From the Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Johnson Participates in President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking
WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson participated in the annual meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking (PITF) at the White House. The PITF works to provide a whole-of-government response to the heinous crime of human trafficking. As part of the Task Force, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) works to combat human trafficking through a victim-centered approach.
At the meeting, Secretary Johnson discussed the progress that DHS has made in combatting human trafficking over the past Fiscal Year, as well as throughout the course of this Administration. The Blue Campaign, created in 2010 to serve as the Department's unified effort to combat human trafficking, coordinates these important efforts.
Secretary Johnson announced at the meeting the Department's revision to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Directive on Continued Presence. This revision will extend the duration of this important immigration designation for non-U.S. citizen victims of human trafficking from one year to two years, providing crucial stability and greater support to victims as they aid in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. The Directive also provides additional guidance to law enforcement on requesting Continued Presence as early and expeditiously as practicable, which is consistent with a victim-centered approach.
In FY16, the Blue Campaign entered into more formal partnerships than in any other year in Blue Campaign's history. Partners such as the District of Columbia, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, and the City of Los Angeles are now bringing awareness materials and training opportunities to local communities from coast to coast.
The Blue Campaign has also extended its reach to law enforcement, first responder and public safety agencies. In January 2016, the Blue Campaign and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) announced that human trafficking awareness training would be included in basic training for over 90 federal law enforcement agencies.
Through the Blue Campaign, DHS raises public consciousness about human trafficking across the Nation, leveraging partnerships to educate the public to recognize human trafficking and report suspected instances.
For more information, see the Fact Sheet or visit www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign.
From the Department of Justice
FACT SHEET on Recent Justice Department Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking
Investigating and Prosecuting Traffickers as well as Dismantling Human Trafficking Networks
• DOJ continued to return significant prosecution results. In FY 2016, DOJ initiated a total of 241 human trafficking prosecutions, charging 531 defendants. During FY 2016, DOJ convicted 439 defendants in human trafficking prosecutions.
• DOJ continued its highly successful Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative—an intensive partnership between DOJ, DHS and DOL that focuses on the development of high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The cities that were selected to participate in Phase One showed a 119 percent increase in cases filed and a 114 percent increase in defendants charged. At the end of 2015, six additional ACTeams were designated. These Phase Two ACTeams are already collaborating and undergoing intensive training with national human trafficking subject matter experts.
• The FBI Human Trafficking Program, managed by the Civil Rights Unit (CRU), leads 11 DOJ-funded human trafficking task forces and partners with local, state and federal agencies throughout the country in over 100 human trafficking task forces and working groups. From March 2015 to June 2016, the FBI Human Trafficking Program initiated 390 human trafficking investigations resulting in the arrests of 475 subjects.
• In the first three quarters of FY 2016, 15 active Bureau of Justice Assistance-funded human trafficking task forces, which are comprised primarily of state and local law enforcement officers, initiated 655 human trafficking investigations. These investigations involved 737 possible victims, 163 of which were confirmed as minors. The investigations, which covered both labor and sex trafficking, resulted in the arrest of 228 individuals. During this nine-month period, 122 individuals were charged with human trafficking offenses, and as of June 2016, 61 traffickers were found or pled guilty.
Enhancing Victim Identification as well as Relief and Services for All Victims of Trafficking
• In 2015, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) grantees providing victim services to human trafficking victims reported 4,517 open client cases, including 2,582 new clients—a 37 percent increase in open client cases and a 50 percent increase in new clients compared with clients served by grantees in 2014.
• In FY 2016, DOJ announced that $15.8 million was awarded to 22 law enforcement agencies and victim service providers to operate multidisciplinary task forces, enabling them to conduct criminal investigations, prosecutions and prevention efforts to combat human trafficking as well as to provide comprehensive services to trafficking victims.
• The FBI's Office of Victim Assistance provides management and oversight to 153 Victim Specialists who provide direct assistance to federal victims of crime to include human trafficking victims. In addition to their work with victims during the investigation, Victim Specialists provide hundreds of presentations a year educating thousands of participants on trafficking.
• From March 2015-August 2016 OVC provided anti-trafficking training and technical assistance through OVC's Training and Technical Assistance Center to 7,386 victim service providers and allied professionals to help them build community capacity to identify and respond to human trafficking.
Funding Domestic and International Anti-Trafficking Programs Focusing on Victim Identification, Prevention and Outreach
• In FY 2016, OVC made grant awards totaling more than $20 million to 34 victim service organizations. Providers received grants to provide comprehensive services to any human trafficking victim identified within a target geographic region as well as to offer specialized services for victims of human trafficking, including culturally, linguistically and developmentallyappropriate services for underserved victims. Two states also received a total of $4.75 million for improving outcomes for child and youth trafficking victims, while three organizations were awarded a total of $1.2 million to increase services for urban American Indian and Alaska Native victims of sex trafficking.
• In FY 2016, the Office of Justice Programs funded $2.9 million in training and technical assistance on human trafficking, and more than $2.6 million was awarded to six nonprofit and faith-based organizations to provide mentoring and other direct services to youth victimized by or at risk of domestic sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
Funding Research Projects that Address Knowledge Gaps about Human Trafficking
• In FY 2016, DOJ awarded more than $1.7 million supports four research and evaluation projects designed to address gaps in knowledge about human trafficking. Funds will be used to evaluate investigation and prosecution strategies, identify effective approaches for serving human trafficking victims, measure the prevalence of trafficking among homeless and runaway youth and assess human trafficking in Indian Country.
Abuse is Abuse
by Sarah Burleton
Why is childhood sexual abuse considered more damaging to a child and more newsworthy than the physical and mental abuse thousands of children suffer on a daily basis? Why is it more shocking for the public to hear that a child has suffered sexual abuse than to hear that a child was beaten and had suffered from extreme emotional and physical abuse? The affects are the same, the children are experiencing the same amount of suffering, but for some reason, more people seem to want and are more inspired to take action when they know that sexual abuse is involved.
I see it with law enforcement, child protective agencies, and mandated reporters; when a child reports being abused at home; quicker more decisive action is taken if the child is being sexually abused. Sexually abused children are now brought to advocacy centers where they are interviewed about their abuse by just one person and spared the humiliation of repeating their story over and over to different law enforcement individuals. We have mandated training where professionals enter our children's classrooms once or twice a year to teach the students about good touching and bad touching.
But what about the thousands of abused children who suffer from a different type of abuse? What about them? Where is their class and their advocacy center?
For those of you who follow my blog, you are fully aware of the abuse I suffered during my childhood. But for those of you who are new to reading my story, I will fill you in on my type of abuse.
I was mentally and physically abused probably from the time I came out of my mother's womb until I moved out of her house when I was sixteen years old. My mother threw me down the stairs and shattered my collarbone. She punched me in the face so hard when I was a child that I have a fractured skull. She choked me, punched me, kicked me, and drug me around by my hair at least 4 times a week. I've been whipped with horse whips, belts, and extension cords and beaten with more kitchen appliances than I can even begin to count.
And when I wasn't getting physically beaten, I was being tortured mentally. Whether it was name calling, making me brush my teeth with powder Comet, or smashing my face into a mirror – Mom's abuse never stopped.
I'm sure many of you reading this are shaking your heads and thinking, “There is no way that girl suffered that much abuse without someone being called.” Oh, people were called and let me tell you how that would normally go.
A well-meaning teacher would see my bruises or notice the burns on my arms and call the 800 number for child protective services. I would get called to the counselor's office in my school where a CPS worker, my principal, the assistant principal, and the school counselor would be waiting for me. I would get asked about my marks, and I would make up the same stories I had been feeding them for years (Mom had coached me well). I would get asked if there was any sexual abuse occurring, and of course there wasn't. After an hour of humiliating questions in front of adults I didn't trust, I was sent back to class.
Sent back to class where I would sit in panic; knowing that the CPS worker was either calling Mom or visiting her at the house. I knew Mom had her answers ready and that at the end of the day, I would be made out to be a clumsy, lying girl and she was mother of the year. And since there was no “proof” (like a rape test at a hospital or a required physical examination), the case was closed and I would go home that night to face Mom's wrath.
I had no advocacy center to go to for help. I had no law protecting me that made it mandatory I go to a hospital and get examined by a doctor. I had no one come to my classroom to tell me that there was help for me and the hell I was living through at home was not normal or right.
I was alone to deal with my abuse because I wasn't being sexually abused. My abuse wasn't provable and I didn't know where to go if I truly needed help.
Abuse is abuse; all abused children, regardless of how they were abused, suffer the same pain, the same suffering, and the same humiliation. All victims of childhood abuse struggle with trust and self-worth issues. All victims of childhood abuse have had their innocence ripped from them in the most intrusive and hurtful way you can imagine by someone they trust and love. And all children suffering from any type of abuse all deserve access to the same resources.
I pray for all of those suffering and am working nonstop to help you ALL.
Child sexual abuse in India: An urgent action plan is need of the hour
by Minakshi Das
The dynamics of child sexual abuse is complex, and understanding it will keep our children safe. We are aware that sexual predators are smart and sometime the perpetrator can be someone least expected or someone we already know. To curb child sexual abuse, Indonesia has passed a controversial law which advocates chemical castration for pedophiles. In India, prior to the passage of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) in 2012, cases of child sexual abuse (CSA) were primarily dealt under Section 375 (Rape) and Section 376 (punishment of rape), Section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman or a girl), Section 509 (insulting the modesty of women) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000. The core essence of the POCSO Act are ‘gender neutral', ‘child friendly procedure' and 'special courts' to exclusively handle CSA cases; it also placed 'mandatory reporting' and ‘burden of proof' on the accused. The idea behind formulation of POCSO was imposing ‘stringent law' to protect the children. It was estimated then around fifty-three per cent of children in India face some forms of sexual abuse.
Recently, in a compilation of reports filed by judges of POCSO cases as well as Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) have suggested that ‘there is a serious deficiency in infrastructure' which results in delay of disposal of cases. Furthermore, they added, it is not ‘feasible' to follow the mandate of POCSO Act. As under the POCSO Act, cases are to be disposed within one year and victim's statement has to be recorded within thirty days. The rise in high pendency of child sexual abuse cases in Delhi was the biggest concern of the judges. This year, it is estimated around 18.49 per cent of person accused under the POCSO Act were found guilty, whereas, in 2014, 16.44 percent of accused were convicted.
The DSLSA's report has stated that the significant delay in disposal of cases and rise in reporting of cases have caused ‘an alarm in the mind of the general public that child victims of rape and sexual offence are not getting justice'. Hence, for effective implementation of the Act, DSLSA suggested routine legal audit along with monthly reports of 11 districts to be conducted to keep a check on POCSO cases. Other issues brought forth were constant delay in obtaining forensic reports and absence of special courts to deal with CSA cases as provided in the Act. At the moment, only Tis Hazari, Karkardooma, Rohini and Saket have one such courtroom each. They highlighted the plight of child victims; evidently, due to poor infrastructure ‘not more than two child victims can be examined, considering the amount of time that is taken to examine them'. As per the report, delays take place due to unavailability of victims or witnesses.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Bachpan Bachao Angolan (BBA) caught everyone's attention early this year. The key issues emphasised in the PIL were ‘time-bound trial' and ‘disposal of cases' related to CSA. The PIL also cited National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures of 2014, and pointed out delay in the process of investigation and trial to support its claims. As per a study conducted by HAQ Centre for Child Rights in 2015, only five per cent of the questions have addressed children's problems in both the houses of the Parliament. A total of 27,879 questions were asked in the Parliament in 2015 of which 1421 were related to children; only 24 questions were raised on the POCSO Act of 2012, child sexual abuse, child abuse and one solo question was on victim compensation.
In the latest NCRB Report of 2015, a total of 94172 cases of crimes against children were reported in India. Under the POCSO Act, 136 incest cases and 8664 other than incest cases were registered (Refer Table 6.1 and 6.7 of NCRB, 2015). BBA in their PIL highlighted the 2014 NCRB report and emphasised that trial in only 409 of a total of 8379 cases were completed. The DSLSA Member Secretary Dharmesh Sharma suggested that to urgently fix this burning issue, it is important to ‘present a true picture to the legislature, media and public and also to carry out a legal audit of the entire justice system reflecting upon the working of various stakeholders'.
It is established that children with child sexual abuse can have long-term stress related issues. Families, parents, NGOs, schools and communities can play a pivotal role in preventing child sexual abuse; educating children on inappropriate relationships, maintaining healthy boundaries, and through teaching them of their body parts and by informing them on sexual assault. Operation Nirbheek (without fear) was launched by the Delhi north-east division last year to educate children on sexual harassment and abuse. The idea behind the program was to adopt best practices and education programs to create safe environment for children. The police officials initiated interactive sessions with school children to spread awareness. They educated children through a short animated film ‘Komal' based on the concept of ‘good touch' and ‘bad touch'. In addition, they installed complaint boxes in schools for children to file written complaints. The local police paid weekly visits along with a female constable to address their verbal and written grievances done under the supervision of the Deputy Commissioner of Police. This program was initiated by Veenu Bansal (DCP) and it covered 270 schools of the north east district of Delhi.
We can reduce the risk of child sexual abuse by adopting preventive methods. A victim of child sexual abuse can be a boy or a girl, healthy or a disabled child. Children should not be left isolated or in a one-on-one situation with adults, do not encourage children to maintain secrecy, initiate open conversation and believe in your child's narrative, educate them on their body safety and sex. Intervene on behalf of the child, if you notice your child has developed emotional and behavioural changes or if you suspect abuse. We must remember that child sexual abuse is an adult issue too and we are equally responsible to protect our children and safeguard their rights.
Yes, we can end child abuse
by The Newnan Times Herald
We often hear about child abuse cases in our local newspaper or on the news and simply shake our heads and sadly lament the horrific story. Instead of passive despair, let these tragic incidents serve as a galvanizing call to action for us all to commit to ending abuse and securing the safety and future of every child in Coweta County and throughout Georgia.
Yes, we can end child abuse. We can end it when we all become advocates for children.
For some of us, that advocacy comes in a formal role. Teachers, child care workers, health care providers and others who come into daily contact with children can be vigilant for signs of abuse and neglect. Their actions to report suspected abuse or to offer extra time and attention to fragile children can do more than make a difference, it can save lives.
CASA volunteers - court-appointed special advocates – also put their passion for the wellbeing of children into action. Assigned to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, CASA volunteers make sure kids don't get lost in the overburdened legal and social-service systems or languish in unsupportive foster homes. Volunteers stay with children until their court case is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
For many abused children, their CASA volunteer is the one constant adult presence in their lives.
A CASA volunteer's intense advocacy can break the cycle of abuse and neglect. When children grow up in homes where their only adult role models respond to them with violence and disregard for their needs, they repeat that cycle with their own children. When a CASA volunteer intercedes, it not only changes the course of one child's life, it makes an impact for generations.
Not everyone can be a CASA volunteer – although Coweta CASA Inc. certainly welcomes more caring adults into our volunteer ranks – but everyone can be an advocate. Here are a few steps you can take to make our community safer for our children.
Be mindful of the signs of abuse and neglect in children, many of which appear before an obvious physical mark: lack of adult supervision, extreme passivity or aggression, poor hygiene, or watchfulness, as if waiting for something bad to happen.
Also be aware of warning signs in parents: showing indifference or rarely touching or looking at their child, constant verbal criticism, demands for perfection, blaming the child for family problems, or other irrational behaviors.
If you think a child is in immediate danger, don't hesitate. Call 911.
If you think a child is being abused or neglected, report your suspicions confidentially to our state's toll-free child abuse hotline at 1-855-GA-CHILD (1-855-422-4453).
Take new or stressed-out parents under your wing. Offer to babysit, run an errand or share your own challenges and insights about being a parent.
Volunteer your time and/or donate to community programs that support children and families.
Your advocacy for children not only will help end child abuse, it will improve our community for everyone who lives here. Children who are abused and do not get the support they need to heal are more likely than other kids to drop out of school, end up homeless, turn to crime, and rely as adults on social welfare programs. When we work together to protect vulnerable children, it saves lives and tax dollars.
There are many life-threatening and incurable diseases that sadly afflict children. But we have the cure to child abuse. It lies within each of us. Now is the time to act.
(Mindy Smith is the executive director of Coweta CASA, Inc.)
Priests need not report confessions about child abuse, court says
by The Associated Press
Louisiana law does not require a priest to notify authorities after hearing evidence of child abuse from a child making a religious confession, the state Supreme Court said Friday (Oct. 28).
The ruling came in an ongoing 2009 lawsuit against Roman Catholic authorities by parents who say their daughter, now an adult, was sexually abused by a parishioner at an Assumption Parish church.
