National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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Recent News - News from other times

October, 2016 - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio, for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


From ICE

More than 100 US military veterans now trained as ICE 'HEROs' in fight against child predators

WASHINGTON – Today's swearing in of 15 U.S. military veterans at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) headquarters marks the graduation of more than 100 “HEROs” into a special program designed to allow wounded, ill or injured warriors the chance to continue serving their country on a new battlefield – the fight against child predators.

Initially begun as a pilot initiative in 2013, the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative, or HERO Corps, program has now trained more than 100 former U.S. military members in computer forensics and law enforcement support of online child sexual exploitation cases. In May 2015, the President signed the HERO Act into law, which formalized the program within ICE's Cyber Crimes Center.

The HEROs graduating today were sworn in by ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale. The ceremony also included Sergeant Major Rodney J. Rhoades, senior enlisted advisor to the U.S. Army assistant chief of staff for installation management, and Grier Weeks, chief executive officer of the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT). At this point, the HEROs have completed the first phase of the intensive, one-year training program. In the next phase, they will help ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents identify and rescue child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, and arrest their perpetrators.

“After a rigorous and lengthy interview process, candidates are selected for the program,” said ICE Chief of Strategic Recruitment Joseph Arata. “Current HEROs are involved in the process of choosing the next class of candidates. We're looking for people with a sense of mission and purpose who want to serve again. Who better to help us select those individuals that the HEROs who have been through the same process?”

HEROs attend three weeks of training provided by PROTECT, which provides an overview of the child sexual abuse problem specifically covering child abuse and trauma, child sexual abuse prevention, prosecution of child sex offenders and coping with the stresses of working in the field of child sexual exploitation prevention. The HEROs then complete eight weeks of digital forensics and child exploitation investigation training, conducted by HSI – the same training given to special agents.

Upon successful completion of both training courses, the HEROs deploy to HSI field offices across the county for 10 months to train with and assist HSI special agents with criminal investigations. HEROs will work under the direct supervision of HSI special agents, conducting computer forensic exams, assisting with criminal investigations and helping to identify and rescue child victims.

“The camaraderie among HEROs who are in training and those working in the field is an important part of what makes the program work,” according to Justin Gaertner, a HERO graduate from the inaugural class who is now a computer forensic analyst at HSI Tampa. “I was scared at first, not knowing if I would fit in or what my job would entail, but once I got to SAC Tampa they welcomed me with open arms and made me feel that camaraderie I had when I was in the Marines. The special agents I work with are the best at what they do, and I'm proud to be a member of their team and assist them in any way I can.”

William S. Krieger, a computer forensic analyst at HSI Raleigh also reflected on his experience as one of the first graduates of the program, “As a disabled veteran I did not get to leave the Army on my own terms. I was medically retired. The HERO Corps has allowed me to continue to do something that matters. There are several programs that are designed to help veterans but the HERO Corps is the only program that offers vets the chance to go back to work with some very marketable computer skills, and also the opportunity to help put bad guys in jail and save children from some horrible circumstances. As a member of the first HERO Corps class, I am so proud and honored to be able to give back and see brother veterans take this path, and hopefully, feel the same satisfaction I have felt.”

Funding of the program is provided by ICE and PROTECT. PROTECT, a non-profit organization, covers the costs of participant travel and relocation expenses while ICE provides the computer forensic training and equipment, procures vendor-specific training and provides hands-on field experience and mentorship. Private partners like Wounded Warrior Project have joined the effort to help PROTECT continue to fund much of the cost of the program.


ICE HSI Special Agents recognized by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Three U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents earned recognition from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for locating and rescuing five young Pennsylvania girls from sexual abuse.

The NCMEC's Heroes' Awards took place at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., Sept. 22.

NCMEC honored HSI Special Agents Christopher Neville, Henry Cook and Eli Bupp for their race against the clock to stop the sexual abuse of five young girls who were being photographed and had their images posted online. The agents used advanced technology, extensive man hours, and clues found in the images of abuse to identify and locate the children hundreds of miles away. The children were rescued and the abuser arrested.

Postal Inspector Mike Corricelli and Pennsylvania State Trooper Nick Cortese were also part of the team receiving recognition.

The purpose of the Heroes' Awards is to recognize outstanding law enforcement personnel who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to rescue missing or sexually exploited children.

If you know of any children who may be victims of sexual abuse, please contact the NCMEC Cyber Tipline at 1 (800) 843-5678.

To find out what you can do to help missing children, visit



NAMI-Bowling Green, Wellness Connection help people heal

by Alyssa Harvey

Vicki Patterson hasn't always lived a stable life.

Now a peer support specialist for the Bowling Green chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Patterson was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder – which is also known as multiple personality disorder – and anxiety disorder. She has recovered from them, but still suffers from bipolar disorder type 2.

"I'm a survivor of child abuse and child pornography. I believe they set me up for mental illness. I know they did for" dissociative identity disorder, she said. "I tried to be perfect and wanted things to be a certain way. With borderline personality disorder I had black and white thinking. I can look back at 62 and see in elementary school that I was sick."

NAMI-Bowling Green and the Wellness Connection have played a role in her healing, Patterson said.

"When I got a connection with the Wellness Connection and NAMI I felt like I had a solid connection. It's hard coming in that door the first time," she said. "It's something new. It's not comfortable. This is a hidden treasure in Bowling Green."

Mental health by the numbers

According to the national NAMI website at, one in five adults in America experience mental illness. Nearly one in 25 adults in America live with a serious mental illness. Half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14, with three-quarters by the age of 24.

The National Institute on Mental Health says that 1 percent (2.4 million) of American adults live with schizophrenia, 2.6 percent (6.1 million) live with bipolar disorder, 6.9 percent (16 million) live with major depression and 18.1 percent (42 million) live with anxiety disorders. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. About 10.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry and U.S. Surgeon General's Report in 1999, serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings every year. Ninety percent of those who die by suicide – the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. – have an underlying mental illness.

NAMI-Bowling Green and the Wellness Connection

NAMI-Bowling Green was started by Marty Harrison in the 1960s when it was called the Bowling Green Alliance of Mental Illness, said NAMI-Bowling Green Vice President Larry Gregory.

"In 1986 they incorporated into NAMI-Bowling Green. They became part of NAMI Kentucky," he said. "All the major cities had affiliates under the NAMI umbrella."

In its current incarnation, NAMI-Bowling Green has been in Bowling Green for 30 years. The Wellness Connection from which NAMI operates is going into its fourth year. It is located at 428A Center St. The peer-run service is owned, administratively controlled and operated by mental health consumers and emphasizes self-help as its operational approach. It is designed to show people with mental illness and their families that recovery is possible and to bring them hope. The center serves NAMI-Bowling Green's 10-county coverage area – Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, Simpson and Warren – and is operated by grants and donations, but more donations are needed to help provide the free programs, according to NAMI-Bowling Green President Deborah Weed.

"We're looking for board members and people to invest in the program. We have been told we may not have a grant next year," she said. "We want people working and living their lives because they can be just like anyone else."

About 57 to 75 people use services provided by the Wellness Connection every three months, but Weed believes there are more who could use them.

"We're very underutilized," she said. "Isolating is part of mental illness."

NAMI-Bowling Green and Wellness Connection programs

Isolation is one reason NAMI-Bowling Green decided there needed to be a NAMI Connection at Western Kentucky University.

"When you come into WKU you're already isolated. We want them to become a support group when we're not there," Weed said. "We started it two semesters ago. We take ones who want to know if they have a mental illness and those who have learned their diagnosis."

The WKU component talks to the students about services such as the Student Accessibility Resource Center, which helps students with disabilities maximize their educational potential, Weed said.

"We tell them don't wait until the end of the semester to contact them," she said. "We want to make sure you're primed for success before you get to that point."

Students need a place to talk about their issues and not feel like they're going to be taken to the hospital, Weed said. They can even talk about suicide, which is the second most common reason that people ages 16 to 25 die.

"When they can open up in my group, you see all this healing because they have an open arena to discuss it. We talk to them about what led them to this point and share," she said. "For the most part they're pretty open."

Another program under the NAMI-Bowling Green umbrella is PETS 4 Vets, which stands for Providing Effective Therapy with Service Dogs. The program, paid for with grants and donations, pairs veterans with PTSD with a service dog. It started three years ago and got its first grant two years ago.

"We just sponsored our second veteran dog. She's a lady veteran this time out of Scottsville. She has PTSD due to being in the (U.S.) Navy," said Gregory, who co-founded the Vets 4 Vets program, of which PETS 4 Vets is a part, with Bob Wilson. "She wound up getting a black (Labrador Retriever). They're still in training. They have three or four weeks of training left.

"She's adapted to the dog and it's adapted to her. They're going to the grocery store and Wal-Mart to get the dog familiar with her and get her familiar with the dog in different settings," said Gregory, who is also second vice chairman of NAMI Kentucky and vice chairman of Operation Stand Down Kentucky, another organization for veterans. "For the first time she started training to now I've seen a change. She's not nearly as skittish as she was before."

It's hard to find veterans for the program, Gregory said.

"They have to be (Veterans Administration) qualified with a letter stating they have PTSD," he said.

The organizers continue to raise money through donations, fundraisers and grants. People can donate by going to the NAMI Bowling Green website at A fundraising dinner will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at Roosters at 247 Three Springs Road. Dinner is $15.

"One hundred percent of the money is going for PTSD dogs as well as other veterans needs," Gregory said.

Operation Stand Down Kentucky will have its first barbecue smoke-off for veterans April 7-8 at Martin Dodge on Scottsville Road, Gregory said.

"All the proceeds will go for veterans in need. We plan to make it a state event," he said. "We want it to be a barbecue sanctioned event."

Vets 4 Vets helps educate veterans in various ways, including teaching them how to live with PTSD, he said.

"We support them where we can as far as moral support," Gregory said. "We go even as far as getting them through the week and helping them get help."

The Wellness Connection also has a variety of other programs, including the KYSTARS recovery support group, NAMI Bowling Green family and consumer support group meetings, Emotions Anonymous 12-step meeting, Double Trouble in Recovery 12-step program for those with mental illness and addiction to substances, Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) and many more.

"The ASCA support group is the only one in Kentucky. We started it in July because everyone who was coming here seemed to have that common denominator in their past," Weed said.

"Child abuse comes in a variety of different forms," she said. "They learn how to balance their lives and heal from it."

NAMI-Bowling Green also has materials translated in Spanish. Weed hopes to reach many more in the international community.

"We're trying to reach out to the community, but it's been difficult because of the language barrier," she said. "They are coming here and not knowing the language brings about anxiety. We want to reach out to somebody where we can translate."

LifeSkills is one of NAMI Bowling Green's biggest supporters, Weed said. NAMI brings an abbreviated version of KYSTARS to LifeSkills' crisis center.

"We both want to see people get healthy and live their life," she said. "There's so many things that traumatize people. There's hardly anyone who's not touched by mental illness."

Some mentally ill people wind up in jail because their diagnosis got out of control. Mental health court would benefit Bowling Green, Weed said.

"People lose Medicaid once you've been in jail 30 days, so you have to start all over. Drugs can become ineffective once they leave your system," she said. "Sometimes they lose their apartments. Nobody knows where they are or they couldn't pay rent. (Mental health court) is working at the other places where they put it."

There are places like the Wellness Connection that promote recovery and could help people who are coming out of the hospital or jail, said Rachael Lovinger, a peer support specialist at the Wellness Connection.

"You learn what you can and share it," she said. "You only keep what you have by sharing it."

'Whatever you put in front of your treatment you will lose'

Lovinger was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, bipolar unspecified, borderline personality disorder and PTSD. She is also a recovering drug and alcohol addict.

"Treatment brought me to Kentucky in 2008 from Georgia," she said. "Back home I couldn't find a facility to get treatment. I did three months of treatment."

Lovinger knew she would be triggered and fall back into her addictions if she went back to Georgia.

"I decided to make a clean start. Whatever you put in front of your recovery you will lose," she said. "It takes time. It takes a lot of work – progress, not perfection."

Getting help for borderline personality disorder has been a rocky road for Lovinger.

"Borderline personality disorder has a bad reputation. If you have it, therapists don't want to have anything to do with you," she said. "I self medicated."

Now Lovinger takes care of herself to make sure she stays well.

"I take my medicine every day. I go to meetings. I do service work – I give back what's been given to me," she said. "I thank NAMI because if it hadn't been for them I wouldn't have gotten treatment. They got me my life back."

'Coming out of mental illness takes constant work'

Patterson is trying to remember the painful pieces of her past in order to continue her healing.

"I know there's more memories to work on. The only memory I have of the child pornography is the last one. It may have started in infancy," she said. "All of these things come with scars. I learned abnormal ways to handle situations. Coming out of mental illness takes constant work. Even though I know I've recovered, I know there are still traits that I have to work on."

Patterson raised her children while she was suffering with mental illness.

"It affected how I raised my kids. My daughter was the mom and I was the child. I did not want to touch them," she said. "I did not want to be touched. It affected my marriage. It tore me up for what I'd done to affect my family. I hurt for them because they had to deal with a lot.

"It's not all about me, and I had to learn that," she said. "I had to apologize."

Patterson wants to "carry a message that carries hope."

"You can recover as a young person. If they have help they can recover sooner," she said. "I'm grateful I have come through everything I've come through because it made me a better person."

Patterson considers herself a success story.

"I've gone from not having a life to having a life. I want to be a voice for mental illness, child abuse and now human trafficking," she said. "I had been hopeless until I came here. I couldn't see the blessings that I have. I have a higher power. God was the one who carried me through."

— For more information about NAMI programs, call 270-796-2606 or visit



‘I was eight when my brother started coming into my room'

Weekend Read: We talk to child sex abusers, victims and therapists, and ask: is there a better way to tackle abuse in Ireland?

by Peter McGuire

James's story

“I was about eight when my brother started coming into my room,” James says. “It began with gentle interference but, over time, became more serious and specific. He told me that if I ever told anyone we would both go to prison. It went on for about three years, until shortly after my dad died.

“During my teens there was a deep and profound sadness that I couldn't shake, so I drank a lot and took drugs. I carried self-loathing, humiliation, fear and shame. When I was 18 my mum brought me to a psychiatrist. When I told her what had happened she thought I was confused.

“Now I have a good relationship with my mum, but during my 20s she seemed to downplay it. I think people need to find the language to talk, at home and in schools, about good and bad intimacy.

“There's a lot of focus on priests, rightfully: the abuse and the cover-up were despicable. But we don't talk about families. A family member who abuses is always a family member, and how does the family cope with that?”

In many cases, James says, nobody wants to ruin the family image. “It's hard for the survivor, for the other siblings, for the extended family. It creates a perpetual anxiety for the survivor which is hard to put to rest.”

James's case highlights some stark facts that are not always understood about child abuse. Most abuse is carried out by family members or people known to the victim. Many abusers are young men or teenagers. And few are classic “paedophiles”.

Our current image of child sex abusers in Ireland, and our approach to them, may be putting young people at risk. If we are to keep children safe we may have to gain a new understanding of the problem and make some unpalatable changes to the way we deal with it.

Sophie's story

Sophie was four when her stepfather, Gerard, started to sexually abuse her. These are her earliest memories. She was 15 when he was arrested.

“I remember Gerard always wore these cowboy boots, and my little heart would beat faster when I'd hear him coming down to my room,” she says. “I'd hope and pray that he wouldn't come in and pull the blankets back. He always did. He controlled my every move and everything my mum did. He also sexually abused my half-sister, his own biological child.”

There was further abuse in Sophie's family. Her biological father was taken away when she was three because he had sexually abused another sister, Rose, although he never harmed Sophie.

Sophie's mother, herself a victim of abuse, had proven incapable of protecting her children. Rose is a recovering addict.

Now in her early 30s, Sophie spent years in therapy, earned a PhD in counselling psychology and went on to work with other survivors of abuse.

Today Sophie has a difficult message about how we deal with child abuse. Few would disagree with some of her advice. We need to listen to and educate children, she says. We need to create stabler and healthier homes and work on better mental-health awareness and sex education.

But Sophie also believes that we need to provide therapy to abusers before they abuse, therapy that might stop them from hurting children like her in the first place. This means trying to see beyond our disgust at such crimes against children and to understand the factors that lead a person to commit them. Her views are echoed by others working in the field.

Bill's story

James and Sophie's names have been changed, but Bill Kenneally is real, a convicted abuser who has featured in recent news reports. Kenneally was 36 when he started sexually abusing teenage boys in Waterford. Over three years he abused 10 victims. To keep them quiet he took photographs of the boys and told them that if they reported him he would claim that they enjoyed what he did.

In 1987 one of the boys' fathers lodged a complaint and was visited by the Garda. Kenneally, related to a prominent Fianna Fáil politician, admitted his abuse. He gave them the name of other boys whom he had abused. But he was convicted only this year, and now he is appealing his 14-year sentence.

The survivors of his crimes are suing the Garda and the State because they say that senior gardaí, staff at the South Eastern Health Board and members of Fianna Fáil knew about the sexual abuse in the 1980s but didn't act.

Prisoners are not allowed to have contact with journalists, but The Irish Times has spoken to Kenneally through an intermediary and confirmed that the details published here are accurate. We have done so because professionals working in the field say that his profile is fairly typical, and describing it can help to shed light on a complex area. Kenneally has co-operated for the same reason.

“The Garda interviewed him, told him to obtain psychiatric treatment and stay away from the boys,” the intermediary says. “He stopped coaching basketball and says that he kept a low profile because he knew that he could be prosecuted, but he now wishes they had done so in the 1980s.”

Kenneally claims that he did not offend again, but for 30 years he walked free.

“Bill knows he is a pariah, and he hates himself for what he has done,” the intermediary says. “He is not looking for forgiveness or understanding. Rather, he hopes that lessons can be learnt from his story. He grew up with a highly critical father he could never please and lacks any self-esteem.”

Kenneally told his therapist that he was attracted to women but didn't believe he could have a relationship. He felt inadequate and unwanted. “He now recognises that he abused children because he didn't feel threatened by them,” the intermediary says.

Kenneally did not abuse primarily because he was sexually attracted to the boys, much as a rapist is not overcome with lust. But, perhaps worse, like most sex offenders he was asserting power, control and dominance over people who could not defend themselves.

Abusers are around us

The Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland study, carried out in 2001 by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in association with Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, and published the following year, is the most extensive investigation of child sex abuse in Ireland. It found that 27 per cent of people – just over one in four – experienced either “contact” or “noncontact” sexual abuse in childhood.

This week One in Four, an organisation that provides therapeutic support and advocacy for adult survivors of child sexual abuse, said that it saw 178 new and 485 ongoing clients in 2015, of whom 43 per cent were men and 57 per cent women.

Child sex abusers are around us; we just don't know it. Eileen Finnegan is clinical director of One in Four and the manager of Phoenix, a treatment programme for sex offenders that the organisation sees as a core part of child protection.

In 2015 it worked with 38 offenders: 11 from Dublin and 27 from the rest of the Republic. Three of these received custodial sentences, seven are awaiting decisions from the Director of Public Prosecutions, two received suspended sentences and one is taking part in the Probation Service's sex-offender risk assessment and management programme.

Three had abused their sisters, one had abused his daughter, one had abused his son and 11 had abused a niece, nephew or cousin. Outside of families, 11 had abused unknown children, one had abused a known child and nine had abused over the internet.

“I take the bus to work every day,” says Finnegan. “This morning a well-dressed professional man boarded. I looked at him and thought to myself, Nobody knows that you are a sex offender who has engaged in a treatment programme with us. You look the part, you're handsome and pleasant and have a very good job, but you have groomed and abused a child in your own family.”

The man did not fit common preconceptions of what a sex offender looks like, she says. “We imagine them as outsiders who have nothing to do with us – a stranger in a white van driving into an innocent community – even though the vast majority of abuse is perpetrated by someone well known to the child, often a family member.”

Therapists say that sex abusers tend to be marginalised, lonely and isolated men with poor boundaries and a poor sense of self who can't form proper relationships with adults. They can also have narcissistic traits.

