with him—this is very extraordinary.”
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, after listening to the recording, jurors last month convicted Chaisson of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency by contact. He was sentenced to life in prison, in addition to two seven-year sentences that Judge Ralph Strother ordered to be served consecutively. (He won't be eligible for parole for at least 42 years, the Tribune-Herald reports.)
One other victim testified during Hannah's trial, but others came forward to Hannah and to the prosecutors during the McLennan County investigation.
“I could spend the rest of my career trying these cases, if I had the jurisdiction,” Massey said.
Though Hannah was empowered by her police training to take an active role in catching Chaisson, it was also an emotional decision.
“She did struggle with it a whole lot,” Massey said. “This is someone that she loved and cared for and has been part of her family for many, many years. Although she feels relieved, she's still very sad that it ever had to come to this."
“In our conversation that day in the park, you were right,” Hannah wrote in her victim-impact statement to Chaisson. “You did come into our lives for a reason, and that reason was to fulfill your need for a family and love… But love should not hurt.”
After the trial, Hannah said, “I feel like I helped people that hadn't reported, and I helped the others get closure. I feel like I helped protect anyone who may have been a victim in the future.”
Stop justifying men who rape
by Roxanne Jones
Brock Turner, the convicted rapist, is a good boy with an "easygoing personality that endears him to almost everyone he meets," said his father in a letter to the courts. A judge agreed and last week Brock, now 21, became a free man. Out of a California county jail after serving three months -- 90 days -- for a six month sentence for raping an unconscious woman last year. The former Stanford University swimming star must register as a sex offender and will serve out his three-year probation and live close to his family in Ohio, where he is a native of Oakwood, a suburb near Dayton.
Turner's victim: Well, she's still trying to put her life back together after being slut shamed in court. Privilege is powerful. It's dangerous when left unchecked.
Nate Parker, the brilliant producer of the upcoming film "Birth of a Nation" and former star wrestler at Penn State, where athletes stand on the highest of pedestals, was acquitted of raping an unconscious woman in 2001. And since his rape story resurfaced, Parker and his fans have been going out of their way to defend his character and urging us to support his film.
He's a good man, his fans say, a loving father of four daughters. Stop trying to bring a good black man down, they say -- an offensive but familiar refrain in the black community when our good men do bad and black women are expected to take a back seat in the fight for equality.
Parker's accuser: Sadly, she had no life to put back together, she committed suicide in 2012 after years of struggling with the emotional fallout. "I think the ghosts continued to haunt her," her brother told Variety last month.
This isn't about race, or privilege. It's about decency and gender equality. It's time to shut down those who profess to want justice while making excuses for the inexcusable, for men who prey on and abuse and violate women. Privilege breeds hypocrisy and it has corrupted our justice system.
Privilege protects superpredators, like Daniel Holtzclaw , the Oklahoma cop who hid behind his shield for three years as he raped 13 poor and vulnerable black women from ages 17 to 57. He was sentenced to 263 years after one brave women stood up and told her story and helped other victims testify. Holtzclaw still professes his innocence.
Turner's father is not the first to defend a deviant son. Likewise, too many mothers will close their eyes, knowing their child is being abused by a boyfriend or family member.
In response, society too often leaves women and young girls vulnerable and uninformed. Overused clichés like: "No means no," which sound empowering at first, are good in theory but can be easily disputed in court, especially when heavy drinking is involved by both parties and the legal definition of consent is often unclear and varies state by state.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, women ages 18-24 who are college students are three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are four times more likely. On average, there are 288,820 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.
So clearly, it's time to spout more than slick slogans. We must act and call for legislative initiatives to protect sex crime victims. We should listen to and support groups such as #UltraViolet and #BlackLivesMatter that are working actively toward reforms to change sentencing laws and help to weed out corrupt officers who victimize women of color.
In California, UltraViolet, a community-based women's rights group, has been lobbying for Assembly Bill 2888, which would require mandatory prison sentences and prohibit probation in cases like Turner's.
The bill, if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would close a loophole in state law that currently calls for different sentences in cases where the sexual assault victim was unconscious or intoxicated during the attack.
Act now, or keep making excuses. It's your choice. But pray it's never your daughter who reads in the paper one day how she was found naked and unconscious one cold night behind a dumpster and raped by a nice boy with a winning smile.
Pray that you never have to look into her eyes and explain why she doesn't really deserve justice because she's just a girl.