The ruling deals with a section of Louisiana's Children's Code requiring health workers, teachers, clergy and others to report evidence of child abuse to authorities. A lower court held the law unconstitutional because it would force priests to violate their religious beliefs by reporting information from confessions.
But the Supreme Court ruling analyzed the law and concluded that religious leaders are exempt from the requirement when they hear evidence of child abuse in a "sacramental confession."
In the lawsuit, the defendants are the now-deceased alleged abuser and his business, along with Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the priest who the parents say failed to report the abuse.
Friday's unsigned ruling says a district judge was premature in ruling on the constitutionality before the court legally determined whether the priest learned of the alleged abuse in communications that did not involve a religious confession.
The 17-page ruling then goes into a lengthy analysis of legislative action regarding the children's code, citing a 2003 resolution stating that a priest can be required to provide information from conversations or communications not related to confessions, such as "secular counseling."
"As the comments show and the statutory language reveals, the Legislature always intended to exclude priests from the definition of a 'mandatory reporter' when administering sacramental confession," Friday's ruling said.
Child abuse task force mulls new protections
by Morgtan Watkins
A bipartisan task force dedicated to preventing child abuse and exploitation met for the first time Tuesday in Frankfort, where Attorney General Andy Beshear encouraged lawmakers to develop a comprehensive proposal to better protect children throughout Kentucky.
The House Task Force on Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention includes state representatives from both parties, all of whom will vet a slew of ideas for legislation in the coming weeks. During the task force's inaugural meeting, Beshear emphasized the need to rise above politics and put Kentucky's children first when the state legislature convenes in January.
He urged lawmakers to do something "major" to close various loopholes in state law that put children at risk instead of just passing a piece of legislation here and a piece there. An omnibus child protection bill would set an amazing tone and help the commonwealth achieve something special, he said.
State Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, pointed out that protecting children is a priority many people talk about, but it's one that often isn't reflected in the budgetary decisions legislators make. The state has a lot of turnover with social workers, for example, because of poor pay, he said.
Beshear's office presented several suggestions Tuesday for the task force to consider, many of which were previously proposed in legislation that didn't end up becoming law.
The suggestions Beshear's office made included:
Requiring background checks for counselors and staff members at youth camps
Allowing school superintendents and parents to access a state child abuse and neglect registry when hiring school employees or childcare providers
Prohibiting registered sex offenders from spending time on public playgrounds, although certain exceptions potentially could be allowed
Mandating that a person convicted of promoting human trafficking must register as a sex offender
Providing age-appropriate training related to human trafficking and sexual abuse in public schools
"I think what you are doing here today is our central mission as officeholders, as parents and ultimately as human beings ... Protecting our children has to be our No. 1 priority," Beshear told the task force, which will meet again next month.
CSC Program Helps Prevent Child Abuse
SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- In the last year, The Children's Safety Center has helped more than 500-hundred abused children here in Northwest Arkansas.The organization provides free services and training to help children in need.
One of their new programs is called the "Stewards of Children.It's a program that focuses on child sexual abuse prevention training for parents and adults who work with kids.
According to the CSC, children are victims in 66-percent of all sexual offenses reported.
Emily Rappe' Fisher is the Development Director for CSC. She said, "Here at the Children's Safety Center, we have a trained facilitator through Darkness of Light who is now specifically trained in Stewards of Children."
The training program helps adults know how to prevent child abuse, react to it and recognize the signs.
"It's offered to different organizations in the community. Youth organizations, anyone that works with youth, corporations, schools, youth ministries, just anyone in the community that wants to learn how to protect kids," said Fisher.
Nearly 80-percent of child sexual abuse cases happen in one-on-one situations.
One survivor of child sexual abuse said, "My father continued to sexually violate children and teenagers until he died at age 75. "
According to the Children's Safety Center, one in ten children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday.
For more information on the program, follow this link --> http://childrenssafetycenter.org/stewards-of-children/
South Korea's shame: Child victims of Brothers Home abuse still searching for justice
by Paula Hancocks
Seoul, South Korea (CNN)Han Jong-sun sleeps with the lights on.
At 40, he is still haunted by the horror he lived through when he was just eight.
"When the lights were turned off, that's when the sexual abuse started," he says.
Han is one of thousands of victims of what human rights groups call one of the most shameful human rights abuses in recent South Korean history.
He wants the truth to be known and those responsible, or those who turned a blind eye, to be held accountable. He and others who suffered alongside him want closure.
Brothers Home was a state-subsidized welfare facility in the southern city of Busan, operating in the 1970s and 1980s, created in the wake of presidential directives to clean up the streets and house "vagrants" ahead of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
The original plan was to take them in, feed, clothe and educate them and release them after a year. The reality was far more brutal.
Less than 10% of those taken in were "vagrants," according to a 1987 investigation by a local prosecutor. The others were gum sellers, shoe shines, drunks, even children, forcefully detained by police and carted off to the homes.
Han was just eight-years-old when his father left him and his 10-year-old sister at a local police station, after he struggled to care for them on his own.
They were immediately transferred to Brothers Home. The beatings started the next day.
"My face was covered with blood, severely swollen," he says. "I couldn't eat properly for three days because I was beaten so badly. But then a survival instinct kicked in, I began to adjust."
Han describes beatings with clubs, water torture and frequent sexual abuse by the guards -- often inmates themselves who had been promoted to positions of authority.
"From the moment you open your eyes to the moment you fall asleep, there's abuse. If I suffered today, others will suffer tomorrow."
For some however, there was no tomorrow.
"We would go to church on a mountain-top once a week," Han says. "On the top of the mountain, there would be a graveyard behind the church, there were a number of unmarked graves that had obviously been dug up and covered over recently."
Han himself saw at least four inmates beaten to death, the images of their violent demises still haunt him.
Kim Yong-won confirms these brutal details. Once an eager young prosecutor from Ulsan district, the alleged abuse at Brothers Home stopped when it did thanks to his efforts.
"I went pheasant hunting one day (and) saw people in shabby clothes working outside with guards watching them closely, holding clubs," he says.
"I knew I had stumbled on a serious crime, so I started to investigate."
Kim raided the Brothers Home alongside detectives, where they found thousands of inmates detained against their will. "It was a perfect detainment facility, not a welfare facility, locked from the inside and out ... there was a hospital ward where patients who had clearly received no treatment at all were locked up."
But Kim says his investigation was restricted and sabotaged by his superiors from day one.
The owner of Brothers Home, Park In-geun, was a powerful man, says Kim. He had been awarded two state medals for social welfare achievements and had friends in powerful places.
Park did not respond to repeated requests for comment but in an autobiography he denied all accusations of wrongdoing.
"So I started my investigation Friday night and got the arrest warrant Sunday morning," Kim says. "But then the Mayor of Busan called me. He said 'you cannot arrest director Park, you should release him.' Of course, I refused, but that was just the start of the pressure."
Busan City Hall and the Ulsan Prosecutors Office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Park was eventually sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for embezzlement and minor charges after a lengthy legal battle.
When asked by CNN why there has not been a new and transparent investigation as demanded by the victims, the South Korean Interior Ministry said, "past affairs are very complicated and need a special committee to conduct the investigation."
A bill would need to be passed in parliament to set up such a committee, something opposition lawmakers have been pushing for for two years.
Hoping for justice
Brothers Home was shut down in 1988. Han's sister and father were pushed onto the streets despite obvious mental issues, he says. They have been in and out of mental institutions ever since.
Han moved home to be closer to the mental hospital they currently live in, he still visits regularly to bring them snacks and coffee. Their meetings are strained, the physical and mental toll it takes on Han is clear.
He is angry at what was done to him and his family, angry at having "to live such a purposeless life, not being treated like a proper human being."
"I do resent the government, and they have to accept criticism to be able to look at this issue properly," he says.
Han and his fellow victims want the government to open a public investigation to acknowledge a shameful chapter of South Korea's history, and to allow those who suffered the brutality of Brothers Home to find closure and, hopefully, some peace.
New Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Legionaires of Christ
by Dave Altimari
A former member of the Legionaries of Christ has filed a lawsuit against the Cheshire-based religious group, claiming that when he was 12 years old he was molested by its leader, Marcial Maciel Degollado.
The civil lawsuit, filed in Waterbury Superior Court last week by New Haven attorney Joel Faxon, refers to the victim as John Roe and alleges that he was molested not only by Maciel but also by two other priests, Father Luis Garza, the former head of the North American chapter of the Legionaries, and Father Jose Sabin.
The lawsuit said John Roe enrolled in a Legionaries seminary school in 1989 when he was 12 and was supposed to attend a school in New Hampshire but instead ended up in a school the group ran in Mexico.
Beginning in about 1990 or 1991, John Roe was sexually assaulted on multiple separate occasions by Maciel, Garza and Sabin, the lawsuit alleges.
"These priests engaged in unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact upon the person of Plaintiff. The sexual contact and/or acts constituted or would have constituted criminal conduct," Faxon wrote in the suit.
The boy fled the campus and eventually made his way back to California, where his mother was living at that time, the suit says.
John Roe reported the alleged abuse to officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, both in writing and verbally, and in 2014 he reported the abuse directly to Legionnaire officials, but he never received a response from anyone, the lawsuit says.
"They knew or should have known that there was a specific danger of child sex abuse for children participating in their youth programs," Faxon wrote. "By accepting Plaintiff into their residential facility and transporting him into a foreign country isolated from his parents, Defendants solicited, accepted and owed the highest possible duty to care for the minor Plaintiff."
The lawsuit says Roe still suffers the effects of the sexual assaults, including post traumatic stress and depression and will continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment.
He is seeking more than $15,000 in damages.
The Legionaries North American headquarters are in Cheshire. The group was founded by Maciel in Mexico in 1941.
Maciel was the subject of a 2006 investigation by the Vatican into allegations that he sexually assaulted numerous children and even may have had a child. Maciel died in 2008, but not before some of the sexual assault allegations were confirmed.
Emotional Abuse: 5 Specific Ways to Take Back your Power
by Mike Bundrant
Emotional abusers are in the habit of treating others in relationships as less than. Often, those who are being emotionally abused feel like objects, not people. It doesn't seem like the emotional abuser is seeing your humanity.
Emotional abuse may involve behaviors such as: harsh verbal criticism and rejection, exercising undue control in decision-making, placing extreme limitations on another's time and movement, manipulating someone to do things they don't want to do, and so forth.
Those being emotionally abused are in desperate need of resources.
They lack power in the relationship and therefore need to empower themselves. This is easier said than done, as the abuser may be the one who makes the money and even controls the transportation and household communication with the outside world.
Still, a victim of emotional abuse needs to find strength, as an emotional abuser typically does not want to empower others to be their own person or speak freely.
A First Step Toward Empowerment in the Face of Emotional Abuse
A first step toward empowerment may be to increase your confidence and communication skills. Assuming you are not in physical danger, there are things you can say to begin to process what is going on in your relationship.
The book, Emotional Abuse Breakthrough: How to Speak Up, Set Boundaries, and Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Control with Your Abusive Partner, by Barrie Davenport, is an excellent resource in this regard. The author demonstrates she understands the pain, isolation and fear you may be experiencing, and how manipulative it feels when your abusive partner manages to turn the tables on you, making it all your fault.
For now, here are some scripts that provide words which may not have occurred to you. Read the examples, think it through, and consider (if it is physically safe to do so) speaking up for yourself.
Five Things You Can Say to an Emotional Abuser
1. When someone is making decisions for you.
Are you aware that you're making this decision for me and without asking me what I want to do? I have my own desires and needs. When you assume what is best for me without asking, I feel controlled, which is upsetting. I'd like to play an active and independent role in our decisions. I am my own person and deserve that respect.
2. When someone criticizes you harshly.
When you talk to me in that tone of voice and say mean words, I feel less than. It hurts in ways I don't think you understand. Do you mean to hurt my feelings? If you really want me to be sad and hurt, then you'll keep talking to me that way, but I am asking you to stop.
3. When someone ignores you needs or refuses to help.
My needs are legitimate. When you ignore them by refusing to help me, I feel rejected, like you simply don't care about me. Do you care about me? If you do, then please be responsive when I need something from you. I care about you and expect the same commitment from you in return.
4. When you are being bullied by an emotional abuser.
You're bullying me right now. Did you know that? I don't know how you define bullying, but what you're doing now is an example of bullying to me. And I'm scared. It's hard to live with someone you're scared of and I'd like you to understand that. Will you please stop bullying so that I can feel safe around you?
5. When an emotional abuser is berating children.
How you're communicating to our child is mean. Do you see the look on his face? I don't know what kind of relationship you want with your kids, but the path you're on will ultimately lead to no relationship at all. One day, your son will reject you wholeheartedly and you may never hear from him again – and this is directly related to how you are treating him now. Is that what you want?
It's a start. These aren't magic spells and so are likely to be met with resistance. Still, you need to start somewhere. You need mature and thoughtful words, consistently, in order to set your boundaries and possibly break through to the abuser.
Practice. If you think these scripts help (worded in your style) then use them. Words are powerful tools that can change the world. Not all emotional abusers will change, but some do have that capacity and may ultimately turn a corner.
Only you can decide how much to put up with, if and when you will leave the situation for good. In the meantime, learn the right words to use to empower yourself.
FBI sting rescues 82 children from sex trafficking
For victims being exploited, there is hope
by Amara Walker
“Operation Cross Country X,” The FBI says this operation exposes the grim fact that children are being sold for sex in the US, sometimes by their own parents.
Child sex-trafficking knows no borders. Its victims often run from one horror. Only to be ensnared in another. The United States FBI provided a survivor's account on its website. She says she was abused by her father until she was 15. Then tricked by a pimp into prostitution.
Anonymous Victim said, “I was 17 at the time when I met him. And I got in the adult entertainment business because of the fact that he asked me about it. And he told me the money would be used towards the modeling. And I believed him I really thought this was a real legit thing. And somehow I found myself into this dirty game that I really believed it was a real job of modeling. And it wasn't. He beat me. He had me in hotel rooms by myself for weeks. I'd go hungry because I wouldn't obey what he wanted me to do. It's a trap. Once you're there, it's hard to get out of. It's really hard.”
It's a story the CNN freedom project has heard many times and one the FBI knows all too well. In just 4 days, the FBI says they made hundreds of arrest and rescued 82 teens.
Bernie Riedel, FBI, Supervisory Special Agent said, “We find that the average age of the minors we do recover is around 15-16 years old. There's been as young as 9 but that's not the norm. Normally between 12-17. The pimps have a great deal of influence over these females. Whether it's physical and emotional abuse. These are a lot of girls that come from families or just a lot of times in a broken situation whether it be victims of sexual assault previously in their home life or physical abuse, and the pimp steps into that.”
Authorities call it “operation cross country x”. Its in its 10th year and includes law enforcement in the United States, Canada, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Riedel, “This is part of the overall initiative by the FBI which is the innocence lost initiative to address sexual exploitation of children throughout the US as well as throughout the world.”
Many of the teens don't realize they are victims. Riedel, “The recruitment process by the pimps. The people that, the subjects of these cases. They have a very, they really have a very powerful influence physically and psychologically. They might entice the girls to come into that life through the promise of money, love whether as a boyfriend or a father figure if a girl tries to get out, that's when the physical abuse starts.
Anonymous Victim, “I have learned I was a victim. At the time, I didn't believe I was because I was like, hey, I volunteered. But at the end of the day, I didn't volunteer. It was something I was tricked into, thinking I could turn out to be a model”
For victims being exploited, there is hope. Anonymous Victim, “If you're a victim and you went through this, there is justice for you, definitely. Not only is there justice for you, you don't have to be scared anymore once you elaborate and go to the police, because they will be arrested. To where it's neat, you can breathe. I can breathe and say I can finally put him behind me.”
Watch out for these warning signs that your children are being bullied online, at school
by Annalise A. Guerra
It's something parents never want to find out — that their child is being bullied. Whether at school or online, there is no easy solution to easing your child's distress. What makes it even more difficult is that many times you don't know who is the culprit of your child's pain.
To help prevent bullying there are some easy questions you can answer. Do you know who your child's friends are? Do you know who they sit with at lunch at school? Do you know who they are interacting with online? These are important questions you should ask, and continue asking, throughout the school year.
It is also important to educate your child on what bullying is and how it can be prevented. And as it is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month , there is no better time to teach your child how to avoid becoming a victim or the aggressor.
Bullying is directing aggressive behavior toward another person by using unwanted force or coercion. The behavior typically involves an imbalance of power where one controls another in an aggressive manner. With the addition of the internet and mobile phones, bullying has become a major concern across the U.S.
Although bullying can be found anywhere, it is prevalent in the school system and particularly affects school-age children. Bullying can take the form of physical abuse; verbal abuse, such as name calling and spreading rumors; or emotional abuse, such as intimidation or social exclusion. With the widespread use of the internet, it can occur through email, text messages and social networking sites.