Abusers can appear to be highly functional. They can groom not only families but, sometimes, whole groups of people, gaining a child, family or community's trust and making the child feel valued and special before sexually assaulting them.

As in Sophie's family, some abusers target vulnerable women with low self-esteem and limited or chequered relationships; it makes their children easier targets.

Being made to feel special adds to the child's confusion, Sophie says. “ ‘This person is kind to me, but they do this thing that makes me feel terrible and scared.' This can be so murky for children.

“My mother was neglectful, and my stepfather was always there, so I thought of him as Dad. So even though I walked around with fear, anxiety and shame I still loved him. When he was gone from my life I didn't know who I was.”

“We've had around 300 people on the Phoenix programme,” Eileen Finnegan says. “All of them had difficulties around puberty, sex and relationships. We very rarely see paedophiles on the programmes. Most of the abusers we work with are not interested in sexual gratification; they're interested in grooming a family and a child and exercising power and control.”

Rarity of paedophilia

Mary Flaherty is chief executive of the Cari Foundation – also known as Children at Risk in Ireland – which provides therapy for sexually abused children. “In our 22 years of work we have seen victims who have been abused at home by a relative or a babysitter, or who have been abused by a neighbour or family friend,” she says. “One person was abused in a religious setting by a lay teacher.”

The St Clare's unit at Temple Street Children's University Hospital, in Dublin, sees children after abuse has been alleged. Its principal social worker, Dr Keith O'Reilly, says that the child knows the abuser in about 80 per cent of cases; in the other 20 per cent of cases the child has been attacked by a stranger or someone he or she may have met while out.

There's a general assumption that most child sex abusers are paedophiles – people who are only sexually attracted to prepubescent children. But Dr Nick Bankes, a clinical psychologist who works with offenders, says that of the hundreds of child sex abusers he has treated only about six may have been paedophiles. And, although most sex abusers are men, about 10 per cent may be women.

“Many more may be hebephiles, who are exclusively attracted to teenagers, while others may be men who are interested in adults but cross a line by abusing a person who is under 18,” he says. “They have distorted thinking and sometimes convince themselves that they're teaching the child about sex.”

Some victims may be teens who kiss a young man who then goes on to assault or rape them. Others have been contacted by strangers over the internet and asked to engage in sexual acts on camera.

Teenage abusers

Between a quarter and a third of abusers are under 25, and many are teens. Mary Tallon and Joan Cherry are social workers with Northside Inter-Agency Project, a community-based treatment programme for children between the ages of 13 and 18 who sexually abuse. The project also supports families, especially where, for example, a teenage son has sexually abused his sister. (Athru, in Galway, and Southside Inter-Agency Team, in Dublin, provide similar services.)

“Our clinical experience shows that some – but not all – of these young people have poor attachment experiences, may have been exposed to some kind of trauma, such as domestic violence, or may have been bullied, although a lot of families referred to us are very well functioning, and it can be a challenge to figure out what's happening,” they say.

“They are seeking power, control, intimacy, revenge, anger or jealousy, and struggling to have their needs met in an appropriate way. We worked with one young lad who was feeling very controlled by his father; his sexual abuse of children was framed around how he was in control now. Other abusers may be angry at being bullied and take it out on younger children – although, of course, most bullying victims never abuse other children.”

Tallon and Cherry say that intervention and therapy make young abusers less likely to reoffend. Without therapy they have the highest recidivism rate.

Dr Patrick Randall is a clinical and forensic psychologist who treats child abusers. “One of my clients was a 16-year-old boy who was sent to Pieta House” – the suicide and self-harm crisis service – with suicidal ideation,” says Randall. “They worked with him, and he told them that he was terrified of his sexual feelings for young children.”

Most of Randall's current clients were referred to him after downloading material from the internet. “I saw one man who was caught looking at child sex-abuse material and who had two teenage children of his own,” he says. “Research on cyberabuse is just getting off the ground, and clinicians are concerned that services are not keeping pace with technology.”

Stigmatising offenders

On May 14th the Irish Mirror 's front-page headline said: “Evil paedo in hiding after attack on house.” Randall says that this kind of headline could put more children at risk. “Stigmatisation and marginalisation of offenders may increase risk to the public, because they reduce an offender's capacity to get help to reduce their risk of offending.”

Such stereotypes are also a reason why victims don't come forward, according to Eileen Finnegan. “When the media depict abusers as monsters, [victims] see what could happen to their abuser, who might also be their father, uncle or brother,” she says. “And abusers can use this to control their victims: ‘See what will happen to me if you come forward?' ” It also puts the family at risk of isolation and violence from vigilantes, she adds, “so they sometimes hush it up”.

Sophie's choice

Sophie, the abuse survivor who is now a counselling psychologist, says that public attitudes, inflamed by traditional and social media, have hurt her.

“I understand why people want to wipe abusers off the face of the planet. ‘Cut their balls off,' they declare. But this wouldn't stop child abusers who are driven by power. They are not something out there: they are our brothers, father, uncles, sons and friends.

“We can never root them all out and destroy them, so we have to start thinking about how to protect children, and that is by offering children comprehensive and healthy sex education, as well as by providing humane treatment for abusers.

“I've had fights about this in my own family, and I understand the impulse to want to kill them. My sister, who was abused by my father, says he should have his dick nailed to the floor and the building should be set on fire.”

Sophie's relationship with her biological father, Will, is very strained, and she puts firm boundaries around him. Yet she is conflicted. “When someone says that all child molesters should be executed I think, You're talking about killing my dad. Taking his life now would never have stopped the abuse, and it wouldn't have protected any other children.”

Families can be torn apart by abuse. A caring mother, for example, might fall out with her abusive brother or partner, but the grandparents could then believe and side with the abuser. In Sophie's case it was a mother failing to stop her partner from abusing. Sophie says that she has forgiven her mother.

James's brother

James similarly has confused feelings about his brother. “He is about 14 years older than me and has learning difficulties. He's a very good-looking man and could function in the real world, but he's socially awkward and has limited intelligence.”

It took James many years to deal with the abuse. He first reported it to his older sister just before he started secondary school. “She agreed not to tell Mum. She said, ‘I want you to know that I believe you, and I won't tell anyone if you don't want me to.' That is so important for a child. She found the right words to put me at ease and kept me alive with her support and love.”

James later dropped out of college and moved to Galway, having confided in one or two trusted friends. When he did open up, to a person who worked for the Rape Crisis Centre, he had a breakdown and was hospitalised for about six weeks. “Mum began to acknowledge what had happened and the effect it had on me. It tore through my family: I later learned that my uncle was hesitant to believe me, and thought I had imagined it.”

At one point James wanted to bring his brother to court; his sister and mother supported him. But after making a statement he ended up back in hospital. “I ultimately decided it would be too traumatic and that he may not go to prison at all.”

His brother did send him a written apology. “Was this enough for me? Nothing is enough. Chopping off his arms and legs would not be enough. I have realised that the only way through is acceptance and forgiveness. Not for him but because it is what I need.”

Stop It Now!

Part of One in Four's approach involves working with the families of victims. “Early on we realised that we were the ones managing all the risk, and we couldn't shoulder that burden alone,” Eileen Finnegan says. “We teach families to recognise risk factors, including the abuser's mood, whether they are being manipulative and if they are isolated.”

It's demanding work, she says. “My hardest day was when I met the wife of a man who had offended against his niece. She said, ‘That child has been a slut since she was two.' After being on the programme the abuser's wife changed her mind, and was upset that she had ever thought that.”

In the UK the Stop It Now! helpline encourages men or their families who are concerned about potentially harmful behaviour to get help before a child is abused. In Germany, Prevention Project Dunkelfeld offers therapy to paedophiles and hebephiles who have not offended.

In Ireland clinicians have lobbied for a Stop It Now! programme, to little avail. Keith O'Reilly, the Temple Street social worker, and Nick Bankes, the clinical psychologist, are among those who have called for more therapeutic interventions to stop potential abusers from ever offending and stop existing abusers from reoffending.

Bill Kenneally, the imprisoned abuser, claims that he could have been stopped. “He's not blaming society at all, and he fully accepts responsibility,” our intermediary says. “But he hopes that maybe, if potential child abusers had somewhere they could go for help before they committed a crime, it might help protect children from people like him.”

If, as therapists also advise, we are to develop more therapy for abusers and potential abusers, we must look beyond the revulsion that we feel about child abusers, beyond calls to castrate or jail them for life – simplistic solutions that leave children at risk.

Waiting more than a year

But even were this solution to be pursued as a policy there would be other obstacles. Few psychologists know how to support sexual offenders or want to take on such difficult work. Funding and infrastructure are also inadequate.

Both Bankes and Patrick Randall, the clinical and forensic psychologist, say that Tusla, the State child and family agency, lacks the resources to handle the volume of child sex abuse cases and that victim-support services around Ireland are inadequate.

Only Dublin, Waterford and Cork have specialist assessment or therapy units.

Tusla has established a steering group for the development of sexual-abuse services that includes the HSE, the Garda, the Probation Service, Cari and the Children's Hospital Group (which consists of Temple Street; Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin; and the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght).

It wants to develop medical- and forensic-examination centres in Cork, Dublin and Galway, as well as regional victim assessment and therapy centres.

But the steering group has no mandate to direct agencies and has no clear time frame. Mary Tallon and Joan Cherry of Northside Inter-Agency Project say that they welcome the national developments but are concerned about the lack of funding for them.

The State relies on Cari, a small charity, to provide services for sexually abused children, but its budget has been cut and cut again, and it now has up to 40 children who have been waiting more than a year for assessment. Best practice is to see a child within six months. And the charity, which has worked with children as young as two, offers services in Dublin and Limerick only.

“We run on a budget of €700,000,” says Mary Flaherty, the chief executive. “An extra €800,000 in funding would allow us to bring our waiting lists down to a much more manageable five or six months.

“Children who turn up here are lucky in that they have a believing and supportive adult in their lives. These are children that we know have been abused, and we want to meet their needs quickly and appropriately. It is desperately wrong to leave them waiting.”


If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can contact:

The Samaritans on 116123 or

Rape Crisis Helpline on 1800-778888

Childline on 1800-666666

Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children on 01-6794944

HSE counselling services on 1800-235234

One in Four at

Cari (Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.30pm) at

For details of sexual assault treatment units, see

You can report concerns to Tusla, and learn more about how the support process works, at how-do-i-report-abuse

To report online child sex abuse material, see

The Department of Justice's Office for Internet Safety is at


The first public discussions about child sexual abuse took place in the 1980s. Given the taboo around sex in general, any discussion around the subject was difficult. But people were not unaware of abuse. As early as the 1930s, as Garda commissioner, Eoin O'Duffy revealed harrowing statistics when he testified before a committee on juvenile prostitution. He reported that the force had investigated more 400 cases of sexual abuse of girls between 1924 and 1929.

The report of the committee was never published. The minister for justice thought it ‘undesirable' to publicise a troubling reality.

This set a tone for the following decades – but the existence of abuse could not be completely suppressed. Newspapers reported on court cases involving “indecent assault” or “unlawful carnal knowledge” of children.

Catherine McGuinness, the former Supreme Court judge who led the first major investigation into child abuse in Ireland, says, “Mothers spoke quietly to each other and said, ‘Don't leave your child with Mr So-and-So, because he begins to feel them up.' People did know that things happened.”

But the extent of child sexual abuse began to emerge only in the late 1970s. The case of Noreen Winchester, a Belfast woman who murdered her abusive father – she was jailed but later granted a royal pardon – brought incest to the attention of the media.

Teachers and social workers were also beginning to address the issue in the Republic.

By 1984 there was increasing evidence that child sexual abuse was a major issue in Ireland. That November the Irish Council for Civil Liberties launched a working party to investigate it. Newspapers, along with Gay Byrne's radio show, reported incestuous abuse, which gradually came to feature more prominently in the media. Calls to Dublin Rape Crisis Centre's helpline soared. By the end of the year reports of child sexual abuse had increased sixfold over 1983.

In 1985 the centre launched an advertising campaign promoting services for people who were survivors of sexual abuse, including incest. That year it received 600 calls related to child sexual abuse.

By 1987 the Eastern and Southern Health Boards recorded a doubling of reports of child sexual abuse, and the organisations dealing with it were overwhelmed.

Professionals began to point out that a significant number of cases took place within extended families, although few people acknowledged that abuse was taking place in families like their own.

This dovetailed with another emerging notion: that of stranger danger. The belief that strange men prowled communities, snatching children, gained traction following the disappearance of Philip Cairns, in 1986. Only a minority of sexual abusers are strangers, but media coverage distorted the reality.

That changed somewhat in the 1990s, when the horrors of clerical and institutional child sexual abuse began to emerge, but there was a continuing resistance to tackle familial abuse.

It remains deeply discomforting to think that child abusers are like us, are related to us and in many aspects of life appear to be decent people. There is no stereotypical abuser.

Coming to terms with this and shaping a new debate around child sexual abuse are essential to protecting children.


How our broken bail system punishes domestic-abuse survivors — and empowers abusers

A teenage abuse survivor is in prison, while a known abuser walked free to kill his wife. Something's very wrong

by Eeesha Pandit

Last May, in Ohio, 14-year-old Bresha Meadows ran away from home. She told her relatives that she was scared for her life, “because her father was beating her mother and threatening to kill the whole family.” Her mother, she reported, had suffered many injuries at the hands of her father, including broken ribs, punctured blood vessels and black eyes. In July, Bresha allegedly shot her father, killing him. Bresha's aunt, Sheri Latessa, told Democracy Now that Bresha was acting to protect her mother, telling her “Now, mom, you're free.”

There's a name for this kind of violence: it's called “battered child syndrome” and it usually occurs in response to years of extreme physical or psychological abuse. In fact, studies show that 90 percent of all such violence is committed by children who have suffered abuse at the hands of the parent over a long period of time.

Bresha Meadows' alleged actions fit the description of battered child syndrome down to the last detail. The parent is killed in a non-confrontational situation, often while sleeping, without a violent struggle. Prosecutors and outsiders, who don't know about the abuse, interpret these actions as cold, calculating and amoral. But many of these children believe that killing the abusive parent is the only way to end the abuse and free themselves — and in Bresha's case, her mother — from a life of constant fear.

Bresha is currently incarcerated for her actions, held at the Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center in Ohio. A petition for her release has garnered more than 18,000 signatures. On Oct. 5, Bresha was put on suicide watch by detention center officials. Prosecutors are considering trying her as an adult, and she could face life in prison.

Now a second scenario. In August, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, Kevin Ewing cut off his ankle bracelet and took his wife hostage at gunpoint. Earlier in the summer, Ewing kidnapped, held and tortured his wife for 12 days, branding her with a metal rod, pistol-whipping her, and keeping her bound and tied in a closet. He repeatedly threatened to kill her, and then himself. The second time around, he did it. Ewing shot his wife three times, and then shot himself — just as he had warned.

Records show years of abuse, with many instances documented by the police. Tierne Ewing, Kevin's wife, secured a protection-from-abuse order in 2001, which Kevin repeatedly violated. Two criminal cases were filed against him, one of which put him in jail for seven months. Community members, including those in their church community, knew of the abuse and had tried to intervene. One of them told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the abuse and violence “had been going on her entire adult life.” Just three days before he killed his wife, Ewing was released on a $100,000 bond after spending three days in the Washington County Jail.

What are the laws and policies that make it possible for 47-year-old Kevin Ewing to be released long enough to make good on his threat against his wife, while 15-year-old Bresha Meadows is incarcerated and faces trial as an adult?

Joanne Smith, executive director of Girls for Gender Equit, a New York-based advocacy organization, argues for trauma-informed support for survivors of domestic violence like Bresha Meadows.

In an interview, Smith told Salon that the criminal justice system failed this young woman at multiple points. “The Bresha Meadows case teaches us that the very system set up to support survivors has failed them and is now punishing them for taking actions into their own hands,” she said. “The system is reactionary instead of preventive. When Bresha's grades dropped in school, that was a sure sign that something was wrong. She then ran away from home and reported the abuse but was asked about the abuse in front of the abuser, her father.”

One key element of our criminal justice system is the way in which bail is determined and set. Bail practices are notoriously skewed toward punishing low-income people, who are disproportionately people of color. Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute, notes some of the inherent challenges in a system that doesn't take into account the risk faced by survivors of domestic violence.

In most places, Burdeen says, the bail-bond system overlooks previous instances of domestic violence. She and her organization advocate for a risk-assessment system in which a person's risk to others is taken into consideration when setting bail. Victims are not necessarily notified, she says, when an accused abuser is being released from custody. Furthermore, she argues, “The setting of a money bond sometimes poses a false sense of security.”

Advocates like Burdeen are making the case that each arrested person who seeks to post bond should be assessed on the risks they pose to others, and that these risks should be measured by an actuarial risk assessment tool. This process would allow courts to decide whether or not to detain someone before trial. After two years of testing such a risk assessment formula, last year the Laura and John Arnold Foundation introduced its public safety assessment in 30 jurisdictions, including states like Arizona and New Jersey and cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh. This approach is supported by other nonprofit institutions, including the Open Society Foundation, which has has a pre-booking diversion program that promotes alternatives to jail for drug use, and the MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge, which has focused on changing the way jails are used in 20 key jurisdictions. These changes include strategies to reduce the number of arrested people who are sent to jail and increased use of evidence-based tools such as risk-assessment processes.

One significant question remains unanswered: Will such risk-assessment programs mitigate some of the racial bias, and other kinds of implicit bias, that disproportionately target poor people of color and result in increased incarceration and unfair bail and sentencing policies? Former Attorney General Eric Holder told the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 2014 that while information gathered in some risk assessment tools, like education levels, socioeconomic backgrounds and neighborhood, can be useful in some areas of law enforcement, he cautioned against using such data to determine prison sentences. Such assessments, Holder said, “may exacerbate unwarranted and unjust disparities that are already far too common in our criminal justice system and in our society.” Whether this is true for bail-setting policies is a slightly different, but related question.

There is currently a robust debate about the impacts of these programs, and data is coming in from cities, states and municipalities around the country. The fact remains, however, that the criminal justice system as it stands has incarcerated Bresha Meadows and let Kevin Ewing walk out of jail.

Bresha's case also draws attention to the damage that pretrial detention can cause. As noted in the Department of Justice's Ferguson Report, some court systems fail to give credit for time served before trial. For a teenager like Bresha, the impact of that could be devastating.

Trina Greene Brown, founder of Parenting for Liberation, expressed concern in an interview that Bresha was “being re-traumatized while incarcerated.” If her case stays in juvenile court, Bresha could be remanded to detention until age 21 if she is convicted of murder. “If her case is moved to adult court,” Brown said, “she could face life behind bars.”

Bresha Meadows' case goes a long way toward illuminating the disparities in the criminal justice system, showing us who is considered innocent until proven guilty and who is criminalized without due process. Brown observes that the system failed Bresha twice. “Bresha's case reminds us that the criminal justice system is unjust when it comes to black girls. This system was never established to save and protect black girls. It has failed Bresha and many other survivors of color … who were not provided proper protection, forced to defend themselves, then punished.”




Citizens can help protect children from abuse

by Candes Shelton

Sixty-six. That's the number of children cited in Indiana's recent child fatality report who died from abuse and neglect in a one-year period. That's 66 children who are no longer with us. That's 66 Hoosier children too many.

The report details how some of these children died. Many at the hands of their own parents. Many who suffered heartbreaking and prolonged injuries and unspeakable pain. And many, 50 percent, were under 1 year of age.

These were little ones, dependent solely on those around them to care for them, and keep them safe. But instead their cries and needs were met with abuse or neglect.

Child abuse and neglect is not singular to one community – it's in every community. It's in every corner of our state, from the smallest burgs to the biggest metropolitan areas of Indiana. It crosses racial categories, geographies, nationalities, political-party affiliations and economic status.

And it's something we can prevent.

Every one of us can do something to combat abuse and neglect before it happens – before another child becomes a number in Indiana's next child-fatality report.