Child Protect of Mercer County receives $500k grant
by Greg Jordan
PRINCETON — A local agency dedicated to aiding children who are the victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse has received a major grant to help it continue its work, Congressional representatives announced Friday.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; U.S. Sen Joe Manchin D-W.Va.; and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., announced that Child Protect of Mercer County, Inc. will receive a $500,000 Rural Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Assistance Program (Rural Program) grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women. The grant will help support the Mending Mercer County Project, which aims to protect and provide guidance to children and families affected by abuse.
“It's difficult to imagine a crime more devastating than sexual assault or domestic abuse of a child. Especially in rural areas, we must ensure that victims of these terrible crimes have access to the help and support they need to escape dangerous situations and begin to heal. I worked to secure funding for this grant program through the appropriations process and am glad that Child Protect and the Mending Mercer County Project can continue to provide essential services to victims, and to combat domestic violence and sexual assault,” Capito said.
“Every act of violence is troubling but those against a child are particularly disturbing,” Manchin stated. “The work done by the Mending Mercer County Project saves lives and strengthens communities. I am pleased this grant will continue to fund this innovative and successful program to provide protection to victims of violence, especially those in remote and geographically isolated areas who face barriers to accessing services.”
Rural Program grants are used to support programs that identify, assess and appropriately respond to child, youth and adult victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in rural communities. The funding is intended to establish and expand victim services in rural communities, to increase the safety and well-being of women and children in rural communities, and to create strategies for awareness and prevention of these crimes.
“No victim of sexual assault or domestic violence should feel alone. The Mending Mercer County Project is there to provide critical resources to help victims find justice, get much-needed medical and mental health care, and rebuild their lives. I congratulate these organizations on receiving this grant and thank them for their commitment to helping people put their lives back together again,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said helping victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence is a “passion for me.”
“The Mercer County police and prosecuting attorney's office are delighted to hear of the grant. It will allow us the resources to modernize and improve the arrest and prosecution those who commit these heinous crimes, and I offer my thanks to Congressman Jenkins, Mercer County Child Protect, and Mercer County Child Protect's Executive Director Shiloh Woodard,” Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said.
Child Protect, a non-profit victim service provider, provides direct services to underage victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking through forensic interviews, trauma-focused mental health services, advocacy and support services, medical exam coordination, case tracking and case coordination. The grant funding will contribute to the Mending Mercer County Project, which aims to mend the lives of victims in Mercer County through an improved medical, mental health, victim advocacy, investigative and prosecutorial response.
To accomplish this goal, Child Protect, along with their project partners, the Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Mercer County Sheriff's Department, and the West Virginia State Police-Princeton Detachment, will:
• Provide on-call Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurses around the clock to conduct SANE exams for victims of sexual assault.
• Prepare the monthly SANE on-call schedule, coordinate SANE services with both local hospitals and ensure that SANE program requirements are maintained.
• Support victim advocates who will provide advocacy and support for victims of sexual assault.
• Provide advocacy, support, medical exam accompaniment, crime victim compensation assistance, court preparation and court accompaniment for underage victims.
• Ensure all annual training requirements are maintained.
• Support a special investigator who will investigate crimes related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
• Support a forensic interviewer who will conduct neutral, non-leading forensic interviews with child victims and cognitively impaired adult victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
• Support a special prosecutor who will prosecute crimes related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Woman pleads guilty to child abuse after death of child in 2013: Murder charges dropped for Phoenix mom who caused death of 4-year-old
by Erin Fitzgerald
A woman has pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse after the death of her child in October 2013. The murder charges have since been dropped for the Phoenix mom who caused the death of her four-year-old daughter, AZ Central reports.
Melissa Centeno was 19-years-old when she struck her daughter in the stomach, causing her death. When the police arrived at the Centeno's apartment complex, they walked in to see her giving the little girl, Betzy Rodriguez-Centeno, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The paramedics immediately noticed the little girl had bruising and was unresponsive. Centeno admitted to the police that she hit the child in the stomach “harder than she should have.”
Centeno's boyfriend, Ortiz, said that he spanked the girl and she fell in the bathtub, although his story was unbelievable due to the extent of the little girl's bruising.
Court documents show that a one-year-old child had been previously been removed from the home after Arizona Child Protective Services became involved due to Centeno's domestic violence history.
Centeno has been scheduled for a hearing on October 3rd and 4th to determine her sentence.