The effects of bullying range from inflicting physical hurt to psychological distress. There are key signs that someone being bullied, including if your child:
? Comes home with torn, missing or damaged clothing, books or belongings.
? Has unexplained bruises, cuts and scratches.
? Is hesitant or afraid to go to school, ride the bus or take part in school activities.
? Suffers from low self-esteem.
? Has difficulty sleeping.
? Has a loss of appetite.
? Suddenly performs poorly in school or has bad attendance.
? Shows signs of regressive behavior, such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking in younger children and withdrawal from family and friends for older children.
While bullying can occur at any age, middle-school years are a prime time for bullying. School transitions — between elementary and middle school, and between middle and high school — are also times when your child might be exposed to bullying. During these times, children are trying to find their place in new peer groups, so parents are advised to be extra observant of their child's well-being when a transition is being made.
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention has declared bullying a public issue. The Do Something campaign estimates that 3.2 million children are bullied each year. With that many kids becoming victims, it's critical that you take steps to protect your child.
Maintain an open dialog with your child. Speaking openly and honestly with your child about the issue is the first step. Ask questions and remain connected with your child's teacher, friends and their friends' parents.
Build your child's self-confidence. Children will a strong sense of self are more likely to avoid being bullied or respond to it more effectively. To build self-esteem, assign age-appropriate chores. Let your child find solutions to problems on their own on matters like whether it's appropriate to wear a coat to begin developing problem-solving skills. Don't overpraise your child. Keep reinforcing that no one is perfect, but your love is unconditional.
Create a plan of action. Every child should have a plan of action in case they are ever victims of bullying or witness bullying. A good plan of action should consist of your child being verbal and telling the bully to stop. Another important tactic is getting the help of an adult, such as a teacher or parent.
Be prepared to seek professional help. If your child is continuing to suffer from the hands of a bully, your child might benefit from the help of a behavioral health expert who can counsel them through the issue. Experts at the University of Miami Health System can help you and your child.
Repeated bullying can quickly wear down your child's confidence and many adolescent suicides have been attributed to bullying. If you suspect your child is in immediate danger, evidenced by signs of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
There's a shortage of child psychiatrists, and kids are hurting
by Sarah Vander Schaaff
Pediatrician Karen Rhea said she found it “gut-wrenching” to see young people in psychiatric crisis: a teen who overdosed, the one with mental illness who landed in jail, the high school senior who tried to kill herself by crashing her car. With a population of about 20,000 then, Franklin, Tenn., where she practiced, had no child and adolescent psychiatrists, so Rhea spent long hours searching for inpatient care, phoning judges, looking for mental-health specialists in Nashville 20 miles away.
Sometimes her efforts made a difference. The suicide survivor thrived in therapy. She wrote a note to Rhea, thanking her for saving her life.
Eventually, Rhea became convinced she could better serve patients as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and returned to medical school. Now she is chief medical officer of Centerstone, one of the largest community mental health providers in Tennessee.
But some things have not changed.
Three decades after she left pediatrics, not a single state has what professional groups deem a sufficient number of child psychiatrists.
In her home town of Holladay, Tenn., a rural community, Rhea says the nearest child and adolescent psychiatrist would be about 50 miles away.
And limited access to mental health care has far-reaching consequences.
The longer that psychiatric illness or family dysfunction goes on, the more difficult it is for the child to succeed, Rhea said. Untreated problems can lead to difficulties in school, and that, she said, hurts self-esteem, limits social skills, hinders relationships and creates the view in a family that the child is badly behaved instead of having an illness.
“We're looking at small people,” Rhea said, pointing out that special training in pharmacotherapy is required because children experience more side effects than adults and because drugs metabolize differently at younger ages. “We have the patience to make small adjustments in medication.”
Mental disorders often start young. The median age for the onset of anxiety and impulse control disorders is 11 and substance abuse, age 20, according to a 2005 study. Lack of treatment can mean difficulties in adulthood. Major depressive disorders, for example, can result in absence from work and poor productivity.
The shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists is profound, said Scott Shipman, a professor of pediatrics at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. There is an estimated one psychiatrist per 1,807 children who need services in the United States.
A new report by Mental Health America, an advocacy group, found that rates of depression among young people rose from 8.5 percent to 11.1 percent from 2011 to 2014 and that 80 percent of youth with severe depression receive no treatment or insufficient treatment.
Getting an appointment can be difficult and discouraging, sometimes taking five weeks or more in the area outside Nashville, said Beth Hail, Centerstone regional vice president. School counselors and psychologists, once a safety net for identifying and helping troubled children, are stretched, Bob Vero, chief executive of Centerstone, said. These school workers are expected to focus on scheduling, college applications and testing, leaving less time for emotional and developmental needs. Pediatricians and family physicians find themselves forced to practice beyond their comfort zone and their training.
In 2001, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists organized a task force to find ways to increase the number of people in the field. The panel found training programs and resident numbers stagnant or declining at the same time that need was growing. These experts focused on intensifying recruitment to build the numbers.
“We put a massive effort into it,” said Gregory Fritz, president of AACAP and co-chair of the task force. In the end, the task force did increase numbers a fraction and encouraged the founding of 10 new training programs. However, Fritz said, “all of our successes need to be multiplied by 10 or 20 to even make a dent.”
The results were discouraging, he said. “I don't know which is harder to change — the federal government or the medical community.”
There are two common ways to train for child and adolescent psychiatry, or CAP, and each takes a significant amount of time. After medical school, a candidate studies four years of general psychiatry and moves on to a two-year fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. The second option is called the fast track. It takes five years instead of six.
“What I firmly believe is that when we have such a huge national need, we ought to make all sorts of different paths,” Fritz said, expressing frustration that after years of work, more programs that tap medical students who want to work with kids were not embraced.
But even if there were more medical students eager to devote an extra five or six years to training, limited money for fellowships and CAP's exclusion from loan forgiveness programs have stymied growth. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 set a limit on the number of federally funded residency slots and cut funding for subspecialities such as CAP. The 10 new training programs added as a result of the task force's efforts were all paid for by hospitals rather than with federal funds. Even well-established and competitive programs such as the University of Maryland's offer only seven fellowships a year.
One factor related to the shortage goes back to the very nature of helping children. It is a lot of social work, according to Jess Shatkin, vice chair for education at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. Child psychiatrists speak with parents, teachers, siblings, coaches and others involved in a child's life, to get a full understanding. “One case can suck up a lot of time,” he said.
Candidates who express interest when they enter residency in general psychiatry sometimes reconsider when faced with adding two more years of training, delaying entry into a career with a paycheck and taking on more debt, all at an age when they may be considering starting their own families.
And general psychiatry, looked to as the pipeline for CAP candidates, also has a shortage. One reason for that is reimbursement amounts for mental-health services and the lingering stigma about its value, said Carol Bernstein, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of residency training at NYU School of Medicine.
Lacking sufficient progress with the task force's strategy, leaders in the profession turned back to pediatricians.
“If you ask families where do you want to get their mental-health care, they say their pediatrician's office. They love their pediatricians and they trust their pediatricians,” Fritz said. Pediatricians also have the benefit of a longitudinal view of children, seeing them over the course of their development. And there are a lot of these physicians. Pediatrics is the third-largest specialty in the United States, with more than 50,000 doctors.
The goal is for primary-care doctors to take on minor mental-health problems in consultation with a child psychiatrist. The important corollary, Fritz said, is that these problems are minor because they are getting addressed earlier.
In some cases, a psychiatrist or psychologist is embedded in a primary-care practice, where he or she can do hallway consultations or engage in what is known as a warm handoff. “The pediatrician walks two doors down the hall and introduces the patient,” Fritz said.
In Tennessee, Centerstone has three clinics located in primary-care offices and has introduced videoconferencing to provide mental-health care remotely. But the clinics' doctors have also had to adjust their model of care, relying on advanced-practice nurses under the supervision of physicians. Only three of Centerstone's 70 medical staff members are child and adolescent psychiatrists.
Another model that started in Massachusetts and is now used by more than 30 states involves having regional call centers for primary-care physicians to get a real-time consultation with a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
NYU's Bernstein says integrated care is the wave of the future, not only for CAP but for general psychiatry as well.
Fortunately, there are still young doctors who have been moved, as Rhea was, by CAP's potential. Fayrisa Greenwald is one. She was working in an outpatient pediatric practice and found it very difficult to find a psychiatrist when a child needed one.
Now she's a second-year resident in general psychiatry at NYU and will be applying for a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. “I feel that by intervening early,” she said, “I can potentially change the trajectory of their entire life course.”
Fundraiser will benefit Butterfly House, a sanctuary for victims of sex trafficking in Hampton Roads
by Barbara Woerner
Charlotte Miller remembers the day she witnessed a sex trafficking incident.
She was taking a stroll on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk when something caught her attention.
“I saw a young girl dressed in fishnet stockings, high-heeled boots with long straggling hair,” she said. “She was being dragged down the boardwalk, and I was shocked at what I saw that day.”
In that moment, she said she knew she had to do something.
“I wanted to provide a safe place for kids like her to go to,” Miller, 69, said. “I wanted to rescue them and take them away from their abuse.”
Miller formerly worked in Michigan jails and taught school. While living there, she attended a seminar on sex trafficking. Little did she know then the extent to which she would become involved helping victims of this crime.
Human or sex trafficking is the illegal movement of people for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
“These victims live horrible lives with forced sexual service to multiple paying partners on a daily basis,” Miller said. “They are sometimes beaten, starved and threatened with violence if they try to escape.”
Currently, Miller's days are packed with part-time work to support herself and planning fundraisers for Butterfly House, a nonprofit she started last year that will eventually provide services and shelter for victims of sex trafficking in South Hampton Roads.
Now, she's raising money with events like walks, barbecues and most recently, an internationally themed dinner held at Kingdom Life Ministries.
The next planned benefit is The Butterfly House Black Tie Gala Dinner Dance on Nov. 12 at the Greenbrier Country Club.
Guest speakers at the event will be Marguerite Evans, founder and director of Marguerite Evans Ministries, and Patrick J. McKenna, cofounder and director of Virginia Beach Justice Initiative, which combats human trafficking and provides resources to victims in Hamptom Roads.
“There are days when I think ‘I just don't know how this is going to happen,' ” Miller said. “I say, ‘Lord, I'm too old,' but I can't give up. I feel we have to build this safe house.”
When it comes to dollars and cents, the Butterfly House has a way to go. The goal is to raise $800,000.
“Right now we've raised about $35,000,” Miller said. “And we give back 10 percent of what we raise to the community through donating to other nonprofits.”
Patrick McKenna, who cofounded Virginia Beach Justice Initiative with his wife Lori, said there are not enough places for sex trafficking victims to go to get the necessary spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical healing they need.
“One of the biggest weaknesses is housing for victims,” Patrick McKenna said. “Seton House in Virginia Beach has taken in some, but we're learning more and more about what questions we should be asking to identify victims, both adults and children. The numbers have been under the radar for so long.”
Once a safe house is secured, Miller said she has a growing list of people that will help with reclaiming the young lives that come her way.
“I've had people come forward that can teach and provide other therapeutic services,” she said.
Sex trafficking, while not always obvious, is happening in South Hampton Roads.
In October 2015, a dozen traffickers were arrested across several cities including Chesapeake, Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Five of the traffickers were arrested at a hotel on Northhampton Boulevard in Virginia Beach. Three juveniles were rescued.
But the news isn't all bad. This year has seen the passing of SB 133/HB 681 Trafficking in Persons; Civil Action, a bill that allows victims to civilly sue their traffickers up to seven years after the last known incident.
Also passed was SB 253/HB 373 Victims of Certain Crimes; Confidentiality of Information. This bill protects advocates and victims alike, by ensuring their rights of confidentiality regarding information received throughout their encounters.
Both bills went into effect July 1.
On March 27, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed Virginia's first stand-alone sex trafficking statute into law, finally joining the other 49 states that already had human trafficking statutes.
“Our children are meant to be loved,” Miller said, “not sold.”
Despite many victims, sex trafficking's full impact is unknown
by Jill Nolin
ATLANTA — One 15-year-old girl from Middle Georgia had sex with her parents' used car salesman, at her parents' insistence, to cover payments on the family minivan.
Another young girl was discovered in south Georgia after a man helped her find men who paid her for sex. He kept a portion of the money for himself.
Hundreds more young Georgians have similar stories.
Atlanta may have the ignoble distinction of being the hotspot for sex trafficking in the state, but advocates and officials say it affects every corner of Georgia.
Last year, the nonprofit Georgia Cares worked with 469 children, with an average age of 14, representing more than two-thirds of the state's 159 counties.
The issue has been increasingly on the radar of state lawmakers, who've passed bills making it easier for police to go after those who exploit children. A question on the Nov. 8 ballot proposes making strip clubs help pay for treatment for victims of trafficking.
The actual number of children trapped in sex trafficking in Georgia is likely much higher than the number of cases involving Georgia Cares, although how much higher is unclear.
“The counties that aren't reporting, it's not because they don't have an issue with child sex trafficking,” said Heather Stockdale, who heads the Atlanta-based nonprofit. “It's because they don't know how to spot it yet, or they don't have the resources to do so.”
Camila Wright, human trafficking prosecutor at the attorney general's office, said, “It happens anywhere law enforcement looks for it.”
Even when cases are investigated, the victims aren't always willing, or able, to testify in their cases and see them through to the end.
Supporters of the constitutional amendment on the ballot say better treatment offerings could help change that, taking more sex traffickers off the street.
“It's not the kind of thing anybody wants to spend time thinking about, and I think that's part of why we are where we are,” said Ann Mintz, senior director of public policy for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, which has raised funds to advocate for the amendment.
“We would like to think it's somebody else's kids or they're coming from some other country and it's not around our corner, but it is,” she said.
The amendment would stick adult entertainment establishments with a $5,000 annual fee, or charge 1 percent of their gross income.
Additionally, people convicted of sex trafficking crimes would have to pay a $2,500 fine.
Together those fees and fines are expected to raise $2 million a year. The state now does not put aside money for treatment; the only funds are federal dollars.
State lawmakers behind the amendment say adult entertainment clubs contribute to the problem, even if indirectly, and so they should foot some of the costs to help those who suffer.
Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, who sponsored the plan, said this week that she sees the fee on strip clubs as being similar to impact fees that are charged to developers.
“The adult entertainment industry has an impact on the children of Georgia, and I have absolutely no problem assessing them so they can step to the plate and help take care of these children,” Unterman said.
But Jill Chambers, a former Republican state legislator who is the director of the Georgia chapter of the Association of Club Executives, says club owners have stepped up. The group's 16 members participate in training on sex trafficking, she said.
“There's a reason we're called adult entertainment,” she quipped. “Unfortunately, the licensed, tax-paying entities are punished for the egregious behavior of persons who operate below the radar.”
The industry has maintained a low profile on the issue, but it found a surprising ally when the proposal was debated passionately in the 2015 legislative session.
A small group of conservatives argued that the plan unduly targets strip clubs, while most transactions involving sex trafficking victims are carried out over the Internet.
Supporters, though, argue that studies have found that strip clubs have a secondary effect, though they suspect they'll have to prove that in court if the amendment passes.
“I feel confident that the case law and the work that's been done nationally to prove the nexus between adult entertainment industry and sexual trafficking will be proven in Georgia,” said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur.
Echo Park Boy Found Dead Was Kept Hidden, Sedated In Closets For Years
Eleven-year old Yonatan Daniel Aguilar weighed just 34 pounds when he was found dead, wrapped in a blanket, lying on a hard tile floor inside a bedroom closet in this small Echo Park home. Sources close to the investigation told us the closet was so small, Yonotan couldn't stretch out his legs.
According to juvenile court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times the boy, who had been diagnosed with autism, was often locked away in closets for three years and sedated with liquid sleep medication, apparently to keep him quiet.
Investigators believe even the boy's step father who lived in the home didn't know the boy was living there.
CBSLA's Randy Paige asked Department of Children and Family Services Director Philip Browning on Thursday: “How could someone live in that house and not know a little boy was there?”
“Well, I think that's what's so puzzling,” Browning said.
Four years before, when reports of possible child abuse were reported, Yonotan's mother Veronica Aguilar, who was a volunteer at the school and attended parenting classes, was able to convince his teachers, counselors, coaches, medical staff and social workers that her son was safe in her home. Then, when Yonotan stopped showing up for school, his mother told people he had gone to live in an institution in Mexico.
According to the court documents, Yonotan's three siblings and his mother were the only ones in on the secret.
“I think there was a façade that occurred that took everyone in, including law enforcement,” Browning said.