As a board member with the Kids First Trust Fund, I challenge every reader to do something in 2016 to help protect a child from abuse or neglect.

If you see something, say something. Abuse thrives off of silence -- children need your voice. If you see or suspect a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, call 800-800-5556. You could save a life, and possibly restore a family that is in crisis.

You can also get involved. Almost all abuse and neglect cases reveal stressors that put families in crisis – such as loss of a job, low income, a single parent feeling overwhelmed or social isolation. Be a listening ear for a neighbor, friend or relative. Know your community resources, such as employment services, food banks and child care programs, and refer parents in need to those sources. You can also volunteer with a child abuse prevention organization, or become a foster parent.

You can also invest in child abuse prevention. Purchasing a Kids First license plate is a simple, yet very worthwhile way Sixty-six. That's the number of children cited in Indiana's recent child fatality report who died from abuse and neglect in a one-year period. That's 66 children who are no longer with us. That's 66 Hoosier children too many.

The report details how some of these children died. Many at the hands of their own parents. Many who suffered heartbreaking and prolonged injuries and unspeakable pain. And many, 50 percent, were under 1 year of age.

These were little ones, dependent solely on those around them to care for them, and keep them safe. But instead their cries and needs were met with abuse or neglect.

Child abuse and neglect is not singular to one community – it's in every community. It's in every corner of our state, from the smallest burgs to the biggest metropolitan areas of Indiana. It crosses racial categories, geographies, nationalities, political-party affiliations and economic status.

And it's something we can prevent.

Every one of us can do something to combat abuse and neglect before it happens – before another child becomes a number in Indiana's next child-fatality report.

As a board member with the Kids First Trust Fund, I challenge every reader to do something in 2016 to help protect a child from abuse or neglect.

If you see something, say something. Abuse thrives off of silence -- children need your voice. If you see or suspect a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, call 800-800-5556. You could save a life, and possibly restore a family that is in crisis.

You can also get involved. Almost all abuse and neglect cases reveal stressors that put families in crisis – such as loss of a job, low income, a single parent feeling overwhelmed or social isolation. Be a listening ear for a neighbor, friend or relative. Know your community resources, such as employment services, food banks and child care programs, and refer parents in need to those sources. You can also volunteer with a child abuse prevention organization, or become a foster parent.

You can also invest in child abuse prevention. Purchasing a Kids First license plate is a simple, yet very worthwhile way Sixty-six. That's the number of children cited in Indiana's recent child fatality report who died from abuse and neglect in a one-year period. That's 66 children who are no longer with us. That's 66 Hoosier children too many.

The report details how some of these children died. Many at the hands of their own parents. Many who suffered heartbreaking and prolonged injuries and unspeakable pain. And many, 50 percent, were under 1 year of age.

These were little ones, dependent solely on those around them to care for them, and keep them safe. But instead their cries and needs were met with abuse or neglect.

Child abuse and neglect is not singular to one community – it's in every community. It's in every corner of our state, from the smallest burgs to the biggest metropolitan areas of Indiana. It crosses racial categories, geographies, nationalities, political-party affiliations and economic status.

And it's something we can prevent.

Every one of us can do something to combat abuse and neglect before it happens – before another child becomes a number in Indiana's next child-fatality report.

As a board member with the Kids First Trust Fund, I challenge every reader to do something in 2016 to help protect a child from abuse or neglect.

If you see something, say something. Abuse thrives off of silence -- children need your voice. If you see or suspect a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, call 800-800-5556. You could save a life, and possibly restore a family that is in crisis.

You can also get involved. Almost all abuse and neglect cases reveal stressors that put families in crisis – such as loss of a job, low income, a single parent feeling overwhelmed or social isolation. Be a listening ear for a neighbor, friend or relative. Know your community resources, such as employment services, food banks and child care programs, and refer parents in need to those sources. You can also volunteer with a child abuse prevention organization, or become a foster parent.

You can also invest in child abuse prevention. Purchasing a Kids First license plate is a simple, yet very worthwhile way to promote child abuse prevention everywhere you drive, and 100 percent of all license plate sales goes to support child abuse and neglect prevention programs throughout Indiana. You can also make a donation to the Kids First Trust Fund at or call 317-232-0465.

Whatever you do, do something in 2016. You have 66 reasons to get started.

Together, we can prevent child abuse and neglect.



Auditor: Pa. child abuse complaint hotline shows improvement

by Newsworks

Pennsylvania's chief fiscal watchdog says a hotline that handles reports of suspected child abuse has seen "tremendous improvement."

The Auditor General's Office said in May that 22 percent of calls to ChildLine went unanswered last year compared to 4 percent in 2014.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on Wednesday said that number fell to 11 percent over the first half of 2016.

New laws to prevent child abuse took effect in January 2015, increasing calls to ChildLine.

Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas has said they've added staff, upgraded training and improved technology so that all calls are recorded and they're easier to process.

Dallas says the rate of abandoned or disconnected calls to ChildLine has fallen below 2 percent compared to 43 percent in January 2015. -




What took so long to address child abuse?

by Rep. Mark Rozzi

Pennsylvania may well be considered the national epicenter of sexual abuse scandals.

The Academy Award-winning movie “Spotlight” showcases what is now recognized as the global tragedy of childhood sexual abuse. The opening scene captures the central conflict as it played out in the Archdiocese of Boston.

The film begins with a late-night scene at a neighborhood police station. A local priest has been brought in for questioning as a distressed single mother and a livid uncle are in the back room complaining that a priest has molested the family's children. They are there to press criminal charges.

But, with help from the assistant district attorney, the bishop is summoned to the station to quietly assure the family that the priest will be taken out of the parish, and they're told, “This will never happen again.”

A rookie cop asks a veteran cop what the press will do when the charges are read at the arraignment. He's told, “What arraignment?” The older cop has seen this before. He knows the priest will walk.

The bishop and priest then quietly slip out of the station, into the back seat of a black sedan and into the dark night.

The priest being portrayed is the notorious Father John Geoghan. With over 150 victims, he is one of the worst serial molesters in the history of the Catholic Church.

Geoghan was murdered in prison by his cellmate in 2003. Most predators, however, having never been even arrested for their crimes, are still out there. And they could be your neighbor.

Pennsylvania may well be considered the national epicenter of sexual abuse scandals. While the Penn State/Sandusky nightmare continues to garner national headlines and the ongoing Bill Cosby trial continues, the attorney general recently announced a statewide investigation into the remaining six catholic dioceses.

This was generated following the flood of hotline calls received in the wake of the scathing Altoona-Johnstown grand jury report that was released in March.

I did not, however, realize the magnitude of this epidemic until, as a state representative, my office received letters, emails, phone calls and personal visits from victims from every corner of the state and beyond.

I heard heartfelt pleas from grown men and women whose lives had been destroyed by ministers of every denomination, Scout leaders, public and private school teachers, coaches, missionaries and worst of all, family members.

Obviously, childhood sexual abuse in not just a Catholic clergy problem, it's a societal problem.

Back to “Spotlight.” The Boston police, public officials and the church hierarchy turned a blind eye for years to the pattern of collusion and systematic cover-up of the sexual abuse of children in order to protect that institution's reputation and coffers. Are things any different in Pennsylvania since Phil Saviano first brought his case as a victim of childhood sexual abuse to The Boston Globe, 25 years ago?

In April, H.B. 1947 overwhelmingly passed the House 180-15. My colleagues showed they had the political courage to do the right thing. But the key retroactive component was gutted in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate then passed a version of H.B. 1947 that would clearly benefit the Insurance Federation and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference over victims.

To date, these lobbyists have spent millions to block statute of limitations reform here in Pennsylvania. I often wonder how they sleep at night.

We legislators should have a second chance to vote an amended H.B. 1947 before the session ends, which will help all victims of childhood sexual abuse, past, present and future.

It's been 12 years since that first grand jury in Philadelphia recommended affording past victims, who had aged out of their arbitrary statute of limitations, the opportunity to bring civil suit, if they have the evidence to do so.

Attorney General Bruce Beemer, State Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm, many district attorneys and others across the state defend the constitutionality of H.B. 1947 with its revival provision.

The excuses that existed with the first votes are gone.

We legislators should insist that our leaders let the process take place so we can demonstrate to our constituents that we support victims over predators.

We legislators don't want to be asked, as was asked in “Spotlight,” “What took you so long?”

State Rep. Mark Rozzi is a Democrat from Berks County.


New York

Town hall tackles issue of child sexual abuse

by Francesca Norsen Tate

Children of Combahee will hold its first town hall on child sexual abuse in black churches, titled “From Pew to Pulpit: Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Speak,” on Saturday, Oct. 29, from noon to 3 p.m. The Concord Baptist Church of Christ, 833 Gardner C. Taylor Blvd., is hosting the forum, which is free and open to the public.

The town hall is part of a biannual, national series addressing the epidemic of child sexual assault, rape and incest in black church communities. “From Pew to Pulpit” is considered the first of its kind in the nation to focus explicitly on the sexual violations that black children face in and with proximity to communities of faith.

According to an ongoing survey that Black Women's Blueprint conducted, 60 percent of black women and girls report having been raped before the age of 18, and several national statistics show that one in six boys are victims of sexual violence. Yet, the black church, which generally assumes a prominent role in addressing the problems facing black communities, has done little to engage this nationwide epidemic. The forum is meant to educate the public on the structural inequality that black children face on many levels at school and in society, problems worsened by sexual abuse in their homes, schools and churches.

Children of Combahee advisor Sevonna Brown writes, “It is easy for us to call out the oppressors outside of our communities, but difficult to address the harm-doers that bring years of silence, shame, vulnerability, and bondage to our families and community space. Unless black children and their bodies are free from violence, black communities as a whole can never be.

“From Pew to Pulpit' is planned to be a transformative and healing event. During the town hall, survivors of child sexual abuse will have the opportunity to give their testimony, and representatives from black faith communities will be there to offer an acknowledgment. Through discussion, prayer and processes of accountability, we will begin reconciliation and create the necessary next steps to address the problem of child sexual assault in faith communities.”

Children of Combahee is a newly founded project, funded by the Just Beginnings Collaborative, that mobilizes against child sexual abuse in black churches using womanist pastoral and theological methods.

Named after Harriet Tubman's 1863 Combahee River Raid and the 1970s radical black feminist organization of survivor­activists (the Combahee River Collective), this project builds upon a longstanding legacy of resistance, healing and communal reckoning around issues of racial, sexual and gendered violence in black communities.

Co-sponsors include Just Beginnings Collaborative, the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, Black Women's Blueprint, Columbia University's Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice, Children's Defense Fund-NY and African American Policy Forum.



Penn State penalties will aid local child sexual abuse victims

by Mark Pesto

Some of the penalties imposed on Penn State University after the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal will soon help child sexual abuse victims in Cambria County.

Circle of Support Child Advocacy Center, located in Richland Township, has been awarded a grant for $49,766 through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency's Endowment Act to fund the training and certification of 12 local mental health therapists in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

The therapy "has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma endured by sexual abuse victims," Circle of Support said in a statement.

"We don't have many therapists that are certified in the trauma treatment, and the Trauma-Focused Therapy is the best approach to work with child sexual abuse victims," said Diana Grosik, executive director of Circle of Support Child Advocacy Center.

All 12 participating therapists practice in Cambria County, Grosik said.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association imposed $48 million in monetary penalties on Penn State following the alegations that school officials had failed to report former football coach Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys.

Under the settlement agreement reached in 2015, PCCD is responsible for distributing that money for the purpose of helping child sexual abuse victims.

The funds granted to Circle of Support will come from that $48 million.

"This project will expand Cambria County's network of trauma-certified therapists so that we can appropriately address the specialized mental health needs of child sexual abuse victims," Grosik said in a statement.

"This funding will significantly enhance the quality of services available to child sexual abuse victims and their families by affording therapists the opportunity to receive this advanced level training certification at no cost to them or their respective agencies."

Circle of Support will partner with Penn State's evidence-based Prevention Research Center and Respective Solutions Group Inc. for the training and certification project, which will be led by Dr. Tony Mannarino, according to a press release.

Mannarino, who helped develop trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, currently directs the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Circle of Support, which opened in October 2015, also recently received another grant for $74,956 through the U.S. Department of Justice Victims of Crime Act. Those funds will be used to hire additional staff and help provide services to victims and their families.



More than just bruises and broken bones

by Madison Vickers

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?

Contrary to this old saying, emotional abuse can severely damage a child's mental health or social development, leaving lifelong psychological scars. Mental abuse towards teens takes an emotional toll ranging from six types of abuse. Forty Four to 66 million teens are affected by it.

The first type of mental abuse is rejection. The many ways a parents can reject their child is by kicking the teen out of the home, criticizing, and making demeaning jokes towards the teen.The separation of the teen and the parent will give the teen a sense of rejection, and that's how the teen becomes able to adapt to loneliness.

Type two is terrorizing, which includes: Verbal threats, humiliating the child in public, and unpredictable extreme reactions such as hitting the teen for no reason. Teens who experience rejection from the parent demonstrate hostility, aggressiveness or passive-aggressive behavior. The last type is exploitation, which is when the parent has expectations beyond the stage of the teen's development.

Why is mental abuse a problem? When a teen is mentally abused by their parent, their self-esteem is lowered in many ways. When the parent mentally abuses the teen, they may feel the need to “hide.” The teen will lock themselves in their room and not come out for days without confronting the parent for long periods of time. The teen can gain a sense of relief when hiding.

The mental abuse impacts their life with depression and anxiety and affects the emotional bond with the teen and their parent. The depression and anxiety also will affect the teens learning abilities.

The parent has a physical or mental effect on the teen, they can be physically there but not emotionally available. The parent may even have a mental or other type illness, including bipolar disorder, which may cause the parent to act on a child's mental stability.

There are some cases where the adult has trouble recognizing and appreciating the needs and feelings of his or her own child. This is a problem because the teen starts to form anxiety, depression, and sleep/eating disorders. The parent also may have grown up in an abusive home themselves, which can cause the parent's self-esteem, hatred, jealousy, and narcissism toward the teen.

With mental abuse, males and females are affected differently. Male teens learned to model violence from the emotional abuse. Females learned that being abused is a normal part of life in the parent/child relationship. The effects of mental abuse change the teen's mental state. The parent pays no attention to the teen, causes psychological damage and physical harm, rejection, and stress.

With neglect, the parent does not provide emotional support or purposely pays no attention to the teen, which affects the child's concentration. While the teen has trouble concentrating, he or she has trouble in school and trouble focusing as well.

Other effects have the teen feeling abused, upset, angry, confused, guilty, and have a feeling of discomfort. The teen feels discomfort reporting the parent because they are afraid of the consequences. While the teen continues to experience abuse it changes their mental state, which results in behavioral disorders, and the teen becomes distant from family and friends.

How does mental abuse impact a teens life? When a teen is mentally abused by their parent, their self-esteem and self-worth are damaged. The teen contracts emotional and psychological abuse as well. The teen then increases a sense of isolation and tries to seek attention in any way possible and may even result in suicide.

What other problems are resulting from the original? According to Childhood Psychological Abuse, teen suicide rates have gone up by being mentally abused by their parent. Teens are severely affected by their psychological and social development which can lead to substance abuse, social problems, delinquency, and physical aggression.

When the parent mentally abuses the teen, they are giving them a sense of indifference, neglect and unrelenting pressure. What are we doing about the problem? Many online sources provide support groups, online directories, abuse forums, and hotline numbers.

Are cases of mentally abused teens getting better or worse? Mental abuse is less visible than physical abuse but more cases are being recognized. According to KidsHealth Psychologically abused teens are at a greater rate than children who are being physically abused. Are there any solutions to this problem?

Teens can form any type of support group. They can talk to a counselor, teacher, or close family member. If the mental abuse has left the teen with any symptoms of depression, anxiety, or sleep/eating disorders, psychiatric medication can be prescribed. The abusive parent can go through counseling or therapy if the teen feels comfortable asking. Once the teen can get out of the emotionally abusive relationship they are on the road to recovery.

Health Place offers a variety of treatment including hotlines, psychiatrists, and doctors. Any of these can make way to abusive recovery resources. Counseling and behavioral therapy also have a place in emotional abuse recovery.

Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars.

•  MADISON VICKERS is a senior at Woodland High School.


South Carolina

Dickerson Center cuts ribbon on new facility in Lexington

The Dickerson Children's Advocacy Center (DCAC) cut the ribbon on its new 4,000-sq.-ft. facility on Gibson Road in Lexington Thursday afternoon.

The DCAC provides services for abused children, including forensic interviews, medical exams, mental health assistance and victim advocate services.

Elizabeth Taylor, DCAC Board Chairwoman, thanked Nettie Dickerson, who donated a building for the center in West Columbia more than 20 years ago. Many of the Dickerson Family are still involved with raising funds for DCAC.

DCAC Executive Director Carol Yarborough said abused children needed one-place in one-stop to get critical services. She also said the agency had outgrown its former venue on Augusta Road in West Columbia. More space and upgraded facilities will help the DCAC staff be more efficient.

Lexington County Council Chairman Todd Cullum of Cayce said the good work of the Dickerson Center reflects positively on Lexington County. He also talked about his longtime friendship with the Dickerson Family and praised them for their contributions to the community.

Other speakers included Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster: said State Sen. Katrina Shealy of Lexington; Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon; S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson; and Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall. Pastor Alex Twedt of Transfiguration Lutheran Church blessed the building.



CEO Of Backpage Arrested In Texas On Sex-Trafficking Charges

(video on site)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Carl Ferrer, the Chief Executive Officer of notorious adult website, was arrested after he arrived in Houston on a flight from Amsterdam this afternoon.

“We cannot allow this evil to endure,” said Attorney General Paxton about the site, which he said facilitates a “grotesque form of modern day slavery” of both children and adults.

“ seems to have knowingly and willingly allowed women and children to be exploited for its own financial gain,” he said.

Texas authorities executed a search warrant at the Dutch company’s headquarters in Oaklawn Thursday afternoon. The warrant for the company that took in $2.5 million a month, according to Paxton, was based on money laundering.

Ferrer, 55, lives in Frisco.

“It’s disheartening that such organized, deep-seated evil happened in our back yard,” said Paxton.

Paxton said Ferrer will face state charges related to pimping in California first.

A lengthy joint investigation by the offices of the Texas and California attorneys general uncovered evidence that adult and child sex trafficking victims were forced into prostitution through escort ads that appeared repeatedly on

And the profits were staggering.

Documents show took in $50 million in ads between 2013 and 2015.

Paxton said investigators repeatedly warned the website about the alleged illegal activities, but that the company continued to allow the ads.

In March 2016, the United States Senate voted to hold Ferrer in contempt of congress after he failed to appear at a hearing about online sex trafficking.

“Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas,” Paxton said. “I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Every major credit card company has reportedly cut ties with the website and the state is in the process of shutting it down.

The only way customers can pay online is with Bitcoin or by mailing a check.


The State Law Gauntlet Facing Child Sex Abuse Survivors: A Long Way to Go to Child-Centered Justice

by Marci Hamilton

Herculean efforts across the United States have been undertaken to eliminate the threshold legal barrier for most sex abuse victims: the statute of limitations. Some states have been very successful like Delaware and Minnesota while others remain mired in a system that blocks the vast majority of survivors like New York. To their credit, advocates, survivors, and their supporters continue to press even in the most backward states.

While a legislative push can be empowering for many survivors, it can also be traumatic when legislators irrationally reject the survivors' pleas for justice. For example, Pennsylvania senators have professed allegiance to a non-existent Pennsylvania constitutional doctrine to avoid passing a bill that would revive expired SOLs for those who were shut out of the system. It is a cruel position that was captured beautifully in this political cartoon.

The bad news—or at least the news that is needed to put the SOL reform movement in context—is that once the SOLs are pushed back and a survivor is permitted to cross the moat surrounding the courthouse, there are too many other laws that, like short SOLs, make access to justice difficult. They are in effect predator friendly and child-endangering.