This isn't the only recent child abuse-related death that resulted in murder charges being dropped. TheInquisitr just reported that a man who was babysitting his girlfriend's toddler back in August 2015 was also acquitted from murder charges.
The man, Osman Sesay, 29, was babysitting Ahmed Jalloh when Sesay suddenly became enraged because the boy was being too loud while playing with his new basketball set.
Sesay brutally beat the boy, allegedly causing his death. Autopsy results determined that Ahmed had blunt force trauma, brain damage, and a torn liver.
Sesay was recently convicted of assault and child abuse causing death. Unfortunately, he was acquitted of the murder charges.
Back in April, a four-year-old Memphis girl lost her life at the hands of Richard Lassiter.
The little girl was found dead outside by the mother and she flagged down an officer. The girl was unresponsive and had a cut over her eye that was bleeding pretty badly.
After the medical examiner conducted an autopsy, it was revealed that the girl had multiple bruises on her face, back, and chest. There was also a cut on the back of the little girl's head.
Lassiter denied any physical contact with the girl and claimed she went to sleep and simply didn't wake up. He later admitted that he slapped her as a punishment for waking her brother, which allegedly caused her to fall into the refrigerator.
A neighbor, Mary Smith, told a reporter that the little girl was physically abused.
“From what we understand, the room is covered in blood. They were throwing her against the wall and she was bleeding out of her mouth, and she's been dead all day. He let her sit in the room all day.”
Lassiter was charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child abuse and neglect.
Another couple from Maryland was charged with child abuse after their toddler was killed from ongoing abuse a couple of years ago.
Frankie and Stephanie Williams caused injuries to the 21-month-old girl and failed to report any of her injuries.
Investigators believe that Stephanie knew that Frankie was hurting the child, but failed to do anything about it.
Unfortunately, this had been an ongoing issue, as there were previous allegations against the parents when Anayah Williams was just four months old, according to Lt. Clark Pennington of the Frederick Police Department.
“There are allegations of previous abuse at the hands of her father and possibly her mother that part of the investigation is open and on going.”
It is unfortunate that so many killers are acquitted of the true crime-murder. As many conclude, the judicial system fails so many children who lost their lives to abuse.
Preschool Suspensions Really Happen And That's Not OK With Connecticut
by Cory Turner
Every year, thousands of children are suspended from preschool.
Take a second to let that sink in.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6,743 children who were enrolled in district-provided pre-K in 2013-14 received one or more out-of-school suspensions.
And that's just public pre-K. Still more children were likely suspended from the nation's many privately-run preschools and day cares.
While most suspensions come as the result of a child's disruptive, sometimes violent, behavior, experts and advocates now argue that suspending a 3- or 4-year-old, no matter how bad the behavior, is a bad idea.
"Expelling preschoolers is not an intervention," according to a policy statement issued earlier this year by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Rather, it disrupts the learning process, pushing a child out the door of one early care and education program, only for him or her to be enrolled somewhere else, continuing a negative cycle of revolving doors that increases inequality and hides the child and family from access to meaningful supports."
We've had children attempt to run out of the building, throw furniture. We've had children severely injure other children.
Michelle Genest, Bridgeport YMCA
But what to do?
Answer: Study Connecticut.
First, lawmakers there took a rare vote last year, limiting out-of-school suspensions for children from preschool through second grade.
More importantly, though, the state has spent more than a decade pioneering an intensive, classroom-level intervention — one that new research from Yale suggests is making a powerful difference in preschools across Connecticut.
The boy with the orange socks
Children bound from wall to wall through a small YMCA gymnasium in a low-income neighborhood of Bridgeport, Conn. While most play tag, one boy wearing bright orange socks heads straight for a crate in the corner. There, among the foam balls and cones, he finds a long, plastic rod.
The boy considers the stick in his hands, waving it like the lightsaber he imagines it to be, then heads for the nearest child. He swings.
Lead teacher Terrie Walker — Miss Terrie to the kids — steps in before the boy can land a blow. But how she intervenes is what separates her Bridgeport classroom from so many around the country.
In many preschools, "No," "Stop" and "Don't" get thrown around like glitter. Miss Terrie uses none of them. She knows that, to a 3-year-old, they could have the opposite effect, reinforcing a bad choice. Instead, she turns the boy's stick into a game — a bar — that he and soon everyone else wants to jump over.