According to the Los Angeles Times, redacted court records indicate Aguilar effectively disappeared in 2012 after he was seen at school with a black eye and school officials said he was hoarding food.
Aguilar told the boy's therapist that Yonatan lived with his maternal grandmother until age 3, and he was likely deprived of food during that time and developed the habit of hoarding food, according to the records cited by The Times.
Soon after, the boy was pulled out of school and wasn't seen as the family repeatedly moved.
Officials with county Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) — which had responded to six reports of possible abuse or neglect involving the family from 2009 to 2012 and marked the boy's risk of abuse “high” four times — had no further contact, according to The Times.
After claiming allegations of abuse were inconclusive or unfounded, social workers never formally opened a case, according to the records cited by the paper.
At one point, Aguilar told Jose Pinzon, the boy's stepfather, that he had died. Pinzon had been told previously by Aguilar that she sent Yonatan to Mexico to live with family, and he hadn't seen the boy in years, The Times reported.
Aguilar led Pinzon to a closet in their home on Aug. 22 and found Yonatan's emaciated body described as being covered in pressure sores from the tile floor. There was foam in his nose and medicinal cups of pink and red liquid near his balding body, according to the records obtained by The Times.
Pinzon then ran to a 7-Eleven and called police.
Aguilar, 39, is now charged with murder and child abuse causing death. She remains jailed on $2 million bail.
An all too familiar story: When a ‘neighbor' can't be trusted
by Claudia Melendez Salinas
SEASIDE >> There are things that Mari can still recollect with ease. That the next door neighbor was the first to welcome her family into the first home they ever owned. That his garage had a couch, board games, and a bowl full of sweets for the neighborhood children.
But there are details that are fuzzy. She doesn't remember exactly how old she was when the neighbor, a 50-year-old man, began playing a game with her he called “goosebumps.” It's a blur to her how the games escalated until he began fondling her, touching her beneath her underwear and sexually assaulting her, according to Mari's narrative and court documents.
The abuse went on for years, until Mari's sister found out and the family went to the police. Although the Seaside Police Department looked into it and appeared to have forwarded the investigation to the Monterey County District Attorney, the case against Milton Pineiro somehow disappeared and nobody appears to know how, according to court documents and interviews with law enforcement officials.
In many ways, Mari's story is not just about one young woman, but about countless victims who suffer at the hands of trusted friends or family members and are made to feel responsible for what happened. Most suffer a lifetime of emotional and psychological consequences.
They rarely see any justice in the criminal courts, be it because they don't dare point the finger at their abusers or because, compared to other crimes, the justice system seldom prosecutes child sexual abuse. And in many cases, it is only later in life as adults that victims understand what happened to them as children, or memories become to difficult to live with, as in Mari's case.
Mari sued Pineiro in civil court and hopes to inspire other people to come forward, victims who are able to seek charges in criminal courts if the statute of limitations has not run out.
Mari's full name is being withheld because she's a victim of sexual assault. Herald staff reviewed dozens of documents pertaining to her case, including police reports and depositions from Mari's family members, law enforcement officials and Pineiro.
Pineiro, 70, denied doing anything to Mari, according to his deposition. He lives in Salinas and agreed to pay nearly $1 million to settle the suit, court records show. The case was dismissed after the financial deal was reached.
Pineiro's attorney, Christopher Jones, declined to comment for this story.
“That case was dismissed and it's over with,” he said.
Pineiro also declined to discuss the case.
“We went to court and the case was dismissed with prejudice,” he told The Herald. “The case was decided. I cannot comment (any) longer on that.”
A couch, candies, and board games
Mari's parents, both immigrants from Mexico, felt they had attained the American Dream when they purchased their first home in Seaside. Pineiro, an Army veteran, welcomed Mari's parents and siblings right away, Mari said.
“He had a dog named Cookie, that's what attracted my brother and me at first,” Mari said. “He'd be walking the dog and we would play with the dog outside. He had the garage door open, inside the garage, half of it had an old car, the other half had a couch, was carpeted, had a TV. He had some board games and we would go in the garage and play. He'd play board games with us and then he'd invite us for candy. He had a bowl full of candy and chocolate and I guess little by little the whole family became more comfortable with him.”
Mari's father was a gardener and had a schedule that kept him away from home most of the day. Her mother, a housekeeper, would take Mari and her siblings to school and pick them up. She would always make sure there would be an adult watching the kids and the adult sometimes was Pineiro. But whether or not he was watching over the kids, they liked going to his home to play games on the computer.
“I can't tell the exact age, maybe I was between 5 and 6, when he started playing a game he called ‘goosebumps' with me,” Mari said. “He would rub my arm and I had to stay still, and then it's kind of a blur from there. He began doing more and more until he started fondling me. Touching me underneath my clothes.”
Mari's family members testified during depositions that Pineiro exhibited sexual behavior not just with Mari, but with her cousins. Her mother said he would refer to the child as “my sexy baby.” He would show condoms to the kids and porn films. A cousin of Mari's accused him of pulling down her pants. Another family member said Pineiro offered her $100 and a trip to Great America if she would have sex with him.
The touching and more continued and, to this day, Mari said she does not know why she didn't stop it. In the fourth or fifth grade, when she received her first sex education class, Mari learned the signs of sexual abuse.
“I confronted him,” she said. “And he said he would kill my dad if I told. He said nobody would believe me, that it was my word against his. Then at one point he said he had a lot of money and that we couldn't do anything to him.”
Mari stopped going to his house, but her younger brother still wanted to go.
“I remember telling my brother, ‘Oh, let's stay home, let's not go over today,' but my brother would still go. At some point I stopped going with him, and (my brother) would go alone too. That's when (Pineiro) started calling the house on Saturdays, when my parents would be working, to remind me not to say anything. To remind me nobody would believe me, to remind me it was my fault and to threaten me that he'd kill my dad if I said anything.”
Mari's older sister became curious about the calls so she eavesdropped on one of the conversations. She stood by the door while Mari was talking to Pineiro, and when she hung up the phone, her older sister began crying.
“I told her the only thing he'd done was rub my leg. She said that's not OK. That night when my parents came home my sister told them about what had happened. I just remember them going to his house that night, but I don't know what was said, and I didn't know anything after that,” she said.
Reporting to police
The family stopped talking to Pineiro, and then Mari began seeing a man prowl outside her window. Sometimes he'd have a ski mask covering his face. Mari was frightened. That's when the family decided to report Pineiro to the police.
On Sept. 12, 2002, Mari was interviewed at the Bates-Eldredge Clinic in Salinas by investigator Tracy Spencer as part of the Seaside Police Department's investigation into allegations of sexual abuse. Spencer, now an investigator with the Monterey County District Attorney, said in a deposition Mari was believable or otherwise she would have noted so in her report. Mari was 13 at the time.
Sometime around the time the interview took place, Pineiro was caught prowling outside Mari's home and was arrested. He pled no contest to peeking in an inhabited dwelling and received a three-year probation sentence, according to court records. Mari believed at the time — as did Spencer — that he would be charged with child molestation. But no charges appeared on record.
After reviewing archival documents on the case, Monterey County Chief Assistant District Attorney Berkeley Brannon said he's confident his office never received any recommendation to prosecute Pineiro for sexual assault.
If the Seaside Police department “sent us a child sexual assault case and we rejected it, the rejection would appear on his (criminal record),” Brannon said in an email. “All of that type of information is routinely reported to the (Department of Justice) which maintains rap sheets.”
Spencer said in her deposition for Mari's case she assumed the child sex abuse charges had been filed.
Most of the officers who were involved in the case have either retired or left, said Acting Seaside Police Chief Louis Lumpkin. After reviewing the police reports from 2002, he said he does not know what could have happened.
“It looks like (the charge) went over,” to the District Attorney, Lumpkin said.
The need for physical evidence
Although sexual abuse cases make headlines — especially when the presumed perpetrators are celebrities — it often goes under-reported. And yet, sexual abuse is as prevalent in Monterey County as in the country as a whole. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one in nine girls and one in 53 boys under 18 in the United States experiences sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.
Of 2,956 reports received through Monterey County's Child Abuse Hotline in the 2014-15 fiscal year, 355 were referrals for sexual abuse and 24 resulted in substantiated allegations.
But only five resulted in an open case, underlining the difficulty of pursuing this type of cases in court.
“We as prosecutors are required to have sufficient evidence to file a case originally, and we have to believe that we have sufficient evidence to attain a guilty conviction to proceed to trial,” Assistant District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni said at a child sexual abuse awareness press conference. “Those are burdens. We may emotionally feel the defendant is guilty, but unless we have the physical evidence for the case in court, then we can't proceed. We see things on TV and there's DNA and there's all sorts of evidence that appears in the media, but the reality is, in most cases we don't have the physical evidence. We have to rely on witnesses testimony and corroboration through independent evidence.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 93 percent of victims of child sexual abuse knew the victimizer: they were either acquaintances or family members.
Mari appeared to leave everything behind when she married and travelled to Tennessee with her husband. But when she returned to her parents' home in Seaside, she began having flashbacks. She sued Pineiro in civil court and eventually reached a financial settlement in 2015.
It's truly rare that women like Mari sue their accusers in civil court. Lauren DaSilva, deputy director of Monterey County Rape Crisis Center, has only heard of two other cases — both of women who sued institutions, not individuals.
The dearth of consequences for child sexual abuse “creates an atmosphere in which perpetrators of sexual violence are not held accountable in the same ways that other people,” DaSilva said. “We prosecute people doing drugs and they spend umpteen years in prison. But in sexual assault cases, it does not happen very often, so people probably go on repeating the abuse continuously if they're not held responsible for what they've done.”
Two other children, relatives of Mari, also accused Pineiro of sexually molesting them according to testimony in the civil case. Because Pineiro was never criminally prosecuted, Mari believes there may be other victims out there.
And while thousands of perpetrators continue to live their lives without apparent consequences, their victims often suffer a lifetime of damage. Many, like Mari, are eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. To this day Mari suffers from panic attacks, according to her medical history. She refuses to allow anyone but her mother and sister to take care of her children, and when asked by doctors what her greatest fear is, she wrote “that my children are molested.” When she first had to leave them at school, she went on medication to control her anxiety.
Pineiro denies allegations
In his deposition, Pineiro admitted the children visited his house frequently and stayed late every day while his wife was at work. He also admitted he had rubbed Mari's upper leg but denied going beyond that or that he called her “sexy baby.”
Pineiro moved to Salinas soon after his plea in the prowling charges and Mari didn't see him again until his deposition for her lawsuit, more than ten years later.
When Mari confronted Pineiro, he denied everything, she said.
“The first thing he told me was ‘I don't know what fantasy you have in your head, but it's all a lie,' ” Mari said. “It got me mad instead of being scared. And I told him, ‘What kind of fantasy is that? Who wants to fantasize about an older man touching you and abusing you?'”
Mari told Pineiro of the damage he had caused her. And he still denied it, she said, but she thought she sensed a slight change.
“At the beginning he had a smirk on his face, but then towards the end, I don't know if it's just me hoping he was sincere but his expression seemed different towards the end. ... He no longer had a smirk on his face, he no longer seemed (defensive). He was listening to what I was telling him,” Mari said.
Dealing with the traumas in adulthood
Mari works from home in order to be as close to her children as possible. There are no sleepovers for them, and when they are in school, she has their teachers send her pictures.
“Even my daughter, she's 4 years old and I don't know how many times I talk to her ‘Make sure nobody touches here, you tell Mommy.' I overemphasize it at such a young age and it's not good for them either,” she said.
The fear of not seeing her children for extended periods of time was what pushed her to settle the lawsuit, she said. A trial could have been a couple of weeks of days beginning at 8 a.m. and finishing at 5 p.m. She was nursing a baby at the time and the idea of being away from her three children was more than she could handle.
Not a day goes by that she does not feel the effects of the abuse — in her anxiety, in her fears, in the ways she “helicopters” her children, she said. And she doesn't believe it will ever stop affecting her.
But the young mother is trying to turn the fear into protection of her offspring.
“If you think about it, my childhood was taken away, my innocence was taken away and I would not want that for anybody,” she said.
Flintshire child abuse victim tells how nine months of counselling 'helped her heal'
Wrexham-based Stepping Stones charity said victims must not be forgotten as numbers coming forward for therapy triples in three years
by Steve Bagnall
A North Wales child abuse victim has told how she underwent nine months of counselling “to help her heal” as a charity sees the number needing support triple.
Lindsay from Flintshire, who wishes to remain anonymous, turned to the Wrexham-based Stepping Stones charity counselling service with her life in turmoil because of previous abuse.
However, she has turned her life around after months of therapy to come to terms with what happened when she was younger.
Stepping Stones has seen the numbers of abuse victims coming forward for help triple in the last three years into the hundreds, after the Jimmy Savile scandal broke and they now have a waiting list.
The damage done to people's lives which can last decades includes alcoholism, drug use, crime, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress, inability to hold down jobs, maintaining relationships, inability to parent children and a disrupted education.
Talking about the value of counselling, Lindsay said: “I went through a very difficult time in my life last year,” she said: “I was lucky enough to be supported through the process by my fantastic family, friends and professionally through a charity called Stepping Stones.
“Stepping Stones offers individual counselling and group work for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
“Due to the sensitivity of the nature of the services they provide, the charity does not always get the publicity and exposure they deserve.
“The therapeutic support I was offered during my time of need was an absolute lifeline and helped me heal.”
Stepping Stones director, Joy Dyment, said the recent conviction of former North Wales Police chief, Gordon Anglesea, had thrown the spotlight back on child abuse and insisted it was important the victims were not forgotten amid the headlines.
Ms Dyment said: “We have worked very closely with Operation Pallial and are the only dedicated organisation in North Wales dealing with non recent abuse.
“The demand for our service has tripled over the past three years and we now have a waiting list for people needing help.
“Before Jimmy Saville, people would have their counselling and go home, but now its on the news and in the papers, it surrounds people and can re-traumatise them when they see it, so we are seeing an increased number of re-referrals.
“There is a lot of money put into finding the people that have committed these crimes, but there needs to be money going in to counsel and help the survivors.”
Stepping Stones counsellor Steve Harris said: “The effect we tend to see can range from flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, post traumatic stress, dreadful effects on relationships and maintaining them, difficulties with parenting, self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, not being able to hold down and having a pretty poor education through truanting or nor being able to pay attention.”
Stepping Stones provides a service that is not time limited and are even helping people aged in their 70s.
They counsel people aged over 18 who have been subjected to abuse.
For further information visit the Stepping Stones website.
Center for sex trafficking survivors breaks ground in Bastrop County
by Mary Huber
Toni McKinley's road to healing began in a church pew years ago. A child victim of sex trafficking, she had spent much of her adult years building walls around her heart and ignoring the trauma that had shaped her youth.
One Sunday, she listened to her pastor preach about love and relationships. Though she was in her late 30s, married and a mother of four, she realized how foreign the level of intimacy and trust he described was in her own life.
After that day, McKinley sought help to recover. Her story illustrates the often painfully long journey many trafficked women take to achieve wholeness.
For 48 girls, that journey will begin next summer, when a treatment center for sex trafficking survivors called the Refuge Ranch opens in Bastrop County.
On Tuesday, its founders and supporters broke ground for the center at a ceremony in Austin. The actual location of the Refuge will remain private to protect its residents.
In a planter laid in the grass was fresh dirt hauled from Bastrop County. McKinley, with a shovel, tossed it high into the moist morning air.
“There has been a great awakening going on that our children in the United States have been bought and sold for sex at an alarming rate,” Refuge founder Brooke Crowder told the crowd. “We recognize that there are so few places for them to heal. Our mission is to be that place. And today represents one day closer to that dream.”
Construction on the Ranch began two weeks ago. The long-term residential facility will offer support services to girls ages 11 to 17 who have been rescued from sexual slavery. It is uniquely designed — from the lighting in its rooms down to the colors on its walls — to serve the needs of its residents. Crowder said all suffer from some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder — and many have problems with substance abuse.
About a dozen cottages spread across 50 acres will house the center's 48 residents. Interspersed will be gardens, chapels and spaces for art, music and equine therapy. The People's Community Clinic will have a medical center on site, and the University of Texas Charter School system plans to offer schooling to the girls.
“We know that treating victims of this most heinous crime can take years of hard work, relapses and restarts,” Gov. Greg Abbott wrote of the center. “Each of these precious lives is worth the time and effort.”
The Refuge, a first-of-its-kind facility for Central Texas, is estimated to cost nearly $7 million to build and is set to open in May after three years of planning.
But its vision began more than a decade ago, when Crowder herself was still in seminary school. She had seen a video of young girls rescued from a brother in India. They were kept underground in a hole in the day and brought up to sell at night. At the time, her daughter was about the same age as the girls.