What is needed is a child-centered approach in the legal system, which takes into account the science of child sex abuse that is being built by pediatricians, child psychiatrists, psychologists, and sociologists, and traumatologists. Ignorance fueled by denial has been responsible for crafting a predator-friendly system, but we now have enough science to intelligently craft public policy so that it no longer actively aids and abets the wrong side in this war. The current gauntlet sex abuse victims face needs to be de-constructed, and reforms are needed in numerous contexts. In other words, if our children are to be protected, the SOLs are just the beginning.

SOL Reform for Two Distinct Populations

The SOL reform movement has progressed to the point where it is quite clear that there are two distinct groups of survivors in need of legal reform. First, there are those who were unintentionally, but definitely, deprived of justice: the ones who were abused in the past, failed to meet the short SOLs, and who need a legislative fix now. The legal system has frozen them in their pain. This is a finite set of individuals, and for those who seek justice, the only legal solution is to revive their expired civil SOLs. They typically have no options to press charges (although it is in their interest to report their abuser to the authorities so that serial predators can be identified).

Second, there are the children abused now and those victims not yet beyond the state's SOL. For this group, the good news is that roughly two-thirds of the states have eliminated the criminal SOL, at least for felonies. ( The bad news is that in many states, civil SOLs remain short, and so they cannot sue for damages. They need the elimination or at least extension of the civil SOLs to shift the cost of their abuse onto those who caused it.

Public School Victims Face an Additional and Shorter Deadline than the SOL: The Notice of Claim

While private schools, sports organizations, and religious organizations have been under the microscope recently, public schools have not received the sustained examination they deserve. This era for public schools reminds me of the 1980s in the Catholic Church cases when random cases would appear but no one had yet seen a pattern of abuse and cover up. A significant problem for survivors of abuse in a public school is that the statute of limitations is just one deadline they must meet. There is typically a much earlier time limit, called the “notice of claim.” For example, in New York, when someone intends to sue the government she must first provide the government (including a public school district) with a “notice of claim.” That notice must be filed within 90 days of the claim arising. Then, a lawsuit must be instituted not less than 30 days but not more than one year and 90 days after the incident.

Such notices are common across the states and they can operate like a statute of limitations so that missing the notice deadline can doom the suit. They run counter to child protection for all the reasons that overly short SOLs do.

Reporting Statutes Are Ineffective or Too Narrow, Missing Current Abuse but Also Depriving Victims of Corroborating Evidence in Later Cases

Mandated reporting statutes are intended to create a safety net for children, and public school teachers are on the front lines of those who are mandated to report suspected abuse (along with doctors and other health care professionals). The reporting statutes, however, are often ineffective and/or teachers are unclear what triggers a report. That means a child can be exhibiting the signs of abuse but no adult helps the child. In addition, there are irrational carve-outs to reporting statutes in numerous states. In New York, for example, private schools are excluded from having to report suspected abuse to the authorities. Some states require clergy to report, while others do not.

The holes in the mandated reporting system also creates missed opportunities for a survivor who later brings criminal charges or sues. While reports are almost always confidential as to source, the very fact of a report should be able to help if the victim decides to pursue justice at a later time. The information gathering systems on such reports are still being fully developed and their potential for assisting victims have not yet been fully uncovered.

State Privilege Law Often Permits Religious Organizations to Avoid Reporting

Gathering corroborating evidence of sex abuse is challenging for many reasons including the power differential between the victim and the perpetrator and the way in which such abuse affects a child. Some of the most powerful evidence would be clergy who have information about a perpetrator, but in many states there is a “confessional” or “clergy-penitent” privilege that relieves the clergy of the obligation to report their knowledge. These privileges are state-created, not necessarily First-Amendment-required. Again, this creates the possibility that children are at risk and that valuable evidence when the abuse is ongoing is not being preserved.

Tort Immunity for Teachers Under Federal Law

A little-known federal statute limits the tort immunity for teachers. The teacher is protected from liability if acting within the scope of employment, the teacher's actions were in conformity with governing law, and the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct. A reasonable reading of that would indicate that a teacher who engaged in sex abuse could be sued. But the devil is always in the details.

The last section of the provision states that the limitation on liability will not apply to misconduct that “involves a sexual offense, as defined by applicable State law, for which the defendant has been convicted in any court.” Under ordinary legal reasoning, that would mean that a teacher is protected when the conduct involves a sexual offense if the defendant has not been convicted. Between prosecutorial discretion and the SOLs, many if not most sex offenders have not been convicted, and that means this last provision opens the door for an argument that a teacher might even have tort immunity when sex abuse is involved simply because the system did not convict the perpetrator. Less liability often means less accountability.

Federal Civil Rights Claims: Sec. 1983 “Shocks the Conscience” Standard

When the government is a defendant, federal civil rights suits can be instituted, including for sex abuse. Unfortunately, the SOL of the state often controls in these federal lawsuits and so they do not open the door dramatically. In addition, the standard set by the Supreme Court is extremely difficult to satisfy: a public school violates a student's rights when its conduct the demonstrates deliberate indifference, or “shocks the conscience.” Just read Deshaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services.

All sorts of sex abuse slips away under this standard, though that is not to say it is never satisfied. The Third Circuit recently ruled that it was satisfied in one of the most egregious sex abuse cases involving a public school ever reported. A woman entered a public school and was permitted to take a 5-year-old girl with her without showing identification. The girl was brutally sexually abused that day. L.R. v. Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia , 60 F. Supp. 3d 584, 592 (E.D. Pa. 2014), aff'd sub nom. L.R. v. Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia , No. 14-4640, 2016 WL 4608133 (3d Cir. Sept. 6, 2016). These are horrific facts that show just how difficult it is to sustain a federal claim against the government for sex abuse.

Suffice it to say that we have constructed a justice system not attuned to the needs or protection of children from sex abuse. No more should we be shocked by the unrolling of stories that will not end—until the system is reformed.



Boko Haram releases 21 Chibok girls to Nigerian government

by Stephanie Busari, Faith Karimi and David McKenzie

Boko Haram militants handed over 21 missing Chibok schoolgirls to Nigerian officials Thursday morning as part of a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government, Nigeria's government said.

The girls are being taken to the northeastern city of Maiduguri, where they will meet with the governor of Borno state, officials in the state said. The girls were not immediately named.

The girls were released to the Nigerian military Thursday morning in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

The 21 are said to be among the 276 girls that Boko Haram militants herded from bed in the middle of the night at a school in northern Nigeria in April 2014 -- a kidnapping that spurred global outrage .

As many as 57 girls escaped almost immediately, but scores remain missing. Thursday's release is the largest group believed freed since the girls were kidnapped two years ago.

Terms of Thursday's deal were not immediately announced, but no jailed Boko Haram fighters were released in exchange for the girls, a source with direct knowledge of the release said on condition of anonymity.

Mallam Garba Shehu, spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, said on Twitter that the 21 released girls are now in the custody of the Department of State Services, the Nigerian domestic intelligence agency.

The agency chief has briefed the government, Shehu tweeted, and has said the girls need to rest "with all of them very tired coming out of the process before he hands them over to the Vice President."

"The release of the girls ... is the outcome of negotiations between the (Nigerian) administration and the Boko Haram brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government. The negotiations will continue," Shehu tweeted.

The 2014 kidnapping prompted global figures such as Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and first lady Michelle Obama to support a #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Boko Haram aims to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa's most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

In previous videos from the militant group, its leader, Abubakar Shekau, demanded the release of Boko Haram fighters in exchange for the Chibok girls.


United Kingdom

Reported rapes double following high-profile police investigations into historic sex abuse

Rise in number of rape allegations may indicate improvement in police recording crimes, rather than increase in attacks

by Hayden Smith

The number of alleged rapes recorded by police has more than doubled in less than four years, figures show.

A spike in reports of sexual offences has been seen following high-profile investigations including Operation Yewtree, which was launched in 2012 in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Forces in England and Wales logged 35,798 alleged rape offences in the year to the end of March 2016 - a 124 per cent increase compared to the 16,012 recorded in the 12 months ending in December 2012.

The figures were cited in 42 local area digests which are published by the Rape Monitoring Group and draw together a range of official data.

Rises in the numbers of rapes being recorded may not be due to an increase in prevalence, but the result of improvements in how the police record crimes, the reports said.

Or they may mean that victims have an increased understanding that a crime has been committed, or feel more confident in being believed when reporting what happened to them, the digests added.

They went on: “As an example, it may be that in the wake of publicity associated with the late Jimmy Savile and other historical abuse cases, more adult survivors of child sexual abuse, as well as more recent victims, have felt empowered to come forward to tell the police about sexual abuse.”

Elsewhere, figures on outcomes for alleged adult and child rape offences recorded in 2015/16 showed one in four (25 per cent) were logged as having “evidential difficulties” where the victim “does not support action”.

In 16 per cent there were evidential difficulties where the victim supported action. A charge or summons was issued in 7 per cent of cases, while 45 per cent of recorded crimes had not yet been assigned an outcome.

Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “The ongoing enormous rise in victims reporting rape to the police is stark and shows that the shame around this abuse may be declining and the desire to seek justice increasing.

“Police, courts, government and everyone in frontline services and public life should do everything to keep driving this, including speaking out against victim blaming attitudes.”

She said it was “notable” that a quarter of cases are closed within the same year because of “evidence difficulties”, adding: “We need a better breakdown on that.”

She went on: “Finally, and most importantly - these figures tell us yet again that rape of adults and children is not a marginal or rare crime - it is truly very common and we know its impact can stay with survivors for many years.”

Wendy Williams, chair of the monitoring group, said it was the fourth year it has released data on rape.

She said: “The intention for the release of these digests is to encourage a more thorough analysis of how rape is dealt with throughout the criminal justice process.

“We know that the data can only provide one part of the performance picture on rape; numbers alone cannot tell the full story and we have worked hard to provide context and understanding.

“We urge those involved in preventing and supporting victims of rape to read the digest for their local area, to prompt discussions about what needs to improve.”


United Kingdom

Quarter of rape cases fail because victims won't take action against their attacker: Campaigners say many do not want to relive their ordeal in court

•  Police and prosecutors were forced to drop thousands of investigations

•  Of the 35,798 alleged rapes in 2015-16, some 25 per cent did not go trial

•  This was due to difficulties with evidence where the victim 'does not support action'

by Ian Drury

A shocking one in four rape cases collapse because the victim does not want to take action against the attacker, new figures show.

Statistics reveal that police and prosecutors were forced to drop thousands of investigations – meaning culprits get away scot-free.

A report by the police watchdog found that of 35,798 alleged rapes in 2015-16, some 25 per cent do not go trial because of difficulties with evidence where the victim 'does not support action'.

Campaigners said many adults and children were deterred from pursuing cases because they did not want to endure the ordeal of reliving the attack or facing the perpetrator in court.

Meanwhile, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary identified a surge in the number of rapes reported to police in less than four years.

The 124 per cent rise – from 16,012 alleged offences in 2011-12 – coincides with the start of the Operation Yewtree investigations into historical sexual abuse, set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.

Experts also said the increase was partly because victims were 'more willing' to report sex crimes and police were more likely to take complaints seriously.

The figures were cited in 42 local area digests which are published by HMIC's Rape Monitoring Group and draw together a range of official data, included police recorded crime figures.

The report said: 'It may be that in the wake of publicity associated with the late Jimmy Savile and other historical abuse cases, more adult survivors of child sexual abuse, as well as more recent victims, have felt empowered to come forward to tell the police about sexual abuse.'

Women's Aid, the campaign group, said 90 per cent survivors of the most serious sexual assault knew the culprit, and 56 per cent of perpetrators were partners or ex-partners.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: 'The number of cases that do not go to trial because women do not support action is shocking but does not surprise us at all.

'The criminal justice route is not always the most appropriate for rape survivors. It is time-consuming, distressing and expensive. There is also still the problem of victim-blaming which means survivors can feel pressure to withdraw claims.

'Survivors often know their rapist intimately which can add another layer of pressure. If they are still entwined in a long-term abusive relationship it can still be very difficult and frightening to confront their attacker.'

Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: 'The ongoing enormous rise in victims reporting rape to the police is stark and shows that the shame around this abuse may be declining and the desire to seek justice increasing.

'Police, courts, government and everyone in frontline services and public life should do everything to keep driving this, including speaking out against victim blaming attitudes.

'Most importantly - these figures tell us yet again that rape of adults and children is not a marginal or rare crime - it is truly very common and we know its impact can stay with survivors for many years.'

Wendy Williams, chair of the monitoring group, said: 'The intention for the release of these digests is to encourage a more thorough analysis of how rape is dealt with throughout the criminal justice process.

'We know that the data can only provide one part of the performance picture on rape; numbers alone cannot tell the full story and we have worked hard to provide context and understanding.'



Auditor General sees improvement in Pa.'s child-abuse hotline

by Karen Langley

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania auditor general says “tremendous improvement” has been made to Pennsylvania's child abuse hotline after an earlier report found many callers hung up or were disconnected before reaching a caseworker.

In May, the auditor general's office said it had found that 22 percent of ChildLine calls in 2015 — or nearly 42,000 — were unanswered, up from just 4 percent the year before.

In the first six months of 2016, by contrast, that rate had been halved, with 11 percent of calls — more than 9,000 — going unanswered, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Wednesday.

“They have made tremendous improvement, but there's still work to be done,” Mr. DePasqale said.

Pennsylvania's child protective services laws underwent significant changes in 2014 and 2015, adding new groups of people as mandated reporters of child abuse and requiring additional training.

At a Capitol news conference, Mr. DePasquale said the Department of Human Services has improved staffing levels, as well as the tracking and monitoring of calls. But he said the department needs to improve in other areas, such as transmitting all ChildLine reports to county and law enforcement agencies within two hours.

Mr. DePasquale recommended that the Department of Human Services appoint an independent child protection ombudsman to review complaints and recommend improvements to the system. Pennsylvania children's advocates have called for a state-level advocate to serve as a check on efforts to protect children.

In a statement, Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas said that the Wolf administration inherited significant challenges when it took office in January 2015. The department was flooded with more calls and clearance applications than it had the employees or money to handle, he said.

Between 2014 and 2015, Mr. Dallas said, the department experienced a 14 percent increase in calls to ChildLine, a 39 percent increase in reports of suspected child abuse and a 162 percent increase in clearance requests.He said the department added staff and improved training. The time it took to process child abuse clearances had peaked in February 2015 at 26 days — and are required to be processed in 14 days — but they are now processed in an average of 1.27 days, he said. And where 43 percent of January 2015 calls to ChildLine were abandoned or disconnected, that rate is now below 2 percent.

“We have addressed the AG's concerns with ChildLine and, as we have been doing since day one, will continue to improve processes and practices,” Mr. Dallas said in the statement.



Are Gaps in Child-Abuse Registries Endangering Children?

by Trevor Brown

Child and other advocates are criticizing gaps in Oklahoma's child-abuse registry, saying they prevent thousands of teachers, nonprofit volunteers and others who work with children from being screened for a history of child abuse.

A coalition of groups is calling for legislators to close the gaps.

Like all other states, Oklahoma maintains a list of names of those who have committed child abuse or neglect.

But lawmakers were told during a legislative hearing Tuesday that Oklahoma has some of the strictest confidentiality laws in the country for deciding who can access that data.

One of the state's two child-abuse registries is limited to certain cases, such as criminal convictions or incidents at licensed child-care centers.

The other shows substantiated claims of child abuse or neglect, as determined by Department of Human Services case workers. However, it can only be publicly accessed through a court order except in a few specific circumstances, such as checks on prospective foster or adoptive parents.

Several representatives of groups that educate or deal with children said the inability to search the databases makes it difficult, or even impossible, to ensure their employees or volunteers don't have histories of child abuse.

“When you think about the number of people we hire in our education system, chances are that we opened up our doors to people we don't want to be around our children,” said Tenna Whitsel, director of family community engagement for Tulsa Public Schools.

Whitsel said teachers, support staff and volunteers are screened in her district through checks of criminal records, including FBI, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Oklahoma State Court Network databases. But she said most child-abuse cases don't rise to the level of a criminal charge.

In Tulsa County, for example, there were 411 cases of abuse or neglect cases filed in juvenile court last year, but only 11 percent of those were were criminally prosecuted.

Sarah McAmis, Tulsa County assistant district attorney, said cases won't reach her desk unless law enforcement agencies are involved. And she said unless there is a “documented injury” or other clear evidence, it is difficult to prosecute these cases.

“Although ultimately we are not able to end up with a felony conviction, I don't think any of us would say it's appropriate that they serve in any capacity around children,” she said.

Maura Wilson-Guten, executive director of Tulsa Court Appointed Special Advocates, which trains volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court system, said this has even affected her group.

Wilson-Guten said she was “horrified” in 2011 when her group discovered that a potential volunteer who had passed its normal screening checks was a former foster parent with a history of “inappropriate behavior.” She did not recall the specifics.

“If he was on the list and we could've searched it, we would've known right away,” she said. “It just shows that all of our organizations are touched by this, whether we care to admit it or not.”

Looking to Arkansas

Wilson-Guten also heads the Child Protection Coalition, composed of 26 groups from around the state.

It is urging Oklahoma to pass legislation similar to an Arkansas law that allows release of child-abuse information to more groups .

For a $10 fee, the law allows employers or volunteer agencies to screen a person if he or she will be working with children, the elderly or individuals with disabilities or mental illness. The state will then tell the organization if the person has a child-abuse report, when the investigation was completed and the type of complaint.

Dennis Robins, manager of the child-abuse registry for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said the system has proven successful.

“Without a centralized registry and an established request process, children can be in danger by being exposed to people with sometimes an extensive history of abuse,” Robins told the panel.

Most other states have similar laws, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services..

Some civil liberties and privacy advocates, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have criticized these polices when individuals were placed on the list without due process or notification.

Robins, however, said all individuals are sent a letter when there is a substantiated report of abuse . He said a 30-day administrative appeal process allows to challenge the finding.

Gaps in Child-Care Registry

Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, who requested the study, said she is also concerned with a “gap” in the child-abuse registry used to screen potential licensed child-care workers.

The registry, called Joshua's List, only contains names of those with a criminal conviction for certain violent crimes or crimes against children, a child-care facility owner who had their license denied or revoked, or someone with a substantiated finding of abuse that occurred while the child was in the care of a child-care facility.

The list doesn't include names of people who had a substantiated finding while working outside of a licensed child-care facility. That includes unlicensed child-care providers and staff at state-operated facilities.

Also worrisome is that DHS doesn't screen its workers for substantiated child-abuse findings, Griffin said. Bonnie Clift, assistant general counsel for the agency, confirmed that's the case at Tuesday's meeting.

In a statement after the meeting, Griffin didn't discuss the specifics of any potential legislation to address, but she did call for “immediate” action.

“There are thousands of people who are falling through the cracks, gaining access to children,” she said. “We need to close those gaps.”



Child abuse cases on the rise in Greene County


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) -- Serious child abuse cases are the hardest for the Greene County prosecutor.

"I'd rather not prosecute any more cases where children die," says Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson.

And he says jail time for the person behind it is not enough to end the problem.

"We know that person if we put them away, that person isn't doing it again right?," says Patterson. "That's not enough, we don't want it to get to that stage."

That's why he's heading up the child abuse and neglect collaborative--a group of organizations trying to cut down the growing number of child abuse cases.

The Child Advocacy Center says more than 1,300 children have come here last year after they'd been abused. And a third of those children are younger than six.

"Babies can't fight back and they can't tell their story" says Barbara Brown-Johnson of the Child Advocacy Center.

That's why trained advocates question those abused and neglected children to help in criminal investigations. They say when abuse happens to infants, and toddlers, parents need to look for signs.

"If you have a child where there's lots of bruising on the back of the body or there are pattern bruises like rope or burning, really need to look at that," says Brown-Johnson.

And for the past three years, the collaborative's been looking at ways too help anyone who takes care of kids.

"We've implemented improved mandated reporting training," says Brown-Johnson.

That, along with more resources for parents, and recruitment of more foster parents, all an effort to protect children from abuse.




Too many lives lost: Help prevent abuse before another child dies

by Candes Shelton

Sixty-six. That's the number of children cited in Indiana's recent child fatality report who died from abuse and neglect in a one-year period.