"It's too high?" Miss Terrie asks the boy with orange socks. He nods, eager to take his turn. "OK, let's put it low."
The boy gives her a vigorous high-five, steps over the bar, and circles to the end of the line of kids hoping to do the same. There, he waits patiently for his next turn.
Problem solved. Suspension-worthy behavior bomb, defused.
"That's the perfect example of gentle redirection," says social worker Maria Santos, who's been watching and gently coaching Miss Terrie for weeks. Santos is thrilled with what she's seen. "You know, telling children what to do instead of what not to do. Because that's how they're going to learn better."
Santos is here as part of a program run out of Connecticut's Department of Children and Families called the Early Childhood Consultation Partnership or ECCP. It's meant to help any pre-K teacher or childcare provider in the state who's having trouble with a disruptive child. Before we get to how it works, it's important to say this: It appears to work .
"The children who got the intervention had a significant decrease in the types of challenging behaviors that are likely to lead to a classroom expulsion or suspension," says Yale researcher Walter Gilliam.
Gilliam and his team have been studying the program off and on for a decade, and just published their latest findings — the results of a rigorous, random-controlled evaluation. While it's tough to know if ECCP has long-term benefits, the short-term results, as reported in the latest issue of the J ournal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry , are impressive.
According to Gilliam's report, "children who received ECCP had significantly lower ratings of hyperactivity, restlessness, externalizing behaviors, problem behaviors, and total problems compared with children in the control group even after controlling for gender and pretest scores."
That doesn't surprise Michelle Genest. She's assistant director of childcare at Miss Terrie's Bridgeport Y, and calls the program "phenomenal." Because so many kids there struggle with poverty, hunger and trauma, Genest says, managing disruptive behavior is a common challenge for her and her staff.
"We've had children attempt to run out of the building, throw furniture. We've had children severely injure other children," she says.
Still, Genest says, suspension never makes sense. And she sees ECCP as a vital investment in the mental health of Connecticut's most vulnerable kids.
"You have to start it now," Genest argues. "And if you pump all of your resources into making productive little people, they are going to grow up to be productive members of society."
Research suggests Genest is onto something. The longitudinal study of children who attended one high-quality pre-K program in Ypsilanti, Mich., has shown remarkable savings to society — in crimes not committed, welfare not collected and taxes paid. But a child can't benefit from high-quality preschool if he's been sent home.
That explains why funding for ECCP, roughly $2.4 million annually, comes not from the state's Department of Education but its child-protection agency, the Department of Children and Families.
"We believe it is critically important to get to children as early as we can to set the stage for future success," says Kristina Stevens, a top administrator at DCF. "For us, this is a no-brainer in child protection. The more we can do early on — in terms of prevention, early identification and early treatment — makes for better outcomes. And, quite frankly, we're kind of in the business of putting ourselves out of business. If we can get kids and families early on and they don't have to become the subject of a child protection investigation, that's a good day."
The program began in 2002 after the state legislature led an effort to pinpoint gaps in Connecticut's mental health services. One big red flag: the state's plan (or lack thereof) to prevent preschool suspensions and expulsions.
The nonprofit group Advanced Behavioral Health proposed the idea of ECCP to the state and eventually got the greenlight. The basic pitch: Create a team of well-trained, community-based consultants, most of them licensed social workers, who can parachute into classrooms before a child is suspended.
Also key to the program is a built-in evaluation system that assesses the classroom environment before and after an ECCP intervention.
The program began with a dozen consultants but, after early signs of success, state leaders chose to fund another dozen, making it easier for ECCP to cover every corner of the state. As a result, Stevens says, the program has "touched 82-percent of preschool centers in the state of Connecticut."
How it works
For three months, Maria Santos, who is one of those ECCP consultants, drops in and out of Miss Terrie's classroom to observe and offer pointers.
The boy with orange socks acts out when he's bored, so she suggests giving him a front seat at circle time. When he lashes out, it's not anger but frustration. He's 3 years old, and words don't come easily.
On this day, after free play, Santos sits with the boy and a little girl at the blocks table. When he snatches a toy, Santos encourages the girl to express herself.
"That hurt my feelings," the girl says, holding back tears.
Without scolding, Santos turns to the boy with orange socks and asks, "Can you help us come up with a solution to our problem? You both want to play with that wheel."
With Miss Terrie watching, Santos deftly gets the children building together — a bridge for their block city.