“It broke my heart so much so that I could not stop weeping,” she remembered. “My adviser saw me and said, ‘Brooke, obviously this is the calling of your life.'”
Crowder went on to work with trafficking survivors in both Costa Rica and the United States. In 2003, she met a landowner named Alex Shootman, who had adopted two young girls from Ethiopia and saw firsthand the exploits of sexual slavery. He donated the 50 acres in Bastrop County for what would become the Refuge.
“I saw with my own eyes how man can be evil to young girls,” Shootman said. “And the same evil that I saw with my eyes in Ethiopia exists here.”
According to data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one out of every five children reported missing in the United States in 2015 was likely a victim of sex trafficking. Seventy-four percent of those were in the care of social services or the foster system when they disappeared.
For the children that do make it out, there are few resources available to recover. Currently, there are fewer than 350 beds nationwide — and only 24 in Texas — available to young children rescued from sexual slavery.
“That is absolutely shameful,” Judge Darlene Byrne said Tuesday. “I have had many of my people in those beds, and I need more.”
Byrne presides over many of the foster cases in Austin and struggles to identify resources for people who have been rescued from sexual slavery. Crowder said she gets calls every day from families looking for help for their young daughters.
“Frankly, we cannot build the Refuge fast enough,” she said.
On Tuesday, Crowder thanked Bastrop County for supporting the center. The county and the Refuge signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year to allow construction crews to improve roads around the facility. County Judge Paul Pape also said they are considering redacting the name of the road where the center is located to provide increased protection and privacy.
“We have been thrilled with how Bastrop has embraced us and worked with us,” Crowder said.
The Lost Pines Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse will help provide security for the facility. Jobs will be available to community members who want to help, Crowder said.
The Refuge is still raising funds to pay for construction costs. Its goal is to raise another $2 million by the year's end. Anyone can donate by going online to therefugeaustin.org or mailing checks to the nonprofit organization.
“The thing that I really always hope people understand is that these are our girls, our children. This is going on right here in our community,” Crowder said. “It's a hard issue to face. But we can do it as a community if everyone just does one thing.”
Pa. Legislature won't take up House Bill 1947
by Kathleen E. Carey
The fight to expand the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse victims in Harrisburg is over for this session. HB 1947 failed to be put out for a final vote and its main supporter called it a victim of an abuse of power and vowed to resuscitate the issue in the next session in the new year.
HB 1947 surfaced in the spring as the state House passed the measure 180 to 15 in April, on the heels of a state Attorney General grand jury report into hundreds of students abused in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown by at least 50 Catholic priests dating back 40 years. But when the bill moved to the Senate, it faced a concerted campaign from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the insurance industry to block controversial language that would allow victims from decades ago to come forward now and file civil suits against their alleged abusers.
The archdiocese urged parishioners to contact their legislators to oppose the bill. Some local House members who had supported the measure said they took heat from the archdiocese, with one actually having his name casually mentioned in the Sunday bulletin at his parish.
In June, the state Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on House Bill 1947, which proponents said was biased due to the connection of the committee chairman, state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-12, of Willow Grove, and his firm representing Catholic entities in abuse cases in Delaware. The firm fought similar legislation there, as well as then-Solicitor General Bruce Castor's testimony in light of the guarantee he made to Bill Cosby about avoiding prosecution on rape charges years ago.
The Senate removed a provision that would have allowed adult survivors to seek civil recourse from those that harmed them and added other measures such as eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for conspiracy. It also allowed civil suits to be filed decades from now against individuals who abused a child or a private or public institution involved in conspiring with these attackers. In the Senate version, the standard of proof was also lowered to negligence in these cases, instead of gross negligence.
After passing in the Senate - without the controversial retroactive language - it was returned to the House. It failed to make it to the floor for a vote this week.
State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-126, of Berks County, who crafted the House amendment allowing victims up to 50 years old to pursue cases from abuse that occurred decades ago and himself a victim of abuse by a priest, said he was willing to compromise but pointed to senate leadership as problematic, and he believes it's connected to the campaign donations they receive from opponents of the bill.
“People should know the difference between right and wrong,” Rozzi said. “They're abusing their power.”
He said state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-25, of Brockway, refused to meet with him — or any survivor — and said Scarnati's version of the bill, which was sent to the House, appeared to be written by the Catholic Conference and the Insurance Federation, whom Rozzi said are major campaign contributors.
State records showed Scarnati received a $12,000 donation from the Pennsylvania Insurance PAC in May and votesmart.org listed the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania as one of Scarnati's top contributors, having contributed $47,000 to his campaign.
Rozzi also pointed to the 39 lobbyists advocating against this legislation.
“There's no other institutions running around here lobbying against the bill — it's the Catholic Conference and the Insurance Federation,” Rozzi said.
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has maintained its position that the church acknowledges its past and is committed to offering assistance to victims.
“We will provide continuous resources for survivors and their families so they can have access counseling, addiction treatment, medications and other necessary support services,” a statement on their website read. “Survivors do not need retroactive lawsuits to get support from the Catholic Church.”
It also pointed to safe environment practices such as training for employees, clergy and volunteers in identifying and responding to abuse, as well as reporting matters to local district attorneys.
Kate Eckhart, Scarnati's communications director, said comment on this matter would be limited to a statement, then added, “There needs to be a level of respect among colleagues and unfortunately that has not been shown by Rep. Rozzi.”
Scarnati's statement reads: “House Bill 1947 in its current form makes valuable improvements for both the criminal and civil actions for victims of child abuse. On this issue the House and Senate have more in common than disagreement. The language in which there is agreement is contained in HB 1947 and should be sent to the governor. HB 1947, which I strongly support, is constitutionally sound and further strengths current law. Often as a legislator I ask myself one simple question: Does the bill make current law better for the citizens of Pennsylvania? The clear answer when analyzing HB 1947 in its current form is ‘yes.'”
Rozzi disagreed, saying the Senate version was “deeply flawed,” containing a “dangerous preamble that restricted civil tort actions way beyond child sex abuse.”
He said he met with House Majority Dave Reed, R-62, of Indiana, Pa., to discuss what to do with the bill.
The representative said Senate leadership indicated they would not pass anything other than what they sent to the House.
He said he was willing to drop the retroactive component up to 50 years old in favor of a one-year window, allowing victims of any age to seek criminal and civil recourse.
Rozzi said he continued to try to talk to other House members about the legislation but was shut out.
“It became quite apparent to me they were content to stand there and protect pedophiles and the institutions that protect them,” Rozzi said. “House Bill 1947 was abandoned, like victims have been for years.”
He did want to highlight the movement made on this issue.
“I am proud of what we were able to accomplish this session,” he said, adding that it was the first time since 2006 to get such legislation out of the House Judiciary Committee, it was the first time there was a favorable vote in the House on retroactivity and it was the first time a senate hearing was held on this matter.
He thanked Reed for recognizing flaws in the senate version, and spoke of what can be expected in the future.
“I want to thank Majority Leader Dave Reed for agreeing to make statute of limitation reform for victims of childhood sexual abuse priority in the new year,” Rozzi said, adding that he wants to insert a window to allow victims of any age an opportunity to seek recourse. “We will be working together to come up with an agreed-upon bill that cannot be perverted or that benefits one group of victims over another.”
The representative reaffirmed his commitment to childhood sexual abuse victims.
“I'm not quitting,” Rozzi said. “I'm fighting for you still. Eventually we will win the war ... With six more Roman Catholic dioceses under investigation, you can be sure this problem is not going away and neither are we.”
Stark look at child sexual abuse kicks off series on those grappling with secrets
Help is out there - that is the message of a new series by the programme On The Red Dot.
by Channel News Asia
SINGAPORE: For nearly six years, since the tender age of nine, Jen (not her actual name) was sexually abused by her mother's partner - abuse to which her mother turned a blind eye.
In a gripping and disturbing account, she tells of what she went through, how she got out of that hell at the age of 14 with a schoolmate's help, and the long journey to psychological and emotional recovery.
On the fear that many victims have of being judged if they share their deep, dark secret with someone, Jen, now 25, said: “Only when you decide that your past will not define you can you outlive your past and then be a stronger person.”
"Secrets" is the theme of a new series on the programme On The Red Dot, which looks into dark situations that are very real for some Singaporeans, but few dare to speak about. These include teen suicide, gambling addiction, family violence and having a criminal record.
The first episode "Innocence Robbed" debuts on Friday (Oct 28) at 9.30pm on Mediacorp's Channel 5.
With several recent cases in the news about minors being sexually abused by someone they knew, the episode takes a timely look at the world of a sexual abuse victim and what help is out there.
For Jen, that help first came in the form of her best friend, Nora, when she was 14. Jen confided in her because “I felt something was wrong with me. I just wanted to hear if she had been punished in similar ways as me.”
Nora recalled: “My mind went blank. I really didn't know what to do. At 14, my maturity level was not there yet … I could not understand her situation so I just comforted her.”
Nora did more - she led her friend to tell their teacher and inform the police.
Helped by the Child Protective Service, Jen was removed from her mother's home and placed with her aunt. She also attended a group therapy session run by the Ministry of Social and Family Development for survivors of sexual abuse.
The episode details the difficulties with pursuing her case, friends and relatives who were there for her when she struggled with depression and suicide, and even a group of strangers who played financial “angels” and helped her for three years.
In 2015, there were 82 sexual abuse investigations in Singapore involving minors, up 46 per cent from 2014.
Experts said that those whom victims choose to confide in play a critical role.
Jen's psychologist, Vivienne Ng, said: “If you are a carer or an adult like a teacher, if your child comes up and tells you that she has been abused, the most important thing is for her to know that you don't doubt her, that you believe her, and that you will take measures to protect her.”
Today, Jen is embarking on a master's degree in business and is hoping to start her own family. She urges victims to speak out.
“I think for any child who is very afraid to tell someone, it's because they are not sure if life is going to be safer, (if it) is going to be better than what they are currently living now.
“So I want them to be comforted that there are support networks out there - there are places that you can go to, there are people you can talk to, and they don't have to be afraid about stepping out and being vulnerable,” she said.
HEART@Fei Yue CPSC - 6819 9170
Big Love CPSC - 6445 0400
Child Protective Service Helpline (MSF) - 1800-777 0000
On The Red Dot's "Secrets" series airs every Friday at 9.30pm on Mediacorp's Channel 5.
How These Male Sexual Assault Survivors Are Helping Other Victims
by Clare Wiley
Daniel Wolstencroft was just five years old the first time he was sexually abused by a family member. The abuse went on for years. He started acting out as a teenager, turned to alcohol and drugs, and ended up in prison. No one thought to ask what was wrong, and it was only years later—when another man opened up to him about his own sexual abuse—that Wolstencroft found the courage to break his silence.
As many as 75,000 men are victims of sexual assault in the UK every year; around 9,000 are victims of rape. But this abuse is rarely talked about, and there's a stigma still attached to coming forward. In 2013/14, only 3,000 offenses of male rape or sexual assault were recorded.
That's why Wolstencroft has set up Shatter Boys, a new project to help other male survivors of child sexual abuse and adult rape. The project uses the experiences of men who have been through horrific ordeals themselves to empower other victims. So far he and the group have helped 60 men in Manchester, and the plan is to launch support groups across the country. I spoke to Wolstencroft to find out what stops men from speaking out and why more needs to be done.
VICE: Can you tell me why you decided to set up Shatter Boys?
Daniel Wolstencroft: It's personal. I was abused as a child and as a teen. It started at five. Nobody ever picked up on it. I was running away from home and being naughty, but I was just seen as a little shit. No one ever sat me down and said, "Daniel, why are you behaving like this?" I ended up in drug services—I've been to rehab God knows how many times. I've been to prison. There was a total lack of support. I slipped through the net all those years.
It wasn't until I found a drug worker in 2009 who told me about himself—he'd been through similar things. He was the first person I'd ever spoken to who had been abused. I thought, If he can do it, I can do it . That gave me strength to speak out. After that, I made myself a promise then that I would set up a support group for male survivors.
How does the project work?
We offer one-to-one and group support. We also talk to people online. People can remain anonymous; they don't have to show their faces. They can build their confidence up before coming to see us in person.
We're a peer-support service, not a clinical service. We're experts by experience. You can't put a price on talking to someone who's been through similar things to you—particularly with this stuff because it's so personal. We've got lived experience. That's what works.
Why does that approach work?
Because a lot of people have been abused by people in a position of authority, whether that be a social worker, a teacher... somebody in a shirt and tie. Nearly all the lads we work with have massive trust issues. If we make a disclosure about what we've been through, that builds that rapport and trust.
So few men speak out about their abuse. Why do you think that is?
Men are supposed to be strong and able to deal with stuff. So when a person speaks out, even though it happened to them when they were a child, they're worried that other people will view them as being weak—like you couldn't look after yourself or defend yourself.
Then there's what we call "vampire syndrome"—if you've been bitten by a vampire, then you become one. There's a taboo out there that if you've been abused, you go on to abuse others. Which is far from the truth—there's no research backing that, but it's a major reason why people don't come forward.
How do you tackle those stereotypes?
By raising awareness, by putting stuff out there online. And by sharing our truth and our stories with people. The average time for a male disclosing is 27 years; the average time for a woman is five.
One of our clients is a 54-year-old from Manchester who was abused as a child, initially by his brother. He ended up going into care. Then he was sexually abused by his social worker and in care by the older lads. He made contact with us online. I built up a rapport with him, and he gained the confidence to meet in person, and then started coming to the group. He's been flying ever since. He's now helping to support new members. It's all about passing on what we've learned.
Do you think society needs to do more to help male survivors?
Yeah, I do. There's only a handful of services that are specifically set up to help men, and there are many for women—that's the reason we set up in the first place. But we don't want any funding off anyone. Salford University has given us a room for free indefinitely, but we don't want to be tied to the NHS or anything, where they can say, "Right, your funding's stopped now." Survivors UK —Britain's biggest male-rape charity—had its funding cut to zero in 2015, despite a huge increase in men reporting sexual violence.
My main concern is that post–Jimmy Savile and Operation Yewtree, there's going to be loads of people coming forward, and, in my opinion, the criminal justice system isn't set up to help survivors of child abuse, or deal with perpetrators. We're doing what little we can by setting up these groups.
Breaking the silence -- sharing secrets to mend lives
by Jeffrey Schweers
Tallahassee woman shares experience so others may heal
Maureen had prepared herself for the end. Paid all her bills. Got out her life insurance policy. Got the pills ready.
And then she saw the time. She had to pick up her 11-year-old daughter from school.
On the drive home, the girl talked nonstop about her elementary school drama, the friend who hurt her feelings, little things important to a child that needed a parent's help and guidance. The kind of attention her own mother had not paid her.
Maureen decided to put off suicide that day and seek help instead.
“I thought, who else was going to listen to her heart? Who else cared?” Maureen said. “My daughter saved my life.”
What drove her to the brink of suicide were the emerging memories of being sexually assaulted as a child, and the feelings of shame, guilt and depression that overwhelmed her.
What has moved her to tell her story is the desire to share the hope that she has found after 10 years of therapy, and the courage she has gained from talking about that horrific experience over and over again.
“I feel strongly that this story should be about breaking the silence, healing through talking and releasing the emotions, and fostering the hope for a healthy, normal life by stepping out of the darkness into the light.”
Maureen — whose name has been changed to protect her identity — is one of the millions of adults in America who survived repeated sexual assaults as a child. Sexual assault is an epidemic in this country, an issue that affects one in five women and one in 20 men. October is set aside as Domestic Violence Awareness month.
Most victims were assaulted by someone they knew or a family member, someone they trusted and looked up to. In Maureen's case, her tormentors included a neighborhood teen and a family member.
Most victims end up dependent on drugs and alcohol, go through several marriages, change jobs frequently. Some become strippers and prostitutes. They often work in low-paying jobs and wind up in abusive relationships.
Most struggle with depression, PTSD and other stress-related illnesses.
“We see many clients who are adult survivors of child sexual assault who continue to suffer,” said Meg Baldwin, executive director of Refuge House.
Up to 800 adult clients a year seek help from Refuge House, a nonprofit organization that provides counseling to people throughout the Big Bend.
“Someone who has been through the type of experience we're talking about has to have pretty tough fiber to keep navigating that,” Baldwin said.
Maureen is fortunate. She has a supportive husband who understands her, who listens to her and works beside her to help in her recovery. She has a tight-knit support network.
Until recently, her health insurance covered her private therapy sessions.
Even so, her past has hurt her professionally. She settled for mediocre positions where she can get by without working up to her full potential because of feelings of low-self esteem.
“There is a massive domino effect to sexual abuse and the public does not realize the indirect impact it has on them,” Maureen said.