That's 66 children who are no longer with us. That's 66 Hoosier children too many.

The report details how some of these children died. Many at the hands of their own parents. Many who suffered heartbreaking and prolonged injuries and unspeakable pain. And many, 50 percent, were under one year of age.

These were little ones, dependent solely on those around them to care for them, and keep them safe. But instead their cries and needs were met with abuse or neglect.

Child abuse and neglect is not singular to one community — it's in every community. It's in every corner of our state, from the smallest burgs to the biggest metropolitan areas of Indiana.

It crosses racial categories, geographies, nationalities, political-party affiliations and economic status.

And it's something we can prevent.

Every one of us can do something to combat abuse and neglect before it happens — before another child becomes a number in Indiana's next child-fatality report.

As a board member with the Kids First Trust Fund, I challenge every reader to do something in 2016 to help protect a child from abuse or neglect.

If you see something, say something. Abuse thrives off of silence — children need your voice. If you see or suspect a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, call 800-800-5556. You could save a life, and possibly restore a family that is in crisis.

You can also get involved. Almost all abuse and neglect cases reveal stressors that put families in crisis — such as loss of a job, low income, a single parent feeling overwhelmed or social isolation.

Be a listening ear for a neighbor, friend or relative. Know your community resources, such as employment services, food banks, child-care programs, and refer parents in need to those sources. You can also volunteer with a child-abuse prevention organization or become a foster parent.

You also can invest in child-abuse prevention.

Purchasing a Kids First license plate is a simple, yet very worthwhile way to promote child-abuse prevention everywhere you drive, and 100 percent of all license-plate sales goes to support child-abuse and neglect prevention programs throughout Indiana. You can also make a donation at to the Kids First Trust Fund at or call 317-232-0465.

Whatever you do, do something in 2016. You have sixty-six reasons to get started.

Together, we can prevent child abuse and neglect.

How to help

•  Call (800) 800-5556 if you see or suspect a child is at risk of abuse or neglect.

•  Buy a Kids First license plate. License-plate sales go to support child-abuse and neglect prevention programs throughout Indiana.

•  Donate to the Kids First Trust Fund: or call 317-232-0465.

Candes Shelton is chairwoman of the Kids First Trust Fund, which promotes the health of children by funding programs that prevent child abuse and neglect.


New Hampshire

Report recommends more NH staff for child abuse, neglect cases


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - An organization evaluating New Hampshire's Division for Children, Youth and Families has recommended the addition of 35 staffers to assess and respond to reports of child abuse or neglect.

The division currently has 85 positions, and recently reclassified 22 vacant ones from outside the division for new child protection service works and supervisory staff.

The Maryland-based Center for Support of Families made its recommendation in an interim report Wednesday. Its final report is due at the end of November.

The contract for the independent review was approved earlier this year in response to concerns raised by law enforcement over the death of a Manchester toddler and an initial review by the Department of Justice. The center was to review 100 randomly selected cases.



Child sex abuse victims 'humiliated and retraumatised' in criminal trials

One in Four says wives and partners of abusers can often blame the victim

by Catherine Healy

Survivors of child sexual abuse often fear engaging with the criminal justice system because of "adversarial" trial practices, according to a support group for victims.

Maeve Lewis of One in Four said victims were "regularly humiliated, demeaned, undermined and retraumised" during trials.

"The criminal court is adversarial. It is not an an ideal place to tease out the complexities of sexual abuse," she told Newstalk.

Ms Lewis was speaking ahead of the launch of One in Four's annual report for 2015, which showed that almost 40% of the charity's clients had been sexually abused by a relative.

The others were targeted in their communities (11%), in the Catholic church (22%) and by strangers (15%). Some 11% were sexually abused by a number of people.

Fewer than 15% of One in Four's clients decide to make a complaint to the gardaí, Ms Lewis said.

She explained that victims who are abused by family members can be "often very ambivalent about how they feel about the abuse.

"They hate that the abuse has happened but may still love their father or brother or uncle."

Gardaí are generally professional and sensitive in dealing with abuse allegations but investigations are sometimes not carried out in an appropriate manner, she added.

According to its annual report, One in Four provided 2,563 therapy hours last year to 116 adult survivors and 40 families.

A total of 45% of its clients were men – a figure which challenges the idea that boys are not sexually abused, the charity has pointed out.

The others were abused in their communities 11%, Catholic Church 22% & strangers 15%. 11% were sexually abused by multiple abusers. #1in4

— One in Four (@oneinfourirish) October 12, 2016


The organisation also worked with 38 sex offenders and 19 wives and partners in 2015 as part of its group treatment programme.

Ms Lewis said: "Most of these offenders will never face a criminal trial because their victims do not wish to make a garda statement.

"But we have also learned that the wives and partners of the offenders play a vital role in child protection.

"Many of these women are highly dependent on their partners, and often blame the child for what has happened.

"One woman told us that her 11-year-old daughter was 'a slut who had stolen her husband from her'.

"Through our work with the wives, they come to understand the part they have played in the family dynamics that supported the abusive behaviour.

"They can then work with Tusla to keep their children safe."

Child sexual abuse has a devastating impact on men and women from all walks of life, she said.

"Many experience chronic post-traumatic stress. Some struggle with relationships and parenting. Many experience suicidal thoughts.

"Sadly, we cannot respond immediately to the people who contact us and some are waiting up to six months for an appointment.

"We know that four people have taken their own lives while on our waiting list in the past four years. This is an absolutely preventable tragedy."

Ms Lewis said the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 currently proceeding through the Oireachtas will bring in important changes that may improve victims' experiences of the criminal justice system.

She also welcomed the EU Victims' Directive of November 2015, which introduced specialist training for judges and legal professionals.

But she stressed that all cases must be properly dealt with by child protection services, however challenging this may be for social workers.

One in Four passed on 49 sex abuse allegations to Tusla child protection services last year but most were deemed to be "unfounded".

"While we appreciate the difficulty social workers face in assessing retrospective allegations, this does imply that many credible allegations will not be pursued, and children will be at risk," Ms Lewis said.



Mums told to keep child abuse allegations from family court

by Sherele Moody

LAWYERS are telling mums "to lie to the Family Court" about domestic violence and child abuse because they fear their clients will be seen as trying to alienate the other parent from the kids' lives.

The Family Court's chief justice rejected the allegation, saying there were measures in place to ensure children were safe.

However, a number of experts told ARM Newsdesk they believed if judges suspected "alienation" - which is viewed as emotional abuse of the child - they would award custody to the dangerous parent.

Child sexual assault prevention agency Bravehearts, the National Child Protection Alliance and Dr Deborah Walsh, a domestic violence expert with 20 years experience of the Family Court, confirmed it is common practice for solicitors to warn mothers to keep abuse allegations out of custody proceedings.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said she would be raising her concerns about this and other Family Court issues at a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull next week.

Bravehearts is backing a petition for the Federal Government to roll out a royal commission into Australia's family law system or to expand the terms of reference of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse so it can examine how the Family Court is "failing" children.

Ms Johnstone said she recently spoke to a mum who was told by two legal experts not to bother telling the court about concerns her daughter was being abused.

The woman reported the abuse to police but there was not enough evidence for an arrest, Ms Johnstone said.

"She was told that if she was to do that (lodge the paperwork alleging abuse) the court would frown upon it," Ms Johnstone said.

"She would be viewed by the court as a vexatious mother, bringing about these allegations and coaching her daughter in these allegations - all of the things we've been hearing for 20 years."

National Child Protection Alliance president Maurice Kriss said lawyers were so concerned about putting abuse reports before the court that some refused to represent the non-abusive clients who wanted to tell the truth.

"The solicitor in some cases will refuse to take on the case because he knows in advance the outcome and he doesn't want the stress of fighting a losing battle or, losing a case that will damage his reputation," Mr Kriss said.

"Because of equal parenting laws and attitude of judges towards equal parenting, this is something few solicitors wish to challenge."

Dr Walsh said re-adjusting the royal commission's investigation framework would ensure any Family Court failings could be investigated in front of the Australian community.

"Yes, I have heard of it happening on a number of occasions," the University of Queensland family violence researcher and lecturer said of the unorthodox legal advice.

"It's very common in domestic violence services for us to hear women be given that sort of advice.

"The commission of inquiry at the moment has uncovered a whole range of institutional abuse of children in care and so their frame of reference could be used to investigate on behalf of the children.

"People come into the family court thinking about justice and ultimately lose their children."

Family Court of Australia chief justice Diana Bryant said she doubted the legal profession was advising people to mislead judges about abuse and that there was legislation in place to protect children.

"I doubt that it is true. I hope it's not true," Chief Justice Bryant said.

"I do understand that these are people's perceptions and they arise from very complex situations.

"The act provides for matters to be raised with the court and they should be.

"No one should ever suggest it's not appropriate in any way (to raise allegations)."

Law Council of Australia Family Law Section chairwoman Wendy Kayler-Thomson said experienced lawyers would not advise their clients to lie to the Family Court.

"The Family Law Section rejects ... allegations about the way that allegations of child sexual abuse are dealt with by the Family Court of Australia," she said.

# If you are at risk of sexual assault or require support please phone Bravehearts on 1800 272 831; If you are at risk of domestic violence please phone the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Heart-broken mum lobbies for family court investigation

MORE than 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for a royal commission into Australia's family law system.

A West Australian mother started the petition in the wake of her daughter Abbey's suicide three years ago.

The 17-year-old killed herself after a family court judge forced her to spend time with her convicted child sex offender father.

"The family court system failed my little girl," the petition, supported by Bravehearts, says.

"They failed me, a protective mother, who in my attempt to protect my children from contact with their abusive father, was dismissed as a 'hysterical woman' and a 'vindictive wife'."

Abbey's mother goes on to describe how the family court believed her daughter should have a "meaningful relationship with both parents".

"The court restricts children from doctor and counselling visits during legal proceedings, discounts their word against a parent's, views reports of sexual assault as vindictive and favours the most financially stable parent," Abbey's mother says.

"It's shameful and dangerous."

To sign the petition visit

# If you are at risk of sexual assault or require support phone Bravehearts on 1800 272 831.



5 Reasons Why the United States Needs to Bring Back Orphanages

by Regan Long

The United States is lacking a number of things. The most powerful country in the world seems to be slipping on several issues, sadly, many of which include families.

“If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Teresa had it right when her transcending words resonated with millions, globally, with the idea of doing what you can, with the resources you have, for those nearest you.

16.2 million children in our country are not getting fed as they should.

Over 76% of child fatalities happen before the age of 3 ... and at the hands of parents.

We seem to be living in a time where vicious behaviors and tactics are coherently cycling from one generation to the next.

Would it be different with a proper upbringing?

Would times change if our children had a different environment, being subjected to more of and less of certain behaviors and treatment?

What is a way that we could help heal, empower, and protect our children? I think one way to begin this is our need to bring back orphanages.

As drastic of an idea as this may first appear, please hear me out as I provide 5 substantial reasons why this would only benefit the United States.

1. Bringing back orphanages would not only be giving our children a fighting, thriving chance to succeed, but the opportunity for each child to feel safe and to feel loved. Our children would no longer feel hungry or in harm's way.

Bringing orphanages back would lower the chances of childhood violence and would higher the chances of our children getting the education they both need and deserve.

2. Bringing back orphanages would also impact our welfare system that we pay into that is supposed to be helping the financial status of families in need (and in turn physical and emotional well being of our children), but truly is it in many cases? I can't count how many times this money is being used for anything but the benefit of our children in poverty situations.

I grew up in this system. My mother and I lived off of the government and from an early age, it was both humbling and raw as I was able to see the difference of those who needed this support as a way to bounce back and others who took advantage of this continued funding.

3. Bringing back orphanages would be putting more people into the workforce — the construction and development and restoration of buildings to create these orphanages would be creating a surplus of wanted jobs. I think of the millions of dollars that a city can spend on a stadium for their athletes.

No judgement there, I enjoy sports, and I get it. But what I don't get is why a city can't fund the money to house and protect its children...its very own children.

4. Bringing back orphanages would be keeping people in work force — likewise, this would be a project, a movement, a complete undertaking that would not only grow tens of thousands of jobs across the country, but keep these jobs. From those who are constructing and restoring or maintaining the up keep of the orphanages, to the individuals who will be hands on working with our children, managing the buildings, administrators, housekeeping, food services, etc.

Truly, my Friends, the opportunities here are endless.

5. Bringing back orphanages would also force our foster system that we currently have in place to have a drastic shift. Our foster system is filled with phenomenal, selfless, incredible individuals, parents and families, true advocates who I wish we had more of in this world; those to help take care of and love and nurture children.

Likewise, we also have a foster system in place that is corrupt and broken in many places. Children being placed in homes that are completely unfit and unstable, many of these families doing it for the income only. Or on the flip side, children are being kept with their biological families when those environments are even more unfit and unstable. One of the most forefront reasons being the very fine line between neglect and abuse. At what point does not appropriately caring for a child become physical or emotional abuse?

From personal experience, I have seen both ends of the spectrum and it's been both humbling and emotionally scarring to work with children who have endured the latter.

An orphanage can be defined as a residential institution for the care and education of orphans. However, I'd love to bring back these residential homes for the care and education and safety of our children. Yes, our children who are just looking for one person in their life to be a safety net - a constant - someone to believe in them and love them.

Every child, no matter what situation they are born into, deserves to be fed 3 meals a day and have a roof over their head, and not have to live in fear.

Just as our new modern day saint Mother Teresa has said, “Do not wait for leaders. Do it alone, person - to - person.” How would the United States transform if we began to put family first? To put our children first? What would happen in the communities and cities that began to embrace a revolutionary change such as this?

I guarantee society would see a major shift as far as efficiency and productivity if we brought orphanages back. When we decide to make a revolutionary change to protect and ensure the care and safety of our future, that of our children, only then will we begin to see real, true, lasting change.

Written by Regan Long from The Real Deal of Parenting



Joyful reunion for abducted 4-year-old Lakeland girl, family

by Eric Pera

LAKELAND – Rebecca Lewis hopped from a plane Tuesday afternoon at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport into the outstretched arms of loved ones and well-wishers.

It was a tearful, joyful reunion for the diminutive 4-year-old, who officials said was abducted Saturday morning from her Lakeland home by an estranged family friend.

West Wild Hogs, 31, of Seale, Ala., was apprehended Monday afternoon in Memphis and the child was recovered safely. Officials credit a multi-state Amber Alert with her rescue.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has said that it will be up to the State Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office to decide whether Hogs will face state or federal charges. He did not know if or when Hogs will be returned to Polk County.

Rebecca was transported home by agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. She was accompanied by Polk sheriff's Detective Maria Sorenson, who said through a sheriff's spokeswoman that the child showed no signs of trauma.

Once in the air “she fell asleep,” said Donna Wood. “When she woke up, she was playing with some toys. She was perfectly calm and handled the flight well.”

Once Rebecca touched down in Lakeland she was quickly ushered into the arms of her parents, Luther Lewis and Melissa Schell. After a quick, private reunion, all three entered the airport terminal for more hugs.

“She's happy to be home,” said Oma Mae Lewis, Rebecca's grandmother, the only member of the child's immediate family to address reporters. “Let's go take our baby home.”

Oma Mae Lewis was quick to thank Hogs, whose given name was Matthew Clark Pybus before he legally changed it, for not harming her granddaughter.

She asked members of the media to not vilify Hogs, who authorities said has a history of depression and bipolar disorder, and once lived with the Lewises in Lakeland.

“Be proud that he took good care of her,” Oma Mae Lewis said. “We have no idea what Matt was thinking.”

Hogs was arrested Monday afternoon following a tip by an employee at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the employee spotted the Alabama man near the front of the hospital, having recognized him from an Amber Alert photograph.

Hogs surrendered to Memphis police without incident, the paper reported. Questions remain as to why Hogs was at the hospital.

Authorities throughout Tennessee had been tracking Hogs since early Monday morning when he was spotted at a Nashville convenience store.

Rebecca's ordeal began with her abduction early Saturday from her home at the Lazy Dazy Retreat in north Lakeland.

Judd said during a Monday news conference that it's unclear whether Hogs entered the Lewis household or found her outside. He said Hogs resided with the family until two years ago when he was kicked out for pulling a gun on Melissa Schell.

Authorities have provided the following account of events surrounding Rebecca's abduction:

Hogs left home Oct. 3 with his wife, telling her he had a surprise to show her. They drove up Interstate 75 from Alabama, though officials aren't yet certain how far north they went.

Hogs' wife eventually tired of the travel and contacted relatives to come to take her home. Her husband continued his journey, traveling south to his grandmother's home in Polk City, where he stayed Friday night.

Saturday morning, after his grandmother left for work, Hogs picked up Rebecca. Her 16-year-old sister last saw her sleeping in her bed at 9 that morning. Rebecca was discovered missing about 9:45 a.m.

Hogs and Rebecca had breakfast at a nearby McDonald's, where they were caught on a surveillance camera.

After searching the area for Rebecca, her family contacted the Sheriff's Office at 11:12 a.m. Saturday to report her missing. An Amber Alert was issued at 5:34 that afternoon. Amber Alerts were later issued in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky.

The girl and Hogs were next seen on a gas station security camera in Forsythe, Ga., just off I-75 about 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The pair also was reportedly seen in the area of Cove Lake State Park in Campbell County, Tenn., by a park ranger who reported seeing a man and child matching their descriptions, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported.



Group reveals people are taking their own lives while waiting for appointment

by The Irish Examiner

One in four children in Ireland have been sexually abused, according to support group 'One in Four'.

The group, which provides professional help for people who have experienced sexual abuse during childhoodm, is releasing a report today.

They also revealed that 116 adult survivors of child sexual abuse received counselling last year.

The support group says it provided a total of 2,563 therapy hours.

They say treatment for sex offenders and their families is the key to keeping children safe from sexual harm.

Executive Director of the organisation, Maeve Lewis, says some victims experience suicidal thoughts.

She said: "The impact of sexual abuse doesn't stop when the person grows up and many of our clients experience depression.

"But what is really tragic is that because we have a waiting list, and sometimes people are waiting up to six months for an appointment, we have found in the past four years that four people had actually taken their own lives before we were able to offer them an appointment.

"If there were more resources in services like One in Four, then it's very possible that lives would be saved."



I Knew It Wasn't Right': Winona Woman Speaks Out About Sexual Abuse By Priest

by Liz Collin

WINONA, Minn. (WCCO) A Minnesota woman calls it the untold story in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. Jeanie Hansen says a priest beat and raped her when she went to college in Winona. Other women came forward with similar claims against the same man but the priest was never publicly named as doing anything wrong.

“I grew up looking to the church when you needed help. That's what the church was about,” Hansen said.

Sunday Mass always marked the start of a new week for Hansen. Hansen grew up in southern Minnesota, went to an all-girls Catholic high school, settling on a similar setting in Winona for college.

She pursued a career in religious administration at St. Teresa's in the late 70s. She met Father John Surprenant, the chaplain at the college, in her second year.

“You have to understand he was one of the only men on campus. Girls would hang on every word,” Hansen said.

Hansen would see him every day at noon Mass. She says Father Surprenant seemed to enjoy her company.

“Now I look and I think he kind of was grooming me and giving me attention,” Hansen said. “Nobody thought anything about going to his house,” she added.

It's why her junior year when she was 20 years old, Hansen stopped by one winter night. She remembers having trouble with her boyfriend back home at the time. She says Surprenant told her she struggled receiving male affection as he started to kiss her.

“I knew it wasn't right. I knew a priest shouldn't be doing that,” Hansen said.

Hansen left, with what she could only describe as a splice in memory.

“I was very concerned about that splice because I knew there was more to the story,” she said.

It wasn't until 25 years later when the news surfaced about the sex abuse scandal in Boston that Hansen started therapy.

When, she says, she started to put together those missing pieces.

“Father John had taken me up the steps to his bedroom and had locked the door,” she recalled.

Hansen says he beat, choked and sexually assaulted her that night.