A big part of Santos' job is also building figurative bridges between teachers and parents. In this case, between Miss Terrie and the boy's grandmother. Many pre-K teachers and day care providers don't have the time to do this alone. They're certainly not paid to do it, often earning less than parking attendants and bellhops. And it's not just teachers who welcome the help.
"Caitlyn helped me view our daughter Ruby in a new lens," says Annie, a mother in Greenwich, Conn. She struggled to make sense of her 4-year-old's defiant behavior. With the help of ECCP consultant Caitlyn Dunn, Annie and her husband, Greg, had several breakthroughs with Ruby, including one bedtime conversation about the fact that their family would soon grow.
"She was very nervous about her baby brother coming," Greg says, "and she was afraid that we'd love baby brother more than we love her."
But, being 4, it was hard for Ruby to say that. Instead, she acted out.
"Behavior is the language of the child," says Liz Bicio, a licensed clinical social worker and director of ECCP.
And unruly behavior is usually a symptom of something else, Bicio says. Often it's a sign of stress at home, from Ruby's fear of impending change to potentially traumatizing stressors like neglect, abuse or exposure to neighborhood violence. Behavior can also be an early red flag for mental illness.
With her team, Bicio says she wants to help teachers and parents get past the symptom to the source. Otherwise, "it's kind of like saying, you have a major illness and part of it is a cough, and we're going to give you a cough drop."
Helping every child
ECCP isn't just focused on a classroom's most disruptive children. Bicio's consultants spend much of their time working classroom-wide, helping teachers build vital social-emotional skills for all students.
That can mean teaching the "turtle technique." If something frustrating happens, children are encouraged to "go into your shell, take three deep breaths, and think calm thoughts."
Teachers are also advised to create — or augment — something called a cozy corner. Miss Terrie has one. Five-year-old Madison points me to it: a nook in the back wall, lined with books and padded with pillows and stuffed animals.
"If you cry for your mom, then you can go in the cozy corner," Madison says. She remembers, "I didn't want to go to school one day. I was just laying down [in the cozy corner] because I was tired, and I went to sleep."
When she awoke, Madison says, she felt better and ready to rejoin the class.
Miss Terrie has also begun taking a few minutes out of each day, right before lunch, to lead the kids in structured meditation. The children seem to enjoy it, quietly breathing in and out with their teacher.
"Everybody should be relaxing," Miss Terrie says. "Think about somewhere you want to be right now. Somewhere good. You may want to be at the beach. You may want to be at the park. You may want to be with Mom or Dad. So let's relax. Let's think about that."
And they do, a rug full of buoyant preschoolers, becalmed.
ECCP, at its essence, is about helping children manage their big feelings and helping teachers and caregivers respond to outbursts, an inevitable fact of preschool life, with patience, understanding and respect — not with big feelings of their own.
Since the program began, it has reached more than 30,000 children, Bicio says. Of the many preschoolers it has helped directly, 98 percent were still suspension-free six months later.
That means more kids gathering on Miss Terrie's big, red rug to dance the Nae Nae and celebrate their graduation to kindergarten.
Courts are failing our children, Tusla chief warns
Most vulnerable are let down by process and lengthy delays, writes Eilish O'Regan
by Eilish O'Regan
We like to believe we are a country that cherishes children and ensures their best interests are paramount.
But the most vulnerable children at the centre of care proceedings are being let down by a quagmire of process and delays in the courts which should be safeguarding them, the chief executive of Tusla has warned. The Child and Family Agency boss Fred McBride believes that "we get embroiled in process, interim hearings and more evidence. But in the middle of this is a child about whom we cannot make a long-term decision".
He adds: "It is not a satisfactory situation for a child who needs to know if they have a stable future.Sometimes it can take years. In my view, the whole system needs review."
His controversial opinion on what he sees as an overly adversarial process also includes a call to examine the roles of guardians ad litem, who are appointed to represent the child in court.
"We have no control over the value they are adding. They are not regulated by anyone. We pay for them and sometimes they need their own legal representative."
The blunt-speaking Scot, who worked in child protection in Dundee and Aberdeen, says he believes the courts in his native country are more geared towards putting the young person before process.
While his comments do not refer to a specific case, Tusla will again come under scrutiny in the High Court this week over its decision to return two children to their family at the centre of allegations of sexual abuse.
This year the agency will receive 44,000 child referrals - varying from low-level concern to high alert.
It is responsible for some 27,000 active case files on children currently under the wing of the agency.