She agreed to tell her story because she wants people who haven't been through her experience to know that survivors of child sexual abuse are among them and need compassion, empathy and patience.
“They need to know that we are all around them — in the grocery store, in their offices, at the gym, in church, sitting next to them at a red light — and they don't even know it,” Maureen said in one of several long emails during the two months we worked together on this story.
“My abuse is what happened to me; my story is how I am healing from it.”
To meet her for the first time, or to know her only casually, one wouldn't suspect that Maureen is an adult survivor of child sexual assault. She comes off as a bright, cheerful and energetic overachiever approaching 50. Her shock of red hair and splash of freckles give away her Irish roots.
Petite, muscular and lean from an intensive exercise regimen, Maureen talks quickly as she moves from topic to topic during the course of several interviews. Every now and then, her New York sarcasm slips through.
Her eyes darken and she tends to look down at the table when she speaks of the events that stole her childhood.
She looks up and her eyes brighten when she talks about the strides she's made to overcome that past to find hope and strength.
Maureen seems happy. Healthy. Her life is good. She has a loving husband of 27 years. A career in public service. A well-adjusted daughter in her senior year of college. A nice home in one of the better Tallahassee suburbs.
She still carries around a great deal of stress, anxiety and shame — but she's successfully learned how to cope with it.
She works out five to six days a week after work for two to three hours at a time. She has a high tolerance for pain.
“It forces me to stay out of my head.”
It also helps reduce the amount of anti-anxiety medication she takes. “I rarely take them, but on occasion, I need to.”
Her nights are just as active as her days. Sometimes she and her husband make dinner, play cribbage and hang out. Two nights a week she has therapy. Other nights she runs errands and has dinner with friends.
She also writes every day. It helps her organize her thoughts and work through her emotions between therapy sessions. “I would be lost if I didn't write,” she said.
A decade of therapy helped her find the strength to tell her husband what happened to her as a child. It helped her share some of the basics with her daughter — now 21. Only one of her brothers knows the truth. Only one knows part of her story.
Her 82-year-old father doesn't know.
Her mother, who died five years ago at 75, never knew the whole story.
For most of her adult life, Maureen had successfully repressed those secrets, distracted by college, marriage, work and raising a child. She had invented a version of her own childhood she wanted to believe was real, one that varied dramatically from what she knew to be true.
But those secrets began to bubble to the surface around 15 years ago, about the time her own daughter was the same age that Maureen was when she was first sexually abused.
“I would watch the clock at school waiting to go home so I could go to his house.”
Maureen's childhood in upstate New York had seemed idyllic too, with pool parties, barbecues and vacations.
Her dad — a staunch Catholic — worked in accounting and bookkeeping. Her mom was a waitress with an eighth-grade education. Maureen lacked for nothing.
But a monster lurked in the neighborhood — a 12-year-old boy who sexually assaulted her repeatedly from age 6 to age 9, passing her around to other boys and men in exchange for beer, money and status. Her neighborhood became a map of abuse. The woods that took up the center of the block. Other people's homes where things happened.
Nobody thought twice or wondered what a little girl kid was doing hanging out with adolescent boys.
She saw it as normal and fought her therapist for a year before she realized she'd been abused.
“He was my boyfriend or whatever a 6-year-old thinks.” She figured she had just been a promiscuous, precocious girl.
He groomed her. He enticed her by offering her his friendship, the chance to hang out with older kids. Lavished her with attention and kindness. Touched her affectionately. Used board games to make it seem like a big, fun game.
He told her things like “It's our special secret” and “We'll get in big trouble.”
One day the boy told her not to come back.
“I grieved for a long time,” Maureen said.
Monster in the house
“We don't talk about it because it's a secret — we are conditioned not to tell. When we do — all these years later — it is terrifying.”
Inside her home, another monster lurked. She had several brothers. One, older than Maureen, still lived at home.
Around the same time the neighbor started abusing Maureen, her brother began drinking and doing drugs, acting violently. He'd come home drunk and blast the music at 2 a.m., making her bed and toys on her dresser shake. He would fly into a rage and punch walls and throw things. He got DUIs, totaled cars. He threw a knife at Maureen.
“I would beg my mom to throw him out,” Maureen said. Her mother would say, “He's my son and I love him.”
Occasionally, he'd walk around the house in his underwear, aroused. He'd watch her from her bedroom doorway while she pretended to sleep. He'd kneel next to her bed.
Other things happened, too. Things she can't bring herself to talk about yet.
“None of it was that bad...” Maureen said.
The quiet years
“It is like burying a 55-gallon barrel of toxic waste. It eventually leaks and spreads through the soil contaminating everything in its path…”
By the time Maureen reached high school, things had settled down at home. Her brother was rarely violent.
Her teen years were relatively calm. “Friends, school, normal stuff. Teen stuff. The quiet years.”
She wanted for nothing, had her own car, nice clothes.
And then a strange thing happened between her and her mother.
At work, Maureen had met a man who was three years older than she was. Her mother developed a crush on him and moved him into the house. She planned for Maureen to marry him after high school graduation.
But Maureen didn't want him around. When she finally broke up with him and he moved back to his own home, her mother kicked Maureen out of the house.
For a year after that, Maureen stayed with her brother off and on.
She went to high school in the morning, attended college at night, and worked when she wasn't in school.
She also drank to numb her pain.
“Wherever I went the pain followed and I spent copious amounts of energy burying it,” Maureen said.
A fresh start
“Sabotaged many things over the years by not being able to pursue/nurture/follow through with them because of the depression and feeling worthless, afraid, undeserving, ashamed –”
At 18, she met the man she'd marry three years later.
When she was 27, Maureen gave birth to her daughter.
They bought a home. They had a good life. But beneath the mask, depression lurked.
By the time her daughter turned six, the depression engulfed Maureen.
She distanced herself from her husband. They argued. She withheld affection.
“I did everything I could to push him away. I was ruining my marriage.”
They moved to Tallahassee for her husband's career. It was a fresh start, a distraction.
She took time off from her career to set up house, raise her daughter.
Hiding the pain
“Survivors hide their pain really well. Like behind a mask of normalcy. Live life, work, raise families, all while crumbling inside.”
These ambivalent feelings about her abusers followed her long into adulthood.
Years passed. The neighborhood predator grew up, got married and raised a family of his own. Life went on and she rarely thought about him.
But when her abuser's mother died, Maureen attended the funeral. Her parents had been friends with the boy's parents. Skipping it was out of the question.
After the funeral, the man looked directly at her. His face darkened and he left in a hurry. Maureen was bewildered.
“I thought that was odd,” Maureen said. She was disconnected from her feelings and the events of her childhood.
She had a similar disconnect with her brother, who also had gotten married.
About a decade ago, he got caught in a sting operation when he went to meet an underage girl he'd chatted with on the internet. The girl turned out to be an undercover cop.
Throughout his arrest and trial, Maureen lent him emotional support, albeit reluctantly and quietly. She flew up to visit him two weeks before he went to prison. Maureen sent his wife flowers for her birthday and their anniversary. She took his phone calls from prison. The two talked for hours.
When he was about to be released, she started having panic attacks. Yet she continued to have regular contact with her brother for two and a half more years. “Family loyalty, no matter what,” she said. “Just like my mother taught me.”
And then one day, she told him she couldn't take his calls anymore. She told him to stop calling, and when he persisted, she wrote him a letter telling him to leave her alone.
She hasn't spoken to him since.
Talking it through
“In the beginning, I couldn't say the words; often I couldn't utter a sound. Now I can tell him and usually maintain eye contact.”
“For me, my real story begins the day I went to a therapist, reached out for help, and broke my silence,” Maureen wrote.
To survive at all, and still find a way to thrive and be happy, is amazing, she said. “If more survivors knew how wonderful, beautiful and restorative it is, more of them would take that first frightening step on the journey.”
She started seeing her first therapist in 2006.
Months went by before she mentions the “relationship” she had with the teenage neighbor when she was 6 through 9. For a year, she denied it was abuse. In her mind, she saw it as a consensual relationship.
It was tough going. Maureen was haunted by nightmares and night terrors. Flashbacks and body memories. Intrusive thoughts. Insomnia. Panic attacks. Dissociation. Numbness. Migraines. It was overwhelming and confusing.
She also started cutting herself and bingeing, something she still struggles with.
“Severe PTSD began for me once I started talking about it,” Maureen said.
Yet it also was cathartic. It was a relief to get it all out in the open.
“They need to know there is a safe, caring, loving way to heal their hearts and that's through talking out what happened.”
After three years, the first therapist got Maureen to meet with his partner, who has an extensive background in abuse therapy. She was terrified.
By listening to her, and by showing he cared, the therapist developed a bond of trust with Maureen. He “re-parented” her by showing her how a loving parent is supposed to engage and connect with a child. When they ran into misunderstandings during their twice-weekly sessions, he taught her how to resolve conflicts without anger and violence.
He showed her she had value, that she was not invisible. Maureen began to understand she mattered.
Still, 10 years later, at times she still struggles to tell her story. She sits on the couch next to her therapist and reads from her journal. He checks in with her and where she is at the moment.
And then they talk. Or sometimes he talks. He asks directed questions when she shuts down or avoids the subject. She gets angry, confused, has massive breakthroughs and a-ha moments. Sometimes her New York sarcasm clashes with his Midwestern plain talking.
“I wish I'd known going into it how hard it would be,” Maureen said. "I was going to ‘do therapy' in six months and then be out of there. Yeah, that didn't work out as planned."
New research shows that even with profound counseling, adults often revisit these feelings of powerlessness and terror if a situation reminds them of how they felt when they were abused as children, said Sally Karioth, a Florida State University nursing professor and trauma counselor. Being able to debrief and get to where it's not your fault is critical to regaining power over your own life, she said.
"Telling your 'story' to a non-participant observer allows you to look at it from a more impersonal vantage point and find a place to 'put' it where it doesn't haunt your every waking moment," Karioth said.
Trauma therapy helps to overcome the PTSD-like symptoms first and then begin managing the other feelings of shame, anger, sadness "that accompany deep and constant grief,” she said.
Maureen rarely experiences those PTSD symptoms from long ago. She still deals with the anger, confusion, pain and shame.
And she has gotten past many of the intimacy issues she had before therapy. She still doesn't like to be hugged. She prefers a good, firm handshake.
She credits her husband, priest and therapist for helping her get this far.
“They all taught me that not every man is an abuser,” Maureen said. “They taught me there are wonderful men in this world who value, respect, and honor women and who are deeply grieved and angered by men who don't.”
Maureen firmly believes therapy and talking about what happened to her saved her life.
“It's totally unfair that they hurt us in the most horrific, heart-shattering manner and we have to do all the work to put our lives back together,” she said.
By repeated telling of her story, Maureen hopes it will no longer have power over her.
“I hope one day I can tell it and feel strong without shame, fear, and worthlessness,” she said. “I'm not there yet, but I will be.”
Contact Jeffrey Schweers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.
HELP IS HERE
Refuge House provides direct services to domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors, and community education, in all 8 counties of the Big Bend Area of North Florida, including: Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties. For emergency help call the 24 hour hotline at 850 681 2111.
New Michael Jackson Lawsuit Alleges Child-Abuse Procurement Ring
A new lawsuit alleges Michael Jackson's businesses were a front for grooming children to be abused—but his estate has dismissed the claims as false.
by Tom Sykes
More than seven years after his death, the lawsuits against Michael Jackson keep on coming.
The latest complaint, filed by a Jane Doe who alleges that she was abused by Jackson from 1986 to 1989, when she was aged 12 to 15, claims that Jackson secretly operated, “the most sophisticated public child sexual-abuse procurement and facilitation organizations the world has known.”
RadarOnline.com has obtained the woman's court papers, which give graphic detail about the “childhood sexual abuse” she alleges she suffered at the hands of Jackson.
Reps for Jackson's estate have been quick to rubbish the claims, accusing the woman of an “attempt to hit the lottery by suing the estate of Michael Jackson more than seven years after Michael's death and close to 30 years after these incidents supposedly occurred.”
Describing the claim as being “without any merit,” the reps also told Radar, “It's no coincidence that this woman is represented by the same attorneys involved in two other frivolous claims against the estate.”
According to the complaint obtained by Radar, the woman had a chance meeting with Jackson at his Hayvenhurst estate in 1986, when she was 12. Jackson obtained her family's home phone number, she says, and through letters, phone calls, and gifts groomed her to be his sex partner.
The complaint lists a litany of disturbing sex acts the woman alleges Jackson performed, and also claims that while his businesses “held out to the public to be businesses dedicated to creating and distributing multimedia entertainment,” they were in fact “specifically designed to locate, attract, lure, and seduce child sexual-abuse victims.”
Although the Thriller singer is said to have paid as much as $200 million in hush money to multiple victims before his death in 2009, he was never convicted of child abuse. Many of his defenders simply prefer to focus on his musical achievements.
His trial, in 2005, found him not guilty on 14 counts of sexual abuse. But since that time, a steady stream of additional accusers has come forward.
Last year, Radar published allegations that investigators at the time of the trial discovered Jackson had stockpiled a vast collection of sexual imagery, including child pornography, scenes of animal torture, and S&M pictures, reportedly used as part of a twisted strategy to groom sexual-molestation victims by desensitizing them.
Palestinians: Jihadi-Style Child Abuse
Where are the "Human Rights" Groups?
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Children in this world do not dream about becoming doctors, pilots or engineers; an entire generation of Palestinians, particularly those in the Gaza Strip, has been raised on the glorification of suicide bombers and anyone who kills a Jew.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other radical groups see children as future "soldiers" in the war to eliminate Israel. They raise children to regard to suicide bombers and jihadis as role models.
This form of child abuse does not seem to bother human rights organizations or UNICEF, whose declared goal is to "work for a world in which every child has a fair chance in life and a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential..." UNICEF apparently does not believe its mandate extends to Palestinian children, who are exploited to serve the interests of Islamist groups.
In the view of human rights organizations, recruiting Palestinian children to the ranks of Islamist terror groups does not constitute child abuse.
What is the world prepared to do in order to combat this child abuse? UNICEF and other international bodies may not have time to deal with such issues at present, because they are too busy thinking about the next resolution to condemn Israel.
Children have long become an integral part of "military" parades held in the Gaza Strip by various Palestinian groups. But this form of child abuse does not seem to bother human rights organizations or the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), whose declared goal is to "work for a world in which every child has a fair chance in life and a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential -- to the benefit of a better world." It seems that UNICEF does not believe that its mandate extends to Palestinian children, who are exploited to serve the interests of Islamist groups.
In the Gaza Strip, children are taught not only to hate Israel, but also to prepare themselves for jihad (holy war) against the "Zionist enemy." Hamas, the Islamic Jihad Movement, and other radical groups see children as future "soldiers" in the war to eliminate Israel. They raise children to regard suicide bombers and jihadis as role models.
Children in this world do not dream about becoming doctors, pilots or engineers. Rather, they dream of destroying Israel and "liberating Palestine." In fact, an entire generation of Palestinians, particularly those in the Gaza Strip, has been raised on the glorification of suicide bombers and anyone who kills a Jew. With enough sacrifices, they are taught, the destruction of Israel is not a far-fetched dream. They alone embody the future hope of the Palestinians to see Israel removed from the face of the earth. Forget becoming a physician: their job is to continue what their fathers failed to achieve.
All the while, both local and international human rights organizations look the other way. In their view, recruiting Palestinian children to the ranks of Islamist terror groups does not constitute child abuse.
Yet not only human rights groups turn a blind eye to this child abuse. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which relies heavily on Western donors for its survival, has also chosen to bury its head in the sand regarding this disturbing practice, which has become widespread in the Gaza Strip in recent years.
While the PA has no control over the Gaza Strip, its leaders, especially President Mahmoud Abbas, might be expected to condemn the exploitation and brainwashing of children. What Abbas and other PA leaders fail to understand is that these children also pose a real threat to them. The radicalized children grow up not only to hate Jews, but also any Palestinian leader who claims to seek peace with Israel. The very poison that is being injected into the minds and hearts of these children will come back to haunt those Palestinian leaders who sit idly by as the indoctrination occurs.
It is precisely these jihad-abused children who in a few short years will turn against the same leaders who poison their hearts and minds because they regard the leaders as too "moderate." Moreover, it is this incitement that drives Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two groups that are considered political foes of the PA leadership and that strongly oppose any peaceful settlement with Israel.
Strikingly, the children are not being brainwashed in secret, behind closed doors. On the contrary; it is taking place in broad daylight, with those responsible boasting of it and inviting the world to see how they prepare the next generation of jihadis.