“He told me that if I didn't let him do what he wanted me to do I'd never see my family again,” she said.

Bob Schwiderski has spoken out for clerical abuse victims for decades in Minnesota as state director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.

“There's no doubt in my mind that the number of people that were abused as adults would surpass those that have been abused as children,” he said.

A survivor himself, Schwiderski put together a list of 336 names of alleged abusers published in court documents or news reports. Not only Catholic priests, but anyone who used religion to make contact with victims.

“If the adult survivors would step forward, step out of the shadows like what we've seen with the children who were abused, the numbers would shock people,” he said.

Mike Finnegan is an attorney with a firm at the forefront of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

“It's very common and there's a real problem that hasn't been exposed yet,” he said.

Finnegan says Jeff Anderson Associates represents about 350 people who say they were abused as minors by clergy members and just five clients who say they were abused as adults.

Finnegan is convinced that number would grow if Minnesota law read differently.

Three years ago, Minnesota enacted a law that gave child sex abuse victims a window to file civil lawsuits no matter when the abuse happened. That expired in May. But, if you're 18 or older, the clock starts ticking from when the abuse last happened. Survivors get six years to take civil action or up to 10 years for a criminal case. Victim advocates now want the legislature to give adults more time to finally come forward.

After finally sharing her story with the Winona Diocese in 2002, it paid for a few years of Jeanie Hansen's therapy.

“I never wanted to punish the church. I just wanted help to heal,” she said.

But she says she was told by the Diocese she was taking too long to heal, so Hansen's been paying herself ever since.

“I often said that I felt like I was being raped all over again by how awful the church treated me,” Hansen said.

St. Teresa's closed in Winona in 1989, the same year Father John Surprenant died. Despite holding the secrets for so long, Hansen says she's lived a happy life with a supportive family. Going public now with the hope it helps others do what she couldn't for decades.

“Maybe if I say something other women would have the courage to come forward,” Hansen said.

More than 850 people came forward in all as part of the Child Victim's Act. Five hundred were claims made against Minnesota Catholic clergy.

A civil lawsuit was filed against Surprenant for forcing a female teenager to have sex with him for three years, and exploiting other students. It was the second case in 1987 charging the Winona Diocese for negligently failing to prevent a priest from committing sexual abuse.

Ben Frost is the director of public relations for the Diocese of Winona.

The following is a statement:

“The Diocese of Winona takes every accusation of pastoral abuse seriously and is willing to offer pastoral assistance in every case. Cases are evaluated on an individual basis to determine what assistance is appropriate. Out of concern for all of those involved, the Diocese does not publically comment on individual cases. The Diocese of Winona's Review Board assists in making determinations and recommendations regarding pastoral assistance. The Review Board is comprised of religious and lay persons including mental health professionals. Our goal in the Diocese of Winona is to ensure the safety and protection of all of God's people. We encourage anyone who has suffered abuse to immediately report the abuse to local authorities or our Victim Assistance Coordinator.”



Children in violent homes need understanding, compassion to heal

by Andrea Shook

Between 2012 and 2014, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations reported 236,329 individuals abused at the hands of an intimate partner in Tennessee.

These are just the reported cases. In reality, there is an even greater number of children being exposed to violence in the home each year.

If there is any good news about the pervasive public health threat of domestic violence, it is that there is more awareness about the impact of early exposure to domestic violence on children than ever before. Twenty years ago, domestic violence wasn't something that was discussed as openly as it is now.

Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee conducts numerous training seminars around the state on the impact of domestic violence on the developing child, and the same question frequently comes up: "How do I help a child I know is being exposed to domestic violence in the home?"

This is a complicated issue, because oftentimes there isn't enough evidence to prove the child is at risk for direct harm, and the presence of domestic violence in the home isn't a reason in and of itself to open a child abuse investigation. A child witnessing domestic violence may constitute child abuse in the eyes of the law, but growing up in an environment where he or she learns that "violence is the answer" can have deep and complex effects on the child's personality and emotional well-being.

There are very specific things you can do to help a child who may be living in a home where violence is present. The most important thing is to support the non-offending parent. Though it may be hard for someone who has never experienced domestic violence to understand, a victim knows his or her situation best, and may choose to remain in the home because it is the safest choice at the time. By not blaming the non-offending parent, he or she can feel more supported to care for the child.

If you are able to connect with children who are living in a home where domestic violence is present, talk with them about violence. Young children may not know how to verbalize their feelings. They may act out in anger, or they may become withdrawn. Allowing the child to express themselves freely and telling them that it's okay to feel the way they do will help them feel that someone is listening, that someone cares and most importantly, will keep them from thinking that the violence is normal.

Most individuals who witness domestic violence early in life do not grow up to abuse. Statistics show, however, that domestic violence is cyclical, and that children who are exposed to it are more likely to become perpetrators or victims themselves later in life. Early intervention is critical, and the support and love of a stable, nurturing adult the child trusts can have a tremendously positive impact on children exposed to violence.

Safe Haven Cheatham County, also called "Courtney's House" in honor of a family member of president Kaye Chandler who was killed by her husband, can provide support to survivors of domestic violence. They can be reached by phone at 615-681-5863.

Additionally, the Tennessee Statewide Domestic Violence Helpline, 1-800-356-6767, is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to connect you with resources in your area or to speak with confidentially with a counselor.

Courtney's House--the location of which is known only to a handful of people including the local police for the safety of the women and children who live there--is always looking for donations of toiletries, women's' hygiene products, and food.

Andrea Shook is a Child Abuse Prevention Specialist with Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee, a Nashville-based organization. Their Nurturing Parenting Program provides free, interactive, in-home parenting classes on child development, communication, and positive parent-child relationships. She has worked in non-profits in the mid-Cumberland region for three years, including a domestic violence shelter. For more information about Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee you can visit and can reach Andrea at or 615-418-7936.



Denton couple arrested in 'severe trauma' case

by Todd Unger

DENTON -- A Denton man was behind bars on Tuesday, accused of causing seriously bodily injury to a young family member.

John Tufts, 45, is facing a $400,000 bond after investigators say he was responsible for causing "severe trauma" to the private parts of a child.

"This is a little bit higher up the ladder, when it comes to controlling our emotions," said Denton Officer Shane Kizer about the difficult details of the case.

According to an arrest affidavit, a child was brought to Cook Children's Hospital in August with bleeding and bruising that required "surgery and the placement of a colostomy bag."

Tufts told investigators that the child had been in a bathroom and used a Barbie doll to cause the injuries.

But multiple staff at the hospital dispute that. One doctor told detectives that the injuries were consistent with "abuse" and were "unlikely self-inflicted."

Tufts has not been charged with any type of sexual assault.

Kizer says the child has since been removed from the home and is facing a lengthy recovery.

"There will be long-term, lasting effects and more surgeries in the future," Kizer said.

Georgiana Tufts, John's wife, was also arrested for injury to a child by omission. Her warrant indicates she waited two days to get proper medical treatment for the child.

Her warrant does point out she wasn't at home at the time of the incident, and says she claims the child had previously tried to do something similar.

She declined to be interviewed or discuss the case when News 8 spoke to her on Tuesday.

Kizer said the couple's explanation for what happened is "not at all" plausible. He said it took about two months to shore up their case because the child has been undergoing therapy sessions.

In the affidavit, much of which is too graphic to share, it details how the child allegedly told a therapist that she was fearful of a "bad guy" and "monster," who she identified as Tufts.

Child Protective Services has launched a parallel investigation as Denton police continue their investigation.


United Kingdom

People with bipolar disorder more than twice as likely to have suffered child adversity

by The University of Manchester

A University of Manchester study which looked at more than thirty years of research into bipolar, found that people with the disorder are 2.63 times more likely to have suffered emotional, physical or sexual abuse as children than the general population.

In the study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry , the researchers identified 19 studies from hundreds published between 1980 and 2014 which gathered data from millions of patient records, interviews and assessments.

By applying rigorous statistical analysis to the data, the researchers compared the likelihood of people with and without bipolar disorder having adverse childhood experiences, such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The findings revealed a strong link between these events and subsequent diagnosis.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme depressive and manic states which impair quality of life and increase suicide risk. An urgent need in this field is better understanding of risk factors that can be used to improve detection and treatment.

Dr Filippo Varese, one of the study authors, said: "Much research into bipolar has focussed on bio-genetics, but following previous work on schizophrenia, we felt that a similar effect could be found in bipolar. The link between experiencing a troubled childhood and subsequently being diagnosed with this serious condition is extremely strong."

The authors defined childhood adversity as experiencing neglect, abuse, bullying or the loss of a parent before the age of 19. There was a particularly strong link between emotional abuse with this four times more likely to have happened to people with bipolar. However, the loss of a parent did not raise the risk significantly.

The 'meta-analysis' approach has been applied in this study for the first time in relation to bipolar disorder and childhood adversity and, as a result, the findings represent a much larger pool of data than has been previously available.

The findings have implications for those providing treatment, as they can factor in these childhood experiences when developing personalised therapy plans.

Dr Jasper Palmier-Claus, the lead author, added: "Handled sensitively, enquiries about a person's childhood experiences can make a significant difference to how treatment proceeds and the types of support that can be put into place."

The paper, 'The relationship between childhood adversity and bipolar disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis', was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry .



Justice in Motion: Child predators — what you need to know

Child sex abuse is profoundly under-reported.

by Sarah Glorian

In 2014, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office, in collaboration with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington, hosted an all-day Project Safe Childhood training about child predators. The keynote was Cory Jewell Jensen, M.S., who has worked with sex predators for nearly three decades. From various sources listed below, here are some things people should think about:

Child sex abuse is profoundly under-reported:

• Studies find only 5 percent to 13 percent child victims of sexual abuse report the abuse when it occurs.

• Only one in every five girls and one in every 10 boys report abuse.

• More than half of the offenders report other adults knew something was happening and did not report it to law enforcement.

• 12 to 18 cases are reported for every 100 incidents of child sex abuse, and only 3 percent to 6 percent result in convictions.

• As a result, delays in intervention increase the severity and escalation of the abuse.

Who are the offenders:

• The majority of offenders are people the child knows, e.g., family, friends, teachers, coaches, pastors, etc.—often people well-liked, respected and “vouched for” in their community—less than 5 percent are strangers.

• 36 percent of child molesters abuse both boys and girls.

• Offenders who abuse young children are three times more likely to abuse both boys and girls.

• 66 percent of incest offenders and 69 percent of intra-familial offenders also victimized out-of-home victims.

MYTH: Most sex offenders were child victims of sexual abuse themselves.

• Pre-polygraph offenders self-reported they were sexually abused as a child: 61 percent

• Post-polygraph: only 30 percent

• E.g., only 11.6 percent of male childhood sex abuse victims were arrested for subsequent sexual offense.

MYTH: Offenders started committing sexual abuse as adults.

• Pre-polygraph offenders self-reported they started committing sexual abuse as a juvenile: 27 percent

• Post-polygraph: 76 percent offenders started committing sexual abuse as a juvenile

• 35 percent to 40 percent of all sexual crimes against children are committed by juveniles

• 40 percent of “acquaintance rapes” are committed by juveniles

• Adult offenders report the average age of their first criminal sex offense was at age 14.

Many sex offenders dramatically underreport the number of victims they have abused.

• Pre-polygraph: 2.9 victims

• Post-polygraph: 11.6 victims


FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit Offender Typology

• Identify potential target and gather information about needs and vulnerabilities of the victim.

• Establish a connection through relationship, activity, and/or organization, including alienating or ingratiating self to caretakers.

• Introduce sexualized talk, touch, play, nudity, porn, etc. and prevent disclosure, repeat victimization, encourage victim compliancy/collaboration.

• Offender supplies both emotional and tangible things to fill “void” in victim's life/situation.

• Attention, recognition, affection, kindness, romance, intimidation, e.g., gifts, drugs/alcohol, privileges, relaxed rules, breaking down roles/boundaries usually between children/adults, student/teacher, coach/player, etc.

The Adults: Community members and the victim(s)' caregiver(s) are also groomed by child predators.

• Boundaries are tested in front of adults and adults dismiss lesser concerns as inconsequential. The predator then continues to push boundaries and escalate predatory behavior. The child has now seen the adult has enabled or permitted the questionable behavior and not advocated for the protection of the child. As a result, this undermines the likelihood and sense of safety for the child to feel comfortable reporting future abuse.

• Predators ingratiate themselves in their community and gain the trust of adults through community, religious, sports activities, etc., often resulting in the adults minimizing “red flags” or publically vouching for the predators.


• Treatment and risk assessments for sex offenders' likelihood to reoffend are inadequate to predict or reduce recidivism.

• 20 percent of sex offenders are psychopaths who lack empathy, conscience or remorse.

The takeaway:

• We, as members of society, have an obligation to protect the safety and well-being for the children in our community.

• If you see it, report it.

• If you suspect something, don't dismiss your intuition—seek more information.

• Err on the side of raising concerns to the appropriate authorities—this type of crime is covert and insidious—trust your instincts.

Other resources:

And a reminder, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; to get help, contact:

• Domestic Violence Center of Grays Harbor County / (800) 818-2194 / (Facebook)

• Crisis Support Network in Pacific County / (800) 435-7276 /

• Children's Advocacy Center / (800) 959-1467 / (360) 249-0005 /

• Beyond Survival / (360) 533-9751 / (888) 626-2640 /

• Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence /

• Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline / (800) 562-6025

To find out if you are eligible for Northwest Justice Project services:

For cases including youth (Individualized Education Program and school discipline issues), driver license reinstatement for non-payment of court fines, debt collection cases, including medical debt, and tenant evictions, please call for a local intake appointment at (360) 533-2282 or toll free (866) 402-5293. No walk-ins, please.

For all other legal issues, please call our toll-free intake and referral hotline commonly known as “CLEAR” (Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral) at 1-888-201-1014, Mondays through Fridays 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. If you are a senior, 60 and over, please call 1-888-387-7111; you may be eligible regardless of income. Language interpreters are available. You can also complete an application for services at Be sure to also check out our law library at:


from ICE


ICE investigation results in 17 sex trafficking indictments in Minnesota

A sophisticated, widespread organization was dismantled; 12 are in custody

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A federal indictment unsealed late Tuesday charges 17 members of an international sex trafficking organization with transporting hundreds of female sex slaves from Thailand and trafficking them throughout the United States.

This indictment resulted from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from the following agencies:  Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, St. Paul (Minnesota) Police Department, Cook County (Illinois) Sheriff's Office, Anoka County (Minnesota) Sheriff's Office.  This investigation was also supported by the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2), and numerous other state and local law enforcement agencies across the country.

The charged defendants include 12 from Thailand and five U.S. citizens. Eleven defendants were arrested Tuesday at various locations in Minnesota, California, Illinois, Georgia and Hawaii.  One charged defendant was previously arrested in Belgium.  Four defendants remain at-large.

The indictment and arrests were made by the following agency heads:  U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch; U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger, District of Minnesota; Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division; Special Agent in Charge Alex Khu of HSI St. Paul; and Special Agent in Charge Shea Jones of the IRS-CI St. Paul Field Office.

“Human trafficking is a degrading crime that undermines our nation's most basic promises of liberty and security,” said Attorney General Lynch. “This case demonstrates the Justice Department's determination to hold traffickers accountable and to help the survivors of this appalling practice reclaim their freedom and dignity. As part of our nationally recognized Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiative, the District of Minnesota is playing a crucial role in those vital efforts, and I want to commend all of the team members whose cooperation led to today's action.”

“This week's arrests reflect HSI's global reach and ongoing efforts to dismantle criminal organizations that engage in human trafficking activities,” said Special Agent in Charge Alex Khu, of HSI St. Paul. “HSI also remains firmly committed to rescuing victims and getting them the help they desperately need to begin recovering from the depredations forced upon them by these criminals.”

“The 17 people charged in this indictment ran a highly sophisticated sex trafficking scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “They promised women in Thailand a chance at the American dream, but instead exploited them, coerced them and forced them to live a nightmare. In short, the victims lived like modern-day sex slaves. Today's indictment is our ninth sex trafficking case since 2014, but it is the first that targets an entire organization. We will continue to work closely with our federal and local law enforcement partners to target and dismantle these types of far-reaching organizations.”

“The Justice Department created the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative to bring together federal law enforcement agencies to enhance our impact in investigating and prosecuting human trafficking,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta.  “This case is an outstanding example of these efforts.  We will continue to work tirelessly with them to bring traffickers to justice and vindicate the rights of vulnerable victims.”

“As this operation clearly shows, human trafficking — in this case the trafficking of vulnerable Thai women for sex — knows no boundaries,” said Sgt. Sean Johnson, an investigator with the Saint Paul Police Department's Human Trafficking Unit. “We're proud to be part of a community in which agencies work together to send a clear message to anyone who would traffic or purchase women for sex: Your actions will not be tolerated here, and we will hold you accountable for your actions.”

“From coast to coast, IRS Criminal Investigation is determined to team with our law enforcement partners to track down the individuals who facilitate and launder the proceeds of sex trafficking crimes,” said Shea Jones, special agent in charge of the St. Paul Field Office. “Those who seek to enrich themselves by exploiting the desperate circumstances of their victims will not be tolerated in our cities.”

According to the indictment, which was returned under seal on Sept. 28, since at least 2009, the criminal organization has trafficked at least hundreds of women, which the organization refers to as “flowers,” from Bangkok, Thailand, to various cities across the United States, including Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, and Austin, among others. Once in the United States, victims are placed in houses of prostitution where they are forced to work long hours — often all day, every day — having sex with strangers. The victims are not allowed to leave the prostitution houses unless accompanied by a member of the criminal organization.  

The indictment further indicates that victims are often from impoverished backgrounds and speak little English. Recruiters exploit these vulnerabilities during the recruitment process. Victims are promised access to a better life in the United States, in exchange for an exorbitant “bondage debt” of between $40,000 and $60,000. Before being transported to the United States, the organization typically arranged to have professional-quality escort-style photographs taken of the victims, which were ultimately sent to traffickers in the United States and used to advertise the victims for sex on websites like and The organization also encouraged victims to have breast implants in Thailand to make the victims “more appealing” to potential sex buyers in the United States. The cost of the cosmetic surgery was added to the victims' bondage debt.

Also in the indictment, the organization engaged in widespread visa fraud to facilitate the international transportation of the victims. Members of the criminal organization assisted the victims in obtaining fraudulent visas and travel documents. As a part of obtaining visa documents, members of the criminal conspiracy gathered personal information from the victims, including the location of the victims' families in Thailand. This information was later used to threaten victims who became non-compliant or tried to flee the organization in the United States.

The indictment alleges that Sumalee Intarathong, aka “Joy,” served as a boss/trafficker before her arrest in Belgium Aug. 5. Each trafficked victim was “owned” by Intarathong or another boss/trafficker, until the victim could repay the bondage debt. The trafficker arranged for victims to travel from Thailand to the United States and placed the victims in a house of prostitution somewhere in the United States.

According to the indictment, other members of the criminal organization served as “house bosses,” who owned one or more of the houses of prostitution to which the flowers were trafficked. House bosses were responsible for day-to-day operations of the houses of prostitution they controlled, which included advertising the “flowers” for commercial sex, maintaining the houses of prostitution, scheduling sex buyers, and ensuring that a significant portion of the money earned by the victims was routed back to the trafficker/boss to pay down the bondage debt. The house boss kept the remainder of the money earned by the victim. The victim was not allowed to keep any money, except for the occasional tip offered by a sex buyer.

According to the indictment, other members of the criminal organization serve as “facilitators.” These individuals were primarily responsible for laundering the criminal proceeds of the organization and for directing the movement of victims within the United States.