Neglect is the most common cause for a child being referred. Others are at the centre of allegations of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. And for frontline workers there are some agonising judgment calls to be made which could come back to haunt them about whether to place a child in care or leave them with their family.
"Some people believe we can eliminate risk. We cannot. We have to mitigate and manage risk," he said.
"Some of the information we get is vague and ambiguous and needs to be examined before you decide on a proportionate level of response."
It can in some cases involve, after assessment, a decision to leave a child in a home where they were abused, as long as the abuser is no longer there. "We always err on the side of protecting the child but trying to not unnecessarily add to the trauma. It requires the risk to be monitored."
Tusla was established in 2014 as the frontline agency to look after the welfare and protection of children, removing this function from the overloaded HSE amid accusations that social services suffered as the poor relation next to hospitals.
Mr McBride, who is Tusla's second chief executive after taking over from Gordon Jeyes in January, wants to emphasise the agency's independence with its own funding of €670m. He is anxious to promote its "new beginnings" role, leaving behind the history of damning reports which highlighted tragic failures in the care of children. This is key to attracting vital social workers to the agency, he said. Progress is being made - at the end of July, the agency had just under 1,500 social workers with a target to hire another 200 before the end of the year.
"We have done a big recruitment campaign with third-level institutions," he says. The problem of retention remains, however - particularly in the area of child protection which he describes as a "hard shift".
"We are working to incentivise retention and appoint more grades of senior practitioners with higher pay. They can provide coaching to less experienced staff. Other incentives include training, flexible working and rotating people in different roles."
High caseloads, under-staffing and burnout contributed to 9,500 children not being allocated a social worker in early 2014. Some 3,500 were "high priority". However, he says by June this year this was reduced to 5,600 with 800 in the high priority category.
He insists: "High priority does not necessarily equate to high risk. They are children for whom we have a statutory responsibility such as those in care. But they may be in long-term foster care placement and well settled."
He said where there is an immediate risk, the "response is immediate".
Around 6,300 children are in care, mostly in foster families. This has remained stable for some years.
But Mr McBride is particularly troubled by the high number of older teenagers coming into care for the first time.
They may have become involved in abuse of drink and drugs and are capable of extremely challenging behaviour.
"Many of them are very angry. I am not at all convinced State care is the right thing for them."
As an alternative, the agency is beginning to develop intensive community-based services where the young person is seen every day.
"If we separate them from their home and community they are placed several miles away. They lose connections and the outcomes are not good."
One of the most successful initiatives during his time in Scotland were midnight football matches on Friday and Saturday nights.
They kept youths so busy they did not have time to commit crime and the rate of offending fell.
The aim of the agency to increase family support services, working with parents who are struggling but "always telling them what the bottom line is".
However, if child services are to work better and reduce the chances of young people falling through the cracks there needs to be more cooperation between the different agencies including Tusla, gardaí, HSE and education services, he says. "In some countries this multi-agency cooperation is a legal duty. It should not be down to local relationships."
The ambitious plans will require not just changes in practice, but additional investment.
Next month's Budget is crucial. The agency has asked for €100m extra funding in 2017.
It is another step on the road to making the divorce from the HSE full and final.
Police launch campaign to raise awareness of local child sexual exploitation
by The Bath Echo News
A series of adverts funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens have been launched in two major train stations, Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa, and across Somerset in local supermarkets, with digital advertising also being used to reach people in the force area.
Ms Mountstevens said: “Let's be clear, child sexual exploitation is happening. Any child can be targeted and those who are can experience deep psychological and emotional damage.
“This campaign aims to help us become better at identifying the children who are being exploited and give them the support they need to cope and recover from their experience.
“Safeguarding our young people is everyone's business and together we can prevent child sexual exploitation from happening. We need to be the ones who ask, ask again and keep asking so we can stop it when it happens, help victims to recover and hold abusers to account.
“Working together we can tackle CSE, support our vulnerable children and allow them to live free from exploitation.”
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is the exchange of something the young person may need or want, such as food, alcohol, affection or gifts, for sexual activity with an abuser.
This crime can affect any child – boys or girls – anytime, anywhere, regardless of their social or ethnic background.
It's never the child's fault – abusers will first groom a victim, often online, in order to gain control under the guise of ‘romance' or ‘friendship' before exploiting them, using threats, blackmail and violence to trap victims into a cycle of abuse.