Summer camps where children undergo military training are not new to the Gaza Strip. They operated there long before Hamas's violent takeover of the Strip. But now, one no longer has to wait until the children are off from school and attend one of the summer camps there to see such scenes. Children clad in military uniforms and brandishing automatic rifles can be seen throughout the Gaza Strip almost every other week. The parents, by and large, seem "proud" that their sons and daughters are being taught that jihad is the only way to "liberate Palestine."
Take, for example, the recent rally organized by the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine on the occasion of its 29th anniversary. The group's declared objective is to destroy Israel and establish a sovereign, Islamic state. The rally was also to commemorate the anniversary of the assassination of the group's leader, Fathi Shikaki, who was gunned down on October 26, 1995 in front of the Diplomat Hotel in Sliema, Malta, presumably by Israeli agents.
The "stars" at the rally were dozens of boys and girls who came -- or more accurately were brought -- to the rally to express their support for the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, and its goals.
Most of the children appeared in camouflage military outfits, some carrying real or fake automatic rifles, and wearing headbands carrying the name of the group's armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades. And here is a quick reminder: the Brigades are responsible for a series of suicide bombings and other terror attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers. They are also behind many of the rockets that have been fired into Israel in recent years. The children are celebrated and lionized as "cubs and flowers."
The rally, which drew thousands of Palestinians, was held under the banner of "Jihad is our Renewed Birth." Translated, this means that the group is repeating its commitment to pursue holy war against Israel and Jews in order to achieve its goal of establishing an ISIS-style Islamic state. Later, the group proudly announced that a month-old infant named Sham Al-Zaq was the youngest Palestinian to attend the rally. The group even posted a photo of the baby girl dressed in a military outfit.
Addressing the crowd through satellite, Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Shallah once again reminded his supporters of the need to abide by the "armed struggle" as the only means to destroy Israel. "The Palestinians and their future generations will not compromise or give up their right to Palestine, which is our homeland," Shallah emphasized. "Jihad is the path to victory and liberation."
What is worrying about this Islamic Jihad rally is not only the number of children who appeared at the forefront and in military uniforms and weapons, but also the large number of participants.
According to sources in the Gaza Strip, tens of thousands of Palestinians attended the Islamic Jihad rally. They noted that some of the families arrived from various parts of the Gaza Strip two or three days earlier at the location of the rally, to make sure they found space close to the podium.
The large turnout is evidence of the widespread support for Islamic Jihad, which has become the second-largest militia in the Gaza Strip, after Hamas. The large turnout is also a sign of the increased radicalization of Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, and the "mass return to Islam." Ironically, many of the group's supporters are former disgruntled members of Hamas, who felt that Hamas was not Islamic enough, and was too "soft" on Israel.
Thus, we are dealing with the exploitation of children, but also the growing radicalization that is taking place among Palestinians. In a society where drinking coffee with Jews is considered a crime, it is easy to see in which direction Palestinians are headed. It is only a matter of time before many of these children who appear at the "military" rallies of Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and absorb the poison of their leaders, set out on a mission to kill Jews with the hope of replacing Israel with an Islamic state. The children are being taught that the conflict with Israel is not about a settlement or an illegal outpost or borders or checkpoints, but about the very existence of Israel. What is the world prepared to do in order to combat this child abuse? UNICEF and other international bodies may not have time to deal with such issues at present, because they are too busy thinking about the next resolution to condemn Israel.
Lawmakers react to 'alarming' report on DCYF child-abuse cases
by DAVE SOLOMON
CONCORD — The preliminary report by an outside agency investigating the handling of child abuse cases by the state was called “disturbing” and “alarming” Wednesday by members of the legislative Commission on Child Abuse Fatalities.
“Reading the report made me feel like we are on a sinking ship,” said commission member Skip Berrien, a Democratic state representative from Exeter.
The interim report by the Center for the Support of Families, based in Silver Spring, Md., was released on Oct. 11, and it confirmed much of what lawmakers have been hearing for the past year — the Division of Children, Youth and Families is grossly understaffed, sees turnover among social workers that is well above national averages, and allows investigations of abuse and neglect to remain open well beyond the 60 days required in DCYF's own policy manual.
The report revealed that only 20 percent of the cases reviewed were either closed or moved to the next phase within the 60 days.
The vice-chair of the commission, Republican State Sen. Sharon Carson of Londonderry, told Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers that under-staffing at the agency must be addressed.
“This report is very disturbing to me because it speaks to the fact that the department doesn't have enough staff to meet the needs,” said Carson. “I am concerned about the children who have possibly fallen through the cracks.”
The outside consulting firm was hired by the state to investigate child protection practices at DCYF after two high-profile homicides involving children whose cases were under DCYF review.
Manchester attorney Rus Rilee, representing the estates of 3-year-old Brielle Gage of Nashua and 21-month-old Sadie Willott of Manchester, is preparing a lawsuit over DCYF's handling of both cases.
He recently filed a separate lawsuit on behalf of the adoptive parents of two young girls who were subjected to horrific sexual and physical abuse during DCYF-sanctioned parental visitation.
“Why has this been allowed to go on for so long?” said Carson. “Why weren't there internal measures that would throw up some red flags that would tell you we really need some help?”
Meyers, whose testimony occupied most of the commission meeting, said he could not account for what happened before he took office earlier this year. “I can't speak for what a past commissioner may or may not have done, but what I can address is the present and the future,” he said.
Meyer said DHHS is moving staff from other divisions in the department to fill positions in DCYF, has an aggressive hiring and recruitment program under way, and intends to seek pay raises for social workers when the Legislature reconvenes.
“We place these workers into very difficult positions. It's very taxing work and I think we need to ensure we have the proper pay scale so we can attract and retain workers,” said Meyers. “I may need to look at overtime as well.”
He said a request for proposals to outsource late-night and weekend coverage was re-issued after the first one failed to attract any interested bidders.
“We put out a revised request for proposals with a response date of Nov. 7,” he said. “If we end up in the same position as we did the first time, we'll reach out proactively to firms that we think may be qualified and will have to look at a sole source contract. This remains a priority.”
Meyers said he could not comment on the specifics of Rilee's lawsuit.
Commission Chair Lucy Weber, D-Walpole said revision of the state's Child Protection Act may be necessary to avoid future tragedies.
“The purpose of the act (as it exists) is very much geared toward reunification of the family, and it was noted at some point that perhaps that policy ought to be revisited,” she said. “I think we are going to have another opportunity for that discussion.”
The full report by the Center for the Support of Families will focus on practices and procedures in the department through detailed examination of 100 cases is due out by the end of the year.
“I fear the details released in the preliminary report are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Carson.
Conference will offer safe space for dialogue about childhood sexual assault
by Jackie Bussjaeger
STILLWATER — Sexual abuse is a subject that many think of as difficult to talk about, but a conference in Stillwater this November will tackle the topic head-on in an attempt to remove the stigma and promote healing for survivors of childhood sexual assault.
The conference is hosted by Stillwater-based EmpowerSurvivors. The nonprofit's mission is to provide safe spaces for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the St. Croix Valley and surrounding areas by reducing isolation, mitigating feelings of shame, rebuilding trust and providing empowerment through peer support groups.
The conference, which is entitled “Giving Voice: EmpowerSurvivors 2016” will take place Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Grand Banquet Hall in downtown Stillwater. The keynote speaker is Matthew Sandusky, the son of Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was sentenced for sexual abuse of underage students in 2012. Matthew will discuss his own abuse by his adoptive father and later share the ways he recovered from his trauma and launched a successful career.
The program will also feature presentations from representatives of Cornerstone, a sexual violence-prevention organization based in Bloomington. The speakers will offer a basic definition of childhood sexual abuse, including its damaging effects that can and often do persist. They will also discuss trauma and PTSD and ways of managing these conditions. The day ends with a panel discussion composed of panelists who are local survivors of child sexual abuse.
Stillwater resident Elizabeth Sullivan began EmpowerSurvivors in 2014 as a way to provide resources to other survivors in the community. As a survivor herself, she began educating herself about the psychological trauma and other long-suppressed effects that adult survivors endure. She said it's common for adults to reach middle age before the negative effects of psychological damage even begin to show.
“The kids who are lucky enough—and they are lucky—to have somebody pick up on this, they are way better off than the child who never told or who told and wasn't believed,” she said. “These adults who never had that chance are now dealing with this as an adult, and they may be married, and all that stuff will affect how they raise their kids, how they deal with an employer, how their medical health is. This isn't something that just affects the survivor; it affects the community as a whole.”
Contrasting it with the public alarm raised surrounding the threat of Zika virus, for example, Sullivan pointed out that many of the most dangerous threats to children are much closer at hand. One in every four girls and one in every six boys are subjected to childhood sexual abuse sometime before the age of 18. And though schools and parents vigilantly warn of “stranger danger,” Sullivan said more than 90 percent of assaults are committed by someone who is known to the victim.
“There are things that we can be doing to reduce this and it happens in every neighborhood, every ethnic group, and in every family,” she said. “In every family, there's going to be someone who's sexually abused. They may not know it, but it's there.”
The statistics are shocking, and part of the reason is because the pandemic of childhood sexual abuse is so widespread, but discussed so rarely.
“Sexual abuse is so prevalent in our society, yet it's really, really hard for people to talk about because it makes them uncomfortable,” Sullivan said. “It's a struggle to get people, whether it's a school board or local churches to talk about this, and I want to kind of help people feel more relaxed about talking about this.”
Sullivan said that the statistics — already as high as they are — likely do not represent an accurate picture of just how extensive abuse is because many children do not report their abuse, whether it's out of fear, guilt, shame or for some other reason. They often suppress the feelings and memories associated with abuse, and Sullivan said that the suppression often comes to a critical point during middle age in adult survivors.
“Them not dealing with that has a way of coming back in adulthood,” she said. “The average age is 42 that these kids actually start to deal with it. Something will happen in their present life that triggers all this stuff from the past. It might be something like all the abuse coming out from the Archdiocese; that might trigger a lot of people, or it can be as simple as having a baby, or your children get to the ages that you were when you were sexually abused and you get triggered. So all of a sudden these kids that took all that in and also took in a lot of lies due to that are all of a sudden at 42 being reduced to a 10-year-old or 13-year-old.”
Trauma may manifest in adulthood in the form of flashbacks and intrusive thoughts, or serious disorders such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia or any number of chronic conditions.
“We have kids who are sexually abused at an alarming rate,” Sullivan said. “And it goes on generation after generation because people don't talk about it. The more I started to realize this, I realized we have to do something and support these adults.”
EmpowerSurvivors' mission is to provide a safe space for those conversations to take place, especially by creating a support group of fellow survivors. The organization recently became a nonprofit, and Sullivan hopes this will enable her to offer more wellness events for survivors and education for the community at large. She wants all parents, teachers and community leaders to know the warning signs, which are often written off as juvenile delinquency. Even medical professionals have more to learn about trauma and the way it affects the mind and body, Sullivan said.
Sullivan also hopes that the conference will become a yearly event. In the meantime, she plans to continue her educational and support services for adult survivors in the St. Croix Valley and beyond.
“If they are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it wasn't their fault,” Sullivan said. “The shame keeps you silent, but there is healing that can be had and you can heal from this. It's important they get support, because the majority of survivors don't get support from family or community. It's really at a pandemic level. Worldwide.”
EmpowerSurvivors meets every Thursday 6-7:30 p.m. at Joseph H. Roach Hall (208 Third St. S., Stillwater). Each meeting begins with a 15-minute topic discussion, such as grounding techniques and ways to deal with the various symptoms of trauma. The rest of the meeting consists of whatever members care to discuss. New members are always welcome and there is no fee to attend an EmpowerSurvivors peer support group.
Sullivan can be regularly heard on the radio show hosted by NAASCA (National Association for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse), where she has discussed her own survivor story. She also recommended to resources RAINN, 1in6 for male survivors, Cornerstone and NAASCA. To learn more about the conference and EmpowerSurvivors in general, visit www.empowersurvivors.net.
Jackie Bussjaeger can be reached at 651-407-1229 or email@example.com
Hundreds run 5K for Jacob Wetterling
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Hundreds of people showed up to Lake Phalen Regional Park in St. Paul, Minnesota on Saturday morning to run 3.1 miles for Jacob Wetterling on the anniversary of his disappearance 27 years ago.
The inaugural Running HOME for Jacob 5K was in the works well before Danny Heinrich revealed to investigators the location of Jacob's remains and admitted to kidnapping and killing him on Oct. 22, 1989.
Organizers say they are “now more than ever motivated to create a world where kids can grow up safe,” according to the Running HOME for Jacob Facebook page.
“This year it is just different,” Jerry Wetterling said. “We are not searching anymore. Now it's more about Jacob, about what he represents."
The purpose of the Running HOME (Hope for Our Missing and Exploited) for Jacob 5K is to honor Jacob and raise awareness about child safety and prevention.
The event featured a 5K run and walk, a youth race and a number of activities for families. Proceeds from the race will benefit JWRC, a nonprofit founded by Patty and Jerry Wetterling in 1990 which provides care and treatment for children, families and adult survivors of child abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Jerry Wetterling said he was pleased to see such a large turnout.
"We got sunshine, a bright day, people are excited, and we are really ready to have a great morning," he said.
The event served as a reminder that while the search for Jacob is over, the quest to make his world a better place continues.
Survivor speaks out: ‘Support for child abuse victims vanishes in Somerset'
A Somerset man who was sexually abused as a child has made an emotional plea for more support in rural areas, and says not speaking out did ‘as much damage' as the abuse itself.
by Sheridan Robins
Steve Payton, aged 54, has lived in Burnham-on-Sea for close to 30 years and has helped take a thought-provoking exhibition to the Princess Theatre in Burnham to raise awareness of the struggles survivors face.
Mr Payton told the Mercury he was abused at the age of 13 but it has got harder to deal with as an adult.
He said: “Subsequent to the abuse there was a need for that person to control me, to make sure I didn't talk about what had happened.
“The result was, naturally, that this had a major impact on my emotional development and ability to form and manage relationships.
“Not to minimise the trauma of the abuse itself but I sometimes think the subsequent emotional control and abuse that was used to keep me from speaking out was as bad and did just as much damage.”
Since moving to Somerset Mr Payton, who works as a service delivery manager, has found it difficult to find support and believes it varies geographically.
He added: “I think living in Somerset, and not in one of the larger cities, is a major issue.
“There is little enough provision for adult survivors of abuse as it is but in the more rural areas that provision vanishes.
“The NHS is cash-strapped and where abuse services are funded they, quite naturally, tend to be for children.
“I have only told a few people what happened to me, and on at least one occasion I was advised that it was a long time ago, I should have got over it.”
A Somerset charity has echoed Steve's concerns.
A spokesman for Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support said: “There is a lack of support for adult male survivors of rape and sexual abuse in Somerset.
“It is difficult to know exactly why. From a Somerset local authority point of view, there is a strong commitment to working with adult survivors of domestic abuse, as there should be; but there is currently little strategic focus on tackling sexual violence including rape, sexual assaults and childhood sexual abuse. Somerset Public Health is now commissioning a service for young people surviving sexual abuse.”
Mr Payton added: “I knew I had to do what I could to bring the exhibition to Somerset, to make it available to those people, and to the people that know them, who work with them and even to those who love them.”
The Wall Of Silence exhibition will be at The Princess Theatre, in Princess Street, from today (Wednesday) until October 23.
Local business helps strengthen and empower adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse
Every item sold at the Mustard Seed is helping fund the fight to change the narrative of sexual abuse.
by Colin Mayfield
(video on site)
WEBVTT -- THE NARRATIVE OF SEXUAL ABUSE.
OUR COMMUNITY HAS JUST STEPPED UP IN BIG, BELLED WAYS THROUGH DONATIONS, THROUGH JUST BEING SHOPPERS.
REPORTER: ALONG THESE HILLS LIES A PURPOSE, ONE TO HELP, HEAL ADULT SURVIVORS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE. THE INITIATIVE IS BRINGING HOPE IN AN EXPANDED PROGRAM TO MULTIPLY THE HEALING.
WE WENT THROUGH FROM THIS TINY SPACE AND HAVE EXPANDED THAT WAY.
REPORTER: THE MUSTARD SEED'S MISSION BEGAN WITH JENNY WHO USED THE ORGANIZATION SURVIVORS OF ABUSE RESTORED OR SOAR TO HEAL FROM HER SEXUAL ABUSE ORDEAL AS A CHILD. SHE'S FOUND A WAY TO HELP OTHERS. >> DID YOU EXPECT THIS?
I -- NO. USUALLY, I MEAN, THIS IS SIX MONTHS INTO A BUSINESS.
REPORTER: THEIR OUTREACH OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS HAS REALLY CAUGHT FIRE.