According to the indictment, others among the co-conspirators served as “runners.” The runners were typically men who were paid, in part, in sex with the victims. Runners accompanied the victims anytime they were permitted to leave a house of prostitution. Victims were allowed to obtain personal items, to travel at the direction of the criminal organization, or to deposit money into bank accounts set-up by the organization for the victims to repay their bondage debt. Runners were also sometimes asked to rent hotel rooms, apartments or other facilities for the organization.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melinda Williams and Laura Provinzino are prosecuting this case with the assistance of the DOJ Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

Defendant Information: (at-large defendants are not listed)

Alleged Boss/Trafficker — Sumalee Intarathong, 55, of Liege, Belgium (Incarcerated)

Alleged House Bosses —

  • Chabaprai Boonluea, 42, Winder, Georgia
  • Watcharin Luamseejun, 46, city unknown
  • Pantilla Rodpholka, 31, Mount Prospect, Illinois

Alleged Facilitators —

  • Noppawan Lerslurchachai, 35, Lomita, California
  • Khanong Intharathong, 44, Dunwoody, Georgia
  • Andrew Flanigan, 51, Winder, Georgia
  • Patcharaporn Saengkham, 41, Los Angeles, California
  • Supapon Sonprasit, 31 St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Thi Vu, 48, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Todd Vassey, Lahaina, 54, Hawaii
  • John Zbracki, 59, Lakeville, Minnesota



How one brave survivor overcame childhood trauma

by Charlotte Grieve

Kallena is a 52-year-old survivor of childhood sexual abuse who still lives with the effects of the trauma she experienced in her younger years.

The brave survivor tells SBS that she was abused by her mother and raped by her father on a regular basis from age four to 25.

“As a little kid, when your parents tell you the way we do things in our family is the correct way, you believe them,” Kallena tells SBS.

“You've got no context. You're not aware of comparisons. You can't think, ‘hang on, what's happening in our family is not the right thing, it's not okay for me to be raped at night by my dad.”

Kallena's parents were Latvian refugees who came to Australia after World War Two under the White Australia Policy. Her mother, she says, was also abused as a child by her parents. “My parents grew up through war and that's very traumatic in itself. That was a very difficult experience for them. But it's not why they behaved the way they did to their children. There are an awful lot of people who are refugees who I know are nothing like my father and mother.”

Kallena says it has taken her almost half her life to talk about the trauma. “I was so totally ashamed, I was able to black it out and deny to myself that this exists."

But in 2001, Kallena's daughter turned four years old; the age that her childhood abuse began. It was only then that the reality of the trauma she had endured hit home. “It sounds like a cliché but I saw myself in my daughter.”

Her mental health deteriorated, she experienced an emotional break-down and she quit her job.

“I really couldn't function at all anymore. I ended up a total recluse. I couldn't talk, the flashbacks and everything was so totally overwhelming.”

After 15 years of therapy, Kallena says she is now able to talk openly about her experience and is starting to heal. She has also begun looking for work again.

“People [who have experienced childhood trauma] are able to be helped but only if they recognise the root cause of the issue.

“…I now know I have the capacity to be a very high functioning person who can contribute a fair bit and do well in society.”

Tip of the iceberg

Kallena's personal story of childhood trauma is not rare. A new report released by the Blue Knot Foundation estimates that five million Australian adults have been affected by childhood trauma, including those who have experienced emotional and physical abuse, and neglect.

The 2015 study was based on a US-based longitudinal study on childhood trauma involving over 17,000 participants; data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; and information collected from 2,465 phone calls to the Blue Knot Foundation's Professional Support Line.

President of Blue Knot Foundation, Dr Cathy Kezelman says this statistic may seem high but it is a conservative estimate, perhaps only the tip of the iceberg, as many child abuse survivors never speak up about what happened.

“Often people will go through life blaming themselves for what happened,” says Dr Kezelman. “That feeling of shame is very withering, very profound. It stops a lot of people coming forward, seeking help.”

Dr Kezelman, a survivor of childhood abuse herself, says that such unresolved trauma can have a ripple effect on the individual, their family and society.

“This is probably our most significant public health issue right now. It underpins a majority of our social issues, criminal justice, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, you go through the list.”

Dr Kezelman believes the first step to help survivors recover is for the community to assist in creating ‘safe spaces' where survivors can re-wire their understanding of relationships and trust. Long-term support and professional counselling services are also advantageous to recovery.

“When people have been hurt by negative relationships they need positive relationships to heal that.”

Kallena agrees. She says she was “lucky” to have been able to find a therapist who was equipped to provide the intensive and long-term counselling she required.

“If I hadn't been able to access the appropriate therapy, I honestly don't believe I'd be alive right now,” Kallena states.

She encourages survivors to acknowledge their experience and believe that it is possible to obtain the support needed to recover and live a fulfilling adult life.

“Issues that arise from [childhood trauma] are certainly treatable. “[You] are able to recover from it, with the right help.”

If this article has raised issues for you or you need to talk to someone, contact Lifeline on 131 11 14.

Adult survivors of childhood trauma can also call the Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380 from 9am-5pm, Monday to Sunday.

This week marks Mental Health Week, which runs until Saturday 15 October: #MentalHealthWeek #WMHD16



Startling domestic violence, child abuse statistics for southwest Virginia

Dickenson Co. tops the state in abuse cases

by Olivia Bailey

VIRGINIA - Virginia officials continue to dedicate resources for alarming numbers of domestic violence cases in the state. Victims' advocates in Southwest Virginia are making sure they are communicating to reduce the number of cases in our area.

Washington County deputies have responded to more than 205 domestic violence situations since the beginning of the year. Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp has prosecuted 190 since January 1.

Family violence advocates say even one case is too many, but Southwest Virginia is seeing extremely high numbers.

"We do find there is a strong correlation between substance abuse, high rates of family violence, which is prevalent in the southwestern part of the state, and child abuse," Kathi Roark said. Roark is the program director for the Children's Advocacy Center of Highlands Community Services.

According to statistics from the Family and Children's Trust Fund of Virginia, many localities in southwest Virginia rank higher than the state average for arrests of adults for violent offenses against a family member.

That is why several agencies around the region are emphasizing the need for communication between law enforcement and treatment facilities. Many representatives met at the end of last month for a Domestic Violence Conference sponsored by Albright Recovery & Construction.

"Our goal is not necessarily to say you need to leave the home or you need to leave the relationship, and I think sometimes that's what folks are so afraid of. But ultimately, that may not be the safest choice in the moment for them," Clinical psychologist Alysia Hooper-Thompson said. She works for Stone Mountain Health Services, which helps provide trauma-informed care to patients that includes medical, mental and behavioral health services.

The state of Virginia has made an effort in recent years to provide additional resources to agencies who assist victims. Attorney General Mark Herring announced just last week increased funds for phones that will connect victims to resource agencies. Governor Terry McAuliffe also announcing funding for law enforcement agencies to accept firearms from those charged with family abuse protective orders.

"The true reason for that is we don't want an individual who has a tendency toward abusing a family member to be able to elevate the circumstance to be able to cause further harm to a victim by using a gun against that victim," Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said.

The numbers are even more startling when we look at child abuse and neglect cases in the region.

"Children who grow up in families where there is domestic violence have heightened risk of being abused themselves," Nancy Fowler said. Fowler is the Manager of the Office of Family Violence for the Virginia Department of Social Services.

Eight of the top 15 districts with the highest rates of child abuse per 1,000 kids are located in Southwest Virginia. Dickenson County leads the state with a rate of 18.67. The state rate is less than two.

We learned about some of the resources available for people caught in domestic violence situations. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund can help victims with medical or mental health issues, as well as moving costs if needed. Director Jack Ritchie tells us they can provide up to $25,000 for recovery after a tragic situation.

"If you go to the hospital, we can pay your hospital bills. We can pay doctor's bills. If you have a jaw that's busted, we can help you with your dental bills. If your eyeglasses are busted during an assault, we can replace those," Ritchie said.

Local sheriff's departments or Commonwealth's Attorneys' offices have designated victim witness advocates who can connect those in need to the appropriate resources.


New York

These bikers may look scary, but their mission is ending child abuse

by Nancy Fischer

In a courtroom in Lockport, the small spectators' gallery was filled with what looked like motorcycle gang members.

They had a hardened look, at least one had a Mohawk, and all wore boots, chains, and black leather cuts - vests emblazoned with patches, including a skull and a fist.

It was no doubt intimidating, and that's the whole point.

The crowd all wore a large patch on their backs with a curious motto, Bikers Against Child Abuse.

They were there on a mission to form a protective barrier in court around a 16-year-old girl at the sentencing of the man who raped her, carnival worker Michael E. Freeman. The young girl was pregnant from the rape, faced with the difficult decision to end the pregnancy, said Deputy District Attorney Holly E. Sloma, who called the crime, “reprehensible.”

Sloma said it was also her first interaction with the Bikers Against Child Abuse organization, or B.A.C.A., a 21-year-old international organization with over 8,000 members in 11 countries, but whose Western New York/Buffalo Chapter is relatively new.

The Niagara County Court sentencing of Freeman on Sept. 7 was the bikers' group's first appearance in any local court.

Sloma said she had no idea the bikers would be filling up the courtroom that day, but called their presence, surrounding the victim as she sat far in the corner, empowering.

“Michael Freeman was glaring across the courtroom at that victim - or at least trying to. To see this young woman surrounded by these tough individuals I think made her feel not only special, but also protected,” said Sloma. “(The victim) felt powerful with them there and she should feel that way.”

Sloma said the group had asked the judge ahead of time for permission to support the girl in the courtroom.

Empowerment of abused children is the B.A.C.A. mission.

“We are not vigilantes out there to threaten or chase the accused, but rather to make children feel safe,” said member David "Shepard" Collyer. “We are there to give them that security and comfort.”

Many B.A.C.A. members publicly identify themselves only by road names, which they have on their cuts. Each child B.A.C.A. assists is welcomed into the group with a short ceremony and also given a road name.

Frank “Riff,” Perk, secretary and public relations officers for WNY B.A.C.A. did share his identity, but he noted that abusers are dangerous criminals who would stop at nothing to avoid prosecution. He said shielding B.A.C.A. members' names protects their own families as well as the abused children.

The Western New York Chapter was formed in 2014, said Don “Rev,” Mohr, one of the nine founding members and a pastor at Tonawanda Free Methodist Church. His Biker Church outreach was an early meeting place for the group.

The chapter has provided assistance to less than 10 children in the Buffalo region so far, but it has also supported children in nearby Rochester and Syracuse, as happened in the Freeman case.

Mohr said 45 bikers came to the group's first meeting, and were fingerprinted as they arrived. By the time it was over only nine remained, said Mohr. But that number has since grown to nearly 50.

Background checks, training and 24/7 availability to help children is required of all members.

“As a pastor for 38 years, I've seen the results of child abuse in someone who is 40 years old,” Mohr said of his reason for joining B.A.C.A., “(As a pastor) I am dealing what (these victims) went through as a child.”

Buffalo Chapter President George “Igon” McNamara, a biker since his teen years, said he also joined after seeing the “after effects” of child abuse in his community.

B.A.C.A. was founded by John Paul “Chief” Lilly in 1995 in Utah. Lilly is also a mental health professional who worked with children as a play therapist. He felt there was a hole children faced when they left counseling, or were not eligible for counseling. His goal was to take the best part of being a biker, feeling like part of a group, and use that to help children.

In a national B.A.C.A. sponsored video we hear the story of “Fa” who was just 10 years-old when her stepfather started abusing her. By the time she was 15 and ready to testify against him, she was suicidal - until she met “Tombstone,” a lifelong biker and B.A.C.A. member. His chapter's members stood by her side and guarded her house 24 hours a day.

“We are scarier than the perpetrator. We are scarier than their demons,” said Tombstone in the video. “They get that any of us would take a bullet for them.”

There are B.A.C.A. groups in Syracuse and Rochester, as well as Western New York, but Perk said unlike motorcycle gangs there are no territorial boundaries and each group responds when needed, as liaisons.

A small number of B.A.C.A. members met recently with The Buffalo News to discuss the group's mission. All had personal reasons for joining. Some had seen the impact of abuse on friends or children. But none said they had been abuse victims themselves.

“Flipper,” a woman who drives a pink motorcycle and bedazzles her patches in pink, had seen a childhood friend who was a victim.

Perk admits he joined as a skeptic after seeing a friend wrongly accused of abuse. He said he didn't want that to happen to another person.

Before B.A.C.A. can meet with an abuse victim, the case must have been reported to the police and a child's parent or guardian has to request B.A.C.A. assistance.

Perk said some kids are scared when the bikers ride up the first time, especially if it is one of the big burly bikers, but B.A.C.A. members spend time getting to know the child, welcoming him or her with their own vest with patches and a B.A.C.A teddy bear. The child also receives B.A.C.A. pins and hats in some cases. Two B.A.C.A members are assigned to assist each child and remain in close contact. B.A.C.A. support is available to accompany children to court, parole hearings, therapy or provide a physical presence as needed.

Members have regular jobs like mechanics, office workers, engineers and business owners, but they commit themselves to be available 24/7 to help victims.

“We don't take the place of the counselors, of the police or the agencies, or the families. We are there to make (children) feel safe,” said Perk.

Perk said it is their goal to never have contact with the suspects, unless they see them in court. He said police are always called first.

“If there is a threat to a child and we are the last obstacle, then we will be that obstacle, but that's not our role,” said Perk.

“As any counselor will tell you, when the fear is gone, (children) can face what happened and start to heal,” said Perk. “Our mission is a success when we are gone and there is no longer a need for us.”

Learn more about becoming a BACA member by calling (716) 222-2856 or emailing The help line is (716) 342-4107. B.A.C.A. is a 501C3 charitable organization and group meetings are held on the second Saturday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the VFW Post in Kenmore, 3554 Delaware Ave.


Can Posting Social Media Photos Stop Child Abuse?

by Amy Oztan

When Erika Burch saw a little girl being dragged around a Texas Walmart by her hair, the first thing she did was take pictures with her cellphone. Then, she confronted the girl's father, who had wrapped the girl's hair around a shopping-cart handle to punish the girl for misbehaving. When the father refused to let the girl's hair go, Burch called the police.

The police determined that they had no valid reason to arrest the father for abuse. According to Burch, the sergeant at the scene said the father had a right to discipline his child. Frustrated with the response, Burch did what more and more people do these days to get justice: She posted the pictures on Facebook.

Her post starts with a plea to make the story go viral, and it certainly did. The post has been shared almost a quarter-million times and has racked up more than 25,000 comments. Her goal seems to be to draw enough attention to the incident for the police in Cleveland, Texas, to revisit the case. Her all-caps post exclaims, "THIS IS BEYOND WRONG AND SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT IT!!!"

A recent New York Times article, which my co-hosts and I discuss on the latest episode of the Parenting Bytes Podcast, examines when it's OK to meddle in someone else's parenting choices. According to Burch, the Texas Walmart example seems pretty clear-cut: She reported that, of the hundreds of messages she's gotten about the incident, 98 percent have been supportive of her actions, and she is encouraging people to keep calling the police department about it.

Technology has made it easier than ever to blow the whistle, and viral pressure on a police department might actually work. Just a few months ago, an Oregon father was desperate to get justice for his son, whom he claimed had been hit by a babysitter. The police refused to arrest the babysitter on the grounds that the abuse would be difficult to prove, because the victim was too young to speak. So the father, Joshua Marbury, posted pictures of his son's bruises on Facebook, begging the police to do something.

The hashtag #JusticeForJacob took off. A petition aimed at the Oregon Supreme Court got more than 50,000 signatures. A GoFundMe page collected more than $7,000 to help the family with attorney fees, counseling and household expenses.

After the post was shared hundreds of thousands of times, the babysitter was indicted, and he turned himself in.

However, if you witness a child being mistreated, posting to social media probably shouldn't be your first option. According to the Child Welfare Information Agency, if you suspect child abuse you can make an anonymous call 24/7 to 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453). Their counselors have access to many different types of services and support. Of course, if you don't know the people involved and are witnessing the abuse as it happens, your best option is probably to call 911.,news-23628.html



Substance abuse cited as No. 1 reason for DCF cases

Scourge side effect

by Matt Stout

Substance abuse is the No. 1 factor in child abuse and neglect cases in Massachusetts, according to groundbreaking data that reveals for the first time how the state's drug scourge is driving its daunting child welfare caseload.

“We've always said that certain factors are prevalent in our caseload, including substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health. At least at the front door, substance abuse is a bigger proportion of what we're seeing,” Linda Spears, commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, said in a Herald interview. “Quite frankly, it's higher than any of the (other) co-occurring categories.”

Substance use was cited as a factor in more than 14,000 cases, or 30 percent, of the 47,700 total reports of abuse and neglect DCF has investigated between March and late September, according to data obtained by the Herald through a public records request.

It outpaces both allegations of domestic violence (21 percent) and mental health problems (18 percent), according to Spears.

As the state grapples with an opioid crisis that resulted in more than 1,600 fatal overdoses last year, DCF officials began mandating in March that social workers track when substance abuse is cited in an initial allegation of child abuse or neglect.

For child welfare specialists, the data confirms what they say they've been hearing for years.

“Up until this point, all we've had is anecdotal information,” said Mary McGeown, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. “We see kids who are coming into (state) care who have parents who are using or they witnessed their parents overdose.”

Erin G. Bradley, executive director of the Children's League of Massachusetts, called the hard data an “eye-opener.”

“I'd say over the next six months, it will be interesting to see if that number goes up or down and if we're starting to see some of the effects of the programs that have been started under the Baker administration,” Bradley said.

Bradley said the “massive” number of total reports over the roughly six-month span should also draw concern.

The Herald reported in August that DCF was juggling nearly 9,500 kids in foster homes and other settings, a 10 percent jump since Gov. Charlie Baker took office. At the time, experts said the spike was pushing the system to “capacity.”

As the state gets better at tracking contributing factors, the reported rate of substance abuse in child welfare cases could grow even higher, Spears said. With a technological upgrade slated for next year, officials will begin more closely documenting so-called confirmed cases of abuse, when social workers are more familiar with families and could learn of underlying problems that weren't initially obvious.

“The 30 percent, I would expect it to be higher,” Spears said. “Reporters range from experts to next-door neighbors. Not everyone has the expertise or the knowledge to know that substance abuse is happening, and they might not make mention of it in the (initial) report.”

The current data doesn't detail which substances people are using, but Spears hopes to include that next year.

DCF is already in the process of hiring five substance-abuse specialists, doubling the number tasked with assisting social workers and connecting families with help, Spears said.

The Child Welfare League of America, citing a 2008 study, estimates that 50 to 80 percent of child welfare cases involve a parent with a substance use problem, ranging from alcohol to opiates.

“But those are estimates,” said Spears, who worked for CWLA and led its 2014 investigation of DCF. “We are one of the first states in the country who are actually counting.”



Child abuse reports written off as 'unsubstantiated' with no investigation, NT royal commission hears

Child protection services did not have time to get to child abuse reports and use of force was routine in juvenile centre, commission told on first day of hearings

by Helen Davidson

Child protections services wrote off reports of possible abuse as “unsubstantiated” because they didn't have time to get to them, and the use of force inside Don Dale was routinely used as “a matter of normal conduct”, the Northern Territory royal commission has heard.

The royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory began its first public hearing in Darwin's Supreme Court on Tuesday, and also sought to head off concerns that it would deliver recommendations only to have them ignored, by calling into question Australia's “inquiry mentality” which replaced action with investigation.

The commission was called by the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in July amid national outrage at the long running mistreatment of juvenile detainees broadcast by ABC's Four Corners program.

Former NT Ombudsman Carolyn Ann Richards took the commission through parts of her 2011 report into the NT child protection system, launched after whistleblowers drew her attention to 17 children in need.

She discovered during her investigation that uninvestigated notifications of possible abuse or neglect were being finalised in the system.

She said a witness from the CIS told her: “At the end of three months after the notification had come in, if they hadn't reached it because they were overloaded or if they hadn't been able to contact the child or the family because they were moving around, or if it had been referred out to one of the regional work units and that work unit had not had time to reach it because it was overloaded, it was entered as ‘abuse/neglect not substantiated'.”

Richards earlier told the commission she found the Central Intake Service (CIS) within the department of child protection to be secretive, protective, and withholding of information.

Richards said she discovered more than 600 cases of “dummy forms” being entered straight into the final stage of the department system and recorded as needing “no further action”, covering up that the case had not been assessed or investigated.