The organisers of the campaign have listened to and heard the voices of young people who shared their experiences of sexual exploitation as part of the Operation Brooke serious case review.
Their message was clear – professionals, parents and carers need to be aware of the signs and take action to help victims.
Since the review was published, police have been working closely with partners across health and education to develop the campaign and reach professionals whose job means they come into contact with children on a regular basis.
This work will see the roll out of new awareness materials in GP surgeries, hospitals, police stations and schools. In this second phase, the campaign looks to target communities across Avon and Somerset.
South West Regional Lead for Child Sexual Exploitation, Temporary Detective Inspector Larisa Hunt, said: “This campaign aims to make people aware that child sexual exploitation is happening here and now in our communities.
“We've chosen to place adverts in locations where lots of people will see this powerful message because being aware of this crime is the first step towards spotting and stopping it.
“Abuse and exploitation of children is not a comfortable topic to talk about but it's vital we have conversations and ask, ask again and keep asking to ensure any child or young person experiencing this crime gets the help and support they need.
“Safeguarding children is a top priority at Avon and Somerset Police and we must all take responsibility as a society to learn about this issue and tackle it together.”
Police and partners are also using digital channels to reach the public with information about child sexual exploitation, with a particular focus on giving parents and carers advice about keeping children safe online.
Abusers will often target, groom, and sometimes exploit, children and young people using social media and online games. Tips on internet safety for parents with children of all ages is being shared by the police on Facebook and Twitter over the coming months.
Warning signs of child sexual exploitation include:
Over time, grooming changes the way a child behaves. The problem is that these changes can look like typical ‘teenage behaviour'. Pace (Parents Against Child Exploitation) suggests getting advice if you identify three or more of the following warning signs:
Becomes especially secretive; stops seeing their usual friends; has really sharp, severe mood swings;
Develops relationships with older ‘friends' – men or women (although not all perpetrators are older);
Goes missing from home and is reluctant to say where they have been or what they have been doing.
Stays out all night;
Uses their mobile phone very secretively. Receives calls and messages from outside their normal circle of friends:
Has new, expensive items that they couldn't afford, such as mobile phones, clothes or jewellery – as well as ‘invisible' or ‘virtual' gifts such as phone credit and online gaming credits;
Suddenly changes their taste in dress or music;
Looks tired or unwell and sleeps at unusual hours;
Has marks or scars on their body, which they try to hide;
Reporting Child Sexual Exploitation:
If you suspect a child or young person may be at risk, or have any information relating to child sexual exploitation, do not wait to act on your concerns or be worried about telling someone – you will be listened to and taken seriously.
Contact police by calling 101 or visit a local police station. You can complete a secure online reporting form at www.avonandsomerset.police.uk .
If you know or suspect a child or young person is in immediate danger, you should dial 999 straight away.
For details of a number of support helplines and more information about the campaign and the signs of child sexual exploitation, visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/cse
The emotional, physical toll of human trafficking
by Crystal Dominguez
TEMPLE — The average age of a sex trafficking victim is between 12 and 14.
“The life expectancy for these people is seven years,” Thresa Lawson, Waco family practitioner, said.
Sex trafficking is often mistaken as a third-world country issue. But it is happening here.
“This is actually surprisingly common in our communities,” Lawson said.
The complicated, underground system makes it difficult to identify victims.
“Our nurses are generally the front line to identify some of these victims,” Lawson said.
In May Lawson and Waco family practitioner Stephanie Claus spoke to school nurses from across Texas at the 2016 School Nurse Conference at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic and Convention Center. Sex trafficking was one of the topics.
Both Lawson and Claus also work with UnBound Waco, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry, Claus said.
One of their main goals is prevention.
So they offer professional training to schools, juvenile detention centers and medical professionals.
“We try to help raise awareness of this problem, what it looks like and what we can do about it,” Lawson said.
The emotional and physical impact of sex trafficking can quickly advance short-term issues into long-term health problems.
Lawson said every month they receive several calls about girls who have been identified as trafficking victims.
“We work to help find them places to go so they can receive restorative care … and bring hope to these girls.”
Identifying and helping sex trafficking victims
“I naively thought that sex trafficking was something that occurred in the Third World countries,” Lawson, said. “I soon learned that this atrocity is something that we face in America.”
Lawson, who has been a nurse practitioner for 34 years, said she became aware of sex trafficking after working with a clinic that provided care to refugees that entered the country and refugee asylums.