THE STORE GIVES PEOPLE PERMISSION TO SHARE THEIR STORY. SOMETIMES JUST SHARING THEIR STORY ISN'T ENOUGH.
REPORTER: AS MORE PEOPLE SEARCH FOR HELP, EVEN MORE POUR INTO HELP SUPPORT THE CAUSE.
THOSE TRANSLATE INTO HOURS OF COUNSELING, HOURS OF GROUP WORK TO HELP OUR COMMUNITY RECOVER AND SO THAT WE CAN START CHANGING THE NARRATIVE OF EACH OF THESE FAMILIES.
REPORTER: THE MUSTARD SEED IS CELEBRATING THE SUPPORT AND THE ADDITION OF MORE THAN 2,800 SQUARE FEET ADDING A COUNSELING SPACE TO FURTHER THEIR WORK ON SITE. THE NEED IS SO GREAT, THEY WANT TO BREAK THE SILENT STRUGGLE OF ABUSE AND OPEN THEIR DOORS TO MEN.
IT'S REALLY BIRTHED OUT OF A NEED ACTUALLY TO BE ABLE TO HAVE PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS AND GROUP WORK OF THERAPY REALLY.
Art provides healing journey; Exhibit benefits those impacted by childhood sex abuse
by JOANNE RICHARD
What goes on behind closed doors cannot stay behind closed doors. The stigma around disclosing childhood sexual abuse needs to end and a voice given to trauma survivors.
Recently, abuse survivor Sheldon Kennedy announced the expansion of his child advocacy centre in Alberta to help even more victims of physical and sexual abuse. The ex-NHL player and child advocate wants to give a voice and bring healing to those whose childhoods have been stolen.
An upcoming event hosted by The Gatehouse, a support and advocacy organization for those impacted by childhood sexual abuse, will be bringing home this message through a special art exhibit on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
The Healing the Voice Within Art Exhibit offers the medium of art to allow childhood sexual abuse victims to express their resiliency and move forward in their healing journeys.
The art show and silent auction event, which coincides with Child Abuse Prevention Month, will help raise muchneeded funds for crucial support initiatives at The Gatehouse, which provides a safe place for children to disclose abuse to police and child welfare workers, as well as a support network for adult survivors of childhood sex abuse. The powerful art images, that will be on display at The Spoke Club, 600 King St. W., come from a 12-week visual arts support group - just one of the many free programs at The Gatehouse that help survivors break the silence.
"The first thing that happens when a person is traumatized by childhood sexual abuse is they lose their voice. Trauma survivors are often left with
feelings of fear, isolation, distrust, confusion, shame, guilt and anger," said Maria Barcelos, executive director of The Gatehouse.
Facing abuse can be a heartbreaking journey and mental health services tailored to the unique needs of those abused are critical to healing and healthy futures.
"Most have held onto this secret their entire lives and through our programs, participants have an opportunity to move past trauma and foster feelings of safety, resiliency and social re-connection," says Barcelos, of Thegatehouse. org.
According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, "32% of Canadians had experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, exposure to intimate partner violence or a combination of these while they were young."
Light needs to be shed on this horrible dark issue, and its devastating impact and the hellish recovery survivors face. Many victims suffer alone and don't speak up.
The Gatehouse is a community-based charitable organization that does not receive any core funding from any government agency and relies on community support.
Event sponsorship, monetary donations, as well as silent auction donations would be greatly appreciated for the Healing the Voice Within Art Exhibit. Reach out to Barcelos at Mbarcelos@thegatehouse.org
Here's what PennLive's editorial missed in the Statute of Limitations debate: Cathleen Palm
by PennLive Op-Ed
by Cathleen Palm
The Center for Children's Justice had a mixed reaction to PennLive's Oct. 3 editorial
"Victims of child sexual abuse waiting for justice, too."
We can't help but compare the outcry in Libre's case to the stalled legislation that would give the victims of child abuse a better chance of confronting their abusers and winning some measure of redress in the civil court system.
PennLive's editorial successfully called upon Pennsylvania lawmakers to end the injustice caused by statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse.
The statute of limitation laws in Pennsylvania have always miscalculated the complex dynamics of childhood sexual abuse.
While there is no time limit on the wounds from such an assault on the child's body and soul and research underscores that it can take decades for the child victim to come forward.
State law imposes arbitrary deadlines that cut off a victim's access to justice.
These statutes of limitation have expired too quickly and have let perpetrators off-the-hook never facing the victim, a judge or jury in a civil or criminal courtroom.
Your editorial argued that the state Senate has refused to address this injustice experienced by adults previously sexually abused as children.
State senators voted for a bill that does not restart the civil clock permitting adult survivors of past childhood abuse access to a – once denied – civil courtroom.
Refusing to support a retroactive statute of limitations provision reflects the imbalance of power between powerful lobbyists in Harrisburg and the individual sexually assaulted as a child.
Senate panel strips retroactive measure from child sex crime law reform bill
Senate Judiciary Committee moves House Bill 1947 to the floor but strips it of measure that would have allowed past victims civil recourse in court.
Still your editorial ignored that the Senate advanced some positive steps for current and future victims of childhood sexual abuse.
For instance, the Senate voted to provide child victims (of today and in the future) with an unlimited period of time to file a civil claim against the person(s) who sexually assaulted the child, the person(s) who conspired with the abuser, or the person(s) who had actual knowledge of the abuse and did not tell the police or child welfare officials.
Your editorial asked, at some point, 'who has the most to lose'?
Our organization believes there are two answers and both are tough realities to confront.
First, the adult survivor already denied justice in a criminal court room further loses without a retroactive civil provision.
Priests and church leaders sexually abused hundreds of children in Altoona Diocese: AG office
Hundreds of children were sexually abused over a period of 40 years by priests or church leaders in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, a grand jury investigation has concluded.
Second, and so routinely overlooked by the media and policy makers, is the child being sexually assaulted today.
Under existing statutes of limitation in Pennsylvania, the child being sexually assaulted today is guaranteed to face similar injustices already inflicted on adult survivors of past childhood sexual abuse.
Between 2007 and 2015 (basically the time period since the last SOL reform in PA) more than 14,000 children have been victims of rape, a third of these victims were under the age of thirteen.
Today each of these child victims faces a ticking judicial clock – on the civil and criminal side.
More than 30 states have eliminated, in whole or part, the criminal statute of limitations related to childhood sexual abuse crimes.
Still in 2016, victims of childhood sexual abuse in Pennsylvania still face the likelihood that someday when they are ready to pursue justice they will hear law enforcement official say 'I am so sorry you are too late, the criminal SOL expired.'
Huge majorities in the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted (going forward) to treat childhood sexual abuse like murder refusing to put an end date on when criminal charges against the perpetrator can be filed.
Catholic parishioners urged to help defeat SOL reform; one parishioner walks out of Mass
One week ahead of the Senate taking up proposed legislation to reform child sex crime laws, Catholic parishioners across state are urged during Mass to help defeat bill.
Big majorities also voted to extend (going forward) the civil SOL for childhood sexual abuse until the child victim turns 50 years of age. These same lawmakers also voted against continuing to give government institutions a pass when it comes to accountability for the sexual abuse of children.
PennLive should have used its editorial to challenge leaders of the PA House and PA Senate along with Governor Tom Wolf to meaningfully engage each other toward identifying what is possible on civil and criminal SOL reform in the few remaining legislative session days.
If securing a retroactive civil provision is not achievable before November 30 th that will be an intolerable injustice worthy of urgent attention in 2017.
Such an injustice inflicted on adult survivors of past childhood sexual abuse must not, however, be justification for sacrificing overdue and enhanced justice for the child that will be sexually assaulted today or in the years ahead.
Cathleen Palm is the founder of The Center for Children's Justice. She writes from Bernville, Pa.
AFI Fest: 9 Stars to Appear at THR's Indie Contenders Panel
Kate Beckinsale, Adam Driver, Sally Field, Rebecca Hall, Margo Martindale, Viggo Mortensen, Ruth Negga, Chris Pine and Miles Teller will sit down with THR's Scott Feinberg on Nov. 13 in Hollywood.
by Scott Feinberg
Nine stars who are generating major awards buzz for their work in 2016 independent films will participate in AFI Fest's third annual Indie Contenders Panel, moderated by The Hollywood Reporter , on Nov. 13 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Kate Beckinsale (lead actress, Love & Friendship ), Adam Driver (lead actor, Paterson ), Sally Field (lead actress, Hello, My Name Is Doris ), Rebecca Hall (lead actress, Christine ), Margo Martindale (supporting actress, The Hollars ), Viggo Mortensen (lead actor, Captain Fantastic ), Ruth Negga (lead actress, Loving ), Chris Pine (lead actor, Hell or High Water ) and Miles Teller (lead actor, Bleed for This ) will sit down with THR 's Scott Feinberg in front of a crowd of 200 AFI Fest badgeholders and ticketholders for a 75-minute conversation about their experiences with indie films.
Video of the full conversation will subsequently appear on this blog.
The 2015 edition, which you can watch here, featured Ramin Bahrani (writer/director, 99 Homes ), Blythe Danner (lead actress, I'll See You in My Dreams ), Saoirse Ronan (lead actress, Brooklyn ), Jason Segel (supporting actor, The End of the Tour ), Sarah Silverman (lead actress, I Smile Back ), Lily Tomlin (lead actress, Grandma ) and Olivia Wilde (lead actress/producer, Meadowland ).
And the 2014 edition, which you can watch here, featured J.C. Chandor (writer/director, A Most Violent Year ), Damien Chazelle (writer/director, Whiplash ), Marion Cotillard (lead actress, Two Days, One Night ), Jake Gyllenhaal (lead actor, Nightcrawler ), Bill Hader (lead actor, The Skeleton Twins ), Michelle Monaghan (actress, Fort Bliss ), Kristen Stewart (supporting actress, Still Alice and Clouds of Sils Maria ) and Tilda Swinton (lead actress, Snowpiercer ).
Survivor abuse body's role attacked by experts who designed it
by Stephen Naysmith
A BODY that supports adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse has been attacked as "unacceptable and unethical" by the experts who originally helped design it.
Sarah Nelson and Anne Macdonald advised on and helped the Scottish Government establish Survivor Scotland, which aims improve the lives of people who have suffered abuse.
They have written an open letter to ministers, published in today's Herald, protesting over the new direction the strategy is taking. They argue it has lost sight of what survivors actually need and want.
It is signed by leading figures from charities working with adult and child victims of abuse across the country.
They say the national strategy for survivors of childhood abuse has changed from one supporting victims to help each other and shape the services they need.
The authors of the letter say it now ofoffers mostly medical and psychological support to adult abuse survivors and removes funding from any form of group support.
They argue the government would never treat victims of rape or domestic violence the same way, and say people abused at children have suffered a crime not a disease.
It is unthinkable, they add, that any political party or local council would treat survivors of other crimes as "weak" people who are only offered post-traumatic support or medical "interventions".
Current policy gives no active role to survivors of sexual abuse in shaping Scottish strategy despite their wisdom and experience, the letter says, a situation they also describe as "unthinkable".
Meanwhile experienced organisations have been required to justify their existence and provide business plans before they can bid for funding, it is claimed. The treatment of established charities supporting survivors as "amateurish outfits" is shameful, the letter says.
Eleven experts have signed the letter including Janine Rennie, chief executive of Falkirk based Open Secret, Laurie Matthew, manager of Dundee-based child abuse charity 18 and under, Dawn Fyfe of Glasgow's Say Women and Jan MacLeod of the Women's Support Project.
The experts also claim abuse prevention and protection from abuse have fallen off the agenda.
"This is unacceptable and unethical. SurvivorScotland strategy is now at odds with the original intention of this pioneering Scottish initiative. It was survivor centred, working actively with survivors and their agencies in shaping it."
The letter added: "Current adult survivor strategy flies in the face of longstanding Government principles on opposing sexual violence, putting Survivor Scotland and its funding policy strongly at odds with Scottish Government strategy against rape and domestic abuse."
The attack adds to the pressure on Deputy First Minister John Swinney over policies relating to adult victims of abuse, at a time when the troubled Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is still facing criticisms from victims groups.
Survivor Scotland will offer support to those taking part in the inquiry, but will also cover others affected outside care. Around 80 per cent of adult survivors of child abuse say they were harmed at home or in the community.
Sarah Nelson said Survivor Scotland had lost its way: "It is treating survivors as people who are ill, not as people who have something positive to contribute to their own recovery."
"The principle of survivors supporting each other has disappeared. I've lost all confidence in this team and I don' t believe what we've got shows respect for survivors of sexual abuse or their long-standing supporters," she said.
Janine Rennie added: "The charities involved are all of the same view - the model on offer is completely inappropriate for survivors. This is not what was intended when Survivor Scotland was set up, survivors are being let down. Across the board, survivors are telling us this isn't what they want."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have made real progress in delivering what survivors told us they wanted through the InterAction process, including a greatly expanded support fund of £13.5 million over five years to co-ordinate access to and deliver resources, integrated care and support for those who were abused in care.
"The new services have been shaped and informed by nationwide consultation and engagement with survivors and service providers.
“It is incorrect to suggest we are solely focused on treatment or exclusively on survivors of in-care abuse, as we are delivering a clear strategy for prevention, awareness-raising, training and innovation in third sector practice, as well as improving treatment where this is needed.”
Survivors of child abuse deserve the truth from Theresa May
For the dogged inquiry to proceed, trust must be at its heart. That starts with transparency over the departure of Lowell Goddard
by Lisa Nandy
s home secretary, Theresa May established an inquiry into child sexual abuse to shine a spotlight on institutions characterised by a culture of secrecy, denial and cover-up in which child abusers were able to operate in plain sight without challenge or consequence. It is a tragedy that the inquiry itself has become dogged by allegations about those very same characteristics.
A campaigner who exposed child abuse scandals in the Church of England said: “These are supposed to be the people who investigate cover-ups but they are behaving as if there's some sort of cover-up going on regarding the inquiry itself.”
The probe has had four chairs in just two years following the departures of Lady Butler-Sloss, her successor lord mayor Fiona Woolf, and most recently Lowell Goddard, May's third appointment. In the past month the two most senior lawyers for the inquiry have also both resigned without explanation, along with two more junior lawyers. The fiasco has prompted some victims and survivors' groups to say publicly that they are losing faith in the process.
An inquiry on this scale cannot proceed without confidence. It is crucial that Amber Rudd, the home secretary, and her predecessor answer key questions to reassure us that the inquiry will now do its job. This must start with the truth surrounding the departure of Dame Lowell.
Instead on Monday in the House of Commons Rudd struggled to answer basic questions about the inquiry, referring repeatedly to its independence. Yet, as the chair of the home affairs select committee highlighted, the inquiry had a budget of £17.9m in its first year alone and raises profound questions of public importance. It must be accountable.
Back in September, when Rudd was asked by MPs about Goddard's departure, she said “all the information” she had was that Goddard decided to quit in August and returned to New Zealand because she was “lonely” and “a long way from home”. But yesterday, in response to my urgent question, she admitted that in fact she had known more than a month earlier about serious accusations of misconduct , including racism, facing Goddard. Goddard has denied the allegations, saying the accusations were false and malicious.
Instead of dismissal, Rudd – the only person with the power to terminate the contract – accepted her resignation, decided not to reveal these concerns to the select committee, and personally authorised an £80k taxpayer-funded pay-off.
Reports have suggested that Liz Sanderson – a top adviser to May – and Mark Sedwill, the most senior official in the Home Office, had known months earlier about these allegations. With 38 Home Office staff seconded to the inquiry, it seems to me to be inconceivable that Rudd, and her predecessor, knew nothing of serious allegations surrounding Goddard's leadership during the 16 months she chaired the inquiry.
There are serious questions too over the departure of Ben Emmerson QC – the most senior legal counsel to the inquiry – who was suddenly suspended before resigning without explanation. A further four inquiry lawyers also resigned without explanation. On Monday in the Commons Rudd refused to disclose any details, or tell the House what compensation, if any, was paid.
Now at least one child abuse survivor and former panel member of the inquiry has accused the inquiry of trying to silence those who speak out. This is deeply worrying. For this inquiry to succeed it must be as open and transparent as possible, and encourage whistleblowers to come forward. That, in the end, is how child abusers are brought to justice. It is also how this inquiry must proceed.
Nobody but the home secretary and her predecessor, the prime minister, can offer answers to these questions. Until they do, the lack of transparency and doubts about staffing, oversight and culture, means the inquiry will continue to lose the trust of victims and survivors of child abuse, putting the success of the whole endeavour at risk. This must not be allowed to happen and certainly not for the sake of political expediency. Many survivors have waited decades for justice and fear they will not see it in their lifetimes. It is time for May and Rudd to come clean.