“The minister was told that the name of the child, the date of the report, a simple outline of what the facts were, was being recorded, assessed and entered into the database, and its wasn't,” said Richards.

The minister at the time of the 2008 and 2009 incidents was Malarndirri McCarthy, now a federal senator.

Earlier, the commission heard from current national commissioner for children, Megan Mitchell, who told the court she had toured a number of detention centres around the country, including Don Dale in May.

“It was clear that isolation was frequently and routinely used and for very long periods of time,” she said, elaborating that it was for 23 hours a day for several weeks that some people were held in high security isolation.

“It was also clear that the use of force was routinely used as a matter of normal conduct of the business of the organisation, not just ... when there was an incident or to overcome an incident.”

She said the poor conditions of the facility were also breaches of human rights.

If Australia ratified the optional protocol on the convention against torture (Opcat), which it signed in 2009, independent monitoring could go through juvenile detention centres in every state and territory, she said.

She believed it was still an active issue, despite there not being the “political appetite” to ratify it in the seven years since.

This first public hearing, scheduled until Friday, is largely examining previous reports and inquiries, and questioning the authors and experts. It has uncovered more than 50 relevant inquiries conducted in the past decade, including two royal commissions and 23 independent reviews.

Counsel assisting the commission, Peter Callaghan SC, in his opening remarks said he and his co-counsel agreed with commissioner Mick Gooda's past statements that there is no need for more description of the issues, and that the enormity of past reports unacted upon invited a question.

“Do we need to confront some sort of inquiry mentality in which investigations is allowed as a substitution for action and reporting is accepted as a replacement for results? The bare fact that there has been so much said and so much written over such a long time is suggestive of a persistent failure that should not be allowed to endure.”

John Lawrence SC, said Callaghan's statement gave confidence to his clients about the commission's capacity to affect change.

Lawrence is representing Jake Roper, a former Don Dale detainee who appeared in the Four Corners episode and was at the centre of the tear gassing incident in 2014.

“We've had so many previous such reports and recommendations and yet none of them clearly have been complied with,” Lawrence told Guardian Australia.

“This inquiry is going to discover the reason for that, which hopefully will lead to the recommendations from this being genuinely effective. Thus ensuring that the disaster that was discovered in the Territory's juvenile justice system which was going on for years could never be repeated again.

Lawrence said Roper, who had traveled to Darwin from Tennant Creek for the commission, was willing to fully assist the commission.

“He's willing to give evidence, and one of the reasons is he doesn't want this thing to happen again,” said Lawrence.

It was also revealed on Tuesday that the Northern Territory government has already paid more than $57,000 in legal fees for former attorney general John Elferink.



Sexual abuse survivors' group targets local Catholic church

by Keri Blakinger

When Michael Norris was 11, he got a bad case of poison ivy at summer camp - a pretty normal childhood experience.

But that normal experience turned into lasting trauma when a Catholic priest working as a counselor at the all-boys camp invited the Kentucky pre-teen back to his cabin to "treat" the outbreak - and instead molested him, Norris alleges.

Now, more than 40 years later, Norris is trying to help today's children avoid a similar fate by spearheading a local awareness campaign targeting Catholic congregations.

Sunday, Norris and other activists with the recently relaunched Houston chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests showed up at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Sunday to tell church-goers about their awareness campaign.

As mass ended just after noon, a trio of SNAP supporters handed out flyers to worshipers leaving the downtown church.

Emblazoned with a SNAP logo, the handouts listed names of 18 clergy members that have been accused of child sexual abuse - and have ties to the Houston area.

"This is all about awareness, trying to prevent kids from being abused," Norris told the Chronicle. "We don't know where these people are. Some might still be in the Houston area."

To remedy that, the activists are asking the local diocese to make public more information on those who have been accused.

"Ask Cardinal DiNardo to post the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on church website, so that kids can be safer and victims can be healed," the flyer urges.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The throng of worshipers filing out of Sunday services seemed largely ignored the group's efforts.

One man politely refused a flyer after asking a few questions.

"It's really sad what happened and I pray for all the victims," said a woman who declined to give her name.

"It's very important we protect our kids - but this could happen anywhere," she added, before hurrying off with two children in tow.

But Norris see it differently.

"It's a major problem across the whole religion," he said.

Heather Korb, 59, agrees. Though today she lives in Houston, Korb was born in Kansas, where she says she was sexually abused by a priest more than five decades ago - when she was just 5.

Now, she shares Norris' goal of educating local congregations.

"We're here for information spreading. Information is power," she said.

Aside from roadside education efforts, local SNAP members have launched a monthly support group for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The next meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library.


United Kingdom

The Impact of Emotional Abuse

by Bolt Burdon Kemp

Emotional abuse: recent developments

In recent years there has been much focus in the media on sexual abuse and discussion about how to prevent it. Whilst this is undoubtedly the correct strategy, we must not lose sight of another type of abuse which continues to have a devastating impact on the lives of thousands of children each day – emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is almost always involved in sexual and physical abuse but it can occur alone.

The problem

In 2015, emotional abuse was the second most common reason for children needing protection from abuse in the UK (according to the child protection register and plan statistics).

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is often referred to as psychological abuse because it can cause long term psychological injury including anxiety and depression. In the past, it has often gone undetected due to the difficulties of identifying signs that it is occuring and a lack of understanding.

Emotional abuse was defined by the government in its 2015 guidance for teachers, social workers and police officers as:

“The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child's emotional development.

It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun' of what they say or how they communicate.

It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond a child's developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction

It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children.”

Recent media coverage

The BBC's “The Archers” radio series captured the nation's imagination over the summer, following the long running story of Helen's abusive marriage. For many people it was her husband's manipulative and controlling behaviour that formed some of the most shocking parts of the story. Helen's story demonstrated that emotional abuse often starts slowly and in such a way that you don't notice it. A nasty comment or remark designed to belittle you. A confusing conversation where you are persuaded that things didn't happen the way you recall or you end up accepting blame for something that wasn't your fault.

The storyline undoubtedly increased awareness and understanding of emotional abuse.

As the storyline intensified in February, there was a 17% increase in calls to the National Domestic Violence helpline, run by Refuge and Women's Aid.

Legal developments

During the course of The Archers storyline, the law in England and Wales was actually changing to support adults like Helen but also children.

A new offence of “controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships” was introduced by the Serious Crime Act 2015. It carries a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment, a fine or both.

Controlling behaviour is defined in government guidance as “A range of acts making a person subordinate and/or dependent on their abuser. These include isolating them from sources of support, depriving them of means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.”

Coercive behaviour is defined as “A pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

Police support

In an encouraging move, police officers are now to be given more training to protect victims of abuse from controlling and coercive behaviour. Under a new pilot scheme run by the College of Policing, officers from three police forces will be trained to spot the signs and patterns of coercive abuse and controlling behaviour.

The future

The introduction of new laws and The Archers have done much to raise the profile of emotional abuse. Having acted for many clients who have suffered emotional abuse, we know how long lasting the effects can be, particularly on a child's emotional and social development. I am hopeful that recent developments will help to bring further attention to this important issue.



Missing 4-year-old girl spotted in Tennessee, $3K reward offered

by Jonathan Petramala

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Luther Lewis and Melissa Schell can't speak their daughters name without choking up.

Holding each other, they spoke hoping their daughter Rebecca's kidnapper would be listening.

"We just want our baby home safe," Schell said. "If you're watching us, please drop her off somewhere in a safe location so our baby can please come home."

On Saturday morning, police received a call at the 6200th block of Highway 98 North in Lakeland, Florida about a missing girl.

The victim's 16-year-old sister last saw her sleeping at about 9:00 a.m. At about 9:45, the sister woke back up and 4-year-old Rebecca Lewis was not in bed.

According to Rebecca's parents, they searched the area for over an hour before calling law enforcement. Once deputies arrived they conducted multiple searches of the residence and conducted a house-by-house search of the park. Soon after an Amber Alert was issued.

Sheriff's Office K-9 and bloodhound responded and conducted searches with negative results. The PCSO helicopter also responded to assist deputies with the search.

Just after midnight on Sunday, Polk County Sheriff's Office stated that Rebecca and the man that she is believed to be with -- 31-year-old West Wild Hogs [this is his legal name] -- were spotted in Forsyth, Georgia at a gas station off I-75 at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening. According to our TEGNA affiliate 11Alive, officials say the suspect was seen at a BP Station at 1337 Rumble Road in Georgia where his EBT card was traced.

"We know she's being fed," Schell said.

Rebecca looked to be in good health and can be seen wearing a pink dress. Hogs can be seen wearing a light colored t-shirt and blue jeans.

Early Monday morning just at about 3:00 a.m., an AMBER Alert notification was issued by the Tennessee Bureau Investigation. Officials believe there was a credible sighting of Rebecca Lewis in the area of Cove Lake State Park, in Caryville, Tennessee near I-75 close to the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

Rebecca can be described as a white female, 3'0", weighing 30 pounds, with blonde hair, and blue eyes.

Family members have tears in their eyes when they talk about her.

"I just really want her home. Wherever she is. Matt, if you're watching, please just bring her home. We just want her home. She hasn't done anything to you and we've been nothing but kind to you please bring our baby home," said Cheyenne Raney, Lewis' cousin.

Hogs is known to be a long-time family friend who was considered as a cousin. He showed up in Polk County on Friday unannounced and arrived at the family's residence Saturday morning and abducted Rebecca, taking her to a nearby McDonald's restaurant and then driving with her to Georgia. Before the abduction, he mentioned that he might take a couple of the kids to the zoo.

What the family say they just can't understand is why Hogs would take Rebecca. Known and trusted for so many years, Luther says after a brain surgery years ago Hogs wasn't the same.

"He would do crazy things, do obnoxious things and he wasn't himself after the surgery," Luther said.

Still, until this day, both parents say they would have trusted Hogs around any of their children.

"We grew up together. He was my family," Luther said.

Hogs can be described as a white male, 5'8" tall, 220 pounds, with red hair, and blue-green eyes. He is from the Seale, Alabama area. Before his name change, his name was Matthew Clark Pybus. Hogs has a scar on the left side of his head in the shape of the letter "L" and a tattoo of a blue cross and a Chinese symbol.

They may be traveling in a 2012, silver/grey 4-door Nissan Versa, with Alabama handicap tag number 4JL26; which was reported stolen out of Alabama. The vehicle has a magnetic animal rescue paw on the driver side portion of the trunk.

At this point they believe he may be heading toward Alabama or to Russell County. The Seale native has a hunting trailer in Russell County as well.

Rebecca's loved ones have created a Facebook page to help with her search.

Heartland Crime Stoppers is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Rebecca Lewis. Anyone with information who wants to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call 1-800-226-TIPS or CLICK HERE -- anonymity is guaranteed.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of this child, please contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 863-298-6200 or 911. A telephone tips hotline has been set up for tips regarding the whereabouts of Rebecca and Hogs: it is 1-877-419-0934. Anyone who has any information about this case is asked to call this number.


West Virginia

Preventing child sexual abuse requires acknowledging the problem, advocates say

by Erin Beck

Unfortunately, people who abuse children, including infants, are not “monsters.”

Amanda Adkins, the mother of the 10-month-old baby who Benjamin Taylor allegedly raped in Jackson County last week, probably wouldn't have let Taylor be around her daughter, Emmaleigh, if Taylor had fur or horns, indicating a more obvious threat. If Taylor was a “monster” — as many have called him in the days since Emmaleigh was assaulted, and then died of her injuries — then he would have never been allowed inside the home and Emmaleigh might be alive today.

But Taylor is a human being. So are the people who have committed lethal infant rapes in other areas throughout the world. So are all the numerous others who live in West Virginia who sexually and physically abuse children.

While the incidents may not elicit the same level of shock and revulsion, children in West Virginia, and everywhere, are sexually and physically abused every day, usually by someone known and trusted by the family.

It will take acknowledging and accepting that uncomfortable fact to learn to prevent similar incidents.

Lt. D.B. Swiger, who heads the State Police Crimes Against Children unit, has investigated few cases involving strangers.

“They're among us in society,” he said. “We all want to envision this horrid looking person that hides in the shadows and commits these crimes. The reality is it's not the case.”

Jim McKay, state coordinator of Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia, noted that states spend a lot of money on sexual predator registries.

“The states that have really strict registries don't necessarily have safer kids,” he said. “It creates a false sense of security because we think we can look at a map and see where the ‘monsters' are, when the ‘monsters' are right in our own homes.”

One in Ten

While determining a definitive number is difficult because child abuse is underreported, Darkness to Light, a well-respected child-abuse prevention organization that also provides training on preventing abuse, reviewed six studies and found that about one in ten children will be sexually abused before they turn 18.

We also don't know exactly how many children are abused on the state level. But child advocacy centers, where children are interviewed about allegations of abuse, served 3,518 new clients in the 2016 fiscal year, according to an annual report. About 35 percent were under the age of 6. As in Emmaleigh's case, in 99 percent of cases, the alleged perpetrator was someone the child knew.

And child maltreatment fatalities, while not as common, are also a regular occurrence in West Virginia. According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, there were 17 in the 2014 federal fiscal year. In Hampshire County in October 2013, an 18-month-old child died due to injuries caused by the mother's boyfriend, according to summaries of the incidents provided by DHHR spokeswoman Allison Adler.

In Taylor County in October 2013, a father was charged after police said he either threw or shook his 2-month-old child, killing the infant. In Wood County in August 2014, a 2-week-old baby was injured and killed by a live-in boyfriend of the mother.

Traci Busch, executive director of the West Virginia Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, understands the outrage and disgust over Emmaleigh's case.

But she also wishes there was more outrage for the hundreds of children she's served in her 30 years of experience, and worries that in our selective outrage, we are discounting those children's experiences.

“It's such a secret thing,” she said. “Nobody in society really wants to talk about it or think about it. When this comes out in the media, people don't know how to handle their feelings about what happened. Let's use our outrage as a community to figure out what we can do to prevent this — what we can do to protect our innocent children.”

‘I think there's more we can do than call for justice'

Other child-abuse prevention advocates in the state also said they understand the intense emotion this case has evoked. They're dealing with it themselves.

But they too cautioned against knee-jerk reactions.

As of mid-afternoon Friday, 60,000 people had called for side-stepping the criminal justice process and publicly hanging Taylor. The person who created it, “J.R.” wrote “Maybe if these people were actually afraid of what would happen to them if/when they were caught, they'd be less likely to do such vile things?” By late afternoon Friday, the petition, on the White House website, was closed because it was “in violation of our Terms of Participation.”

Senator Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, R- Jackson, has also said the Legislature may consider bringing back the death penalty. He did not return a call Friday.

McKay, the head of Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia, noted that research suggests that perpetrators don't think about what will happen next. According to the National Institute of Justice, there is no proof that the death penalty deters criminals, and increasing the severity of punishment does little to deter crime.

“The evidence is pretty clear that guy is not thinking about getting caught,” McKay said.

Calling for vengeance and putting perpetrators on death row may make people feel safer.

But advocates in West Virginia — who work in the field every day — would prefer to see West Virginians who are outraged by the case to put their energy into more preventative strategies.

“I think if you put all your focus on penalties, you lose focus on what's actually happening,” said Emily Chittenden-Laird, director of the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network.

Chittenden-Laird said that while instituting the death penalty may seem like justice, it would actually result in making prosecutors less likely to bring cases forward, and juries less likely to convict.

“I think everybody's immediate reaction is this visceral place where they want accountability and justice,” she said, “and there is no degree to which inflicting anything on this perpetrator would equate justice in this situation, and that's just the reality we have to sit with. But I think there's more we can do than call for justice.”

It's still early in the investigation, and police are releasing only limited information, so it's unclear what warning signs might have preceded the assault in this case.

Jackson County Sheriff Tony Boggs said he didn't know of any specific ways Emmaleigh's case could have been prevented.

“Take care of them and hug them extra,” he said. “

Taylor did post jokes that demeaned women on Facebook, which might have set off some sort of red flag about his values. It could hardly predict infant rape, although McKay noted “our collective inaction in response to those types of jokes and comments” could be part of the problem.

But there are ways that we can prevent child abuse, according to advocates. The work will just take more time than the seconds it takes to sign a petition.

‘We all have a role in preventing in child sexual abuse'

Police and advocates provided a variety of strategies for preventing abuse. Swiger encouraged parents to be vigilant, and take children at their word. Advocates also provided additional strategies, including: ensuring children feel safe and unafraid to talk about sensitive subjects, reporting suspicions, becoming educated on the signs, providing support to new or stressed-out parents, and volunteering for community programs that support children.

The first step, they said, is accepting the possibility that it could happen to your children, and someone you know could be the perpetrator. Boyfriends of single mothers are also frequent perpetrators.

In an email, Les Nichols, who develops child protection programs within youth-serving organizations, and spent 22 years as a youth safety expert for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, pointed to a book, “Identifying Child Molesters,” by Dr. Carla Van Dam.

He said the author notes that “child sexual abuse is so horrible to the public, that we would have eliminated it from our society years ago if it were not for the four obstacles we, ourselves, present,” including:

People must accept that people they often trust and respect are capable of being a child molester,

People must be willing to learn about the patterns of child molesters, which are very predictable,

People must be willing to learn to intervene in some way to prevent things from going any further, and

Someone must connect the dots so that a molester doesn't keep going from victim to victim.

“All of us are angry and horrified at what happened to Baby Adkins,” McKay said. “As a father, I can only imagine how much pain their family is suffering right now. But this case highlights the importance of our efforts to keep children safe.”

He advised everyone, not just parents, to look into the Darkness to Light child abuse prevention training, and said that local trainings are also being planned.

“One thing we have learned in recent years is that communities are prepared to come together in response to crisis,” he said. “We need to come together in response to this crisis, just as we did during the flood or at other times. We all have a role in preventing in child sexual abuse and as a state we can, and must, prevent this kind of abuse from occurring.

For those looking for healing and togetherness, a candlelight vigil will be held for Emmaleigh at 7 p.m. on the Jackson County Courthouse grounds, at 100 North Court St. in Ripley, on Monday.



by Mahender Singh Manral

Inspector Mangesh Tyagi, a police officer since 1994, is seasoned and knows his way around the world of crime, but he had an eye-opening stint this month. He was among the Delhi Police personnel who attended a three-day training programme where US law enforcement officers shared their knowledge on entering the ‘deep', ‘dark' realms of internet to prevent online child abuse. After the classes, the officers were asked to pass on the knowledge to colleagues.

“We were not properly aware of the latest technology, but got to know about the latest methods of criminals and how they are looking at digital mediums to target children, who are exposed to technology at a very young age these days,” says Tyagi.

The Delhi Police Special Police Unit for Women and Children (SPUWAC) organised the training programme in collaboration with Data Security Council of India (DSCI), and International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC).

Officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Louisiana State Police shared their insights into the challenges of investigating cases of online abuse, collection of evidence, forensics and investigative tools. Additional DCPs, ACPs, inspectors as well as newly recruited officers attended the training programme, says Varsha Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police, SPUWAC.

“Nowadays, criminals have become tech-savvy and some of them first target children through internet and then harass them after getting to know minute details of their activities. In the sessions we had with the US officers, we learned a lot of new tools, including new technology, on how to handle such cases. We were also taught about working on various file sharing websites,” she adds.

The US officers also shared latest software to crack and curb cases of online child abuse. ICMEC has developed the software in collaboration with the FBI, other law enforcement agencies in the US and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A senior police officer who attended the training programme says, “This software is quite advanced and can track online predators; how they are accessing child pornographic images, where the images have been circulated, and from where it was uploaded. They can lead you to the IP address from where the abuse might be happening.”

Sundari Nanda, Special Commissioner of Police, Women Safety, Airport and Modernisation, said, “Many of the crimes against women and children are happening in the online space. We have to up our game when dealing with such criminals… For instance, if a girl visits a police station and says she is being stalked on Facebook and the officer doesn't know about the social media platform, what will the girl do? The DSCI that approached us with the idea and we were quite happy to partner with them.”