“And 87 percent of victims of trafficking will at some point interface with a medical provider,” Lawson said.
She said nurses need to be aware of the “tell-tale signs” to identify these victims.
“Often times they (victims) become a commodity for this trafficker that owns them,” Lawson said.
Other identifiers include specific tattoos — such as barcodes — that are marked on traffickers' bodies.
“So it's just like when we go to the store and scan an item,” Lawson said. “This young lady is now identified as she is nothing more than a piece to be sold. What an atrocity that we have that in America.”
Lawson told school nurses to be aware of changes in a student's demeanor.
“Be aware of new clothes, new demeanors or lack of academic aptitude and realize there could be something triggering this and something more going on here,” Lawson said.
Trust your gut, Lawson told nurses, and don't be judgmental.
In the event you encounter a victim in your clinic, Lawson said, make it a safe place and talk to them about sex trafficking. She said victims often visit clinics with chaperones, because they're not allowed to speak for themselves.
Lawson said there is a National Human Trafficking Hotline people can call even if they are not 100 percent sure they have identified a victim.
“You just have to have that inkling of an idea,” Lawson said.
Victims receive legal aid, health care, and are placed in a safe house so they can also receive job training.
“And hopefully be integrated back into their family,” Lawson said.
The health risks
Basic health care and immunizations are uncommon for sex trafficking victims.
Condoms are seldom used, Lawson said.
She said victims often experience abusive sex and are left with bruises, cuts and burns from their traffickers.
“Part of control is to physically abuse them,” Lawson said.
Many of the female victims are kept in small, unaccommodating places called “stables” where they must meet with 10 to 30 customers a night.
“They may carry an STD for many years without seeking health care,” Lawson said.
A majority of sexually transmitted diseases are asymptomatic and can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease if left undiagnosed, she said.
She said many times proper health care is skipped including for pregnancies and abortions.
“Some of these abortions are actually at the hands of some of their traffickers,” Lawson said.
Traffickers are likely to abuse drugs since they are introduced to them as a way to cope with the trauma.
“They are given drugs to make them feel good or to be able to stay up all night long,” Lawson said. “Then they have to have something during the day that can help them deal with the lifestyle that they find themselves in.”
They can suffer from acute withdrawal symptoms or overdose.
Trauma, anxiety and depression affects 90 percent of sex trafficking victims, Lawson said.
Mental health issues include post traumatic stress syndrome, psychosis, dissociative identity disorder, which used to be referred to as multiple personality disorder. Memory loss has also been noted as a health risk.
Staying aware to identify victims
Lawson said it is hard to identify victims when busy clinics only focus on chief complaints.
Lawson said young victims will not self-identify because they are fearful — many of whom are in the country illegally and are threatened by traffickers to be sent back.
“I will never forget the one young lady who walked into the room and the chief complaint on her chart was a right ear pain,” Lawson. “When I went to lift her hair back I saw the handprints around her neck.”
Lawson said “trauma bonding” can happen. This is when a sex trafficking victim begins to feel sympathy and empathy toward their captor as a coping mechanism to adapt to their lifestyle.
“So we have found they will not squeal on their trafficker,” Lawson said.
Lawson said some will feel like they are deserving of their situation because they ran away from home or answered “that Facebook message.”
School nurses learn from conference
Charlotte Smith, health services coordinator for Belton ISD, said she was not aware of how many cases existed in the area until attending the school nurse conference in May.
“I learned that it was a bigger problem than I imagined for our region,” she said.
Smith, who has worked with BISD for the past five years, said she has not had any human trafficking cases go through her office.
She said since the conference she now has useful resources and emergency hotline information at her fingertips.
“If we do have a question, right away we know where to go,” Smith said.
Smith said the district utilizes electronic health records that codes specific reason for each visit so the nursing staff can keep track of their students' health complaints.
“So if we believe it might be a stomach ache, but we are picking up on something emotional or psychological, then we will put a code in there,” she said.
She said the second they have the slightest inkling something is wrong they will contact the appropriate agency.
“We have the capability of running reports by student or by teacher,” Smith said. “At the end of last year I ran a report that gave me the number of visits per student … and it will tell me that Johnny had 754. Mary had 200. Then that helps us to know if we are seeing some trends here.”
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 888-373-7888
UnBound Hotline: 254-230-0872
The Victims Center Hotline: 254-752-7233
To make a CPS Report: 800-252-5400